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Recording the Meters (the band)
Old 31st January 2012
  #1
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Recording the Meters (the band)

Well,

I did try to search for this, but on this site searching for "the meters" gives approx. a gazillion results:-)

I will be recording a project mid februari and the drum/bas sound they are looking for comes pretty close to the band the Meters.

Is there anyone here with hands on experience from those recordings or other info on how they were done.

It would be much appreciated if you'd like to share.
Old 31st January 2012
  #2
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The Meters made records for a number of years (as a side band and on their own) so I'd guess there are a range off approaches. Either way, their sound has more to do with the players than the recording style. The engineering/production on those records was entirely geared towards capturing the band doing what they do live. If possible track the band together (that's a huge part of the sound).

Drums - I'd guess (given the time period) that the drum mic set-up was pretty simple. The mid 60's stuff was most likely a mono OH and kick or front of kit mic. Maybe a snare mic too. The 70's stuff probably added stereo OH, kick & snare but otherwise still pretty minimal. Processing would be minimal too. Tape compression yes, heavy/parallel compression no.
Pay attention to drum tuning. The sound is all in the kit and the player.

Bass - DI or a mic on the amp (very unlikely to be both). Again, the sound is all in the player and instrument. It's most likely a P-Bass (maybe a Jazz bass) into a tube amp. Beyond that, who knows.
Old 31st January 2012
  #3
Cissy Strut is an amazing sounding track! have to go play it now!

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/cis...239?i=59401193
Old 31st January 2012
  #4
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edva's Avatar
I was not at any of the original Meter's sessions, so I can't tell you anything about that, sorry. However, i was in New Orleans at that time, and I know
The Meters tracked mostly at Ultrasonic Studio, which was the best facility in town, gone now, hurricane took it away. So they had what was considered top-shelf equipment in the day, good mics and outboard gear, but nothing boutique or ridiculous. They recorded to tape, obviously. It was indeed all about the players, and the way they played, and the material.
I've had the honor and pleasure of playing a few gigs, as well as mixing a few shows, with George Porter, the bassist, and his timing and feel are a huge part of the Meter's sound. He plays a regular 4-string P-bass. (Of course, my drumming is not on par with Ziggy's). I've also had the honor of working a bit in studio with Leo N., the guitarist, and here again, it's more about how and what they play than the technical way in which it was recorded. In N.O. at that time we made a big deal about the "funky" sound, and worked hard to emphasize it. The recordings tell the story. If your musicians can sound something like that, then "standard" recording practice is all you will need.
My 2c, IMHO, and YMMV.
Old 31st January 2012
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by junkshop View Post
The Meters made records for a number of years (as a side band and on their own) so I'd guess there are a range off approaches. Either way, their sound has more to do with the players than the recording style. The engineering/production on those records was entirely geared towards capturing the band doing what they do live. If possible track the band together (that's a huge part of the sound).

Drums - I'd guess (given the time period) that the drum mic set-up was pretty simple. The mid 60's stuff was most likely a mono OH and kick or front of kit mic. Maybe a snare mic too. The 70's stuff probably added stereo OH, kick & snare but otherwise still pretty minimal. Processing would be minimal too. Tape compression yes, heavy/parallel compression no.
Pay attention to drum tuning. The sound is all in the kit and the player.

Bass - DI or a mic on the amp (very unlikely to be both). Again, the sound is all in the player and instrument. It's most likely a P-Bass (maybe a Jazz bass) into a tube amp. Beyond that, who knows.
This all makes good sense.

I was lucky enough to see the Meters, as well as the Funky Meters. They were one of the funkiest bands ever, to my take.

BTW, since I have a reputation for taking a dim view of much of the business side of the music biz, a quick review of the business side of the Meters' history will provide some cursory but smack-on examples of why my view is so jaded. The Meters - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old 31st January 2012
  #6
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Ain't Nobody's Avatar
 

Opened for a couple incarnations back in the day. Live gigs, so can't speak for studio practices, but I don't remember anyone being overly concerned about the particulars in terms of gear, setup, monitors, mix, etc.

