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Clapton’s solo tone on “Badge”

1

I've long wondered what is responsible for Clapton's solo sound here -- a mix of fairly fat reverb, a wavering phased sound, and a distinctive, bell-like tonality. (The other striking thing is that it only occurs once in the song, yet it feels way more memorable.)

Is it due in part to running the signal through a Leslie?

I also want to say I hear it on some later Beatles tracks (post Sgt. Pepper's?), which naively makes me wonder if Clapton influenced Harrison's choices. Offhand, I can't come up with a Beatles example that mirrors the tone, but I want to say I've heard it on more than one track.

I'm sure someone here (or our collective consciousness) knows the full story...

Solo begins at 1:07 — I'm referring to the "hook" solo, not the more bluesy one that follows it:

3

Is this the Beatle track? Eric played the lead on it as well as Badge. Around 3:30

George co-wrote Badge and was there at the recording, playing rhythm. Sounds like both leads were played through a Lesley, as I remember.

from the Beatle Bible: Harrison performs rhythm guitar on Badge. Although the arpeggiated guitars that enter midway through the song are similar to parts of Abbey Road, that particular passage was played by Clapton.

4

That was maybe his 335 on Badge solo -- he did use a Leslie in a number of songs,especially on Blind Faith album. I had always thougth the 1:07 part was George tho

Leslie is even more prominent on the other 2 studio cuts of of Goodbye LP and and also all over the Blind Faith album.

5

I figured it was a Leslie giving it that warbling effect ... but to my ears, it just doesn't seem like it's just a Leslie...

What else is going on, why that bell-tone? Harrison played with it too, if I recall correctly.

And yeah, maybe this is all George's bit. They wrote the song together, after all. I hadn't thought of that.

6

why that bell-tone?

Between the variable gain available playing through a real Leslie (along a continuum of saturation), any EQ and compression added at the board, and the distance from which the Leslie was recorded (and which mics, and whether or not in stereo), it's hard to speculate about the belliness of the tone. Sounds to me like a bridge humbucker, eq fairly bright, at moderate Leslie saturation but picked lightly - with any variation in picking velocity shaped by compression.

The closer you mic a Leslie, the more intense the depth of the warble - and close-mic'ing two sides in stereo results in about the sea-sickest modulation I've ever unintentionally achived. This example doesn't sound like it's very close, and phones tell me it's not in stereo at least in the mix: it's possible it was recorded in stereo and then collapsed to mono, which effectively makes it phasier than Leslie-ish.

And I hear a cool reverb around it which subtly spreads audibly to the sides in the stereo image. I've never thought about whether chamber or plate reverbs were originally stereo (though they often are in modern reproductions). There's certainly no reason they couldn't have been - just mics (if a chamber) or transducers (if plate) in two locations, panned off in the mix. Just enough variation in response between the two sources to create the subtle dimension around the track. I see that the three studio tracks on Goodbye were recorded at IBC / International Broadcasting Studio in London, but Wiki doesn't tell me what they used for reverb. On this part in "Badge," it's darkish. Whether actual room or plate, I have to think the highs are rolled of for this application.

I've always loved - and been fascinated by - this song, which is transformed and transcends itself via that picked arpeggio section. That bit would sound great - or right - even on a dry acoustic, but there's no doubt the Leslification and careful studio treatment effectively lifts it to something special. To me it is the hook of the song.

And it's a damn strange song, more a preview of Clapton's solo career (but later, not so much his first solo outing) than classic Cream. The melodicism isn't wholly unexpected from anyone in the Cream (or Harrison) lineage, but the murky narrative isn't the usual fare from any of the proponents.

In black and white, the lyrics certainly don't read as anything profound; it's an assembly of re-cast clichés strung into something more (or less) than a predictable love story, relieved by a few distinctive lines with arresting images. They sound more portentous when sung, however. I'd alway assumed, because of their elliptical nature and occasionally borderline psychedelic imagery, that the lyrics were written by the more mystical and visual Jack Bruce rather than Clapton, at that time a blues/pop literalist. Mixing and eliding autobiographical elements (or at least homely reportage) was standard stock in trade for Beatles, though, Harrison no exception.

So you put together earnest Clapton with sardonic, autobiographical George, and one off-the-wall line (the swans in the park) reportedly contributed by a drunk ever-whimsical Ringo - and a misreading of the word "bridge" in the lyric sheet as "badge" - and the genesis of the lyrics makes sense.

