Jack and I made the decision a while back that this was very special record and needed very special attention. We put the bug in Roscoe’s ear that we may need a specialist. He made it clear that he was “here to help a brutha out”, as I say in the song “Time For You To Go”. So last Thursday Jack and I flew to New York and met with the doctor and discussed the ailments of our 11 sick patients. There was hope for all of them, we knew that, and we were reassured by Dr. Eric “Roscoe” Ambel that he would do all he could to save every one of their precious souls. Our host in Brooklyn was one Robert Becker. He stays in the Slopes as it’s called up there and is just a 20-30 minute G Train ride to the song hospital, also known as Cowboy Technical Services. Its 20-30 minutes if you know where you’re going that is, if you don’t, like Jack and me, it takes about an hour and a half.
Mr. Becker fancies himself a top notch travel agent, that’s because he is. He’s the MAN if ever your flight is cancelled or if you need to get somewhere FAST! He also will entertain you with stories from his family’s past and his many travels around the world.
Friday was the big day, the day to start making sense of these songs and honestly, the day they would begin to come to life. Assistant surgeon, Tim Hatfield was hard at work when we finally arrived after texting many threats to be “almost” there. He had scalpel in hand and was going to town on the kick drum of “Gambled and Lost”. Dr. Ambel trusts Dr. Hatfield with all of his finest gear. He’s a compression master! (You can also see Dr. Hatfield’s name on Keef’s “Main Offender” record as he helped engineer that among many other records I’m sure you’ve heard.) But at times when he could hear the patient failing we’d hear “Hey Timbo!...lemme in there!” and then the master surgeon, Dr. Ambel would grab the controls and take over.
Once the patient reached a steady blood pressure he would hand it back off. I was surprised at the urgency and EXTREME care that each song received…and they never let up until every ass in the room was shaking and everyBODY in the room was a proud papa. Once “Gambled” was rolled off into the ICU, “I’m Your Radio” was brought in. This one really needed help and the good doctors dug in with all they had, assisted by anesthesiologist, Mario Viele. He’s the one that kept the food coming and the wine flowing, braving the heat AND the 6 flights of stairs to make sure the family and doctors were comfortable. One by one, the three professionals took on the challenges of each patient, as Jack and I waited word (from a nearby couch) on their condition. We were there in support too, as occasionally, one of them would fire back a question about the patient’s history. It was a good team.
Day after day, from 11am to 8-ish pm, Friday through Monday, each song was brought in and worked on until everyone was completely worn out. Jack and I would eventually, after a few subway changeovers, find our way back to Mr. Becker’s house to hear a few more tales before retiring to our one room meat locker.
His dog, August barked a bit but she was just trying to get a word in edgewise. And to be fair to Jack and me, the subway tracks were being worked on all weekend so the trains would just randomly switch tracks on us and we’d end up in Coney Island or somewhere without knowing what the mumbling train engineer was telling us we needed to do to get where we were SUPPOSED to be going. But I digress, back to the songs. Sunday had been a productive day, so much so that we rewarded ourselves with some of the best New York style pizza ever made! (…along with some damn fine red wines, of course!) So on Monday, we had just a little left to do on “Too Much Information”, or so we thought. It was close to 2pm before the good doctors commenced to saving “Sweetness” (by all accounts the last song on the record), and our flight back to Raleigh was at 8:40pm, so time was running out. All was going well until the acoustic guitars were brought up in the mix, a collective “uuuugh!” rang through the room. “Mario! Hand me down that acoustic!” head doctor Ambel ordered. Somehow, I ended up in the booth with headphones and the thing around my neck as the record button went red. It was quick work though as the chords were easy and no special tuning was required. That being done, only a few more moves were left to do before we could introduce this rocker to world. As with all of the songs, the test was in the BIG speakers. They all got one final LOUD listen before calling them done. But this being the last song, we made it special by toasting a round of red wine as it met our final approval. There was jubilance in the air as the OakTeam had completed another dynamo, certainly their best record… and it all was with the help of the team of highly professional, caring individuals from the staff at Cowboy Technical Services, Drs. Eric Ambel, Tim Hatfield and Mario Viele. Cheers to them for working so hard to make not only US happy, but YOU happy too!!