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Spectropop V#0230

  • From: The Spectropop Group
  • Date: 02/23/99

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       Volume #0230                       February 23, 1999   
                     Special Disc Jockey Copy                 
    Subject:     Re: When did recordings start to get top end?
    Received:    02/23/99 7:16 am
    From:        Marc Wielage,
    To:          Spectropop List,
    Michael Carpenter  commented on the Spectropop 
    >I was listening to All Things Must Pass by George Harrison the
    >other day. It struck me that there is no top end or clarity on
    >that record. It got me thinking about something that I've often
    >thought about. When did people start to make records that used
    >the frequencies above 8k? What was stopping people from
    >exploring that top end before?
    Actually, _high end_ was never that much of a problem, even in 
    the 1950s. The problem was figuring out a way to capture any of 
    the _low end_ (say, below 100 Hz) and get it on vinyl, without 
    causing the stylus to pop out of the groove (i.e., mistracking).
    Even tube gear and old-fashioned mikes could easily get to 15 
    kHz three or four decades ago. I have plenty of old 1950s and 
    1960s recordings that have tons o' highs, with everything crisp 
    and clean and natural-sounding, even compared to today's 
    recordings. (Maybe even BETTER than some of today's recordings, 
    which are sometimes over-processed and harsh, IMHO.)
    But in the case of Spector, I think there's so much going on in 
    his productions, typically you get a lot of phase cancellations,
    layers and layers covering up high-frequency details, and so on, 
    so the overall effect can be muddy. It's a testament to his 
    skill as a producer that enough cut through to be audible, and 
    make the song a hit. And I think in some cases, he deliberately 
    would EQ the recordings to pull down the highs and boost other 
    frequencies for a desired effect. Often, the _echo_ during the 
    session has a totally different EQ than the lead vocal.
    For a better example of this, check out the LENNON ANTHOLOGY, 
    which has got a whole bunch of Spector tracks from the 1973 ROCK
    & ROLL sessions. Compare those to the songs produced by Lennon 
    for the same album; the sonic differences will knock you on your
    butt. The Lennon tracks are 80% clearer, with a lot more high end; 
    I'd say that for whatever reason, Spector made the decision to
    roll off the highs and boost the mids, maybe in an effort to come
    up with a song that would pierce through AM radio.
    Note also that there are two released CD versions of ALL THINGS 
    MUST PASS. I believe the American Capitol release used a lot 
    more NoNoise (or Cedar) noise-reduction processing than the 
    British EMI CD, so the American release is somewhat more muffled. 
    By comparison, the British CD was hissier, so it's a toss-up. 
    Either way, it was a noisy production, no question about it.
    -= Marc Wielage      |   "The computerized authority     =-
    -= MusicTrax, LLC    |       on rock, pop, & soul."      =-
    -= Chatsworth, CA    |         =-
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Received:    02/23/99 7:17 am
    From:        Warren Cosford, raXXXXXXXXNet
    To:          Spectropop,
    Hi Folks:
    My name is Warren Cosford. I've worked in radio and with the 
    music business for over 35 years....but like most of you, I'm 
    mostly just a fan. From my perspective, it was about 30 years 
    ago, that the history of rock and roll began to be told. The 
    first "window" was probably a multi-hour radio documentary 
    produced for RKO General in the U.S. by radio consultant Bill 
    Drake called The History of Rock and Roll.
    It can not be overstated how influential Drake was on 
    determining what music was played on mainstream Top 40 radio 
    through the 1965-75 period. Most of the radio stations he 
    programmed had HUGE signals. KHJ Los Angeles, KFRC San Francisco, 
    CKLW Windsor/Detroit, WRKO Boston were the core of his 
    influence.( In the early '70's CKLW was #1 in Detroit, #1 in 
    Toledo and #1 in Cleveland!) He was also the guy that started 
    playing "Oldies" on weekends. Remember The Solid Gold Weekend?
    For purposes of this list....aside from the power he had on 
    determining what got played on the most popular radio stations 
    almost everywhere, Drake's influence was that:
        -he "legitimized" Oldies on the radio
        -he influenced, technically, how a record was mixed and eq'd
        -he influenced the length of records
    I never worked for Drake....but, in a way, I worked against him.
