In mid-1978, Guthrie received a request from Pink Floyd's manager, Steve O'Rourke, to meet with him regarding potential production projects. First was a pitch to produce singer/songwriter Tom Robinson (and the end result was his production of "Our People", the b-side of the "Bully For You" single in 1979). The other was for Pink Floyd, about to embark on their new project, a concept album which was eventually titled The Wall. Based on his previous production credits and after meeting with Guthrie, Roger Waters believed he would be a good fit. Guthrie accepted the assignment with the request that he would be allowed to engineer the record himself.
Guthrie was the only member of the production team to be awarded by NARAS for his contributions, receiving the 1980 Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical.
A case can be made for Guthrie's involvement as an important element of the timeless sound Pink Floyd was able to achieve with The Wall. David Gilmour stated in a March 2000 interview with Record Collector, regarding the contributors, "Another crucial figure is James Guthrie. The album's wonderfully clear and punchy, and very modern-sounding." Nick Mason also acknowledged Guthrie's contribution specifically in regards to the drum sound in an interview with TapeOp magazine: "James Guthrie was great on The Wall - I thought he did a great job."
Guthrie's initial involvement with Pink Floyd was to last nearly five years; in addition to engineering and co-production duties on The Wall, he also served as the Sound Mixer (supervising the Front of House engineering team) on most of the performances of The Wall live as well as actual recording of some of the performances (he would later provide the mix and production for the release Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81), as well as Sound Coordinator on the film adaptation Pink Floyd—The Wall (he would engineer the music for film as well as produce it in collaboration with Waters and Gilmour). Guthrie received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Film Sound in 1982 for his work on the film, (along with sound editor Eddy Joseph, production mixer Clive Winter, and dubbing mixers Graham Hartstone and Nicholas Le Messurier). He was then asked to co-produce (along with Michael Kamen) The Final Cut, the last release of Waters-era Pink Floyd. According to Andy Jackson, who served as engineer for the recording along with Guthrie, the use of the name "Max" in the songs "The Gunner's Dream" and "Paranoid Eyes" is an appropriation of Guthrie's nickname (the members of the production team - Guthrie, Jackson and Kamen - each had nicknames), which Waters had originally included as a joke, but decided that it suited the overall concept and created an actual character in the narrative with the name.
Guthrie appears in at least three documentaries about Pink Floyd: in The Lost Documentary (filmed in August 1980 and never officially released but was made available in 2004), he is interviewed and receives an onscreen credit as "Sound Mixer". In The Other Side of The Wall (chronicling the making of Pink Floyd The Wall) he appears onscreen during a sequence depicting recording of additional music for the film but is neither credited nor interviewed; and in Retrospective: Looking Back at The Wall (included on the DVD release of Pink Floyd—The Wall) he is interviewed and receives an onscreen credit as "Music Producer" in the second half of the documentary. Guthrie also appears in the "Editing and Music" featurette for the DVD release of The Last Mimzy, in a sequence which depicts recording for the Waters song "Hello (I Love You)" but is neither interviewed nor credited; as well as the music video produced for the song. He was also interviewed (without onscreen credit) for the electronic press kit used to promote the release of Pulse in 1995. A little-known feature of the Waters DVD release In the Flesh is when the viewer selects the option for "A/V Setup" the menu screen shows a looping film of Guthrie (as well as his assistant Joel Plante) at the recording console inside Le Mobile Remote Recording Studio, used to record the audio for the CD and DVD releases.
Read more about this topic: James Guthrie (record Producer)
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