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Spectropop V#0399

  • From: The Spectropop Group
  • Date: 03/28/00

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       Volume #0399                            March 28, 2000   
    Dedicated to the betterment of recorded music and literature
    Subject:     Checkmates, Ltd
    Received:    03/28/00 1:55 am
    From:        Paul Urbahns
    To:          Spectropop!
    Phil wrote:
    << Although there is no credit, I can't see why it 
    wouldn't have been recorded & mixed at Gold Star. As far 
    as I can ascertain, the leading studios went 8-track 
    around 1967 and progressed thru 16-track to 24-track by 
    around 1973. >>
    Phil, there is a credit on the Checkmates, Ltd album to 
    Larry Levine as engineer. At that time he was head engineer
    at A&M studios so it was probably recorded at A&M studios 
    along with the Ronettes single of the time You Came You 
    Saw You Conquered which is credited to A&M in the Ronettes
    Best Of comp, also credited to Larry Levine.
    Paul Urbahns
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     BOUNCE: Non-member submission
    Received:    03/28/00 2:09 am
    From:        Spectropop: Archive | Bulletin Board
    To:          Spectropop!
    ========= Start of forwarded message =========
    [Main Spectropop Bulletin Board | Post Followup | FAQ ]
    The Men Behind the Wall of Sound
    Posted by Alan Ackerman
    on Sun, 26 Mar 2000 09:07:44 
    I have in my possession a copy of Modern Recording 
    magazine Vol.1 No. 3 published Feb/Mar 1976. In it, there 
    was an interview with Larry Levine in an article entitled 
    The Men Behind the Wall of Sound. 
    The following are some excerpts and summary of key items 
    from that interview. 
    3-track or 4-track? 
    "Those days with Phil it was only 3-track...All except the
    Righteous Brothers and Ike & Tina--we must have been 4-
    track by then." 
    Gold Star Studios, Los Angeles Studio size: 22' x 30' 
    Control room: 10' x 15' 
    About the control room and playbacks: 
    "The sound came back at you from almost everywhere. It was
    all pegboard. There was no acoustical design to the room. 
    We had Altec 604D's and Phil listened back at incredibly 
    loud levels. Maybe at about 120 dB--we never measured it. 
    It was the greatest, most exciting room to work in, 
    The equipment? 
    "We had an Ampex mono 350, 02 -track was 351, I don't 
    remember what Ampex model the 3-track was. The board was a
    United Audio board built by Bill Putnam. It was strictly a 
    3-track board, with 12 inputs--all of them were on rotary 
    "We hardly ever used them. They were at the bottom of the 
    console. They could be for minus 3 or 6 on the low end and
    5 or 10 kHz on the high end." 
    Spector's core musicians: 
    "The band was made up of three guitars (Tom Tedesco, Bill 
    Pitman and Irv Rubins; then Barney Kessel later on), two 
    basses (Ray Pohlman and Jimmy Bond), drums (Hal Blaine), 
    two pianos (Al De Lory and Leon Russell or Don Randi and 
    Nino Tempo), a horn section of five or six, two bones, two
    saxes, two trumpets, usually, and anyone who was available 
    as percussionists (Sonny Bono, Cher, Jack Nitzsche, Frank 
    Kay, Brian Wilson, to name a few)." 
    Spector's standard recording procedure: 
    "What he'd do was to start with the guitars. They might 
    play for an hour, two or four bars, over and over. He'd 
    listen, then change it. They'd play, he'd listen and 
    change it until he was satisfied with the rhythm figures 
    they were playing. Then he would add the pianos and repeat
    the process until the pianos would actually meld with the 
    guitars. This was the 'Wall of Sound'." 
    "Phil's whole concept was to have nothing really stand out
    and say,'Look at me.' It was the movement of the whole. The
    horns and strings were used usually for 'padding.' The 
    whole sound had to meld as a wall. A lot of people thought
    it was echo, but it wasn't." 
    ", anyway, after the guitars and pianos were melded, 
    then it was the bass's turn to fit inside--all as a total 
    sound! This was standard operating procedure, always." 
    "...the drums came last! The horns and percussion came 
    before. Because of this procedure I don't ever remember 
    putting anything on tape before 2-1/2 hours into the 
    The famous Spector drum sound: 
    "That's funny. Phil was never that pleased with the drum 
    sound. He would have liked the drum sound to always be the
    same. Something he could count on when the drums came on. 
    But it never was. There was so much leakage in the room--
    with a small room and a 12-foot ceiling and all those 
    people. Sometimes 18 to 23 in that room all going at the 
    same time--percussion, horns, full rhythm section. There 
    was no way to prevent leakage." 
