Don Shinn at Southampton Recording Studio, Vintage Keys

Don Shinn at Southampton Recording Studio, Vintage Keys


Back in March of this year, my friend and 1960s music legend, Don Shinn called me as he had received contact from Sundazed and Sunbeam Records who wanted to reissue both his albums he made for EMI back in 1969. They had asked him if he had any outtakes or other material they could add to the reissues, which unfortunately, he didn’t, so we decided to record three of his recent compositions.

The albums, ‘Temples with Prophets’ (aka Don Shinn Takes A Trip) and ‘Departures’ have been bootlegged several times over the years, but there has never been a legitimate re-release.

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Don and I had a chat, and we decided that we needed to get things done pretty quickly, as he and his partner Pat were off on holiday to Cuba in about 4 days! Don popped over on Sunday, and with no real plan (very like his sessions for ‘Departures’, he says!) we just put ‘the tape’ on and he played some Hammond. Here he is getting used to our M100 - he has only played his C3 for the past 20-odd years, but it has sadly given up the ghost at present. He actually played a Hammond M100 on both albums, so that’s alright then!

We recorded three tunes - ‘Mountain Music’, which was a kind of trippy, experimental jazz piece - this was done with the Hammond M102 through our Leslie 125/M3 hybrid - basically a Leslie 125 valve amp transplanted into a tall cabinet with some rotating horns added to the basic rotating drum. This sounded great, although the motors in this unit were a little bit sluggish, so we eventually swapped and used our Sharma 3200 cabinet for the other two tracks which had an almost instantaneous motor switch speed.

Rather than record these tracks using modern techniques, I decided to get a retro sound, akin to the mixes that came from Lansdowne Studios in London, where his albums were originally made, with Denis Preston producing, and Adrian Kerridge engineering. I had been listening to Don Rendell’s 1972 ‘Space Walk’ album a lot recently, made at the same studio by the same people, so I had a good idea for the type of sound they would have gone for had they have made any more albums after 1969. We got some crystal clear cymbal sounds and some warm hammond sounds through our Antelope Audio preamps and converters. We used slap-back echo fed into our live echo chamber and stereo spring reverb. If you have a copy of ‘Temples with Prophets’ to hand, you will hear this effect is plastered all over the place. The drums on ‘A Minor Explosion’ and the pianos on ‘A Jolly Dance’ in particular.

Interesting note (and irrelevant fact, at least here) but I will mention it anyway - The effect at the end of ‘Hearts of Gladness’, sounding like a pitch shifter was achieved by use of a clever analog tape device called a Tempophon.

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…Sadly, we don’t have one of these (YET!) - I have my eye out for one. It has a rotating tape head that enables real time pitch shifting, or time stretching of REAL TAPE! Amazing! I think this effect was also used on The Beach Boys’ ‘She’s Goin’ Bald’ (the ‘What a blow…’ bit… if you happen to know it)

Anyway, I apologize for drifting off the point. I used to be a (“shit”) teacher you know.

The Leslie and the Sharma were miked up as a stereo pair, about 1 foot away, and Don played LOUD. It was great. I recorded myself playing drums live in the studio while he played ‘Waltz for P’, the second track we recorded.

I used the studio’s Drum Mate kit for this, and it sounds beautiful. Standard mic set up, Audix i6 on kick, d5’s on snare and toms, and a mono omni Warm Audio WA47 as a very low overhead, over the cymbals. A bit of jiggery pokery with some carpet and foam, and there we have it.

Don’s last recording before he left for dinner was ‘Heaven Was Made To Be’. This is a song that he has had in the pipeline for a good five years. He wrote it with Vintage Keys team-member, Louisa Revolta in mind.

Once Don had gone, Louisa came over and recorded her sultry double tracked vocals in the style of a Sergio Mendes singer. She actually had a very sore throat at the time, but this added to the huskiness and sounds great! No one around here realised it was her when they heard it!

I added more drums, bass and a bit of piano to that track, and then, for good measure, I added Deagan Electravibes to ‘Waltz for P’ and ‘Mountain Music’ - by golly they were tricky!

After that, I asked my father Tony (he was known as Tony Good in the 60s, and was in The Soul Agents with Don and Roger Pope) to come along and play some guitar on ‘Heaven Was Made To Be’ and then to add some guitar effects to ‘Mountain Music’. He worked out that it had been a staggering 54 years since his and Don’s last recording date, back in 1965 with Tony Hatch and Ray Prickett at Pye Studios!

Once we finished my Dad’s overdubs, I spent a day or so mixing the three tracks, with the afore-mentioned slap-backy reverb, compressed piano and meaty organ.

The tracks were sent to Sunbeam Records in London, and they were over the moon, and so was Don! We have been told that the reissues, along with our new tracks, will be coming out sometime at the end of 2019. We will keep you posted in our newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Steve x