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Enoch Light

Enoch Light

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Enoch Henry Light was a classical violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

ist, bandleader
A bandleader is the leader of a band of musicians. The term is most commonly, though not exclusively, used with a group that plays popular music as a small combo or a big band, such as one which plays jazz, blues, rhythm and blues or rock and roll music....

, and recording engineer. As A&R chief and vice-president of Grand Award Records
Grand Award Records
Grand Award Records was a record label associated with ABC-Paramount RecordsGrand Award began life as Waldorf Music Hall records in the early 1950s. Waldorf Music Hall records carry a logo "FDR" in a diamond on their front covers, which might mislead some into believing that was the label name....

, he founded Command Records
Command Records
Command Records was a record label founded by Enoch Light in 1959 and later associated with ABC-Paramount Records....

 in 1959. Light's name was prominent on many albums both as musician and producer. In the 1930s Light studied conducting with the French conductor Maurice Frigara
Maurice Frigara
Maurice Frigara was a French conductor of Corsican descent, mainly active in the opera house.-Career:Frigara studied under Charles Dancla, Lambert Massart and Benjamin Godard at the Paris Conservatoire....

 in Paris.

He is credited with being one of the first musicians to go to extreme lengths to create high-quality recordings that took full advantage of the technical capabilities of home audio equipment of the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly stereo
Stereophonic sound
The term Stereophonic, commonly called stereo, sound refers to any method of sound reproduction in which an attempt is made to create an illusion of directionality and audible perspective...

 effects that bounced the sounds between the right and left channels (often described as "ping-pong").

He arranged his musicians in ways to produce the kinds of recorded sounds he wished to achieve, the first to do so. The first of the album
An album is a collection of recordings, released as a single package on gramophone record, cassette, compact disc, or via digital distribution. The word derives from the Latin word for list .Vinyl LP records have two sides, each comprising one half of the album...

s produced on his record label, Command Records, Persuasive Percussion
Persuasive Percussion
Persuasive Percussion was an LP album performed by Terry Snyder and the All Stars and released in 1959 by Command Records . The packaging includes the first use of the gatefold cover which, upon being unfolded, lists information about each selection...

, became the first huge hit based solely on retail sales. His songs received little or no airplay on the radio, because AM radio, the standard of the day, was monaural
Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction is single-channel. Typically there is only one microphone, one loudspeaker, or channels are fed from a common signal path...

. Light went on to release several albums in the Persuasive Percussion series, as well as a Command test record
Command test record
The Command test record was an LP album produced by Command Records in 1960. It contained recordings designed to allow users to test their stereo equipment.-Command Records:...


The album covers were generally designed with abstract
Abstract art
Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. Western art had been, from the Renaissance up to the middle of the 19th century, underpinned by the logic of perspective and an...

, minimalist artwork that stood out boldly from other album covers. These pieces were usually the work of Josef Albers
Josef Albers
Josef Albers was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the 20th century....

. Light was so interested in the sounds of his music that he would include lengthy prose describing each song's sounds. In order to fit all of his descriptions on to the album sleeve, he doubled the size of the sleeve but enabled it to fold like a book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

, thus popularizing the gatefold
A gatefold is a type of fold used for advertising around a magazine or section, and for packaging of media such as vinyl records.- LP covers :...

 packaging format. The gatefold sleeve became extremely popular in later decades, and was used on albums such as The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band The Beatles, released on 1 June 1967 on the Parlophone label and produced by George Martin...


Enoch Light released myriad albums in various genres of music under a variety of names during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Some were released under Grand Award Records
Grand Award Records
Grand Award Records was a record label associated with ABC-Paramount RecordsGrand Award began life as Waldorf Music Hall records in the early 1950s. Waldorf Music Hall records carry a logo "FDR" in a diamond on their front covers, which might mislead some into believing that was the label name....

, a subsidiary label he founded earlier. The music was intended for older audiences, as opposed to most popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

 of the time, which was usually aimed at teenagers. During this time, he pioneered many recording techniques such as the use of 35 mm mag (magnetic) film instead of magnetic tape
Magnetic tape
Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic. It was developed in Germany, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders...

