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Restoring & Mixing Chicago At The Isle Of Wight

Tim Jessup
Published July 2018
By Stephanie L Carta

Tim Jessup in Chicago’s mix room, Sedona, Arizona.Tim Jessup in Chicago’s mix room, Sedona, Arizona.

A combination of modern technology and skilled engineering has allowed Chicago’s landmark festival performance to be released, almost 50 years after it was taped.

Chicago’s performance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival has become the stuff of rock legend. Three years earlier, the band had been playing dank and conservative midwestern clubs; on 28th August 1970, they had flown across the Atlantic specially to play for an audience of hundreds of thousands at Afton Down on the Isle Of Wight. The set showcased the band at their most ambitious, unafraid of fusing genres and expressing their unbridled energy on a grand scale.

This memorable set was captured for posterity, but quality issues meant that the recording remained in the vaults for almost 50 years. In April, however, Chicago at Isle Of Wight was finally released by Rhino Records as the first two discs of the boxed set VI Decades Live (This Is What We Do), following painstaking restoration and a new original mix by the band’s own mix engineer Tim Jessup. Working out of the band’s hybrid studio in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, Jessup brings over four decades of experience in recording, mixing and sound design for music, film and television to his work with the band.

Local Hero

Tim’s work with Chicago began in 2010 after he met Lee Loughnane, a new Sedona resident and original member of Chicago. At the time, the band were finishing a concert DVD/Blu‑Ray titled Chicago In Chicago, featuring the Doobie Brothers. Management wanted Lee to fly to LA to oversee the 5.1 mix for the concert film, but Lee was home between tours and asked management to find someone in Sedona who could provide 5.1 mixing services so he would not have to be away from his family. As Tim tells the tale, the mix was a “Herculean effort” as he only had five days to complete the entire 26‑song set before delivery for manufacturing. Tim mixed for five days straight! In the end, “No‑one died, and everyone was relieved and happy with the results. It reminded me of my early days as a staff engineer at Kendun Recorders in Burbank, when I would typically not leave the studio for three days at a time. Learning to push yourself like that develops an obsessive work ethic that you never forsake. Now, at 60 years old, I still work the occasional all‑nighter.”

Chicago In Chicago would not be the last engineering miracle Tim would perform for the band. He designed the mobile recording studio known as The Rig used for their 2014 album Now XXXVI, and was the sound mixer for the film Now More Than Ever: The History Of Chicago, directed by Peter Pardini and...

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Published July 2018