Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Beats: LM-1 and LinnDrum

I was trying to remember exactly when I saw my first LM-1.. I remember seeing it on a session that I was setting up for as an assistant, but I couldn't recall the artist.  I checked in with one of my engineering mentors, Greg Reilly, at the Disc ltd. in Detroit. Greg started out at Holland Dozier Holland when he was barely out of high school. He has an R&B history that is longer than the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.  Anyway.. He informed me that the first sessions that were done with Linn drum at that time were with a group called One Way.  They were a local Detroit R&B band that came into the studio in late ’79 or ‘80..  I believe at this time there were only 40 of these LM-1s in existence.

Once the more compact LinnDrum was actually released we saw them more frequently and their popularity peaked around ‘84 when Prince did "When Dove's Cry."  Leave it to Prince to eliminate the bass line and still get a hit!

My early experiences with the Linn were with a group called RJ's Latest Arrival..

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Beats: Roland TR-808

Twenty -five years ago the powers that be said hip-hop and rap music was a fad and it wouldn't last. Seemed to me at the time that I was witnessing the beginning of a new music era that would last a lifetime. There was too much passion for it to go away! Whether you are into the music or not, the one thing that we can all agree on is that the sounds that were used permeated all music including Rock and even Country. The basic sounds that were used then and used now come from the same sources. I remember the first time I saw an 808 drum machine. Dave McMurray, saxophonist for Was Not Was had just purchased it and was programming up a storm... It was like he had taken up a new percussion instrument and he was becoming intimate with every nuance of the piece. Up until this time musicians who had a penchant for rhythm but didn't play drums had to wait until they could get with a drummer and percussionist to work out the rhythm.

Now, one guy could sit at home and come up with the whole concept of the song with new and interesting sounds to boot! On first hearing those sounds it was a little unnerving because we had all been listening to natural sounds. What were we to do with such a thing? Why is it that the bass drum is sounding like an oscillator? The snare sounds like a toy drum!? Well, it soon became apparent that once a drum machine was laid out it inspired all sorts if sonic creativity....