Mix Disc Monday: Call it a phase

We’ve spent more than enough time in this section blowing sunshine of the keisters of various lyricists – songs about dreaming, songs about being lonely, etc. – but not this time. Today, we tip our cap to the man in the producer’s chair and the use of a nifty trick called the phase, or a flange. Ever heard the sonic equivalent of an ocean wave engulf a song? That’s what we’re talkin’ about. We even included small snippets of the songs (accessible here) so you could hear them for yourself. Rock on, producer man.

“Out of the Blue,” Roxy Music (Country Life)
The ultimate use of the flange effect, in this writer’s humble opinion. Every time they hit that instrumental bit, boom, here comes a wave. And Jesus, that ending. I picture Bryan Ferry driving a roadster in the country as fast as it can go, only to careen off a cliff at song’s end.

“Evil and a Heathen,” Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have It So Much Better)
In an age where every pop and rock record is produced within an inch of its life (White Stripes, you are hereby excused from this discussion), how is it that Franz Ferdinand is one of the only new bands to use the most time-tested production trick in the book? Not sure, but it took this “Radar Love”-esque rocker to another level.

“Gods of War,” Def Leppard (Hysteria)
If we’re talking production tricks, then it’s a foregone conclusion that Robert John “Mutt” Lange is going to make an appearance. Mutt pulls out all the stops for this six-and-half-minute anti-war rocker, but saves something special for the very end: a giant flange to make the last explosion sound like it’s going down the rabbit hole.

“Killer Queen,” Queen (Sheer Heart Attack)
“Dynamite with a laser beam.” Are there five words that would sound better with a wave passing through them than those? It’s a great tease, but producer Roy Thomas Baker gives up the goods in the final chorus, throwing a flange through the entire track. Probably the first and last time a song inspired by Noel Coward becomes a US hit.

“Easy,” Morningwood (Morningwood)
They made marginal waves thanks to their brilliant record cover tribute video “Nth Degree,” but what most people don’t know is that Morningwood could bring it, dude. For your consideration, “Easy,” a high-speed AC/DC-type stomper with a monster flange in the break.

“Round & Round,” New Order (Technique)
New Order was once called the ultimate example of man meets machine, so it would only stand to reason that the machines would take over one of the band’s more well-known singles and show off a little.

“Sweetest Perfection,” Depeche Mode (Violator)
Production usually takes a back seat to arrangements and instrumentation when it comes to Depeche Mode, but that was before Flood got his hands on the band. He let them play guitars, beefed up their drums to make them sound like the rocks stars they were, and for the twisted little tune in 6/4 time – is it about a girl, a drug, or neither? – Flood let loose with a flange. Nice.

“Night People,” The Tubes (Love Bomb)
Capitol Records would like to inform you that they hate this record. The Tubes had just notched their first big hit with the David Foster-produced Outside Inside, and the Tubes took advantage of that commercial boost by making an oddball art rock record with Todd Rundgren that featured an entire side of songs at the same speed, strung together seamlessly. Yes, the album has not aged well, but our inner geek still rocks out to it once in a while.

“The Genius I Was,” Trash Can Sinatras (A Happy Pocket)
What this? A group of sensitive Scottish minstrels are rubbing elbows with Queen and Def Leppard? Damn right. Any Trash Cans fan – if you can find one – will tell you that “Genius” is one of the band’s best songs, with or without the studio trickery.

“Blue Jay Way,” The Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour)
It is unknown whether this is the first flange in pop music history, but given the number of other firsts in the Beatles’ recording career, it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if it were. The song’s subject matter? A friend of George got lost in Los Angeles on his way to meeting the Quiet One. That’s it. Deep, isn’t it?

“Standing in the Shower…Thinking,” Jane’s Addiction (Nothing’s Shocking)
Go back and look at the band photos on this record. Dave Navarro is wearing a beret and a gaudy necklace. Ahhhhh hahahahahahahaha! Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad about how I dressed in 1988.

“Coma,” Guns ‘n Roses (Use Your Illusion I)
The list’s longest entry, clock in at a whopping 10:16. And the crazy part is that this is far from the song’s wildest moment. That honor belongs to the chorus of angry ex-girlfriends.

“Stop Draggin’ Around,” Lenny Kravitz (Mama Said)
This is the one instance where a little restraint would have gone a long way. Instead of using it in just the verses or just the choruses, Lenny lets it fly nonstop. If he played for the Red Sox, they’d call it Lenny being Lenny.

“The Devil,” Tears for Fears (Everybody Loves a Happy Ending)
The uses here are short, but effective. How to turn a drum roll into an avalanche: Exhibit A, “The Devil.”

“Better Be Home Soon,” Crowded House (Temple of Low Men)
This is a simple one, at the end of the instrumental break before the last chorus. It’s so pretty, you’ll almost forget that the song Neil Finn is singing is filled with fatalism and doubt.