What This Country Needs


Tom –

Thanks for note and review. Tried to call a couple of times. Couldn't reach you, so sent-off air-special thing. Glad tape arrived safely and that it's beneficial – also, would much much appreciate Giant Rat radio (reel is easier for me than cassette). Onward...

New album cover is a knock-out, perhaps best yet, though new P&B will be fantastic. P&B as farmers, standing in front of field "grass." They are in an American Gothic type oval and the entire thing looks like a cigar box. Colorful and fully detailed.

If Sunrise [NON-PROFIT FM RADIO STATION THAT TOM HELPED START] ever gets together and needs some bizarre old music for any reason, remember I'm a collector.

This particular eve, there was another session for What This Country Needs. Session was 7-10PM, RCA Studio B. Thus far, there are two tracks running 3 1/3 minutes. The TV or Not TV film runs 33 1/3 minutes. Another Firesign number is 666, which magically (they claim) appeared at the end of Martian Space Party when rocket went up.

This session, main recording of "The Proctor-Bergman Report" a funny bit where TV newsmen get stoned on new legal stuff, and discuss it.

In order to make it sound like a late night CBS show direct from the newsroom, they added teletype sound from sound effects disc,

plus some ambient sound. To get sound, they put a very hot mike in doorway and recorded lobby sounds at RCA.

These sounds included several RCA technicians and engineers discussing RCA strike. Both Nashville and Hollywood are not planning to strike (as they apparently wanted to sign contract). The strike will be in New York, where the studio people have refused to sign. So – there is that discussion. Along with that may be heard music, and an occasional child. The child belonged to one of the musicians in the band. The band – Poco! Poco was in Studio A, around the corner, working on its new album for Epic.

The apparent official drink for this album is Christian Brothers Brandy. Not a bad drink, either.

The second bit recorded this evening was "Swapshop." It's a Proctor solo. Phil Freckle of radio station WHAY, Goshen, rattles off things available for trade. Mr. P. does all the percussion sound effects on a second mike. Dubbed in underneath will be some fiddle music played at a faster speed. It isn't Phil on fiddle.(Speaking of speed, the album is being recorded at what I think is the standard 30ips).

The third and final item for the evening was to add some effect tracks to an already recorded base – a "commercial roulette" between Frank Firesale and All Star Crowley (see Dear Friends).

Before working on that, they listened to a playback of the useable material recorded Friday night at the live session, making plans for "sweetening." There is talk of a very talented group named "Romany." I haven't heard of them, but Phil says so.

There wasn't ample opportunity to see it, but someone brought in The Monty Python Book. P&B loved it, as did the engineer, whose name I don't t know yet. By the bye, one of the ambient voices in the lobby may be that of Peter Abbott, Rat engineer. He was in the lobby when we passed through, but could have had something to do by the time the mike was opened up).

For about the last hour or so, there was another of those studio guests present. He had been in town last week to record an album with his group, was back with his lady this week for Dylan concert, and second listen to mixed tape.

His name: Burton Cummings. He's pianist for Guess Who, and very modest about it.

He came into the studio, listened for a while, looked, then approached the guys with a kind of awe and wonder – he's been wanting to meet them for years. He's an unabashed fan. So – I gave him your address. If you don't hear from him in about a month, let me know, and I'll send you his address. He was most excited as to the prospect of an information organization for the guys, and I'll be sending him the radio shows I have. He lives in Winnipeg.

All in all, a very pleasing evening. Tomorrow is a full Firesign tour rehearsal at Columbia, Studio A. I'll be there.

Tonight's lesson in mixing came when they were adding teletype sounds beneath "P&B Report." Peter is essentially master producer, and he was having the engineer look for vacant tracks to use. (Sound effects cut is much shorter than routine, so it must be dubbed several times). Engineer indicated that it could be "punched" meaning they could use same track across, stopping tape and "punching" back into sound again. Peter said no, to find vacant tracks. By using separate tracks, sound can be better placed and controlled; also, "punched" effects are often slightly noticeable, as the punch will have a distorted sound. Not so, by placing sound on various tracks and mixing, fading tracks up and down simultaneously. That way, the effect is one continuous sound, like magic. Midterm is next week.

Till then,
Cheers from Long Beach ,