Shel Talmy

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Sheldon "Shel" Talmy (born August 11, 1941 in Chicago / Illinois ) celebrated his greatest successes as an American music producer in Great Britain and was particularly responsible for the early career of the beat bands Kinks and The Who .


The visually impaired Talmy attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, where Phil Spector , Herb Alpert and Jerry Leiber were also enrolled. He ended up studying psychology at UCLA. Then he met the British sound engineer Phil A. Yeend in a restaurant with guests from the music scene, who taught Talmy sound technology in his Conway recorders . Yeend, also a producer, had invested $ 50,000 in equipment in the studio by October 1961. Here Talmy worked as a sound engineer for the surf bands Mar-Kets ( Surfer's Stomp , January 1962) and Castells ( Clown Prince , December 1962). His first recording as a sound engineer was Debbie Sharon with Falling Star (B-side of Cruel Way to Be , December 1961). For Billy Joe & the Checkmates' instrumental hit Percolator (Twist) he was involved as a sound engineer for the first time in the creation of a smaller hit in December 1961 (US hit parade, rank 10).

Through Yeend he got in touch with Nick Venet , the A&R boss at Columbia Records . With two musical references from Venet in his luggage, Talmy flew to London on July 27, 1962. These were recordings that were actually produced by Nick Venet, namely Surfin 'Safari by the Beach Boys (recorded on August 5, 1961) and There's Music in the Air by Lou Rawls (August 1961). It was Venet who got the Beach Boys a record deal with Capitol Records in June 1962. These Venet-produced pieces were played by Talmy as his own to producer Dick Rowe of UK Decca, who exclaimed enthusiastically, “Thank God you're here. They start next week! ”However, he was not hired as a producer - as is usual in England - but worked as one of the few independent music producers for Decca Records (like Joe Meek ).

First productions

Alan Freeman & The Talmy Stone Band - Madison Time

The first production was in October 1962, the B-side Me for Doug Sheldon (A-side: Live Now, Pay Later ). This was followed in November 1962 by the jazzy and actually attractive dance record Madison Time for Alan Freeman & The Talmy Stone Band, a formation led by Talmy and his production partner Michael "Mike" Stone. The title was reportedly one of the poorly selling records in Decca history. The A-side is partly spoken in announcement form by the famous Australian disc jockey Alan A. Freeman who works for Radio Luxemburg .

The Bachelors - Charmaine

The harmonica trio Bachelors , founded in Ireland in 1957 , made Decca wait a long time for the first hit. Talmy claims to have taught him to sing in his apartment, at which point he risked resignation. He transformed the trio from a harmonica group to a combo singing in the close harmony vocal style of the Everly Brothers . The repertoire was set to old standards that were transformed into pop ballads. The first result was the widely-covered classic Charmaine , produced by Shel Talmy on October 10, 1962 , in just 20 minutes. After publication on January 26, 1963, the Bachelors entered the British charts for the first time, where they achieved fifth place. For the time being, Mike Stone was at his side as a producer. This was followed by the evergreen Diane (produced by Michael Barcley), published on January 3, 1964 and also from 1927, which made first place and sold 250,000 records. Here Talmy only produced the B-side Stars Will Remember . This was followed by Faraway Places (published May 1, 1963) and Whispering (29 August 1963), while the greatest hits of the Bachelors were not produced by him. Talmy produced a total of 31 songs for the Bachelors.

Talmy also supervised other artists musically at Decca. Cloda Rogers sang Sometime Kind of Love (March 1, 1963) under his direction , the girl group Orchids missed the British hit parade with Gonna Make Him Mine (September 20, 1963), as did Shel Naylor with How Deep is the Ocean (November 1, 1963) ). The Fortunes also failed to hit the charts with Caroline (January 1, 1964), but the track became famous as the signature tune of the pirate radio station Radio Caroline . This was followed by other productions without chart ambitions with One Fine Day (Shel Naylor; March 3, 1964), I Like the Look of You (Fortunes; May 1, 1964) and Look Homeward Angel (September 18, 1964). Goldie & The Gingerbreads had him produce That's Why I Love You (April 9, 1965). Talmy's recommendations to sign Georgie Fame and Manfred Mann were rejected by Decca. He produced over 130 titles for the label by March 1967, but often in cooperation with Mike Stone. Talmy turned away from Decca and focused on Pye Records.


