History of CBS Records 30th Street Studio NYC (many pictures)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by DMortensen, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    Here's a Liederkranz Hall pic. Note the light fixture:
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    The seated guy with the dark hair might be producer Ernie Altschuler.
     
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  3. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    As above:

    Unfortunately, there aren't many good views of the studio. I'll put forward the following, however:

    [​IMG]
    Manny Sachs and Cole Porter (Photo: Eileen Darby/Graphic House)

    This appears to be in front of the 30th Street control room. The spacing between the door and the window, as well as the trim around the window, seem to match known shots of the old control room.

    [​IMG]
    Patricia Morison, Alfred Drake, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang (Photo: Eileen Darby/Graphic House)

    Hard to see, but the arch on the wall and the curved brace (?) appear to match 30th Street. I wondered about the lights too, but perhaps they were just using a particular type of bulb at the time.

    Also, this seems to indicate that the "polycylindrical diffusers" were *added* by Columbia at some point, and weren't simply there when they moved in.
     
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  4. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    A bit more on the control room move. Per above, it seems established that the new control must have been in place by mid-1962. Except...look at this! From Anyone Can Whistle, April 12, 1964 (recorded the day after the show closed, after only 9 performances!) :

    [​IMG]
    Record producer Goddard Lieberson, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents (Photo: Don Hunstein)

    As expected, that's the new control room. But:

    [​IMG]
    Record producer Goddard Lieberson and composer Stephen Sondheim (Photo: Don Hunstein)

    There's the old control room, still in place! A good year and a half after the new control room went into service! Presumably it was no longer being used, but it wasn't removed when the new control room was built, as I had assumed.

    And...wait! Here's Dames at Sea, from 1969:

    [​IMG]
    Hal Linden, Sally Stark and Adrienne Angel (Photo: Sandy Speiser)

    The old control room is *still* present!

    So, the presence of the old control room in undated photos is *not* necessarily indicative that they were take pre-1962.
     
  5. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    Location:
    New York, NY, USA
    The windows along the control room from the studio POV look identical in the later photos from the earlier - it's likely what's inside the control room that changed in the interim between pre-'62 and post.

    The reason Columbia got into 30th Street in the first place, folks: in 1948, midway through the second AFM "recording ban," Liederkranz Hall was "hijacked," if you will, by CBS-TV for the purpose of originating a 15-minute weekday newscast to be anchored by some chap named Douglas Edwards.
     
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  6. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    No, the window was totally different and the new control room was in a different location. The old control room was not remodeled, a new one was built.

    This is the new control room:

    [​IMG]

    At ground/studio level, not up several steps.

    Dan will have to confirm, but I believe the far wall in that photo is where the old control room had been located.
     
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  7. Mister Charlie

    Mister Charlie "Music Is The Doctor Of My Soul " - Doobie Bros.

    Location:
    Aromas, CA USA
    Here is the dark studio shot lightened some....


    [​IMG]
     
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  8. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yes, here's the layout that Dan drew a few years ago:

    [​IMG]

    Old control room on the west wall, new control room on the south wall. I assumed the area that housed the old control room was removed when the new control room was built, but clearly that wasn't the case.
     
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  9. Tone_Boss

    Tone_Boss Forum Resident

    Awesome thread, I've always had interest in the history of this studio.
     
  10. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Boy, I think we are getting somewhere in this thread! It's amazing to see pictures of the old control room when the new one is in use; that is totally unexpected!!

    Here is an updated version of what you saved.

    [​IMG]

    I was wondering when to post it, and this is now the good time.

    As you can see, it's similar to the June 2012 one, but some doors are different.

    This update from Oct. 2012 is a result of an online meeting we had while Frank was still alive. This drawing is the best consensus of people who were there, and I'm hoping that a new group of people who were there (who I've alerted to this thread) will chime in with details and changes.

    The access to the control room from the main entry door on the left seems very inefficient, but this was what was agreed upon.
     
