The Famous Recording Studios Thread

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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by Dr. Medulla » 20 Aug 2019, 8:38am

dave202 wrote:
20 Aug 2019, 8:30am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 11:06am
As a counter to the Berry-Gordy-as-sole-genius narrative, I highly recommend Suzanne Smith's Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit, which situates Motown and its methods within the peculiarities of black capitalism, the industrial Midwest, and the Civil Rights Movement. I've taught the book several times and students have responded really well.
It is worth reading 'Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul' by Stuart Cosgrove. Tackling the city, the music, the politcs, the book takes you month by month without seeming disjointed. Berry Gordy doesn't fair too well and his reluctance to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and therefore the lack of backing by Motown acts is explained. There's more to Stuart than 'Off The Ball'!
That sounds comparable to Smith. Gordy was supportive of civil rights in the early years, as he was opposed to segregation plus his business interests revolved around appealing to white audiences. But as civil rights turned to black power, that ran counter to Motown's bottom line. As well, the machine-like nature of Motown butted up against the spirit of liberation in the mid to late 60s, chilling the relationship between artists and label. That book was my way of getting students to think about whether capitalism and revolution can co-exist or does the one have to dominate the other.
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by tepista » 26 Aug 2019, 5:06pm

WestwayKid wrote:
24 Jul 2019, 10:57am
The exhibit we had just missed was about the Stones' 1964 session at Chess (where they recorded "Satisfaction" for the first time). Would have been cool to see that, but oh well.


:)
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by BostonBeaneater » 27 Aug 2019, 12:13am

WestwayKid wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 10:54am
We visited Motown this past Tuesday. I have to admit - I was a little disappointed. It cost $50 for all of us to get in (2 adults, 2 kids) and I just don't think what we got back was worth that much.

The museum itself is small. It is literally 2 residential houses joined together with a walkway. It looks like they bought an adjacent house and tore it down - creating a little outdoor seating area where you can hang out and wait for your tour to start. There is not any onsite parking - so you're at the mercy of finding street parking.

The tour is guided and lasts about an hour. Due to the size of the museum - each tour is limited in size - maybe 15 - 20 people max. The tours sell out - so I recommend buying tickets online in advance.

There is a gift shop on the ground floor of the first building. It was well stocked, but very cramped. The tour starts out with a brief rundown of the various buildings (houses) Motown owned on the block. One was the studio, one housed distribution, and so on. You then watch a pretty dated movie in a cramped little theater room. The movie really needs an update - it looked like it was being played on VHS.

One thing that was glaringly clear was that they really controlled the narrative (obviously) and it was very slanted. It was very much "isn't it awesome how Berry Gordy founded this company and everything was peaches and cream and it was all one big happy family" and I know enough about the history to know that isn't close to being true. They really go out of their way to portray Gordy as this great guy - and yeah - he did some really important things. That can't be taken away from him. Motown has an incredibly important place in music history - but all of the Berry Gordy "rah rah" got a little grating after awhile.

Anyway...after the movie you get to go upstairs to their 2nd floor gallery. Lots of framed photos and a few bits of memorabilia (they had one of Michael Jackson's gloves and so on). My hunch is that they have a lot more memorabilia that they simply can't display because they just don't have the space. Our tour guide mentioned that they were in the initial stages of building a larger museum - which would be awesome. They really need it - not to just display more stuff - but I'm thinking more interactive displays. Honestly, I've been in local history museums that had more impressive displays and did a better job of telling a story.

You next crossover into the other building (the famous Hitsville U.S.A. building). The upper flat has been preserved to look like Berry Gordy's apartment from the early 1960's. They did an impressive job - lots of cool little details - but they don't give you enough time to look at anything. You just walk through and head downstairs.

The ground floor is probably the best part of the tour. They have the studio frozen in time: the waiting area, the tape library, the control room, and the famous Motown Studio A itself. This is the only room where they allow you to take photos and it was pretty incredible standing in that space (it is a surprisingly small room) and thinking that this was the room where My Girl, Dancing In the Street, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Reach Out I'll Be There, Stop! In the Name of Love, The Tracks of My Tears, Ain't To Proud to Beg, Papa Was a Rollin' Stone and so many more were recorded.

You then exit through the gift shop and that is that. I'm glad we stopped - I feel Motown is important enough to pay homage - but I wish they would do more with the museum itself. It did feel a little bit like a cash grab: here's what we want you to see, now move along. If they do build a larger museum I'd go back. All this being said, however - it did feel special to stand in front of that humble building in Detroit and to think about the talent that once really did make Motown "Hitsville U.S.A."!
2017
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 27 Aug 2019, 7:02am

tepista wrote:
26 Aug 2019, 5:06pm
WestwayKid wrote:
24 Jul 2019, 10:57am
The exhibit we had just missed was about the Stones' 1964 session at Chess (where they recorded "Satisfaction" for the first time). Would have been cool to see that, but oh well.


