Once upon a time, back in 1973, C. Rice Goff III cooked up a couple of the oldest surviving "multi-tracked" productions in the Taped Rugs archives. One of these ancient recordings was a version of the Beatles' When I'm Sixty-Four. It features a very rough jews harp rendition of the song, crudely overdubbed with a young Goff's faux British vocals.
The recording process involved taping the jews harp bit on a portable Panasonic cassette recorder, then playing the tape back through the recorder's built-in 4 inch speaker, while singing along. The "overdub" was captured by recording the in-the-room mix through a cheap microphone, plugged into a portable 1962 Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder. This embodiment of lo fi experimentation was first revealed to the world in 2017 on a Taped Rugs album entitled: Treasures For Deep Divers.
Since 1973, Taped Rugs Productions has interpreted the music of all sorts of artists in all sorts of original ways. The ever-growing collection of these pieces, which I resist referring to as "cover songs," is huge and, over the years, has become one of the most popular elements in the Taped Rugs catalog. It seemed only fitting for Goff to revisit When I'm Sixty-Four while cooking up material for a Taped Rugs 40th Anniversary album.
So, after sailing through a long and windy brainstorm, Goff set a course to produce a unique version of the song, by adapting its lyrics to the music of the Beatles' Helter Skelter. This scheme took into account some additional inspiration which has been building since 1970, when Goff had been informed by his parents that he was related to one of the Manson family's more notorious members. Oh yeah, and I should add that Goff is actually going to be sixty-four in a couple of years.
The production process for this ambitious endeavor began by creating some punchy music for the piece with MIDI score-writing technology, overdubbed with a smörgåsbord of Korg synthesizer improvisations. This all went down rather smoothly, but when the day came for recording the vocal bits, Goff's neighbors decided it was time to head full bore into working on home improvement projects. (At the time, most of Goff's neighbors were bored out of their minds, quarantined at home due to the Covid 19 epidemic.)
Not wanting to muck up his vocal tracks with the sounds of lawnmowers, hammers, buzzsaws, etc., Goff waited hour after hour for the power tools to shut down. He doesn't like singing on a full stomach, so he also fasted throughout his wait. Four hours into this waiting, Goff's frustration (and hunger) had become so excessive that he decided to go ahead with the vocal recording anyway, figuring that even if he didn't get a good result, the singing itself would be excellent therapy for his mounting nervous tension. While he didn't eat anything during the four-hour wait, he did gulp a rather large portion of Bushmills right before he began recording.
Goff fearlessly gutted out about a half hour of wailing before his voice lost all of its tone and texture. From this recording, he was able to edit together a powerful dose of lead vocals. Of course, this result could not have been produced without the fuel supplied by the frustration that led up to the recording session. The whole event proved once again that taking advantage of difficult life experiences often creates inspired art. I say "once again" because this is just one of many examples in Taped Rugs history where a challenging circumstance was adapted to focus an artistic vision. On reflection, it seems an appropriate element to add to the Taped Rugs 40th Anniversary commemorative.
Days later, Goff found that blending his vociferous concoction with the punchy music tracks that he had recorded earlier produced a host of unsatisfactory results. The urgency of both elements was impossible to showcase simultaneously, creating a mish-mush of blurred, noisy audio, diminishing the artistic qualities of everything involved. So Goff then devoted a few days to re-inventing the music tracks, making them more percussive in some ways, making them more spacey in some ways. Then several tweaks of V.U. were made during a bunch of test mixes. The eventual result of all this modification put the voice right up front, supported by a backing of punch and space that burns a rather dark atmosphere around the whole thing -- satisfaction achieved! Goff has named the resulting recording: Helter, Chuck, And Dave.
There is even more to the story of this recording, somewhat of a coda. Because several of the pieces that Goff has created for the Taped Rugs 40th Anniversary collection contain little references to rugs, Goff wanted this piece to follow suit. Keeping with the "cover version" aspect of this piece, he specifically wanted to include a little slice from an actual song about rugs. The Carpet Crawlers by Genesis fit the need perfectly. Just as the Beatles' Helter Skelter fades and reappears at its end, Helter, Chuck, And Dave fades and reappears -- with a snippet of a Goff interpretation of Carpet Crawlers.
And now, for the first time in a public forum, here's Helter, Chuck, And Dave. Thanks for your interest. Stay tuned for more Taped Rugs 40th Anniversary news.
I am one of the several alter-egos of Charles Rice Goff III. I am best known as a radio host, although I have had some of my reviews published here and there over the years, and have even been involved in occasional recording projects.