  11. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    This is definitely 30th St; I have pics that Fred Plaut took of that bricked-in archway when he was winding his film to get to new unexposed frame at the beginning of a roll.

    Here is one, unretouched so I can post it quicker:

    [​IMG]

    So what I'm geting from this is that 30th St and Liederkranz Hall used the same light fixtures in roughly the same arrangement, but the diffusers were removed in 30th St at some point?
     
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  12. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Something like that seems to be the case, yes. I know I was thrown off by the bulbs/diffusers in the Kiss Me Kate photos.
     
  13. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    This is a fantastic find and synthesis of thought. We are doing scholarship here!

    However, this will now make dating pictures more difficult.
     
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  14. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hopefully it's relatively safe to say that the presence of the new control room, either via interior shots or shots from the studio, would date any photo as post-mid-1962. And any interior shots of the old control room are almost certainly pre-mid-1962. But as noted, shots of the old control room from the studio could be from 1969 or later.

    Dan, are there any shots of the west wall in the Company film? This might be a case where the YouTube videos aren't of high enough quality to make a determination. I'm curious if the old control room was still in place then.
     
  15. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    Was the lower part of the 30th St old control room made from concrete blocks? I always assumed it was wood, like the interior that is visible in many pictures.

    That picture of Cole Porter definitely is showing concrete blocks. The window molding looks different, too; check out this LIFE Glenn Gould pic:

    [​IMG]

    It's not super detailed, but you'd think you'd see some concrete block mortar lines, but it all looks smooth, and the window molding looks like wood. The Cole Porter one looks like metal to me.

    You're right about the spacing looking right, though. Interesting.
     
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  16. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I did wonder about the blocks. However, it's possible 1) most shots simply aren't detailed enough to see the lines, or 2) drywall, or some other material, was placed over the blocks at some point.

    I'm not certain if an additional molding was placed around the window, but the slope at the bottom of the window appears to be the same. It's possible the window was in a metal frame, and wood was placed over the metal (except on the bottom) when drywall (?) was added.
     
  17. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    It's hard to tell; the shiny thing to the left of Fred's head might be the North side of the old control room window:

    [​IMG]

    The next one shows a sliver of another shiny thing towards the South that could be the other end of the control room window.

    [​IMG]

    That's all I have without watching the movie again.
     
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  18. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yep, I'd bet money that's the old control room. Door to the left, and curtains in the same place as Dames at Sea. So it was still in place for Company in 1970.
     
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  19. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I've been trying to comprehend what Luke's finds mean to the studio's story, and think era 4 just needs to be modified a bit:

    1. 1875 to approx. 1945: Pre-studio, church era

    2. 1945-ish to 1952-ish: Pre- and early CBS studio era

    3. 1952-ish to 1962-ish: Upstairs West wall control room CBS era. Studio left alone, not cleaned up. Most well-known and well-regarded albums recorded during this time IMO

    4. 1962-ish to 1970-ish: Main floor South wall control room, cleaned and painted studio?, more drapes, original control room still in place but unused, rotary fader console

    5. 1970?-ish- May 1981: Remodeled Main floor South wall control room and studio, cleaned and painted studio, linear fader console

    At first it seemed like a new era needed to be added to reflect the presence of both control rooms, but that isn't the case, I think. Do you agree that this covers what we know now?

    And now we need to pay closer attention to those pictures between 1962 and 1970 so as to not ID them as Era 3. And maybe someday we'll be able to get rid of the -ish's.

    Although Era 3 will need to be divided into "interior acoustical treatment present" and "little acoustical treatment, walls not fixed up, floor finish deteriorating to make that nice warm sound".

    Or something like that, once we nail down the dates.
     
