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Mark Howard's new book (Dylan, Lanois, Lucinda Williams, U2)
Old 29th April 2019
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Mark Howard's new book (Dylan, Lanois, Lucinda Williams, U2)

I have just finished the new book by Mark Howard "Listen Up!" (https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/sh...6840-listen-up). Mark Howard is one of my favourite engineers, he worked for many years with Daniel Lanois and therefore mixed and engineered many of the Lanois' produced records by Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, U2, etc.. He also produced Lucinda William's great World without tears album, worked with Tom Waits, etc.

I love his mixing and engineering, he gets a great open sound with a lot of LCR panning. This is often done in non-standard studio environments with everybody playing live at the same time, which somehow does not seem to make the sound worse (as it often does for me when I try to do that!) but rather better.

So, as a fan, I was really looking forward to the book. The good parts are that it does have some technical and gear detail as well as some glimpses of what makes Howard such a great engineer: preparation of musical and extra musical aspects, etc. It also has some great detail on the making of these albums (Who was Lucinda williams writing about in "Minneapolis"? How did Mark mic'up Jim Keltner and Brian Blade's double drum set-up in Time out of mind?) that you will enjoy if you are a fan too.

However, the book is a bit of a let down on other aspects, as it seems to prioritise the "anecdotes of famous people" aspect over the more technical aspects. It would have been great (at least for me!) to find out more about how Mark approaches recording and mixing rather than another story about who Iggy Pop was dating at the time. In that sense he sells himself short, because to me his own experience is much more interesting than he gives himself credit for.

It's also sad to see that his relationship with Lanois seems to have soured and the book pretty much accuses Lanois of being tight-fisted, bad-tempered and ego-centric. I have no idea of who is right, but somehow it's a pity that it has come to this.

So, while my view is a bit nuanced, I would still recommend this book to fans of Howard's engineering and even fans of Lanois (it's a good companion in a sense to Lanois' more heartfelt book, Soul Mining, covering many of the same records). Dylan completists will enjoy his appearances too. Also Howard has recently had serious health issues so your money will go to a good cause.

Last edited by Santiago; 30th April 2019 at 08:42 AM..
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