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BBC Radio 2's amazing time machine | Hot Air | Mike Stock Blog | Tuesday October 14 2008
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They do their best.  You try filling the airwaves with interesting informative programmes 24/7.  Not an easy task.  Nevertheless I could not help a slight feeling of discomfort listening to the broadcast of the Steve Levine and Richard Allinson show ‘The Record Producers' aired over Easter 2008.  Listening to all the contributions was like stepping into the Tardis and emerging in 1984. Radio 2 has this effect like no other.  It has a sense of history.  The BBC is respected as a news carrier and accurate broadcaster.  This show was designed to inform the present generation with facts and figures about a creative burst of energy which was the SAW era in the 80s and early 90s .  It is slightly worrying, however, when a point of actual history is wrongly reported.

Steve Levine came to see me here at my studio and office, to interview and check a few facts.  Whenever I have to talk about these things, it's always like travelling back in time.  For me the memories are all still clear and amazingly detailed.  Particularly those that concern the birth of a new song or hit record.

SAW were thought of as technophiles and to some extent we were.  Steve appeared most interested in this aspect of our working method.  As a fine producer himself, I can understand this.  We were in fact, struggling with the technology back then, and I would have gladly dumped most of the gizmos we had in the council tip.  But one thing that worked for me was a sequencing machine made by Linn, the makers of drum machines.  The model was a Linn 9000.  This opened many doors of creativity for me and certainly helped speed the process.  This machine, however, did not appear in our studio until 1986 and, we did not make full use of it until 1987. 

To demonstrate to the listening public how we made the 1985 number one hit single by Dead or Alive, "You Spin Me Round", in the recent broadcast, Steve programmed some basic musical and rhythmic parts on a Linn 9000 to the shock and awe of Richard Allinson.  He made it appear easy.  On a Linn 9000 it would have been.  In fact we made "You Spin Me Round" in September 1984 using very much more primitive and unreliable equipment.  We would have loved a Linn 9000 at the time.  Making the record really stretched our techno muscles to the limit.  What we really needed, a Linn 9000, was unfortunately, another two and a half years away from us.

Perhaps Richard and Steve thought that the record we made sounded like it could have been made using such advanced technology.  Unfortunately we were not quite as ahead of the game as that. I  am not being picky, but I just wanted to get the facts straight.  Our job would have been made much simpler if back then we could have used this piece of technology but that would have been too fantastic even for BBC Radio 2's amazing time machine.

 

(c) 2008 M Stock 

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