Classic Tracks: The Go-Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed"

Aug 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz


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Rob Freeman at the MCI 500 Series in Soundmixers with Charlotte Caffey and Gina Schock

Rob Freeman at the MCI 500 Series in Soundmixers with Charlotte Caffey and Gina Schock

The Go-Go’s had been playing out for more than a year at that point, and they had a full slate of great material written for the album, including “We Got the Beat,” which had been included on the Stiff EP, and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” written by Wiedlin with Specials lead singer Terry Hall. The musicians had developed a romance/friendship during The Go-Go’s UK tour, but Hall was not single at the time.

“After we left, he sent Jane a letter about their complicated situation,” Carlisle writes. “She set some of the lines from that letter to music, added some lyrics of her own (she’s a genius), and voila, she had ‘Our Lips Are Sealed.’”

“I was so in love with ‘Our Lips Are Sealed,’” Wiedlin recalls in the liner notes to the 30th-anniversary edition of Beauty and the Beat. “I thought, ‘If they don’t like this, it’s just gonna kill me.’ I was very nervous to bring it in to the band, but everyone loved it.”

Basic tracking for Beauty and the Beat took place at Pennylane Studios, which was equipped with a Trident TSM console and a 24-track Otari MTR-90 2-inch machine. “Pennylane had a great tracking room,” Freeman says of the now-defunct studio. “Wooden floors, wooden walls, wooden ceiling, but not boxy at all. The room was about 25 by 35 feet, with the ceiling as high as 16 feet in places. Carefully designed spaces were left between the wood slats that covered the surfaces so that certain frequencies reflected while others were absorbed into the insulation behind the slats.”

In the tracking room, Freeman placed Schock’s drums close to the control room glass to take advantage of the bright acoustic reflections there, and baffled off the guitar and bass amps. Carlisle was confined to a vocal booth to deliver scratch vocals.

“The guitar amps were baffled on three sides, providing plenty of isolation, but open enough to allow their sound to bounce off the walls and into the ambient drum mics,” explains Freeman. “The main guitar sounds were captured with a dynamic mic placed close on each amp, and a condenser mic back a few feet. They sounded great, but when you brought up the ambient drum mics, which contained plenty of guitar leakage, that really opened things up nicely.

“You can hear that leakage in the intro to ‘Our Lips Are Sealed.’ The opening guitar is panned to the right, but on the left, you hear its leakage; to me, that’s beautiful.”

For the bass sound, Freeman built a tunnel-like enclosure around Valentine’s amp and placed a large-diaphragm mic a couple of feet from the cabinet. He also took a DI, giving Freeman the opportunity to use one source or the other, or combine the two.

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