Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bobby Fuller Four - Never To Be Forgotten (mono LP version & stereo Mustang Years version) - 1966 & The Reverb / Delay of the BF4

For years, I wondered how Bob Keane got the incredible reverb sound on the Bobby Fuller Four records. The secret was revealed in Keane's 2006 autobiography, The Oracle of Del-Fi on page 213 and 2014:

"One of the outstanding features - which was responsible for that great cavernous sound on Bobby's records - was our echo chambers, actually under the bank, two floors below our studio. The bank okayed the use of the unused vaults as echo chambers, and for several days, Bobby, and the band and I went to work "processing" the walls in the smaller rooms, even building some false walls so the sound wouldn't slap when reverberating. After placing speakers and microphones in the chambers to pick up the "reverb," we were ready to record what I believed would be the Bobby Fuller Four's first big hit for Del-Fi/Mustang."

The song that Keane was hoping would be the first big hit was Let Her Dance. Although it was a regional hit and a minor national hit, peaking at #45, success came shortly after with I Fought The Law. Interestingly, Keane explained that the band were not keen (sorry) to shed some of their raw, Buddy Holly inspired sound in favor of the Mustang productions reverb-o-rama. Although I understand the concern of the band, I feel that the bank vault reverb took the Bobby Fuller Four into modern, interesting and even innovative sonic territory. Their Texas recordings never came close to this.

Never To Be Forgotten is one of many great nearly-unheard songs by the BFF. The stereo version is really interesting, but the vocals are buried under a huge cloud of bank vault verb and echo. Only in the mono version, which was never reissued, can you hear the band clearly. Honestly, I love both versions. The stereo version sounds like a monstrous painting.

Bobby Fuller Four - Never To Be Forgotten (unavailable mono LP version) from I Fought The Law - Mustang (1966)

Bobby Fuller Four - Never To Be Forgotten (stereo remaster) from The Mustang Years - Mustang (1997)

Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law mono LP - Mustang (1966)

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