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Discussion in 'General' started by RIDDIM, Mar 13, 2019.
Here's Hal Blaine helping a song come become a hit.
My favorite Blaine moment is him tightening up the intro to the bridge in God Only Knows. He suggests it to Brian during the session.
I assume this is Terry Melcher we hear directing this session? What I get from this audio is affirmation that Michael Clark played nothing on the first two Byrd’s albums. Melcher thinks nothing of stopping the best studio musicians in their tracks, critiquing them then telling them to do it again. The first thing he says to the greatest studio drummer in the world is that he is playing the song too slow. I think it is absurd to think that Melcher would put up with a drummer as inept as Clarke in a recording situation.
Funny thing....Michael Clark always spoke well of you. I heard him play at an early Byrds concert back in the days when McGuinn was still gong by his given name of Jim. Michael played quite well. He may not have been of Hal Blaine's caliber. But, who among us is?
Forgive me, as I'm unfamilar with your profesional experience. And I mean that sincerely, I don't know you or what you do. I'm not a name guy but I have some first call friends, big tours, the biggest actually. And they've told me stories of bandleaders correcting the tempo or feel some of the biggest most famous drummers in the world. It happens, it happens a lot. Nobody is immune. I haven't listened to the clip posted here, but if a producer thinks it's too slow, then it's too slow. Not Gadd, not Vinnie, not Hal Blaine. It's not a dis, it's just the way it is. That's my opinion anyway. I guess yours is different. which is fine. All good. I just wanted to point out that it's more common than you think. Maybe that doesn't make it right. But what is " right" ?
Every time I hear Hal counting it off, the guitar starts slower. To my ears at least.
Wrong Nacci.....Like others in this post I saw The Byrds in 1965. In concert the only song he sounded "not like the record" was Mr. Tambourine Man.
The only song on the first two albums HB drummed on is Mr. Tambourine Man. Heck, that's obvious even when one listens to the albums. Even Hal never claimed he played on more than that......
Have a read of the Byrds tome/book. Blaine is only on Mr Tambourine Man. Michael Clark, no pushover, merely shocked they would not be using the bands musicians here. He played tasteful parts on many other early songs, but not this hit.
To drive the point of studio culture at the time, actually the only reason McGuinn is playing guitar on the record was he had some studio experience. Singing was another matter.
As for Melcher vs. Blaine, the latter , smart and without ego, knew how it works - Give the producer what he wants, job done, on to the next one.
Bun, perhaps you missed the recent Rolling Stone interview with McGuinn on the death of Hal Blaine where he clearly says that Clarke was just learning to play drums at the time the first Byrd’s album was recorded and that they needed a “real drummer”. Every other member of the original band is on record saying the Clarke was not a drummer and was hired because of his looks, the only member that never spoke on the issue was Gene Clark who as far as I know was admitted to an asylum at the time this series of interviews were conducted.
Every early performance of the band shows them miming their parts over a prerecorded track and clearly shows Clark as a fumbling, beginning drummer.
McGuinn states: I don’t believe “Mr. Tambourine Man” would have been a hit without the Wrecking Crew. The Byrds were not that great a band at that point. Michael Clarke was just learning how to play drums. He learned to play on cardboard boxes. We needed a real drummer. That day in the studio when we recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Hal was great. I was intimidated by those guys. They were all a little older than I was, very slick, like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. They were almost punks, with their collars up. I was just 22, and I remember Hal Blaine saying, “Don’t be so nervous kid, go out and get a couple of beers and then come back.” He tried to loosen me up.”
Hal is on three Byrds songs. He played on Mr. Tambourine Man, She Don't Care About Time and an early version of Lay Lady Lay.
To say Michael Clarke was a poor drummer and couldn't cut the sessions is ludicrous. Listen to the stuff they cut at World Pacific Studios the year before signing to CBS. The drumming is more than adequate. Not to mention there's a sh*tload of AFM sheets proving that Michael played on nearly all the early sessions up to The Notorious Byrd Brothers, when he left the band and was replaced on the remainder of the record by Jim Gordon. None of this has ever been shrouded in secrecy.
For a guy who was supposedly a poor drummer, The Flying Burrito Brothers couldn't scoop him up fast enough when he became available to join them. And then he went on to even greater success as the drummer of Firefall.
No one said he did not become a drummer but what the leader of the Byrds is saying is that he was not one when they formed.
My recollection is the Clark and McGuinn formed the nucleus of the band in the summer of “64” and did not pick Clarke up until sometime in October or early November. The were in the recording studio in January recording their first album and the second one two months after that.
You just clearly read McGuinn state that the Byrds were not a good band at this point and that Clarke was just learning to play the drums.
Here are some other direct quotes from band members and associates on Clarke’s ability at this point.
David Crosby - Musicangle 2004
Well the drummer couldn't play...never could. He looked right but he never was a very good drummer, he was a nice guy. That's one of the reasons I learned to play that chop and smack kind of rhythm because I had to learn how to play drums on the guitar. Somebody had to do and so it was me and Chris.
Roger McGuinn - Reveries 2001
He looked like Brian Jones and Mick Jagger. He wasn't a drummer at all. He didn't play drums, as far as I know. Some people backpedal there and say, "Oh, no, he used to play drums in high school." But I don't think so. He did learn, though.
Roger McGuinn - Vincent Flanders 1970
Well, after the big Beatlemania thing sort of faded and the girls stopped rushing the stage trying to get our clothes off and everything, or just touch us or whatever they were after -- I don't remember exactly what it was, something -- that was the gig to Michael. He's turned into a drummer, but at the time he wasn't. Like when we got him off the street he never played traps before in his life. He played conga drums and he was pretty good at it.
