Friday, July 22, 2011

Helping Out Our Readers (Part Two)

Tying up ... or would that be wRAPping up ... a few loose ends ... 

>>>I've got a question about the song 'The Rapper' by The Jaggerz.
I distinctly remember the 45 RPM record in the jukebox, while going to high school, not having the echo parts heard here, but I do recall it receiving airplay about the same time. So, what's the scoop on this - what actually was issued as the 45 single? Promo / commercial copies differ perhaps? Did they even have an album? A stereo rendition does exist, but without the echoed portions. Everything related to the echoed version always appears on RCA/BMG or related (on CD) ...
Thanks!  (JJ)
>>>Actually, I remember CLEARLY the first time I heard the "echo" version, too ... 'cause it blew me away.  I, too, bought the single when it first came out ... it was one of my favorites.  (A #2 national hit, certainly a whole BUNCH of us bought the single!!!)  And you're right ... it did NOT have the echo bits on there.  Seems to me it was many years later (and most likely on the radio) when the echo bits first started to appear ... and, quite honestly, that seems to be about the ONLY way you hear it today (when you hear it at all ... despite its #2 chart status, THIS song seems to have fallen off the oldies playlists, too!)  I never really knew WHERE that new version came from ... could have been the album version, I suppose ... or just a Kama Sutra / Buddah remix ... but once again I have to say that I prefer the version that I grew up listening to.  (They did a similar treatment with a couple of early Dave Clark Five singles, too ... which really ruined the sound of them for me!)  Pat Downey's book "Top 40 Music On Compact Disc" refers to both the LP and the 45 mix ... so it may really be as simple as this.  (I never bought their album so I can't verify.)  Can anybody out there pinpoint the recent and timing of this?  Thanks!  (kk)
It's nice to know I'm not going senile just yet, for I, too, don't ever recall hearing the echo after the line coffee, tea or me. Yet, as you say, the version you here now has an echo after that line. So I pulled out a copy of 20 Explosive Hits and, after listening, I find this does not have the echo. Of course one never knows what source these oldies compilations were using. I have no idea from what source the echo version comes from.

Thanks, Kent, I knew you'd pull through!
You may be correct, the echo version came some time later after charting! Some never heard of this version (probably most popular in PA). MAYBE The Jaggerz OWN their material. If an LP, then it had to be stereo, but where would this mono, echo version sit?

By the way, I saw this on the Jaggerz guestbook ... isn't Phil a FH participant??
from Phil Nee
Richland Center, Wi.
WRCO Radio
The Rapper is still one the most asked for songs on my radio program.

He sure is ... in fact, we've been on Phil's show several times.  Proving once again that "The Rapper" is a fan favorite to be sure!  (kk)

Wow!  Sounds like these two different mixes have caused quite a bit of chatter on some other oldies websites, including the one run by Pat Downey, whose book WE referenced in our first "The Rapper" entry regarding the difference between the 45 and LP versions of this song.  Now it would appear that there were also different 45 pressings of this song!  You can read it all here:

Since this was discussed, but left open ended at Pat Downey's site , 
here's something interesting (below). However, a "bootleg" used by RCA/BMG on multiple CDs seems a bit too odd.

Clearly, two versions exist ... and it's not a case of your rather normal 45 vs. LP version ... sounds like TWO distinctively different 45 mixes were issued.  (Amazing how much discussion there has been on this!!!)

40 years later I don't think you can prove it was bootlegged back in the studio ... my guess is Buddah / Kama Sutra kept both tapes and pulled the wrong one for the 45, and I can tell you that since I have both pressings, you CAN NOT TELL the difference between the two pressings unless you play them (the deadwax info is identical), and they quickly realized they put out the version the band didn't want out and put out the correct version. I'm thinking that's also the same reason why that version has turned up on cd, it's likely in a tape box not marked as being the wrong version.  The Buddah / Kama Sutra tape vault is still a mess, there are many missing tapes ... Sony doesn't want to invest the time or money to straighten it out ... seems to be a common problem in the industry.
I have multiple copies of The Rapper. My US promotional copy, two US stock copies and one Canadian stock copy contain the "standard" version of the song but one of my US stock copies (with deadwax info IDENTICAL to the other pressings)  contains the echo version.  My guess is someone pulled the wrong tape when putting the 45 out and the mistake was quickly realized ... they just didn't realize the same mistake when putting the song out on cd in mono.
The hit 45 mono mix matches the stereo lp version without the echo ... the 45 version with the echo is locked into mono forever.
-- Tom Diehl