Never really thought any of their studio stuff was amazingly produced in any particular way... just some truly world class musicians with rhythm in their bones. Not that they're bad recordings... just that they're one case where it's 99% musicians and 1% production.
Old 31st January 2012
  #7
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God what great players and such great feel.
I pretty much agree with above. Some of the Meter's stuff is pretty crunchy.
If I had a band that good that wanted to end up in the ballpark of that sound I'd do a two mic thing on drums. One in front of kick and one straight over the snare. Maybe even closer to the hat if it's a hi hat groove and the player has great touch. I'd probably try something like an Altec 1567 or an ampex pre and try to get some character and crunch on the way in. If I'm ITB, I'd likely bust out some decapitator to bring the drums into the right territory. I'd use a P-bass and take a high quality DI and my trusty 68 Ampeg and decide one or the other. I agree with above that choosing one or the other on a record like this is the right move. One quality mono mic on organ. A deluxe reverb with a hollow body would probably get you close to the guitar sound of that era. If a band was truly this good I'd set them up close get a comfy natural blend add some gobo's and then listen and adjust.
I'd also consider a quarter inch analog to mix to just to put a little more grease on it. Good luck. Sounds like a really fun project!

Oh yeah... And I'd have a send setup to a guitar amp mic'd up with the reverb cranked as an outboard reverb for drums and organ. I'm getting jealous of how much fun you're going to have
Old 31st January 2012
  #8
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my buddy walked out to fire on the bayou at his wedding
Old 31st January 2012
  #9
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One key to the Meters is realizing that Ziggy is playing the whole kit, not just kick and snare, and that the elements need to be balanced properly. This particularly means no huge, modern kick drum. The kick is just one fluttery element of the overall groove and if it is over emphasized the ship will lurch off its keel. So, go fairly dry, compressed, ringy, natural and mono, and move the faders around to where it feels good. (duh)

I used to sit in with Ziggy in the late 80's and marveled at how he'd play a different element of swing with each appendage. Playing with him for 5 minutes changed forever how I play piano.

Since then I've seen he and Leo in their own separate bands, but it's always been a disappointment.

-R
Old 31st January 2012
  #10
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I am too pale skinned to play like this but I *LOVE* The Meters and Neville Bros. It's all about the FEEL. Swampy stuff!!!





Old 1st February 2012
  #11
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
One key to the Meters is realizing that Ziggy is playing the whole kit, not just kick and snare, and that the elements need to be balanced properly. This particularly means no huge, modern kick drum. The kick is just one fluttery element of the overall groove and if it is over emphasized the ship will lurch off its keel. So, go fairly dry, compressed, ringy, natural and mono, and move the faders around to where it feels good. (duh)

I used to sit in with Ziggy in the late 80's and marveled at how he'd play a different element of swing with each appendage. Playing with him for 5 minutes changed forever how I play piano.

Since then I've seen he and Leo in their own separate bands, but it's always been a disappointment.

-R
So right about the kick drum. I still to this day prefer that general type of kick sound, and kick/bass balance, and occasionally get my chops busted for it by the "more kick drum" crowd. I dunno, to me music is more than small tinkling sounds underneath a sonic boom. YMMV.
Old 1st February 2012
  #12
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I hear lots of hard panning, which necessitates arrangements that support that, or enough balls to just let your mix be lopsided, and I hear elements of both sides of that coin. Listen to the L & R programs of Tippi Toes or Look-Ka Py Py separately and you might learn something about the mixes. Then there are mixes that are much more traditional in terms of the stereo soundstage, and some that sound damn near mono. Something that is consistent is that you don't really ever hear any single instrument presented in wide stereo except piano.

I don't hear big room sounds, but it also doesn't sound like anything is super close miked except the keys are really up-close sounding on some songs. Sometimes the bass sounds like a DI and sometimes it sounds like it's across the room.

