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Roger Bechirian

 

Roger Bechirian

Roger Béchirian is a noted engineer and record producer, a key player in the 1970s new wave scene, best known for his work with Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack, Elvis Costello, The Undertones, Dave Edmunds, Squeeze, Trashcan Sinatras and more recently, Bell X1.

Background

His engineering career started at Eden Studios, in London. The studio was based around an Ampex 4 track and a custom built desk based in part on EMI/BBC designs. Béchirian progressed to become assistant mastering engineer, using an early Scully lathe during the day, and spending the evenings in the studio with bands improving his engineering skills. Eden then moved to a much larger premises and built a brand new studio complex from the ground up. Being involved in the building of the facility, from wiring the studio to helping to build their custom desk, gained Béchirian a great insight into acoustic design and audio electronics. He even designed the studio's logo. Eden opened as a 16 track with Ampex MM1100, but made the rapid leap to 24 track recording, moving up to an Ampex MM1200 and Dolby A. It was one of the first few 24 track studios in London at that time.

Stiff Records founder Dave Robinson sought out Béchirian and he began recording and mixing projects for the label's then fledgling artist roster.

He continued to develop his engineering talents at Eden as house engineer on an endless mixture of sessions ranging from solo artists to rock bands, big bands and orchestra. He was fortunate to work as assistant on sessions with some of the most successful producers and bands at the time including Jethro Tull, Marc Bolan, Manfred Mann, Moody Blues, David Essex, Georgie Fame, The Damned, Clover and many others (see discography, below).

Béchirian had come to the attention of various A&R men, and also continued to work with a variety of Stiff artists. He was asked by Robinson to be involved with the production of Lene Lovich's first album, which produced his first hit single, "Lucky Number". Malcolm McLaren brought his muse, the Sex Pistols into Eden to work on various drum and guitar tracking sessions, and around this time, Nick Lowe approached Béchirian to work on his solo project, which was to become Jesus of Cool. As a result, he wanted Béchirian to act as his exclusive engineer on all his forthcoming projects, which led to working with Graham Parker, Huey Lewis and Clover, Elvis Costello, Rockpile, and others.

Seymour Stein, founder of Sire Records, signed the Undertones, asking Béchirian to take on production duties for the band's first album. Béchirian ended up engineering and producing the band's first three of their four albums. Jake Riviera, who looked after Costello and Lowe, began representing Béchirian as manager.

Béchirian continued to work with various bands and artists as engineer and producer, recording and mixing some of the biggest breakthroughs of the time. He engineered and produced Squeeze's hit album East Side Story, and their American breakthrough hit single "Tempted". (Bob Clearmountain has sited his production and engineering work on the Squeeze classic "Tempted" as, "...probably the best recording and finest mix I have ever heard!")

Around that time, he formed the band Blanket of Secrecy. Their first and only album was released by Warner Brothers in the US and was incredibly well received, complete with a Top 40 single, but unable to deal with its own genius, the band imploded a year later on the verge of a world tour. The band still maintains a loyal fan base. Béchirian went on to build his own recording studio in London and formed Vinyltone Productions with Epic Records in New York, developing and releasing new artists. The next three years he divided his time between London and New York.

Béchirian was persuaded to go back into the mastering studio to remaster Elvis Costello's first nine albums. At first daunting, he fell back into the old groove and the results were universally critically acclaimed.

Looking for a new direction, Béchirian later formed Trick Management. He came across the smouldering talent of Tom McRae. Adopting several roles, he launched the career of one of the most highly regarded artists of the time, which opened the doors to the 'singer-songwriter' revolution.

He also took on a Dublin based band, Bell X1. Signing them to Island Records, he produced the band's breakthrough hit album Flock, turning their career around from virtual unknowns to one of the most respected bands in Ireland today, with a fan base that stretches across Europe and the United States.

Now based in London, Béchirian engineers and produces, as well as being involved with the development and co-management of new bands and artists.

Bechirian is unique in that his vast experience straddles the worlds of songwriting, playing and arranging, engineering and producing, A&R and management. Using his renowned ability to communicate with artists, Béchirian uses modern recording technology with a twist, retaining old school sensibilities and techniques to provide artists with a recording environment in which to best express themselves and their potential.

