The Blues Brothers 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love'

Classic Tracks

Published in SOS May 2014
Bookmark and Share

Technique : Classic Tracks

His role as producer of The Blues Brothers soundtrack left Bob Tischler in charge of recording some of the best musicians of the 20th century, while managing conflicting shooting schedules and coping with the day-to-day effects of John Belushi's prodigious cocaine habit.

Richard Buskin

A comedy, a musical, a buddy movie; The Blues Brothers is all of these things, while also providing audiences with the opportunity to see James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Steve Cropper and assorted other soul, blues and R&B legends not only perform, but also act opposite the likes of John Candy, Carrie Fisher and the two main stars, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. More than three decades after its release, it is regarded as a cult classic, while the soundtrack album captures some memorable performances. Among them are Aretha's dynamite rendition of 'Think', James Brown's equally dynamic 'The Old Landmark', Ray Charles's 'Shake A Tail Feather', Cab Calloway's 'Minnie The Moocher' and timeless covers of Taj Mahal's 'She Caught The Katy', the Spencer Davis Group's 'Gimme Some Lovin'' and Solomon Burke's 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' by Messrs Belushi and Aykroyd alongside their own all-star band.

Birth Of The Blues

After they met in 1973, Ottawa-raised Aykroyd turned Chicago-raised, hard-rock-oriented Belushi onto R&B, soul and, more specifically, the blues music associated with Memphis and Belushi's native Windy City. Aykroyd was in love with the blues and, by the time he and Belushi joined the original cast of Saturday Night Live in 1975, the two men shared this obsession, jamming and listening to blues records at Aykroyd's Holland Tunnel Blues bar, where he also wrote the storyJake and Elwood Blues, also known as John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.Photo: Corbis that later would evolve into the Blues Brothers movie. In the meantime, it led to the pair developing their alter egos: the laid-back, harmonica-playing Elwood (Aykroyd) and in-your-face, singing ex-con 'Joliet' Jake (Belushi), attired in their black hep-cat suits and skinny ties along with John Lee Hooker-type fedora hats and wrap-around Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses — a couple of wide boys performing their music while routinely breaking the law.

"John Belushi was so good to me, not only in terms of my career, but also as a close friend,” says Bob Tischler, who produced and engineered all four Blues Brothers albums that were released prior to Belushi's death from an overdose in 1982. "Although he was a maniac to a lot of people, I have nothing but great memories of him.”

"We're On A Mission From God”

Starting out as an assistant engineer at the Floyd Peterson New York studio during the early 1970s, Tischler learned the ropes working on radio spots, TV ads and trailers for the major movie companies. Recording a radio spot for the Joe Cocker concert tour film, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, he hired then-unknown actor/writer/director/composer/musician Christopher Guest to provide one of the voices. The two subsequently became friends and began recording comedy demos just for fun. Then, when Guest was working on National Lampoon's 1972 Radio Dinner album, he ensured that Tischler got the call to record and produce it with Lampoon magazine contributors Tony Hendra and Michael O'Donoghue, before Tischler collaborated with O'Donoghue to create and produce the National Lampoon Radio Hour.

"All of the people who ended up on Saturday Night Live — Chris Guest, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi — were involved with the National Lampoon Radio Hour,” Bob Tischler says. "Even though they were all so talented, nobody made much money doing that show. It was basically like recording an album once a week. We'd rush to get it out and no one even listened to it beforehand from a supervising point of view. Still, it was a lot of fun and very, very special, so we just did it for the love of doing it.

"Back in 1973, John Belushi had joined National Lampoon to perform in the Lemmings stage show with Chris Guest and Chevy Chase. Now, after working on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, Belushi and I became really good friends and did a lot of things together in the studio. Which is why, when it came time for him and Aykroyd to appear on stage as the Blues Brothers, he approached me to produce and engineer the album.”

Belushi and Aykroyd first appeared in an SNL musical comedy skit in January 1976, performing Slim Harpo's 'I'm A King Bee'. Then, in April 1978, three months before Belushi became an international star portraying Bluto, the greedy slob in AnimalBob Tischler (front) and assistant recording engineer Jim Schleffler in the control room at Universal Recording in Chicago. House, he and Aykroyd made their proper Blues Brothers debut on SNL, performing Floyd Dixon's 'Hey, Bartender'. This led to a nine-night engagement supporting comedian Steve Martin at LA's Universal Amphitheatre, built around the storyline of Jake and Elwood reuniting their band for the 'mission from God', trying to raise $5000 to save the Catholic orphanage in which they were raised by a blues-playing janitor.

