Soulful Detroit Archives - July 2004 Instruments and gear used on Philly records Previous Next

Author Message
Top of pageBottom of page

Alain Nguyen (soulgems)
1-Arriviste
Username: soulgems

Post Number: 3
Registered: 7-2004
Posted From: 65.166.187.218
Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for providing your feedback on the previous Philly thread, It was really enlightning to me.
But it makes me wonder, aside from the incredibly talented writers, performers, musicians, producers, what other elements contributed to the Philly Sound?
Much has been written about James Brown drum kits or Motown instruments and recording techniques but little is known about Philly.
Were there any instruments, brands of mics, keyboard, guitars,bass,drums, tapes or recorders that helped created the Philly sound?
Top of pageBottom of page

Eli (phillysoulman)
6-Zenith
Username: phillysoulman

Post Number: 1202
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.236.56.214
Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 1:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Alain,

There was nothing unusally different regarding our equipment as far as its contribution to our sound, no "snakeoil and no magic dust"
Its the PEOPLE behind the scenes and not the equipment.

We had the usual Neumann, Sennheiser, AKG, RCA, Shure etc. mikes.

There was a hybrid drum kit that was nothing special.
The "special" came from Earl's playing them.

Norman usualy played thru a Kustom blu padded vinyl amp, while I used a Fender Twin.

Ronnie played thru an Ampeg B 15.

For the most part, the board was an Electrodyne 24 in 8 bus affair.
I say for the most part because the first board was a "home mad" Electrodyne valve(tube) desk that got very hot.Not bad in the winter.

We were the first studio with automation(memorys little helper) very early on about in the mid 70's.

The one "technical thing" that was unique about the place was its custom built live echo chamber which was left over from the Reco Art days.
So like I said before, its the people not the gear.

We were just blessed to have been at the right place at the right time.
Top of pageBottom of page

Alain Nguyen (soulgems)
1-Arriviste
Username: soulgems

Post Number: 7
Registered: 7-2004
Posted From: 65.166.187.218
Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 2:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bobby,

thanks for your input. I am a big fan of your work too. Much respect!
I read in an interview from Joe Tarsia, that a wallet was placed on top of the snare to dampened its sound. I don't know how this could be done but if that's the case, it could have made Earl Young's drum parts sound smoother.
Recently, I picked up a 7" from Odia Coates - That's the way the cookie crumbles. Amazing production! In my opinion, it is screaming for a re-issue. Was there an extended version or a 12" release for it?
Top of pageBottom of page

Eli (phillysoulman)
6-Zenith
Username: phillysoulman

Post Number: 1205
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.162.127.172
Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 11:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hey Alain,

Where in the world did you find the Odia Coates(RIP) single?
There was supposedly a 12" but not a "remix"
At the time Epic records was useless as its a&r dept was in a tizzy and subsequently they lost the record and never released my Jimmy Ruffin songs at all. They did, however put out the Joneses album and singles but once again, they blew it.(what else is new , huh?)
Odia was one of the nicest human beings I ever worked with.
She even stayed at my house during the time of those sessions.
Regarding the wallet on the snare drum, it was and is a common practice used to control the snares ring, or deaden*dampen) it.
Sometimes we used a sanitary napkin taped to the head.
once again, this was not 'snakeoil" just common practice.

One more thing I neglected to mention was that we liked to use two overhead room mikes for "controled ambience" as the room played a major part in a lot of songs recorded not just at Sigma but wherever there was a session noted for its "sound" and part of the "sound" had to do with the room characteristics(ambience) indigenous to that studio, relative to the way we played.
Top of pageBottom of page

Soulaholic (soulaholic)
5-Doyen
Username: soulaholic

Post Number: 397
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.41.40.105
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 12:32 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bobby:

Sound like you guys where just everyday blue collar workers. Just throw the wallet on that snare it will work, tape that pad over there it will work, hook up those mics to get the whole sound it will work.

Guys that had truly mastered their craft and knew how, why and what would work in any condition or circumstance.

I guess that genius is truly 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Got in the trenches and worked the groove till it fit or the equipment till it was it will work!!!!! LOL

Thank god for the Masters of the craft that had been journeymen and apprentices of that craft that they loved and brought to the zenith of its artistic possibilities.
Top of pageBottom of page

Eli (phillysoulman)
6-Zenith
Username: phillysoulman

Post Number: 1213
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.162.127.172
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 12:34 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well put, Brian!
Now, where did I put my lunch pail??
Top of pageBottom of page

Catdaddy (catdaddy)
3-Pundit
Username: catdaddy

Post Number: 34
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 66.72.101.96
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 11:23 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mr. Eli,
Who came up with the idea of the long pre-delayed reverb on many of PIR's greatest hits? Was it Mr. Tarsia? It was heard all the time on the hi-hat, and quite a bit on the snare and side stick. It was pretty radical at the time, and it made the records stand out.

Long an admirer and lots of respect,
Catdaddy
Top of pageBottom of page

Eli (phillysoulman)
6-Zenith
Username: phillysoulman

Post Number: 1234
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.236.25.216
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 11:46 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Catdaddy,

That was Joe Tarsia's creation.
It was a 15 inch reel of tape on a continuous loop(until the tape ran out and had to be rewound) with hooked up to a vari- speed oscilator and he liked to use anywhere between a 110-120 ms pre delay on his live chamber or EMT plate or both.

