SH Spotlight The Young Rascals, 1967, candid photos from the GROOVIN' recording sessions. Lost for 50 years!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Wonderful photos of the Young Rascals (one of my favorite American groups) recording the legendary Groovin' album for Atlantic Records at Talentmasters Studio, 126 West 42nd Street, New York City, a four-track room. Whole lotta bouncin' going on in that control room. Always thought it was an eight-track album. Nope..

    The recording engineer Christopher Huston (pictured in the bottom photo, he was also in the British band THE UNDERTAKERS!) got the pics recently from Joey Carbone who had them all these years. Chris was surprised and delighted to see them as are we.

    Such a wonderful album..

    • Vocals, keyboards, organ - FELIX CAVALIERE
    • Vocals, percussion - EDDIE BRIGATI
    • Vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica - GENE CORNISH
    • Drums - DINO DANELLI
    rascals two.jpg rascals three.jpg rascals four.jpg rascals five.jpg
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Groovin.jpg Middle pic is JOEY CARBONE on the left. Bottom pic is the GROOVIN' recording engineer, my buddy Chris Huston, Merseyside guitar legend.

    Thanks for the pics, Chris, hope you still have those pants! (And dig those Ampex MX-35 (MX-10) microphone preamps in the console. Same thing I use right now. Ampex tape machines, Altec monitors..

    rascals six.jpg rascals seven.jpg rascals one christopher huston groovin.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
  3. Psychedelic Good Trip

    Psychedelic Good Trip Senior Member

    New York
    Great pics. Great album. One of my favs from 67. These pics are like a time machine, great stuff.
  4. intv7

    intv7 Senior Member

    Boston, MA, USA
    Awesome pics! I love this album.
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  5. John B

    John B Once Blue Gort,<br>now just blue.

    Toronto, Canada
    Classic Track: “Groovin’,” The Young Rascals
    The sounds of chirping birds are a calling card to a song that almost didn’t get released, an opener that offers a perfect imitation performed by brothers Eddie and David Brigati in the days before samples, leaving no doubt to the listener that the classic they are about to hear is “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals, as they were still known, soon to be The Rascals.
    Writer/singer/keyboardist Felix Cavaliere remembers those early days as great fun. He laughs as he recalls the Brigati brothers’ studio antics. Eddie was his co-writing partner and other lead singer in the group, and David, Eddie’s older brother, was not in the group but often contributed background vocals on their albums, creating that special familial harmonic blend.

    “Those guys could do any animal sounds you could imagine,” Cavaliere recalls. “Half fooling around and half seriously, we would record them doing all these animal sounds. They went out there and they could reproduce birds, elephants, lambs. We had them do a traffic argument once which was...well, I wish I still had that. It was hysterical. We had so much fun in those days. It was a very experimental time.”

    Cavaliere says it became his idea to create “a sonic environment” like the Beatles had with the submarine sound in “Yellow Submarine.”

    “You’re creating a place for that song to exist,” Cavaliere says. “I mentioned that to Paul McCartney when I saw him after that and he looked at me like I was nuts.”

    Nuts or not, Cavaliere says the birds set the scene for the park on a Sunday afternoon, a rarity when musicians have time off to spend with their girlfriends, and from the outset of the birds and the topic, the song struck a chord and soared to the top of the charts in 1967.

    “Musicians work on the weekends, Friday and Saturday, which is when ‘normal people’ go out,” Cavaliere says. “So Sunday afternoon became the only time for us to be together, which became the premise for ‘Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon.’”

    Cavaliere says a girl in his life provided the muse for all the songs he wrote back in his early 20s, including the hits “Groovin’,” “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” and “How Can I Be Sure.” “‘How Can I Se Sure’ was when we split up,” he explains. “I really believe the reason she was sent into my life was to write this music.”

    Back in those days, Cavaliere would write the music and the chorus title, he says, along with the main body of what the song was about.

    “Melodically it was all done with a la-la track, and I would try to get across to Ed what we would need to write,” Cavaliere says. “He would send me different lyrics and I would sort them out and put them into the order I wanted. That kinda changed as the years went by, but for ‘Groovin’’ that was the way it was.”

    Cavaliere says he handed Brigati the theme for the lyrics because he felt he was better at expressing Cavaliere’s ideas.

    “In the beginning it was like big brother/little brother, and he was perfectly content having me go over it like an editor would, but as the years went by, I think he didn’t like that much. But that was the winning arrangement, and if it weren’t for egos, I think we’d still be together,” Cavaliere says.

    Groovin’ In the Studio

    The recording of “Groovin’” took place at Talentmasters on 42nd Street in Manhattan with Chris Huston at the board. After Huston met David Brigati when he had been a member of Joey Dee and the Starlighters, the elder Brigati recommended him for the engineering job.