In the Byrd’s biographical tomb “Waiting for the Sun” Barney Hoskyns makes several references to Clarke’s ineptitude as a drummer.
There is the infamous Modern Drummer interview with Hal Blaine Himself:
MD: Michael Clark?
Hal: Yeah, he was the only guy who was a little pissed. Eventually Terry Melcher, the producer, let him make the records. Although we had already done “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and they were a big group. I’ve got underground tapes of me making all those Byrds records, with Terry talking to me saying “give me this, give me that.” Maybe Mike didn’t know it, maybe he did, but when I hear some of The Byrds records, I would have never played them the way I hear them. So those have to be the ones that he did play on. Anyway, he’s the only drummer I know of who showed animosity, unless it was someone behind my back and I didn’t know it.
But, more importantly, just go back and watch the TV performances of the Byrds after they hit big. Everyone of them shows a band miming their parts to a prerecorded track with Michael Clarke fumbling away and playing off beat to what you are hearing.
So perhaps not so ludicrous after all.
I loved the Byrds. Bought most of their stuff. Even had a Rick 12 string once that I learned to play this on. As far as Hal think how much studio time he had just if he only played one take on all the albums he is credited with. And this shows it was genrally multiple takes. A mind boggling career
So Nacci, where are all the AFM sheets for the Byrds sessions with Hal's name on them? Are you saying the ones with Michael Clarke's name on them were made up, fake? And Michael did drum prior to the Byrds. His sister has posted pictures of Michael playing the drums circa 1962-63 of a crew cut Mike playing with his teenage garage band. And even though Hal says Michael resented him, there's an interview on Youtube that Michael gave to the BBC in 1990 where he is extremely complimentary to Hal and the other session players.
Shiloh, what I am pointing out is that His band members, the people who were actually there are telling you that Clarke was not a drummer, that he was hired because of his looks.
By most objective accounts, including McGuinn’s they were a newly formed, very musically ragged band at the time the first album was recorded.
By all accounts their biggest initial hits were a studio creation that they then lip sang and mimed to and not very convincingly at that.
Think about this, they give Hillman an instrument he has never played before and he is in the recording studio three months later with Melcher?
You are asking me if AMF is capable of lying? Of course they are. Hollywood lies as a matter of course. It is their default setting. Is this not part of the disclosure of documentaries like The Wrecking Crew and Hired Gun?
Either way, they clearly recorded these sessions or this thread would not exist. Perhaps someone can find the audio of Melcher directing Clarke during one of these sessions and him playing the drum parts convincingly.
I’ll leave you off with this quote from an interview with Blaine from the Wall Street Journal, March 33, 2011. This might as well be a timely message from Beyond to you fellas who refuse to admit that you were duped:
“This is going to break your heart , but much of the music you heard in the sixties and early seventies wasn’t recorded by the people you saw on the album covers. It was done by me and the musicians you see on these walls. Many of these kids didn’t have the chops and were little more than garage bands...At concerts people see with their eyes. Teens cut groups slack in concert, but not when they bought their records”
Comment #1:March 33, 2011---A day that will live in infamy. Comment #2: That last Hal Blaine quote is probably correct as a generalization of drummers in rock bands of the era. Comment #3: From all accounts I have read concerning the great man, any inaccuracies in his annotated discography would most likely be the omissions of some recording dates. Comment #4: Regardless of what any of us think of the drumming abilities of Michael Clarke, Dennis Wilson, Tommy Ramone, Ringo Starr, or other drummers who made it to the big time, those guys were in the right place at the right time. Comment #5: We all know the lead guitar players who make endless comments about their low opinions of famous lead guitar players. The great rhythm guitar players tend to be less ego driven. The same could be said for most bass players--except for those who think that they are the lead instrument in the band. Comment #6. These are my opinions.
Fumbling? Clarke plays right along here. ...even the flam at 3:33.
As for miming, most bands on TV shows of the 60's did so.
Yep, he does a decent job of holding it down here, still shaky but decent. This video would have been October or November of "65"? I'll say it again, like McGuinn said, the Byrds did eventually become a band and Clarke did eventually become a drummer but they were not in the beginning, they were a manufactured entity, doing other peoples songs and recorded by studio musicians.
I don't have the source material available to me right now but that was the first hand assessment of Carl/Karl Franzioni, Vito Paulekas's partner. Paulekas and Franzioni ran a troupe call the "Freaks"; young, nubile hippy dancers who would be employed by Elmer Valentine to come to the shows on the Sunset strip of fledging bands like the Byrds to distract the audience from the fact they could hardly play their instruments
Eventually though, they were able to go out a play convincingly and Clarke did become a decent drummer, you can clearly watch his progression and improvement on the recorded TV appearances throughout "65", the early ones they refuse to even show him, here is one from August of "65" which is painful to watch but much respect to him for the marked improvements he posts just three months later in your video. But remember, that was his job, to come up to speed on drums and try and make these performances convincing.
Man you really hate Michael Clarke. Did he steal your girlfriend?
Well, if the Wrecking Crew were indeed the ones playing on "Turn, Turn, Turn", I have lost a lot of respect for them since it took them 5 days and 78 takes to get the song down. I guess they made the secret session tapes with Michael Clarke clearly audible on them just to dupe the public some 50 odd years later.
I SO want to get a Bernard Purdie joke in here, but I don't think it would be in good form.