Classic Tracks: The Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein"

Jul 1, 2011 9:00 AM

By Matt Hurwitz


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Producer Rick Derringer had worked with both Badanjek and Winter, including both White Trash albums. Derringer would also produce the new recordings, which would result in the first Edgar Winter Group album, They Only Come Out at Night. Derringer brought in producer/engineer Bill Szymczyk to engineer the album. The two had first worked together on Derringer’s All American Boy album (which would be released two years after Night).

The group booked time at New York’s The Hit Factory. “The place was built and owned by Jerry Ragavoy, who is a great producer/songwriter, and who is the guy that taught me how to produce records,” Szymczyk says. Derringer had also recorded there with The McCoys. The control room featured a custom console, which Derringer describes as “somewhere between an API and a Trident.” Derringer and Szymczyk recorded They Only Come Out at Night onto 2-inch tape using an Ampex 1000 16-track tape machine.

Montrose was set up with his Les Paul and Marshall amp to the left, with Hartman playing a Fender Precision further to the far left, as Szymczyk recalls. Ruff’s drum kit—a Ludwig with a single rack tom and two floor toms—was gobo’d off in the far-right corner. The guitar amp was miked at the cone, though typically pulled back by about a foot or foot-and-a-half, Szymczyk notes. “The louder they were, the further away I’d go. And it wasn’t to protect microphones and diaphragms; it was to get more of the room.” Eight mics covered the drums, bused to four channels to save tracking space. The bass was recorded both direct and miked at the amp, though the guitar was strictly miked. Winter’s ARP was recorded direct and miked at amp.

Derringer recalls, “Bill and I were aware of how well [‘The Double-Drum Song’] went over every time Edgar played it. We were both very into the idea of recording it.” Winter’s label, Epic, was also aware of the piece’s popularity, but didn’t want it on the album. “Some record company reps came to us in the studio, and said, ‘We’ve been thinking about it and this instrumental song may not fit on this album really well; all this stuff’s vocal stuff and pop-sounding, and this far-out-sounding instrumental.’” But to Derringer and Szymczyk, “The Double-Drum Song” was the one they had been most excited to record. “So we told them, ‘I guess we can all talk about it when it’s done, but we’re gonna record the song,’” Derringer says. At least three full takes of the still-unnamed track (“Double-Drum” was just a nickname) were recorded live. All three takes were quite lengthy, varying from about 11 to 15 minutes each.

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