Freak List – Randomized, Homogenized And Scrutinized (Snuff Garrett)
Another episode in a ongoing series that takes a casual look at the members of the Frank Zappa Freak Out List. In the spirit of aimlessness, the list has been randomized.
One thing that I find interesting about Snuff Garrett is that, way back in 1976, he bought video cassette rights to the old RKO and Republic films catalogs and later it became a multimillion dollar business.
I think it’s more than an example of simple foresight or capitalizing on an opportunity. It’s a matter of being in touch with an untapped market. In other words, I believe that Garrett genuinely liked those old films and could see value because a lot of other people, not a consensus but, a viable market share, would too.
A lot of the music Garrett produced, Bobby Vee, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Cher, early Tanya Tucker…even stuff like the Ray Conniff singers has held a spot in the lexicon of pop culture, even if it’s because some of kitsch value.
I don’t think you could amass a track record like that if you just recognized a market for say, bubblegum or easy listening, and tried to capitalize. I think that you would have to really dig the stuff to pull that off.
Here’s a link that provides some insight…
For most rock n roll purists, especially those who hate strings, the mere mention of the name Tommy “Snuff ” Garrett is tantamount to heresy. Nevertheless, he was one of the most successful producers of the first half of the 1960s, with some thirty Top 30 hits to his credit…
…Snuff was fond of strings playing guitar lines and used a full string section with six to eight violins, two violas and sometimes a cello. Garrett always used the same arranger (Ernie Freeman), but the string parts – sometimes overdubbed – were often separately arranged by Sid Sharp.
Overdubbing strings like that is not a simple process. It’s possible to take a handful of string players and have them record their parts three or four times and make it sound like a full blown orchestral production but, to make it work spatially and dynamically, one has to do a lot of manual fades and precise panning. It takes a lot of trial and error.
I could imagine Snuff and Frank Zappa crossing paths in the early ’60s and having discussions about such matters.
This track “Pot Luck” from a the Leathercoated Minds which, was a project produced by Garrett and J.J. Cale, is a brilliantly quirky slab of somewhat dissonant, overdubbed, over-compressed, direct-to-console guitar glory. Truly, a thing of beauty.