The Blues Brothers wasn't just about the two frontmen's manic Sam & Dave-inspired dancing, though; it all hinged on the backing band — and it was quite a band. Headed by Saturday Night Live bandleader and keyboardist Paul Shaffer, it also included legendary Stax guitarist Steve Cropper, his bass-playing sidekick Donald 'Duck' Dunn, guitarist Matt Murphy, drummer Steve Jordan and a horn section comprising Alan Rubin, Lou Marini and Tom Maloney from the SNL band, together with Tom Scott. The Blues Brothers' Show Band and Revue signed with Atlantic Records and recorded a live album. Titled Briefcase Full Of Blues, in reference to the harmonica that Aykroyd grandly pulled out of a case every night when he and Belushi walked onstage, this was culled from the Amphitheatre shows, but went to number one on the Billboard 200, achieved double-platinum status, and spawned Top 40 hits via covers of Sam & Dave's 'Soul Man' and the Chips' 'Rubber Biscuit'.

"Nobody originally thought it was going to be such a commercial success,” Bob Tischler recalls. "Again, John and Danny did it for the fun of doing it, but even with Steve Martin as the headliner, most of the crowd was there to see the Blues Brothers. We recorded all nine nights and the big engineering task for me was editing the best parts together. In very few cases did we use an entire take. Instead, if the rhythm was the same, we could edit a lot of takes together. There was virtually no overdubbing.

"As a vocalist, John obviously was not Otis Redding, but he could perform. He was more of a performer than a vocalist, and there was more soul and fun in his voice than ability, but he could still sing and the audience could really feel it. I don't think we replaced any vocals whatsoever. The only thing we did, for reasons of censorship, was have him change the line in 'Soul Man' where he sang 'give me dope' to 'give me soap' for the radio.”

Teething Trouble

The Briefcase Full Of Blues album paved the way for the Blues Brothers film, helmed by Animal House director John Landis. Initially given a six-month shooting schedule and a $17.5 million budget, the production hit an immediate snag in terms of the script by Dan Aykroyd, who had penned SNL skits but never written (or read) a screenplay before. Starting from scratch, it took time — and plenty of it — for him to get up to speed inside a bungalow on the Universal Pictures lot. Then, after he finally submitted the first draft, its free-verse style required extensive rewrites by John Landis just two months before the start of shooting. Meanwhile, John Belushi's intake of LSD, Quaaludes, amphetamines and mescaline were outstripped only by his appetite for the coke that fuelled his party lifestyle as well as his stage and screen persona.

Filming commenced in Chicago in July 1979 and — thanks to Belushi's enthusiasm for cocaine — it quickly fell behind schedule. Not that this was the only reason for the spiralling budget that was simultaneously being inflated by the movie's elaborate musical production numbers and costly destruction-related action sequences. But it was the most aggravating, with everyone from fellow cast members to bodyguard Smokey Wendell being instructed to keepBob Tischler with John Strauss, the music editor for Universal Pictures at Universal Recording. the drugs away from Belushi and Belushi away from the drugs.

"Cocaine was everywhere,” Tischler confirms. "The trouble with John was, people would just hand it to him. Even in New York, he would try to fool Smokey and the drugs would get to him. I remember, during a mix session for 'Gimme Some Lovin'' at the Record Plant, John and Smokey were in the studio, the playback was really loud, and when I looked around I saw Smokey wrestling a pack of cocaine away from John that had been handed to him by someone in the elevator. It's unfortunate because he was one of the best friends I ever had. A great guy and incredibly talented, but he had a problem.”

Meanwhile, there was another hitch when arranger/keyboardist Paul Shaffer and drummer Steve Jordan both withdrew from the band that played in the movie. Officially this was because they had to fulfil other work obligations in New York, but according to Bob Tischler, "they weren't getting a good enough deal... Willie Hall replaced Steve and he was good. But, given how amazing Steve is, it was harder to get the right drum sound. Steve's sound was so distinctive. If you listen to the Briefcase Full Of Blues album, his footwork is just incredible, and it's hard to replace somebody like that.

