17. remix in the city

Bell Sound 2

I

Another Shot



Spring 1973. Alayne Spertell sent me to Bell Sound on West 54th Street. I got the job. Immediately things got hectic. Bell had started up in the fifties and had a solid reputation as a good all-round studio, with extra strength in rock n roll. Hits recorded there included The Toys' Lover's Concerto, most of the Lovin' Spoonful's hits, and many Four Seasons records.


I remember a commercial for Mutual of Omaha, and a Schmitt's Beer spot. I got in trouble with Schmitt's because during the session, my girlfriend called and asked what are you doing? And I said "A Schlitz Beer commercial!" and 5 agency creatives gently corrected me in unison, yelling: "SCHMIDT'S! It's SCHMIDT'S!!!"


In June I was assigned to a session with Richie Wise and his partner Kenny Kerner. We were there to record a song with a band called Stories. Brother Louie hit #1 in August, displacing Diana Ross.


In September Richie and Kenny produced I've Got to Use My Imagination, which peaked at #4, and Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me  (#3) with Gladys Knight and the Pips. 


October 10, 1973: Richie and Kenny and I started on the first KISS album.


November 17: the first episode of The National Lampoon Radio Hour was aired.  The show was created by Michael O'Donoghue and Bob Tischler. Bob is an engineer too, and had a lot more experience than I with "spoken word" recording. I learned a lot from him and we cranked out 13 hour-long shows, which pretty much killed us. It was just too much work! So the running time was cut to 30 minutes. 


After about 15 weeks, the Lampoon got their own studio built. Since I was on staff at Bell Sound, and I had been doing fairly well with music, I didn't move over to Madison Ave.


The Radio Hour’s hard-working cast included: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramos, John Belushi, Anne Beatts (Michael's girlfriend), Chris Cerf, Brian Doyle-Murray, Chris Guest, Doug Kenney, Bruce McCall, and Brian McConnachie.


I remember being trapped in the funky old Bell Sound elevator, stuck between floors with Chevy, Belushi, and O'Donaghue. After 15 minutes waiting to be rescued, with 3 comedians carrying on in that small confined space, I couldn't take it any more.  I begged them to boost me up so I could reach the overhead emergency exit and get out of there.

 

Years later, in 1978, a phone call —and a familiar voice on the other end: "Remember me?" It was John Belushi, with his partner Dan Ackroyd. The Blues Brothers were getting ready for their first West Coast concert, at the Universal Amphitheatre. The album we recorded, Briefcase Full of Blues, was released in September 1978. This led to recording work on the set of The Blues Brothers Movie later that year.


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