Slapback, slapback echo, flutter echo, tape delay echo, echo, and reverb are some of the terms used to describe one particular aspect of rockabilly recordings.
The distinctive reverberation on the early hit records such as "Rock Around The Clock." (April 12, 1954 released May 15) by Bill Haley & His Comets was created by recording the band under the domed ceiling of Decca's studio in New York, located in a former ballroom called The Pythian Temple. It was a big, barn-like building with great echo. This same facility would also be used to record other rockabilly musicians such as and .
In Memphis Sam Phillips used various techniques to create similar acoustics at his Memphis Recording Services Studio. The shape of the ceiling, corrugated tiles, and the setup of the studio were augmented by an ingenious and entirely original system of “slap-back” tape echo which involved feeding the original signal from one tape machine through a second machine with an slight delay. According to Cowboy Jack Clement, who took over production duties from Sam Phillips, there's two heads; one records, and one plays back. The sound comes along and it's recorded on this head, and a split second later, it goes to the playback head. But you can take that and loop it to where it plays a split second after it was recorded and it flips right back into the record head. Or, you can have a separate machine and do that.. if you do it on one machine, you have to echo everything." The recordings were thus an idealized representation of the customary live sound . When Elvis Presley left Phillips’ Sun Records and recorded Heartbreak Hotel for RCA, the RCA producers placed microphones at the end of a hallway to achieve a similar effect.


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