Legendary British producer and recording iconoclastic Joe Meek—the man behind the global hit “Telstar”—has become a cult figure since his death in 1967, inspiring several fan clubs, myriad musical compilations, websites of various types, and a silly movie—with a major documentary film, A Life in the Death of Joe Meek, nearing distribution. Meek also topped New Musical Express’ list of The 50 Greatest Producers Ever.
Although much attention has been focused on 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, the 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 his work had on the people around him.
Responsible for many “firsts” in the U.K. and beyond, 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 (1957)
• The first to employ tape loops on commercial recordings (1959)
This Second Edition of Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques updates the original 2001 publication with a new Introduction, new information, and an additional chapter. 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).
“This is the ultimate Joe Meek book, with less emphasis on what an oddball he was, and instead there’s immaculate research on the gear and techniques Joe employed to achieve his studio nirvana. Known for his echoing, distorted pop songs (everyone knows his big hit, “Telstar”), he was a pioneer in close-miking, freelance engineering, home studio running, and a million other aspects of recording that we take for granted these days. Author Barry Cleveland (who writes for Mix and other mags) meticulously researched every aspect of Joe’s gear and techniques and, thank God, is an engineer like us so he doesn’t make stupid technical mistakes like “rock journalists” always do. Barry even went as far as to locate and remaster a new version of Meek’s long lost masterpiece, I Hear A New World, which comes with this book. This book really opened my eyes to what an innovator Joe Meek was and even gave me ideas to toy with in future sessions of my own. Everyone reading Tape Op would enjoy this book!” —Larry Crane, Editor, Tape Op
“The British record producer Joe Meek has attained posthumous cult status and rightly so: his innovative work broke the highly conservative mold of studios where engineers sported white coats as though they were in a science laboratory and everything was done, “by the book”. In Meek’s case the circumstances of his life—and more to the point his death—have created a lot of urban myths. After all, Phil Spector may have discharged revolvers at ceilings, but Meek ended his own life—and that of his landlady—with a large shotgun and all on the anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death! With those factors in mind, it’s refreshing to discover a book that traces Joe Meek’s life, not for the sake of cheap scandal, but through the music he made through his innovative recordings and equipment creations/modifications.
“Barry Cleveland has achieved the near impossible by delivering a book which is both an enjoyable work for the non-technical reader and highly satisfying for the studio “anorak” who wants to know the fine details of Meek’s home studio in London’s Holloway Road. Cleveland has tracked down the closest surviving sources who bring to life a picture of the cluttered apartment where Joe Meek took on the mighty forces of EMI, Decca, and the like and won—for a while at least—with hits like “Telstar,” “Johnny Remember Me,” and “Have I the Right.” If the words are top class, the layout is every bit the match for them, with many photos I’ve never seen before (and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of Meek-related photos)—and a full discography. I can’t recommend this book enough. How about 6 stars out of 5?!” —John Cavanagh, Recording Engineer, Glasgow Scotland