MARK HOWARD – LISTEN UP: RECORDING MUSIC WITH BOB DYLAN, NEIL YOUNG, U2, R.E.M., THE TRAGICALLY HIP, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, TOM WAITS…
BOOK REVIEW BY GERROD HARRIS
Producers and engineers are certainly the unsung heroes of popular music. While some have managed to become fairly well-known amongst the public–Dr. Dre, George Martin, Jimmy Iovine, and perhaps Rick Rubin, Brendan O’Brien, and Bob Rock, depending on who you’re speaking to–thousands get little or no recognition in the public eye. While Mark Howard likely falls into the latter category, if his memoir, Listen Up: Recording Music with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2, R.E.M., The Tragically Hip, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Waits… is any indication, if you have ever owned a radio at any point in your life, you’ve heard his work. As the title of the book suggests, Howard has worked with an extensive list of musicians from all walks of styles from the late ‘80s to present and Listen Up walks the reader through his role in shaping popular music from the control room.
Following Howard’s departure from his home in Hamilton, Ontario down into New Orleans to work with The Neville Brothers, Brian Eno, and Bob Dylan, among others (all within what seems like a matter of months), Listen Up jumps headfirst into Howard’s story as an engineer and producer and how he has worked with a true top tier list of artists. The book follows him as he travels for various projects, building different studios along the way as he continues to work with the likes of R.E.M., Eddie Vedder, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, and Joni Mitchell, among many, many more. While, front to back, Listen Up makes for an enjoyable read, certain chapters stand out, especially the ones which centered around Dylan, Iggy Pop, Willie Nelson, Marianne Faithfull, and Robert Plant.
Listen Up is a book that will immediately appeal to not only music fans but also musicians, producers, and engineers. Howard does an excellent job of balancing humorous and interesting anecdotes with tips and tricks that shed some light as to his process in the studio. Whether you’re more interested in why Dylan chose to only record after dark when making 1989’s Oh Mercy or if you’re more intrigued with how the album had such a spacious and atmospheric tone to it, Listen Up is the book for you.
All in all, Listen Up: Recording Music with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2, R.E.M., The Tragically Hip, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Waits… is an enjoyable read that will appeal to a far greater audience than you would assume. Through allowing readers to peer behind the curtain, Howard shines not only a light on the methods behind his own work, but also on the process in which songs go through to be brought to life on an album. Most importantly, however, this is a book that should spark an inspiration in musicians and studio types alike to experiment with their own sounds, environments, and recording methods to ultimately continue to pursue their craft with a sense of creativity, artistry, and excellence.
Born in Manchester, England, Mark Howard is a Canadian record producer, engineer, and mixer. He has worked with Neil Young, R.E.N., Willie Nelson, Peter Gabriel, U2, The Neville Brothers, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Marianna Faithfull, and The Tragically Hip, among many others.
Purchase Listen Up: Recording Music with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, U2, R.E.M., The Tragically Hip, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Waits… via ECW PRESS HERE or through your favourite book distributors linked below.