Kenny Denton
Sound engineer at De Lane Lea Studios

Excerpt from the chapter "De Lane Lea" - "Eldorado".
from the book
THERE AIN'T NO RULES IN ROCK 'N' ROLL

Available to Download now


Which tells Kenny's story through four decades in the music industry.





Kenny at work in De Lane Lea in 1974

 

"Eldorado"- The Album

I think Jeff Lynne would probably be the first to say he was difficult to work with and I would be the second. Jeff and I were thrown together to record the tracks for the album "Eldorado".
In January 1974 Louie Elman told me that Jet records had booked studio time in February so that “The Electric Light Orchestra” could record their new album.
Dick Plant who had engineered the previous ELO album was booked on another session, so Louie asked me to Start the recording. I reminded Louie I was to be married and going on Honeymoon on the 16th of February.
“That’s fine” he said, “Dick would have finished his other session and will take over on the Monday the 18th”.

So in February I started recording the ELO album later to be entitled “Eldorado”. I recorded the basic Drum/ Bass/ Guitars /Piano/ and guide vocals. The band was Bev Bevan (drums) Michael de Albuquerque (bass) Richard Tandy (keyboard) and Jeff Lynne (guitar piano and vocals and ego) the guys were really nice and easy going except for Jeff.
I found it very difficult to strike up any rapport with him throughout the sessions.
All engineers work in different ways, and I feel sure that Jeff was disappointed that Dick was unavailable to start the recordings. A confident working relationship between engineer and artist takes time and Jeff had already built this association, whilst working with Dick on the previous album. So his concerns were understandable.

We spent the first day getting the drum sounds together. (That was a long time back in 74). I ended up using the old cigarette packet with masking tape on the kit, we all agreed, especially Bev it sounded great.
Once we put the first rhythm track down, Jeff said, “Can you take the two overhead 87 microphones from the drums and place them about 4 feet away and record a stereo track whilst Bev doubled the original drum track”.

Well! This definitely made the drums sound bigger, but our amazing wonderful tight clean weighty drum sound, sounded like shit, ambient, loose, none distinctive, messy and awful. Lynne was the only one thrilled with the effect so we continued to do this on every track we recorded. We all thought Jeff was mad.

Once the track was in a reasonable shape, Jeff would put down a guide vocal, slurring through a melody with an occasional lyric line. The original guide lyric line for the chorus of Eldorado was “ I’m Dying”.
If you can imagine working on these titles in the early stages, with the non-lyric droning melody from Jeff, over the ambient sound, along with the absence of the wonderful string arrangements and magnificent choral additions from Lou Clark, the whole album sounded like a bunch of rough cheap demos.

At one point Don Arden arrived to have a listen to what was going on in this haven of creativity. After listening to the playback of a couple of titles he walked out in disgust.
There was also an ongoing squabble in the music press at the time between Jeff and Roy Wood. Lynne’s remarks in the studio about Roy whilst reading these articles, really didn’t do anything to enhance his character to me.

I think Michael de Albuquerque summed it up in an interview with ELO fan Martin Kinch some years later when he said “I thought the “Eldorado” thing, was again Jeff trying like mad to find a direction, there was a lot of pressure on him don't forget, you'd got all those mouths to feed, all those management people looking at you, and secretaries, and so forth you know. And you know you've got this desire to do things, without maybe the correct inspiration getting in place. I felt that again it was him pushing for a direction that still maybe wasn't there”. And of course Albuquerque left the band at this time.

Listening to the final playback of the finished album, with not a drop of reverb on anything, but plenty of Echo on the vocal (the old 28ips tape delay through the Studer B62). It appeared to be a total mish mash of Jeff’s imagination.

Once the album was released in the USA, it went Platinum; I then listened to it again. What a wonderful drum sound and the most amazing dry technique on all the instruments. It was probably the only time I ever agreed with Don Arden, a MASTERPIECE! “Nothing succeeds like success”.

My personal feelings about Jeff Lynne have been outweighed over the years by his extraordinary talent as a record producer/song-smith (Not writer) along with his amazing ability to have created and produced some of the greatest pop recordings of all time.



Kenny Denton at the controls in De Lane Lea - Studio 3

Many thanks to Kenny for allowing this part of his book to be reproduced here

 



The Electric Light Orchestra

 

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