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Books in REVIEW • tape's rolling, TAKE ONE!

The Recording Life of Adrian Kerridge

Books in REVIEW • tape's rolling, TAKE ONE!

Adrian Kerridge is an obscure English producer, hardly known outside of Great Britain despite his six decades of recording, arranging and producing rock & roll television scores and movies. Kerridge has fashioned 14 chapters from 319 pages of his remembrances of the music industry, beginning when he first hit pay dirt in 1954, working as a young lad at IBC studios.

He learned his chops and eventually bought Lansdowne Studio and through his ascendance, Kerridge solidified his ranking in the new British aristocracy and became a true musical icon. He initially befriended Joe Meek who taught Kerridge about close mic placement, multiple over-dubbing, direct placing of bass guitars, the compressor, and effects such as reverb and echo as well as sampling.

Kerridge felt that Meek was a genius and that his life style as a hidden homosexual was cause for arrest and imprisonment. It made him a target in polite society. Kerridge and Meek became close friends and they collaborated on many of the sessions at the IBC studios. At high recording levels, the one quarter inch tape noise was insignificant and it allowed Meek to create several composite overdubs with only a negligible loss of sound quality.  This technique allowed singers such as Petula Clark and Shirley Bassey to belt out the lyrics.

On February 3rd, 1967 Meek killed his landlady, Violet Shenton and then shot himself. At the time of his death, he possessed thousands of unreleased recordings that later became known as the Tea Chest Tapes.

Denis Preston owned the Lansdowne studios and it was an approved studio on the Musicians Union “fair list,”, alhough Kerridge never understood why it existed for studios and for what purpose.  However, Preston wanted to make Lansdowne the best-equipped studio for sound recording in London and in Europe. Denis conceded that George Martin (Beatle Producer) and Geoff Emerick (balance engineer who recorded the Beatles, changed attitudes at Abbey Road, making their talents more accessible.

Chapter 9 was the most interesting part of the book as it was exclusively about the Dave Clark 5.  Kerridge first met the Dave Clark 5 in 1962 when they came into the studio for demo work. It turned out that Lansdowne was the first proper studio they experienced. Kerridge recorded several mono demos by the band and he told the group that he liked what they were doing. He felt the DC5 had a good sound and that the material “was there.” Mike Smith and Dave Clark were able to re-create their live sound.

In an interview with Kerridge Clark explained:  “When we first started we were writing songs and playing at American bases in the UK, at dance clubs and on the Mecca ballroom circuit which featured over 200 bands and catered to a million people a week throughout the UK.  We were recording demos of publishers’ songs because they gave us free studio time to do our own songs.”

The DC5 music, with that heavy upfront live sound became their audio signature was eventually called The Tottenham Sound.  The first release was Mulberry Bush on EMI but as Kerridge said, “it lacked balls.” However, by 1963, the DC5 recorded Do You Love Me and it was stunning! Kerridge used a U47 for Mike Smith’s voice and three Mics on Dave Clark’s drums. It enabled Kerridge to place the dynamic mic inside the drum off center using equalization to achieve that thumping sound. There were also double or triple tracked overdubs..

Dave Clark:  “Mike was the most underrated great rock & roll singers. Mike didn’t really realize how good he was. There was no ego. We were all friends from way back. When we got the Tottenham Royal contract we were playing to six thousand people a night. It blew us away!  I said to the boys that we will only go professional if we get two top-five records and we go out as the top of the bill act. We will stop while it is still fun and that is what we did in 1970. In 1964, the DC5 were selling 180,000 copies a day!

Freddie Mercury told Clark that the DC5 sound was his inspiration for Queen’s We Will Rock You with the stamping, clapping onto 20 tracks to get that stadium sound. It was DC5’s hit Bits and Pieces that inspired it all. In the sixties, Kerridge had a call from the Daily Mirror and the journalist asked: “You record the Dave Clark Five?.”   “Yes, I do, I replied” “He doesn’t play drums on his records”.

Kerridge retorted, “I have news for you, yes, he does and please don’t ring me at home again!”

The relationship between Lansdowne and the DC was immensely productive:

  • From 1963 to 1970 all the DC5 records and albums were recorded at Lansdowne
  • 23 albums
  • over 30 global hit singles
  • 100 million records sold
  • Over 100 Platinum, Gold and Silver discs awarded.

Kerridge described his experiences in Germany’s 1960’s and Belgium in the mid 70s, recording material at the new KPM Music Library and other libraries. He also describes with humor the numerous and artistic challenges, the variety of material from albums to commercial TV shows and musicians and artists that came through Lansdowne and the consequences of a rapidly expanding business.

He paved the way for a generation of sound engineers. He is one of only two people to ever be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Professional Recording Services. The other was awarded to George Martin.

Kerridge is meticulous in defining his golden moments throughout this incredible document, 319 pages that chronicle the life and times of this gracious yet humble man. Stay tuned for Volume Two. It is scheduled for publication in 2017 and is available at Barnes & Noble.

 

 

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