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Technique for Histoire du Melody Nelson
Old 25th January 2009
  #1
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Technique for Histoire du Melody Nelson

Anybody here any idea's on which microphone techniques were used as well as the gear and microphones involved on Serge Gainsbourg Histoire du Melody Nelson?
Mainly for the Drums, Bass & guitar.
Old 25th January 2009
  #2
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🎧 15 years
There's not much you can find about the recordings unfortunately.
The only thing we know is that it was recorded in the UK with Dougie Wright, Big Jim Sullivan, Herbie Flowers and Vic Flick. (All famous 60's/70's sessions musicians.)
Jean- Claude Vannier (with Gainsbourg) was responsible for the lush strings arrangements.
There's a thread about the recording of Virgin Suicides drums where you can learn how to achieve a similar sound. Basically it's all about dampening and close mic'ing.
The bass sound: Flowers used (and still do) a Fender Jazz Bass with flatwounds. (I think he's using black tapewounds today but on Melody it sounds more like regular nickel flats to me. Something like Pyramid strings which where popular in the 60's will give you this kind of sound.
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Damn, Yes I know the musicians involved also got a Solo album of Vannier in the same period very alike in strings & sound.

bass sound coming from the bass & amp check, got a custom built point to point wired amp based on the Ampeg portaflex together with a good bass & playingstyle it gets very close to the sound.

I'll check for that virgin suicide thread, thank you.
yes dampening, the kick sounds pretty muffled yet a very nice bwok to it :D
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by baikonour ➑️
The bass sound: Flowers used (and still do) a Fender Jazz Bass with flatwounds.
Herbie always managed to get that kind of sound. Have you heard his early '70s stuff with Alan Parker on KPM? Adrian Kerridge was the engineer responsible for a lot of those recordings and the sound was again very similar. So the bass sound may have had a lot to do with Herbie.
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 ➑️
Damn, Yes I know the musicians involved also got a Solo album of Vannier in the same period very alike in strings & sound.
Do you mean "L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches" ? I think it was re-issued a few years ago, non?
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #6
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oui c'est ca, l'Enfant assassin les mouches. the reissue LP.

sure the bass sound has a lot to with mr. Flowers, If he's playing on something you can be sure the bass will sound nice.
Yet the whole of Melody Nelson has this sound to it, the whole album revolves around bass, drums & guitar & the voice of Serge with occasional strings and choirs or jane piercing through it.
everything sounds pretty sec yet everything is big & spacious as well. although the vocal occupies the most space :D
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 ➑️
although the vocal occupies the most space :D
And yes, aren't the vocals egotisitcally loud? :D

You can hear the saliva rolling about in Serge's mouth... let's not go there, but maybe that was his idea. heh

If you like the Vannier LP, may I recommend getting hold of "Le Formule du Baron" by Bernard Estardy? You may already know it. Great LP and works well after listening to "L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches". I don't know if it's been reissued.

(not quite on topic, but a friendly recommendation!).
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #8
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 ➑️
And yes, aren't the vocals egotisitcally loud? :D

You can hear the saliva rolling about in Serge's mouth... let's not go there, but maybe that was his idea. heh

If you like the Vannier LP, may I recommend getting hold of "Le Formule du Baron" by Bernard Estardy? You may already know it. Great LP and works well after listening to "L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches". I don't know if it's been reissued.

(not quite on topic, but a friendly recommendation!).
I don't know la formule du baron! Will check it out.
I've read something about Serge's voice and his love of a fairchild compressor in a certain studio in France...I don't know what was used in the UK session...
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 ➑️
And yes, aren't the vocals egotisitcally loud? :D
Yeah that's what I meant :D still love it though. a bit like Zappa's I'm the slime, you can hear every mouth & throat movement.

I'll check out le formule de baron haven't heard it yet.

I'd still like to know the microphonetechniques & microphones though out of curiosity.
And the tape machine & format.
Now with the Miles Davis boxes that releases the raw takes from the studio there's some stuff recorded on 2" 8Track, the sound of the bass & drums is unbelievable.
It's like they are live in the livingroom :P
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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I'll try and keep on topic this time.

Someone once told me (so this is really hearsay) that some of the UK sessions were done at Morgan Studios (owned by Barry Morgan), so that would explain why Big Jim Sullivan was involved (he was all over Morgan Records releases also).
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 10 years
Love this record.

I remember hearing it for the first time. I heard the fat bass and drums so I turned up the volume to really make it fill the room. Then the voice came.

Love the dynamics and operatic qualities of the album
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #12
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 ➑️
I'll try and keep on topic this time.

Someone once told me (so this is really hearsay) that some of the UK sessions were done at Morgan Studios (owned by Barry Morgan), so that would explain why Big Jim Sullivan was involved (he was all over Morgan Records releases also).
I think you are correct, i'm just in the middle of reading Gaisbourg's biography but have not reached Melody Nelson's era yet... I have rediscovered gems from the mid sixties (also recorded in the UK) like "Qui est in qui est out" or "Hold Up" (Fantastic bass line) "Requiem pour un con" (The drums!), Initials BB, Bonnie and Clyde etc...
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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Requiem pour un con definitely!

