Taking the lead once again

Guitarist Jimmy Page explains how he used the internet to break new ground in recording
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The Independent Culture
WHAT WE did was in fact a media first. I was called on a Thursday with the request to do a song with Puff Daddy. At the time, I was rehearsing for the tour we are doing now and they told me that Puff Daddy would like to do a version of "Kashmir" for the Godzilla soundtrack. I spoke to him later that day. He really wanted to work with me, but it was unfortunate timing because all the equipment was going off the next day to Eastern Europe. Puff Daddy said he thought that we could work something out.

We decided to do it using the Internet. This meant going on tape in London simultaneously, using a satellite link-up between the two of us. The only real problem was that there was a slight [time] delay on the link. But it didn't really matter as we had communication between us via mobile phones. People were rushing around like maniacs on their mobiles.

Puff put two orchestras on it simultaneously and created this massive sound. People had used Zeppelin riffs before but had just ripped us off. Puff was really respectful and, although he was fully aware of the original, he didn't want just to take a sample from it.

It was a bit odd. Even though there was a satellite link-up, we needed to be really focused and disciplined. I knew that everybody had their eyes on me; there was no room for mistakes. In fact, in the end, it was the studio that made the mistake, as it couldn't accommodate enough phone lines and the kick-off was about half an hour late. All I had to do was go down there with my amplifier and guitar.

I don't know whether I would do it again. It would have to be something pretty amazing, to be honest; for my sort of playing, it is much easier to be with the musicians at the same time. That was a mighty project: the whole thing had epic proportions and a tight time scale. We got the idea on Thursday and had achieved it by Saturday.

The whole thing coming together with Puff Daddy was really interesting and a great experience. The project was good in every way. How the reel was done CTS Studios in Wembley, north London, was the scene for a double- ended recording session linked via ISDN between CTS in the UK and Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. Jimmy Page's guitar parts were recorded in London using its AMS-Neve Capricorn digital console, with Jimmy playing live in the studio to the backing tracks which had been sent over to CTS via ISDN earlier in the day. The two production teams communicated via a five- hour satellite video link and film crews recorded the proceedings at both sites.

CTS engineer Toby Wood recalls: "The session began with the transatlantic transfer of the backing tracks - these came across as five stereo pairs, with time-code, using our APT ISDN system. We constructed a slave reel from these tracks in preparation for recording Jimmy Page's guitar parts.'

Wood explained that the system is most useful when a film's director wants an extra musical part some time after the main session, and the time and expense involved in getting everyone back together can be saved. For this project, the most demanding aspect of the logistics was ensuring that the right people got the relevant music or communications feed.

"At the same time as recording Jimmy's guitar overdubs, we had to make sure that the film crews got a clean feed of music and that Jimmy could hear talkback from our control room and from Puff Daddy in LA. Also, LA had to have a permanent communications link with ourselves."