I went through my personal collection trying to find both versions of "The Rapper" ... turns out I have FOUR copies of the 45 "non-echo" version.  Then I finally found an "echo version" ... but the echo only appears at one place and that is on the last chorus ... so is this yet a different mix?  Tom Diehl sent me THREE different copies of "The Rapper" from his own collection ... and although some of these have the echo-effect, NONE of them have as much echo as the version I've been hearing on the radio ... so now I'm determined to find THAT version!  Meanwhile, here's the one that I have:

The only version I've heard on radio is the stereo album version ... the echo 45 version is on two cds that I know of, but I don't know of any other versions that have more echo than on the released 45 ... could be something custom done by a radio station? 
Tom Diehl
I suppose anything's possible ... but it seems to me I've heard this version on more than one station so who knows!  Crazy to think that this many versions even exist for a big #2 Hit!!!  (kk)

Meanwhile, I tried to reach Donnie Iris, who cowrote "The Rapper" and was a member of The Jaggerz back then, thinking maybe HE would remember how and why the mixes were changed ... and at whose mandate ... but I haven't heard anything back from him yet.
Iris is still performing all the time ... check out his website: 

Donnie had a couple of big solo hits in the early '80's, including one of MY favorite '80's tunes, "Ah! Leah!", a #29 Hit in 1981.  (Other Top 40 solo hits include "Love Is Like A Rock" and "My Girl".  All of these hits performed very well here in Chicago ... and, according to Joel Whitburn's new "Top Pop Singles" book, The Jaggerz had a couple of kind-sized regional hits in the Pittsburgh area before the rest of the world caught up to them ... "Baby I Love You" and "Gotta Find My Way Back Home" both topped the local charts in 1968 and 1969 respectively!

Hi Kent,
Thanks so much for posting my plea for a mono version of Petula Clark's Downtown - I'm very pleased to finally have a copy of it!  I know that there is dissension on this issue and I do acknowledge that the stereo version is quite decent compared with some others from that time that have been monkeyed with, but to these ears the mono version just 'sounds right.' 
Would you please pass on my sincere thanks to Tom Diehl for sharing this song?
All the best,
Consider it done ... in fact, here's a comment from Tom Diehl right now!  (kk)

Folding the stereo mix to mono reveals that the lead vocals are much
louder than on the true mono mix, so there isn't a compatibility there ... 
two different mixes were made from the 4-track master tape (at least I assume it was recorded onto 4-track), but it's my belief that  there is actually nothing different between the mono and stereo versions except for how they are mixed. Aside from that, I must say, Petula's recordings have some of the best stereo mixes I have ever heard. They really hold up well and have always sounded spectacular to my ears.

They do sound nice, but they still sound the same as in the '60's, even
on a audiophile series CD. With all the work that went into the
orchestration, I'm sure Pet sang to prerecorded music. Otherwise, there
would be scads of out-takes and versions, but none have surfaced. And
until you hear such, it's difficult to say just how well they could have
sounded. Nothing has been actually remastered, in the sense of remixing.
Granted, ALL the session tapes could have been destroyed, but I'd find
that difficult to believe.

You should pass John's comments on to Tony Hatch ... I'd actually be very interested in what he has to say on that. It's possible John may be right on the money, that she is singing to a pre-recorded track, but even if that's so, there could have been outtakes from vocal flubs ... I doubt she did all of her songs in one take!  However Petula is also a perfectionist and it could be that as soon as the master take was decided, the rest of the takes were scrapped ... though the backing track for Downtown has been used for her to record the song in several other languages ... German, Italian, French ... however I doubt any multitracks exist even today, so even if she did a million takes they could've been scrapped long ago ... companies don't like to hold on to tapes they will never issue, and Petula has direct say in what gets issued with her name on it, which is why her complete singles collection never came out ... she objected to the mono mixes getting released, which is a shame.
Actually, I did talk to Tony Hatch about this ... keep reading!  (kk)

I think I may have sent before, but here's Pet's Downtown in MONO (even a little AM fading to!) as it sat on top of the WLS Silver Dollar Survey with Dex Card "making the call" before "Double R" Ron Riley's show starts.  Those were the days! 
I may have sent this too, but I love her version of "A Foggy Day" and am guessing Tony Hatch loved producing this one for her, too. 

