Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Spector and Pitney sessions (clean)

On February 4, 1964 the Rolling Stones recorded more tracks for their upcoming debut album, simply called The Rolling Stones. With the attendance of both record producer Phil Spector and pop singer Gene Pitney the sessions at Regent Sound Studios became quite special. Ian Stewart, pounding out basic R&B chords on his piano, played an important role during the sessions, which were originally intended to nail down the "Not Fade Away" single (recorded January 10) and to provide a B-side, since Decca were anxious to release a follow-up single.

Pitney and Spector, whom Andrew Oldham adored, had both been traveling in Europe and returned from Paris for an overnight stop before returning to the United States. The bottles of spirit they brought from France revived a flagging recording session with Pitney helping out on piano. Two members of the Hollies, Allan Clarke and Graham Nash, accompanied the Stones on backing vocals and Phil Spector grabbed Mick Jagger's maracas. All in all the band recorded five tracks, of which three ended up on their debut album.

Phil Spector created an ambience in the studio and a spirit which was hard to emulate. As a result the Stones, with the maestro, created a 'wall of noise', as opposed to the 'wall of sound' which Spector had created with the Crystals and the Ronettes. "Little By Little" is a composition made up of selections from various parts of Jimmy Reed's "Shame, Shame, Shame". It is essentially a 12-bar blues jam, made after the successful finishing of "Not Fade Away". Gene Pitney is on piano, and Phil Spector and Ian Stewart play maracas.

On "Can I Get A Witness", previously recorded by Marvin Gaye, Stu pounds out the basic chords and Mick Jagger contributes particularly up-front vocals. Following the recording of this Motown classic, Gene Pitney played on Stu's prized piano to create "Now I've Got A Witness (Like Uncle Phil and Uncle Gene)", basically a reworking of "Can I Get A Witness". Ian Stewart, having given away the piano to Pitney, plays very prominent organ with Brian Jones on outstanding harp complementing the prime drive of Ian.

Adapted from the following sources:
Martin Elliott, The Rolling Stones. Complete Recording Sessions 1962-2002. Cherry Red Books, 2002.
Bill Wyman, Stone Alone, Penguin Books, 1990.

1 comment:

  1. February 4, 1964: Regent Sound Studios, London, England.
    The Rolling Stones: Can I Get A Witness (Holland-Dozier-Holland) (2:58)
    The Rolling Stones: Now I've Got A Witness (Like Uncle Phil And Uncle Gene) (Nanker-Phelge) (2:31)
    The Rolling Stones: And Mr. Spector And Mr. Pitney Came Too (Nanker-Phelge-Spector) (3:17)
    The Rolling Stones: Little By Little (Nanker-Phelge-Spector) (2:41)
    The Rolling Stones: Andrew's Blues (Nanker-Phelge-Spector) (3:05)
    Andrew Oldham and Bill Wyman: Making the first album
    Andrew Oldham: We did the first album in about ten days. We'd decide to do a tune, but Mick wouldn't know the words, so Mick would run around to Denmark Street to Carlin Music to pick up the words to something like Can I Get A Witness. He'd come back 25 minutes later and we'd start.
    Bill: Andrew was always pushing us to get us to do Motown things like Can I Get A Witness. And he was right as well, he was more right than we were. And, of course, when Mick and Keith got into writing, the songs came out more like he was looking for. Keith was always more into soul music than me or Charlie, and Mick loved soul performers like Wilson Pickett and James Brown.

    640204A 4th February: Regent Sound Studios, London. Producer: Andrew Oldham. Sound Engineer: Bill Farley.
    - Can I Get A Witness (Holland-Dozier-Holland) - Ian Stewart on piano
    - Now I've Got A Witness (Like Uncle Phil And Uncle Gene) (Nanker-Phelge) - Gene Pitney on piano, Ian Stewart on organ, Phil Spector on maracas
    - And Mr. Spector And Mr. Pitney Came Too (Nanker-Phelge-Spector) - Gene Pitney and Ian Stewart on piano, Phil Spector on maracas.
    - Little By Little (Nanker-Phelge-Spector) - Gene Pitney on piano, Phil Spector and Ian Stewart on maracas
    - Andrew's Blues (Nanker-Phelge-Spector) - Gene Pitney and Phil Spector on vocals, Ian Stewart on piano, Graham Nash and Allan Clarke on backing vocals.
    Note: Andrew’s Blues is an obscene dig at manager Andrew Oldham. Gene Pitney and Phil Spector take the lead vocals and also imitate the voice of Sir Edward Lewis, then the president of the Stones’ record company Decca. Graham Nash and Allan Clarke of The Hollies provide backing vocals.
    Line-up: Mick Jagger (voc, harm, tamb)/Brian Jones (gtr, harm, tamb, bvoc)/Keith Richards (gtr)/Bill Wyman (bass, bvoc)/Charlie Watts (dr).