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Author Topic: 1 player, 2 keyboards: Help Me, Rhonda and electric pianos  (Read 887 times)
aeijtzsche
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« on: January 31, 2020, 10:20:01 AM »

Question:

Has anybody seen or read any photo or reference to a mid 60s recording session where a keyboard player has played two different keyboards simultaneously?  Larry knechtel references playing two different *manuals* on the B3, and Iíve come to suspect that the keyboard rhythm on Help me, Rhonda is a similar two-handed deal done by one player to achieve the low, pulsing rhythmic signature.  (Iíll demonstrate when thatís feasible)

Thoughts?
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c-man
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2020, 09:45:54 AM »

Interesting observation, though I wonder why the track sheet notation would space the two keyboard instruments out so that it reads:

3 - Billy S (guitar) - elect piano - saxes - HohnerĒ

If both keyboards were played by the same guy, I'd think they'd be just written as "pianos", or at least written next to each other. Since "elect piano" and "Hohner" are separated by "saxes" by the engineer or whoever wrote this, it would make more sense that they were played by different people, possibly on different sides of the studio (although I think the tendency was for like-type instruments to be grouped together physically).

Nonetheless, "interesting observation" as I say!
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2020, 05:05:10 PM »

Interesting observation, though I wonder why the track sheet notation would space the two keyboard instruments out so that it reads:

3 - Billy S (guitar) - elect piano - saxes - HohnerĒ

If both keyboards were played by the same guy, I'd think they'd be just written as "pianos", or at least written next to each other. Since "elect piano" and "Hohner" are separated by "saxes" by the engineer or whoever wrote this, it would make more sense that they were played by different people, possibly on different sides of the studio (although I think the tendency was for like-type instruments to be grouped together physically).

Nonetheless, "interesting observation" as I say!

Well, that's fair point, although to an engineer, an input is just another input.  Could be that's how it shook out on the inputs and he just went down the console when writing on the box.

I just can't think of any other way to get that sound, and it'd be tough to coŲrdinate, even for very tight musicians, the on and off beat playing.

Also, of course, this tape box is v damning evidence that the Sloop John 12-string story is wrong unless Billy S was just borrowing 12-strings for a year until Brian gave him one...
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c-man
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2020, 10:14:35 PM »

You may be on to something - since there's an acoustic piano designated on Track 1, and since Brian (unlike Phil) hardly ever employed more than two keyboardists for one session - not even on Pet Sounds (the only such time that comes to mind is the first SMiLE version of "Wind Chimes") - and since Brian himself is directing the session from the control room and not the studio floor - it's a good call that there may have been only two keyboard players on the track: one playing the acoustic piano on Track 1, and another playing both the Wurlitzer and Hohner Pianet (if that's what they are) on Track 3.

1 - piano - bass - Fender Bass - Drums - Guitar
2 - ukes - percussion
3 - Billy S (guitar) - elect piano - saxes - Hohner

Man, I wish we had that AFM sheet!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2020, 10:15:25 PM by c-man » Logged
aeijtzsche
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2020, 05:03:50 PM »

Sometimes I wonder if the person writing that down was just confused and meant "Hammond" because there's a lot about it that sounds very organy.  Of course we have the in between take electric piano noodling which confirms at least one electric piano.

While We are on the subject of HMRh, two things:

Any evidence that Carol is on bass other than her saying so?

And also, I sorta doubt it was him on HMRh, but here's a young Tommy playing a uke just like the uke players on the Rhonda Sesh!  (Forgive the Hulu markings)

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c-man
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2020, 09:12:01 AM »

<<Any evidence that Carol is on bass other than her saying so?>>

Well, she mentioned that track as the first time she played bass on a BBs session (which of course, it wasn't, but perhaps it was their first hit single on which she played bass), and that was in a 1983 Guitar Player magazine article IIRC (I have the actual magazine somewhere, but I'd have to dig for it). This was a cover story on "women who rock" or something similar. This was a good decade or more before her memories of such things began to be called into question, so that may give it some weight.

A few years back I encountered an online article where Don Randi recalled certain details of the "Rhonda" tracking session, in particular some details about the Universal/Radio Recorders studio where they recorded that. From this, I learned that the track was cut not at the main Radio Recorders location on 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, nor around the corner at the famous "annex" facility, but rather at the studio's recently-acquired Sunset Highland Division at 1441 North McCadden Place  - soon to be known as "TTG Studio" (for "Two Terrible Guys"). For some reason, I can't locate that online article now, and I don't remember if he said anything about the personnel on the session - if so, it wasn't anything that I didn't already know from other sources, so I'm not sure if he specifically mentioned Carol's participation or not. But, maybe someone else can find that article and see!  Smiley
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JK
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2020, 10:51:57 AM »

A few years back I encountered an online article where Don Randi recalled certain details of the "Rhonda" tracking session, in particular some details about the Universal/Radio Recorders studio where they recorded that. From this, I learned that the track was cut not at the main Radio Recorders location on 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, nor around the corner at the famous "annex" facility, but rather at the studio's recently-acquired Sunset Highland Division at 1441 North McCadden Place  - soon to be known as "TTG Studio" (for "Two Terrible Guys"). For some reason, I can't locate that online article now, and I don't remember if he said anything about the personnel on the session - if so, it wasn't anything that I didn't already know from other sources, so I'm not sure if he specifically mentioned Carol's participation or not. But, maybe someone else can find that article and see!  Smiley 

I had a good look around for your article (googling every possible permutation) but could find nothing.

