Review of ‘Adventures in Modern Recording’ by Trevor Horn

An entertaining music memoir from one of the most famous producers, Trevor Horn. He tells us about his career, from the beginnings which launched him into the spotlight, to becoming a sought-after producer, how he ended up being the temporary frontman of Yes and the challenges of running a label, ZTT.

Book cover of Adventures in Modern Recording by Trevor Horn

Bookended by descriptions of a concert for the Prince’s Trust in 2004, this book is mostly in chronological order although diverted where appropriate. The chapters are named after songs which inspired Trevor in his early days, or (and this is most of them) songs in which he was involved, such as ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ by The Buggles, ‘Mirror Mirror’ by Dollar, ‘Poison Arrow’ by ABC, ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ by Yes, ‘Relax’ / ‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, ‘Close to the Edit’ by Art of Noise, ‘Belfast Child’ by Simple Minds, ‘Crazy’ by Seal, ‘Can’t Fight the Moonlight’ by LeAnn Rimes and ‘All the Things She Said’ by t.A.T.u. He goes into a lot of detail, showing the headaches of working with stubborn bands or the limits of technology and the euphoria of listening back to a track and realising it’s going to be a hit. Personally I think it’s fascinating to know how the music was put together to make it sound a particular way, especially when there were no fancy computer programmes to do it, but for the casual reader there may be a little too much producer-speak. The sentences were occasionally repetitive and there were a few small errors. Some photos were included at the end, but not as many as you might expect, considering how many famous musicians Trevor has worked with. I felt that the book was partly a tribute to his late wife Jill who was really a driving force behind the label and the studio. Trevor is also careful to mention everyone else who were instrumental in his career, including other producers, record label people, engineers and session musicians.

In summary, a very good read. All the songs will be going around your head for a long time afterwards…

Published in 2022.

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