Kinks - You Really Got Me

The Beat music was not yet fully established, as Talmy in December 1963 demo tape heard the Kinks. After they had received a record deal with Pye Records , the first recordings were made on January 24, 1964 in the Pye Studios under his studio direction. The result was the single Long Tall Sally / I Took my Baby Home . The single, released on February 7, 1964, still missed the charts, as did the next single You Still Want Me / You Do Something to Me (April 14, 1964) from the same recording session, sold 127 copies.

Singer Ray Davies had composed a song in mid-March 1964, of which a demo was created on March 18 in the Regent Sound Studio. On July 12, 1964, it was implemented in the IBC Studios, with an epoch-making recording for the stylistic development of beat music . Talmy recorded the five notes in two chord guitar riffs by Dave Davies on his Harmony Meteor guitar, distorted when the Kinks had their own composition You Really Got Me leveled out. They were accompanied by Arthur Greenslade (piano), Jon Lord (later Deep Purple ; keyboards), Jimmy Page (later Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin ; rhythm guitar) and Bobby Graham as session drummer. Talmy was n't happy with the group's new drummer, Mick Avory . The simple piece revolutionized rock music, because hard rock and heavy metal developed from it . The rhythm is based on a 12-bar blues, the catchy riff (FG, FG) was based on the piece Louie Louie by the Kingsmen . Only 2 takes were required within a three-hour recording session, the second was mixed. After its release on August 4, 1965, the single reached number one on the charts, number 7 on the US charts, and sold over a million copies worldwide. After the success, Pye decided to pay the future studio costs himself.

He produced all singles from Long Tall Sally (15) and LPs (9) by the Kinks up to and including the LP Something Else by the Kinks (September 15, 1967), after which his production contract with the group ended. Among the hits was the million seller Tired of Wating for You (rank 1; final mix on December 29, 1964) and the catchy Sunny Afternoon (rank 1; May 13, 1966), which takes up the contradictions of bourgeois life. When Talmy first heard 4 bars of Sunny Afternoon , he was sure it would be a number one hit. With Talmy's production direction, the Kinks developed a high recognition value through the nasal singing and the socially critical-sarcastic lyrics by Ray Davies as well as a rich, compressed sound. The Kinks had 92 songs produced by Talmy and took care of the production of their recordings themselves after Talmy's departure.

The Who

Who - I Can't Explain

Talmy recalls a "loud, rough and crazy group" after the first encounter. " I Can't Explain / Bald Headed Woman was probably recorded in the Pye studio within 2 hours between November 9-14, 1964. The song, which was released on January 15, 1965, had You Really Got Me as its musical model, but here the feedback from the guitars dominated, captured by 3 atmospheric microphones. Talmy had appointed Glyn Johns , who would later become an important producer himself , as the sound engineer . Pete Townshend plays a 12-string Rickenbacker , sideman Jimmy Page played the second guitar , Perry Ford accompanied the piano, the falsetto- style backing vocals came from the Ivy League . The Who practiced this falsetto singing intensively in order to take over it themselves in the future. With 109,000 copies and an 8th place, the sales success was limited. This was followed by Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere , which was created on April 13 and 14, 1965 in the IBC Studios. The Who were accompanied by one of the most famous session pianists of the time, Nicky Hopkins . Talmy placed the microphones in the studio to generate feedback. The US Decca administration sent the feedback-laden master tape back because they thought the recording was incorrect. After it was clarified that this was intentional feedback, the title was published on May 21, 1965 and reached number 10 on the charts.