Most of Serge's Albums contain gems, music, sound, lyrics There's always something really really good in there.
Too bad he became a bit of a sad old drunk Fin de carriere but, what a life & music legacy, and the girls, the girls heh
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #14
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Anybody that is into Beck's 'Sea Change' should check 'Histoire du Melody Nelson' out, Beck definitely got some inspiration there but both are great albums in their own right!

Gainsbourg was amazing, even before the 'Melody' album, tracks like 'Bonnie and Clyde' were really ahead of their time.

I never forget the picture of first seeing Gainsbourg on TV in the mid-80ies or so. He had a reggae band backing him in a huge auditorium in France. Gainsbourg did nothing more than stand there in an undershirt chain-smoking Gauloises (REAL chain smoking, no lighter used), sweating profusely and mumbling the occasional lyric into the microphone. Yet he was absolutely great and charismatic, some people just have got it.
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by baikonour ➑️
I think you are correct, i'm just in the middle of reading Gaisbourg's biography but have not reached Melody Nelson's era yet... I have rediscovered gems from the mid sixties (also recorded in the UK) like "Qui est in qui est out" or "Hold Up" (Fantastic bass line) "Requiem pour un con" (The drums!), Initials BB, Bonnie and Clyde etc...
You'll love this, (if you haven't seen it already.) Anyone know what the mic is? Can't work out the bass and amp either (Burns?)

YouTube - GAINSBOURG - genesis_creation - Initials BB (prt1) jan_mar
YouTube - serge GAINSBOURG - studio creation - Initials BB (prt2) apr

(lots of stuff to youtube on him, check out Bonnie and Clyde also.)
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #16
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker ➑️
Anybody that is into Beck's 'Sea Change' should check 'Histoire du Melody Nelson' out, Beck definitely got some inspiration there but both are great albums in their own right!

Gainsbourg was amazing, even before the 'Melody' album, tracks like 'Bonnie and Clyde' were really ahead of their time.

I never forget the picture of first seeing Gainsbourg on TV in the mid-80ies or so. He had a reggae band backing him in a huge auditorium in France. Gainsbourg did nothing more than stand there in an undershirt chain-smoking Gauloises (REAL chain smoking, no lighter used), sweating profusely and mumbling the occasional lyric into the microphone. Yet he was absolutely great and charismatic, some people just have got it.
Just to add Gainsbourg dig two reggae albums backed by Sly and Robbie,Michael Chung, Ansel Collins and the I threes...The 1st one 'Aux armes etc.." was recorded and mixed at Dynamic Sound in Kingston and is a masterpiece, the second "Mauvaises nouvelles des etoiles" has some great moments too but has a more polished feel recorded in Compass Point, Nassau
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo ➑️
You'll love this, (if you haven't seen it already.) Anyone know what the mic is? Can't work out the bass and amp either (Burns?)

YouTube - GAINSBOURG - genesis_creation - Initials BB (prt1) jan_mar
YouTube - serge GAINSBOURG - studio creation - Initials BB (prt2) apr

(lots of stuff to youtube on him, check out Bonnie and Clyde also.)
Cool, thanks for this!
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #18
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by baikonour ➑️
I think you are correct, i'm just in the middle of reading Gaisbourg's biography but have not reached Melody Nelson's era yet... I have rediscovered gems from the mid sixties (also recorded in the UK) like "Qui est in qui est out" or "Hold Up" (Fantastic bass line) "Requiem pour un con" (The drums!), Initials BB, Bonnie and Clyde etc...
Are you reading "A Fistful of Gitanes" by Sylvie Simmons? Loads of good stuff in there, and some quite sad stuff.

My wife and I are always singing 'Hold Up' in the car. heh

Check out his jazzy stuff from the '50s... but yes, all that '60s stuff and of course all the way through the '70s. So much to discover.

Roger Coulam was the great organ player on all that mid-late '60s stuff (including Je T'aime), then equally superb Alan Hawkshaw played organ and synths on the '70s catalogue ('L'homme' and 'Vu', etc)
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #19
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Batchainpuller78 ➑️
Requiem pour un con definitely!
Those conga slaps!

YouTube - LE PACHA - REQUIEM POUR UN CON - GAINSBOURG
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
According to this French site---

Micro Neumann KM86i historique et exceptionnel !

---a KM86 was used for vocals(?) on Melodie Nelson... This is a bad Google translation of the info---maybe someone can translate it better:


"With anti pop and in proximity, the sound on the voices soloists is splendid, more personal than much of large diaphragms (even with lamp), the medium and the low register are d' a musical ultra proximity: - for c' example; is the micro adoptee on the mythical album " Nelson" melody; of Serge Gainsbourg."