:)
One of my face instrumentals! They play this song during the tour and the story goes (according to them) that the Stones were nervous while recording the track because Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon were watching - so they didn't record any vocals. I don't know if that's true or not - but makes for a good story!!
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 27 Aug 2019, 7:07am

BostonBeaneater wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 12:13am
WestwayKid wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 10:54am
We visited Motown this past Tuesday. I have to admit - I was a little disappointed. It cost $50 for all of us to get in (2 adults, 2 kids) and I just don't think what we got back was worth that much.

The museum itself is small. It is literally 2 residential houses joined together with a walkway. It looks like they bought an adjacent house and tore it down - creating a little outdoor seating area where you can hang out and wait for your tour to start. There is not any onsite parking - so you're at the mercy of finding street parking.

The tour is guided and lasts about an hour. Due to the size of the museum - each tour is limited in size - maybe 15 - 20 people max. The tours sell out - so I recommend buying tickets online in advance.

There is a gift shop on the ground floor of the first building. It was well stocked, but very cramped. The tour starts out with a brief rundown of the various buildings (houses) Motown owned on the block. One was the studio, one housed distribution, and so on. You then watch a pretty dated movie in a cramped little theater room. The movie really needs an update - it looked like it was being played on VHS.

One thing that was glaringly clear was that they really controlled the narrative (obviously) and it was very slanted. It was very much "isn't it awesome how Berry Gordy founded this company and everything was peaches and cream and it was all one big happy family" and I know enough about the history to know that isn't close to being true. They really go out of their way to portray Gordy as this great guy - and yeah - he did some really important things. That can't be taken away from him. Motown has an incredibly important place in music history - but all of the Berry Gordy "rah rah" got a little grating after awhile.

Anyway...after the movie you get to go upstairs to their 2nd floor gallery. Lots of framed photos and a few bits of memorabilia (they had one of Michael Jackson's gloves and so on). My hunch is that they have a lot more memorabilia that they simply can't display because they just don't have the space. Our tour guide mentioned that they were in the initial stages of building a larger museum - which would be awesome. They really need it - not to just display more stuff - but I'm thinking more interactive displays. Honestly, I've been in local history museums that had more impressive displays and did a better job of telling a story.

You next crossover into the other building (the famous Hitsville U.S.A. building). The upper flat has been preserved to look like Berry Gordy's apartment from the early 1960's. They did an impressive job - lots of cool little details - but they don't give you enough time to look at anything. You just walk through and head downstairs.

The ground floor is probably the best part of the tour. They have the studio frozen in time: the waiting area, the tape library, the control room, and the famous Motown Studio A itself. This is the only room where they allow you to take photos and it was pretty incredible standing in that space (it is a surprisingly small room) and thinking that this was the room where My Girl, Dancing In the Street, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Reach Out I'll Be There, Stop! In the Name of Love, The Tracks of My Tears, Ain't To Proud to Beg, Papa Was a Rollin' Stone and so many more were recorded.

You then exit through the gift shop and that is that. I'm glad we stopped - I feel Motown is important enough to pay homage - but I wish they would do more with the museum itself. It did feel a little bit like a cash grab: here's what we want you to see, now move along. If they do build a larger museum I'd go back. All this being said, however - it did feel special to stand in front of that humble building in Detroit and to think about the talent that once really did make Motown "Hitsville U.S.A."!
2017
Nice photo!

My initial review was a bit of a bummer, but in retrospect I'm glad we stopped. I have always really, really, really loved the music and it was meaningful to pay homage (and to support Detroit with some tourist money).

I saw a rendering of the proposed new museum - it would be built in the vacant area just behind Hitsville and it looks very cool. If they get that thing built - we'll definitely be back.
"If they believed in a place called Kokomo, then so did I." - Michael Edward Love

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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by BostonBeaneater » 27 Aug 2019, 7:00pm

WestwayKid wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 7:07am
BostonBeaneater wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 12:13am
WestwayKid wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 10:54am
We visited Motown this past Tuesday. I have to admit - I was a little disappointed. It cost $50 for all of us to get in (2 adults, 2 kids) and I just don't think what we got back was worth that much.

The museum itself is small. It is literally 2 residential houses joined together with a walkway. It looks like they bought an adjacent house and tore it down - creating a little outdoor seating area where you can hang out and wait for your tour to start. There is not any onsite parking - so you're at the mercy of finding street parking.

The tour is guided and lasts about an hour. Due to the size of the museum - each tour is limited in size - maybe 15 - 20 people max. The tours sell out - so I recommend buying tickets online in advance.

There is a gift shop on the ground floor of the first building. It was well stocked, but very cramped. The tour starts out with a brief rundown of the various buildings (houses) Motown owned on the block. One was the studio, one housed distribution, and so on. You then watch a pretty dated movie in a cramped little theater room. The movie really needs an update - it looked like it was being played on VHS.

