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In The Studio: The “Daryl Hall and John Oates” Album & The $300 Drum Sound

A setup that was far from 'tried and true' -- I decided to stretch out and try alternative concepts...

By Barry Rudolph February 17, 2015

Daryl Hall & John Oates

The origin of the “Daryl Hall and John Oates” album which came to be known as “The Silver Album” because of its silver metallic cover had a lowly start in the mid-Seventies on a Monday morning at Larrabee Sound in West Hollywood, CA.

From the very first time I met Daryl and John when they walked into the control room, I was impressed by how together—how in sync and “present” they were. I remember the proclamation Oates made on that first day of rhythm tracking: “we are cutting the album’s first single today.”

They already knew, without even cutting a demo, that the song “Camellia” was going to be the first single before it was ever recorded.

Up until then in the mid-Seventies, my experience with most recording artists was quite the opposite. Most of the time they were scattered, temperamental and tended toward the mercurial.

Often artists rely on the producer and or management to make major decisions like the first single and while that could have been the case here, usually the powers that be wait until something is recorded!

Throughout the project with H&O the planning and pre-production was evident. All the songs were written with very specific and concrete ideas for each song’s production style and sonics.

Both Daryl and John referenced classic R&B hits as “prototypes” for each song and I think that was useful in a practical sense and an inspiration to me. H&O’s manager Tommy Mottola secured the album’s producer, Chris Bond, who was charged with two main tasks.

First was writing out very specific arrangements with each musician’s part exactly notated. On some songs, the drummer’s part had every hit on every kit piece written out. Second, he was to guide the performances of a carefully selected crew of L.A.‘s finest studio musicians along with Daryl and John who played and sang on the tracking sessions.

This kind of “preparedness” coming from both the producer and the artist is a blessing for the recording engineer. Session “cats” play very well and their instruments always sound great. And, it raises the bar with the pressure to come up with exemplary sounding recordings—there will be many very critical ears listening to playbacks,

It was immediately obvious that both the artists and producer knew exactly what they wanted musically and what it was supposed to sound like.

I had to pull out all the stops. Rather than just using “tried and true”, safe microphone choices, typical tracking processing, and studio setups that work 99 percent of the time with most artists and producers, I wanted to stretch out and explore—try alternative ideas and concepts using different, non-typical methods and without using the usual tools.

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About Barry

Barry Rudolph
Barry Rudolph

Veteran Recording Engineer
Barry is a veteran L.A.-based recording engineer as well as a noted writer on recording topics. Be sure to visit his website, and also check out his related article, “A Wide Variety Of Microphone Techniques For Recording Drums”.


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