However the alchemy worked, it's pretty magic. Several Cream tracks, wildly at variance with the band's usual go-for-the-jugular antagonistic improvisational aesthetic, pointed the way toward a band, even a genre, that never quite came into full fruition. "Dance the Night Away," "World of Pain", "We're Going Wrong", "SWALBR", and "Brave Ulysses" from Disraeil, "Passing the Time," "As You Said," and "Deserted Cities of the Heart" from Wheels, the single "Anyone for Tennis" (backed w/"Pressed Rat and Warthog" no less), and "Badge" kinda comprise an alternative Cream. It's almost a separate oeuvre from the blues-rock riff-bashing and jamming of the prototype power trio .

I think there's a lot of Jack Bruce in most of those tracks - but the secret ingredient is probably Felix Papparlardi, who was involved, in varying roles, in most of them. And, whaddaya know!, some of the same sensibility is apparent in Mountain (cue the immortal "Theme for an Imaginary Western" and "Nantucket Sleighride," at least). Given that my alternative Cream playlist comprises about a third of the band's output (by title, anyway), maybe Felix was the unacknowledged fourth Creamer.

The roster for "Badge" is kind of a dream supergroup from the era: Clapton, Bruce, Baker, Pappalardi, and Harrison. While ultimately that playlist suggests a band that might not have been bluesy enough to satisfy Clapton, they coulda been a contendah for a mild sort of commercially appealing prog built on pretty solid musical underpinnings.

It is a great guitar sound. Thanks for the reminder!

7

Everything has been said, but I’ll just add… it’s the effects of the time. The pedals they had were pretty few, most of them fuzzes (not to mention cranked amps of course). Then there were Leslies (the effect is literally all over ’68 and ’69 Beatles records), reverbs and tremolo-in-amps. And then there was studio trickery: the “reverse solo” as in Revolver, ADT, tape flanging as in While my guitar…

8

Thanks radiofm, I've been wondering what the fuzz factor is on this tone.

And thanks Tim - you synthesized all of what I love in this song, especially that hook. (Your hobby horse rides again.) I like to think that chime-y arpeggio is a little like church bells, a sound that makes listeners' heads swivel and pay attention in unison... a quality Cream managed to do right out of the gate — Disraeli Gears forward. "Dance the Night Away," "SWLABR," "Tales of Brave Ulysses" and others remain potent to this day for that slightly off-center factor. The blues and then some, with unique surprises.

The Pappalardi influence is strong here, I agree. And no doubt a dose or two of trippy psychedelics (mix tech, pedals, drugs, et al) played a role. All that said, I'm still trying to musically trace the bell-tone reference, a certain something I know I've heard on a track or two in the Beatles catalogue...

No pun intended, but I hear elements of it here, in the backing rhythm during the verses (not lead playing) on "Something" ...

9

And here it is in a varied form again, at 1:30 of "You Never Give Me Your Money" (sounds like it's paired with tubular bells.) ... and yet again in the arpeggio form around came true.... today... at 2:50, which to my ears even sounds a bit like the hook in "Badge" :

10

To my ears that solo you refer to sounds exactly like the intro that is played throughout the Ringo's song "It Don't Come Easy".

11

BINGO, that's the sound.

Mystery remains.... what makes it?

12

To my ears that solo you refer to sounds exactly like the intro that is played throughout the Ringo's song "It Don't Come Easy".

– razzer10_4

Well, we know that was George playing through a Lesley, probably the same one.

Also, Ringo’s Don’t Pass Me By sounds like the entire band is going though the Lesley.

When Badge came out, Lesley speakers were suddenly in the music stores. I knew more than one band that went out and bought a one, but it usually ended up with the keyboard player. I was in one of those bands and found myself on the heavy end of the damn thing. Like drummers didn’t have enough the carry.

13

To paraphrase a well-known Mondegreen of the Rascals' "Groovin':

"Life would be ecstasy
You and me and Leslie"

14

One of my favorite Cream songs.

15

Someone with deep earsight into Rundgren material needs to, so to speak, chime in on whether the timbre is heard on any of his records.

'Cause you know - what if, for all the other tech and engineering contributions, a major component of the tone is that it's a particular guitar? Highly speculative on my part, of course, but Clapton's "Fool" SG could be a common thread.