    In 1970, a Drake-influenced station in Toronto, CKFH, was making 
    major inroads on the market leader CHUM. As Production Manager, 
    I was among the people brought in by CHUM to do battle.
    When CKFH announced they would be airing The History of R&R, we 
    produced The Story of The Beatles, a 12 hour program that we 
    eventually syndicated throughout the world. We would later 
    produce The Elvis Presley Story (12 hours) and The Evolution of 
    Rock (64 hours).
    Producing these shows was very difficult because there were few 
    books written on rock music. So....we went to work trying to 
    find people to interview. One person led to another...led to 
    another...led to another. And while I have hundreds of hours of 
    interviews.....I realize now, that they only skimmed the surface
    . For purposes of what we were doing at the time, our interviews
    were merely "soundbites".
    Reading the stories and trivia on this list is fascinating. 
    Twenty years ago, I knew more than most people about the history
    of rock music. Today.....I only know more than most people in my 
    Some responses to various recent e-mails:
    -I interviewed Tommy Allsup in my rental car in a parking lot 
    behind one of the Columbia studios in Nashville....probably 
    about 1975. Someone put me onto him because they said he'd had 
    "something to do with Buddy Holly". Prior to this interview, I'd 
    never heard the story about how he and Waylon Jennings had been 
    on the Winter Dance Party and had lost in coin flips with The 
    Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens to determine who would join Buddy 
    on the plane. Wish I'd known I could have asked him 
    more. I would have the same comment about almost everyone I 
    interviewed back then.
    -Many of us in radio were almost obsessed with whatever would 
    make our stations sound louder, bigger, cleaner, crisper than 
    everyone else. We often eq'd and compressed records and 
    occasionally edited and sped them up. It was generally conceded 
    that CKLW had the best technical sound. And from a record 
    company perspective....having a record that sounded good on CKLW
    meant that you were more likely to get "added" at CKLW. What 
    sounded good on AM radio back then, also usually sounded good on
    the cheap Seabreeze-type record players that many kids owned. 
    Many of these same records today, sound terrible on FM radio and
    home stereo systems.
    I know very few people who were in power positions back then, 
    that thought The Music would mean very much in later years. For 
    example, the only reason that many programs, interviews, radio 
    jingles and various other artifacts from this era still exist 
    somewhere, is that a few of us rescued them from garbage cans. 
    Of course, today, a lot of this stuff is "a business" for some 
    people. Thank God.
    So folks....keep up the good work on this list. Thanks to The 
    Internet we can now interact with many of the people who created
    the music we love. I'm having a blast reading about. 
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     Limiters in Frequency and Dynamics
    Received:    02/22/99 7:22 am
    From:        Paul Urbahns, PaulurbXXXXXXXXom
    To:          Spectropop List,
    Michael C. wrote:
    > When did people start to make records that used 
    > the frequencies above 8k? What was stopping people from 
    > exploring that top end before? 
    The answer, Mike, is very simple - when AM radio stopped being 
    the dominante force. Prior to about 1975 records were mastered 
    and mixed with AM radio in mind. AM's top limit is around 8k on 
    some stations on others its sometimes not above 5k. Since any 
    record mastered could appear on radio at anytime, it was 
    necessary to make them sound best on that medium, thus the 
    limiting. Another radio item compression which was used 
    extensively on AM and some FMs probably still do, was sometime 
    applied to records. That's where the dynamic range of the song 
    hardly differs throughout the record. In radio they used 
    something called "volume max" at most of the stations I worked. 
    This device brought up the soft portions and lowered the volume 
    of the loud portions. It was adjustable so you could have as 
    much compression as possible or as little as you want. Even some
    university and classical stations used it, which made classical 
    listeners mad, because the dynamics of a composition is very 
    critical in that type of music. For pop stations dynamics didn't
    matter. The bottom line was by using this limiting device, you 
    could get a stronger signal in fringe areas. The old Dave Clark 
    Five singles are the best example of both in use that I can 
    think of. In Dave Clarks words, they had a commerical sound. 
