Archive for August, 2008

Chicanery

August 22, 2008

What is it with recordings past 1977-ish?  I just made that date up. Anyway they just sound too “perfect”. There is no space to let the instruments breathe. The reason I bring this up is because I’m at work and I was listening to some Fleetwood Mac-Peter Green era. That stuff is really good. I thought I liked Clapton . . . I like this guy better. Guitar playing-wise. But then I bought a more recent recording of Peter Green doing a Robert Johnson tune. I really like the song, so I thought the Green version would be cool. And from the 30 second iTunes preview, it did sound pretty good, I liked his voice. But then I listen to it, and the acoustic guitar is perfectly EQ’ed and there are background singers. I just don’t get it. I wanted to hear just Peter Green singing. I rarely care about background vocalists, unless they are another member of the band. I care about the band, not random musicians at certain performances, or on certain recordings. It annoys me to watch a video Eagles concert, or Paul Simon concert, and there are fifteen people on stage . . . three to five back up singers, a bongo player, two keyboardists, five guitar players (to play every single riff from the studio recording). Get those people out of there. Annoying. That is why I like seeing Dave Matthews, sometimes they have guest instrumentalists, but most of the time it is the five of them (peace, Leroi) and they do everything.

Anyway, everyone knows the best recordings came from a dude in the corner of a room with his guitar and a mic. Throw in a drummer and bass player in the same room and you have a classic blues recording. Today every second of song time has some extraneous string arrangement or back up vocal, usually computer generated. That is one reason classic recordings are so good, no fat, just the meat. Their talent shines through, they don’t have to support it with extra junk. You know that legendary band, Cream? Three guys, three instruments. Thats it.

We’ve boiled everything we do today down to an exact science. The process of recording, mixing, and mastering is too predictable and too digital. A lot of older recordings have a lot of reverb on them. I like that, but today there is no ambience, everything is really clean and leveled out, auto-tuned. Drums are too loud today. Listen to older recordings, they aren’t that loud. I’ll throw some dap to whoever recorded the Black Keys record “Magic Potion” because the sound of the recording is pretty “classic” sounding. The first time I heard it I had to ask the person playing it if this was an old group I had never heard of, or a modern group. Because 1. There is pretty much just drums, bass, guitar and voice, and 2. The way it is recorded made the Black Keys sound the way John Mayall and the Bluesbreaker/Fleetwood Mac (original) sounded.

I guess the biggest reason is money. You can record so much cheaper digitally. Reels of tape and tape machines are expensive. And the time involved to get a take right on tape can be take awhile. When I was a musical fledgling I recording on some reels and you can’t mess that stuff up, no digital editing. It took me awhile because I was so nervous knowing that. The last album we did was all in the computer so I didn’t matter if I messed up. Just drop the cursor back a few seconds and punch in. You can punch in on tape too, but there are a lot more variables. Will I be singing at the same volume, playing the same rhythm? I think that process of being able to mess up, but still cut and paste together a good track lets us musicians off the hook with our skills. You can get lazy.

Back in the day, those guys were on it. There wasn’t that laziness that digital affords us today. I mean I’m sure they did a few takes, but listen to live recordings of early Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, any of that stuff is awesome. And in terms of recording its decent, but that imperfectness makes it greater than all the cutting and pasting we can do today. We need to get back to that. Play our instruments better. Work harder. The stuff we pay hundreds, or thousands of dollars for today, in terms equipment, was really cheap back then. And with all our technological achievements, those first guys still sound better, even now? I think we as musicians and songwriters today need to work harder, study what was really good, throw out what is obviously bad, and not polish the life out of our recordings.

I ramble way too much. I’m not sure how I got here, but I need to get back to work. Peace out.

Advertisements

Leroi

August 20, 2008

I was shocked when I found out Leroi Moore passed away yesterday. I had gone to see the Dave Matthews Band in Charleston on July 4th and from most indications it looked like he would be alright. Apparently there were complications from an accident he had and he unexpectedly died yesterday at the age of 46.

I find it sad when anyone passes away, but I actually felt very emotional towards his passing. The music he helped create is such a part of who I am today. And I know a lot of people say things like that, but I didn’t just listen to DMB music, I played it too. Just look at the walls in my room, I’m 27, and my walls are still plastered with my heros. I wanted to, and still want to be, what they are to music today. It doesn’t matter that they don’t have a lot of radio “hits”.  They don’t care. I don’t care. What I care about this band. I want them to do well because they good guys, and they care about what they give to us. I want to treat music they way they treat music . . . as a caretaker of the art. I can’t even quantify how many hours I’ve spent listening to their music. They were the first band where I listened to the entire album. I mean, if I could take five records to a desert island, three of them would probably be Dave Matthew Band records. And to think when they first came out I couldn’t stand them.

See, they care about their fans, which is evident in the thousands upon thousand of people that go to every show. Each show is different. Every solo is changed. That is how music should be. Everyone wanted to watch them experiment and hear something beautiful. Jazz with rock, rock with pop, music with soul. The sax and the violin together.  It is an amazing experience.

There has never been a member of any band that I held so dearly pass away. It is a weird feeling and I don’t know what to take away from it. I’m not his brother, or band mate, or friend.  I didn’t know him. But that is what music does to you in a way so many other arts can’t do.  It isn’t like a painting where you can’t really see the process. With music you attach your own memories to the sounds that other people make, and you take them with you through time.

So I guess what I’m saying is thank you Leroi.  Thanks for wailing on that sax. Thanks for inputing yourself and your soul into what I do. See you in another life, brother.

Josh

Hello

August 19, 2008

Hi there,

My name is Josh Reid, I am a musician in Athens, Ga., and I am in a band called The Reeds. We recently completed our first CD called “Bleed Lust”. What is our sound? We play a blend pop/rock/blues/jazz/folk. If that doesn’t help, you can check out our music at www.thereedsband.com and decide for yourself.

I’m starting this blog to talk about my band, express my passion for music, and deliver any humble opinions I have on the subject. Some things I love, some things I loathe. My attempts at being clever or intelligent will fall short. I generally don’t know what I’m talking about. I accept no responsibility for my grammar (anytime) or for what I may say in any posts after 1 a.m. EST.

I also like religion, beer, football and video games among other things.  In other words, who is to say where we might end up? I think blogs are basically places where we can feel like people are listening.  So if you are, listening, thank you, and feel free to keep up with my blog!