Soulful Detroit Forum: Open Forum: MIKE MCLEAN 7

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 04:34 pm:

Even in his temporary absence Mike's threads tend to stir conversation. Hope to see Mike back here soon.

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Lester ( - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 07:14 pm:

It just goes to show you how little I know about computer software!

Top of pageBottom of page   By HW ( - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 08:42 pm:

To repeat what may have been lost when this thread moved to #7:

Motown did not have any 4-track machines in Detroit. The only Motown reels in the vault that are 4-track are:

1 - NY and/or LA sessions transferred to Detroit, generally bumped up to 8-track for overdubs
2 - Golden World / Ric-Tic purchased masters
3 - NY live recordings (Apollo)

My question of the day for the old-school engineers: Is it possible the mono mix done of the first Motortown Revue album back in 1963 was compromised by mixing a 4-track recording on a 3-track machine?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 10:01 pm:


Thank you for indirectly answering a question I posed elsewhere regarding the early Motor Town Revue albums. I'm sure the situation you suggest would certainly have contributed to the uneven sound balance on the original mix.

I can tell you, a certain Yahoo group is eagerly awaiting the (eventual) release of the boxset!


Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson ( - on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 11:38 pm:

It's certainly possible because the only way we had of playing 4 track tapes was on an eight-track using hairpins as guides. I never saw Golden World's 4-track machine after Motown took over the studio.

On the other hand, are you certain that they are not 3-track tapes? That's pretty early for 4-track, especially a portable machine.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 01:11 am:

Hello Harry,

I think Bob is on the money. Perhaps they rented a 4 track machine in N.Y. I doubt that, because with the plethora of gear already transported with that show,(Mike can tell you about that,) a 3 track machine would be no problem. The Apollo tapes were most probably 3 track in 1963, because the first 4 track in town, as told to me by Martin Vogt, was the United one. That was in late 1964. I assume the next one was the GW and then Terra Shirma and Special Recordings. All Scully's!!! (Thank you from Uncle Marty.) I have a manual on an early 280A that he gave me and it is dated Jan 1965.

If someone could find Fran Herd she could perhaps answer that one!!!

Come to think of it the only 4 track Ampexes in town were at Artie Fields and Magic City, (Ken might tell us about that one) and the 440s at Pioneer and Jam Handy.

Regarding the Golden World 4 track Scully...I assumed that was at Motown after the purchase of GW.

Top of pageBottom of page   By HW ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 02:56 am:


I am as surprised as anyone. Today in the studio we played the original half-inch recording of The Miracles live at the Apollo from the first Motortown Special tour, mid-December 1962. I assumed that, like the rest of the early live recordings in the Motown vault, this tape was a three-track master. Something wasn't right - the vocals mashed together uncomfortably - so our engineer suggested it was four-track. Upon inspection with the magno-viewer, he was proved correct. It tracks 1) Band - 2) Backgrounds - 3) Lead - 4) Audience. And lots of great leakage.

Who knew?

Top of pageBottom of page   By david, glasgow, scotland ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 07:54 am:

Hi Ed

What is Jam Handy please?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 07:54 am:


Please keep us posted on this. It may be dull reading some folks here, but for those of us with a technical background (I'm an ex-sound engineer), it's pure gold. I also have a particular personal interest in the Apollo album (ask JL!) so I'm reading all the details and hypotheses with fascination. I wonder how much crowd noise there is on the master - at times, there's little apparent reaction on the album. Was it quite literally "lost in the mix?"

Please kep us posted. You're making at least one guy very happy!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Luke ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 12:55 pm:

Sorry to hammer this question, but I'd just like to know for sure:

Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that My Girl was anything BUT a 3-track recording?

By the same token, is there any doubt that the 8-track didn't start getting used until January 1965? I've heard fall of 1964 by some people.

