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The WHO "Tommy" drum sound...
Old 8th February 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
The WHO "Tommy" drum sound...

Does anyone have insight into how the drums were recorded for "Tommy"? This has to be my all time favorite drum sound, but I haven't been able to find any pictures of the setup. I'm guessing it's a simple 3-mic deal, but does anyone know for sure. I would love any info from those sessions, actually, that whole album sounds amazing. Thanks!
Old 8th February 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
doorknocker's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
'Tommy' was recorded at IBC studios where tons of great English records were recorded, here's some info I found: IBC INDEX

Damon Lyon Shaw was the engineer on 'Tommy' and I remember reading somewhere that they constantly would set-up and tear down Moon's only drum kit as they were playing gigs in between the (for the time) lenghty Tommy session to raise some cash.

I agree that 'Tommy' is great but sonically 'Quadrophenia' is my fave Who recording, that one being done by Ron Nevison.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Addict
 
BrianK's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Get the CD reissue - it shows photos of them recording. And has great outtakes with a clearer (no overdubs yet) drum sound.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
My fave Who drum sound is on Who's Next

I wish that they had worked with Glyn Johns more often.

As for Tommy. Im glad that the OP loves the drum sound on that...it does vary song to song tho, dont you think?

Im probably wrong but it sounds like a minimal mic setup and some gorgeous EMT plate.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry McInturff ➑️
My fave Who drum sound is on Who's Next

I wish that they had worked with Glyn Johns more often.

As for Tommy. Im glad that the OP loves the drum sound on that...it does vary song to song tho, dont you think?

Im probably wrong but it sounds like a minimal mic setup and some gorgeous EMT plate.
Agreed...Glyn Johns drum sound on Who's Next is brilliant. It helps to have a madman like Moonie bashing the skins...but Glyn's drum tone holds up today. It is still world class...probably always will be.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Thanks for the info. The Glyn Johns sound is great, but I personally like the Tommy sound better. More clean and natural, not as heavy. Perhaps it's just cause I like Tommy much more than Who's Next... I don't know. (although I have to put "Sell Out" at the top of my list) Quadrophenia was an AMAZING record, but I'm not crazy about that production, it just didn't have that open , natural sound to it that I alway love.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #7
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doorknocker's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slumbo ➑️
Thanks for the info. The Glyn Johns sound is great, but I personally like the Tommy sound better. More clean and natural, not as heavy. Perhaps it's just cause I like Tommy much more than Who's Next... I don't know. (although I have to put "Sell Out" at the top of my list) Quadrophenia was an AMAZING record, but I'm not crazy about that production, it just didn't have that open , natural sound to it that I alway love.
i really got to give 'Tommy' another spin soon! the last time I listened to it all the way through I was mainly knocked out by Townshend great guitar work, especially the acoustics. Is there any better rhythm guitar playing than 'Pinball Wizard'?

But I really will focus on the drums more now.... For some reason, I also never really could get into 'Who's next'. There are some great songs there but to me it just never had the impact of the earlier stuff. Nothing beats those early singles IMO, not even Tommy.

'I can see for miles' is the greatest Who track ever IMO and pretty much one of the greatest rock tracks in general.

I absolutely love the guitar sound on 'Quadrophenia', I bought a CD remaster a few years ago and was blown away. The whole thing holds up extremely well.... and I think 'Quadrophenia' is the one Who studio record that sonically really does justice to Entwhistle's bass.
Old 8th February 2009 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slumbo ➑️
Thanks for the info. The Glyn Johns sound is great, but I personally like the Tommy sound better. More clean and natural, not as heavy. Perhaps it's just cause I like Tommy much more than Who's Next... I don't know. (although I have to put "Sell Out" at the top of my list) Quadrophenia was an AMAZING record, but I'm not crazy about that production, it just didn't have that open , natural sound to it that I alway love.
Bro...
I am just giving my favorite (I listen to Who's Next all the time...have the "Making of" DVD...brilliant btw). I havent listened to Tommy in 2 decades...so I need to give it another spin. I am heading to the library and will report back...
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #9
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3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Could have a little to do with who was playing them too...
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #10
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bigbone's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnkenn ➑️
Could have a little to do with who was playing them too...
they don't get it....... like the gear will talk louder than the player.....
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Oh I get it...I said that it helps to have Moonie sitting on the throne. I always call out engineers that act like they are the artists...the gear and the guy pushing the faders are important...but the guy sitting on the throne is by far the biggest component. Now with autotune, quantizing, beat displacement, sampling, etc...it is sucking the life out of the music. It is all homogonized, impersonal and NOT REAL...it is why music is so THROWAWAY these days and nothing stands out. It is all perfect...and so devoid of a soul.

For all it's warts... Tommy and Who's Next were real. No trickery...it was an actual band. Brutal, inspiring and beautiful...

Sorry for the Ted Kaczinski Unibomber Technology Manifesto...
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
'Mad Keith'

First time I ever saw 'Mad Keith' he was with Clyde Burns and The Beachcombers (shortly before joining the WHO) doing a gig in a venue with awful acoustics (Kodak Hall, Harrow, England) ... he sounded like the combined sounds of a train wreck in a tunnel, the worst thunderstorm you can remember, and Omaha BEach on D-Day ... AWESOME ... !!!!! I don't remember his kit being miced at all - it was all mind and muscle ...

With all due respect to the brilliant engineers who later recorded The WHO, nobody EVER really captured that mindblowing, manic, live Moon sound ...