The hi hat delay was just from the spill off of the snare drum reverb.

It was more prevalent during the 8 and 16 track days because there was more leakage or spill into other mikes because of the lack of isolation at the time, but I must admit that it did contribute to our unique sound.
Top of pageBottom of page

Eli (phillysoulman)
6-Zenith
Username: phillysoulman

Post Number: 1235
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.236.25.216
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 11:52 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

While Im at it, Ill tell you how they got that "backwards effect" on "For the love of money.

Essentially, Joe flipped the tape upside down, carefully so to allign it just so, and they recorded just the echo return of those vocals and the cymbals, etc,normally, so when Joe flipped the tape back around, it came out reversed. Quite ingenious for 1973.
Top of pageBottom of page

Garo (gary_james)
2-Debutant
Username: gary_james

Post Number: 27
Registered: 5-2004
Posted From: 192.234.106.2
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 12:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Bobby, I was gonna ask for about that great effect!
Top of pageBottom of page

Alain Nguyen (soulgems)
1-Arriviste
Username: soulgems

Post Number: 9
Registered: 7-2004
Posted From: 65.166.187.218
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 1:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bobby,

I am a hardcore fan!

I found the Odia Coates single on a vinyl hunt expedition at Rooky Ricardo's in San Francisco. I would recommend this record store to any soul music lover, with approximately 300,000 unsorted 7" you can spend days digging for the most incredible records. Very friendly owner too.

Everything with the name Bobby Eli on it goes straight to my collection.
Among my favorites are
Eli's second coming - Foxfire wicked instrumental!!!
Gospelaires of Dayton - God Help Those Who Help Themselves
Ava Cherry - Can't Shake The Feeling
Sons of Robin Stones - Got To Get You Back
Rose Royce - Magic Touch

I really like the "disco boogie" feel of the tracks you produced during this time period.
This sound is so hot in the U.K. and in France right now.
Are there any more productions in that same vein, worth checking out? It seems, there are still plenty of "obscure,at least to me" Bobby Eli productions, that are absolute gems.
Top of pageBottom of page

Eli (phillysoulman)
6-Zenith
Username: phillysoulman

Post Number: 1237
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From: 68.236.25.216
Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 2:19 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi Alain,

Man, you did find some obscurities.
It seems that everything I did was obscure(smile)

Ive got tons of that kind of stuff.

The Impact album with Give a broken heart a break and Happy man
The Joneses album(Epic) with Who loves you
Two Jackie Moore albums
The second Atlantic Starr album (with lets rock and roll and Kissin Power
T.U.M.E.
Keith Barrow(first album)
Blue magic-Mystic Dragons

Free Spirit 2 singles, Love you just as long as I can(the first Tom Moulton mix) and Mr Fix it man
BTW..That Gospelaires song was the very first 12 inch Gospel record ever.
It got the top pick in Record World magazine and
gained tons of positive reaction.
Unfortunately it was on savoy. Nuff said.

There are so many.
You can e mail me at Phillysoulman@msn.com
Top of pageBottom of page

Alain Nguyen (soulgems)
2-Debutant
Username: soulgems

Post Number: 17
Registered: 7-2004
Posted From: 65.166.187.218
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 1:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bobby,

Boy am I glad I joined this forum!!!
It took me a while to digest all this knowledge you're dropping on us.
It's starting to sound like the FBI, but understand, I have 20 years of unanswered questions in my mind on this subject.

Back to the original topic of what made the Philly sound recognizable, can you think of some chord progressions that were typically Philly?

It seems to me that along with Earl Young's skip beat,the use of a typical percussion pattern from Larry Washington on a lot of Philly classics helped create "the sound"

There was a specific use for instruments on Philly records but I can't quite put my finger on it.

I remember you mentioning on the Van McCoy thread he liked to double his lead string line with a glock type bell.

You know like, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis never invented the cowbell but it became theirs after the seminal S.O.S. Band, Cherrelle, Alexander O.Neal recordings.

Are there more examples of these idiosyncrasies of producers or sound engineers in the Philly sound?

Also on the EQ, I think Tom Moulton said that where Motown focused on the mids, he pushed the high frequencies to new levels while working on his Philly mixes. Is that what helped create the feeling of breathiness on the PIR stuff?
Top of pageBottom of page

Ralph Terrana (ralph)
Moderator
Username: ralph

Post Number: 495
Registered: 3-2004
Posted From: 209.240.205.63
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 1:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

RE: The wallet on the snare: That was an old studio trick to dampen some of the " ring " of the snare drum. It prompted producer Tom Baird to muse one day that maybe in a hundred years they would have a special device to do this, called a wallet and no one would know why it had that name.
Top of pageBottom of page

Chi Drummer (chidrummer)
4-Laureate
Username: chidrummer

Post Number: 105
Registered: 5-2004
Posted From: 24.14.40.133
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 2:32 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mr. Baird was close. Although there is no "wallet" there is a product called Zero Ring which is nothing more than a thin piece of plastic cut at different widths depending on how much you want to dampen the overtones of a drum (snares or toms). Simple idea, works great in the studio and in the field.
Top of pageBottom of page

Ralph Terrana (ralph)
Moderator
Username: ralph

Post Number: 496
Registered: 3-2004
Posted From: 209.240.205.63
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 3:52 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

And it hasn't even been a hundred years.....

Add Your Message Here
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.