"Still, Willie Hall had previously played with 'Duck' Dunn and Steve Cropper, and they were the ones who suggested getting him in place of Steve Jordan. In the case of the keyboards, however, you see Murphy Dunne in the movie; an actor who Belushi knew from The Second City [improvisational comedy venue] in Chicago. He could play the piano, but not well enough to be in the band, so his tracks were recorded by several professional pianists. The main one was Larry Willis, while the others were Bill Payne, John Springer, John Hason, Terry Fryer and Richard T Bear who, I believe, played on 'Jailhouse Rock'.”

The latter track, played over the film's end credits with 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love', included vocal contributions by James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.

No Production Necessary

"We were recording at the same time as the movie was being filmed, so everybody was in one place,” Tischler continues. "I moved to Chicago for the summer and everybody else did, too. The studioBob Tischler today. we used there was Bill Putnam's Universal Recording — which had nothing to do with Universal Pictures — and the likes of Aretha and Ray Charles all came to record there. It was a case of having two of the greats in the studio and there was really no producing for me to do. All I had to do was watch what was going on and put it down on tape because they kind of produced themselves. They were amazing musicians. Both of them played keyboards as part of the band; Ray played a Wurlitzer electric piano using brail music sheets and Aretha played grand piano supported by her own backup singers.

"The live area at Universal had a big booth, so we had the horn players in there playing at the same time as everyone else, individually miked with probably Sennheiser 441s. We did everything at once, with baffles around the drums and some of the other instruments, and someone — usually John Belushi — laying down a guide vocal that would subsequently be replaced.

"I remember the control room being equipped with a Neve board. At a time when I don't think a lot of people were doing this, I decided to record on two Ampex 24-track machines that were sync'ed together with SMPTE code. So many tracks had to be done, 24 just wasn't enough; I didn't want to start bouncing tracks around, and this setup also really helped in terms of playback. For instance, 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' and Cab Calloway's 'Minnie The Moocher' were filmed at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, and we were able to play back those tracks while recording the audience singing along with hanging mics as well as shotgun mics facing them from the stage. Everything ended up in sync, so the SMPTE code really worked out and I was extremely happy because I had been nervous about what might happen.

"Being that the guys were shooting the movie at the same time, we had to grab them when we could,” recalls Tischler. "Sometimes the shooting schedule would conflict with our schedule when we were supposed to record the vocals, so we'd have to be flexible. That was the main difficulty we experienced. Anyway, they did come in and everything went fine, with Dan Aykroyd once again demonstrating that he was also a very good harmonica player.” Tischler spent four years as head writer and producer of Saturday Night Live between 1981 and 1985. He left the music business behind following the Best Of The Blues Brothers compilation album and has since produced and written for TV series such as What's Alan Watching?, Something So Right and Boy Meets World.

Released on the 20th June, 1980, the Blues Brothers film that came in $10 million over budget ended up grossing $115 million worldwide.

"John and Danny were a great team,” Tischler concludes. "They really loved each other and that was evident in everything they did.”  .

Artist: The Blues Brothers

Track: 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love'

Label: Atlantic Released: 1980 Producer: Bob Tischler Engineer: Bob Tischler Studios: Universal Recording (Chicago), Record Plant (New York)

Location Recording

Not all of the Blues Brothers songs were tracked at Universal Recording in Chicago. James Brown's rendition of 'The Old Landmark' was recorded live on a Universal Studios sound stage on the West Coast during filming of the holy roller church scene featuring him as Rev Cleophus James. Overdubs were then done at a studio in New York City because his vocals weren't up to par.

"The filming dictated what was going on,” Bob Tischler explains, "and it was also a difficult recording, with the Reverend James Cleveland Choir and additional vocals by Chaka Khan. What with all of the dancing going on in that scene, it wasn't easy to get a clean vocal. And James Brown also wasn't a traditional musician when it came to lip sync'ing. He never did the same thing twice.”

The biggest chart hit from the film soundtrack — and of The Blues Brothers' career — was 'Gimme Some Lovin'', which climbed to number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. Unlike all of the other songs on the album, this was recorded at the Record Plant in LA.

