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This article was originally published in Playback Issue 002. Subscribe to Playback for free to stay up to date with our latest articles, interviews, product reviews and more.
For those that have been lucky enough to meet Bob Clearmountain, they know what a humble man he is about his impressive legacy. We pressed him to talk about three records from his discography that stand out to him as his best work.
It was just a really fun record to mix, and very quick. They were like four-hour mixes if not less, each one. I remember mixing two a day. The arrangements are just so beautiful on that record, it just let me do things that I couldn’t do on other records. It’s very wide, and warm, and spacious sounding, and I used a lot of interesting reverbs and delays. I’ve gotten more comments on that record than anything I’ve ever done I think. I’ve heard that a lot of babies were conceived to that album, which is a nice thought [Laughs]. So that’s something very special.
Aimee Mann’s first album called “Whatever” is very special to me too. It was produced by Jon Brion, who’s a good friend of mine and Amy is just an amazing songwriter, I think she’s brilliant. That combined with John’s quirky production techniques, he just pulls out these bizarre instruments that you’d never think you could use on a record and it’s just got amazing sounds on it. I listened to it to this day and I just love it.
There’s another record that no one would have heard of, if you have heard of this record, you’re probably from Austin. It’s a record called Tijuana Dreams by a band called The Small Stars. The Small Stars was really an offshoot from another band called Fastball, who are still actually together and touring.
The main genius is a guy named Miles Zuniga and he’s just an incredible songwriter. It’s almost like a parody band, in that they all had made-up names and they were like a “loser band” from Reno. They weren’t even from Vegas, they were from Reno. Some of the songs are kind of funny, a bit humorous you know, so I always enjoy funny music. But not all of them!
There are some pretty serious songs in there too. There’s one song called "Twenty One," which is about this guy that plays blackjack and he’s just nuts, He’s a crazy gambler. The end of the record, you have to decide whether he loses his shirt or does really well, it just kind of leaves you hanging. It’s just a wonderful record, the songs are great, the arrangements are great.