Maybe Patti/Layla isn't the only beloved muse the friends shared. Surely the guitar would have been around for the Goodbye sessions, and by the time Abbey Road was being recorded, Feb-August '69, Cream had soured and called it a day.

I'm not an expert on Clapton's instruments, but I'm not aware of his having used the guitar post-Cream - and there's evidence the guitar passed through Harrison's hands before it went to Jackie Lomax, and then Todd in the early 70s. According to Geoff Emerick's recollections (from this 2019 Guitar World article).

Few photos were taken at the sessions, and even Emerick can't remember what was played. "I was too busy setting up mics and getting sounds to notice," he says. Considering the short amount of time between the Get Back sessions and Abbey Road, it's likely that the group used the same gear. That would include Lennon's Epiphone Casino and Martin D-28; Harrison's Gibson Les Paul, Fender Strat and Fender Rosewood Telecaster; and McCartney's 1963 Hofner bass, Rickenbacker 4001S, Martin D-28 and Epiphone Casino. A Fender VI and Jazz Bass were reportedly used on the sessions as well. Amps likely included silverface Fender Twin Reverbs and a Bassman, and certainly Harrison's Leslie 147RV cabinet.

The SG isn't mentioned - but this is really more a list of instruments known to be in the Beatles' inventory at the time than a definitive study of who played what, on what track, on the album. It doesn't rule out that "The Fool" could have been used. (Not that the bridge pickup of a Les Paul - or even a Casino - couldn't cop a very similar sound with skillful EQ.) And...perhaps Andy Babiuk's research has definitive answers.

For the moment, it's at least plausible to me that the same instrument could be responsible for those landmark Leslie tones - the same guitar which had already, um, carved deep blue ripples in the tissues of my mind. So to speak...

(Which makes me wonder why I've never bought an SG, one of the first guitars I had a crush on.)

16

Badge was one of those songs that really grabbed me by the ears when I was 11 or 12. I've wanted a Leslie ever since. Love that song. Settled for a Lester G.

Jump to 5:59 for a little Badge action:

17

Someone with deep earsight into Rundgren material needs to, so to speak, chime in on whether the timbre is heard on any of his records.

'Cause you know - what if, for all the other tech and engineering contributions, a major component of the tone is that it's a particular guitar? Highly speculative on my part, of course, but Clapton's "Fool" SG could be a common thread.

Maybe Patti/Layla isn't the only beloved muse the friends shared. Surely the guitar would have been around for the Goodbye sessions, and by the time Abbey Road was being recorded, Feb-August '69, Cream had soured and called it a day.

I'm not an expert on Clapton's instruments, but I'm not aware of his having used the guitar post-Cream - and there's evidence the guitar passed through Harrison's hands before it went to Jackie Lomax, and then Todd in the early 70s. According to Geoff Emerick's recollections (from this 2019 Guitar World article).

Few photos were taken at the sessions, and even Emerick can't remember what was played. "I was too busy setting up mics and getting sounds to notice," he says. Considering the short amount of time between the Get Back sessions and Abbey Road, it's likely that the group used the same gear. That would include Lennon's Epiphone Casino and Martin D-28; Harrison's Gibson Les Paul, Fender Strat and Fender Rosewood Telecaster; and McCartney's 1963 Hofner bass, Rickenbacker 4001S, Martin D-28 and Epiphone Casino. A Fender VI and Jazz Bass were reportedly used on the sessions as well. Amps likely included silverface Fender Twin Reverbs and a Bassman, and certainly Harrison's Leslie 147RV cabinet.

The SG isn't mentioned - but this is really more a list of instruments known to be in the Beatles' inventory at the time than a definitive study of who played what, on what track, on the album. It doesn't rule out that "The Fool" could have been used. (Not that the bridge pickup of a Les Paul - or even a Casino - couldn't cop a very similar sound with skillful EQ.) And...perhaps Andy Babiuk's research has definitive answers.

For the moment, it's at least plausible to me that the same instrument could be responsible for those landmark Leslie tones - the same guitar which had already, um, carved deep blue ripples in the tissues of my mind. So to speak...

(Which makes me wonder why I've never bought an SG, one of the first guitars I had a crush on.)

