Take Your Mixes To The Next Level

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ken Scott On The Jeff Beck Group

Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust book cover from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
It's time for the first excerpt from Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust, the upcoming autobiography by legendary producer/engineer Ken Scott, co-written by yours truly. This excerpt, which comes from a chapter about the other EMI artists he worked with besides The Beatles, is about Ken working with a more or less unknown Jeff Beck Group.

You can read more about the book as well as a chapter summary at AbbeytoZiggy.com.

By the way, if you're in Los Angeles, you can hear a lot more stories from Ken as he'll be giving one of his great presentations at Musicians Institute at 7Pm this Tuesday the 20th. It's free and all are welcome, but please RSVP on the event website.

"Not too long after Magical Mystery Tour, I was assigned to do the first Jeff Beck Group album Truth, which featured soon to be superstars Rod Stewart on vocals and soon to be Faces and Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood on bass. They weren’t known at that point, but there was a great atmosphere and everything went rather smoothly, taking only about a week and a half, since most of it was recorded live. 

I was blown away by Jeff, of course, and the majority of Rod Stewart’s vocals were live and ended up on the master. He liked to use a hand-held mic so we accommodated him by wrapping a KM-54 with a lot of sponge to reduce the handling noise. The song “Morning Dew” also marked the first time I ever recorded bagpipes. I had no idea how to mic them up and I still can’t remember how I did it. I think I just listened around until I found were the sound came out and put the mic there.

During the first session when we were getting drum sounds, I remember thinking how good they sounded, only to discover after the fact that the drum mics had been moved from my standard positioning. And not just a little either. Someone moved the snare mic so that it was aiming at the shell instead of the head, which I never would have done. I have no idea if the mics were moved purposely or not, although I think they probably were since everything was placed a little too perfectly for it to be an accident. I left them placed where they were. It sounded fine, so why change a good thing?

Truth was supposedly produced by Mickie Most, who had previously produced hits for The Animals, Donovan, Herman’s Hermits and Suzi Quatro, but in this case he only came along for the mixes. The person that was there for most of the recording was one Peter Grant, who was Mickie’s assistant at the time. Peter later went on to become the high-powered manager of Led Zeppelin, but he didn’t have much to say in the producer’s role as he was there mostly to just look after the band. Many critics have gone on to say that the sound of Led Zeppelin was mainly derived from that particular Jeff Beck album, but it’s debatable whether Peter actually had anything to do with it."

You can preorder the book at AbbeytoZiggy.com.
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