Decided to stay up....so here you go.
Well let me start by excusing myself....If you hooked up with some bum called St John he'd probably refer to his mate as Jezza. So if I drop some names....I hope yourll understand, we used to sit in a small room and fart together.....Gross, but no big deal. I even lent Bowie his bus fare home coz he was so skint....b'stard still owes me and even had the nerve to sack me from Diamond Dogs/Young Americans sessions. What the hell does he know....he's just a mere superstar, while Im an engineer.
George Martin was my boss and mate for a while. You may know this story but when I asked him about Day in the Life he said it came about as a dispute between Paul and John. Both had written songs but there was only room for one more track on the album. So his compromise was to cut them together. Unfortunately they were in different keys so he slowed one down and speeded the other up. Come the day of the orchestra he got them all to attend in full dress suits....LOL looked like a room full of penguines. So remember when youre tempted to knuckle the drummer for doing his own thing, sometimes great things come from compromise.
The base track for Hey Jude may have been recorded at Trident but it was too small for that orchestra. I find it hard to believe that they would have swapped studios because EMI would have put a lot of pressure on George Martin (who was a salaried staff producer in those days) to record at Abbey Road rather than shell out £ for the indi Trident. Remember,we are talking 4 track analogue so there werent many spare tracks to play with and each bounce introduces distortion....do you hear a lot of distortion? Still its possible. Try listening to just one side of the stereo (disregarding echo which was added ad hoc at mix time)....it gives you an astonishing insight to the recording sequence/technique.
Like all people I knew, I had a strange route into the music industry. I worked for a tobacco shop who had a ciggy vending machine sited at Trident. For the first time I was sent to fill it. I asked the v bored girl on reception where it was .She never looked up from filing her nails but said ' 'Down the stairs, thru the studio, in the toilet, out back'. So off I went. As I walked in I spotted a familiar face strumming a guitar....Oh hi George (Harrison) Dont mind me, just come to fill the.....AARGH! Suddenly my collar was grabbed from behind and I was dragged outside. DONT YOU KNOW WHAT AN EFFIN RED LIGHT MEANS, YOU MORON. Nope, no idea (why would I?)...What DOES it mean. This is a recording studio !. Really! Ive always wanted to work in a studio ( I lied....actually I had no idea they existed...being totally niave I assumed records grew on trees, but it had to be better than filling cigarette machines) Can I have a job? Can you make tea? How many sugars d'ya take? I left 5 years later.
My first session was very nearly my last. Tea was made in a basement room directly behind the main studio and below the control room, where they also stored old instruments like drums, master tapes and echo plates (whatever they were). Now a little boy couldnt resist a drum kit. Kbahh Kboom, Tishhhh Tishhh Tishhhh, para diddle para diddle.Suddenly this engineer (Robin Cable or Malcolm Toft....not sure, I was so scared) came rushing in....WHAT THE MUCK !!. Apparently he was mixing a track upstairs called Little help from my friends for some window cleaner called Joe Cocker. I swear when I listen v carefully, I can still hear some mad drumming in the vocals echo.
Which reminds me...the entire Beatles master tape collection was stored down there....I used to take them out at night and mix them. One night we'd smoked too much, so carelessly spilled coffee all over Sgt Pepper ....oops ! Imagine what those very rough mixes would be worth now days let alone the master tapes.... I hear EMI later built a nuclear bomb shelter to protect them coz they are considered so valuable. Those were the days.
One of the probs with this site is that you cant reel back to others' earlier questions while typing a reply. Trust me I tried earlier and lost my whole post. So Im cut and pasting from Skybluerental's questions with my replies between to save typing and preserve context. Feel free to ask anything else.... but remember, memory fades and we were just having fun twiddling knobs. Id have paid more attention (and kept a load more copies of valuable out takes) if Id realised we were making history. can you tell us anything about the recording of Tumbleweed?
Not sure what you want to know....sorry to dissapoint but it was generally just another series of sessions among the many what kind of mics and compressors were they using in those days for different things.
technology moves on, so now days its easy: everything is branded. But in those days everythinng was string and selotape. We did have the very first Dolby's though. They were each the size of a microwave (literally) and there was one for each track. To my enduring hatred, they all had to be callibrated every session. Im pretty sure the compressors were home made, knocked up by our techies using stray valves or perhaps swagged from the BBC. Typically the mics were U47
and 67 (McCarney liked 47's) Ringo's Bass drum was an AKG (I actually owned it for a while but it got lost) More normally we used a D202 with a 404(?) senhieser for cymbals. Then 67's all over the place. The real heaven sent mic though was a BBC ribbon 6046 (?) maybe 6056 or 6054.... big black lump the size and shape of a hamburger with lots of holes in it......nothing else held a candle to it when recording brass...sheer magic. I used it on Carly Simon and Fanny and got a standing ovation from Mikey Keys. But my personal fav was an antique miking method that was taught to me by Bill Price..... 2 x U67's arranged as sum and difference. This gave a unique 'real' sound that, while it captured some 'ambient room', cut through the mix like a razor. No mud at all. the acoustic guitars and vocals on that record sound stunning to me.
Sorry I was two floors away so never saw any instruments at Trident but I vaguely remember Ovation accoustics. But I suspect Robin could make a plastic banjo sound great. i would love to know more about how they cut that record because it is one of my favorite sounding records of all time.
I think the lathe was a nueman....certainly German and cutting edge for the age.( excuse the pun) Sound Techniques console,
Pretty sure it was a sound tech desk. But we had a Nieve in the mix room. U67's,
Par for the course LA 2A's?????
Whats an LA2A
? what else???
? But the speakers were Lockwoods, later replaced with much punchier JBL's. any techniques that Robin Cable used you could share?
Try googling 'Mixing With Your Mind' by Mike Stavrou. He was my assistant but a great admirer and v close to Robin (and is still a good friend of mine who's still recording) But its a bit like asking what techniques did Michaelo Angelo use....a brush and some paint ! I once worked with a band who chose me because they wanted Marc Bolans guitar sound....I said 'invite MB'....fortunately he came. Might have been Nutbush city limits (tee Hee) All instruments sound different in different hands. Do you know anyone who has ever made the sound Hendrix made with the same guitar? The trick is to develop your own style/sound and believe you can; everything else is karrioki. Try sum and difference for starters. Its rarely used magic. trust me, many people here care about Trident history. i started a thread here about Trident last year that had all kinds of folks posting photos and accounts including a guy named neil kernon (i think that was is name, possible spelling error) who used to work there as well. cool stories and nice photos.
After my time Im afraid. But Id love to see the pics. I havent got any....you have to remember we didnt have mobile phones with cameras built in, so a camera was about the size of a toaster and it took two weeks before a load of blurred pics came back. I was earning £12 a week so could just about afford to eat let alone process photos.