"A bunch of other musicians were brought in for that track,” recalls Tischler. "Steven Bishop came in and helped us with the vocals, Bill Payne was the keyboardist, and then, like all of the other tracks, it was mixed at the Record Plant in New York.

"Meanwhile, one cut that's in the movie that wasn't on the album was 'Boom Boom', with John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins and various other blues musicians playing outdoors on Chicago's Maxwell Street. We recorded that live on the spot without overdubs and it was pretty straightforward. They just did what they did and we captured it while extras and members of the public watched what was going on. The filming of that movie was a big event for Chicago, and while it's always more difficult trying to work in an uncontrolled environment, there was more to shooting that scene than recording it. So, it took longer than usual for me.”


Stevie Wonder 'Pastime Paradise'

Classic Tracks

Thumbnail for article: Stevie Wonder 'Pastime Paradise'

Epic in every sense of the word — unning to 21 songs, involving more than 120 musicians and taking almost two years to complete — Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life was in many ways the high-point of an already illustrious career. This is the story of how it was created.

Billy Swan 'I Can Help'

Classic Tracks: Producers Chip Young, Billy Swan; Engineer Chip Young

Thumbnail for article: Billy Swan 'I Can Help'

In 1974 Billy Swan walked into Chip Young's Young'un Sound studio and, in two takes, recorded a million-selling single that had taken him 20 minutes to write. This is how it was done...

Ian Dury & The Blockheads

Classic Track: 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick'

Thumbnail for article: Ian Dury & The Blockheads

The story of how a characteristically chaotic and unorthodox 1978 recording session took Ian Dury & The Blockheads to the top of the UK charts.

Madonna 'Like A Virgin'

CLASSIC TRACKS: Producers: Nile Rodgers, Madonna, Stephen Bray • Engineer: Jason Corsaro

Thumbnail for article: Madonna 'Like A Virgin'

In mid-1984 Madonna arrived at New York City's Power Station studios with Nile Rodgers to record the album that would make her an international superstar - using cutting-edge 12-bit technology.

Fleetwood Mac 'Go Your Own Way'

Classic Tracks

Thumbnail for article: Fleetwood Mac 'Go Your Own Way'

In 1976, in the face of deteriorating personal relationships and massive record company pressure, Fleetwood Mac managed to create a record that would go on to sell 30 million copies.

CLASSIC TRACKS: The Only Ones: 'Another Girl, Another Planet'

Producer: Alan Mair • Engineers: John Burns, Robert Ash

Although never a commercial success, the Only One's 'Another Girl, Another Planet' has proved to be massively influential; and nearly 30 years after its original release, it's finally getting the recognition it deserves.

CLASSIC TRACKS: Tricky 'Black Steel'

Producers: Tricky • Mark Saunders

Thumbnail for article: CLASSIC TRACKS: Tricky 'Black Steel'Tricky's highly unorthodox approach to recording and making music led to the creation of one of the most unique and critically lauded records of the '90s.

CLASSIC TRACKS: Charlie Rich 'The Most Beautiful Girl In The World'

Producer: Billy Sherrill • Engineer: Lou Bradley

1973's 'The Most Beautiful Girl In The World' was one of the defining moments of the Nashville sound, and was the product of a finely-honed studio recording process.

CLASSIC TRACKS: The Ronettes 'Be My Baby'

Producer: Phil Spector • Engineer: Larry Levine

Phil Spector was one of the first producers to realise that a recording studio could be an instrument in itself - and the sound he created over 40 years ago has influenced popular music ever since.

CLASSIC TRACKS: The Jam 'The Eton Rifles'

Producers: The Jam, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven • Engineers: Alan Douglas, Vic Coppersmith-Heaven

'The Eton Rifles' captured both Paul Weller's growing talent as a songwriter and the raw power of his band the Jam, and gave the group their first top 10 hit.

CLASSIC TRACKS: Depeche Mode's 'People Are People'

Producers: Depeche Mode, Daniel Miller, Gareth Jones • Engineer: Gareth Jones

Released in 1984, 'People Are People' perfectly combined Depeche Mode's love of pop music and experimentalism, and gave them their first US hit single.

CLASSIC TRACKS: Les Paul & Mary Ford 'How High The Moon'

Producer & Engineer: Les Paul

Les Paul made some of the most innovative records of the 20th Century, but he had to invent multitrack tape recording first...

