This month, Globe-Trotter has teamed up with the Analogue Foundation to create the ultimate listening station. To celebrate, we asked Grammy award-winning recording engineer and producer and Analogue Foundation founding member Russell Elevado to reveal his favourite tracks.
Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) – Mr Blue Sky from the album Out Of The Blue (1977)
This song really highlights the brilliant production and arrangements of Jeff Lynne. Lynne was the brains behind ELO and was amazing at fusing elements of rock, blues, pop and classical music. I really love the vocal and orchestral arrangement in this song. The up-tempo energy and lyrics make the whole vibe so positive and happy.
Earth, Wind & Fire – That's the Way of the World from the album That's the Way of The World (1975)
For me, this is a song that really encapsulates the Earth, Wind & Fire sound and concept. They are one of my favorite soul groups of all time; they were so funky and soulful and the vocal combination of Maurice White and Philip Bailey was unbeatable. Then there's the killer horn arrangements. Here they are talking about staying young at heart and believing in yourself no matter how hard the world is. Their whole vibe was sending positive messages to the people and uplifting spirits through music.
Beastie Boys – So What'cha Want from the album Check Your Head (1992)
I remember falling in love with this song the minute I heard it. It was so raw and dirty and radical sounding. I don't think I'd heard anything that sounded quite like it at the time. To this day I think it stands out as a classic and doesn't sound dated. A lot of credit should go to Mario Caldato Jr, who produced and engineered all the Beastie Boys records. He's been a great influence on me. I feel lucky to have had the chance to meet and even talk shop a bit with Mario at the Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona. He was one of the first producer-engineers to really push creative mixing in a hip hop setting, and the Beastie Boys were the first organic hip hop band years before the term and genre was made popular by The Roots.
Black Sabbath – War Pigs from the album Paranoid (1970)
Sabbath, as fans would call them, had a heavy rock sound but you can also hear elements of blues, jazz, funk and even a touch of classical music. And Ozzy Osbourne's unique vocal tone and style added to their originality. War Pigs has such a heavy, driving sound; a song talking about war, politics and evil. Bill Ward is really killing the drums on this, lots of fast fills but also grooves, and Tony Iommi is the master of rock riffs who also had his own unique sound. Every element of this song, from the music down to the production, is classic. It's so legendary because it is the original and so many bands followed after.
D'Angelo – The Root from the album Voodoo (2000)
This song is from D'Angelo's Grammy award-winning second album, which I engineered and mixed. It's one of my favourite tracks on the album. Musically, it's an homage to Jimi Hendrix, who was a huge inspiration for this album. We also tracked and mixed entirely at Jimi's studio, Electric Lady, which gave us a deeper connection to him. In the Hendrix and Eddie Kramer (engineer) spirit I reversed the guitar track for the solo section, so that it's playing backwards, which involves flipping the tape over. I also put different alternating effects on D'Angelo's vocals and lots of subtle treatments on the drums and the atmosphere of the mix. I tried to give it a 70s psychedelic sound-meets-hip hop vibe. Check out the vocal build-up for the vamp section to the climax of the song. There's about 40 vocal tracks playing at the most dense sections. All the parts sung by D'Angelo are double or triple tracked to sound like a wall of angels singing.
Oliver Nelson – Stolen Moments from the album The Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961)
This is probably saxophonist Oliver Nelson's most famous song. It's like a textbook for sound recording, jazz composition, blues study and musical performance. All the players here have earned legendary status in the jazz world. This is part of an album which explores and stretches the form of the blues, similar to what Miles Davis did with Kind Of Blue in that they experimented with the basic blues structure and patterns and played with the harmonic possibilities, creating these jazz masterpieces. I get an immediate feeling of sophistication and style but also raw and unpretentious music.
James Brown – Mind Power from the album The Payback (1973)
It's very difficult to select one song that will encompass the essence of the artist when the artist in question is James Brown, a man who paved the way for funk, soul and hip hop. After a couple of hours of sifting through his catalogue I gave up and finally went with this song purely on instinct. He's got so many songs that are funk masterpieces, I said to myself, 'just pick one and talk about it'. Mind Power is classic James Brown. It's all about that funky groove staying constant until it changes to the next funky groove and, all the while, Brown is dictating the changes to the band and telling a story. There really is no structure to the song. It was literally arranged live as they were recording. It worked so well for him because his band was so tight and he had the best horn arrangers in his band. Listen to those drums; incredible sound. I have yet to hear a CD version that compares to the sound of the original pressing of this album.
The Globe-Trotter X Analogue Foundation Listening Station will be on display in Globe-Trotter’s UK flagship store at 35 Albemarle Street, London from Monday 19 February, 2018.
We welcome you to bring along your favourite vinyl records and enjoy them in store!
Based in New York City, Russell Elevado is just one of a handful of engineer-producers who still prefers tape as his recording medium. He remains faithful to analogue recording techniques and has a love of classic vinyl records as well as his own significant collection of vintage analogue recording equipment.
Elevado has worked on a number of critically-acclaimed albums and has worked with a diverse variety of producers and artists, including Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Rick Rubin and Tony Visconti