The vital components of a great record are many. There's the performance and the song, of course. Then there's the arrangement and the production. Less definable, perhaps, but equally important, is the role played by the recording engineer, the person who captures it all on magnetic tape. Think, for example, of Stan Ross or Phil Ramone, men for whom microphone placement and echo were equal parts science and art form. This is an account of the early career of one such man, one of New York's most revered engineers, BROOKS ARTHUR.

The boyhood ambition of Brooklyn-born Arnold Brodsky was to be a crooner. His parents, who owned a candy store, shelled out for weekly singing lessons, and for his Bar Mitzvah they presented him with a Revere tape recorder. The gift proved portentous.

He was still at high school when he tentatively entered the music business in the mid-1950s as a part-timer in the mailroom at the West 57th Street offices of Decca Records, where one day he was invited by veteran producer Milt Gabler to sit in on and observe an Ella Fitzgerald recording session. With that event the career path of the young Arnold Brodsky was sealed. Two years later he began work for Kapp Records as assistant to Michael Kapp at the company's in-house studio. His first record, a version of Ivory Joe Hunter’s "Stolen Moments", was released on the tiny Collegiate logo in 1959 bearing the name Arnie Blaine. This was followed by "The Mountain's Echo", issued as by Art Barrett on Charm, a small label owned by Joe Ahbend.

But it was as Brooks Arthur that in 1960 he was enlisted by Aldon Music as a songwriter and demo singer. He was in good company. The hottest music publishers of the day, Al Nevins and Don Kirshner's 1650 Broadway HQ was the workplace of Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield, Jack Keller, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and many other songwriting whiz kids. The year also marked the release of two Brooks Arthur singles: "Birthday Card" for Capitol Records and, on the Carlton label, "In The Fall", written by Barry Mann.

Brooks Arthur compositions recorded during this period included "At The Edge Of Tears" by Tony Orlando, "Hello Again" by Erma Franklin, "(Little Darlin') Take A Bow" by the Four Coins and "Memories, Memories" by Joanie Sommers, co-written with Paul Kaufman, Gloria Shayne, Jack Keller and Alan Lorber, respectively. He also co-penned material with other respected names like Helen Miller, Art Kaplan, Mat Maurer and Kenny Karen, but his career as a songwriter never really took off.

His next job was at the eponymous studio of Dick Charles, where he learned the art of engineering. A modest facility situated at 729 7th Avenue, near the corner of West 48th Street, this was where many of his songwriting colleagues recorded demonstration versions of their compositions.

Just a short walk from Dick Charles was Associated at 723 7th Avenue, Brooks Arthur's next port of call. It was at this sixth-floor studio that he engineered many recordings for the Greenwich/Barry and Feldman/Goldstein/Gottehrer teams, including the Raindrops' "What A Guy" and the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back", both from 1963. His next single, "Doll With The Broken Heart", was released on Kapp that same year.


with the Chiffons


with Joe Venneri and Phil Spector

He became friendly with Bob Goldman, the owner of Mira Sound, who offered him a job as an independent engineer, responsible for bringing in his own clients. Located on the main floor of the Hotel America at 145 West 47th Street, not far from 7th Avenue and Times Square, this was the preferred studio at the time of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the owners of Red Bird Records. Working with assistant engineers Joe Venneri and Bobby Bloom, among the recordings for which Brooks Arthur manned the Mira Sound console were the Crystals' "I Wonder", the Dixie Cups' "Chapel Of Love" and "People Say", the Shangri-Las' "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)" and "Leader Of The Pack", "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" by the Jelly Beans and "Society's Child" by Janis Ian. In 1966 Verve Records released "Sole Forms", a jazz album by the Brooks Arthur Ensemble.

So highly regarded in the New York record business did he become, that when Phil Ramone's A & R Studios lured him away, they took out full-page ads in Billboard and Cash Box magazines announcing, "Brooks Arthur has a new home: A & R". To be found on the corner of 6th Avenue at 112 West 48th Street - next door to the musicians' hangouts Jim & Andy's Bar and Manny's Music - A & R was one of New York's premier independent studios. He engineered the Lovin' Spoonful's smash hit of 1967 "Darling Be Home Soon" here, along with "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison and "Kentucky Woman", just one of many for Neil Diamond.


with Johnny Madara, Dave White
and the Pixies Three


with the Shirelles

Moving ever onwards and upwards, his next step was the opening of his own studio, Century Sound, operating out of a former radio studio at 135 West 52nd Street. Neil Diamond's "Brooklyn Roads", Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" LP and Evie Sands' breakthrough hit "Any Way That You Want Me" were recorded here. Verve released the Brooks Arthur Ensemble's second album, "Traces", in 1969.

