Producer FLEMMING RASMUSSEN Looks Back On Recording With Late METALLICA Bassist CLIFF BURTON - "Cliff Fits In His Own Category... He Was Like A Musician's Musician, And He Played By Ear"
June 14, 2018, 3 months ago
In a new interview with Greg Prato for Songfacts, heavy metal producer Flemming Rasmussen - who co-produced what many believe to be Metallica's three best albums: 1984's Ride The Lightning, 1986's Master Of Puppets, and 1988's ...And Justice for All - recalls the gritty details, like getting the bell sound on "For Whom The Bell Tolls," and using reverb on Ride. He also shared his thoughts on recording with the late/great Cliff Burton, and offered some pointers for aspiring producers. An excerpt from the interview follows:
Q: How would you compare working with the band during the Cliff era to the Jason (Newsted) era, in the studio?
A: "It's a pretty big difference, because the Cliff albums [that Flemming worked on] were recorded in Denmark, and the Justice album we did in LA. So, it was like two different worlds. I think Jason is a fabulous bass player, and I think the bass he plays on ...And Justice For All was really up there... but nobody's ever heard it. [Laughs] Jason was a really good, tight, focused bass player.
"Cliff fits in his own category. He was like a musician's musician, and he played by ear. You could have something he played that you went, Eh, and then the next time, it would be absolutely fantastic. So, with Cliff, it was waiting for him to get inspired and deliver. Everybody knew he could - especially everybody in the band - because we'd heard it so many times. Jason was more of a really solid, steady bass player that you knew you would give a really good performance."
Q: What are your thoughts about the Justice album not having audible bass on it?
A: "I was as surprised as everybody else when I heard the mix. I had to decline doing the Justice album because I was booked elsewhere, and got into it after like, a month and a half [Metallica began recording the album with producer Mike Clink, and then eventually switched over to Flemming]. They had already gotten somebody else [Steve Thompson] to mix it. I had no hand in the mix, whatsoever. I know the guy who mixed it hated it because they turned the bass down so much. But that was all Lars and James [Hetfield]."
Read the full interview here.
(Photo courtesy of Flemming Rasmussen)