Updated: Nov 1
"Let Me Take You Dancing" was the first solo recording by Bryan Adams, age 18 (he'd previously been a member of the Canadian group "Sweeney Todd" and had participated in writing and recording their album, "If Wishes Were Horses"). This song was co-written by Jim Vallance in 1979.... read more
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"Let Me Take You Dancing" was completed in the first week or two after meeting Bryan in January 1978. It started as a Robbie King-inspired piano riff I’d written on my parents' piano during Christmas holidays, 1977. Bryan helped turn the riff into a song.
In 1978 Bryan hadn't yet "found" his voice. He was still singing in a high, fragile vocal range, a hold-over from his time with "Sweeney Todd" where he'd been expected to emulate former singer Nick Gilder.
It didn't help that "Let Me Take You Dancing" was sped up during the re-mix to achieve the mandated magic Disco tempo of 120 beats-per-minute, making Bryan sound like a chipmunk on helium!
Nearly 20 years later, in 1997, Howard Stern played "Let Me Take You Dancing" on his radio show, offering $500 to anyone who could name the recording artist.
No-one claimed the prize.
The original version of "Let Me Take You Dancing" was recorded by Geoff Turner at Pinewood Studios in Vancouver. I played keyboards, bass and drums, and Bryan sang lead vocal. Joani Taylor and Rosalyn Keene (and possibly Nancy Nash or Mary Saxton?) provided backing vocals. Wayne Kozak played tenor and baritone sax and Don Clark played trumpet. Don also happened to be Bryan's landlord (Bryan, his mom and his brother Bruce rented a house from Don on Creelman Street, in Vancouver ... now demolished).
As I recall, "Let Me Take You Dancing" (in its original form) had already enjoyed some minor radio success as a single in Canada before John Luongo, a respected New York re-mixer, was brought in to add colour to the track and turn it into a "real" disco record for release in the USA.
Luongo flew up to Vancouver where we'd booked an evening at Little Mountain Sound. I don't remember who engineered the session -- perhaps Roger Monk or Dave Slagter -- however the assistants on the session were Pat Glover and Ron "Obvious" Vermeulen (twenty years later Ron would become the technical manager at Bryan's Warehouse Studios, as well as designing Mutt Lange's studio in Switzerland and my studio, The Armoury, in Vancouver).
The original version was recorded on a 16-track machine. Luongo needed twenty-four tracks to do the additional recording he had in mind.
This required a 16-to-24-track transfer. So ... the morning before our session, assistant engineer Pat Glover arranged for two rooms at Little Mountain Studio to be available: Studio A, with its 16-track Scully recorder, and Studio B with a 24-track Studer .
The 2-inch master tape of "Let Me Take You Dancing" was placed on the Scully machine. Using "tie lines" between the two studios, the audio would then be transferred onto the Studer machine, leaving an additional eight tracks for John's overdubs.
The transfer was a disaster... but I didn't hear about until 25 years later, when I ran into Pat Glover at a mutual friend's 60th birthday party.
Pat told me how he had pressed "Play" on the Scully machine in Studio A, then he ran over to Studio B to monitor the audio as it was being transferred to the Studer. He waited, but no audio appeared. Pat ran back to Studio B, just in time to witness the Scully "eating" the first part of our master tape (the Scully's fault ... not theirs). He hit "Stop", but it was too late, the 2-inch "master tape" was mangled beyond recovery.
Pat managed to find technician Ron Obvious elsewhere in the building. Together they determined -- quite brilliantly -- that the damaged section of music appeared in near identical form later in the song. By doing a double transfer and some creative editing, they managed to re-create the lost section.
John Luongo and I arrived at the studio a few hours later, completely unaware anything was amiss.
John had asked me to bring a variety of percussion instruments, which I did ... shakers, maracas, tambourines and a set of vibes (electric vibraphone). I also invited my friend, the famous drum designer Ray Ayotte, to play congas.
The session was completed in three or four hours. I remember John being a pleasant, energetic, upbeat guy. He kept "pumping us up", telling us how much he loved our song.
Following the Vancouver session, John took the master tape to New York where he completed a number of re-mixes. "Let Me Take You Dancing" went to #1 on several New York disco charts and enjoyed significant success at retail. However, despite the positive outcome, Bryan was bitterly disappointed with the sped-up sound of his vocal.
John, on the other hand, believed it was of critical importance to achieve a certain tempo, even if the vocal was somewhat compromised.
Bryan was still not officially signed to A&M Canada at this point. Instead, the recording of "Let Me Take You Dancing" (and the b-side "Don't Turn Me Away") was financed by Brian Chater, head of A&M's publishing wing. I don't doubt the single's success contributed to Bryan eventually being signed directly to the label.
After "Let Me Take You Dancing" had run its course, Bryan quickly distanced himself from the "Nick Gilder" sound in favour of the Don Henley/Rod Stewart style that would become his trademark.