By Mike Cohen
FOR a music nerd like myself, speaking to Steve Rosenthal is akin to Charlie Bucket finding the golden ticket in his chocolate bar wrapper.
But you won’t find four-time Grammy Award-winner Steve’s name on the front cover of any albums, although his place in rock history is assured.
He is a music archaeologist —salvaging music that was long thought to be lost and lovingly restoring it from his MagicShop Archive & Restoration Studios (MARS) in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.
For the past six years, Bronx-born Steve has been working on the Blondie boxset Against The Odds 1974-1982, which is finally released next Friday.
It comes in a variety of formats from two-disc and three-disc versions to a lavish eight CD or 10 vinyl version.
But how did Steve become involved in this project?
“Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke were upstairs at the Magic Shop with producer John Congleton making (2017 album) Pollinator, which was the last Blondie record that came out.
“I was downstairs working on a folk music project. I believe I was working on Dave Van Ronk, a really amazing songwriter. And (guitarist) Chris came down to one of my restoration rooms and asked ‘What the hell is this?’.
“And I explained to him, that I work on legacy material. I stopped engineering new records sometime in the late 1990s. And really started focusing my life on working on legacy projects.
“So he said, it was really funny as he had some stuff and would I be interested in seeing it?
“And I said, ‘Yeah, of course’, I got really excited. But he said, ‘One thing, though. It’s all been underwater’.
“I have worked with tapes that had been flooded before. And so I organised a road trip up to the garage, where Chris had these assets.”
What the 69-year-old found was a treasure trove of Blondie demos on a number of tapes, many of which were covered in mould.
He showed me photos of the tapes, including ones labelled Once I Had A Love and Will Anything Happen, which became classics Heart of Glass and Hanging on the Telephone, respectively.
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