One thing that was glaringly clear was that they really controlled the narrative (obviously) and it was very slanted. It was very much "isn't it awesome how Berry Gordy founded this company and everything was peaches and cream and it was all one big happy family" and I know enough about the history to know that isn't close to being true. They really go out of their way to portray Gordy as this great guy - and yeah - he did some really important things. That can't be taken away from him. Motown has an incredibly important place in music history - but all of the Berry Gordy "rah rah" got a little grating after awhile.

Anyway...after the movie you get to go upstairs to their 2nd floor gallery. Lots of framed photos and a few bits of memorabilia (they had one of Michael Jackson's gloves and so on). My hunch is that they have a lot more memorabilia that they simply can't display because they just don't have the space. Our tour guide mentioned that they were in the initial stages of building a larger museum - which would be awesome. They really need it - not to just display more stuff - but I'm thinking more interactive displays. Honestly, I've been in local history museums that had more impressive displays and did a better job of telling a story.

You next crossover into the other building (the famous Hitsville U.S.A. building). The upper flat has been preserved to look like Berry Gordy's apartment from the early 1960's. They did an impressive job - lots of cool little details - but they don't give you enough time to look at anything. You just walk through and head downstairs.

The ground floor is probably the best part of the tour. They have the studio frozen in time: the waiting area, the tape library, the control room, and the famous Motown Studio A itself. This is the only room where they allow you to take photos and it was pretty incredible standing in that space (it is a surprisingly small room) and thinking that this was the room where My Girl, Dancing In the Street, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Reach Out I'll Be There, Stop! In the Name of Love, The Tracks of My Tears, Ain't To Proud to Beg, Papa Was a Rollin' Stone and so many more were recorded.

You then exit through the gift shop and that is that. I'm glad we stopped - I feel Motown is important enough to pay homage - but I wish they would do more with the museum itself. It did feel a little bit like a cash grab: here's what we want you to see, now move along. If they do build a larger museum I'd go back. All this being said, however - it did feel special to stand in front of that humble building in Detroit and to think about the talent that once really did make Motown "Hitsville U.S.A."!
2017
Nice photo!

My initial review was a bit of a bummer, but in retrospect I'm glad we stopped. I have always really, really, really loved the music and it was meaningful to pay homage (and to support Detroit with some tourist money).

I saw a rendering of the proposed new museum - it would be built in the vacant area just behind Hitsville and it looks very cool. If they get that thing built - we'll definitely be back.
The museum wasn't open that day so we just kind of checked out the house. I was glad we stopped by. I really love Detroit. It's a great town.
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 28 Aug 2019, 10:11am

BostonBeaneater wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 7:00pm
WestwayKid wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 7:07am
BostonBeaneater wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 12:13am
WestwayKid wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 10:54am
We visited Motown this past Tuesday. I have to admit - I was a little disappointed. It cost $50 for all of us to get in (2 adults, 2 kids) and I just don't think what we got back was worth that much.

The museum itself is small. It is literally 2 residential houses joined together with a walkway. It looks like they bought an adjacent house and tore it down - creating a little outdoor seating area where you can hang out and wait for your tour to start. There is not any onsite parking - so you're at the mercy of finding street parking.

The tour is guided and lasts about an hour. Due to the size of the museum - each tour is limited in size - maybe 15 - 20 people max. The tours sell out - so I recommend buying tickets online in advance.

There is a gift shop on the ground floor of the first building. It was well stocked, but very cramped. The tour starts out with a brief rundown of the various buildings (houses) Motown owned on the block. One was the studio, one housed distribution, and so on. You then watch a pretty dated movie in a cramped little theater room. The movie really needs an update - it looked like it was being played on VHS.

One thing that was glaringly clear was that they really controlled the narrative (obviously) and it was very slanted. It was very much "isn't it awesome how Berry Gordy founded this company and everything was peaches and cream and it was all one big happy family" and I know enough about the history to know that isn't close to being true. They really go out of their way to portray Gordy as this great guy - and yeah - he did some really important things. That can't be taken away from him. Motown has an incredibly important place in music history - but all of the Berry Gordy "rah rah" got a little grating after awhile.

Anyway...after the movie you get to go upstairs to their 2nd floor gallery. Lots of framed photos and a few bits of memorabilia (they had one of Michael Jackson's gloves and so on). My hunch is that they have a lot more memorabilia that they simply can't display because they just don't have the space. Our tour guide mentioned that they were in the initial stages of building a larger museum - which would be awesome. They really need it - not to just display more stuff - but I'm thinking more interactive displays. Honestly, I've been in local history museums that had more impressive displays and did a better job of telling a story.