    " were leaking into the rhythm guitar mic with the 
    drums, you brought up the drums so that it didn't sound 
    like all drum leakage. When you turned one thing up, you 
    generally had to turn something else up along with it, 
    because you change the sound of that 'other' thing when 
    you turn 'this thing' up. Therefore, leakage itself became
    an instrument. That's why when people thought it was echo 
    that created the sound, it wasn't entirely true. We used 
    echo, of course, but the sound was created by the leakage 
    in the room itself." 
    "It was a lot of work: re-positioning, feeding more signal
    to different instruments, playing with the guitar and bass 
    amp settings, rearranging the locations of the mics and 
    the players in the studio, mixing and remixing until it 
    was right." 
    Microphone placement: 
    "Miking was very basic. We used two mics on the drums (one
    on the kick drum and one overhead), a mic for each guitar 
    and bass, a mic for each piano, one mic for the entire 
    percussion crew and, I think, we used two mics for the 
    horns. Remember, we only had 12 mic inputs on the board. 
    We used mostly ribbon mics (RCA 44's and 77's) on the 
    vocals and horns, and Electro-Voice 667's on the rhythm 
    Track placement: 
    "Everything went on one track." 
    Weren't the percussion, horns and strings put on a 
    separate track? 
    "The string and vocals were. But everything else, 
    including horns and percussion, was cut "live" onto one 
    track of the 3-track. That's why there was so much leakage. 
    That's the way Phil wanted it. He didn't want to work 
    multi-track. He felt that 'the sound I have today I want 
    tomorrow.' The only way it could be that way was if it's 
    all on one track. Either it happened for us or it didn't. 
    It was a total sound." 
    How were the voices doubled? 
    "We rarely doubled the voices, but sometimes we did double
    the strings. You see, because the Ampex sel-sync, in those 
    days, had no top end at all, I didn't want to 'ping-pong' 
    or 'bounce' tracks. So we'd go from the 3-track (which, 
    had the entire band on one track and the first set of 
    strings on another) to a 2-track. I'd transfer the band to
    one track, and the strings, while I was doubling them, to 
    the second track. Then I would transfer the 'doubled' 
    strings from the 2-track back to the 3-track. This way 
    I've still got the original band on one track of the three
    and a double set of strings on another. If I wanted to 
    double the voices it would be the same thing." 
    "Well, we had two 'live' chambers at Gold Star that were 
    extremely bottom-heavy, so we couldn't put echo on the 
    overall track. It would rumble forever. So we had to add 
    it while we were recording. We did have selective echo, 
    and what I liked about it was that it was a 'splitter.' 
    When you turned the echo up it would send more sound to 
    the echo and less to the direct. So as you'd increase the 
    echo, you'd decrease the direct. The sound was great. You 
    see, the concept of echo in those days was that echo was 
    supposed to give you a feeling of 'distance.' Therefore, 
    bringing the echo up would automatically pull the direct 
    sound back. Today, as you know, the direct sound remains 
    and the echo is added. In order to get that 'distance' you
    have to decrease the direct and increase the echo. Anyway, 
    on most of Spector's sessions we echoed the guitars, 
    sometimes the pianos and strings. On a few sessions, like 
    'Be My Baby,' we put echo on the drums." 
    I hope these interview excerpts helped shed some light on 
    what was really going on behind the wall of sound. 
    So much for now, 
    ========== End of forwarded message ==========
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     I&TT and Checkmates, Ltd.
    Received:    03/28/00 1:55 am
    From:        Jamie LePage
    To:          Spectropop!
    Phil Chapman wrote:
    > The 1966 UK album "River Deep - Mountan High" was issued 
    > in stereo(SHU 8298)and contains more or less the same 
    > mixes as the later A&M release. 
    Thanks for that, Phil. I hadn't thought about the
    earlier UK release or considered there might have been a
    stereo edition in '66. That does seem to indicate that
    the stereo mixes were done at Gold Star. I wondered
    about this because the stereo mixes are so much clearer
    than the mono ones.
    I asked:
    >> Was A&M a 24 track facility when Spector cut the Checkmates?
    Phil replied:
    > The Checkmates Ltd album however sounds 8 track to me...
    > Although there is no credit, I can't see why it wouldn't 
    > have been recorded & mixed at Gold Star.
    I guess I jumped to a conclusion there! I don't know for
    certain that Checkmates Ltd. album was recorded at A&M, I
    guessed it was because it sounds so much different than
    the latter day Ronettes, I&TT and Righteous Brothers
    tracks. You Came You Saw You Conquered also has that
    "different" aural quality, so I always assumed it too was
    recorded at A&M. It seemed Phil was reaching for a "new"
    wall of sound on those tracks. Leaving aside the Apple
    period for the moment, the progression of this 2nd
    generation wall of sound can be heard through the Dion,
    Leonard Cohen, Nilsson/Cher, Darlene Love and Lennon
    R&R sides cut through the mid-70s. It's still a wall, but
    the texture of its surface has more definition.
