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Joe Meek's Bold Techniques [Kindle Edition]

Barry Cleveland
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Legendary British producer and innovative recording genius Joe Meek—the man behind the global hit “Telstar”—has become a cult figure since his death in 1967, with Meek fan clubs, CD collections, and retrospectives growing in popularity every day—and a major documentary film on the way.

Although much attention has been paid to his unusual life story and tragic passing, Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques is the first book that details the methods that led to Meek’s influential hits.

Written by veteran music journalist Barry Cleveland, this book takes an industry perspective on Meek’s life. It explores his 12-year professional career in great depth, with special attention paid to the equipment and techniques he used, and the effect that his work had on the people around him.

Also included is a newly restored and remastered version of Meek’s extraordinary 1959 stereo album about life on the Moon, I Hear a New World, made available in its original form for the first time (via digital streaming).

Responsible for many “firsts,” at least in the U.K., Meek was: 

• One of the first to experiment professionally with sound-on-sound overdubbing techniques (1951)

• The first to put microphones directly in front of and sometimes inside sound sources (1954)

• The first to intentionally overload preamplifier inputs and print “hot” signals to tape (1954)

• The first to use compressors and limiters in creative rather than corrective applications (1954)

• The first to build a compact spring reverb unit (1957)

• The first to “flange” sounds using two synchronized tape recorders (1958)

• The first to employ tape loops on commercial recordings (1959)

This Second Edition of Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques updates the 2001 edition with a new Introduction, new information, an additional chapter, and newly restored audio.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6087 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: BookBaby; 2 edition (January 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JAI8H6M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,943 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice technically focused biography of Joe Meek May 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having recently re-discovered "Telstar" (the song, not the movie) since my childhood days, I've been getting more and more intrigued by Joe Meek. Not having read John Repsch's biography, which is out of print anyway, I decided to give Barry Cleveland's 'Joe Meek's Bold Techniques' a go.

First of all, with the printed book, you get a CD with Meek's "I hear a new world", remastered by the author. I ordered the Kindle edition and wondered about the CD, obviously is was not going to be included in an electronic version. Quite simply, there are a bunch of MP3 links at the end of the book to the author's own site with the files, so yes, it is included in the electronic version too, a nice touch.

I found the book very interesting. Just as the title says, it focuses on the techniques and technologies that Meek used, in fact there's almost a bit too much focus on exactly which tape recorders etc he owned and used. In complement there is a substantial amount of biographical information too, as well as analyses of several of Meek's productions, including "I hear a new world" and "Telstar".

Being an amateur musician and sound tinkerer, as well as an electrical engineer by profession, I found it all very interesting. The book nicely balances the raison-d'etre of Meek, namely his producing and recording skills, with biographical background information to give a complete picture.

A final note: if you are planning to watch "Telstar - the movie", I'd suggest reading a biography such as Cleveland's first. There are lots of subtle references in the film that will pass you by otherwise, and on its own the film doesn't paint a pretty picture of a man who was indeed a genius.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, highly recommended January 3, 2014
Barry Cleveland delves into the technical side of the Joe Meek story as well as the biographical with anecdotes from his childhood and professional life in this well written, thoroughly researched book. Included are detailed studio gear lists with their descriptions, sales receipts, studio floor plans and interviews with contemporaries such as Les Paul, Richie Blackmore, Steve Howe and Adrian Kerridge. In chapter four Cleveland takes a track by track forensic look at Meek's "I Hear a Brave New World" describing known recording techniques and using his experience as an engineer to speculate as to how some of the other sounds were created. This second edition has an added interview with the makers of the upcoming documentary A LIFE IN THE DEATH OF JOE MEEK.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I very much enjoyed the first edition of this book, including the I Hear A New World CD which surprisingly had not yet been swiped from my local library's copy. The second edition has been a long time coming and I was certainly happy to purchase a copy. I am a big fan of the music, having first "really listened" to it via the It's Hard to Believe It compilation. At some time in my life I had heard Telstar and Have I The Right, but no idea who the artists were or who Joe Meek was. All I knew was the sound of the music was pretty strange, kind of creepy and cutesy at the same time. 'Night of the Vampire' still boggles and buggles and freaks me out.

I think the author has done a superb job with this book. It provides sufficient biographical info but with a focus on Joe's recording process. Joe Meek was really radical in his ideas and ultra-dedicated to his craft. I was blown away by the chapter that listed all his gear, especially the lists from the auction. This book examines Joe's professional career and really gives one a sense of the types of machinery Joe worked with at each step along the way. I also enjoyed reading the author's take on the I Hear A New World songs while I listened along online. Fun stuff and highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and thorough treatment of a pioneer in audio January 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Barry Cleveland has done a superb job of exploring the technical ins and outs of the Joe Meek sound. The storied producer is more well-known for his eccentric (to say the least) personality and his tragic ending (he killed his landlady with a shotgun, then committed suicide) but many of his recording techniques were innovative and influential, even in this day and age, where computers rule. Some of the sounds he got on his records were so unique, a novice might have difficulty piecing together exactly how Meek wove his magic (one of his secrets was a heavy reliance on hand-built, hand-wired equipment, frequently of less-than-optimum quality) and that's where Cleveland's book is invaluable, as he painstakingly guides the reader through the techniques developed by this unsung pioneer in audio. If you're a recording student, or simply a fan of Meek's work, this book is a must-have!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just another biography February 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I purchased the print edition when it first came out in 2001 for its much ballyhooed technical information, hoping to gain some insight into Joe Meek's actual recording techniques.
To my utter disappointment, the vast majority of the content is biographical, and rehashes the same narrative we've all heard a million times. There is a little bit more focus than other Meek bios on the history of the devices he built (but precious little on their design or construction), the layout of his studio and major gear purchases such as tape machine upgrades, but that's about it; no major recording secrets are revealed, apart from the familiar (stomping on loose floorboards etc). This is unfortunately not a very useful read for those wishing to learn how to replicate Joe Meek's recorded sounds. Don't let the title fool you; this is very much a biography. Overrated.
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