Saturday, 3 December 2016

Extraordinary Strings and Horns Arrangers Pt.3

Phil Spector Recording sessions
Gene Page
Meanwhile, after the success of the Ronettes' seminal "Be My Baby", their producer Phil Spector was looking for another act and spotted Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. Renamed the Righteous Brothers, the original blue- eyed soul duo had already scored a minor hit with "Little Latin Lupe Lu". Spector commissioned the husband-and-wife team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who wrote "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' ".
In the summer of 1964, Phil Spector's first-choice arranger, Jack Nitzsche, was busy and so the producer decided to give Page a try on the studio date. His swelling, swirling string arrangements greatly enhanced the recording of this epic track which topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' " is still named by many as the greatest single of all time and probably the definitive illustration of the Spector "Wall of Sound".
Page was on a roll; he worked with the Drifters and, in 1965, helped Dobie Gray to fashion "The In Crowd", the dancefloor filler and northern soul favourite. By the following year, the arranger had become part of the elite of Los Angeles session men which included the guitarist Glen Campbell, the drummer Hal Blaine and the engineer Bones Howe. Under the aegis of the producer Lou Adler, this team backed the Mamas and the Papas on "California Dreamin' " and "Monday, Monday", both million-sellers.

Motown and Barry White Recording Sessions
In the late Sixties, Page met the young singer Barry White, who was doing odd jobs to make ends meet between recording dates. To this day, the soul superstar remembers the arranger's generosity.  According to Barry White, during several Motown recording sessions on the West Coast at Motown Recording Studios, Page sneaked him into the studio where he was collaborating with the Tamla Motown songwriters and producers Holland-Dozier-Holland (Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland). They were cutting "Forever Came Today" for Diana Ross and the Supremes and White was transfixed. White would eventually get a chance to try and emulate his heroes. Page also arranged strings on Diana Ross’ solo album “Touch Me In The Morning,” “Baby It’s Me,” “Ross” and Michael Jackson’s solo album “Got To Be There”. He also conducted strings on Marvin Gaye’s live album “Marvin Gaye Live!”.
White owes Page more than the music. “In addition ..... he used to feed my family, pay my rent, give me gas money, food money for my children. I never had to pay him back. I tried many times . . . he'd never take it. When my ship came in, why would I use anyone else? When you say Barry White, Love Unlimited Orchestra, whatever else you say, always mention his name”.
In 1972, White called Page in to work on Love Unlimited's slinky, sensuous "Walking in the Rain with the One I Love". White couldn't read or write music and, at first, wouldn't even sing himself: he let his protegees the sisters Glodean and Linda James and Diane Taylor front the record, while his deep voice came in on the telephone line halfway through the track, which became a Top 15 single in Britain and the United States. Soon, Page became an indispensable right-hand man, listening intently to White's ideas and directions, writing out charts for the different instruments and helping him fashion his unique, symphonic soul sound.
Page recalled in interviews: “Barry would play with so much energy that the legs of the piano would buckle; his sweat would pour out into the keyboard. Barry White was the first to have five guitarists on one song, all playing different parts. The guitarists couldn't hear it. And sometimes I couldn't either. I'd question him. "Trust me" was his favourite line. And suddenly, magically, the parts and counterparts blended to perfection. Barry's ears went to harpsichords, French horns, flutes, mandolins”.
His ideas were never on paper but inside his head. Licks for tenor solos, accents for horns, complex patterns between drummers and bassists; Barry dictated, demonstrated, hummed out the parts. It was highly unorthodox, and it was also brilliant. Between 1973 and 1978, the brilliance of those pillow-talk recordings helped Barry White, as a solo artist and with his Love Unlimited and Love Unlimited Orchestra offshoots, sell over 100 million units and create what some sexologists still define as a "Barry boom". No night out was complete until you'd heard the rhapsodic strings and shuffling rhythms of such songs as "Never Never Gonna Give You Up", "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe", "You're the First the Last My Everything", "What Am I Gonna Do With You" and "Let The Music Play". He did all the string and horn arrangements for White’s million-selling albums and singles, creating a formidable lush polished sexy sound that was loved mainly by the female population. This enabled Barry White to generate 16 million dollars in revenue for the entertainment industry in a few short years.

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About Me

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Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

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