Shel Talmy

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Shel Talmy
Born (1937-08-11) 11 August 1937 (age 76)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Rock
Occupations Producer, songwriter, arranger
Years active 1963–1968
Associated acts The Who, The Kinks, Cat Stevens, The Easybeats
Website http://www.sheltalmy.com/

Shel Talmy (born August 11, 1937 in Chicago, Illinois, United States) is an American record producer, songwriter, arranger best known for his work in London with The Who and The Kinks in the 1960s, with a role in many other English bands including Cat Stevens and Pentangle. Talmy arranged and produced hits such as "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks, "My Generation" by The Who, and "Friday on My Mind" by the Easybeats. [1] He also played guitar or tambourine on some of his productions.

Early career[edit]

Talmy was born in Chicago, and from an early age he was interested both in music—early rock, rhythm and blues, folk music, and country music as well as technology. At 13 Talmy appeared regularly on the popular NBC-TV television show Quiz Kids, a question-and-answer program out of Chicago. He told Chris Ambrose of Tokion Magazine, "What it did for me was that I absolutely knew that this was the business I wanted to be in."

He graduated from Fairfax High School in Los Angeles in June 1955, part of the same graduating class as future producer David Anderle. He became a recording engineer at Conway Studios in Los Angeles for owner/engineer Phil Yeend, who trained Talmy on three-track recording equipment, and three days after starting at Conway, Talmy had his first production assignment, the record "Falling Star" by Debbie Sharon. At Conway, he worked with artists like Gary Paxton, with surf bands like The Castells and The Marketts, and R&B pioneers, Rene Hall and Bumps Blackwell.

Talmy and Yeend often experimented with production techniques. They played with separation and recording levels and built baffles and platforms covered with carpet, using them to isolate vocals and instruments. In an interview with Terri Stone in Music Producers, Talmy recalled that Yeend "would let me do whatever I wanted after our regular sessions were over, so I used to work out miking techniques for how to make drums sound better or guitars sound better .... There really weren't many precedents, so we were all doing it for the first time together. It was all totally new."

British career[edit]

In 1962 Talmy went to England, and Nick (a.k.a. Nik Venet), a good friend and producer at Capitol Records, gave him a stack of his new acetates to take along with him and use if he could, as his "own."

Talmy joined Decca Records as a record producer working with Decca's pop performers, such as Irish trio The Bachelors, leading to the release of the hit single "Charmaine." In 1963 Talmy met Robert Wace, the manager of a group called The Ravens who later changed their name to The Kinks. He brought the Kinks into the studio and their third single, "You Really Got Me," became a landmark recording.

According to Jon Savage, author of The Kinks' official biography, "What Shel Talmy and the Kinks did with this particular record was to concoct the perfect medium for expression of the adolescent white aggression that has been at the heart of white popular music. ... 'You Really Got Me' is that rare thing: a record that cuts popular music in half."

Talmy had many more hits with the group including "All Day and All of the Night," "Tired of Waiting for You," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," "Sunny Afternoon," and "Waterloo Sunset."

The Who sings My Generation[edit]

Pete Townshend, guitarist of a group called The High Numbers, liked "You Really Got Me" so much that he wrote a similar number, "I Can't Explain," so that Talmy would produce his group. When the song was played over the telephone to Talmy, he agreed to hear the band.[2] Now called The Who, the group was signed to his production company. Talmy got the group a contract with Decca in America and with their subsidiary Brunswick in Britain, and produced recordings modeled on the group's live performances.

The intentional feedback on the band's second single, "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," caused Decca executives to send back the recording, thinking that they had received a faulty pressing. Talmy and The Who created a historic recording, "My Generation," the group's third release. Entertainment Weekly later called "My Generation" the "quintessential rock single."

Talmy produced other notable singles for The Who before producing their first album, My Generation, a collection of original songs and R&B covers. However, tensions arose between Talmy and one of the band's managers, Kit Lambert. Lambert "fired" Talmy, but Talmy sued for breach of contract and won. One of the by-products of the episode was a B-side single from The Graham Bond Organisation entitled "Waltz for a Pig," an apparent reference to the departed producer.[3]

Talmy owned the tapes to My Generation, but a re-release was held up for years because of the ongoing dispute. This prevented a proper re-release of the LP until 2002, when the dispute was finally settled in Talmy's favor. My Generation was remixed by Talmy and issued on compact disc with bonus tracks. In his book Before I Get Old, Dave Marsh commented that the records that Talmy made with The Who "are technically among the best that the group ever did, and they have a distinct, original sound."

Work with other artists[edit]

Talmy continued to work with other distinguished British performers throughout the 1960s, including singer/songwriter Davy Jones (later known as David Bowie). He produced the Roy Harper album Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith in 1967. He also produced Friday on My Mind for The Easybeats, an Australian band that had relocated to England. Writing in the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Colin Larkin described the song as "one of the all-time great beat group singles of the 60s." Bowie later covered "Friday on My Mind" on his album Pin Ups. Talmy has said that he did some of his most essential work with The Creation. A mod/psychedelic band that often used pop-art imagery, they were well known as the creators of "Making Time".

In the 1970s, he formed a production company called Hush with Hugh Murphy, (who later co-produced Baker Street with Gerry Rafferty). Artists produced under this banner included Pentangle and String Driven Thing. In 2003 a tribute to Talmy was aired on the radio program Little Steven's Underground Garage.

Personal life[edit]

Talmy is married and lives in the Los Angeles area. He is the brother of noted American linguist Leonard Talmy.[4]

He was the founder of Planet Records, a company that released music by the Creation and other English artists in the mid-1960s. He has also had several non-musical occupations.

Selected discography[edit]

The Kinks[edit]

Singles[edit]

Albums[edit]

Dave Davies[edit]

The Who[edit]

Singles[edit]

Films[edit]

Selected writings[edit]

  • Whadda We Do Now, Butch?, Pan Books Ltd., 1978
  • Hunter Killer, Pan Books Ltd., 1981
  • The Web, Dell, 1981

References[edit]

  1. ^ Discogs - Sheldon Talmy profile and discography
  2. ^ Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who [Video Documentary - 2007]
  3. ^ (Pattingale, 2002)
  4. ^ Chris Hunt | Shel Talmy interview

External links[edit]