The Beatles' second single, "Please Please Me," was a huge breakthrough hit. Normally, that's cause for celebratory coke lines off the soft belly of a kitten. At least we think that's how rock stars party.
However, the Fab Four's producer, George Martin, had other ideas. Pop music is notoriously fickle; if they were going to get a sales boost from the single, they needed to react right the hell now. This meant recording an album right the hell now, and releasing it right the hell now. So at 10 a.m. on February 11, 1963, sessions began for the Please Please Me album, and ended at 7:45 that night. An entire 14-song album was recorded in one goddamn day. While their lead singer was sick.
Via Roy Kerwood
"Hey, remember this look. We might use that in a few years."
John Lennon had just come down with a particularly bad cold, which meant his voice had gone from "gloriously melodic" to "howler monkey falling into farm machinery." Sure, they could've waited a week or so for Lennon to recover, but they were just so sure that in another week the whole world would have gotten over this "Beatles" thing.
So, they worked around it, which gave birth to the now-famous screamed vocals on "Twist and Shout." Martin had saved that song for the end, because it was particularly throat-shredding, and he was concerned that Lennon wouldn't be able to get through it. Considering that Lennon had resorted to gargling with milk and sang the entire song with his face and body clenched like he was shitting a porcupine, Martin might have been onto something:
And here's the same song performed live, after Lennon's larynx stopped wanting to crawl out of his mouth and throttle him for what he was doing to it:
The studio version was the one and only usable take; after Lennon howled it out, he was completely spent. Still, after a mere 10 hours and tons of physical suffering, the Beatles' first album was in the can, and they were free to cash in on the whole flavor-of-the-moment Beatles fad.
Think of the worst boss you've ever had. The one who bullied you, mocked you, forced you to work at your lowest, mentally and emotionally, and reduced you to tears because all your hard work just wasn't good enough. Screw that guy, right? Well, they've got nothing on rock music's Bad Boss. Meet Ross Robinson, a multi-platinum producer widely known as "The Godfather of Nu-Metal," for which you can either thank him or curse him.
Robinson's production techniques are akin to Dexter's detective skills. He's certainly qualified, but too deranged to truly deserve the job. His resume is littered with terrifying tales of how he's achieved perfect takes from his artists. Just ask Korn, if they can still speak through all the sobbing. See, Korn's songs tend to be punctuated by a lot of tortured screaming about how shitty lead singer Jonathan Davis' life is. So, Robinson figured the key to success was triggering this emotional imbalance. For a recent album, Robinson brought in Davis' wife and had Davis perform a song about lying to her and hurting her, right to her face.
"OK, good. Now, here, eat her cat."
And that's just how he works -- he'll learn the stories behind Davis' lyrics and ride him relentlessly about them. If Davis sings about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, Robinson will force him to relive it, over and over again, until the song is just right. So, when Davis breaks down in tears during "Daddy" or "Holding All These Lies," it's not studio trickery. Robinson purposefully reduced him to that blubbering mess.
He rode Davis so hard that the singer damn near killed himself. Davis would later describe the sessions as "sheer fucking torture and hell," and even his psychiatrist wanted Robinson to back off.
"What, your pussy psychiatrist wants you to be a pussy, too? You gonna cry for me, pussy?"
Robinson's depraved style doesn't begin and end with Korn, though. How about the time he made a member of Slipknot perform backing vocals immediately after the poor guy found out his beloved grandfather had died? Apparently, Robinson considered this a "bold move," but refusal on Mr. Slipknot's part might have meant getting random shit chucked at him, like goddamn open flames.
Yes, Robinson will totally throw fire at you if he doesn't like what you're doing. Just ask the Cure, who Robinson completely snapped at after several lackluster takes. He went full R. Lee Ermey on their gothic asses, swearing at them, insulting their legacy, throwing about a hundred lit candles around the studio, and laughing maniacally at the keyboardist's tears and tantrums. As Robinson put it, "Sometimes musicians need to feel certain things to emote, and a lot of times, that thing will come out with a little coercing. So sometimes it comes in the form of an object being thrown at their head while they're tracking."
Hey, as long as the records keep selling, people will keep hiring him to do it.
Andrew Jorgensen via Altsounds.com
"Hey, computer, remember when Steve Jobs died?"
For more musical history, check out 6 Classic Songs That Were Supposed to Be Jokes and 5 Famous Hidden Song Meanings (That Are Total B.S.).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Rap Video That Is Clearly About Stalking Kim Kardashian.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn what "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" really means.
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