The concept is cool and concise enough according to copy on a Capitol Records promotional trailer video for its “Capitol Cuts” series: “… intimate, one take performance videos shot in Capitol Studios: Studio A and recorded directly to vinyl.”
So what we have here is famed producer and music industry legend Don Was brings ascending artists in to Capitol Records’ studios for a live video session. And, they also record everything direct-to-disc in one pass. There is no tape nor computers involved, so you have to have your game down cold as a live performer. The music is mixed on the fly, fed into the “disc cutter” which creates the acetate “lacquer” (aka master disc) that is used for making the final album (thus the notion of “direct to disc).
Check out this 21 second promo video for a very quick study the concept…
From the Black Pumas’ Bandcamp page we get additional perspective:
“Recorded direct to acetate – all live, no overdubs – Capitol Cuts – Live from Studio A captures a powerful moment in time. After months of cancelled shows Black Pumas went to Los Angeles this past fall and laid down eight explosive tracks at the famed Capitol Studio A. The recording brims with pent up energy, nearly bursting through the grooves on the expansive and mind-blowing seven minute rendition of “Colors.” A few weeks later the song would received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year.”
What I loved immediately on Black Pumas’ Capitol Cuts – Live From Studio A is how the band opens up their eight song set with an urgent version of “I’m Ready” which wasn’t even on their debut album initially. The song ended up being added as one of the bonus tracks on the expanded one-year anniversary version of their self-titled debut album (which added a second LP and a bonus single). This edition of the album was my entry point for all things Black Pumas and I reviewed it earlier this year (click here to read).
I could go through track by track but really you should just dive in and listen to Black Pumas’ Capitol Cuts – Live From Studio A. This album has a sense of purpose which comes across in their set. I’ve never seen the band in person but it was indeed the gravitational pull of their live performances on video which drew me into their universe. I have great hopes for this band: they are a group clearly with a mission. I can’t wait to hear their follow on album.
But for now Capitol Cuts – Live From Studio A will certainly hold me over.
This LP sounds really quite great when you turn it up loud. My copy is very nice, pressed on standard weight opaque red vinyl that is quiet and well centered. I have read some complaints on line about earlier pressings having issues with warps and such, but hopefully by now they have worked out the manufacturing bugs. Mine was fine (I purchased this one at Amoeba, in case you were wondering). Also, from what I have read online, only 2,000 copies of this red album were made so you should try to pick up a copy if you see it around.
Anyhow, I’ll let the Black Pumas do the rest of the buzz building with some videos from their Capitol Cuts sessions which are up on YouTube. If you appreciate passionate rock ’n soul sounds, this is it.