By the 1970s he'd relocated to Blauvelt, 45 minutes north of Manhattan, where he opened 914 Studios. "Heart Be Still", a single by the Brooks Arthur Ensemble, was issued by RCA in 1971. Bruce Springsteen recorded his debut album "Greetings From Asbury Park" at 914 the following year.

Brooks Arthur would, of course, become a GRAMMY-winning producer in his own right, overseeing LPs by Bette Midler, Janis Ian, Dusty Springfield, Bernadette Peters, Liza Minnelli and many others. He also brainstormed the soundtracks for the three Karate Kids movies, Lean On Me and most of Adam Sandler's films. But as David Simons wrote in his book STUDIO STORIES:

"During the early 1960s, the trio of recording studios that occupied a single city block along 7th Avenue between West 47th and West 48th Streets - Dick Charles, Associated and Mira Sound - became, for all intents and purposes, girl group central. It was there that BROOKS ARTHUR, an aspiring singer and songwriter, turned his attention to engineering, in the process becoming the chief architect of New York's girl group sound."

BROOKS ARTHUR: "If not for the songs and production vision of people like Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Carole King, Gerry Goffin, George Goldner, Shadow Morton, the Tokens, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Madara & White and the boys from FGG Productions, to mention a few, I wouldn't have been part of the whole Red Bird and girl group era. Had it not been for Jerry Ragovoy, Quincy Jones, Leiber & Stoller and Luther Dixon, I would never have developed my R&B chops. Had there not been a Bert Berns in my corner, I wouldn't have been on the Van Morrison or Neil Diamond sessions. There's always been someone important every step of the way, providing me with a great opportunity. I know I couldn't have done it without them. Through my work with all of these artists, I interpreted and merged their sounds and thoughts at the console and felt like I was a player adding a performance."




Stolen Moments / This Is The City

Collegiate 100




The Mountain's Echo / Never Thought 'Twould Happen To Me





Birthday Card / What Do You See In The Future

Capitol 4471


In The Fall / You Never Looked So Beautiful

Carlton 526


Doll With The Broken Heart / Mary's Laugh Makes Me Cry

Kapp 529




Sole Forms LP

Verve V6-8650


Traces LP

Verve V6-8779


Never Gonna Be The Same Again / Sunrise Highway

Verve 10645


Heart Be Still / Hang On Sloopy

RCA 74-0466




Title and co-writer/s




Anything Your Little Heart Desires

Helen Miller

Jeannie Sheffield

ABC 10420


At The Edge Of Tears

Paul Kaufman

Tony Orlando

Epic 9519


A Year And A Day

Art Kaplan and Paul Kaufman

Judy Scott

Capitol 4491


Cloudy With Occasional Tears

Kenny Karen

Skeeter Davis

RCA LSP-2736


Gotta Give My Teardrops A Chance To Dry

Alan Lorber

Cee Cee Joy

Warner Bros. 5343


Hello Again

Gloria Shayne

Erma Franklin

Epic 9488


I Just Can't Live Without You

Alan Lorber

The Fleetwoods

Dolton BLP 2025


Johnny Doesn't Talk Much

Art Kaplan and Paul Kaufman

Judy Scott

Capitol 4491


(Little Darlin') Take A Bow

Jack Keller

The Four Coins

Vee Jay 551


Memories, Memories

Alan Lorber

Joanie Sommers

Warner Bros. 5339


My Locket Lost A Picture

Gloria Adele Regney

Angela Martin

Portrait 101


My Love Keeps Walkin' Away

Alan Lorber

Joe Bellin

Gone 5136


The Heartaches Are Here To Stay

Alan Lorber

Rosalie Altar

Harmon 1006


They Call Me The Fool

Art Kaplan and Paul Kaufman

Nick Noble

Coral 62262


The Brooks Arthur quote above and much of the information contained in this article is gleaned from Studio Stories - How The Great New York Records Were Made: From Miles To Madonna, Sinatra To The Ramones by David Simons (published by Backbeat, 2004). This book is highly recommended to anyone with more than a passing interest in the music of the classic Brill Building era, and recording studios and engineers in particular.


Main photo, taken at Century Sound Studios in 1967, supplied by Brooks Arthur.