BRAD LONG – ’Tell Me’ (Voxx VXS 200.006) 1981

I recently made contact with Brad Long, who in 1980 cut one of the very first jangle pop 45s since the mid 60s. This was released on his own vanity label to good reviews despite being way ahead of the so called ’garage revival’ that would follow in the early to mid 80s….

The sound of the record was sadly marred by a mistake at the pressing plant (which Brad will explain) but despite being wholly unfashionable (at the time) and offering a somewhat lo-fi sound the 45 was a sell out and is now a sought after item.

The 45 came housed in a way cool picture sleeve showing a youthful Brad holding his beloved 12 string guitar and sporting a 60s mop top.

Brad also had the distinction of having one of his recordings on Greg Shaw’s seminal compilation LP ’Battle Of The Garages.’

The song he chose to record and offer Greg Shaw for the project was a cover version of ’Tell Me’ originally released as a USA single by The Rolling Stones in June 1964.

It was one of the very first Jagger/Richards sides chosen as an A-Side and is mostly unknown in England where it was never released as a single but hidden away on side 2 of their debut album.

Brad Long’s version is terrific and fully does the song justice. It’s a slightly faster take with a jangle pop approach and sound that reminds me very much of ’It’s Cold Outside’ by The Choir. It’s easily one of the best tracks on ’Battle Of The Garages’.

I asked Brad to fill me in on some of the important facts and details:

”First of all, about all my released recordings, I hate to make excuses but I’ve said for over 30 years that they weren’t mastered that well, especially the 45. All three songs were done at DeFord Sound Workshop here in Logansport, Indiana and when they sent in the master tape for the 45 the pressing plant was supposed to have EQ’d and compressed the tape, and mastered it loud…and they failed to do so, claiming the paperwork was improperly done and did not include these directions.

So…we were supposed to get a test pressing too, which also would have helped – instead we got 500 45’s with this lo-fi, tinny sound…grrrr… so after much haggling with the pressing plant, we just put out the records as they were and hoped for the best”.

”Most reviews were good, the only real complaint being the muddy, low sound. And strangely enough, a lot of people liked it, ha! Thought it had more of authentic garage sound to it that way – so there you go!

I’ve always preferred the mix the way it should sound, and if it comes out on Sing Sing Records on vinyl, or hopefully on CD later on, it will be the remastered version the way it’s supposed to sound. It’s not a different mix or anything like that, just a louder, punchier version of what’s already there.

’Tell Me’ had similar problems – it should have been mastered louder too, but being one song out of eight on one side of an LP, you’re going to lose some EQ, especially bass. So I understand that, but it still could have been better.

”My sound is more of a melodic garage sound, like The Flamin’ Groovies, etc., but that’s just regarding what’s been released – I’ve got other songs that lean more towards The Shadows Of Knight and Little Boy Blues sound, another genre that’s just as good.

I use an old Vox Tone Bender pedal and a great little Melody tube amp for that! I’ve also got several other Vox amps, and I still have most of the equipment used on my 45 – a Fender Stratocaster, Rickenbacker 360 guitar, the Vox Marx XII teardrop 12 string, the Vox Jaguar organ, Vox Panther bass, the Vox Royal Guarsdman amp I used in the studio, etc.”

”DeFord Sound Workshop started in 1977 as a small two-track studio in a basement on Market Street here in Logansport.

A couple of years later, they went to four-track, then eight-track, and then he closed the studio in 1986 and I bought the eight-track deck, the console, reverb unit, and some of the master tapes from Randy DeFord. The house the studio was in has since burned down”.

”But back to ’Tell Me’ – it was recorded on four tracks at DeFord Sound Workshop in 1980 with Jeff Hand on drums and tambourine, Mike Walker on backing vocals, and I played bass and guitars. I used a Rickenbacker 360 six string, a Les Paul copy (can’t remember the brand), and a Vox Mark XII teardrop. Then I used a Vox Panther bass. I gave Voxx/Bomp all this information when I submitted the tape, but for some reason it was omitted from the credits on the LP. I never found out why”.

The inspiration for ’Tell Me’ was in a fanzine I’d read with an interview with Greg Shaw where he said The Grass Roots’ version of ’Tell Me’ was one of his favourite songs. I always liked that one too, so I decided to record a version that was 1/3 The Grass Roots, 1/3 The Turtles, and 1/3 The Flamin’ Groovies, and I was pleased with the results!

I sent the tape in fairly quickly and received confirmation that my song had been chosen for Battle Of The Garages, and I was quite pleased with that good news! Later on I got my contract with the label and other paperwork, and about a year later the album came out, and stayed in print for years”.

”It’s done pretty well I think, and I admit I was a little disappointed when the CD finally came out, and I didn’t make the cut. A few months ago I sent Bomp a CD-R of a remastered version with more bass and presence, for them to use on a future reissue; in fact I suggested that they do a 30th Anniversary of Battle Of The Garages next year with all original 16 tracks – that’d be great. I’m not sure they will though, they seem to be somewhat dormant these days.

I sent them a couple of new tracks too that they liked, but they passed on them saying they aren’t going to issue anything new since Greg Shaw’s death”.



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