The ‘real experts’ said that the equipment had to be the answer to making hits, so they would overhaul their consoles or purchase new ones for their studios. Some felt it was the Motown engineers, while others felt it was the dimensions of the Studio A. Some wanted to take a look at the wooden floors to see what kind of wood the floors were made of. There were so many asinine and dumb impressions. Most people overlooked the simple truth and essential element – the musicians, the Funk Brothers.
Jack Ashford, Motown. The View From The Bottom, Bank House Books, 2003, p. 40.
A lot of us old salts do like the clean sound. We’ve been doing this before dirty became fashionable – since the ’70s. It’s a design concept and philosophy that’s dedicated to the truth of the player rather than the illusion of the recording chain. For me it comes from the background I have working with top-notch players, such as Frank Zappa and Stevie Wonder. Those kind of cats were so good I couldn’t go up to them and say, “Hey, you’re good, but I’ve got a black box that will make you sound better than you really are”. I would have been thrown out of the room. The truth tends to work better with these people, since they spent a lifetime crafting a unique sound. I’ve seen the color thing used more commonly with acts that don’t have the talent or ability of the great people. Some engineers are turning a mouse into a man, fattening up a track that’s shitty and making a player sound better than he really is. The people I work with don’t need to be better than they are – they just need the world to hear how good they are.
Jim Williams, from an interview by Mike Jasper, in TapeOp 90.