Friday, September 30, 2005

Record Producers Push the Levels of Success.

When the term producer comes up, what's the first image that flashes before you? Does the vision of a person running around pointing in both directions while speaking through a megaphone come to mind? Perhaps in the movie industry. But in the music world, a producer is the one who creates the complex role in the musical process. A producer hammers out all the recording session details for the musicians and believe me, that can be a difficult task.

Typically the producer would select songs, arrange the production through sheet music or rehearsing by ear, and create an optimum of recording conditions with the latest in recording equipment. Quite often the producer would engineer the session and even write songs. Most importantly, he must create a vibe or music groove worthy of appreciation. These gifted individuals are generally an industry enigma and do their magic in the background receiving little or no credit. I can associate with that.

Below are photos and a list of some of the past era's most influential.
Don Was, T. Bone Burnett, Willie Mitchell, Leonard Chess, John Hammond, Ted Templeton, David Rubinson, Jim Stewart, Shadow Morton, Jeff Lynn, Quincy Jones, Sam Phillips, Eddie Kramer, Creed Taylor, Jimmy Iovine, Billy Sherrill, Chris Chandler, Gus Dudgeon, Steve Cropper, Eddie Offord, Bill Szymczyk, Narada Michael Walden, Chips Moman, Nile Rogers and Arif Mardin.

George Martin was a house producer for EMI Records in London when he began a long and monumential relationship with The Beatles. At first, Martin thought The Beatles had no talent but later he became a musical genius by blending his orchestral arraignments with their rock music.  Posted by Picasa

Jerry Wexler was a journalist turned record producer for Atlantic Records who became a partner and shareholder of the company. He produced giants such as LaVern Baker and Aretha Franklin. He was also the influencial figure in Atlantic's distribution deal with Stax Records. That arrangement proved to be enormously successful for both compaines. Wexler won numerous industry awards such as best producer in 1967 and 1968. He went on to produce artist Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Delaney and Bonnie and Dire Straits. Jerry Wexler is a living legend. Posted by Picasa

Felix Pappalardi (front) and Tom Dowd (rear) are pictured here during the "Disraeli Gears" sessions by Cream. Two extreme opposities, both had extensive careers. Pappalardi credits list as an artist with Mountain and producer with Cream and Dowd as the producer/engineer with many of Atlantic Records most successful acts such as; Ray Charles, The Drifters, The Coasters, Otis Redding, Young Rascals, Dusty Springfield, Derek and The Dominos, Eric Clapton, The Allman Bros. Band and Rod Stewart. Tom Dowd could walk on water.  Posted by Picasa

Phil Spector was known for his trademark Wall of Sound. This process was created by a production technique yeilding a echoed and layered sound. Also known for his eratic behavior, Spector's era fizzled out from his personal conflicts with numerous artist. Posted by Picasa

Glynn Johns impressive list of production credits range from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, The Who and The Eagles. Not a bad career!  Posted by Picasa

Mickie Most list of production credits range from The Animals, Donovan, Lulu, Jeff Beck to Terry Reid. He was a key person in the development of the early British music scene.  Posted by Picasa

Lou Adler's Dunhill Records and his Ode Record(s) label put the California music scene at the forefront of pop music. Adler, pictured here on right with The Mama & Papa's John Phillips, also produced The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grammy Winner Carol King's best selling album "Tapestry." Ever wonder who that guy is with the funny looking hat sitting front row beside Jack Nicholsen at the Lakers games?

Photographs by Robert Whitaker and Corbis

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Booker T. & The M.G.'s stood the test of time

Booker T. & The M.G.'s modern day line-up is Duck Dunn, Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper. The band still tours annually and uses a variety of drummers depending upon their scheduling availability. Doesn't matter who plays drums though, they could use a drum machine and still sound great.

Rarely in the music world has there been a group that's connected musical bridges while sustaining decades of staying power like Booker T. & The M.G.'s. Founded in 1962 as a splintering of The Mar-Keys, the bands name came from then-Stax producer Chips Moman's love for the British sports car,"MG." Fearing possible copyright infringement from the auto maker, the band conveniently tweaked the MG name to stand for "Memphis Group." This salt and pepper quartet had a series of hit records that included, 'Green Onions', 'Hip Hug-Her', 'Mo' Onions', 'Chinese Checkers', 'Jellybread', 'Soul Dressing', 'Hang 'Em High' and 'Time Is Tight'. In the mid-60's, Booker T, & The M.G.'s became the bedrock in which the Stax label was built and became the studio house band. They appeared on many of the Stax label's notable releases such as Rufus Thomas 'Walking The Dog', Sam and Dave's 'Hold On I'm Comin' and Wilson Pickett's 'In The Midnight Hour'.

The remaining horn section from The Mar-Keys later spun-off to become known as The Memphis Horns. But get this. Both Booker T. & The M.G.'s combined and The Memphis Horns would rejoined forces again to back newcomer Otis Redding on a ground breaking European tour and then return to the U.S. to steal the show at The Monterey Pop Festival. Oh, did I mention they accomplished all this wearing their pointed-toe Beatle boots and suited in their gaudy lime-green matching band outfits?

Booker T. & The M.G.'s original line-up included Booker T. Jones on organ, Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson Jr. on drums and Lewis Steinberg on bass. Donald "Duck" Dunn replaced Steinberg on bass early in the bands success.

Editors Note: To view a previous posting titled "Tribute to Al Jackson", click on Photolog Archives dated 2005-05-15 and scroll downward to end of page.

Young Booker T. Posted by Picasa

Young Steve Posted by Picasa

Young Duck Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 09, 2005

Somebody Please Pinch Me ~ On Stage with Led Zeppelin

See previous posting for continuing storyline.

Copyrighted photos (c) by Phillip Rauls. Unlawful duplication prohibited.

In these previously unpublished photographs shot onstage, a shirtless Robert Plant twists his torso sideways while guitarist Jimmy Page, donning a rarely worn top hat, focuses-in on the rhythm section for a punctuating cord change. The band sent a supersonic trance into the audience with a slaying effect. As a Memphis-boy, I'd grown-up during an era of music legends and not easily impressed. My hometown produced several generations of Rock & Soul icons and I thought I'd seen just about everything. But on the evening of this event, I think I died and went to heaven.

A shirtless, barefooted and razor-thin Robert Plant jumps into the air in sequence with Led Zeppelin's edge-of-mayhem stage performance. Page in the background sends a scorching guitar break filled with distortion and feed-back beyond any one's imagination. Somehow it blended so perfectly with the electronic sculpturte of their sound. Trust me, they wrote the book on Rock.

If only I'd kept all of those concert posters that covered my walls and filled the closet. From Otis Redding, The Gentrys, The Box Tops to Yes, Led Zeppelin and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Somehow I let them slip through my fingers and into collectors hands. Posted by Picasa