Yep, its the performer and the performance ... all we can do as engineers is our humble best to get it down on tape or disk ...

Cheers ... Carter
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #13
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brill bedroom's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Well, I wasn't at Kodak hall in Harrow (VERY JEALOUS), but those early Shel Talmy period recordings have AMAZING sounding drums. Things like "So Sad About Us", "Daddy Rolling Stone", Substitute, the first two snare hits in Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere- oofa, those are drums sounds. If you hear those in mono on vinyl (the way the good Lord intended), they just sound like Moon is going to come bursting right through your speaker and into your lap.

Tommy was a great period for Keith's drumming, though. The band were at a performance peak at that point. The drums on "I'm Free" being a perfect example of the sheer power they could capture on tape.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
I love the drum sound on that early stuff also. Shel Talmy's recordings always sounded good. I don't know how he recorded drums, but they always had such great attack. The snare always came through and cracked in just the right way, not like most recordings of that time were you couldn't tell the snare from a loud Hi-Hat strike.

I'll be the first to agree that there is no substitute for having Moon behind the kit. I can't hear him without grinning from ear to ear. I only wish I'd had the opportunity to see him live. At least I was able to see Entwistle before he passed away.
Old 9th February 2009 | Show parent
  #15
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Cameron Johnson's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I've always liked the drum sounds on Tommy, too - great sound. My fav track would be "A Quick One While He's Away" - can't remember the album, but the performace (not necessarily the production) on the Rolling Stones Rock N' Roll Circus was killer and that's what turned me onto the Who in the first place.

Good times, man.
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
"A Quick One While He's Away" is also the name of the album. Overall, I'd have to say it was a weak album, but there are some good tunes on it. The song, A Quick one, is also one of my favorites. Just about every time I get together with my brother to play music, that ends up coming out! Such a great tune! It also had "So Sad About Us". Love that song. Here in the USA, the album was actually titled "Happy Jack" and included that song, but in the UK version there was the different title and slightly different song list. I'll have to break out that cd now.. Good stuff..

Slumbo
Old 10th February 2009 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Head
 
studiochap's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
My band Rare Amber's album was recorded over the course of a week in IBC between 8.00am and noon ( one of the reason's why it's crap...) during the period when The Who were recording Tommy from noon until midnight.

I seem to remember Keith Moon's kit being set up immediately under the control room ( which was upstairs). but I don't particularly recall noticing any minimalist mic'ing, just lots of drums - but we're talking 41 years or so ago.....

I can remember being in the control room when Moon was playing at a volume of 11 downstairs , and the control room seriously vibrating!

OT I saw The Who gig at Bristol Corn Exchange in the '60s with Viv Prince from the Pretty Things depping on drums - drinking a lot of bottles of brown ale and doing a very creditable job - KM not being exactly the easiest drummer to dep for...!
Old 14th March 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
while I can see for miles, substitute etc captured moon's incredible snare work and tone, I actually have always LOVED the drum sound and drum playing all over the Who Are You album.

I know he was an aging drunk by then but man he was also a hell of a gifted and surprisingly sensitive musician. had such great ideas for cymbal rolls and stuff like that (partly due to Pete yelling at him for being incapable of playing the actual drums on ballads without murdering them apparently, which if true wouldn't surprise me one bit, but either way his cymbal work was excellent). And I understand that moon couldn't keep the time properly in that song (forget the name) that's in 6/8 and alternates with half time 3/4, has the foot or chair rocking sound all through the start of the song, very cool engineering on that album.

Maybe that's why I love that album, other than being a great pete townsend album mostly, the engineering is absolutely incredible to me.

but for moon performances, I'd say who's next is amazing. however I don't actually love the drum sound on there - it's good, but the mixing for me actually removes a bit of the excitement that was in most of moon's earlier work.

I recall watching a movie about the making of that album and they soloed one of moons huge fills that sounds doubled - it's not, it's just how he played, but it sure as hell sounds doubled and is insanely fast and busy and all the while totally cool, funky, original, hooky and musical.

THAT's the keith moon we all loved as a drummer. a really really good musician who's intensity and true gifts made up for his total lack of self discipline LoL

speaking of the live sound that was never captured in the studio (as someone else mentioned about moon), same goes for enwistle's tone. never sounded as good in the studio as live. I chalk that up to very bad guidance from early engineers/producers, or maybe john's own bad ideas about the tone he needed for records. I just want to know WHY THE HELL DID HE PLAY WITH HIS THUMB (terrible way to get tone on bass) IN THE STUDIO WHEN HE WAS A SPEED MADMAN WITH INTENSE POWERFUL FAST RIGHT HAND FINGERS PLAYING LIVE????? what moronic engineer told him that he needed to play like that in the studio to get a good sound, or what stupid producer let him get away with it? should have given him some beers and told him it was a live gig, would have been a great performance LoL. f*** that always pissed me off. he was way too reserved in the studio, and the recordings always trashed both his bass tone and his singing voice (easily the best voice in the group). listen to his singing on My Wife - wtf is that damn echo and muffled sound??? like they knew he was better than anyone else and didn't want people to say "holy crap, why isn't HE the lead singer???" (which he should have been imho - sorry Roger, you're good but John had an INCREDIBLE singing voice for rock).

at least moon played his ass off in the studio. live entwistle was one of the all time greatest, showiest, fastest, most amazing bassists ever.

cheers,
Don
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