    I also notice that Spector tended to record at
    progressively slower and slower tempos during this
    period. Dion's Born To Be With You is an extreme example
    of this. Talk about laid back!
    Michael wrote:
    > There were a couple of Ronettes songs that were not
    > recorded at Gold Star-"When I Saw You" and "So Young".
    > According to the Phil Spector box set, these cuts were
    > recorded at United Studios, also in Hollywood-possibly on
    > four tracks.
    Good one, Michael! Now that you mention it, these two
    tracks do have a bit less "room" or mic leakage than do the 
    Gold Star Ronettes tracks. 
    What about I Can Hear Music? I always guessed Jeff Barry
    cut this in New York, at least the rhythm tracks. Sounds
    more like a Dixie Cups track than most other sides by the
    Ronettes. Anyone know?
    Jimmy C wrote:
    > describe for me your ONE defining girl-group musical
    > moment. 
    One? Impossible. Here are a few that immediately come to
    "Walking in the Rain," especially at the fade "I've been 
    wishing, and hoping, where can he be." God, I love that 
    fade. The poignant longing in Ronnie's voice is intensely 
    sad. If you listen only to the left channel of the 
    vocal-only version ("We Got Someone Watching The Door" 
    #2 track 9), what you hear is Ronnie's lead a cappella. 
    This version doesn't fade and runs six measures longer 
    than the final mix. You don't have to turn up the volume 
    at the end to hear that final phrase, and then Ronnie 
    sings even beyond that: "Please tell me where". One of 
    Barry & Cyn's best. Truly awesome.
    The Raindrops' "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget" when the
    record stops dead in its tracks only to re-enter for the 
    fade with that super compressed drum/percussion track. What 
    a sound! Jeff & Ellie may have written better songs, but 
    this Raindrops record may be their most irrepressible 
    production ever.
    The Goodies' Dum Dum Ditty. The whole record actually but 
    particularly when the track is pulled back, the singer 
    says in a low voice "yeh, yeh, yeh," then the track comes 
    surging back in. Like so many Shadow Morton records, it's 
    very strange, but fascinating.
    I look forward to reading other listers' fave GG moments.
    Best to all,
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     perfection
    Received:    03/28/00 1:55 am
    From:        Ron Bierma
    To:          Spectropop!
    In a message dated 3/26/00 8:35:24 AM, spectropop writes:
    << here's your Spring Challenge: describe for me your ONE 
    defining girl-group musical moment. >>
    when Ronnie opens her mouth and sings "I want him..." on 
    Walking in the Rain, I melt. Pure Bliss opening to a 
    perfect song. Still gives goose bumps after...oh...a 
    million listens.
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     My Grrrrl Group Moment(s)
    Received:    03/28/00 1:55 am
    From:        DJ JimmyB
    To:          Spectropop!
    In a message dated 3/26/0 9:35:03 AM, you wrote:
    >Challenge: describe for me your ONE defining girl-group 
    >musical moment.
    The whispered opening to Patti Lace & The Petticoats 
    "Sneaky Sue" seconded by "When I say I'm in love you best 
    believe I'm in love L-U-V" "Is he tall?" "Well, I gotta 
    look up!" "Yeah? Well I hear he's bad." "Mmmm, he's 
    good-bad, but he's not evil."
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     doo lang doo lang doo lang
    Received:    03/28/00 1:55 am
    From:        Frank Youngwerth
    To:          Spectropop!
    Chiffons' "He's So Fine": "If I were a queen/and he asked 
    me to leave my throne/I'd do anything that he asked/
    Anything to make him my own" Not just the lyrics, but how 
    they're delivered against the music.
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------
    Subject:     Favourite Girl Group Moment
    Received:    03/28/00 1:55 am
    From:        Stos, William
    To:          Spectropop!
    Okay, here we go.
    When I first heard the Cookies' "I Never Dreamed," I knew 
    I was in love. From the opening pouncing piano, to the 
    fade at the end, it just might be one of the best records 
    ever made (I don't care what Russ Titleman says). But what
    really gets me every time is just before the last chorus 
    when the lead (whoever she may be) Margie or Dorothy(?) 
    starts up with her "no, no, no, nos." Second only to the 
    "baby please come home" lyric right after the interchanging
    please, pLEASe, in Darlene Love's "Baby Please Come Home." 
    Wow! Tears every time!
    BTW, did Ellie Greenwich and the Popsicles only ever make 
    one 45?
    --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]--------------------

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