My Abbey Road: Simon Gibson #AbbeyRoad90

2nd October 2021

My Abbey Road…with Simon Gibson

Simon has 30 years of experience at Abbey Road, mastering both stereo and 5.1 surround projects that span from rock and pop to symphonic orchestral soundtracks.

In his #MyAbbeyRoad contribution, we hear his favourite memory of working on the back catalogue of the famous soprano, Maria Callas, and one of his most stand-out recordings of Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony, recorded in Studio One.


Simon's Abbey Road

As someone who has had the privilege of working here for over 30 years, I feel the most important thing about Abbey Road is the way that everyone is aiming for the same thing – to produce music of the highest quality, both artistically and technically. Whether in the studios or in the mastering rooms, we all strive for perfection. Part of this is down to the history of the studios and, in the archive restoration work that I have done over the years, I have learned from the work of earlier engineers while remastering their recordings for the present day.

When I listen to the old, analogue tapes, I gain experience in what makes a great-sounding recording and I learn how to spot when things can be fixed with our modern technology that had to be left in the original.

We are a collaborative team here; I often end up mastering a project which has been recorded and mixed in-house by a colleague and this helps with the continuity of tradition within Abbey Road.

Simon's Favourite Memory?

We remastered the entire back catalogue of the famous soprano, Maria Callas, and, as part of the promotion for the box set’s release, I did an interview with one of the original recording engineers from the 1950s, Bob Gooch. Bob came into Abbey Road and we talked about his memories of working with Callas. He also brought in his old photo album which contained many session photographs of artists and producers which was fascinating.

One of the opera recordings we discussed was Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, recorded by Bob in 1957 in Kingsway Hall. What was particularly interesting about this opera was that it was the first opera that EMI had recorded in stereo. I was able to play some of the new remaster to Bob and his response was wonderful – with tears in his eyes, he asked if that was really the recording that he had made. Yes, I said, it’s all your doing! That, for me, is the essence of what we do – using music to move people’s emotions.

Simon's Favourite Recording?

There are several albums and artists that I have come to appreciate more while working on remastering projects over the years. For example, Vera Lynn and Bruce Forsyth, both of whom made some fabulous records in the 1960s. On the classical side, one of the stand-out recordings for me is Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphony, recorded by engineer Chris Parker in Studio One in 1977 and performed by Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra. I remastered this from the original 8-track, 1-inch analogue tapes a few years ago and got to know it very well – a classic of 20th Century music, brilliantly played and recorded.

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