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Classic Mix

In The Summertime

by Mungo Jerry

Maybe it’s because I was raised on a diet of Benny Hill and The Two Ronnies, but I just love that one of the top five best-selling singles of all time features prominent farting noises in pretty much every bar! Since this simulated flatulence is hard-panned, the easily offended might perhaps save their blushes by listening just to the right-hand stereo channel, although owing to the mix’s unusual vocal panning (the lead and its sporadic double-track are on opposite sides of the panorama) these delicate flowers will also miss out on half the lyrics. Mind you, perhaps that’s for the best, given the “have a drink, have a drive” lead lyric that so memorably underscored those unsettling early ’90s UK public information adverts

But there are plenty of other interesting things about this whimsical production besides, not least how little of it there actually is: the last minute and a half is just a straight copy-paste edit of the opening. That said, if you actually line up the waveforms of the two sections, you’ll discover that the latter is, in fact, a polarity-inverted version of the former. To me this suggests that the edit wasn’t conceived during the initial mixing process, but was carried out as part of a later editing stage, with the polarity reversal creeping in while the opening section was copied to a new bit of tape.

Of course, the other thing that arrived during that edit was the stereo ‘car driving from right to left’ sound effect. Although you might initially think the stereo movement derives from some engineer twiddling a pan control, if you listen carefully you’ll notice it’s actually a proper stereo recording (probably captured via some kind of crossed-pair microphone technique, given the level-difference-based imaging precision). On this evidence, and given that LCR panning seems to permeate the whole record, I’d hazard a guess that the Pye Studios desk this song was mixed on didn’t have the fully variable pan pots we now all take for granted, but only simple three-position panning switches.