The Greatest Recording Coup Ever

Who says you can't have fun in the studio?

The year was 1972, and Joe Walsh was in the studio with his new band, Barnstorm, recording their second outing. This was the band Joe had formed in Colorado after he left the James Gang. Joe and Barnstorm had recorded a cool song and he was looking for a unique way to intro it on the album. Now, it should be understood that Joe is known for his wacky sense of humor that led to crazy little sonic diversions on his albums. Just check out the various sound collages on The James Gang’s ‘Yer Album or the snarky sounds on “All Night Laundry Mat Blues” on 1974's So What?, or the “Flock of Wa-was” at the end of 1977's But Seriously Folks. If that weren’t enough, many of his albums had humorous messages scribbled in the land beyond the runout groove. The upshot of all this was that everyone around him began to tip-toe around warily, expecting to be sucked into one of Walsh’s crazy schemes.

In typical form, Walsh dreamed up a doozy for this album: he wanted everyone to gather in the studio and make gibberish sounds onto tape. Unfortunately this time no-one wanted to do it for fear of being embarrassed forever on vinyl by the results. Joe spent days going around and hounding everyone, pushing them to be involved and generally driving everyone nuts, until producer/engineer Bill Szymczyk dreamred up a solution of his own to put Walsh out of their misery: Bill proposed that he, Joe, and everyone else involved would go into different rooms in the studio for isolation and have a “mad moment” together when they did whatever they wanted: screams, yelps, barking, you name it, with the promise from Joe that whatever was recorded onto the tape would go onto the album. Joe agreeed. Everyone was gathered in the various rooms and booths at the studio, each with a mic and a headset. The tape was cued and placed into record. Bedlam erupted in the headphones and monitors. After an appropriate time of chaos, Bill hit STOP and invited everyone back to the control room to hear the results. But the result wasn’t to be what Joe expected at all.

Bill had secretly gone around and gotten agreement from everyone to be involved in a little reverse scam on Joe: While everyone had participated and could be heard in the headphones during the mad moment, Bill had only put Joe’s track into RECORD. For his part, Joe sang a line from Thurston Harris' 1957 song, "Do What You Did," followed by a primal scream. The results “speak” for themselves:

Years later in the liner notes for his boxed set, Look What I did!, Joe acknowledged that Bill had really gotten him good on this one. Hilarious!!! Chalk up one for the producer/engineer.