Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with Random Ruminations – “Tape doesn’t lie” edition

Tape doesn’t lie.

Back in my studio engineer days I had a guy come in with a karaoke tape he wanted to sing along to (first one I’d ever seen).

Horrible little low-fi cassette, with his vocals on our good U47 mike laid over it?


It’s his money.

Then this guy, who is loaded up with bling, proceeds to dance around in the vocal booth while he’s singing. Really. Big moves and all.

He’s clinking, he’s clanking, his polyester outfit’s whooshing and zzziping like a bedsheet in a whirlwind every time he moves his arms up to frame his face, it’s all being sucked up by the microphone, and because I have to put a ton of compression on him (because he’s dancing around and moving sideways away from and toward the mic) all the noise he’s making is as loud as his voice (which isn’t very). As he dances around, he’s even spinning in a  circle, which means that he’s momentarily singing towards the back wall of the booth.

Between verses, he’s smacking his tongue against the roof of his mouth and sucking air through his teeth. I can hear the studio owner and a visitor laughing in the next room through the open side door to the control room.

Finally, the guy finishes after several stopped takes, and comes into the control room for the playback. I’m waiting for the explosion – ” What is all that noise?? I don’t sound like that!! “

He slaps me on the back and tells me he’s very happy that I captured the essence of his personality.

Tape doesn’t lie.


This is the last of my studio stories, I believe. from this point on, my Ruminations will truly be random, but hopefully entertaining.


4 thoughts on “Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with Random Ruminations – “Tape doesn’t lie” edition

  1. At the very least, we can all agree that auto-tune is a satanic implement that should be sent directly back to the lowest pit of hell, along with everyone who has ever used it.

    1. Well, I do have to add one last studio story. There was a female country singer who came in with her “manager” – who was doing her. They hired four of the best session players in Dallas to do a session with her.

      Unfortunately, she couldn’t find a note with a GPS, a bloodhound, and Sherlock Holmes.
      I mean, she was almost completely tone deaf. I tried to bring this up to her “manager” tactfully, and his response was “Well, fix it! That’s what we’re paying you for!”

      After a quick consultation with the owner, I called a local gear rental outfit and secured a Eventide Instant Harmonizer (back then, you could lease them but not buy them) and ran her vocal track through it. It worked, but just barely.

      I hope he was getting some good nookie out of the deal.

    1. Get any from the “singer”? Not hardly.
      Her “manager” was all over her like a cheap suit. Kept hugging her from behind with his hands one inch below breast level.
      Did I mention that he was in his late 50s and she was around 21?

Comments are closed.