Hi Kent!
As usual, Forgotten Hits has taken a large chunk of my afternoon, in a quest to listen to as many recordings of  "Downtown" as I could find. The sonic stature of that recording is nothing short of brilliant ... the depth and tone of the stand-up bass for instance, would be lost in much of today's productions.
You mentioned 45's being mixed for a 2" car speaker ... I'd agree on a 2" transistor radio, but if you want to hear, say, "Needles and Pins" by the Searchers at it's finest, mount a 6"X9" speaker in a solid metal box with about four inches of clearance. Crank it 'til it rattles!
Thanks for all you do, buddy ...
Woody Johnson

I sent all of these comments to Tony Hatch ... let him know that the "record geeks" were out in full force on this one ... and everybody wanted to know some behind-the-scenes tidbits regarding how the hit record "Downtown" was made.  
Here's what I got back:

Hi Kent,
I'm starting to query my own recollections but I really don't remember mixing separate mono and stereo versions of "Downtown" or of the many Petula Clark tracks that followed. But, if different versions do exist, a cutting engineer in the States might have simply combined and centered the stereo tracks to create a mono disc. That suggestion is defeated, of course, by Tom's assertion that 'folding the stereo mix to mono reveals that the lead vocals are much louder than on the true mono mix'. As I don't have separate records I'm unable to try that myself but, of course, when you combine and center stereo tracks, anything in the center of the original stereo picture will appear louder. 

I confirm that in 1964, the year I produced "Downtown", we would be using Ampex 4-Track with the orchestra in stereo on 2 tracks, Petula on a separate track and the backing girls also on a separate track. The reason for that is I absolutely had to have Petula and the backing girls on separate tracks and this was more important to the final mix than to facilitate recording later foreign language versions. 
On another point I have to say categorically that Petula never sang to a pre-recorded track except when making foreign language versions (on a copy of the original 4-track master) or if she had been physically unable to record. (A very rare occurrence.) "Downtown" was certainly recorded totally 'live' - everyone in the studio together and there weren't 'millions of takes' or scads of out-takes and versions. When recording vocals with orchestras, my system was always the same. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse then record. Nothing is more demoralizing to a studio full of great musicians than to hear words like "OK. TAKE 47!" I would first run the chart once or twice to check notes, get the 'feel' right (tempo is critical) and make any changes necessary. Then we would isolate sections of the orchestra and sections of the chart and play them through whilst tweaking mike positions, etc. Then we'd run the whole thing again. When I thought everything was ready, we would put the red light on and go for it. "Downtown" would have been made in a maximum of three takes. The first one we'd play back. We'd do a second take ... then I would ask for just one more for luck. Take 2 (as with "Downtown") was invariably the Master. Getting the definitive take is like a mass orgasm. Everyone involved in the process, from the artiste to the musicians to the balance engineer (no automation in those days) must 'climax' together. 
I'm not saying that Petula never came back to the studio to re-do something or never stayed after the session to double-track a chorus or fix some lines she felt she could improve on but it would be very rare because she absolutely loves working with musos in the studio and it inspires her. 

Thank you, all correspondents, for the kind compliments you pay me. I had a great team. And I must try Woody Johnson's 'Needles and Pins' experiment. We used to have quite an array of small speakers on the console for checking mixes but although I made The Searchers hits, I never listened to them in a
6" x 9" speaker in a solid metal box!


And, we've already got an answer to one of yesterday's queries!!!

>>>I'm trying to find a song from the summer of either '64 or '65. Some of the lyrics are: 

"There's a gang hanging around the corner.  They've got a leader that digs her, too.  He waits for me cause he know's I want her.  On the street that I can't go through."  Can you help?

Thank You.  (Kurt Janus)

This is "Around The Corner" by the Duprees. 


The song that Kurt Janus is looking for is Around The Corner by the Dupree's.  Great tune.

The song Kurt Janis was asking about is "Around The Corner" by the Duprees, released on Columbia 43336 in 1965.
Jeff Lemlich
Hi Kent
I discovered your website a few weeks ago and I love it.
Kurt Janus asked for identification of the following lyrics:
"There's a gang hanging around the corner.  They've got a leader that digs her, too.  He waits for me cause he know's I want her.  On the street that I can't go through." 
That would be "Around the Corner" by the Duprees from the summer of 1965.
Best wishes,
Yisrael Herczeg

I like this one ... it has kind of a Vogues feel to it ... while I hadn't heard it before, it's a good tune ... and a #83 Cash Box Hit in 1965.  (Wow, seems like this one should have gotten higher than that!)  kk