Are We Still Rolling?
Phill Brown
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Buy *Are We Still Rolling?: Studios, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll - One Man's Journey Recording Classic Albums* by Phill Brown online

Are We Still Rolling?: Studios, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll - One Man's Journey Recording Classic Albums
Phill Brown
Tape Op
282 pages
November 2010
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Brown, an engineer who worked on albums with Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and many others, takes you behind the doors in his autobiographical romp through the decades. Though Brown is a lesser-known player than some of the contemporaries he mentions - Glyn Johns and Eddie Kramer, to name a few - he was there in the trenches with many of history's most remarkable musicians. The problem is that he doesn't quite reveal enough about those players and what actually happened.

Here is an excerpt from his time working with Jeff Beck on what would become the Rough and Ready album.

"The sessions started easy, with mutual respect shown by all involved. Jeff had a varied collection of songs, riffs and ideas to work on. Working together, the band tried out numerous versions and arrangements, and then recorded the most successful ideas to tape. The days were productive and enjoyable, with songs, jams and riffs permeating Studio One. Sometimes Jeff's girlfriend, the model Celia Hammond, would turn up and add some glamour to the proceedings."
In the main, this is about all that is revealed about being in the studio with Jeff Beck. If you remove Jeff's name from the paragraph above, the description could be talking about anyone.

He also says the vocalist on the Rough and Ready album was Alex Ligertwood. In fact, Bob Tench sang on that album; it makes you wonder if some of the other facts presented here might be in dispute.

The entire period about working with Led Zeppelin only covers two pages, and the moment he starts talking about some particularly intriguing facet of the recording, he veers off into the next subject. Brown talks about the atmosphere in the studio being "tense" when Jimmy Page was working on guitar overdubs for "Stairway to Heaven," but there is no clarification.

Are We Still Rolling? is an interesting book and does reveal some of the intricacies and difficulties inherent in recording music. Had Brown spent more time in developing his memories about working with some of the key artists rather trying to include his entire life's story, this book would hold more force and fascination.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2011

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