You next crossover into the other building (the famous Hitsville U.S.A. building). The upper flat has been preserved to look like Berry Gordy's apartment from the early 1960's. They did an impressive job - lots of cool little details - but they don't give you enough time to look at anything. You just walk through and head downstairs.

The ground floor is probably the best part of the tour. They have the studio frozen in time: the waiting area, the tape library, the control room, and the famous Motown Studio A itself. This is the only room where they allow you to take photos and it was pretty incredible standing in that space (it is a surprisingly small room) and thinking that this was the room where My Girl, Dancing In the Street, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Reach Out I'll Be There, Stop! In the Name of Love, The Tracks of My Tears, Ain't To Proud to Beg, Papa Was a Rollin' Stone and so many more were recorded.

You then exit through the gift shop and that is that. I'm glad we stopped - I feel Motown is important enough to pay homage - but I wish they would do more with the museum itself. It did feel a little bit like a cash grab: here's what we want you to see, now move along. If they do build a larger museum I'd go back. All this being said, however - it did feel special to stand in front of that humble building in Detroit and to think about the talent that once really did make Motown "Hitsville U.S.A."!
2017
Nice photo!

My initial review was a bit of a bummer, but in retrospect I'm glad we stopped. I have always really, really, really loved the music and it was meaningful to pay homage (and to support Detroit with some tourist money).

I saw a rendering of the proposed new museum - it would be built in the vacant area just behind Hitsville and it looks very cool. If they get that thing built - we'll definitely be back.
The museum wasn't open that day so we just kind of checked out the house. I was glad we stopped by. I really love Detroit. It's a great town.
I agree. It gets a bad rap from people who have never visited, but it has a "feel" that is totally unique to Detroit. We drove through on our way back from Niagara Falls in June and that was the first time I'd been there in quite a few years - but when we planned our August Toronto trip - I made sure we added a day in Detroit as part of the drive. Glad I did.
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 16 Oct 2019, 10:52am

I have an obscure, yet important, recording studio in my backyard. Paramount Records (which operated from 1917 until 1932) recorded and released some of the most important early “country blues” recordings of all time. Charley Patton, Skip James, Ma Rainey, Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson and more.

The story goes that back in the day a phonograph was more than something to play music on: it was a status symbol and something you would prominently display in your home. Consumers would purchase phonograph cabinets just as they would purchase other pieces of furniture. The Wisconsin Chair Company of Port Washington, Wisconsin (about 30 minutes north of Milwaukee) produced phonograph cabinets and to entice consumers to purchase their cabinets, they began giving away 78’s. They began simply leasing recordings made by outside recording companies, but in 1917 they set up their own recording studio and pressing plant in neighboring Grafton, Wisconsin.

They did not make great recordings. They used a spartan recording studio and average quality shellac. The record label quickly became a money drain and in order to grab any profit they could, they began pressing records for other labels. One label, Black Swan, specialized in “race records”. When Black Swan went under, Paramount purchased their assets and race records soon became a very lucrative business for Paramount. They employed a talent scout who would travel to places like Mississippi and then send talent back north. The artists would typically room in Milwaukee and then travel up to Grafton to record.

The Great Depression hit Paramount hard and they stopped recording new material in 1932. Many of the metal masters were sold for scrap metal. There is a local legend that disgruntled workers threw many priceless masters into the fast moving Milwaukee River (the plant was built on the bank of the river).

There is not much left of the building today, just some rough foundation concrete. Grafton has built a small public square honoring the label and the musicians who recorded for it. Paramount 78’s are some of the most rare (and expensive) recordings in the world. This is a great book on not just the records, but also the collectors who seek them out: Author Amanda Petrusich even attempted to dive in the river to investigate the myth of the masters being dumped into the water.

I had long known the story, but did not visit until July 2017. There really isn’t much to see. I stopped by the plaza in Downtown Grafton. I trekked to the location of the studio and pressing plant. There is a Mississippi Blues Trial marker at the sight, but not much else. It’s a peaceful spot. The wide, shallow, fast running Milwaukee River roars nearby. I’m glad the story is not completely forgotten in the area.
"If they believed in a place called Kokomo, then so did I." - Michael Edward Love

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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 16 Oct 2019, 10:53am

Paramount_3.jpg
Paramount_5.jpg
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 16 Oct 2019, 10:55am

Paramount_6.jpg
Paramount_1.jpg
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by WestwayKid » 16 Oct 2019, 10:57am

The house by the river is built where the plant used to be. You can still see some of the foundation between the house and the river. They actually mixed Milwaukee River mud with the shellac to make the records. Needless to say, they sounded rough.
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by Flex » 16 Oct 2019, 11:21am

Paramount Records put out lots and lots of incredible stuff, really cool that it's so near you.
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Re: The Famous Recording Studios Thread

Post by Silent Majority » 16 Oct 2019, 1:33pm

Thanks for sharing that WK
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