This series looks at the writing and recording of some of the greatest albums of our era. Musicians, producers, and engineers are interviewed in the studio, and the master tapes are played, sometimes isolating particular channels, to highlight certain instrumental sounds or voices. Many of the musicians play live along with the tracks, demonstrating how they played the parts. In some cases, group members are reuniting after considerable time as they reminisce together. This is usually interspersed with some vintage clips and photos of concert performances.
The BBC produced series began in 1997, with Ringo Starr as narrator. Later episodes have no narrator. The first seven episodes were licensed to VH1 for showing in the US, then periodically more were released, one at a time. Some have been shown on A&E, PBS, and Biography Channel. One or two were repackaged by VH1 as 'Ultimate Albums'. In April 2006, 26 DVD's were released as 'VH1's Classic Albums', with additional footage and bonus features. In October 2006, the show began a weekly airing on VH1 Classic on Tuesday evenings. The original airdates in some cases are sketchy, as VH1 are rather tight-lipped about past programming, preferring to focus on upcoming 'premieres'.
'Joshua Tree' elevated U2 to superstar status internationally, and confirmed their position as one of rock's most influential and powerful forces. Here we examine the making of the album, with the four group members, along with producers Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite, and Daniel Lanois. Elvis Costello is also on hand to lend friendly comments.
Phil's first solo album, which launched his career outside of Genesis, is examined here. Engineer Hugh Padgham peels the layers of sound back, and Phil explains how the lyrics to many of the songs wrote themselves, as he was going through a bitter divorce. Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Darrell Stuermer are on hand, and many of the studio musicians who contributed are seen as they describe working with Phil.
In 1977, Marvin Lee Aday, aka Meat Loaf, shocked the music world by releasing this 30 million-selling blockbuster. Previously little-known as an actor and singer , he hooked up with writer Jim Steinman, producer Todd Rundgren, and vocalists Ellen Foley and Carla Devito, to create one of the top five sellers of all time. Kasim Sultan and Max Weinberg, who also played on the album are heard from, and Todd isolates some of the masters to show how the sounds were created.
Producer Chris Blackwell is the main focus of this episode, as he recounts bringing in some top American session men to the studio, in an attempt to break Bob Marley to the US audiences. Wailer Peter Tosh, and instrumentalists Wayne Perkins and Rabbit Bundrick are interviewed, and we see some rare clips of Bob himself.
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker delve into the master tapes to discuss the year-long effort that went into this, their biggest album. Well known as perfectionists in the studio, this labor of love is dissected layer by layer. Producer Gary Katz and engineer Roger Nichols help explain the craft and detail that the Dan, along with Michael McDonald and some other session players, spent on the Grammy-winning jazz-rock classic.