Honestly, there isn't a ton of consistency from recording to recording (so much so that it would be easy to name exceptions to anything i said above -- a couple tunes have a huge up close kick), so anything you perceive as a Meters "sound" is surely much more about the folks working the instruments rather than the folks working the recording equipment.

Cheers.

Last edited by jruberto; 1st February 2012 at 12:30 AM.. Reason: p.s. i've never been near any of their sessions, i was just a young lad then. just some observations from a lifelong listener
Old 1st February 2012
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
I was not at any of the original Meter's sessions, so I can't tell you anything about that, sorry. However, i was in New Orleans at that time, and I know
The Meters tracked mostly at Ultrasonic Studio, which was the best facility in town, gone now, hurricane took it away.
According to Wiki Ultrasonic was not built until 77'..

Where were the 60's classic Meters records made ?
Old 1st February 2012
  #14
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FestivalStudios's Avatar
 

I'm pretty sure those recordings were done at Cosimo Matassa's studio--- I know he did some of the first Neville brothers stuff - He was the guy back then in the area

Rick
Old 1st February 2012
  #15
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edva's Avatar
Cosimo's most likely.
Old 1st February 2012
  #16
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Pinosmuse's Avatar
 

Love to read all the replies!
Good stuff brought up in here. I'll take it with me while getting ready for recording the project.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #17
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Two years later I know but I am pretty sure the early meters stuff was done at Sea Saint.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Cissy Strut is an amazing sounding track! have to go play it now!

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/cis...239?i=59401193
heh


Whenever anyone mentions the Meters, I always think, Man, I gotta go listen to some Meters!

And I am.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #19
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There is some "Meters" history/interviews in the just aired Foo Fighters Sonic Highways episode 6 - New Orleans. That whole series is worth the watch just for the history/interviews and studios they work at in each town (on HBO).

A huge part of the sound is that the drumer and bass player are having a musical conversation to set the funk/groove and are NOT stepping on each other. Modern productions and sounds use far greater EQ range per element and use loads more sustain and thus naturally MORE stepping on each other occurs. That's the basis for a tangent thread about things that can kill the funk/groove. Non musicians and amateures also tend to forget that there is a huge difference between how you play - form your tone to sound good on your own and how you play - form your tone to sound good when playing with others. That's the basis for a tangent thread about recording a rhythm section together with no or uncolored/no latency cues. I doubt the Meters ever used a click track either.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #20
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edva's Avatar
Old thread, about a great band. Recently had the immense pleasure of mixing FOH for Aaron, still at his age one of the very best male singers I've ever worked with, and a very nice fellow to boot. Long may he roll.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #21
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Love the meters. if anyone from the meters was onstage with me I would lay my instrument down and back away slowly.

Love the way zig takes Cabbage Alley out, starting around 2:50. WTF? Zig. You are killing me.

http://youtu.be/FsTYtX3cyAo?t=2m50s



Also George Porter needs to time the bass just right or the groove doesn't work
Old 3rd December 2014
  #22
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB+J View Post
Love the meters. if anyone from the meters was onstage with me I would lay my instrument down and back away slowly.

Love the way zig takes Cabbage Alley out, starting around 2:50. WTF? Zig. You are killing me.

http://youtu.be/FsTYtX3cyAo?t=2m50s



Also George Porter needs to time the bass just right or the groove doesn't work
George is kind of like the Buddha of bass. Another great one is Freddie Washington. And yeah, Zig, special drummer. Look at Mean Willie Green for another. IMHO.
Old 3rd December 2014
  #23
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Somebody years ago broke it down for me as you can have simple drums and busy bass lines (motown, memphis) or busy drums and simple bass lines(new orleans), but they need to work together
Old 3rd December 2014
  #24
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PB+J View Post
Somebody years ago broke it down for me as you can have simple drums and busy bass lines (motown, memphis) or busy drums and simple bass lines(new orleans), but they need to work together
Excellent observation!
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