I'll try to highlight the areas which seem to be confusing some.
Although there seems to be some confusion as to whether the SINGLE version is recorded in 4 or 16 track , I feel that they would have utilized 16 , or even 24 , as this suggests , on the LP recording.
“Originally, Allegro had been the Kama Sutra label’s demo studio, but I had higher hopes for it. In the beginning, it had an old Gates Radio console with knobs and no equalisation, and overall there was a pretty poor setup in the control room. So I decided that I had to rebuild the studio, and after about 18 months I designed an all-transistorised mixing board — probably the first one in the city — with Neumann slide faders. At first, it had 12 inputs to work with the eight-track tape machine, and when we went to 16-track I then added four outboard inputs, which was a lot for 1965. I also built Pultec equalisers, de-potting all of the components and making them solid state instead of tube, and they were very quiet. With the old Pultecs, the noise flow was around 50 or 52dB, whereas mine were 65dB, which was pretty damned good.
“Hanging over the console, there were four Altec 604s, which at that time were the speakers of choice, and to drive them I had four Williamson-designed push-pull 60W amplifiers that I myself built. I also had the same Williamson-designed amplifier for the headphones and for the playback, while the tape machines we had were all Scully. These were in what we called the Allegro Blue cabinets — a robin’s-egg blue Formica — made especially for Allegro because I liked that colour. In 1964, we went from four-track to eight-track; by 1965, we were 16-track; and by 1968, we were up to 24-track...”
It’s worth noting that facilities such as Abbey Road didn’t acquire an eight-track until 1968. Allegro was clearly ahead of the curve
“Allegro had just updated to 24-track, and we knew that if we were going to sell albums, we had to be a lot more interesting,” adds Tommy James. “Radio airplay was switching over to stereo, so we had to sound better, everything had to be richer, and our whole recording technique had to be updated along with the technology. When I informed Morris about what we were trying to achieve, Roulette started planning this huge press release for the next single, along the lines of ‘BC becomes AD’. The recording of ‘Crimson & Clover’ took about five hours — it wasn’t like we sat and thought about it a lot, we just did what came naturally, and the tremolo part was something that we came up with in about 20 seconds.”
This refers to the wobbly vocal effect towards the end of the song, which was created by Bruce Staple running Tommy James’s Telefunken 251 through an Ampeg Gemini 2 guitar amp, applying a tremolo whose speed matched the tempo of the track, and having James repeatedly sing, “crimson and clover, over and over,” before running the miked amp back through the console. Following the record’s November 1968 release, some people thought he was singing, ‘Christmas is over.’
“When we back into the studio for the album version, we wanted to make it like the single, and that meant it would have to be at the same speed. Bruce had just brought in this contraption called a variable-frequency oscillator — it sounded very important — which could slow down or speed up the normal wall current from 60 cycles. The idea was to make tape copies of the original 24-track, add more instrumentation and then splice it all back together. That was pretty simple, but we also had to slightly speed up the machine we were going to record on. So we took it up an eighth of a tone and got it exactly right, and then we began making tape copies and recording over them; removing the vocals and adding steel guitar, wah-wah pedals and stuff like that.
“Everything was going great, and in about a day and a half we completed all of the parts. Then we spliced it all together and discovered that the damned varispeed had drifted, meaning it was ever so slightly slower. I didn’t have the time to change it, and so for the next 20 years, every time I played the long version of ‘Crimson & Clover’, I’d hear a slight drop in tone where the edit would go into the instrumental part. It wasn’t much, but enough to piss me off, and it stayed that way until Morris sold Roulette to Rhino in the United States and EMI overseas. Finally, Rhino’s great mastering engineer, Bill Inglot, fixed it digitally, and so since 1988 everything is right.”