Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Let Me Take You Dancing" - the complete story

Let Me Take You Dancing

Recording Artist: Bryan Adams
Writers: Jim Vallance, Bryan Adams
Date Written: February 1978 / Vancouver Canada
Albums: Single only / originally released November 6, 1978
Awards: 1979 - Procan Award (Performing Rights Organization of Canada)
Sales: approx. 200,000
Charts: #62 - RPM Chart (Canada) / September 8, 1979

Audio-1: - Orignal version (Canadian single)
Audio-2: - John Luongo remix
Audio-3: - John Luongo 12" remix
Bryan Adams: vocal, harmony
Jim Vallance: drums, keyboards, percussion, vibraphone
Wayne Kozak: tenor and baritone sax
Don Clark: trumpet
Backing vocals: Joani Taylor, Nancy Nash?, Rosalyn Keene?
Ray Ayotte: congas

Recorded 1978 at Pinewood Studios by Geoff Turner. Produced by Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams. Additional recording 1979 at Little Mountain Sound (by Roger Monk?). Assisted by Pat Glover and Ron Vermeulen. Produced by John Luongo.

Every once in a while I have a great idea. Unfortunately this photo wasn't one of them!

For promotional purposes early in our songwriting career I thought it would be cool to have a photo with Bryan out front and myself as "the guy in the background". When I look at it now, I appear to be a 10-inch midget!

The photo was taken by Bryan's friend Denise Grant in Vancouver's historic water-front train station, now the "SeaBus" terminal.

"Let Me Take You Dancing" was the first solo recording by Bryan Adams, age 18 (he'd previously been a member of the Canadian group "Sweeney Todd", and had participated in writing and recording their album, "If Wishes Were Horses").

"Let Me Take You Dancing" was written during the first week or two Bryan and I spent together in January/February 1978, and started off as a Robbie King-inspired rag-time piano riff I’d written on my parents' piano during Christmas holidays, 1977.

Bryan helped turn the riff into a song.

In 1978 Bryan hadn't yet "found" his voice. He was still singing in a high, fragile vocal range, a hold-over from his time with "Sweeney Todd", where he'd been expected to emulate former singer Nick Gilder.

It didn't help matters when "Let Me Take You Dancing" was sped up during the re-mix, making Bryan sound like a chipmunk on helium!

Nearly 20 years later, in 1997, Howard Stern played "Let Me Take You Dancing" on his radio show, offering $500 to anyone who could name the recording artist. No-one claimed the prize.

Magazine advert for "Let Me Take You Dancing", 1979

The original version of "Let Me Take You Dancing" was recorded by Geoff Turner at Pinewood Studios in Vancouver. I played keyboards, bass and drums, and Bryan sang lead vocal. Joani Taylor and Rosalyn Keene (and possibly Nancy Nash?) provided backing vocals. Wayne Kozak played tenor and baritone sax and Don Clark played trumpet. Don also happened to be Bryan's landlord (Bryan and his mom and his brother Bruce rented a house from Don on Creelman Street, in Vancouver ... now demolished).

As I recall, "Let Me Take You Dancing" (in its original form) had already enjoyed some minor radio success as a single in Canada before John Luongo, a respected New York re-mixer, was brought in to add colour to the track and turn it into a "real" disco record for release in the USA.

Luongo flew up to Vancouver where we'd booked an evening at Little Mountain Sound. I don't remember who engineered the session - perhaps Roger Monk or Dave Slagter - however the assistants on the session were Pat Glover and Ron "Obvious" Vermeulen (twenty years later Ron would become the technical manager at Bryan's Warehouse Studios, as well as maintaining Mutt Lange's studio in Switzerland).

Single sleeve, Canada 1978

"Promo" label, Canada 1978

Single sleeve, Holland 1979

12-inch Vinyl, USA 1979

The original version was recorded on a 16-track machine. Luongo needed twenty-four tracks to do the additional recording he had in mind.

This required a transfer. So ... the morning before our session, assistant engineer Pat Glover arranged for two rooms at Little Mountain Studio to be available ... Studio A, with its 16-track Scully recorder, and Studio B with a 24-track Studer.

The 2-inch master tape of "Let Me Take You Dancing" would be played on the Scully. Using the "tie lines" between the two studios, the audio would then be transferred onto the 24-track Studer machine, leaving an additional eight tracks open for John's overdubs.

