This was an e-mail dialogue with Dave, host of "The Sixties", CKCU 93.1 every Tuesday at 10 pm, in May 98.
The story of the Red bird Recordings was that most of them were only ever mixed in mono. Then, in the late 1960s, An album was released on Buddah records called Incense and Oldies-where they actually remixed-and in a few cases, added extra handclaps, piano bits to the songs. The remixes were not stuctred to sound like the singles-thus songs like "Remember(walking in the sand) and (Give him a great big kiss) had completely different bits left in the songs that were actually edited out to create the singles. Songs like "Boy from New york City" was actually stereo on this album(and later turnded up that way on a K-tel box set!) but the mix ping ponged the vocals from channel to channel(and the song would even drop to mono in odd spots). When Red Bird was sold, The master tapes were split up and sent to several companies, But it's believed that Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller held on to many of the session tapes. Trouble is, most of the music industry attitude is that "if it was in mono then, it should be in mono now(Atlantic and Motown records are good examples of labels that hold that attitude these days.) The folks at Taragon are like us, fans of Stereo. They put almost 2 years of work into this Red Bird/Blue Cat CD-and actually had to reconstruct the songs from several tape sources (since the session tapes did not contain all of the bits that turned up on the single-such was the way mixing was done back then.) The only mono cut of the 15 on the disc was "New York's a lonely town" by the Trade Winds (the reason being it was an outside production-not done at Red Bird. Taragon won't put something out unless they can get the absolute master tapes. They've done discs of the Fortunes, Foundations, Steve Lawrence, Joni James, Bent Fabric, The Critters, Shirley Ellis, Len Barry, Bert Kaemphert, Del Shannon-and they have plans for discs on the Cascades and the tokens later this ywar. Hopefully they'll do a second Red Bird CD as well. What's really sad is that the commmercial stations won't pick up on these great CDs. They use what they have-and simply don't care about sound quality or authenticity (if you've ever heard Majic's Sunday morning Oldies show, you know what I mean.)
The stereo on the Sam Cooke tracks particularly was, as you said, true stereo, with real phase difference info, the kind you only get today if you make your own stereo recordings, with just two mics.
Well, depending on the recording studio, most were using 2, 3 or 4 track recording in the early 1960s-mixing down to mono for single release. this is why we're seeing many tunes turning up in stereo for the first time ever. Atlantic Records apparently had an 8 track studio as early as 1958(if you've ever heard Bobby Darin's stuff in stereo, you'll hear what I mean(sadly they keep issuing it in mono these days.) The Sam Cooke CD was a dream come true. Knowing there has been an on going dispute over who owns his material (either RCA or former Beatles/Stones manager Allen Klien). It's Klien that is apparently trying to get this SC CD pulled off the market-and from all reports I've gotten, it is starting to get hard to find in the US. The early Sam Cooke disc had fake stereo and very narrow stereo mixes-all of it lacking high end and crispness. This new disc is outsdanding with clean flat mono and crisp wide stereo where multi tracks were available. I do appreciate mono mixes when there is something different about the sound. Sometimes overdubbs were added in when the mono mixdown was done, so the only complete version is the mono one (the Mama's & the Papa's "Creeque Alley" Comes to mind as a good example). I've learned to appreciate mono for that reason, but I'd rather have stereo in most cases.
95% of modern recordings are not stereo; they are umpteen mono tracks mixed together with zero phase info left. I hate it. The early stereo in both the pop and classical worlds is far more satisfying to listen to. Try the Ray Conniff records for real stereo. Actually you might consider them for a program. So, good on you Dave for getting this wonderful stuff! I always loved the Dixie Cups, and now I can really listen to them for the first time!
How did you get on with Yuri my Russian friend at the Chateau?
I'm hoping to get Yuri up on the show sometime in the summer months, once his work is published.
Glad you enjoyed the show. keep in mind there's a request show happening in a few weeks.
CKCU FM 93.1 In Ottawa, Canada