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Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 16, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ramone, with 14 Grammys to his name, is the consummate Establishment producer. His clean professionalism has brought a touch of class to a wealth of baby boomer landmarks, from Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years to Billy Joel's The Stranger and Ray Charles's Genius Loves Company. Over the course of his memoir, Ramone constantly drops these names and more, often veering into a string of anecdotes to illustrate a point. One page about artists' working methods, for example, includes mention of Frank Sinatra; Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Barbara Streisand, with little distinction made as to quality or genre. This makes for a readable but repetitive book. The conversational style means that certain artists are brought up again and again, and sometimes the book relies upon long block quotes from musicians that would have benefited from being pared down to their relevant lines (such as one in which Liberty DeVitto of Billy Joel's band talks about changing the rhythm of Always a Woman to Me). Amid all of this, there are genuinely interesting stories, and fans of Sinatra, Simon and Dylan should find pleasure in the long in-studio narratives. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

A violin prodigy, Phil Ramone studied at Julliard before establishing his first music studio in 1958. He is the chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and the Producers and Engineers Wing, and is a trustee of the MusiCares Foundation. Ramone lives in Westchester County, New York.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (October 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786868597
  • ASIN: B001Q9E9NS
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Donald Gibson on October 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Imagine yourself facing the task of telling Tony Bennett during a recording session that, while he sounds fine, you believe he's hit a few bum notes. Not only should you have the credible acumen for identifying such flaws, but also the knowledge of how to correct them. Fortunately, Phil Ramone has an abundance of both. One of music's most prolific and distinguished producers, he candidly shares experiences from his career in his new book, Making Records: The Scenes Behind The Music.

While neither a strict memoir nor a technical manual, the book blends elements of the two, usually within the context of representative and applicable anecdotes.

Ramone writes an engaging account of his ascension in the music industry, from working as a studio apprentice to engineering recording sessions and ultimately producing albums and live events. As a result, the reader gains priceless insight on some landmark recordings as well perspective on the evolution of music production over the last 50 years.

What makes this book such an enjoyable read is the producer's unassuming way of relating his memories and knowledge. One would suspect that someone as proficient and experienced as Phil Ramone would have, by now, lost all sense of wonder in regard to how music is made. Quite the contrary, while he undoubtedly knows what he's doing in the studio, he seems just as amazed and inspired by the creative process as any typical fan would feel.

Fans of Billy Joel, in particular, will take pleasure in reading what Ramone recollects about producing many of the Piano Man's greatest albums. He recounts how certain iconic sound effects were achieved, like the shattering glass that opens "You May Be Right" and the reverberating helicopter propellers that bookend "Goodnight Saigon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frederick J. Decker on March 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Some of the negative customer reviews fault this book for not being what the reader expected--a technical book about recording for example--instead of dealing with the book the author(s) actually wrote.

This book answers fans' questions about how records are made based on Phil Ramone's personal experience.

It's not an autobiography or a how-to be a record producer book--although there are elements of both.

This is a layman's terms explanation of how records are made directed toward music fans.

Phil Ramone's long career stretches back to the 1950's. He engineered David "Fathead" Newman's album "It's Mister Fathead" for Atlantic Records in 1958 and he was still active at the time this book was written in 2007.

Ramone's seen alot of changes during his career. It's interesting to read what has changed and what has remained the same.

Ramone uses examples to explain his points. Many are great. Phil Ramone describes the mixing process then uses Billy Joel's "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," as an example of one of his favorite mixes. Then he lists specific sections of the song and characteristics of the mix to listen for in each:

"MAIN THEME: 'A BOTTLE OF WHITE, A BOTTLE OF RED...' (AT 0:14)...This section offers an example of complimentary equalization."

"With complimentary equalization, instruments that have frequencies in common are equalized to remove or enhance some of their shared frequencies. This helps each instrument stand out, and allows it to retain its own designated space in the mix."

"In the introduction, the acoustic guitar (which comes in on the second verse) was equalized with a fair amount of treble.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Jestic on January 13, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
After reading the negative reviews, I just had to add my 2c. It is NOT technical (one reviewer called it too technical...have no idea what he was reading. Another claimed he was mislead...have no idea how). This would function well in a course titled, "So You Want to be a Record Producer." It flows well, paced perfectly. The first 25% I thought it merely a 'pleasant little book,' but soon realized I was intrigued by what he was telling me. In so many of these books, the author is betrayed by a super-sized ego. Not here. Not just some name-dropping book. Some dazzle by discussing their awards. Not here. Some books become sniggering, immature tell-alls. Not here. Some are platforms for revenge. Not here. Ramone comes across as the adult in the room, gracious and diplomatic, with a firm focus on how records are made, his interaction with the talent, and his obvious love of the game. The stories show us personal sides of the stars rather than embarrass. Ramone had a long history with Billy Joel and Paul Simon, but he also had repeat business with Barbra Streisand and award/concert spectacles. We get entertaining stories of Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, and others, as well. R.I.P., Phil.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Tract on February 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is written for people not connected with the industry. Mr. Ramone is a fantastically gifted individual. If you are looking for secrets or tricks of the trade, this is not the book. It is very tame. Take his explanation of "B Sides" from 45rpm singles as a place for throw away songs. "B Sides" were highly coveted spots because they paid the same mechanical royalty as the "A Side." Which means they where a valuable commodity and bargaining chip for artists and publishers. The politics involved in "B Sides" were monumental.
Mr. Ramone's joy is making records, and he does not cast any disparaging shadows on his sacred cow. I'm sure he's seen more than his share of record company and artist insanity, and it might have been more interesting to hear how one coped with being as creative as he is in one of the most crooked businesses known to man.
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