Bob Ludwig—The Mastering Master Bids Farewell (Part 1) Bob's Favorite Cuts

Here are some of Bob Ludwig's favorite albums he mastered through the years, with his comments:

1960s: The Band: The Band, "an iconic recording." Also Led Zeppelin II, "made 54 years ago and played on radio every single day since!" For historical perspective, Ludwig notes that 54 years prior to LZII, the state of the art was "acoustical recording into a horn!"

1970s: Metal Machine Music, "the first time I worked with Lou Reed" and Sheik Yerbouti, "my glorious days with Frank Zappa."

1980s: Journey's Escape: "Don't Stop Believing!"; Donald Fagen's The Nightfly: "3M digital and (producer) Gary Katz!"; Bruce Springsteen's Born In the USA, "the start of Bruce's Stadium performances"; and Dire Straits' Brothers In Arms, "the first time a CD outsold the vinyl version."

1990s: Foo Fighters' The Colour and The Shape, "Dave Grohl!" and Nirvana's In Utero, "Kurt fell asleep in front of the left speaker!"

2000s: Radiohead's In Rainbows, "Nigel Godrich!," and Springsteen's The Rising: "It moved me to tears."

2010s: Beck's Morning Phase; Daft Punk's Random Access Memories; and Wilco's The Whole Love.

2020s: The Songs of Bacharach & Costello by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, and Metallica's 72 Seasons.

Glotz's picture

If we could infuse him with the fountain of youth elixir... lol.

The first time I saw his name on a record and thought about him and his role was in 1984 on REM's Reckoning. Super GOAT!

I hope he enjoys all of his retirement and lives a long life!

Doctor Fine's picture

Bob is leaving a sinking ship. Our "Western Enlightenment culture" is dead. Today feeling refreshed by exposure to high quality compositions is a lost experience. You have to dig everything out yourself to find even a hint of real art or real music that isn't over 50 years old! Look at this ridiculous magazine touting the NEWEST WARREN ZEVON album! I mean the guy died years ago. Not that he wasn't cool for five minutes back in the 70s but c'mon. If I was Bob Ludwig I would have quit years ago. Mastering old dead recordings is for clowns. Move on Bob. Ever hear Magnetic Fields on radio lately? Kurt Vile? Cass McCombs? I thought not.

Lazer's picture

Please block this “a..hole”.

darthlaker's picture

Thanks for the incredible interview! Would have been great if we heard Roberts thoughts on vinyl vs digital! :)

monetschemist's picture

... to Bob Ludwig, for so much enjoyable effort over the years. And, best wishes for a long and lovely retirement.

Johnmac's picture

I would love to hear more about the whole story of the “Robert Ludgwig” mastering story for Led Zep ll. As you may know, he originally mastered led zep ll but it was then remastered, with supposedly the record company complaining that the heavy and wide dynamic range mastering was throwing cartridges off track. Original ‘RL’ in the dead wax copies are going for four figures on eBay. I will say it does sound quite incredible and even my VG copy is what I test any system on. Thoughts?

John M. Marks's picture

I first started working with Bob in 1991 in NYC, when he fastidiously remastered the LP version of Arturo Delmoni's "Songs My Mother Taught Me," which blows the North Star LP into the weeds. Bob later, in Maine, remastered the digital version, which similarly blew the MFSL "Songs My Mother" CD into the weeds. Bob's SMMTM digital remastering is now available again, this time from IMPEX, as a gold CD. For my last "The Fifth Element" Stereophile column, Bob graciously consented to be interviewed by me: If you don't recall it, it is very much worth revisiting. With all my best wishes to Bob and Gail. john