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Light My Fire

The Doors - Light My Fire

• Light My Fire •

The chamber at Sunset Sound, Studio 1, is heavily featured throughout The Doors’ first album. Light My Fire offers an isolated snare hit at the top of the tune that clearly reveals the sonic signature of the chamber they dialed in for the drums. And, of course, the lead vocal gets a heavy dose too.

  • Artist: The Doors
  • Album: The Doors
  • Label: Elektra
  • Year: 1967
  • Producer: Paul Rothchild
  • Engineer: Bruce Botnick
  • Studio: Sunset Sound, Studio 1, Hollywood, CA USA

Save the Life of My Child

• Save the Life of My Child •

Chamber reverb on the eerie vocals at the end of each chorus. The stairwell reverb gets added flanging via two tape machines. Roy Halee is the master of FX based on the humble tape machine.

  • Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
  • Album: Bookends
  • Label: Columbia
  • Year: 1967
  • Producer: Simon and Garfunkel, Roy Halee
  • Engineer: Roy Halee
  • Studio: Columbia Studio A, 799 7th Ave, New York, NY, USA

Heartbreak Hotel

• Heartbreak Hotel •

Sun Studios did not have a chamber. Thus, Elvis’ early music on Sun Records has no chamber reverb. But they did create a distinctive 120ms-140ms tape slap echo at Sun. When Elvis moved to RCA Records, they could only guess how the effect was created, approximating the sound by placing a loudspeaker and microphone in a nearby bathroom hallway. Propagation time from speaker to microphone gave an echo, though much shorter — closer to 80ms. The hallway also added some resonance, which was not in the Sun tape-based slap echo sound. In search of echo, they added a small chamber.

  • Artist: Elvis Presley
  • B-Side: I Was The One
  • Album: Heartbreak Hotel
  • Label: RCA Victor
  • Year: 1956
  • Producer: Steve Sholes
  • Engineer: Bob Farris
  • Studio: RCA Victor rented a studio from the Methodist TV, Radio and Film Commission, 1525 McGavock St., Nashville, TN (pre-dates RCA B).

Only Living Boy In New York

• Only Living Boy In New York •

The backing ‘aaahhhhs’ are rich with chamber reverb from Columbia Studios on 52nd St., but no loudspeakers were used. Paul and Art sang from within the stairwell chamber itself.

  • Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
  • Album: Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Label: Columbia
  • Year: 1970
  • Producer: Simon and Garfunkel, Roy Halee
  • Engineer: Roy Halee
  • Studio: Columbia Studios B and E, 49 E. 52nd St., New York, NY, USA

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’

• You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ •

Abundant use of Gold Star’s chamber is an essential ingredient for this tune, which might be the “wall of sound’s” highest achievement. The chamber adds support and fullness of tone to the lead vocals, with much of the percussion getting an even higher dose of chamber. Those background vocals singing aaaaaaaahs and ooooooohs? They are 100% wet, or is it only 99%?

  • Artist: The Righteous Brothers
  • Album: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (released as a single)
  • Label: Philles
  • Year: 1964
  • Producer: Phil Spector, convicted murderer
  • Engineer: Larry Levine
  • Studio: Gold Star Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA, USA

Be My Baby

• Be My Baby •

Gold Star’s chamber, with its characteristic darkness of tone, finds a good match with Hal Blaines’ snare. It is the star of the back beat, making beats 2 and 4 larger than life.

  • Artist: The Ronnettes
  • Album: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica
  • Label: Philles
  • Year: 1964
  • Producer: Phil Spector, convicted murderer
  • Engineer: Larry Levine
  • Studio: Gold Star Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA, USA

Where Did Our Love Go?

• Where Did Our Love Go? •

Hitsville USA (Motown) has a small chamber with iconic midrange character. Unmissable on the foot stomps and hand claps.

  • Artist: The Supremes
  • Album: Where Did Our Love Go (released as a single)
  • Label: Motown
  • Year: 1964
  • Producer: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier
  • Studio: Hitsville USA, Detroit, MI, USA

At the Zoo

• At the Zoo •

Percussion gets a new texture, and a slight 60s flavor, courtesy of some flanging on the chamber reverb. Specifically, the mono chamber reverb return was simultaneously sent to two analog tape machines. Then the two outputs from both were mixed together. One of the tape machines had its speed constantly altered, up and down, leading to slight timing differences. The result is textbook flanging, done entirely analog. It’s hard to miss: four percussion hits appearing at about 0:13, and again at about 1:09. A trivial effect using digital tools today, it was a lot more work, and a quite interesting sound when created entirely within the analog domain.

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  • Artist: Simon and Garfunkel
  • Album: Bookends (originally released as a single)
  • Label: Columbia
  • Year: 1967
  • Producer: Simon and Garfunkel, Roy Halee
  • Engineer: Roy Halee
  • Studio: Columbia Studio A, 799 7th Ave, New York, NY, USA

Let’s Dance

• Let’s Dance •

Power Station Chamber One, again. It’s on the vocal, with regenerative tape delays, and the delay outputs are also feeding the chamber. The snare has gated plate reverb, that’s not a chamber.

  • Artist: David Bowie
  • Album: Let’s Dance
  • Label: EMI
  • Year: 1983
  • Producer: David Bowie, Nile Rogers
  • Engineer: Bob Clearmountain
  • Studio: The Power Station, New York, NY, USA

You Never Give Me Your Money

• You Never Give Me Your Money •

A glorious example of chamber reverb from EMI Studios at Abbey Road is found at the end of the second verse after the line, “…and in the middle of investigation, I break down.” That word ‘down’ gets an extra kick of chamber reverb — a manual mix move, no doubt — which is nicely revealed in the space before the B section kicks in with “Outta college, money spent, …”  at about 1:03.

  • Artist: The Beatles
  • Album: Abbey Road
  • Label: Apple Records
  • Year: 1969
  • Producer: George Martin
  • Engineer: Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald
  • Studio: EMI Studios, Abbey Road, Studio 2, London, UK