|By Don (220.127.116.11) on Sunday, March 28, 2004 - 08:22 pm:|
From what I gather GW was quite different from Motown. Anyone with an idea was allowed to contribute their ideas to songs. I find myself amazed that Shorty Long (I think?), Edwin Starr, Fantastic Four/4 and J.J. Barnes etc wrote some awesome compositions. I'd really like to hear from all the folks from The D and regional heads like me and music lovers alike on this. Is anyone out there?
|By Michael McLean (18.104.22.168) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 12:54 am:|
Shorty Long was not a Golden World artist.
Shorty did write "Devil With The Blue Dress" and sung it on the Motown SOUL label.
The original version was wonderful. The rip-offs were sickening.
Frankly, you don't sound like you know what you are talking about.
|By Spookey (22.214.171.124) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 01:52 am:|
Susan DePasse wrote Here Comes The Judge. I liked Shortys style, on songs like I Cross My Heart and my fav When You Are Available!!
|By Ju (126.96.36.199) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 02:01 am:|
What year did she come on the scene and how old was she (Sorry if I am hijacking your thread!)?
|By R (188.8.131.52) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 02:25 am:|
"Susan DePasse wrote Here Comes The Judge"
- yes, along with Shorty and Billie Jean Brown. Nice to see Mr McLean putting in a rare appearance again
|By John Lester (184.108.40.206) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 05:31 am:|
It is true that De Passe's name appears on the record label. However, she is not a song writer by profession and I choose to make my own judgement about her contribution to that song.
I have to admit that I am not one of her fans having experienced disappointments with her TV shows, outspoken comments, unprofessionalism and rudeness.
|By Ralph (220.127.116.11) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:48 am:|
I'm not one of Ms. DePasse's fans either, for all the reasons you list above. And I speak from experience.
|By Ralph (18.104.22.168) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:57 am:|
To answer your question: In reality the process of writing and producing at the two companies was similar. Remember, all these writers and producers generally knew one another and had somewhat identical backgrounds. I would guess that if there is one factor that set Motown apart from Golden World, it was it's Quality Control department. This was a concept that was unique to Motown.
Mike M. Sometimes you can be a real Shithead old friend. This was a very good question.
|By Weldon A. Mc Dougal III (22.214.171.124) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 11:16 am:|
Hi Don, another factor that sat Motown records apart from Golden World records, is Motown sold more records, and still doing it fourty years later,
|By Ron Murphy (126.96.36.199) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 12:18 pm:|
John Lester: I agree with your above post.
|By mike s (188.8.131.52) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 01:26 pm:|
Some of GW's early stuff sounded as if it was recorded under the stairs...whilst we all know what Motown sounded like. Was that down to the studio, equipment or the mix?
|By Ron Murphy (184.108.40.206) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 02:25 pm:|
the difference comes down to in part: the studio room, the equipment and the sound the producers were going after. Golden World had more of Detroit's real soul sound, however Gordy found out way before I did that to much heavy soul did not sell as well to the white kids.. remember Don Davis was part of Thelma before GW and Solid Hit-Revilot after and what was he doing? a more heavy soul and so was other Detroit producers, and I love that sound but that's why a lot of those records did not sell as well and many are rare "Northern Soul" today. there are other points to be made about this subject but since I can talk faster than I type I'll end for now.
|By John Lester (220.127.116.11) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:44 pm:|
Please get a dictaphone and a secretary and commit your words to a book.
I will keep trying to persuade you...
|By brian d. (18.104.22.168) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:34 pm:|
Ron: I agree, you must put everything down on paper! You are a treasure trove of the Detroit Music Scene. How could the whole story best unfold? It would have to include something about almost every label ever to produce product in Detroit. The audience would be limited, but the content would be fasincating to a lot of people.
|By Ron Murphy (22.214.171.124) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 10:56 pm:|
hey Brian: a book is in the words right now by Graham Finch who posts here on SD he has done a ton of reseach and lots of interviews, I have helped a bit along with others, I believe that his book is going to answer many questions.
|By brian d. (126.96.36.199) on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 11:13 pm:|
Some of United's recordings sounded like they were recorded under the stairs also. It was all a matter of SEPERATION. United had NO sub-rooms.