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  20. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Looks good, although I don't think we can go by this:

    From the photos we can see that the studio was initially pretty bare, and then the "polycylindrical diffusers" were added, then they were removed, then curtains added. While perhaps some things (floor?) weren't touched (maybe), I tend to think Frank's recollections of "studio left alone" are simply untrue. It seems that periodic changes the acoustics were not uncommon.

    For photo dating purposes, it may help to go through the photos on the Masterworks site and note what was present and at what times. Perhaps certain curtains were only present for a few years, for example.
     
  21. Jskoda

    Jskoda Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Just finding this thread! Way back in post 55, the lady on the left in the center picture is definitely Susan Johnson. Could this session be from THE MOST HAPPY FELLA in 1956?
     
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  22. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    I hesitate to disagree with you, but my impression is that the polycylindrical diffusers were there early on with some level of curtains also present, then the polys got removed somewhere around 1954-5 (they were gone in the 1956 LIFE mag Gould spread) but some level of curtains were still present that stayed pretty constant (with slight variations) until the new control room was put in in 1962.

    Do you agree with that, or do you see it differently?

    I definitely agree that the Masterworks pictures are a treasure trove of detail that we can mine; can we divide it up so nobody has to do the whole thing?

    Are there others who would like to participate somehow, too?

    It seems like what is in question are:

    1) When was the acoustical wall covering (in polycylindical form) present?

    2) When was the acoustical wall covering not present?

    3) What was the last session that used the old control room?

    4) What was the first session that used the new control room?

    5) What session was the first to use the linear-fader console in the new control room?

    6) What session was the last to use the rotary fader console in the new control room?

    7) Did the transition from rotary fader console to linear fader console coincide with the removal of the old control room?

    Others?
     
  23. DMortensen

    DMortensen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Seattle, WA USA
    That does indeed look like her. The other pictures in that post 55 are from The Pajama Game; I used that one from another series that has other pics of her to show detail of the plaque on the wall. That series is of the building exterior and I'll post some more later.

    Good catch! Thanks!
     
  24. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    They were there "early on", but not when Columbia first started using the studio. They aren't there for Kiss Me Kate January 13, 1949, for example:

    No diffusers under/around control room window:
    [​IMG]
    Manny Sachs and Cole Porter (Photo: Eileen Darby/Graphic House)

    The diffusers were there by December 19-20, 1949, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was recorded:

    Diffuser under control room window, plus you can clearly see the concrete block wall:
    [​IMG]
    "Mamie Is Mimi": Honi Coles and Cholly Atkins at rest in the studio (Photo: Graphic House)
    Photo Credit: (Photo: Graphic House)

    Another shot, right side of the window:
    [​IMG]
    Author Anita Loos, on whose book the musical was based (Photo: Graphic House)

    At the moment I couldn't find anything else definitely from 1949, but it's clear the diffusers weren't there in January 1949, but were there by December of that year.

    Now, when were they removed? Well:

    On March 14, 1954, the diffusers were still up for the recording of The Girl In Pink Tights:

    [​IMG]
    Zizi Jeanmaire and Goddard Lieberson going over a cue
    Photo Credit: Mark Shaw

    And they were gone by March 25, 1956, when My Fair Lady was recorded:
    [​IMG]
    Robert Coote, Goddard Lieberson, and Rex Harrison
    Photo Credit: Don Hunstein

    Unfortunately the 1954-1956 era seems spotty for photos, at least based on a quick search. Perhaps somebody can nail things down further. I'm also unsure if there were more subtle changes over the years that I'm missing in a quick scan.
     
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  25. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    One note, the Masterworks site claims Oh, Kay! was from 1957, but photos show the diffusers. I haven't found a definitive date yet, but it seems like it may actually be from late 1955, which would make sense.

    Looking through from 1956, it appears after the diffusers were first removed, they removed and/or pulled back a lot of the curtains (as seen in the My Fair Lady photos), and then slowly started reintroducing them. Possibly no changes to the "bones" of the studio, but they were definitely making adjustments to the acoustics, possibly due to the introduction of stereo.
     
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