by Robert Dennis

In the 1960's an independent record company in Detroit, Michigan began creating and marketing hit records better and in larger volume than any record company in the world. The name of this record company was Motown. The recording techniques that were developed by Motown in the mid 60's were part of the formula for the company's success. Even today, many of the recording techniques used find their roots in this "Motown Sound" of the 60's. The Motown Historical Museum includes the original Hitsville USA building that housed Motown's original recording studio on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit.

I worked for Motown 1963-1968. I was the "Disc Recording ("Mastering") Supervisor and had other responsibilities in the engineering department and in quality control of the sound quality. The recording student and the recording engineer of today will find a visit to the museum both interesting and informative. Recording EQ would like to give you a glimpse of our "Motown Recording Heritage."

The Original Hitsville USA

The outside of the East museum building looks much like it looked in the 60's with the "Hitsville USA" sign above the large display windows. In front of the building is the official State of Michigan plaque declaring this a historical site.

When I worked for Motown (1963-1968) the basement of this building housed the Engineering Department. The Control Room was on the first floor and the studio was in an addition in the back. The attic had an acoustic reverberation chamber in it. Before I left, Motown had installed a mix room in a close-by building and had another studio miles away. Read the Motown Heritage article about winter at the spread out 1960's Motown.

The Original Console

The recording console just routed and mixed the signals. Racks of gear to shape the sound had to be "patched" into the console. The Control Room was small, but for some reason you could cram a lot of people into it. The panels of the console were custom built by Motown's engineering department. Read the Motown Heritage article about Motown's custom engineering.

The famous reverberation of the 1960's was obtained by acoustic chambers built into the three main Motown building attics and patched into the console during mixing. The patch points for the three chambers were labeled with the address of the building (like "2648")

The Equipment Racks

The back of the control room had racks of equipment that could be patched into the console. In a modern console much of this gear would actually be in the console housing. Read the Motown Heritage article about the racks catching on fire.

The original 3 track tape machine (Left) recorded many hits in its day. The first Motown 8 track (middle rack) took over a year to build and install. In those days you couldn't buy an 8 track from the music store. Read the Motown Heritage article about how these machines tended to break tape.

The Studio

The studio was fair-sized and had "good" acoustics. Mic cables were fed from the ceiling so the cords weren't stepped on. The studio was actually an addition on the back of the building - similar to how you may add a recording studio to your house.

Read the Motown Heritage article that compares the Motown studio to a "home recording" studio.

The Original Complex


James Jamerson-Fever In the Funkhouse (unreleased)

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Comment by Edie2k2 on July 20, 2018 at 2:31pm

Jamerson played bass with one finger too Sole

We have treasure here and going on 11 years in October.

Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on September 21, 2010 at 1:39pm
How in the world did this get by me....LOL

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Spotlight | Maze




The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 


As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.

 

The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
   
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
   
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
 



Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Sounds

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

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