I would like to say that I was the all-time biggest Bobby Vee fan. However, I am not a guy who lies. I have to settle for the second biggest Vee fan. Who's #1?
His name is Bob Celli. He's the head of the Bobby Vee fan and collectors' clubs. He helps out with new releases - doing research, providing pictures, and writing informative liner notes.
As you may or may not know, a Bobby Vee "Rarities" 2CD set has been in the works for years, and will finally be released at the beginning of 2011. Mr. Celli played a big part in this project, going to the Capitol Tower in California to gather the previously-unheard material from the vaults.
I know you're dying for more information - so take a seat, grab a Coke, and read all about it as Bob Celli provides all the details!
(photo:Bob Celli at the Capitol Mastering Suite)
Kyler:How did the project come about?
BC:Well, I had been bugging Bobby since the early eighties about getting this stuff out. Our first thought was to combine the Vee/Crickets unreleased tracks with the Clovis session. We pulled the tracks and got some interest from EMI International but that soon died. A couple of years ago, I asked Bobby if I could approach EMI UK with the project and he gave me his blessings. Jon Wilson at EMI gave me the go ahead on it. One of the EMI/Cap people over here sent me pdf files of all the tracks that were in the vault, finished mixes and multi tracks. Bobby and I went over the lists and decided which tracks were worth getting. I was the logical choice for the one to make the trip as I knew the most about what was there.
Kyler:How many of the unissued tracks had you heard before and how many were new to you? Did Bobby remember the majority of the material?
BC:Roughly half if I were to make a guess, and half I hadn't heard. I think after Bobby listened to them his memory was sufficiently jogged!
Kyler:How were the tapes catalogued and were they easily accessible?
BC:The tapes were all bar coded so all I had to do was look at the pdf files I had and copy the bar code. Jack Arenas, the tape librarian at Capitol was given the list and they were all waiting for me when I arrived.
Kyler:Did you have to go through multiple takes to find the finished versions?
BC:The masters were usually marked, for example- Save A Love take 16C final. Sometimes I would liste to alternate takes. That's how I found that neat little version of "Foolish Tears"
Kyler:What was it like listening to the multi tracks?
BC:Very exciting! When the tapes are played for evaluation, they are automatically mixed, so you hear essentially what they will sound like finished. I remember the engineer staring at one of the speakers during "Party Doll". Sensing the queried look on his face I said "Cardboard Box!" He heard the unusual drumming sound of Jerry Allison playing a box instead of drums as they did on the original Buddy Knox record. One of the neat moments!
(photo: The former United Studio B, where Bobby Vee recorded many of his classic tunes)
Kyler:Can you describe some of the gems you found while you were there?
BC:There were several. I was anxious to hear "Stagger Lee" and "Party Doll" from the Vee/Crickets sessions. I was also most curious about a song title "I'd Sigh, I'd Cry". Bobby thought it was another tune that started out "I made you sigh, I made you cry" but it was totally different. It was a simple little demo that cried out for strings to be added, and they were back at RockHouse. I also wanted to find the single version of "Hickory Dick and Doc" which I did, and the studio version of the "Live On Tour" album. There will be three tracks from that lp along with the entire Nashville session that spawned "Hickory Dick and Doc"
Kyler:Any rarities from the set that you feel could have been A-Sides for Bobby in the 60s?
BC:That's a difficult question and very subjective. I like "Bittersweet" and "Heartache of Yesterday" as album tracks. Nothing jumps out at me as a major hit though, maybe "You'll Be Needing Me Baby"
Kyler:Were you anxious to find all of the previously mono-only material and mix it to stereo 40+ years after they had been out on 45s?
BC:Probably more interested in hearing those as some of the unreleased stuff. "Stranger In You Arms", "Pretend You Don't See Her" are two that jump out at me!
Kyler:How long did the transfers take?
BC:I was there for four days.
Kyler:During those four days, roughly how many tracks did you transfer?
BC:One hundred thirty.
(photo:Bobby Vee in the mid-sixties. Many of the tracks on the upcoming Rarities package date from this period.)
Kyler:Any problems with the tapes?
BC:I wanted to retrieve "Run To Him" to see if I could clean the noise up on the vocal. When we looked at it there were about a dozen splices. We did a few repairs , but seeing it was getting time consuming, I passed. There are a couple of clunks on it that I haven't been able to remove but since this had nothing to do with the project, the answer would be "No, there weren't any problems"
Kyler:Were the tapes transfered on vintage tube machines? I have heard that some studios do not use the proper equipment...
BC:The engineer used two, three and four track heads on the same machine and they were transferred to a portable hard drive. They also made several DVD copies of the tracks as a back up. The tapes sounded like they were recorded yesterday!
Kyler:Who mixed the multis into stereo?
BC:I rough mixed everything first and sent them up to RockHouse. Jeff Vee did the final mixing.
Kyler:Will the mixes be faithful to the original sixties style?
BC:Several things will be improved due to the mixing programs now available. Jeff was good at panning the tracks and had a good ear for filling in blank spots to make the tracks sound fuller.
I hope you have enjoyed this special interview! You can find the offical Bobby Vee website at www.bobbyvee.net and the Bobby Vee Collectors Club (run by Bob Celli) HERE.
"Rarities" by Bobby Vee, a 61 song 2CD set, is available for pre-order at the RARE ROCKIN' RECORDS ONLINE STORE. The set will be ready to ship on or about January 30, 2011.
To all the RRR blog readers, thanks so much for your support. We will see you next year!