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The Rebirth of Vinyl Records

With Jeff Powell

In The Booth - Science and Sound

Vinyl records are back in style! But what happened to cause them to lose popularity in the first place? Discover this and more as we look at how records are made from a 30-year veteran of the industry. Recommended for grades 3+.

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Jeff Powell has been recording, mixing and producing records for 30 years. He was a staff assistant engineer, then engineer/mixer and finally producer at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios from ’89-’97. He has been freelancing since then, and now makes his home base at Sam Phillips Recording Service.

Working at Ardent in his early years afforded him many opportunities to work with some of the greatest producers and engineers of all time (Jim Gaines, Glyn Johns, Rob Fraboni, John Hampton, Eddie Kramer and Jim Dickinson), including 6 records with the late great Tom Dowd. Through the years he has taken what he calls “the best from the best” and come up with his own eclectic approach to making records.

Powell has worked on multiple gold and platinum records, six GRAMMY Award winning projects, was twice voted Best Engineer for the Premiere Players awards by the Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy, was chairman of the Producer and Engineering wing for the Memphis Chapter of the Recording Academy for over 10 years and has been honored as a legendary producer of Memphis at the annual Blues Ball.

Besides being a producer and engineer, Powell has expanded his horizons over the last 10 years and is now cutting vinyl records on his Neumann VMS 70 lathe at Sam Phillips Recording Service. His vinyl cutting business is called Take Out Vinyl, and he has cut over a thousand records to date. Some of his vinyl cutting credits include The Afghan Whigs, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Elvis Presley, The North Mississippi All Stars, The Black Keys, Roy Orbison, Daft Punk, Al Green, Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, Ann Peebles, Gregg Allman, Johnny Cash and Lucero.

In July of 2011, Jeff opened a warehouse, no control room style, recording space in the Edge district in Memphis called Humongous Too. He was also recently an adjunct professor in the commercial recording program at his alma mater, the University of Memphis. Some of his engineering/mixing credits include St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Tonic, The Dave Matthews Band, Big Star, The Bottle Rockets, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sharon Jones, Centro-matic, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Primal Scream, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Alvin Youngblood Hart and The Afghan Whigs.