SONG OF THE WEEK: "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" (2002, from He's A Rebel: The Gene Pitney Story Retold):
Tribute records, those are some of my favorite recordings to make. It’s more likely a new fan will come from hearing one of your cover songs than stumbling upon an album track. It’s important to make a tribute track especially good!
“Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” was recorded by Gene Pitney twice, first time in 1967, and again in 1989, in a duet with Marc Almond (a version I have not heard) which was a UK #1. I also avoided listening to Nick Cave’s version until recording mine. Terry Reid cut a version too. Pitney is named-checked in that Rolling Stones unreleased song “Andrew’s Blues,” along with Phil Spector, Andrew Oldham, and Sir Edward! Pitney’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s a heavy. He died in 2006. He was from America.
I recorded this version in my studio when it was upstairs at Hyde St E1. I keep moving around, I have recorded in every room of that place, including the bathrooms and hallways. I played the drums, double tracking them to get the snare fills as big as possible. I could get only 22 tracks on my ADAT system with a Studiomaster mixer on top of a post office desk. I had to save two tracks for the mixdown. Some things had to be bounced down, there’s a lot going on in this production. David Denny rented a studio across the hall; he could hear me doing my “oohs” through the double doors.
Later in 2004, the AES had Al Schmitt at the studio heading up a seminar called "How to Place a Vocal Microphone" with me as the vocalist. I chose this version of “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” to sing along to and handed over a DVD of wav files for all the instruments separately. The party started, the control room filling up, and the files won’t open, the disc won’t read, a technician’s nightmare. The room is packed with people, Al Schmitt telling stories, stalling, and finally I just mixed a two-channel backing track on CD.
There was a movie being made of me at the time, those folks are there, cameras on me, a room full of people looking through the glass. Ten mics are set up in a row for me to sing into one at a time for Al to audition and choose the best. The event is being sponsored by these high-end boutique mic companies- Soundelux, Brauner, and they’re up against some well-known classic mics in the line, Neumann, AKG. We’re running out of time, having blown an hour on the file fiasco, they put the song on, I sing the song into five of the mics but then it’s time to stop. Never even GOT to the sponsored mics, and Al Schmitt says, “Yeah, I think the U47 sounds best...” The U47, the most expensive collectible classic microphone in the studio, of course...wah wah wahhh!
I remember getting a very nice email from Lisa Mychols, something about “chills” after submitting this song to her for the tribute CD. I think this is a great song, written by Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. I can imagine them on the phone, “Hello Roger, it’s Roger here. Care to write a song? Why yes, Roger, old boy. Let’s get down to it, then.”