    Glad All Over, Any Way You Want It, and others, not much dynamic
    contrast (always loud) and highly compressed tonalquality to make
    your transistor radio with a 2 inch speaker stand up and dance. I
    know that's a little off your question, but I think it ties in.
    Michael C again 
    >Then there is Pet Sounds which the  original mono version sounds 
    >murky, yet the remixes are  beautiful and crisp. What gives?
    Same thing again, the original was mixed for AM radio the remixes 
    are off original studio tapes with no or little limiting.
    Paul Urbahns
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     Re: Larrie London on Motown 60s LA Recordings?
    Received:    02/22/99 7:22 am
    From:        Carol Kaye,
    To:          Spectropop List,
    Sean, yes I did work with Larrie London, Nashville drummer, out 
    here in LA in the 60s, he was around. I can't remember which 
    dates I did with him, but there were only a couple of them. 
    Sessions were called "dates" back then (like producers were 
    called "A&R men", Artists and Repertoire).
    I don't think it was for Motown tho'. Maybe Ray Charles or 
    certainly some other account like that. He could have recorded 
    for Motown. I didn't know him well at all, just worked with him 
    2x, but from what I hear from others, if he said he played on 
    something, he wasn't lying ). 
    It was to that extent that Motown dates were done out here, and 
    it's why I think Lester Sill said (and meant) that over 60% of 
    all the 60s Motown dates were cut out here in LA. So yes, I'd 
    give credence to that report, of course.
    I saw and even worked with Benny Benjamin, the original Detroit 
    drummer out here in LA, they flew him out for 2-3 dates that I 
    played bass on at Armin's Formosa studio (the one on top of his 
    large 3-car garage before he built the big one in Hollywood), 
    and that had to be early on.
    But beware of some reports. I just got an email from someone who
    knows a drummer (out of state) who toured with the Motown groups,
    and so that person assumed that he also played on the 60s records
    of Motown. 
    I never heard of this guy at all, wasn't part of the LA scene at
    all, and upon questioning him, it turns out that yes the drummer 
    ONLY toured with Diana Ross, etc. and so the guy, not knowing 
    that tour musicians were different than studio musicians, made 
    the "assumption" which led him to say "yes he played on Motown 
    hits, don't you know him?"
    Ignorance of our ways of life in the studios here can lead to 
    totally wrong assumptions. I remember Jesse Sailes (who 
    recommended me on guitar at first to Motown, played guitar for 
    about 1 year [1963], then it was bass the rest of the time 
    starting in 1964). Sharkey Hall was on some, then Earl Palmer on
    the bulk, with Hal Blaine on 2-3 (w/Supremes). Paul Humphrey, Ed 
    Green, then Ben Barrett took over and tried to ace his "man" 
    Gene Pello on drums (nice guy, couldn't play well) for a short 
    time, and by this time I quit.
    Arthur Wright was Motown's first bass player out here in 1963 
    and even Rene Hall did (Rene mostly played guitar tho'), then I 
    sort of did all the bass roles for quite a few years, but as I 
    understand it, and again, this fellow doesn't lie, Ray Pohlman 
    even did a few Motown dates, then it was Wilton Felder about the
    time I quit, Bob West on the Jackson stuff, others like Ben 
    Adkins, in the 70s on Motown stuff. 
    Arthur Wright may have done some more then too as he did some 
    arrangements for Motown later on, early 70s etc. Jerry Long, 
    Gene Page, Gil Askey, James Carmichael (he was a reverend during
    the time I worked for him in the early to mid-60s), even Lee 
    Young did the "arrangements" when I worked for Motown, then 
    David Blumberg, and Ed Cobb too. Some others, but mostly at 
    first, the bass parts were NOT written out, just a bar of 
    suggestive notes and rhythm. 
    We got wise after about 2 years when they started to play us 
    tapes to show us the style they wanted us to record, that what 
    we were cutting were NOT demos like they claimed (taking 
    advantage of what we sometimes did for "new" companies, doing 
    demos for them and then getting them in the Union). But we kept 
    working for them anyway. 
