Andrew Loog Oldham, a Sirius Satellite DJ on ?Little Steven?s Underground Garage? channel, is a record producer and author of ?2Stoned.?
Oldham produced the early and seminal Rolling Stones records and as band manager, brought them to Chess studios in 1964 to record.
Oldham recently shared his insights into Chess Records and the sound of the legendary room.
?It was Chess records, the vinyl actuals, that re-united Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on Dartford Station in 1962. It was Chess Records, the company, the work, that drove Brian Jones to form the Rollin? Stones.
“It was Chess Records ? the wave, that came over me in the Station Hotel in Richmond in April ?63 when I first saw the Stones and we began our way of life together. Chess was always the underbelly of the Stones beast: the fuel that charged the engine, even after they became their own brand. In fact, ?Spider and the Fly? in ’65 and on ’95s Stripped shows the ongoing row the Stones continue to hoe with all that is Chess.
?The first U.S. tour by the Stones was not the Beatles tour. We had a cult following in the cities and were abandoned in the sticks. The boys needed cheering up. I could not have them deplaning in London looking like the glummer twins. I called Phil Spector from Texas, where the Stones had just supported a band of performing seals, and asked him to get us booked just as soon as possible into Chess studios. Phil called back and said he?d set up two days of recording time, two days hence.
?Chicago was a piece of heaven on earth for the Stones. The earth had been scorched on most of our mid-American concert stopovers. We hadn?t set any records; we didn?t yet have the goods, apart from a trio of wonderful one-offs ? ?I Wanna Be Your Man,? ?You Better Move On? and ?Not Fade Away.?
We had yet to find our vinyl legs; 2120 S. Michigan Ave. housed Chess Records and Studios, and in two days, the group put down some 13 tracks ? their most relaxed and inspired session to date ? moved, no doubt, by our newfound ability to sell coals to Newcastle.
?Who would have thought a bunch of English kids could produce black R&B in the States? And here they were in the sanctum sanctorum of Chicago blues, playing in the lap of their gods. The ground floor was a gem, as was Chess engineer Ron Malo. He treated them just like ? musicians.
?Nothing sensational happened at Chess except the music. I was producing the sessions in the greatest sense of the word: I had provided the environment in which the work could get done. The Stones? job was to fill up the available space correctly, and this they did. This was not the session for pop suggestions; this was the place to let them be. Oh, I may have insisted on a sordid amount of echo on the underbelly figure on ?It?s all Over Now,? but that was only ear candy to a part that was already there.
?At Chess Records, I can remember being impressed with the order of things and how quietness and calm got things done. I remember meeting Leonard, and/or, perhaps Phil Chess, and being cognizant of the fact that there was no suppressive limey stymieing from the head office to the factory floor. There was just a factory floor and a very relaxed combo of artists, musicians, engineers and salesmen all at one with each other and getting their jobs done, and royalty Cadillacs royally driven. It was no big deal; they were in the business of music, with none of the embarrassment that was, at the time, so curiously British. Not a bad place to grow up in.”