The J-27

Friday, August 28th, 2009 Horrorthon Posts

I know there are other music geeks out there in Horrorthon-land…actually, aren’t we all music geeks (in addition to everything else)? Anyway, as I continue my obsessive study of the technical structure of rock and roll, I’m compelled to share my lastest fixation.

Behold the Euler J-27 four-track mastering tape recorder (above). This Euler was one of a pair installed at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in the latter half of the sixties.

Basically, you’re looking at “Revolver,” “Rubber Soul,” “Sergeant Pepper” and “The White Album.” The Beatles used 2-track recording for most of their early stuff, leading up to late 1964 when they officially stopped touring and began recording only. While experimenting with multiple mixdowns (or “bounces”) between the two Eulers, engineer Geoff Emerick and John Lennon helped pioneer the “flanging” (or auto-tracking) technique that was used for years. “Sergeant Pepper” in particular pushed the Eulers to their limits, given that they’re four-track machines (and several of the album cuts use reversed or cut-up individual dubbed tracks, like the scrambled track in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”

By 1969 the technology had improved, and “Abbey Road” is the first and only Beatles record to be recorded in eight-track rather than four. (Ringo’s drums get a real stereo picture for the first time). It’s also the first to be mixed on a solid-state desk (which George Harrison didn’t like due to it’s “harsh” sound). There’s also a Moog synthesizer on “Abbey Road” (“Because”) which is a first (and last) for the band. Anyway, four tracks on a Euler, and that’s enough to change the history of music. Just ten years later, when The Police, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello were starting out, you’d never see less than 64 tracks in any studio worth discussing. But with the Beatles it’s like Italian food or German architecture: as simple as a raindrop. close your eyes and every single element is right there…you can nearly always hear all four tracks. It’s magic.