“In the form of a diary, he takes us through the crazy journey that is making music. His excellent recollections of the excesses of morons and geniuses involved in creating melodies and rhythms for us to enjoy are sheer entertainment.”
Musician Robert Palmer, from his foreword for the book.
Phill Brown’s Are We Still Rolling? follows the adventures of a recording engineer and record producer, from his first glimpse of a magical recording studio in the mid-1960s, up through a busy career that continues to the present day.
Early on, observing his brother’s sessions with The Yardbirds and Marianne Faithfull, Phill saw an opportunity for a life much more exciting than selling gents’ wear. As the 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 Record’s Basing Street Studios, engineering sessions for Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, Sly Stone, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Robert Palmer, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Steve Winwood, Harry Nilsson, Stomu Yamashta, Murray Head, John Martyn, Dana Gillespie and even live recordings for Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd.
Leaving Island in 1976 to become a freelance engineer and producer, Phill began working with 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 home and family with a job where drug abuse, chaos, rampant egos, greed, lies and an increasingly invasive record business take their toll. It’s also a cautionary tale, where long workdays and what once seemed like harmless indulgences become life threatening. “Are We Still Rolling?” Yes, Phill, you are.