Discography overview

engineered (e), mixed (m), co-produced (cp), produced (p)

Elvis Costello: e-m-cp-p
My Aim Is True (remixes)
This Years Model
Armed Forces
Get Happy
Trust
singles:
What's So Funny' Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding
Oliver's Army
Alison (remix)
I Don't Want to Go To Chelsea
Accidents Will Happen
Pump It Up
I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down
Radio Radio
Big Tears
Green Shirt
High Fidelity
New Lace Sleeves
Talking in the Dark
New Amsterdam
Riot Act
Clubland
From a Whisper to a Scream
Watch Your Step

Squeeze-e-m-p
East Side Story
singles:
Is That Love
Tempted
Labelled With Love
Messed Around

The Undertones- e-m-p
albums:
Undertones
Hypnotised
Positive Touch
singles:
Get Over You
Jimmy Jimmy
Here Comes the Summer
You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)
My Perfect Cousin
Wednesday Week
It's Going To Happen!
Julie Ocean

Nick Lowe-e-m-cp-p
Jesus Of Cool
Nick The Knife
Abominable Showman
singles:
So It Goes
Marie Provost
Endless Sleep
1Halfway to Paradise
I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass
Little Hitler
American Squirm
Crackin' Up
Cruel to Be Kind
Cool Reaction
Ragin' Eyes
Wish You Were Here

Graham Parker: e-m
Howling Wind
Stick To Me
Heat Treatment

The Rumour: e-m-cp
Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs & Krauts
singles:
Emotional Traffic
Frozen Years
Tired of Waiting

The Jam: e
Going Underground(single)

Lene Lovich: e-m-p
Stateless
Flex
singles:
Lucky Number
Little Bird
Too Tender To Touch
I Think We’re Alone Now

Wang Chung: e-m-p
Wang Chung
singles:
Hold Back the Tears China Ti Na Na

Carlene Carter- e-m-p-cp
Carlene Carter
C’est c Bon
Blue Nun
singles:
When You Comin' Back
Too Many Teardrops
Love Like A Glove
Meant It for a Minute

Dave Edmunds: e-m
‘4’
Tracks On Wax
Repeat When Necessary
singles:
Deborah
Television
A1 on the Jukebox
Girls Talk
Queen of Hearts
Crawling from the Wreckage

The Trashcan Sinatras: e-m-p
Cake
singles
: Only Tongue Can Tell
Obscurity Knocks

Bell X1: m-p
Music In Mouth
Flock
Blue Lights on the Runway (re-mixes)
singles:
Man on Mir
White Water Song
Tongue
Snakes and Snakes
Alphabet Soup
Eve, the Apple of My Eye
Next to You
Bigger Than Me
Flame
Rocky Took a Lover
The Great Defector-m
The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella-m
Tom McRae: cp-m
Tom McRae
singles:
You Cut Her Hair
Walking to Hawaii rm

The Flamin’ Groovies: e-m-cp
Jumpin’ In The Night

The Attractions: e-m-p
Mad About The Wrong Boy

The Shakin’ Pyramids:
Celts & Cobras e-m-p

The Monkees: e-m-p
Pool It!

The db’s: e-m-p
Judy(single)

Tony Koklin: e-m-p
Time Chaser

Robert-Ellis-Orrall: e-m-p
Special Pain
Walking Thru Landmines

Rockpile: e-m
A Pile Of Rock

The Photos: e-m-p
The Photos

Siouxsie and the Banshees: e-m
New Skin (Showgirls’ soundtrack)

Blanket Of Secrecy: e-m-p
Ears Have Walls

The Passion Puppets: e-m-p
Like Dust

Dirty Looks: e-m
Dirty Looks

The Pretenders: e-m
Better Stop Sobbin’(single)

Stewart Agnew Band: e-m-p
Stewart Agnew

Bear Driver: cp
Wolves(single)

e and ae-Joe Jackson/Paul Jones/The Sex Pistols/The Bay City Rollers/TV21/The Three Degrees/Wreckless Eric/Clive Langer/Barbara Dixon/Jonah Lewie/Larry Wallis/Telephone/Maxine Nightingale/Shirley Bassey/Kathy Kirby/Simon May/Paul & Barry Ryan/Dolly Mixtures/Hello/Clover/Huey Lewis/The Damned/The Passion Puppets/The Bell Stars/Marc Bolan/The Three Degrees/Jethro Tull/David Essex/and many more….

External links

  • Roger Bechirian on Trick Management
  • Sound on Sound interview
  • Roger Bechirian on myspace.com

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