The Mods anthem My Generation was written again on October 13, 1965 at IBC. The single, which was launched on October 29, 1965, embodied the stuttering of the insecurity of the young generation that is constantly being crushed by adults. The title reached number 3 in the British and only number 74 in the US charts and was also not a sales success. Talmy only produced 18 tracks for Who, due to a power struggle with band manager Kit Lambert, who feared that Talmy could gain complete control of the band and therefore took over the producer role from then on. On March 4, 1966, Talmy then sued the Who for breach of contract in order to continue producing the group. Since he was ousted by Lambert, the court awarded him an alternative 5% royalty for all recordings for the next 5 years and ownership of the master tapes for the Who LP My Generation , released on December 3, 1965 , which was only remixed in August 2002 as "Deluxe Edition" was released.


Easybeats - Friday on my Mind

The Australian beat band Easybeats came to Great Britain on July 14, 1966 with the reference of 4 previous Australian top hits to record some records here. On one day in September 1966, four recordings were made in 8 hours at the Olympic Studios in London under Talmy direction, including Friday on My Mind / Made My Bed, Gonna Lie in It . Talmy chose Friday on My Mind, featuring the distinctive intertwined riffs of two guitars, completed in just one take. His idea was the short drum solo shortly before the end, which introduces the last chorus. These two tracks were released as a single on October 14, 1966, along with 63 other competing singles. Friday on my Mind developed through the intensive airplay of the pirate stations into the much-covered anthem of the working class about the anticipation that began on Monday for the last working day on Friday. In Great Britain, 250,000 records were made and a 6th place was achieved, worldwide the million mark was exceeded and in May 1967 the gold record was awarded for this. Talmy produced 16 tracks for Easybeats, divided into 8 singles, which could not repeat the initial success.

More productions

With the English folk duo Chad & Jeremy and their title A Summer Song , Talmy was able to achieve one of his best-placed chart successes in the USA (7th place; July 31, 1964). With the Fortunes he produced 6 singles, whose big hits were however supervised by Noel Walker from September 1964. Glyn Johns first met Talmy while recording Once Upon a Time for Untamed (March 1965). Talmy produced David Bowie's second single, I Pity the Fool (as The Manish Boys; March 5, 1965), followed by You've Got a Habit of Leaving (as Davy Jones; August 20, 1965) and Can't Help Thinking About Me (January 14, 1966), who were way ahead of their time and couldn't place themselves. His first big hit Space Oddity from July 1969 was supervised by the later Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon .

Talmy founded his own short-lived record label Planet Records in December 1965 , whose most successful band, The Creation , brought out Painter Man , produced by Talmy in October 1966 . After only 1 year, the label was liquidated again after difficulties with the Philips distribution label. He worked 22 times for Creation, starting with Making Time (June 17, 1966), the biggest hit was Painter Man (rank 36; October 1966) with extensive final feedback and heavily based on the sound of the Who. After Manfred Mann switched to Fontana Records, he produced 6 commercially successful singles from Just Like a Woman (rank 10; July 28, 1966) up to My Name is Jack (June 7, 1968). The best hit parade was achieved by the Bob Dylan composition Mighty Quinn (rank 1; recorded on November 2, 1967); it was only the fourth top note for Talmy, with over 2 million copies worldwide. For Amen Corner , he oversaw If Paradise is Half as Nice , which was launched on January 17, 1969 and also topped the UK charts.

Since May 1968 he worked as a producer for the folk-rock formation Pentangle , a group that preferred acoustic music and combined medieval sounds with rock and jazz elements. First single was Travellin 'Song (May 1968), then Once I Had a Sweetheart (May 1969). He produced three LPs and the singles for Pentangle by 1970, a total of 40 tracks.

