July 11, 2006
Retro-Active correspondent Ken Sharp spoke to Boston mastermind Tom Scholz about newly released reissues of the group's seminal first two releases -- Boston and Don't Look Back (Sony/Legacy).
Explain your role in remastering the new reissues of Boston and Don t Look Back.
Tom Scholz: The process was very tricky. Of course the reason for doing it at all is that these were mixed for vinyl, which is quite a bit different than a 16-bit CD. A lot of things happen when they make those digital transfers to 16-bit that are not good. While I thought the mixes were very listenable on vinyl, I was very very disappointed the first time I heard those transferred to CD. Also, these were mixed 30 years ago without automation. Everything had to be done by hand and there were a lot of limitations with a mix this complicated and with this much production and this many parts, all the vocal and lead parts intertwined.
What I tried to do was address all of the shortcomings that were a result of having to do this by hand a l ebony porn ong time ago. People will be listening to this and then they put on something that was recorded last year in these magnificent studios with limitless capabilities. So I sat down and listened to all of the tracks on CD and made copious notes of all of the things that didn t come out the way I had hoped or don t sound good on CD. Everything from the intro bass note on "More Than A Feeling" to the last note at the end of the Don t Look Back album.
We sat down and started with "More Than A Feeling," second by second and note by note. We went in and adjusted every single thing on these stereo mixes. We got the transfers done by Sony from the original two-track stereo mix to 24-bit. We put that on and adjusted it note by note. I used everything I learned from the last 35 years, learning about the physics of music to actually what happens aurally when you change certain things dynamically or in various frequency spectrums. We did ultra time precision adjustments of level changes. We went in and pinpointed percussive attacks and adjusted levels and changed them on what I wanted to get in the original mix.
I made dynamic changes that followed specific instruments to change, sustain or apparent level. I literally went through the records note by note. I made the drums sound much better with snares that stand out in the mix, kicks that are punchier, cymbal and high-hat hits that can be heard when they re supposed to be. A bass that s tight and you can feel it now instead of just hearing it. Power chords on guitar that are way more gusty than on those original mixes. Lead guitars that are full and aren t piercing in the high parts. Vocals that are out front now and warm and not thin in the mix.
We did an enormous amount of work. We only had eight days because of time pressure from Sony and we lived and breathed these two albums for those eight days. We worked 12-14 hour days, slept eight hours, slept and ate and went right back in. Then of course also redid the booklets after that.
Look for part two of our conversation with Tom Scholz in the next edition of Retro-Active.