-Jeff
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #21
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JStuart ➑️
According to this French site---

---a KM86 was used for vocals(?) on Melodie Nelson... This is a bad Google translation of the info---maybe someone can translate it better:


-Jeff
Jeff - even with the translation, this makes a lot of sense. It describes the vocals to a tee.
Old 25th January 2009 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 10 years
Right! great footage, and that's indeed how music should be made.

i've got this DVD 2 discs, Serge Gainsbourg it's like 4 hours of musicclips, interviews, and other footage I also has the total videoalbum of Melody Nelson, All songs in video with Him & Jane Birkin & 70's videoediting and effects, backgrounds are mainly paintings, a lot by Dali & Max Ernst (very cool cause he's a granduncle of my mother) so I was surprised to see that.

I think Gainsbourg had some pretty high standards when it came to recording music, top studio musicians from all over the world, superb sounding recordings, and the help of brilliant arrangers.
And a charisma and a delivery in his vocals that's just one of a kind.
Offensive & provocative but that's the edge in his music.
and the story is sad as well, as the decline of Serge is very well documented.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #23
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🎧 10 years
Anyone got any thoughts on what mic he's using in the Initials BB clip (with the big ball windshield thing on the end)? Could it be a km56, or a
C12 maybe?
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #24
Gear Nut
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 ➑️
Jeff - even with the translation, this makes a lot of sense. It describes the vocals to a tee.
I hate to drag the thread back to the KM86 again but these really are great mics... My pair constantly surprise me when put up next to their larger, more expensive vacuum tube uncles. In the research I did before purchasing mine, I learned that 86's were used quite extensively during the 60's and 70's for vocal recording.

-Jeff
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #25
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 ➑️
Are you reading "A Fistful of Gitanes" by Sylvie Simmons? Loads of good stuff in there, and some quite sad stuff.

My wife and I are always singing 'Hold Up' in the car. heh

Check out his jazzy stuff from the '50s... but yes, all that '60s stuff and of course all the way through the '70s. So much to discover.

Roger Coulam was the great organ player on all that mid-late '60s stuff (including Je T'aime), then equally superb Alan Hawkshaw played organ and synths on the '70s catalogue ('L'homme' and 'Vu', etc)
No it's the french biography I've stolen from my mum when i was in France for Christmas...Some of the 50's an early 60's records are great. I love "percussions"... Beautifully recorded, in the opposite direction I like the minimalism of "Confidentiel"
Yes alan Hawkshaw on "l'homme a la tete de chou"...Great album, lots of Moog (or Arp?) and some Solina too.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #26
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by baikonour ➑️
Yes alan Hawkshaw on "l'homme a la tete de chou"...Great album, lots of Moog (or Arp?) and some Solina too.
Lots of Arp Odyssey. And a Logan string machine, apparently. Alan and the same core group of sessioners recorded some very similar sounding material for KPM around the same time.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #27
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
KM86 for voice.
but that's on the video of Initials BB, what was used on Melody Nelson?
Old 26th January 2009
  #28
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🎧 15 years
Well, if you like that album.... you'll LOVE track 8 of Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree album - "Cologne Cerrone Houdini", as the whole friggin track is the biggest "tribute" you'll ever hear.

My jaw hit the floor when I heard this track, as I'm a big fan of Melody Nelson, and basically I was a bit shocked that someone - even when clearly doing a homage - would use *that much* of someone else's ideas. Especially when it's a bit obscure to a lot of younger listeners and so maybe sounds like a really original new piece :-)

I like Goldfrapp, I just get tired of playing "spot the ripoff" sometimes with bands I like. I got over Coldplay on account of that issue on X&Y.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #29
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Batchainpuller78's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
yeah Goldfrapp is okay Never heard the song you are talking about will check it out.
Don't get me started on Coldplay, the god put a smile on my face thing is based on a musical guitar piece of Baden Powell somewhere in '63. Canto de ossana
then the other song the chorus is ripped of Kraftwerks computerworld.
and now there's something with Satriani and Coldplay going on.

Yes Melody Nelson is one of my favourite Gainsbourg albums, although he made many I really like everything starting from 1958 to 1979 I guess.
Old 26th January 2009 | Show parent
  #30
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Number 6 ➑️
Lots of Arp Odyssey. And a Logan string machine, apparently. Alan and the same core group of sessioners recorded some very similar sounding material for KPM around the same time.
A Logan? I've got a Melody 2 and it's a great String Machine...I like Solinas but I don't have one, and can't justify buying one at these silly prices when there's so many good alternatives...I got my Logan for Β£90 6 years ago...And recently bought another great italian string machine made by Jen for 120€.
Solina just became famous because they were rebranded by Arp in the US and consequently used by famous US artists. (They first appeared in a combo organ made by the dutch company Eminent (probably made in Italy as most combo organ and string machines) They have a distinctive voice but not superior to some other string machines of the same era IMO.
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