A Reader Writes

Poking through the mailbag over at the archives the other day, I saw a comment I’d intended to put in this space long ago in search of an answer. A reader named C wrote:

I had a weird experience this morning. I was in front of my house when a man stopped. He was in a truck. He asked if I lived in the house. I said that I did and he told me “Pain” by Michael’s Mystics was recorded in my garage. I asked how he knew that. He said he’d lived behind my house for 50 years. He didn’t identify himself as a current neighbor. So, truth or lie? How do I find this out?

Yah Shure? Are you out there?

Just so we all know what we’re talking about, here is “Pain” by the Mystics, a Minnesota band. In mid-August 1969, the record was No. 1 for two weeks on the Twin Cities’ KDWB and topped the survey at rival station WDGY for one week. Nationally, the record bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, peaking at No. 116.

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3 Responses to “A Reader Writes”

  1. David says:

    My first guess was that the reader just met either Michael or one of his Mystics. The “Spring, 1969” entry from this incredibly-detailed website indicates that “Pain” was recorded at Micside Recording Studio–which could either be a fancy name for “___’s Garage” or it could be an entirely different location.

    http://minniepaulmusic.com/?page_id=5733

  2. Yah Shure says:

    Whiteray, I recall Mystics band member Wes Hayne left a belated blog comment when you’d brought up the “Pain” single a few years back, so you might check to see if you still have a contact for him. I met Wes once when I worked at Heilicher Bros.; at the time, he was one of the principals with Audiotek Systems/ASI Records on West Broadway in Minneapolis (Heilichers distributed ASI, which had Central Minnesota country music favorite Johnny Holm on its roster.)

    I learned at the time that Wes had managed Heilicher’s promotion department some years earlier; it seemed as though half of the Twin Cities’ major-label promotion office managers at that time had similarly gotten their feet wet at HBI.

    Micside Recording Studio was owned and operated by Dale Menten, of the Gestures/”Run, Run, Run” fame. Micside released a handful of 45s locally under its own Micside label, before Dale changed the studio’s name to Cookhouse, which he ran for years.

    The likelihood of finding a professional-level multi-track recording studio in anybody’s garage around the Twin Cities in 1969 would have been pretty slim. If the garage in question had played any role in the evolution of the Mystics’ single, it would have probably been as a rehearsal space.

  3. Yah Shure says:

    I should add that the Metromedia 45 came in two distinct flavors: the white-label mono promo 45 (as heard in the above youtube clip) and the blue-label stereo commercial/stock 45. The mono promo was not derived from simply combining the left and right stereo channels; instead, it was a dedicated mono mix, designed to push certain instruments more “upfront” so they’d stand out on AM radio.

    Why was that important enough to create a separate mix? When two stereo channels are folded together into one, the program material common to both channels gets boosted by 3db in level, in comparison to the elements that are panned hard to the left or right (which the instruments are, on this particular recording.) The net result of playing the stereo mix over mono AM radio would have pushed the instruments 3db lower in volume than Mike Stokes’ vocals, which were panned equally left and right on the stereo mix (or right down the middle, if you’re wearing headphones.) Making a dedicated mono mix for radio ensured that the instruments and vocals would always be at proper levels at the listener’s end (which, in 1969, would have been overwhelmingly on mono radios.)

    The fade-out also runs a few seconds longer on the promo 45 than it does on stock copies. More “Pain,” more gain!

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