Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Lucky Ladybug”: First Pop Use of Phasing?

Phasing is a special effect in recorded music that gives the mix an Alice-Through-the Looking-Glass, otherworldly sound and has been famously employed, for instance, on 1967’s “Itchycoo Park” by The Small Faces [first occurs around the 0:50 mark].  As the blog, Let Your Hair Down, helpfully explains:

The effect as used on “Itchycoo Park” was, at that time, an electro-mechanical studio process.  Two synchronized tape copies of a finished recording were played simultaneously into a third master recorder, and by manually retarding the rotation of one of the two tape reels [i.e., “tape flanging“] using the fingers, a skilled engineer could subtly manipulate the phase difference between the two sources, creating the lush ‘swooshing’ phase effect that sweeps up and down the frequency range.  Because the original single version was mixed and mastered in mono, the flanging effect in “Itchycoo Park” is more pronounced in its original mono mix, and is noticeably diluted in the subsequent stereo mix.

Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men” and Caleb Quaye‘s over-the-top “Baby Your Ph(r)asing Is Bad” – both from 1967 – are other noteworthy examples from this particularly adventurous pop period.  However, as Rhino points out in the liner notes to the Nuggets II box set, phasing was used as early as 1959 on Miss Toni Fisher’s hit, “The Big Hurt.”

Billy & Lillie

Or possibly even one year earlier – so say researchers at Zero to 180 – on the #14 hitLucky Ladybug” by Billy and Lillie.  Check out the special effect on the muted trumpet, as well as the bright hand claps that answer the vocal lines on this 45 from Philadelphia’s Swan label:

Lucky Ladybug

Billy and Lillie (1958)

Song written by Frank Slay, Jr. and Bob Crewe, the latter famous for 60s go-go classic, “Music to Watch Girls Go By.”

Cash Box ad

December 1958


LINK to Tape Flanging on Zero to 180

LINK to Calypso +/- Cha Cha on Zero to 180

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All Categories