Monday, December 26, 2011

Recordings: an insider's view

In August 1969 New Musical Express relays reports on the Rolling Stones' plans for the autumn. At first, a visit to North America (Sunset Sound Studios and Elektra Studios, Los Angeles) is booked to mix and overdub songs for the upcoming "Let It Bleed" album. From February on, the Stones had been working on some 15 new tracks, rehearsing at Bermondsey and recording at Olympic Sound Studios. As Christopher Hjort recalls:

The Stones have recently updated their rehearsal place-cum-studio in Bermondsey, east London, installing an 8-track Ampex tape recorder, a Hammond C3-organ, drums, amps, and various instruments. Trusted Stones aide Ian Stewart is in charge and shows Rick Sanders of Beat Instrumental around the premises. He explains that the rehearsal space is rented out to other groups such as the Spencer Davis Group, Noel Redding's Fat Mattress, and Faces.

Discussing the Stones' new album, Stewart tells Sanders: "They've been working at it on and off from February, rehearsing here, recording at Olympic, and it's now finished as far as we're concerned, except for some of Mick's singing. The reason it took so long was that it was simply a case of taking studio time when it was available. They've got plenty of good songs written, so it's not a problem waiting for that. The record is really great.

The numbers are much stronger and the playing is better, and all the group were really enthusiastic about making it. Sometimes in the past, if one of the group wasn't needed at a particular session, he wouldn't come. On this one, everyone was there nearly all the time, even on the mixing sessions". Stu then provided an interesting insight into the Stones' recording methods. "Producer Jimmy Miller is more a link man between the group and the engineers (Glyn John, George Chkiantz and Vic Smith) in the control room, and he's great".

Stewart explains that the group usually uses very small amplifiers in the studio. On the recent sessions they have used a 15-watt Watkins amp, an early Vox- AC-30, and some Fender models, while Bill Wyman uses a Hiwatt amplifier.

Adapted from the following source: Christopher Hjort, Strange Brew. Eric Clapton & The British Blues Boom 1965-1970, Jawbone, 2007.

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