– Proteus

The only thing I’m 100% sure of concerning that song is that Harrison play the “scrape rhythm” at the very start. It’s identical to his rhythm playing on “Get back”. You could do that on a tele (see Get back again) but if indeed the recording sessions where George played were in LA during November, he couldn’t have had that. Since receiving it in August, and until he got his tele end of November, he played his Les Paul nearly exclusively. But who knows what he had with him that day in LA… maybe a studio guitar. It could be anything: it’s muted strings… basically any guitar can do that sound.

Clapton was mostly using his 335 around that time (see Rolling Stones RnR Circus, Dec ’68), and that is reported to be his guitar for Badge. Ears would tend to confirm: it really sounds like a 335 through a cranked amp. I don’t own one, but there was a time when I wanted a Gibson humbucker guitar and I tried every one I could lay my hands on, fooling around with my favorite solos. Only the 335 really nailed the “Badge” tone.

Which leads us to the “chimey” tone. The core element in the tone is the Leslie, and it colors the sound so much that it’s hard to say for sure. Clapton reportedly played that arpeggio. Unlikely that he got out another guitar just for that. He probably just had his 335 into the Leslie, backed off the volume, and stepped on the Leslie pedal. But again: I get very close to that with a tele, a half-a$$ modulation pedal set on “Rotary”, a touch of reverb, and a good Blackface amp.

19

That part at 1:07 of Badge sure reminds me of another song, Deep Purple?

Oh, More Than a Feeling, Boston. Ha.

20

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21

if indeed the recording sessions where George played were in LA during November, he couldn’t have had that. Since receiving it in August, and until he got his tele end of November, he played his Les Paul nearly exclusively. But who knows what he had with him that day in LA

According to Wiki, "Badge" was recorded in London in October '68 - and we know serious work on Abbey Road is dated to August '69, at ... well, Abbey Road. I don't find any references to LA.

I have several Gibsons with humbuckers, including a 335, and when recorded similarly through similar gear there's not enough difference between their tones (especially when effects are in the mix and they're being treated to professional EQ and compression in the studio) to conclusively determine from tone just what guitar is in use.

22

Also worth remembering that the guitar signal will probably be going straight into one of those wedge shaped Leslie preamp interface pedals. I’m guessing that these were voiced fairly flat so as to handle full range organ signals or whatever else you wanted to put through it.

The actual tonal range of the amp/speakers in a Leslie does colour the sound quite a bit, regardless of the rotary effects...if you compare the sound of a “parked” Leslie cab to a Hammond PR tone cabinet there is quite a difference.

Whilst I do love Badge as a song it does lack the magic Cream ingredient - namely Pete Brown’s lyrical talents.

If anyone deserves the title of the “Fourth Creamer” it’s Pete Brown. (..if not the third )

23

if you compare the sound of a “parked” Leslie cab to a Hammond PR tone cabinet there is quite a difference.

And even more different from a combo guitar amp.

If anyone deserves the title of the “Fourth Creamer” it’s Pete Brown.

Ah. I don't disagree, actually.

24

if indeed the recording sessions where George played were in LA during November, he couldn’t have had that. Since receiving it in August, and until he got his tele end of November, he played his Les Paul nearly exclusively. But who knows what he had with him that day in LA

According to Wiki, "Badge" was recorded in London in October '68 - and we know serious work on Abbey Road is dated to August '69, at ... well, Abbey Road. I don't find any references to LA.

I have several Gibsons with humbuckers, including a 335, and when recorded similarly through similar gear there's not enough difference between their tones (especially when effects are in the mix and they're being treated to professional EQ and compression in the studio) to conclusively determine from tone just what guitar is in use.

– Proteus

A few sources including sound engineer Bill Halverson indicate “Wally Heider’s Studios” in L.A. for that particular song, which totally surprised me as well. Apparently that’s where George tracked his parts. According to these sources, later overdubs were made in London, hence the frequent indication that Badge was cut at IBC studios in London:

http://www.billhalverson.co... https://www.beatlesbible.co... http://gpatt.customer.netsp...

The story goes that George flew out to LA (where Cream were on tour), then came back to London. So, no inconsistency with his playing on the Get Back and Abbey road sessions in London in ’69, with his Les Paul and Tele.

On humbucking guitars and their tones, I thought I heard more difference between a 335 and its solidbody sisters than between a Les Paul and SG, but I completely defer to your experience

25

Interesting info on LA sessions.

There’s definitely a felt difference when playing the guitars - but, recorded, I find it harder to discriminate between them.


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