Classic Tracks: George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set on You"
Dec 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Blair Jackson
“George had very clear ideas about what he wanted for his studio,” Veale says. “It was part of his home, so it was to be ‘homey,’ and in context to the property. The décor had to fit in with and complement the style of the building, and achieve a high technical/acoustical standard. Much of the design work was done in 1971 and, apart from a wall fabric change, all remains as originally constructed.”
As for the studio’s custom console, “We started designing at the end of 1971 and installed October 1972,” Veale continues. “George wanted to have the use of the mix section and leave the recording to the preserve of the engineer. I designed the console as a split 48-channel—24 record inputs and 24 mix inputs—plus auxiliaries. The 24 mic inputs, on the right-hand section, were switchable to two line inputs for a second machine for 48-track mixing. The center section was the 24-track mix section, switchable between three line inputs to cater for different machine combinations. Most of the console modules were built for me by Cadac, and I selected from their range of amplifiers, equalizers, et cetera, for inclusion. I used the top end of their range with some adaptation to the EQ to make it George-friendly. Monitoring was based on the Altec system George loved at EMI Studios—as were the faders—plus a variety of options.”
Fast-forward again to 1986 and Shanghai Surprise. Harrison found working on the songs for that film sufficiently fun and stimulating that, according to Dodd, “George said, ‘I’m thinking about doing a solo album. Would you like to be the engineer?’ It didn’t take me long to say yes. Then he said, ‘I’ve got an American producer and we’ll see how it goes.’” Dodd prefers not to mention the producer’s name, as neither the engineer nor Harrison seemed to like the producer’s approach to recording, and after starting three songs, Harrison did not bring the producer back for more work. Instead, as he told Dodd, “‘I’ve got somebody else coming in to see if I can get him to work with me.’ I found out that was Jeff Lynne.
“I don’t know how keen Jeff was to produce somebody else,” Dodd continues, “but he was certainly keen to meet and hang with George. When George played him what we’d done [with the other producer,] Jeff was looking at me like, ‘You’re crap.’ George said, ‘What do you think?’ And Jeff quite politely said, ‘Not the way I would have done it.’ And out of the side of my mouth I said, ‘Not the way I would’ve done it, either.’ We called it a day and he and George hung out for the evening and got used to each other, and the next time I came back to work, Jeff was ready to start. And that was a little awkward because Jeff thought he had to use me—he thought I was George’s engineer and he was stuck with me. Jeff said, ‘I don’t like things to sound like that,’ and this time I really did say out loud, ‘Nor do I!’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘That’s the way the other guy liked it, it’s not how I would do it.’ And I described my method and he said, ‘Well, that’s the way I like to do it.’ And from then on we got on quite well.”
Though Lynne has become a well-known producer since these Harrison sessions that eventually became the smash Cloud Nine album, before they hooked up, Lynne had mainly worked as a jack-of-all-trades singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist/producer for his group The Move, which morphed into the extremely popular Electric Light Orchestra. Harrison told Mix writer Bruce Pilato in a 1987 interview: “I was afraid to get some producer who would make my album full of gated, reverb’d snare drums and DX7s because I’m sick of that. I’m just not into that at all. It had to be someone who would take the best of the past and whatever I could do and put it in the ‘now.’
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