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“I had done their demo, the one that got them a deal, at Electric Lady in 1973. We did it four-track in Studio B in one day. I didn’t work with them on their first two records. The record company, in their infinite wisdom, wanted somebody who could give them some hits. I don’t know about that… but it certainly established the band.
“They went on the road and toured behind those albums, and they built up a terrific fan base. When it came time to do the live album, Neil Bogart, the head of Casablanca, called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it. I said sure. I thought it would be a challenge – they’re jumping around in their high boots, smoke bombs and explosions, all kinds of crap going off. I said, ‘It sounds like fun.’
“And it would be a challenge: It was very tough to get the band, in that kind of atmosphere, to play in time and in tune. That was the hard part – to capture enough performances where it was really good. I think we got the live essence by virtue of the multiple gigs they did. There was one in Cleveland, in Detroit, in Iowa and another one in Wildwood, New Jersey.
“Wildwood was where the rubber met the road. We used the same Fedco truck that I recorded NRBQ with. It was interesting trying to record the band in a 1,200-seater club with no PA system initially, till the crew went out and stole a scaffolding from a local building site in order to build a platform for the PA. This was in the afternoon right before the gig.
“The band was amazing. Gene and Paul were the driving force behind the organization and for what was supposed to be on the record. We worked pretty closely together on that. Ace – I love him. A fantastic guitar player, vastly underrated. I think the whole band played great. Again, it was a challenge to get the best bits. We did a lot of overdubs to make it sound right. But in the end, they saved Casablanca’s asses – the label was going under. Between KISS and Donna Summer, they saved Casablanca.”