Thanks again!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 01:22 pm:

From what I remember Jam Handy was a company that specialized in making films and recordings of an educational matter. Things that would be bought and used by school systems.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 01:48 pm:


I think I see your point, regarding My Girl - there seems to be a lot going on in there for a three-track master. But....

The recording dates quoted for My Girl are:
Sept 25, Nov 10 and 17, 1964.
- the first date presumably refers to laying down the basic rhythm track. The single was released on December 21st.

I'd take HW's word on the question very seriously. I personally am not willing to argue with the producer of the "Emperors of Soul"!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Luke ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 02:00 pm:

Hey, it's my belief that My Girl is a 3-track recording anyway! I just want to be sure - a few other people really want to believe it's an 8-track recording, even though it doesn't sound like it.

There's just some confusion, that's all. I tend to believe HW as well, but then again, some of the old engineers have said "mid-1964" or "fall-1964". I just want to make sure everything is perfectly clear!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 02:46 pm:

Well, "three-track" is what the oracle tells us, but I'd defy anyone today to recreate it using only three tracks - and produce a credible stereo master!

By the way - noticed how the strings change their position in the stereo picture for the middle section... a clever edit or what?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Luke ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 03:13 pm:


Not an edit, just the way it was mixed. The track with the strings (and lead guitar) was moved over to the center for the midsection, and moved back to the right for the rest of the song.

Note that on the Cooley High mix, the strings and guitar stay hard in the right channel for the whole song. Also, while on the original mix the "backing" track is mixed hard left, it's mixed left-center on Cooley High.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 03:24 pm:


I believe that pan-pots were introduced on the new desk to accompany the eight-track. I did wonder if it was simply a "pan" because after the center section it's a relatively slow pan back again.

I also have the two mixes you refer to, but on different releases to yours.

I'd still be interested to discover the way the record was made up, overdub-wise.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 04:06 pm:

Hello Gang,

First, Jam Handy was the biggest audio/producer in the World!!! They were headquartered on East Grand Blvd., in 6 large buildings on both sides of the street from where the I-75 freeway is now to John R. St. on the West. They produced film, multi-image and stage shows and for GM, Chrysler, the U.S. Government among others. They were A VERY big Company. Maritz, Bill Sandy, Allied Film and Video, Producers Color, Producers Film Service. City Animation, among others all got their start, or were offshoots of Handy's

Educational production was there smallest market.
Many of the Detroit production greats like Ted Petok (Crunch Bird), Ted and Herta Horn of General Film, numerous film and video people got their start at Handy's. They were a Detroit production icon, long before Motown or the Detroit music scene existed.

GM Photographic also had a full well equipt music and film production facility, but it was never updated past the early 60's. In fact the last time I spoke to Pistol we talked about his sessions there, and he was wondering what ever happened to that facility. (GM closed it in the 80's.)

I was once was informed by Fred Goodwin, the Kodak rep. when he was at United, that Detroit used more motion picture stock that did Hollywood, New York and Chicago combined at the time. (United did optical sound recording and was a big user of high contrast photo stock for negative optical sound recording.)

Detroit in the 60's was THE industrial film capitol of the world. The main reason that United was booked so heavily was the amount of INDUSTRIAL and film work being done in Detroit. We had to turn away more sessions than we booked. Regulars got preference. Jimmy was happy to see Terra-Shirma come on the scene for this reason. He had no problem selling them the console and helping us stuff the cards for the new Terra Shirma console. I would have to say that less than a quarter of United Sound's work in the 60's and 70's was music industry related and you know how much music product came from United. That's how busy we were! The majority of the work was radio spots, jingles and industrial work. This gives you some idea of how much production, music and otherwise, was being done in Detroit at this time. Oh, how times have changed!!!