The transfer did not go well ... but I didn't hear about until 25 years later, when I ran into Pat Glover at a mutual friend's 60th birthday party.

Pat told me how he had pressed "Play" on the Scully in Studio A, and then they ran over to Studio B to monitor the audio as it was being transferred to the Studer. He waited, but no audio appeared. Fearing the worst, Pat ran back to Studio B, just in time to witness the Scully "eating" the first part of our master tape (the Scully's fault ... not theirs). He hit "Stop", but it was too late, the 2-inch tape was mangled beyond recovery.

Pat managed to find technician Ron Obvious elsewhere in the building. Together they determined -- quite brilliantly -- that the damaged section of music appeared in near identical form later in the song. By doing a double transfer and some creative editing, they managed to re-create the lost section.

John and I arrived at the studio a few hours later, completely unaware anything was amiss.

John Luongo asked me to bring along a variety of percussion instruments, which I did ... shakers, maracas, tambourines and a set of vibes (electric vibraphone). I also invited my friend, the famous drum designer Ray Ayotte, to play congas.

The session was completed in three or four hours. I remember John being a pleasant, energetic, upbeat guy. He kept "pumping us up", telling us how much he loved our song.

Following the Vancouver session, John took the master tape back to New York where he completed a number of re-mixes. "Let Me Take You Dancing" went to #1 on several New York disco charts and enjoyed significant success at retail. However, despite the positive outcome, Bryan was bitterly disappointed with the sped-up sound of his vocal.

John, on the other hand, believed it was of critical importance to achieve a certain tempo, even if the vocal was somewhat compromised.

Bryan was still not officially signed to A&M Canada at this point. Instead, the recording of "Let Me Take You Dancing" (and the b-side "Don't Turn Me Away") was financed by Brian Chater of A&M's publishing wing. I don't doubt the single's success contributed to Bryan eventually being signed directly to the label.

After "Let Me Take You Dancing" had run its course, Bryan quickly distanced himself from the "Nick Gilder" sound in favour of the Don Henley/Rod Stewart style that would become his trademark.

Disco Box Vol.2 - Disco Heat

Disco Box: This is possibly the only CD release of "Let Me Take You Dancing" ... from a series of 12 box sets, all under the name 'Disco Box'.

"Let Me Take You Dancing" appears on "Disco Box, Vol. 2 - Disco Heat". I don't know if this is a bootleg or an official CD pressing.

In addition to the "Disco Box" information above, researcher Pierre Oitmann also submitted the following data regarding various authorized mixes and releases:

1978 releases
- Canadian 7" (promo) with the original version on both sides / catalog number is DJ-AM468
- Canadian 7" (retail), cat. no. AM-474, b/w "Don't Turn Me Away".

1979 releases
- US 12" (retail), cat. no. SP-12014, b/w Instr. (same applies to Canadian 12")
- Dutch 12" (retail), cat. no. AMS12.7610, b/w Instr. Front cover says "Disco Version".
- UK 7" (promo), cat. no. AMS7460, b/w "Don't Turn Me Away" (same applies to UK retail 12").
- US 7" (promo), cat. no. 2163 (?), b/w (?).
- European 7" (retail), cat. no. (?), b/w "Don't Turn Me Away". Same picture sleeve as Dutch 12".

The Luongo remix of "Let Me Take You Dancing" was originally described as 'Dance Mix' on the label, probably for both the 7" and 12" mix. Also, there was a 12" single of "Let Me Take You Dancing" released in Brazil with the song "One On One" by LTD on the B-side.

Click on the image above to see a larger version.
I was working at Trident Studios in London when "Let Me Take You Dancing" was released. This was five or ten years before fax machines were common, so Bryan sent me an old fashion telegram!

From the edge of the city there comes a sound
Makes you wanna turn your head around
Fills you with desire
Sets both your feet on fire

How could you stand to be alone
How could you stay at home so ...

Let me take you dancing
Let me steal your heart tonight
Let me take you dancing
All night long

Strolling through an easy feel
To the motions that make it rock 'n reel
You can learn to fake it
Keep on trying and you're bound to make it

It's gonna turn up upside down
It's gonna spin you 'round so ...

Let me take you dancing
Let me steal your heart tonight
Let me take you dancing
Let me make you feel alright

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1 comment:

  1. It's funny to hear if you play the remix @ like -8 on your turntable. The music sounds all sssssslow but Bryan sounds like Bryan.