, thereby reducing the effects of "wow
Wow (recording)
Wow is a relatively slow form of flutter which can affect both gramophone records and tape recorders. In the latter, the collective expression wow and flutter is commonly used.-Gramophone records:...

" and "flutter". The recordings were released under the "35MM" series, starting from "Stereo 35-MM" released by Command Records. Musicians who appeared on Light's albums include The Free Design
The Free Design
The Free Design was a Delevan, New York-based vocal group playing jazzy pop music. Their music can be described as sunshine pop and baroque pop, which were pop music subgenres at the time, which later influenced the bands Stereolab, Cornelius, Pizzicato Five, Beck and The High Llamas.-Early...

, The Critters
The Critters
The Critters were a successful American pop group with several hits in the 1960s.The group formed in New Jersey in 1964 when singer-guitarist Don Ciccone and saxophonist Bob Podstawski joined local group the Vibratones, comprising Jim Ryan , Ken Gorka , Jack Decker , and Chris Darway...

, Rain, Doc Severinsen
Doc Severinsen
Carl Hilding "Doc" Severinsen is an American pop and jazz trumpeter. He is best known for leading the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.-Early life:...

, Tony Mottola
Tony Mottola
Tony Mottola was an American guitarist who released dozens of solo albums. Mottola was born in Kearny, New Jersey, and died in Denville, New Jersey.-Career:...

, Dick Hyman
Dick Hyman
Richard “Dick” Hyman is an American jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer, best-known for his versatility with jazz piano styles. Over a 50 year career, he has functioned as pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and, increasingly, as composer...

, and arranger Lew Davies.

In 1965, Light sold the Command record label, which had released the Persuasive Percussion series, to ABC Records
ABC Records
ABC Records was an American record label, founded in New York City in 1955 as ABC-Paramount Records. It originated as the main popular music label operated the Am-Par Record Corporation, the music subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company . ABC-Paramount Records' first president was Samuel H....

, which itself was subsequently sold to MCA Records
MCA Records
MCA Records was an American-based record company owned by MCA Inc., which later gave way to the larger MCA Music Entertainment Group , of which MCA Records was still part. MCA Records was absorbed by Geffen Records in 2003...

. After the sale, the quality of his records plummeted dramatically. The signature gatefold format (along with Light's prose) was immediately discontinued, and the covers changed to budget labels pressed on recycled vinyl. In 1975 they were completely discontinued.

Light continued recording after the sale of Command with a new label called Project 3, but did not concentrate so heavily on stereo effects. Light recorded several successful big band albums with his earlier established band in the Command days Enoch Light And The Light Brigade, using the original scores, keeping the arrangements as close to the original as possible. He retired from music entirely in 1974 and died four years later.

His rendition of "Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves (song)
"Autumn Leaves" is a much-recorded popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les Feuilles mortes" with music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert. Yves Montand introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la Nuit...

" is sampled by RJD2 for the song 'A Beautiful Mine', which is the theme for the AMC drama Mad Men
Mad Men
Mad Men is an American dramatic television series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. The series premiered on Sunday evenings on the American cable network AMC and are produced by Lionsgate Television. It premiered on July 19, 2007, and completed its fourth season on October 17, 2010. Each...


His version of "My Way of Life" was sampled by the Australian group The Avalanches
The Avalanches
The Avalanches are an Australian electronic music group formed in 1997 with mainstays Robbie Chater on keyboards, Tony Diblasi on keyboards, bass and backing vocals, and Darren Seltmann on vocals and keyboards. They are known for their live DJ sets and their debut album Since I Left You , which was...

 for their hit song "Frontier Psychiatrist
Frontier Psychiatrist
"Frontier Psychiatrist" is a song by Australian group The Avalanches, released as the second single from their debut album Since I Left You.-Background:The song is a mix of audio samples of music, dialogue and sound effects....


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