Also, when I first engineered there, there were no headphones! Only a floor cue speaker. I begged Jimmy Syracuse to let me go to ALMAS hi-fi and buy a half-dozen pair of KOSS. If you weren't careful, leakage could become a huge problem, very fast. I don't think GW had sub-rooms either. Motown had sub-rooms. Tera-Shirma had sub-rooms. They were early on, a part of the "separation craze" that marked the end of "stereo 2 track" recording, in favor of multi track.
Remember, many early records were recorded "live," or at most vocals were O.D'd.
Separation allowed more manipulation of the sound after the fact. And to MM, "Shorty Long Sang," not Shorty Long SUNG!
In comparison, many of the early RCA and Columbia non-multi-track, (3-track at best) pop recordings are the most fabulous sounding records I have ever heard. For example, the RCA-BMG re-release of the Elvis greatest hits compliations. You had to know what you were doing. You committed to a mix early on.
Most of the people at United and GW early on knew how to get a good sound. (Bill Beltz, Les Cooley and Bob D'Orleans) Not all of us. Everyone eventully learned, but never forget that recording is an ART, and there were good days and bad days, time restraints and broken sliders, spilled coffee and a never ending succession of new-comers to the business.
Its no suprise that sessions now and then didn't sound as good as they should have. Motown even had a recording school to instruct equipment users on proper operation. Need I say more?
|By Ralph (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 12:14 am:|
Nice post Brian.
|By Juicefree20 (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 12:46 am:|
Brian, that was some great information there. You gave some great insight & I appreciate you breaking it down as honestly as you did.
|By mike s (220.127.116.11) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 06:12 am:|
As Juice says, that was great stuff Brian. I love the artists but the background info about the writers, producers, arrangers and engineers is fascinating. These are the background heroes.
|By brian d. (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 09:27 pm:|
Thanks Ralph. Also, Juice Free and Mike S. And don't forget Mike McClains' custom built graphic
and parametric equalizers. Nobody had anything even close to that. They allowed control of the extremely important for AM radio airplay, MIDRANGE. Everyone else was broadly adding bass and top end, but not the mid's, which was important for the restricted bandwith of AM Radio. A board-op friend of mind from the CKLW Bill Drake (More Music) era told me that, MOTOWN was the only record company whose records they transferred and played FLAT. Everyone else's needed tweakning for air play. (This was when they were playing records off carts, rather than the records on turntables.) And finally, mixing thru the tiny transistor-radio type speakers. That was a motown innovation all by itself that further taylored the mixes to the AM radio band.
If you toured the motown museum, there were inner-office memos posted on the control room wall by, if I remember, Smokey Robinson, to the engineering department asking why certain motown product sounded one way on air at CKLW, and another way on another station. The memo urged the engineering department to do "a study" and report back, or words to that effect. Maybe this will arouse a response from MM about the loudness battles that were going on between MOTOWN and other record companies. NOBODY had hotter sounding records than MOTOWN. Those songs just jumped out of the grooves.
When Motown did its own mastering at motown center (I don't remember which floor) those guys would spend days re-cutting the masters trying to add another 1/2 db in level. If MM doesn't care to answer, Maybe Ron can fill us in.
|By Ralph (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 10:17 pm:|
|By Ralph (126.96.36.199) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 10:20 pm:|
Russ used to like to mix through a beat up old car radio speaker that he had sitting on top of the console. If he could make it sound hot through that he knew he had a mix. Then, you should have heard the sucker through the 604E's.
|By acooolcat (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - 11:30 pm:|
I think a recording artist might have a had a better chance of getting a self-penned composition recorded at Golden World. Motown tended to put writers and artists in seperate pigeon-holes... apart from Smokey and a few others.
