“At West Heath Studios, I’ve collected instruments and equipment which is somewhat a history of recorded sound from the 1930’s onwards. I’m passionate about recording and fascinated with the history, the techniques. I love my microphones, condensers, ribbons, dynamics of all ages and beautiful design.
In this list, I’m mainly thinking about production techniques and sonic achievement that tickles my fancy.”
Eddie is extraordinary because of all he achieved by the age of 21, when he cruelly was killed. A writer, a multi instrumentalist, an ingenious producer. This was the first time some of these sounds were heard, mulitracking and overdubbing his Gretsch 6120 and Martin acoustics for rhythm. The equipment and the producer ideas working together. Great.
Produced by Joe Meek, experimenting as usual. Amazing. In some ways it’s quite crude, but the sounds are affecting. He used his own valve equalisation unit, built with his own fair hands and also a Vortexian mic amp, which I also possess and use frequently to this day. I used it on “A Girl Like You,” in fact.
I can’t think about production without thinking about George Martin’s association with The Beatles. Together at Abbey Road they paved the way for so much to come, sonically. Learning together as they went along. I have all the books about the gear at Abbey Road and the logs of the recording sessions. I’m a total bore about this stuff. Seb Lewsley (who works in my studio) is the same. We have been known to go through the books, looking at the gear, finding all the stuff we’ve got at West Heath. In fact, my desk was one of several made by Neve for George Martin’s original Air Studios. By the way, on this track, which I love, Paul plays lead guitar
This is uplifting music. It’s a Northern Soul classic, and this kind of music is enduring because just the sound of the drums when they kick in sends you to happiness. It is the sound of happiness, actually. I can listen to dozens of things by the Isleys and they’ve inspired my own music a lot. I steal ideas from them.
5. The Mekons – Where Were You?
My formative years. What’s not to like? When my band Orange Juice kicked off, we could only afford a few hours in an 8 track studio, so punk rock was so inspiring as it taught me that something exciting could be created with hardly any resources. This a perfect 7 inch single, still. Exciting and fast fast fast. The build up at the beginning is tremendous.
These days, when I’m the DJ, I kick off with this one. Yet again, it’s a bit a bit of a Northern Soul flavour. I picked it up in a second hand record shop in Austin Texas, I’d forgotten about it. It’s a sophisticated production with a lovely cheesy organ solo in the middle, a great contrasting device. It’s terrific, in fact.
This is from one of my favourite albums, “What’s the Matter Boy?” Although I love clever production techniques, Vic Godard, a hero of mine, takes a simple approach to recording. The songs are the important thing. He is completely without artifice, but is a wonderful, talented songwriter. The production doesn’t get in the way of this beautiful song and it’s fascinating lyrics.
This is Bowie and Visconti’s take on the Wall of Sound, with some Krautrock ideas thrown in for good measure. When I was 14, I almost believed that David Bowie came from outer space. Always changing his frame of reference, different styles and sounds, always overseeing and experimenting. Tony Visconti and Eno are brilliant at this time, but I believe it’s Bowie all seeing eye at work which makes his seventies records so convincing.
This is a partisan choice as I produced it. It was the band’s second album and we finished it not long before I had a brain haemorrhage in 2005. The Cribs, three brothers, create a huge sound, but it needs to allow the melodic sense of the songs to shine. Seb and I tried to capture their spirit on this record. They’re so easy to work with, full of ideas and not at all pretentious.
This brings me up to date. Seb Lewsley and I produced this for my new label, AED Records (it stands for Analogue Enhanced Digital). It combines the talents of James Walbourne and Kami Thompson. It speaks for it’s beautiful self. Delicate sounds which need careful miking and lots of space in the production. This band and their variety of styles bring out the best in my gorgeous old analogue gear. I look forward to making their album this year.