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

4.1 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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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 (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a book to borrow from the library or buy when it's in the discount bin. It IS worth reading, for general music fans, but it doesn't go deep enough for me. It's NOT a technical book about how to make records, and it doesn't tell you what gear or unique process was used to achieve the sounds on any recording. It's more about the people skills involved in being a producer and some background stories.

Very little musical or recording "secrets" are revealed, and overall the stories are often bland because he's too polite and doesn't tell anything that would be offensive to the recording artist... I guess that's the way it should be, that's being truly professional and respectful.

In the book, Ramone is describing the various roles a producer plays in the creation of music and the product (i.e. a concert, a CD, a TV special, etc.). Each short chapter focuses on one aspect of his producer duties, and to back this up, he gives the details of working with a famous artist on a successful record, etc.

I did buy it (on sale), and I did enjoy reading it, but I doubt I'll pick it up to read again. I enjoy reading about how famous records were made, about the musicians and writers, the creative process and the gear used to achieve the results, but with Phil Ramone's amazing background, I expected much more from the book.

For stories about hit records and the engineers and producers, I'd recommend the "Behind the Glass" (2 volumes so far) books by Howard Massey instead.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I started out liking Phil Ramone a lot, but then got kind of bored when I realized that most of the music he produced was stuff that I was not very interested in. The was lots of Billy Joel, but not so much BLOOD ON THE TRACKS. It was cool learning about his studios in Manhattan which meant a lot to the scene. Actually, I would have been more interested if it included more technical talk, of which there is very little.
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