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Girl Groups of the 1960s
June 15, 2017
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Bev, Efficient 1960s
Visitors since our launch on Dec. 24, 2000:
For the returning fan...
In the Studio
A Glimpse into a 1960s Girl-Group Recording Session
When you listen to one of your old girl-group favorites, do you ever wonder how it was recorded? Here's a first-hand look from Kaye Krebs, an original member of the Pixies Three.
"Birthday Party" was recorded at RecoArt Studio in Philly. But all of our records after that were done in New York at Mira Sound, the premier studio at the time. At our session, we recorded "Cold, Cold Winter" and "442 Glenwood Avenue." I remember this session best because we were so excited to be in the "big leagues," recording where all the hits were made, with some of the most famous musicians of the period.
John Madara and David White were our producers and they wrote the songs and rehearsed us on two weekends prior to the session. Leon Huff (of the famed Gamble and Huff, and who later created the "Sound of Philadelphia" and "Soul Train") was our age, 15 to 17, and played piano for our rehearsals. I played piano for the Pixies for many years, but I was just blown away by Leon Huff, who stood while he played and danced at the same time.
When we got to Mira Sound for the session, the band was already set up and Leroy Lovett, the arranger, was rehearsing them. As I recall, it was a big session: piano, at least three sax players, lead guitar played by the renown Vinnie Bell, bass guitar or maybe acoustic bass, drums and, I believe, a keyboard player and a brass section. They rehearsed for awhile and then the producers asked us to sing--although we would not be recorded. This was just for the band to "get the groove."
After several hours, Madara and White were satisfied with the two instrumental tracks and the musicians left. I asked about that and was told the studio musicians in New York were all union. A "session" was a specific amount of time (like 4 hours, I think) and when you went over that, the overtime was very expensive. By this time, having recorded "Birthday Party" backed with "Our Love," I was aware that WE were actually paying for the session--subtracted from our royalties--and was glad to hear that someone was looking out for the cost.
They put Midge, the lead singer, in a separate enclosed glass booth, but we could see her from our booth. She was on a separate track and Debra and I were on another track since we were both singing in the same microphone. I wondered about this because there weren't enough musicians to use all 24 of the tracks. Later, I found out why they were saving those tracks. They overdubbed our voices probably three times; probably three tracks of Midge and three tracks of Debra and I. It was the style that gave you the big, chorusy sound. I can't even remember how many times we sang those two songs. They never told us which takes they were keeping and which they were not using. When they said, "It’s a wrap," I thought we were done. Little did I know.
We all moved into the control room: the producers, the arranger, our manager, us, and various hangers-on. Brooks Arthur was the engineer. They mixed all the tracks, adding EQ and reverb and I watched and listened in awe as the music came alive. After each run-through, Madara or White would say, "We need tambourines here" or sleigh bells, or hand claps, and one or more people would go into one of the recording booths and add another track to the song. The last thing I remember adding were more "oo's" to the chorus of "442 Glenwood Avenue."
I can't remember how long this session was, but know it was over 24 hours. I remember walking out of the studio the next evening and was confused. Could a day have gone by?
Oldies, oldies, oldies!
If you like girl-groups music of the 1960s, there are likely other oldies you like too!
Why not listen to Johnny Galindo's Vinyl Treasures? This fantastic show has an array of great oldies, including rare girl-group music. Listen now!. Or tune in every Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. Central Time/10:00 p.m. Eastern for Top Shelf Oldies for the newest show. You will love it!
The Pixies Three on Tour with Rolling Stones
Did you know the Pixies Three toured with the Rolling Stones? Yes, the soft, lifting sounds of the Pixies trio were actually paired on tour with the hard-rocking Stones. Here are some memories of that tour from the group members themselves...
We worked with the Rolling Stones on their first American tour in summer 1964. It was one of those multi-act shows with The Dave Clark Five there, too. Not sure if there were other bands, but there may have been.
The Dave Clark Five was a hit with the audience. Of course, they were dressed in matching outfits and were well-groomed. But the Stones were not well-received by audiences and were panned by the media. Their look was new and strange to the audience, we'd guess, and their music was a harder rock than Americans were used to.
We hung out with the Dave Clark Five, since they were our ages, and cute and fun to be with. The Stones kept to themselves, usually behind closed doors. You can imagine, given the times and the fact that they were older, that their offstage persona was as foreign to us as their onstage performance.
Actually, it was the only group we ever worked with that ignored us. Maybe they were embarrassed about their reviews. They were fairly successful in the UK at that time and were surprised not to receive the kind of welcome that the Dave Clark Five got.
Of course, we all know this was short-lived, as the Stones returned to the U.S. in the fall of 1964 and were treated like gods by the media and the public. They were just ahead of their time for their look. And their sound became de rigueur for rock bands after them. At that time, none of us would have ever guessed they could become rock icons, popular even 40 years later!
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For the first time visitor...
Back to the old days
Remember the early 1960s...when Coke was just a soft drink...when the only nudity you saw was a Barbie doll, between outfits...when the biggest worry was who Johnny would invite to the prom?
Best of the Girl Groups: Volume 1
The great songs you love: Leader of the
Pack, Chapel of Love, He's So Fine,
One Fine Day, Will You Love Me Tomorrow,
The Boy From New York City,
The Shoop Shoop Song, and more!
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