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Billy Squier Production
Old 13th September 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Billy Squier Production

Billy Squier's albums "Tale of the Tape" ('80) and especially "Don't Say No" ('81) are some of the best sounding records of the 1980s.

There are interesting little production touches all over the place. The percussion on "In the Dark", the thin and phasey "Stroke" female group vocal, the use of synths, etc. But certainly the drums are the most notable part. Given that Squier's voice bears a not too distant resemblance to a more disciplined and commercial Robert Plant, I wonder if it was a conscious decision to pair him with a Bonham-esque drum sound with squashed room mics? I personally have a special interest in records that were recorded in this period where the dry disco thing had been taken as far as it could go, but people hadn't yet succumbed to exclusive drum machine use.
Old 13th September 2012
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 15 years
I just heard 'In The Dark' the other day and was thinking the same...really dig the production on that album. I remember when it first came out and listenening to it loud on vinyl that summer.

As far as the drum sound, the drummer has much to do with that, same as Bonham's sound had much to do with Zeppelin. Bobby Chouinard was a great big sounding drummer, huge groove and backbeat....that's a big part of the reason the drums sound they way they do....the drummer.
Old 13th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
nobtwiddler's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Bobby C

Bobby was a good friend, and client of mine.
Back in the 80s we did many sessions together, and cut a few records during that time..
(sadly enough, never got a chance to do a Squier record!)

But as stated earlier, I believe a lot of the production choices that were made for those records were partly based around Bobbys drum style.
He was big, brash, bold, and had a great groove.

That was him...
Its one of the reasons he was in the band to begin with.
As you already know, it worked very well for them.

I miss him, and the music he was part of.
Old 13th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
fastlanestoner's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I've always really liked Billy Squier's stuff. Great sound, hell of a guitarist too.
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastlanestoner ➡️
I've always really liked Billy Squier's stuff. Great sound, hell of a guitarist too.
that would be Jeff Golub, who then played with Rod Stewart, and now does contemporary jazz records. He's a VERY good guitar player, tragically he went blind, I think last year, and just a week or so ago was almost killed in a bizarre subway train incident
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #6
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hasbeen's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab ➡️
that would be Jeff Golub, who then played with Rod Stewart, and now does contemporary jazz records. He's a VERY good guitar player, tragically he went blind, I think last year, and just a week or so ago was almost killed in a bizarre subway train incident
It's the Billy Squire "In the Dark" curse.
Old 14th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Sofa King's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsowa ➡️
Billy Squier's albums "Tale of the Tape" ('80) and especially "Don't Say No" ('81) are some of the best sounding records of the 1980s.

There are interesting little production touches all over the place. The percussion on "In the Dark", the thin and phasey "Stroke" female group vocal, the use of synths, etc. But certainly the drums are the most notable part. Given that Squier's voice bears a not too distant resemblance to a more disciplined and commercial Robert Plant, I wonder if it was a conscious decision to pair him with a Bonham-esque drum sound with squashed room mics? I personally have a special interest in records that were recorded in this period where the dry disco thing had been taken as far as it could go, but people hadn't yet succumbed to exclusive drum machine use.
I think I read somewhere, that they purposely went after the Zep tones/effects/production style.

good stuff.

Best,
Sean
Old 14th September 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 
godotzilla's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Golub only plays on a few cuts on that album. Most of the signature rhythm stuff is Billy: Tele into Marshall. Very Pagey rhythm player. He obviously was a sage student of Jimmy's arranging and production, while bringing his own thing to the mix.

I played the crap out of "Don't Say No." What a solid album, front to back. Still holds up.
Old 14th September 2012
  #9
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brockorama's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Fond, fond memories of "Don't Say No".
Old 14th September 2012
  #10
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AMIEL's Avatar
Billy Squier what an Underrated Artist..he is one of the greatest!
Old 15th September 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Still Sounds great!

Old 15th September 2012
  #12
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Where is he there... a school auditorium? LOL.

But yeah, he still play!
Old 9th January 2014
  #13
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Just listened to In the dark on vinyl again.
Anyone know what room the guitar amps were recorded in? mics used? placement?
Old 9th January 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I also always thought it was a great sounding record as well. Reinhold Mack produced it, and when I asked him about it he said they did it at The Power Station. He said a big part of the drum sound was a mono room mic through an 1176. He got similar sounds on other records he produced as well (which I also really like too). I also asked Billy what the guitar sound was - he said Tele' through a vintage Marshall, occasionally a Les Paul.

Doesn't get much better than that.
Old 9th January 2014
  #15
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Heartfelt's Avatar
 
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Am I the only one who thought his records had a strangely mid forward sound?
Old 9th January 2014 | Show parent
  #16
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rog951's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heartfelt ➡️
Am I the only one who thought his records had a strangely mid forward sound?
I'd agree with you if the "strangely" was removed from the sentence. I thought the mids, though quite in your face, sounded great on those early records.
Old 9th January 2014
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
SOULSHAKER88's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
No doubt he had a major Zep influence....I always thought it was cool because he wasn't one of the many Zeppelin rip offs....he infused it into a pop sensibility.
Old 9th January 2014
  #18
Gear Nut
 
Thwacko's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Definately give producer Mack some credit. Check out "The Game" by Queen for a similar sound.
Old 12th January 2014
  #19
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Which guitars and amps do we hear on the album?
My 1960 Fender Tele Custom was really the guitar of record, excuse the pun… It’s the one you hear on “In The Dark,” “My Kinda Lover,” “You Know What I Like,” “Too Daze Gone,” and “Lonely Is The Night.” On “The Stroke” I played my ’57 Strat, and on “Whadda You Want From Me” it’s my ’56 Gibson Les Paul Special.

