Are We Still Rolling?

Studios, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll
One Man's Journey Recording Classic Albums.

This is not a technical manual (although it will certainly function as one) - it's a contemporary thriller.

Phil Brown is a sound engineer. It's a mystery, even to people in the music business, as to exactly what a sound engineer does - are they part of the creative process or merely technicians?

In the past 30 years, recording studios have moved from the engine room of a submarine to the bridge of a starship - baffling the outsider - although recording music will always be the same unguessable adventure. That's what Phil Brown has written here - an adventure story.

Look at the chapter headings. Laid out in the form of a diary he takes us through the crazy journey that is making music. Not as an academic journal, but as a spiritual experience. With his laconic navigation we're steered through the centre of the ego hurricanes of creative madness. He is the Jiminy Cricket of recording sessions, and his excellent recollections of the excesses of morons and geniuses involved in creating melodies and rhythms for us to enjoy are sheer entertainment.

It's a 'how-to' book and a love story! A self-driven need to understand why creative people do what they do and how to survive it and them.

Robert Palmer, 9th September 1997

Phill Brown's Are We Still Rolling? follows the adventures of a sound recording engineer and record producer, from his first glimpse of a magical recording studio in the mid-1960's - up through a busy career that continues to the present day.

Early on, observing his brother Terry Brown and sessions with The Yardbirds and Marianne Faithfull, Phill saw an opportunity for a life much more exciting than selling gent's wear.

As a young tape operator on sessions for Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, Jimi Hendrix, Traffic, Joe Cocker and Steve Miller at the famed Olympic Sound Studios in London, Phill learned the ropes from experienced engineers and producers such as Jimmy Miller, Glyn Johns, Shel Talmy, Keith Grant and Eddie Kramer.

Phill soon worked his way up, and after a stint in Canada found himself back in London and working at Island's Basing Street Studios, engineering sessions for Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, Sly Stone, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Robert Palmer, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Steve Winwood, Harry Nilsson, Stomu Yamash'ta, Murray Head, John Martyn, Dana Gillespie - and even live recordings with Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd.

Leaving Island in 1976 to become a freelance engineer/producer, Phill began working with a large array of artists such as Shakin' Stevens, Roxy Music, Paul Carrack, Go West, Talk Talk, Throwing Muses, Fusanosuke Kondo, Mark Hollis, Dido, Faithless, Beth Gibbons, David Gilmour and Robert Plant.

From The Stones' "Beggars Banquet" to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" to Steve Winwood's first solo album to Roxy Music's "Manifesto" and on to a pair of multi-million selling Dido records and the much-adored final two Talk Talk albums, Phill Brown has been at the creation of some of the most treasured music of the past 40 years.

But more than just the music and all the amazing artists, this is a man's journey through life as Phill struggles to balance his home life and family with a job where drug abuse, alcohol, chaos, rampant egos, greed, lies and the increasing invasive record business take their toll. It's also a cautionary tale, where long workdays and what once seemed like harmless indulgences become health risks, yet eventually offer a time to reflect back on this crazy life.

  Are You Still Rolling?  
... Yes, Phill, you are.

Are We Still Rolling? is available in paperback, Kindle or Talking Book from Hal Leaonard, iTunes & Amazon:

Talking Book narrated by Terry Brown.

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