Wednesday, April 11, 2007

FM - Headroom (Direct to Disc)

The first release for the Ben Mink era of FM was an interesting project funded and endorsed by the CBC. This project was called, "Headroom". Essentially, this involved recording two loosely improvised songs, each occupying an entire side of the album. What makes this all the more unique is that the album was recorded direct-to-disc, meaning that it was recorded in one take with no overdubs and no master acetate...quite an amazing feat when you hear the depth and complexity of these tracks. Only 200 copies of this album were pressed, easily making this the crown jewel of the band's repertoire.

Sadly, the master tapes were destroyed in a fire, making the the possibility of CD reissue a rather moot point. Luckily, collectors have taken the proactive route and made their own reissues on the trading circuit. Ripped from a pristine copy of the album, I present "Headroom" for your listening pleasure. Dig it!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

NOW I'm impress...I have this album too, and kept a taped copy handy in case my copy got ruined or lost. It's a true prog rock gem & I'm glad someone found it. Man, your blog is fantastic!
--D.Moose

ssed2k said...

Ronnie, thanks for this!

Before your contribution, it was impossible to find Headroom, either legally or ilegally.

Excellent experimental prog from the time when prog was losing it, especially its experimental edge.

Anonymous said...

I also have this record. Found it some years ago in the used LP racks at Peanut Records in Lomita CA USA.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it took me a while to even remember the name of this album, so I wasn't expecting much when I finally googled it to see if anyone else out there remembers this classic. I was blown away that only 200 copies were made, so I guess my autographed original is worth something! We used to see these guys every time they came to Ottawa (Barrymores). Anyone see any of those shows???
--Mark, Vancouver

Anonymous said...

Hey there,
I have this LP but with a slight different cover, it does not have the title "Headroom" just "Direct to disc" just for your info,
You can see the picture here:
http://www.pictures.martysaudiophilevinylcollection.com/rockpop/slides/fm%20-%20d2d.html

Pat said...

Thank you for an album I have been trying to get for YEARS,great Prog from the past Brillant

Michael R said...

friggin' great!

I only came round to look for Strongbow but I think now I'm fallin' for the blog!..

Anonymous said...

Sadly it is in 192 , this album deserves 320 minimum !

But thanks a lot !

Birdman said...

Cool! Thanks a lot. I saw FM as a warm-up for Saga, but could only ever find the first album. It's really great.

Anonymous said...

Ah! Thank you for uploading this classic. I found my scratchy copy at a garage sale twenty years ago (mine has the other cover the previous commenter posted). I can finally listen to a clean copy of it. Thanks!

The Basement Rug said...

Thanks so much for this offering. I have been trying to put together the complete FM & Nash the Slash discographies for my mp3 player. Your comments about the master tapes being destroyed by fire made me LOL, as there are NO tapes in a direct-to-disc recording :)

J said...

Ah, but I spoke with Cameron Hawkins via email back in 2001 & "Headroom" was also tracked to 2-inch tape at the same time, for the purposes of archiving. Both the master lacquer & 2-inch tape were destroyed in the fire. This fire also destroyed the masters to Black Noise, Surveillance & City of Fear. The Black Noise reissues were needle drops from pristine vinyl.

Anonymous said...

It's a little hazy, but in 1998 I met with Jeff Hess, the archivist from One Way Records in Albany, New York. Jeff was sent the master of Direct to Disc from a source he could not reveal, while negotiating the release of Surveillance and City of Fear with Cameron Hawkins. the intention was to split DtD between both cds as bonus tracks.
Something happened in the negotiations and he told me that he had obtained masters of both of those as well but, about a year later, all negotiations had fallen through and the relationship with Hawkins had soured. He placed the DAT tapes in a box and said 'nobody is going to hear these now.' This was 11 years ago. Around 2000, One Way sold out to a company in Florida who didn't know what to do with the reissues so that portion sort of fell by the wayside as did Jeff's job and he took this amazing box of DATs with him. True story. Im not certain that cameron knew that One Way had obtained these supposed lost masters from different sources. One Way found ways to unearth a lot of masters and then would somehow botch it up in their mastering and final graphics package.....

J said...

Excellent post! So maybe there were some 2nd gen masters floating around. I suppose that could be possible or maybe the masters were needledrops like "Black Noise" was. In either case, it's terribly disappointing that none of these have been reissued. I remember a discussion I had with Terry Wachtsmuth about the FM reissues & he told me that the FM reissues were definitely going to happen but that there were many communication issues between him & Cameron Hawkins. He seemed frustrated about the whole thing.

At least Black Noise finally got released. You are right about One Way's total mishandling of the mastering & packaging. The James Gang reissues in particular were just atrocious. Sadly, this sort of became an ongoing problem with the label.

Foovius Foo said...

Well, MegaUpload is gone now, and with it, Headroom. Wish you'd post higher quality MP3 of this rarity somewhere! Kills me that my original LP copy of Headroom got sold off years ago.

J said...

Well, as a consolation, Headroom will be featured on the new FM reissues coming in November from Esoteric Records. They should be budget priced & were apparently lifted from the two inch backup masters. FINALLY the entire FM canon will see the digital treatment this Fall! :)

http://www.cherryred.co.uk/esoteric.asp