2003   OCTOBER 28   #301

Design Records vs. Roy Orbison - Domino (STEREO)

Remember fake stereo? It used to be a major thorn in the side of collectors of music from the pre-stereo era. In the late 1960s when major record labels phased out monaural LPs, most pre-stereo recordings began to be available only in electronically rechannelled stereo editions. The bogus two-channel effect was usually achieved by equalizing the mono recordings so that the various frequencies were split between the two stereo channels, though some labels also liked to throw some reverb into the mix to create a greater sense of separation. (Try listening to one of Capitol's "Duophonic" Beach Boys albums next time you're in the mood for a headache.)

But Design Records (one of the Pickwick's family of budget labels) hit on an especially bizarre method for producing stereo masters from mono recordings. For example, on their 'Orbiting with Roy Orbison' LP (featuring a grand total of four of Orbison's Sun Records recordings padded out with five filler tracks by something called Bristow Hopper), the stereo effect was achieved by overdubbing additional instruments. The resulting stereo image features the original recording on the left channel and newly recorded tambourine and ACCORDION on the right. (Who knew Lawrence Welk was a rockabilly pioneer?) Still, stereo separation being what it was in the vinyl days, you can hear Roy and his band bleeding through into the overdub track. And even if you just listen to the left channel, you can still discern the squawk of the badly played accordion.

The track heard here, "Domino," was memorably covered by The Cramps in the late 70s. That version was much more faithful to the spirit of the original than this Design Records remix.

- Perry Amberson

TT-2:13 / 2.6MB / 160kbps 44.1khz

(Image courtesy of Perry Amberson)