Percussion and conga come though a U 87 feeding an Allison Gain Brain, resulting in a tight sound with a great deal of presence, as well as an even ratio between the high and low conga. Such a ratio is often quite difficult to obtain.
A Fender Rhodes utilizes an RE-15, and a Wurlitzer Electric Piano is taken direct.
The Wurlitzer seems to have some electrical noise problems through its own amplifier, but when taken direct and EQ’d properly, it produces a very warm sound.
The Rhodes sounds quite good through its own amplifier, resulting in its being miked and not taken direct.
Inside the control room, the producer has at his disposal a “playback panel” that allows him to mix independent of the engineer, and without affecting the recording.
Thus the producer can begin getting a perspective on a final mix while the recording is still in progress.
Lou, as producer, takes full advantage of this, a fact which certainly contributes to the success of his work. In his words: “From the time I start an album, I’m mixing. Every day and every night I’m always thinking about a mix. Sometimes in my sleep I’ll hear the machines rewinding.
But I’m always sure what I’m after. I’m always mixing for myself, but taking into consideration the likes and dislikes of the artist, which I’ve picked up during the session.
“If Carole says, ‘Can you turn the bongos down?’ while she’s listening to a playback, I remember it when I get to the mixdown. All those things are programmed in my head.
Piano miking and muffling. (click to enlarge)
“Recording is important. I do that more than anything else in my life. I work more than I sleep. I work more than I socialize. But it’s a complete enjoyment when I do it.
“I like to get the best sound out of an artist. I don’t have my own sound. I think it’s entirely possible that a person could play all of my albums and not identify them as mine.”
Lou is in control of the session from the time it starts. He feels that as long as his is open-minded, and the artist knows he can be communicated with, his control is both accepted and appreciated.
The sessions are closed for several reasons. The fewer people there are around, the more work gets down. And the fewer people are around, the less confusion there is for the artist.
Lou does not like anyone standing behind the console: “An artist should always have one person to look to when they have a question. If they say, ‘What do you think’‘, and there are four different expressions, they have no idea where they are.
“They should look to me… but if there’s a person in the booth, and he’s happy just to be there, and the artist comes into the room, sees the person beaming, and I say, ‘We’d like to do it again,’ it’s confusing.”
The music ranges from ballads to rollicking rock and roll. The musicians and the atmosphere are cheerful. The musicians are not sidemen; they come with Carole. They have to be interested and involved in the music. Otherwise, they are not on the next date.