    “I had only been engineering for just about a year, although somehow I’d managed a hit with Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels—‘Sock It to Me, Baby,’ in 1966, literally within months of first getting behind the console,” Huston recalls. “My first impressions were of Eddie and Felix’s incredible voices and the openness and smoothness of the basic rhythm track as we put it down to establish the feel. It was one of those songs that really evolved as it was recorded.”

    Cavaliere remembers the studio as “a box,” but what mattered to them was that James Brown had recorded there.

    Cavaliere says he and Atlantic Records’ Arif Mardin mapped out the song before they entered the studio, deciding not to use drums, but instead to have Dino Danelli play conga. Cavaliere’s own instrumentation was undergoing changes. Although he was known for playing key/bass in the early days, that changed around the time of the recording of “Groovin’,” where he decided to concentrate on the piano.

    He says Mardin, who was very hands-on, helped him come up with the piano solo that Cavaliere still plays to this day. “We were really in charge. Contractually we were the producers of The Rascals,” Cavaliere says. “[Arif] came in as a supervisor.”

    They discovered bassist Chuck Rainey from the Atlantic roster, where Rainey was part of the King Curtis group and had indicated he would like to do sessions.

    “We fell in love with him and used him on whatever we could,” Cavaliere says. “That was one of the first songs I remember him making a real contribution. When I blocked out the bass part, I didn’t have all the nuances he put on it. I just had a basic bajon bass beat groove, and he put in all the other things that were magic. I don’t know if people still record like that because I just did an album where we just phoned in our performances from different addresses. There was a real feeling in the room, and that was what Atlantic taught me.”

    “These were the days when everything was recorded live, especially the larger session dates, and the job of the recording engineer was to document the performance on tape,” Huston adds. “The musicians—session musicians, that is—were used to playing together, so they were able to work without everyone having phones. I had to mix down from 4-track to 4-track, after the first session as I’d put the original three instruments—congas, keyboards and guitar—on their own tracks and used one for a pilot vocal.”

    Cavaliere says the piano miking was very important. Huston says their selection of mics was very limited at the studio. “I used a single microphone on the piano with the lid open. It was a Neumann U 67,” Huston recalls. “The studio was set up for ‘live’ recording—tracking dates. Remember, in those days we were documenting a performance, whereas today, with the advent of Pro Tools, we are creating one.

    “Once we started on the vocals, I had to submix one more time,” he continues.” I also ‘ping-ponged’ the background vocals. ‘Ping-ponging,’ as it was sometimes called, between two 4-track machines provided the option of recording the individual instruments of the rhythm section ‘live’ onto separate tracks of one 4-track machine, then submixing them down to one, or more, tracks of a second 4-track machine, leaving the remaining tracks open for vocals and additional instruments such as solos or string and/or horn arrangements. This sub-mixing procedure could go on almost indefinitely, being limited only by the buildup of tape-noise, and perhaps more importantly, by the ability to hold together a cohesive mix while continuously bouncing tracks backward and forward between tape machines. In this case, I ping-ponged the vocals between two tracks of the 4-track machine on the same machine, which really filled them out. In essence I was double-tracking the background vocals to one track of the final 4-track submix. Eddie’s big brother, Davy, helped on the background vocals.”

    The background vocals were very specific. Again, wanting to set the scene “like a painter would use colors,” Cavaliere describes the ethereal sound and vocalizations of the Brigati brothers as the color blue: “heavenly,” like sky.

    “There’s always something magical about having brothers who sing together like the Bee Gees,” Cavaliere says. “What I was trying to do with the vocals was create a scene with sounds such as voices, such as Hammond organ, such as violin to create that kind of spacey place.”

    Right after the vocals enter the song, a harmonica helps create the “lazy afternoon,” a suggestion from Mardin. There was no harmonica player in the group, but Huston had just the guy.

    “Michael Weinstein, who played in a band, was helping out in the studio, cleaning up and whatnot,” Huston remembers. “He played harmonica, so I brought him in.”

    Huston says the console was “incredibly basic,” consisting of four Ampex MX-10 mixers, four Pultec EQP-1A Equalizers and four Fisher SpaceXpander spring reverbs. He built the patchbay when he first started working at Talentmasters. There were two 4-track machines: an Ampex 350 half-inch 4-track recorder and an Ampex half-inch 351 recorder, which they used to do 4-to-4 mixdowns to open up a couple of extra tracks. Then there was a single Ampex quarter-inch 350 mono machine.

