“When I was remixing I would hear all the bits in between the master tapes: Alvin talking to the band, talking to me, cracking funny jokes, and making all these weird noises,” Chris Kimsey tells ABS.
The 1971 album A Space In Time from UK blues rockers Ten Years After was the band’s most successful, reaching number 17 in Billboard 200. It is being reissued for its 50thanniversary as a brand new stereo mix by the original producer and recording engineer Chris Kimsey, using transfers from the original two-inch multi-track tapes together with modern day plug-ins.
This highly skilled process perfectly recreates the vibe and enhances the original recording. What Chris has achieved with this remix is quite extraordinary in that every instrument is crystal clear with the vocals soaring above the backing, creating a glorious soundscape.
The lead single from the album, “I’d Love To Change The World,” written and sung by frontman Alvin Lee charted at number 40 in the USA and was the band’s biggest hit. Two years after the Woodstock Festival where Lee had stolen the show with his guitar wizardry on “I’m Going Home,” A Space In Time cemented his reputation as a versatile guitarist who combined trademark speed and adrenaline rush with tasteful and intricate acoustic finger picking techniques.
As Chris explains, “One of Alvin’s greatest song writing successes was of course ‘I’d Love To Change The World’ which drew on mainly American influences of the time including the counterculture of Woodstock and the Vietnam war, both of which must have resonated with Alvin.
“All that he saw and felt must have been buzzing around his brain and he wanted to get his message across. Not many lyricists can do that but Alvin had such a wonderful way with words. Alvin also developed into an exceptionally talented recording engineer, mixer and producer in his own right.”
The lead lyric video single is currently premiering:
In an exclusive interview with American Blues Scene, Chris Kimsey, who was also the legendary producer of The Rolling Stones’ Undercover and Steel Wheels tells the story behind the album remix to be released on March 17th.
The original A Space In Time was released in Europe in 1971 by Chrysalis and in America by Columbia (now Sony) the following year. Columbia flew me over to New York to do a quadrophonic mix and I took copies of the 16-track masters on two big reels and we mixed the quad album from those. Columbia retained the tapes in New York. When we tried to figure out where the masters were for the new remix I remembered where they were; Sony still had them so we were able to digitize the 16-track and I did the mixing.
I have been comparing what we were doing to the original remix and 50 years of technology doesn’t make anything easier. The mixes we did back then was unbelievable; we had a great mixing console, a couple of compressors, an echo plate and tape delay. That was it! Not thousands of plug-ins or various effects going on.
This was all part of the beauty of working with Alvin, sharing the love of inventing sounds and the excitement of coming up with different ways to explore instruments and vocals. A prime example of this was when I put Alvin’s vocals through the organ Leslie to give the haunting spook effect which became the signature sound of that record.
We didn’t really know what we were doing at that time, but it was great fun! For the remix, one thing I did change was to increase the volume to where Alvin’s vocals could and should have been. At the time of the original recording he was a little bit shy of his voice and would ask me to turn the vocals down a bit so I altered it to create a more enhanced sonic quality.
When I was remixing I would hear all the bits in between the master tapes: Alvin talking to the band, talking to me, cracking funny jokes, and making all these weird noises! All of the guys were great to work with – Leo, Chick and Ric, it was a very special time.
Chris sent the files to the talented, technical genius Kurt Martinez who is Head Dolby Engineer at Dean Street Studios in Soho, London, the legendary venue owned by Alvin’s daughter Jasmin and her mother Suzanne who also manage the business. The studio has two state-of-the-art 9.1.4 PMC Dolby ATMOS Music suites. Kurt, who was responsible for the ATMOS mix, used new plug-ins to emulate the original desk to achieve the new mix.
Originally from Nottinghamshire, Kurt’s grandad saw Alvin perform in the local pubs and clubs back in the day so there must be family pride in the pristine clarity of the finished product which will be cherished by Ten Years After fans.
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