Friday, December 10, 2004

In September this year, legendary remixer/producer Tom Moulton was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, along with the likes of Barry White, Donna Summer, David Mancuso, Larry Levan, and Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. If you've ever possessed any 12 vinyl singles (and I'm assuming that you're a music junkie if you got here, right?), you owe this man a vote of thanks. He invented the 12" single. No kidding.

from an interview with Moulton at
His idea to make songs longer led to the invention of the 12" single that disco was built on. "When I first started I took my records to Media Sound to master. And I came in with a new Trammps record on a Friday, so I said "Dominic, I really got to get some test pressings of this." Dom said; "Well, I don't have time and I'm going away." I said; "Oh my God, I can't believe this... I really got to get these, I really got to get some acetates cut of this." So, I said; "What about your assistant there?." He says; "Oh, you mean the Puerto Rican sweeper!." I was SO offended by that, so I went over to the guy and I said; "Hi, I'm Tom Moulton" and he goes "I know who you are." And I said; "Well, what's your name?." He says; "José." I said; "José, do you know how to use this?," he goes "Sure!." And I said; "Well, can you cut me some acetates?." "Oh, I think so." I said; "Well, let's do it!."

So, you know, he did everything I wanted... I told him I wanted this, I wanted more bottom or I wanted more top - whatever! And he did exactly what I wanted to do. And I said; "This guy's amazing!." So, from that day on he was the guy who mastered all my records. I took it back to Atlantic and I said; "I want it to say "A Tom Moulton Mix" but I also want it to say mastered by José Rodriguez." They went; "Oh, we don't do that!" and I said; "Well, you gonna do it now." So I started putting his name on everything and everybody was like absolutely stunned."

Tom continues; "So, one day I went in there to José and I had "I'll Be Holding On" by Al Downing and I said; "José, I really need some acetates." And he said; "Tom, I don't have any more 7" blanks. All I have is the 10" blanks." I said; "Well, if that's the only thing you've got, what difference does it make?." So he cut one, I said; "It looks so ridiculous, this little tiny band on this huge thing. What happens if we just make it bigger?." He says; "You mean, like spread the grooves?" and I said; "Yeah!." He says; "Then I've got to raise the level." I said; "Well, go ahead - raise the level." And so he cut it at +6. Oh, when I heard it I almost died. I said; "Oh my God, It's so much louder and listen to it. Oh! I like that - why don't we cut a few more?."

So it was by accident, that's how it was created. But for the next song we cut, we went for the 12" format instead of the 10" and the song was "So Much For Love" by Moment of Truth." That was the birth of the 12" single."

Tom expounded on the virtues of the 12" further by stating: "Because 45's were geared for radio, they were all 'middle', and you couldn't cut a lot of bass onto the record. A lot of records didn't have the fidelity and sounded terrible. But you were playing them for the songs, not the fidelity."

Moulton's big break came when he was asked to mix a single for BT Express...
"In 1974, a former model called Tom Moulton produced the first commercially successful disco remix when he doubled the length of BT Express's Do It 'Till You're Satisfied. The band loathed it until it became a massive crossover hit, at which point they brazenly claimed that it was their idea all along." [from the Guardian; "Change the record"]

Moulton describes it like this: "The band hated it," he says. "But it reached #-1 and they were on 'Soul Train.' Don Cornelius was interviewing them and asked about the length: 'Oh yeah we recorded it that way' they said. I was so fucking mad!" The song crossed over to a number 2 Pop hit on Billboard's Hot 100. The band played for the King of Thailand while touring Asia, and were invited to perform at the Whitehouse for Jimmy Carter.

Q: Have you got any special memories you can tell about when mixing a specific record? Like something that happened when you mixed it or some idea you got or something like that?
A:"Alright - "Dr. Love" [First Choice]. You know that song?!"
Q: Yep! It's one of my favorites actually.
A: "Ok, well. I actually had a mild heart attack that night."
Q: OH!
A:"I was so frustrated because the rhythm, the tempo kept changing. And all I know is I wanted to get back to the part to create a break that had that "di-di-di-di-de, di-di-di-di-de", you know like that, with the stings. I mean, that absolutely drove me crazy. And the drum pattern kept changing. So I had to speed it up, slow it down. Well, I got so frustrated. I raised my arms and saying; "Jesus Christ, can't these guys play in tempo for anything?!" And I got these electric shocks up my arms.

And I sat down and I calmly said; "OK, let's try to do this again." And I sat down and I really got scared because I could sense something that was wrong. I mean, there like - my breathing was off and I could hardly talk. But anyway I said; "OK, Let's do this." So I, we kept doing it piece by piece and I kept speeding up the multitrack machine or slowing it down. And it was driving me crazy. And finally it was done and I said "Can somebody call me a cab or drive me to the Hospital?" So they drove me to the Hospital and I went to the emergency room, this was like 4:30 in the morning.

They said "What's the matter" and I said "Well, I've had these electric shocks in my arms and bla bla bla bla bla". I got to see the doctor and the doctor goes "Oh my, your heart is beating sporadically." He said "When did this happen?" and I said "About 12 o'clock!" He said "12 O'CLOCK! It's 4:30!" and he said "Where are you coming from?" and I said "It's like 3 blocks away." He goes "You're an Asshole!"

That's what the doctor called me. He said "What could be more important than staying alive?" and I go "Well, I was mixing this record..." he goes "What's mixing a record?" and I was trying to explain to him and I said "Well, I mean, I know something was seriously wrong but I didn't wanna die not finishing this song." He thought that was the most ridiculous thing he ever heard of!"

More Moulton background here, here and here. There's a great interview with Moulton at (with the authors of the excellent book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life).
Like I said, if you own any 12 singles, then respect is due. Final word to Mr Moulton: "People have said, 'You make disco records,' and I said: 'Wrong. I make records you can dance to.' I wouldn't know how to make a record just for discos."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Worst stock photo ever? (via Getty Images) Tip of the hat to jamjar for this outstanding image.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Radar went to Pahrump, Nevada during the final days of the US elections last month. Pahrump, a small town 60 miles from Las Vegas, is known for its liberal citizens, and its whorehouses. "He meets the hosts of 'Out There TV' - a hot bed of UFO's, Government mind control and sex slaves." Watch his report on Eating Media Lunch, TV2 9.30 PM tonight (Tues). Highly recommended.