The early years of rock and roll music were full of monaural output. Most kids had monaural single-speaker phonographs, so there wasn’t much of a need to produce a stereophonic version of a Top 40 hit. Heck, even producer Phil Spector completely eschewed stereo output, believing that his records sounded much better in mono.
Mind you, that doesn’t mean that record companies DIDN’T produce stereo versions of their big 1950’s and 1960’s hits … and when they did create stereo pressings of their big hits, the stereo versions were a simplified stereo – usually artist is centered in the two speakers, while percussion is shoved into one channel and other instruments reside in the remaining channel. It’s not true binaural stereophonic wonder … but it is a wonder in and of itself.
And on today’s K-Chuck Radio, I want to share some early examples of rare stereo versions of those classic oldies. Put on those headphones and let’s enjoy music designed for both ears. And let’s start with …
Under the Boardwalk
Take a careful listen to this stereo version … lead singer Rudy Lewis is centered in the vocals, the other Drifters are in the left channel (with the maracas), while the violins are in the right channel. Oh yeah, and in this version they’re not “falling in love.” They’re “making love,” for sure.
“Robin Ward” was a one-hit wonder whose vocals were actually sped up to sound like a younger, teenage singer. Those vocals are still compressed on this stereophonic version of her only hit.
Come Softly To Me
This is interesting. The three-member Seattle vocal harmony group’s #1 hit sounds strikingly different in this stereo version, as lead singer Gary Troxel is shoved into the right speaker, while Gretchen Christopher and Barbara Ellis are crammed into the left speaker.
This is definitely an interesting mix for Frankie Avalon’s classic ballad, as it shows a full orchestration that sounds much clearer behind the vocalist.
THE EVERLY BROTHERS
Till I Kissed You
Even tiny labels like Cadence Records created stereo pressings of their early hits, although this one followed the same stereo pattern – center the vocals and choose which instruments go in which audio speaker.
I think the piano ran-ran-ran-ran-ran away to the left speaker, while all the other instruments took up residence in the right speaker. Try listening to this track in your headphones, it’s kinda disconcerting.
Enjoy the morning and enjoy the stereo world, on K-Chuck Radio!