CLASSIC TRACKS: The Cure 'A Forest'

Producers: Robert Smith, Mike Hedges

Mike Hedges made his 1980 debut as a producer with one of The Cure's most enduring singles. 'A Forest' and the accompanying Seventeen Seconds album used his and the band's creativity in the studio to the full.

CLASSIC TRACKS: Sade's 'The Sweetest Taboo'

Producers: Robin Millar, Sade Adu, Mike Pela, Ben Rogan

Sade's ice-cool vocals and sophisticated, jazz-tinged instrumentation defined a new kind of soul music for the '80s. Engineer and producer Mike Pela describes the organic recording process that produced one of the singer's most memorable hits from 1985.

CLASSIC TRACKS: Heroes

Artist: David Bowie; Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti; Studio: Hansa Ton, Berlin

With 'Heroes', David Bowie pulled off the rare feat of having a major hit with a highly experimental piece of art-rock, which featured among other highlights live synth treatments from Brian Eno, pitched feedback from guitarist Robert Fripp, and a lead vocal with level-triggered ambience.

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'Anarchy In The UK'

Artist: The Sex Pistols; Producer: Chris Thomas; Engineer: Bill Price

When punk rock broke in 1976, the Sex Pistols caused panic in establishment Britain — and more than a few raised eyebrows in Wessex Studios, where Chris Thomas and Bill Price recorded the band's milestone EMI debut album.

MICHAEL JACKSON 'Black Or White' | Classic Tracks

Producers: Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell • Engineer: Bill Bottrell

The 18-month gestation period behind Michael Jackson's Dangerous album and its lead single 'Black Or White' saw '80s studio perfectionism taken to extremes — and despite their success, the experience helped to convince co-writer, engineer and co-producer Bill Bottrell that there had to be another way to make records!

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'The Reflex'

Producers: Duran Duran, Alex Sadkin, Ian Little; Engineers: Phil Thornalley, Pete Schwier

When Duran Duran began work on their third album in 1983, they were already one of the biggest bands in the world — and with eight months of studio time and half a million pounds spent, huge expectations surrounded Seven And The Ragged Tiger...

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'Wuthering Heights'

Artist: Kate Bush; Producer: Andrew Powell; Engineer: Jon Kelly

Kate Bush's 1978 smash hit debut single was also the first major project Jon Kelly had recorded. It proved to be a dream start for both artist and engineer, and a perfect illustration of the benefits of working with talented session musicians.

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'What's Love Got To Do With It?'

Artist: Tina Turner; Producer: Terry Britten; Engineer: John Hudson

In 1984, a dose of British soul resurrected Tina Turner's flagging career in spectacular style. For engineer John Hudson, the recording of 'What's Love Got To Do With It?' also provided a memorable example of the 'less is more' principle in action...

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'Start Me Up'

Artist: The Rolling Stones; Engineer: Chris Kimsey

In 1981, 'Start Me Up' became one of the Rolling Stones' biggest hit singles. Yet it was actually a reject from a previous session, and only saw the light of day because its infamous co-writers had fallen out...

Classic Tracks: The Police's 'Every Breath You Take'

Producers: The Police, Hugh Padgham • Engineer: Hugh Padgham.

The Police's final studio album was both a technical and artistic tour de force, and yielded one of their most memorable hit singles. Yet the three members were unable to play in the same room without a fight breaking out, so the recording sessions proved tough going for engineer and co-producer Hugh Padgham...

CLASSIC TRACKS: 'Unforgettable'

Artists: Natalie Cole & Nat 'King' Cole; Producer: David Foster; Engineer: Al Schmitt

Half a century in the business has seen recording engineer Al Schmitt reach the very top of his profession, but even a man of his experience can find himself faced with new challenges. So it was in 1991, when he was called upon to turn a classic Nat 'King' Cole recording into a duet with Cole's daughter Natalie...

DAW Tips from SOS

 

Home | Search | News | Current Issue | Tablet Mag | Articles | Forum | Blog | Subscribe | Shop | Readers Ads

Advertise | Information | Privacy Policy | Support | Login Help

 

Email: Contact SOS

Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888

Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895

Registered Office: Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom.

Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales.

Company number: 3015516 VAT number: GB 638 5307 26

         

All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors, 1985-2014. All rights reserved.
The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers.

Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media