Going off topic slightly - but I reckon that the "sound" a producer wanted was purposely made to sound raw. Mike Hanks' name comes to mind. His early reocrdings on Star Maker and MAH'S have a polished sound c/o United Sound's studio, while SOME of his later D-Town discs sound more primitive. I don't think he lost his hearing - it was an intentional shift. Remember his biggest D-Town hit by Lee Rogers (I Want Yo To Have Everything) was recorded in a record store on 14th Street - and it sounds like it.
|By Dayo (184.108.40.206) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 10:20 am:|
I find these kind of threads fascinating.
Anyone agree that the piano at Golden World was not exactly tuned concert pitch!? Was that deliberate? It certainly sounded fab
|By Ron Murphy (220.127.116.11) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 12:19 pm:|
yes the battle of cutting loud records is still going on today,now I like to use the term "A HOT Record" because if the EQ is not right it won't matter how much volume level it's cut at, it still won't sound good.
a good mix and right EQ is more important than level. now at Motown the records were cut with AM radio and the small record player in mind, because radio is where the music would be heard and most people buying records didn't have any great big system to play records on...remember AM had and still has a top end response of only 5,000 cyles that's why FM sounds better becauise it has a full range frequency, of course no one had the FM band back in the 60's so Motown did a lot of EQing at around 4/5K and cut at levels of plus 7/8 DB over the standard RCA reference level.
one executive that Gordy hired out of New York said he could not believe how everyone's life depended on the "needle" meaning the VU meter that showed volume levels, the fact is that cutting off standard started happening in the late 50's but what Mike Mclean and the rest of the engineering staff did was ace it out.
|By Don (18.104.22.168) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 07:03 pm:|
THANK YOU TOO RALPH.
|By Ralph (22.214.171.124) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 07:08 pm:|
You're most welcome Don.
|By brian d. (126.96.36.199) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 09:04 pm:|
Thanks guys. You added the frosting to the cake.
Piano tuning was kind of a rare occurance. I do remeber it happening every now and then at United. I don't know why stuff from United had its own sound, but it did. Partly the big room, partly the "air" due to leakage, partly the deadness of the room, partly the FAIRCHILD 670,
partly the Bill Beltz custom mic-pre's, partly the crummy microphones (*Only 1 Neumann). Partly the green paint around the drum cage.
|By brian d. (188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 11:18 pm:|
Elvis has left the building. Chow for now.
|By Ralph (184.108.40.206) on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 - 11:31 pm:|
Yeah Brian, United was never that much to look at. Just this big cavernous sound stage. But I loved recording there when I was with The Sunliners.
|By acooolcat (220.127.116.11) on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 02:29 am:|
Has anyone heard of a Detroit studio called Artificial Sound?
It was run by Ted Parnell.
Curious in Taiwan
|By acooolcat (18.104.22.168) on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 02:32 am:|
A mistake - it was called Artificial Soul Recording Corp.
|By John Perrone (22.214.171.124) on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 03:02 am:|
Fascinating....exciting reading! Thanks to you all for this thread. John
|By mike s (126.96.36.199) on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 04:51 am:|
That piano at GW!! Funny I was just listening to
it on Edwin Starr's Back Street yesterday...and it sounded so great pounding away. Would that be a moonlighting Earl VD playing?
Ralph,Brian. Fantastic info re the studios. I have always wondered how many of the vocals recorded at Hitsville had an almost unique resonance which really brought out the quality of the voice. It added a toughness which must have really cut through at AM radio. It particularly pulled out Kim, Brenda and Levi.
was this the studio or I guess more likely the EQ with emphasis on the midrange??
|By Dayo (188.8.131.52) on Thursday, April 01, 2004 - 08:29 am:|
I've always been puzzled by this and I'd appreciate input from seasoned engineers...
I realise that Motown employed some early EQ modules to boost the mid range and effectively make things appear louder. But the contradiction seems to be that bass was heavy and the top end was bright too. Was the EQ applied accross the whole mix or was on selected elements, like vocals?
Also, what was the feeling on reverb? I read somewher that vocals were usually mixed fairly "dry", but the track had plenty of verb added.
What about compression? Did the Hitsville guys have any secrets there?
Basically, any insights into 60's mixing techniques would be very interesting and read with great interest.
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