    I think this is when Tommy Tedesco got us the raise from 2 tunes
    for $25 to 2 tunes for $35. It was about 1966-67 that someone 
    snitched to the Union and we all got 1,000s of dollars "back-pay" 
    through Ben Barrett, who, having jumped in to loan Motown his 
    recording license, paid us for what were marked "Motown" dates. 
    He did that from then on, with checks marked "Motown". It was a 
    sham, we always worked for the same people: Hal Davis, Frank 
    Wilson, and Marc Gordon. Berry Gordy was around sometimes, I'd 
    say from memory from 1965 on. 
    And we sometimes saw the artists too, like the 4 Tops all the 
    time, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell (she was great, 
    he was nice and could sing too, but not like her), other 
    groups -- my kids met them too. We saw the Supremes much later, 
    at first we'd just do tracks for them (as Armin Steiner told me,
    he'd fly those tracks back to Detroit).
    Yes, I saw and worked with Larrie London, I think it was for 
    someone other than Motown back then. He could have done some 
    Motown, I didn't do "all" the Motown in the 60s, Arthur Wright 
    or even Ray Pohlman could have been on bass with him, and I'd 
    tend to believe that report. 
    Even James Burton emailed something to someone about working for
    Motown back then in LA. And yes, I'd believe that one too, 
    knowing James - he was pretty hot there for awhile in LA studios
    until he went on the road with Elvis. 
    Carol Kaye
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     Timi Yuro's false death report
    Received:    02/22/99 7:22 am
    From:        R Teyes, RTeXXXXXXXXom
    To:          Spectropop List,
    To All:
    >From Robert The Ronette Hound
    I was embarrased at my own negligence for believing what 
    someone wrote about Timi Yuro's false death report in this 
    newsletter. I have a friend who knows Timi very well and I made 
    him feel very disturbed when i gave him this false news. He 
    called Timi in Vegas immediately and didn't tell her-he just 
    wanted to be sure she was and is well. He then called me and let
    me hear the message Timi left on his answ. machine. I almost 
    spoiled a budding friendship since my buddy A.L. wants to 
    introduce Timi to me initially by phone. She already knows I 
    collect her recordings. 
    I'm glad Timi Yuro is alive and I pray she stays that way for 
    a long time. I wish her health and happiness-that at least she'd
    given to us her fans.
    Robert Tirado From Spanish Harlem
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     Motown Very Best Of
    Received:    02/22/99 7:22 am
    From:        Paul Urbahns, PaulurbXXXXXXXXom
    To:          Spectropop List,
    In a message dated 2/21/99 12:34:59 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
    > Motown's "Very Best Of" series is a mid-price catalog line 
    > focusing on legendary hit-making artists who currently have 
    > nothing in print, with no duplication from the label's 
    > front-line "Ultimate Collection" series. These hits-driven 
    > packages are digitally remastered from the original masters, 
    > using high-resolution 24-bit technology. The beautifully 
    > rendered packages also include full-track annotations and an 
    > essay written with or by the artist. 
    I saw this on the list. Are these reissues worth while or are 
    they more monomess from Rhino. Anymore, I don't buy Rhino 
    product unless it states stereo content on the cover. I've been 
    burned before. Just curious.
    Paul Urbahns
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     Velvelettes!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Received:    02/22/99 7:22 am
    From:        WILLIAM STOS,
    To:          Spectropop List,
    > But while the quintet recorded several memorable sixties 
    > hits, an actual Velvelettes album was never issued. Until now. 
    Thank goodness! The Velvelettes have been so overlooked it's not
    even funny. It's too bad that another recent Motown-Velvelettes 
    find "Everybody Needs Love," is not on that album, but I plan to
    pre-order it nontheless! The Velvelettes and the Marvelettes have
    an undeniable early soul sound that made Motown famous. Martha 
    and the Vandellas and the Supremes get most of the exposure from
    Motown, but these two groups deserve much more recognition!
    P.S. Very happy to know Timi Yuro is alive and well! I was all 
    ready to do a special tribute to her on my show! 
    Will Stos
    The Girl Group Chronicles
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

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