The seventies and beyond

Talmy acted as musical director for the Oscar-winning western classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid , which had its US premiere on September 24, 1969 (German title: Zwei Banditen ). This was followed by the score for the horror film Scream and Scream Again ( The Living Corpses of Dr. Mabuse ), which was released in January 1970. Between March 26 and April 4, 1974 he produced the most important album of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in London's Advision Studios ( The Impossible Dream ); however, the band re-recorded the songs with David Batchelor because they had too soft a sound. Talmy took the tapes to Los Angeles, the original Masters were not released until October 6, 2008 ( Hot City - The 1974 unreleased album ). The album Poetry in Lotion for Fumble was created in December 1974, but Talmy received criticism for it in the trade press. On May 19, 1977 he produced the single Stretcher Case Baby / Sick of Being Sick for Damned (July 3, 1977), a little more distant to the group's usual punk sound . The total edition of only 5,000 records was distributed free of charge during the performance at the London Marquee Club between July 3 and 6, 1977.

Talmy returned to the United States in 1979 after 17 years in Great Britain, when the punk wave he had not loved spread further. After a long absence, he reappeared as producer for the glam rock band Nancy Boy on their debut LP of the same name in May 1996. In February 1997 he was back in the recording studio for the interpreters on their LP Back in the USSA .


In total, Talmy produced around 300 recordings. For him, music production meant “highly personal work. If the same song is recorded for the same artist by six different producers, this leads to six different results. ”He understands music production as a symbiosis between artist and producer. Talmy used 12 microphones for drums alone - 4 were common at the time. They were positioned close to the amplifiers (“close-miking”), creating a compressed sound. From the 3-track Ampex tape machine, two tracks were used for the instruments and the third usually for the vocal part. He split the input from the guitar microphone into two channels, one of which was heavily compressed and the other was not. Both have been balanced so as not to cause a phase shift . Guitar riffs were the focus of many recordings. The role of music producer in the 1990s, according to Talmy, is pretty much the same as it was in the 1960s; it was and is about "packing the performances of the interpreter in the best possible framework."


  1. Inherited retinal degeneration Retinopathia pigmentosa
  2. Sound on Sound, September 2009, The Kinks You Really Got Me
  3. Billboard Magazine, October 30, 1961, p. 6
  4. a b Gordon Thompson, Please Please Me - Sixties British Pop, Inside Out , 2008, p. 91 ff.
  5. Aussies Wield Firm Influence , Billboard Magazine, December 22, 1962, p. 29.
  6. Published in 1927, made famous by Guy Lombardo's Orchestra
  7. ^ Neville Marten / Jeff Hudson, The Kinks , 2001, p. 32
  8. Studio # 1; # 2, where the Kinks recorded most of the records, didn't open until February 1964
  9. the largest independent studios in England; Phil Yeends had studied here
  10. controversial; played rhythm guitar based on Talmy: Spectropop interview with Talmy 2006
  11. Neville Marten / Jeff Hudson, The Kinks , 2001, p. 42 f.
  12. ^ Joseph Murrells, Million Selling Records , 1985, pp. 193 f.
  13. ^ Joseph Murrells, Million Selling Records , 1985, p. 209.
  14. ^ A b Richard Barnes, The Who - Maximum R & B , 1982, p. 38 f.
  15. ^ Andy Neill / Matt Kent, The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978 , p. 60
  16. ^ Larry David Smith, Pete Tonsend - The Minstrel's Dilemma , 1999, p. 57
  17. ^ John Tait, Vanda and Young: Inside Australia's Hit Factory , 2010, p. 62.
  18. over 140 cover versions
  19. ^ Joseph Murrells, Million Selling Records , 1985, p. 223.
  20. ^ Joseph Murrells, Million Selling Records , 1985, p. 265.
  21. The Melody Maker of January 18, 1975 considered the clean sound to be a little taken to extremes
  22. Songs Bring Seminal Rock Producer Shel Talmy Back to the Board , Billboard Magazine, Feb.15, 1997, p. 48.
  23. ^ Gordon Thompson, Please Please Me - Sixties British Pop , Inside Out, 2008, p. 96.
  24. Alan di Perna, Interview With Shel Talmy ( Memento of the original from October 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Guitar World, October 1996. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /