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'.
Def Leppard labored for more than a year to record this, their follow-up to 'Pyromania'. Producer Mutt Lange and the group describe track by track what went into the writing, rehearsing, and recording. Layers are peeled away at the mixing board as we see and hear how their vocal sound, guitar effects, and drums are engineered. Also, they play acoustic versions of two of their biggest hits from the record. As a bonus, an early rendition of 'Love Bites', which thankfully was given a complete overhaul, is presented.
The Sex Pistols only released one album before breaking up, but it set off the punk movement, and turned the British music industry on its head. Featuring interviews with John Lydon (Johnny Rotten), Steve Jones and Paul Cook, plus original bassist Glen Matlock, along with producer Chris Thomas, Classic Albums looks at the way it was written and recorded. Also shown is some rare television footage from that time, and some concert performances by the groundbreaking band.
The 1972 early metal classic is examined here. After a brief recount of Deep Purple's history prior, all five members of the group from that time recount the making of the album, and Jon Lord, Richie Blackmore, and Roger Glover isolate some of their parts, and play along live. Engineer Martin Birch also lends a hand, describing how the instrumental sounds were produced.