Maybe in-house detective Pretty Funky can come up with the goods. Otherwise I fear it's been pulled.
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2020, 06:19:39 PM »

<<Any evidence that Carol is on bass other than her saying so?>>

Well, she mentioned that track as the first time she played bass on a BBs session (which of course, it wasn't, but perhaps it was their first hit single on which she played bass), and that was in a 1983 Guitar Player magazine article IIRC (I have the actual magazine somewhere, but I'd have to dig for it). This was a cover story on "women who rock" or something similar. This was a good decade or more before her memories of such things began to be called into question, so that may give it some weight.

A few years back I encountered an online article where Don Randi recalled certain details of the "Rhonda" tracking session, in particular some details about the Universal/Radio Recorders studio where they recorded that. From this, I learned that the track was cut not at the main Radio Recorders location on 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, nor around the corner at the famous "annex" facility, but rather at the studio's recently-acquired Sunset Highland Division at 1441 North McCadden Place  - soon to be known as "TTG Studio" (for "Two Terrible Guys"). For some reason, I can't locate that online article now, and I don't remember if he said anything about the personnel on the session - if so, it wasn't anything that I didn't already know from other sources, so I'm not sure if he specifically mentioned Carol's participation or not. But, maybe someone else can find that article and see!  Smiley

I doubt this is what you read, Mr. Slowinski, but this is all I could find for Don Randi's recollections.

https://www.scpr.org/programs/the-frame/2015/11/13/45229/in-youve-heard-these-hands-pianist-don-randi-chron/
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DSalter
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2020, 08:25:30 PM »

The Guitar Player Magazine article that c-man is referring to is the March, 1983 issue.

In it Carol says "The first hit I did with them on bass was "Help Me Rhonda"".

(see attached)
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aeijtzsche
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2020, 03:51:06 PM »

Well, I am still turning this over in my mind.  Kind of a mysterious session without the AFM info--even with the tape box.

Ah well!
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SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2020, 04:28:04 PM »

This song again... Oh no...

Anyway, was just listening to the session tape and at one point Brian mentions 'the electric piano', no plural, which I guess resolves that one? Maybe?

Has anyone figured out something close to the full lineup yet? I know most of the players can be identified but I haven't seen any guesses for the string bass player. Not that either of the bassists are ever actually called by name on the tape...

Also, intriguing Larry Knechtel quote, don't know if this has already been gone over and ruled that he was confusing it with Do You Wanna Dance or something: "I always played piano for Brian, except the one time I played bass on 'Help Me Rhonda.' I don't even know if I made the record."
« Last Edit: March 31, 2020, 04:32:17 PM by SaltyMarshmallow » Logged
aeijtzsche
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2020, 04:56:47 PM »

This song again... Oh no...

Anyway, was just listening to the session tape and at one point Brian mentions 'the electric piano', no plural, which I guess resolves that one? Maybe?

Has anyone figured out something close to the full lineup yet? I know most of the players can be identified but I haven't seen any guesses for the string bass player. Not that either of the bassists are ever actually called by name on the tape...

Also, intriguing Larry Knechtel quote, don't know if this has already been gone over and ruled that he was confusing it with Do You Wanna Dance or something: "I always played piano for Brian, except the one time I played bass on 'Help Me Rhonda.' I don't even know if I made the record."


As for the Keyboard thing, I think when I get to my video about it people will better understand what might be going on.

I think Slowinski is pretty close!  The string bassist is not named, but pretty much has to be one of Brian's quartet, barring extreme circumstances; Lyle (who wasn't being used that much yet), Jimmy, Cliff Hils, or Melvin Pollan.  Berghoffer is also a possibility, and to be fair there were lots of other bass players out there.

I think the Fender is Knechtel.  That is what my gut tells me.  It's not quite Carol's tone and the verse line is essentially the chorus riff on Do You Wanna Dance, which might speak to some continuity there.  No way to know for sure!
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SaltyMarshmallow
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2020, 05:11:18 PM »

It does sound very similar in tone to the Do You Wanna Dance overdub, doesn't it? Carol's usually heard talking on the sessions she played but here there's nothing. Hmmmmmmm.

Jimmy and Lyle were the guys on the next four sessions so yeah, I suppose it'd probably one of those two. Oooh, another thought! Would this be the first time on a Beach Boys session (barring the arco trio on All Dressed Up for School) that Brian had an upright bassist doubling a Fender/Dano? Off the top of my head I can't think of anything earlier, barring maybe one of those Spector-ish Honeys productions that aren't really my area.

WAIT, no, never mind, forgot about Why Do Fools Fall in Love. Oh well. Start of a new status quo at least!
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c-man
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2020, 10:32:15 PM »

Regarding the Fender bass - well, Ms. Kaye has always maintained that this was the first BBs hit on which she played bass (and this started about four decades ago, when her recollections could be trusted a bit more than they can now). Doesn't prove it, but it's interesting to note.

Regarding the upright - I think most likely one of the four bassists whom Brian employed for the Summer Days & Summer Nights sessions: Clif Hills, Chuck Berghofer, Lyle Ritz, or Jimmy Bond. Or, it could be Mel Pollan.

But unless the AFM contract magically appears one day (and, you know what - sometimes they do!), we will most likely never know.
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