Multi-instrumentalist Paul Buff created Pal Recording Studio in December 1957 with a simple two-track Viking recorder. The demand for stereo recording led Buff to create a homemade, five-track recording studio when the industry standard was still mono or two-track stereo recording.
Buff’s studio creativity and complete openness in recording musicians of all backgrounds and styles naturally resulted in studio bookings by many local artists. Pal Recording Studio quickly became a place where musicians could record their rehearsals and repertoire and leave with high quality recordings. One of those groups of musicians was The Surfaris, who recorded “Wipe Out” at Pal in late 1962. This surf standard is the best known Pal recording.
“Paul Buff Presents Highlights From The Pal And Original Sound Studio Archives” has many in-demand rarities and unreleased tracks drawn from Paul Buff’s mixdown tapes and reference discs. Original releases of the records represented in this box set literally cost hundreds of dollars apiece, reflecting the impressive historical and musical value of Crossfire’s set.
Pal functioned as the recording home for Buff’s record labels (Pal, Emmy, Yukon, Plaza and Vigah!) and for The Pal Studio Band, a group of musicians revolving around Paul Buff, guitarist Dave Aerni and young guitarist/drummer Frank Zappa. Buff taught Zappa the art of recording studio operation as The Pal Studio Band created a large body of work. On many occasions, this group succeeded in licensing their tracks to larger record labels. When these recordings could not find a home, in-house labels by Buff or Dave Aerni (Daytone, Ador, Daani) released them.
Emmy’s releases featured three singles by The Masters, cut by Buff and guitarist Ronnie Williams. The B-side of the second Masters single, “Breaktime,” featured overdubbed guitar leads by Zappa. Other early singles that spotlighted Frank Zappa were by The Penguins, The Hollywood Persuaders, The Tornadoes, Buddy And The Crickets, Ron Roman, Baby Ray And The Ferns, Brian Lord And The Midnighters, Mr. Clean, The Heartbreakers, Ned & Nelda, Bob Guy, Conrad And The Hurricane Strings, The Cordells, The Rhythm Surfers, The Woody Waggers, The Decades, and Johnny Barakat And The Vestells. Many Pal Studio Band tracks with Zappa involvement make their CD debuts in this box set, including some with original Mothers Of Invention vocalist Ray Collins.
While still at Pal, Paul Buff started working with Art Laboe, owner of Original Sound Records. Laboe asked Buff to create a new recording studio for Original Sound artists, and in 1964, Paul finished creating his own ten-track recording gear. Buff was already in place as Original Sound’s studio engineer when he sold Pal Recording Studio to Frank Zappa on August 1, 1964. Many Original Sound artists were engineered by Paul Buff, who had started making his own recordings at the studio the previous year.
Paul Buff’s Original Sound output was credited to his own name as well as many other artists. Tracks recorded with Dave Aerni were released as by The Bongo Teens and The Rotations. One-man-band recordings issued as The Hollywood Persuaders include the well known “Tijuana” and “Drums A-Go-Go.” Paul also recorded with his first wife Allison as The Catalinas, Lori Allison, The Buff Organization and with vocalist Ricky Dean. The Friendly Torpedoes featured Buff with The Music Machine‘s Sean Bonniwell. Nearly the entire output of the All-American label (known for Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense And Peppermints”) was engineered by Buff, as was Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” for Liberty.
Buff was a self-taught pioneer in the field of independent record production in the early 1960’s, developing his skills through the necessity of low budgets and creating unique techniques, recording equipment and sounds that would elevate such groups as The Surfaris and The Chantays into the limelight. Unsung genius of the recording world, the crazy guy built a 5-track machine when 3-track was the standard in the early 60’s, and a 10-track machine in the mid-60’s when 4-track was the standard. Frank Zappa later bought the studio from Buff, and changed its name to Studio Z.
Gadzooks! A bit of an overkill 156 tracks compilation (58early masters with Frank Zappa contributions as performer, writer and/or producer) of 60’s recordings from Pal and Original Sound Studio. Here you got to deal with hodgepodge of cool surfin’, garage, psych, r-billy, pop and some lame stuff. Anyways, overall, it’s an interesting trip so you gotta dig real hard!