Regarding "My Girl". I can assure you that "My Girl" was a three track session. I had gone up to set the session up on the patch bay for Brian Holland as the Motown dual quarter inch patch bays were NOT NORMALED. I think Lawrence Horn did the session. I was in the basement shop when that session was cut. I remember hearing the session down there and knowing from the instant that it was a hit. Motown had nothing but a three track at the time. Although,the engineering department (Mike Mclean (Chief Eng.), John Windt, Bob Dennis, Tom Nixon, and myself at the time)were in the final construction phases of the 8 track project. I think it was over a year later that it was completed however. Mike can confirm that.

I had left by the time that it was installed. I never did an 8 track session at Motown as an employee, only as an independent, even though I was part of the team that built it.

John Windt is now a consulting engineer for numerous audio manufacturing companies.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bradburger ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 04:11 pm:

Hi All

Excuse my ignorance, but just what are these Cooley High mixes?

I saw that the version of Baby Love on the latest anthology series is a Cooley High mix.



Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 04:34 pm:

Hello Richie,

You make the comment that it would be hard to recreate the My Girl 3 track session now. No, I don't think so...you must remember that we had engineers then, not KNOB JOCKIES!!! We also had musicians then, not players!!!

Put those same people together today and we could easily re-create the sessions on 3 tracks.

The Meadowbrook Funkadelic remote was done using something that has been all but forgotten today; that being miking technique. Not just what mike, but what mike and where and how you place the mike.

The git section was miked, with an omni, the drums were miked with only two mikes, the bass was direct, same with the synth. (So far only 5 inputs used), the next 2 were stage mike splits and then one input for ambience!!!! That's it!!!

Today, I typically do a full symphony orchestra with 8 to 10 inputs, usually direct to two tracks. Any of the veteran engineers could do it. No big deal.

Take a listen to the Wally Heider's mixing on Stan Kenton's, Birthday CD, a great Big Band recording, done with a 6 input Ampex Mixer.

Both Terra-Shirma and United had all of 12 mike inputs at that time!!! That was considered BIG.

Think of the cumulative noise of multiple mike inputs and multiple tracks!!!(20 log v1/v2 remember!!!)

Bigger is not always better.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Luke ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 04:49 pm:


The Cooley High soundtrack CD (and I'd assume original LP as well) uses alternate stereo mixes for some songs, notably My Girl, Baby Love, and Reach Out. The CD also features a stereo mix of Fingertips. There might be a few more as well, but that's what I can think of right now.

For instance, the original stereo mix of My Girl has vocals center, "backing" hard left and the orchestra and guitar hard right, then moving to center, then back to right. The CH mix, on the other hand, has vocals center, "backing" left-center and the orchestra and guitar hard right.

Thanks for the reply, Ed!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 05:29 pm:


Actually, that was the point I was trying to make. Naturally, "those same people" would be up to the task. I meant that much of today's "talent" would be hard pressed to achieve anything like the same. I have eternal faith in you guys - I think that that goes without saying!

Top of pageBottom of page   By HW ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 05:34 pm:

yes, thank you Ed.

Top of pageBottom of page   By david, glasgow, scotland ( - on Wednesday, July 03, 2002 - 09:31 pm:


Great detail on Jam Handy and United Sound.


Top of pageBottom of page   By LTLFTC ( - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 12:30 am:

Thanks for the info on the Funkadelic Meadowbrook project. Maybe ,as you say, it would be no big deal to a veteran engineer, but I've seen some high priced folks with a lot more equipment come out with a lot less.
Steve K.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 01:25 am:

Thank you all for the opportunity to tell the story of all of the wonderful people in the Detroit production community. Many are still around. Ted Petok, Artie Field, Jerry Fredrick, Charlie Nairn are still semi-active. Sue and I have a standing weekly Friday night dinner date with Artie.

Your comments humble me. And on Mike's tread yet! (Mike, but you taught us all how!)

If I were a wealthy man I would be hard pressed to pay for the joy that this site has given me. I'm not, so I will simply PRAY for you all.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( - on Thursday, July 04, 2002 - 02:40 am:

Your prayers are gratefully accepted Ed.

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