    The monitor system consisted of a single Altec 604E powered by a 60-watt Dynaco Dynakit amplifier. As his memory serves, it was a Mark III model. He installed a Bogen P.A. amplifier to handle the headphones when he was working the patchbay, and recalls having only about six pair of headphones back then.
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  6. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    Great pics! Thanks! I don’t see many pictures of the Rascals in the studio.

    Dino and Gene signed my original Groovin’ album cover years ago.

    I never bring things for people to sign but Dino is a hero of mine so I had to do it. :D
  7. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    great stuff. had to add scans of a couple of original fillmore post cards of mine. what a great band. I was very happy to see one of their reunion shows a couple of years ago.


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  8. John B

    John B Once Blue Gort,<br>now just blue.

    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks for the great thread Steve. I hope my post above complements your photos.
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yes, thanks. It always helps to have the background.

    See, I love Facebook. That's how I met Christopher and Joey. So totally worth it..
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  10. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    'Life could be ecstasy,
    You and me and Lesley....'

    They beat David Crosby to it by months! :)
  11. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I wanted to groove with Lesley so bad..
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  12. Mike Visco

    Mike Visco Forum Resident

    Newark, NJ
    What a helluva band they were. Music of an era, yet timeless.
    Reers6226, tedg65 and xilef regnu like this.
  13. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    Ah, the days when they could be in the same room with each other.
    Dino--twirl those sticks, man!!!!!!!!!!!
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  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I wonder why they didn't record the GROOVIN' album at Atlantic Studios on the eight-track? Anyone know?
    rxcory likes this.
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    undertakers chris huston.jpg I was chatting with Christopher about his time in the Merseyside band THE UNDERTAKERS (Chris is on the left) and happened to mention his gig as an engineer. He came to work at Talentmasters in the States and I asked him about the number of channels in use in 1967. Chris said this:

    "Talentmasters was strictly 4 track until Bert Burns took it over and, at that time, I was able to put in an 8 track. And with that change of ownership, Talentmasters became Incredible Sounds."

  16. O Don Piano

    O Don Piano Senior Member

    Funny, I never misinterpreted that lyric as anything but “you and me endlessly/ groovin’...”. However, maybe he was alluding to his keyboard speaker, a Leslie. A pain in the butt to carry around though.
  17. Anthology123

    Anthology123 Senior Member

    I always heard before the CD age "You and me and Lesley", too
    just like I thought A Beautiful Morning had the line "shoot and hide".
    Steve Hoffman likes this.
  18. sami

    sami Mono still rules

    Down The Shore
    Stereo or mono on Groovin', Steve? To me, all the early Rascals records are best heard in mono. Just a more unified, punchy presentation that suits the music beautifully.
  19. Celebrated Summer

    Celebrated Summer Forum Resident

    Great to see the photos. Love this album. It has four of their hits, although "You Better Run" had been released as a single a year earlier. Several of the deep cuts are first-rate. I especially like the end of Gene Cornish's "I Don't Love You Anymore," with its harmony vocals that come at you out of the blue.

    There's a clever little moment on the fade of "If I Knew." The fifth time Felix sings "My love is true" he slips in "my lust is true." Funny stuff.
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  20. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Both good but the mono has a more upfront presentation with less swirling plate.
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  21. Steve Litos

    Steve Litos Forum Resident

    Chicago IL
    No idea.

    Maybe Atlantic was booked with someone else?

    But yeah...what an industrial bare bones looking studio.

    Atlantic Studios at least looks impressive with the large control room window.
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  22. DennisF

    DennisF Forum Resident

    Great memories from a favorite group of mine.
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  23. Ken Viola

    Ken Viola Forum Resident

    Thanks Steve, Great Photos. One of my Favorite albums. I spent months with those Guys around 1980 trying to help get them back together.
    marka likes this.
  24. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident In Memoriam

    mill valley CA USA
    Did you ever get to see them Live around then? I never did. They were supposed to be a fantastic Live act.
  25. hoggydoggy

    hoggydoggy Forum Resident

    Sidenote on The Undertakers: My mum (who, at 69 years of age now, was just behind the main Merseybeat boom era) used to love that band - they and The Escorts were her favourite live bands of mid-60's Liverpool.

    Interesting to note both featured future interesting guys - The Undertakers was Jackie Lomax's band of course, whilst The Escorts' Terry Sylvester went on to replace Nash in The Hollies.

    Finally, what was it with Merseybeat bands and US record engineering jobs??! In addition to Steve's mate Christopher, the Merseybeat boom also gave us Adrian Barber - he was ex of the Big Three, and later engineer/producer on the likes of Goodbye Cream, The Velvets' Loaded album and, bringing this right back round to The Rascals, replaced Christopher Huston in the engineers seat for their Freedom Suite and See albums.
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