I don’t remember what I used on the solo for “Nobody Knows” because I tracked it a bunch of times, so the resulting sound isn’t tone-specific. It was definitely a Paul, however, and my guess would be my ’58 ‘Burst. These days, I play a ‘Burst when we do “I Need You” and “Nobody Knows,” so that makes me think I did the same on the record.

And as for amps, it’s all Marshall Lead 100 with a single cabinet with a combination of Altec and Celestion speakers. I’d put one mic up close and one out in the room, wherever it sounded best to my ear. This is a deceptively simple trick that I learned from (the album’s producer) Mack – find the spot where the amp sounds the way you want, and put a mic there. It usually works.

How do you view the album, in retrospect?
Well, 25 years is a long time… It almost seems like another life, in many respects. But I think the album holds up very well; it doesn’t sound dated. There’s magic to it, and magic isn’t something you can quantify or manufacture. The stars were aligned around that project, and you can hear it! When that happens, you have to feel very fortunate.

What was your reaction at the time to its sound being compared to Led Zeppelin or Queen?
I was very humbled by the “one-man Led Zeppelin” comparisons. They were a band of staggering proportion and incredible vision. And the Queen comparisons also made me very proud. To be mentioned in the same breath with any of those guys is a huge compliment. People do have a tendency to exaggerate, but who am I to correct them (laughs)?

Billy Squier | Vintage Guitar® magazine
Old 12th January 2014
  #20
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firby's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That drummer is so special. He is like some kind of special hybrid of 70's style and almost has a jazz vibe sometimes. I think that comparing him to Bonham is pretty apt.

Ever since I was a little boy I have always loved that drummer's style. Just a really special and unique player IMHO. So it sounds like he has passed away now ? If that is true that is a shame.

It seems like I saw a bit of him on TV or something and he played traditional grip and of course mashed it with real chops. So good. Such a good, notable unique drummer.
Old 13th January 2014
  #21
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Space1999's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
They are were /are a very tight unit and helped to keep a pop sensibility to hard rock which kept it alive and kicking. Listening back to Led Zeppelin you wont find a "chorus" in the traditional sense but on a few tracks. To take an influence from them and use a traditional chorus proved to be a big success. Very Cool!
Old 13th January 2014
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Billy Squier is great... before I knew anything about Led Zeppelin, I always considered "Lonely Is The Night" my favorite Zeppelin Song
Old 25th February 2016
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
I love Billy Squier's music. Great hooks, productions, playing, groove, mix, everything. They sounded great in the 80s and they sound great now.
I love the DRUMS on "Don't Say No"....sound, tone, playing, groove, mix.
Old 6th March 2016
  #24
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I bought the CD (don't say no) after reading this thread and having my curiosity peaked. Aside from his hits I really haven't listened to him before. I really dig his writing style. His use of keyboards is basic, yet interesting, and without emphasis on keyboards. The bass drum is insanely nice! My 9 year old, who's already an 80's band fanatic, like Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister, is really liking him too.
I may be way off base here, but it seems that this was mixed with a boat load of subtractive EQ.
Old 7th March 2016 | Show parent
  #25
Deleted 1846071
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by John37 ➡️
I bought the CD (don't say no) after reading this thread and having my curiosity peaked. Aside from his hits I really haven't listened to him before. I really dig his writing style. His use of keyboards is basic, yet interesting, and without emphasis on keyboards. The bass drum is insanely nice! My 9 year old, who's already an 80's band fanatic, like Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister, is really liking him too.
I may be way off base here, but it seems that this was mixed with a boat load of subtractive EQ.
Could you say more about the use of subtractive EQ?
Old 7th March 2016
  #26
Gear Nut
 
🎧 5 years
I'm not qualified to elaborate on the subject except to say it seems like lots of cuts were made instead of boosts. To me it lacks high end "sparkle" and sheen. But that doesn't mean it sounds bad. It's still mixed well IMO. And as I said before I could be way off base.
Old 7th March 2016 | Show parent
  #27
Deleted 1846071
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by John37 ➡️
I'm not qualified to elaborate on the subject except to say it seems like lots of cuts were made instead of boosts. To me it lacks high end "sparkle" and sheen. But that doesn't mean it sounds bad. It's still mixed well IMO. And as I said before I could be way off base.
No I agree. It sounds like they used U87s and then cut a bunch of lows and low mids to make way for the kick. Listen to the guitar in the opening of My Kinda Lover. Also the bass is more of a guitar sound.

Definitely a mid-heavy "rock" sound.
Old 8th March 2016 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Addict
 
dylanwissing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Fitz ➡️
As far as the drum sound, the drummer has much to do with that, same as Bonham's sound had much to do with Zeppelin. Bobby Chouinard was a great big sounding drummer, huge groove and backbeat....that's a big part of the reason the drums sound they way they do....the drummer.
I had the job of recreating Bobby Chouinard's drums from "The Big Beat" for an Alicia Keys record a couple of years ago, along with producer Ken Lewis. It was a HUGE amount of work trying to reverse-engineer that sound and feel on very short notice. Bobby is a monster!

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