Were things better back in the old days?
Back in the day.
Were things better back in the old days?
Some might argue they were. Some might not. Musically I am of the opinion we’re dealing with a two edged sword.
Let us go back in time to, let’s say 1978. A year when a favorite band of mine, Jethro Tull, released a completely mind-blowing album called ”Heavy Horses”. This band was known for being a really great live band, pulling off the most progressive and advanced pieces seemingly effortless.
Like a unit, not simply individual performances put together, they moved along in the lanscape of music in synchronicity both live and in studio. Nobody at that time knew what backing tracks where, nobody used them and nobody needed them.
Because the studio environment and the possibilities at that time din’t allow for musicians to create things that could not be performed live. Hence what you hear on the albums from back in the day is actually what happened once the studio technician pressed REC. At least before the introduction of the synthesizer and the computer, which came to life after the discovery and later broad use of the transistor.
With the later to appear computerized studios, which in the nineties became affordable to semi professional producers, and as time went by even to amateur musicians, the possibilities all of a sudden seemed endless. Gone where the limits to how many channels you could use. But a memory was the hassle associated with tape rolls, cutting (with actual scissors) and then taping bits of tape together to later bounce it all down to a new tape, with all the costs and labor that came with it. Finally anyone who had a decent computer and enough patience could create masterpieces that would have been impossible only ten years earlier.
In the years ahead computerized recording studios became more and more powerful. Now all of a sudden you could not only fix a vocal line that was out of tune, you could also tighten up the drum recordings to the extreme of having everything in ridiculous perfect timing, to the micro second. You could employ gregorian choirs for pennies on the dollar by buying a sample library, replace a single note in a super fast guitar solo, etc. etc. etc. Magic.
In the field of hard rock and heavy metal, which is where I come from and easiest can relate to, everyone could now sound perfect and like a true professional. Almost no matter what you put in, you could be pretty sure that if you just poured up a big enough cup of coffee, you could work your way through to perfect results,
Two edged sword.
The result of all this has become – you guessed it: perfection. To me it doesn’t seem to matter what new metal album I put in my cd player, it will most certainly sound good. Nobody is striking or singing a sharp or flat note, the drummer has a crystal clear sound, never plays ahead or behind, the super massive choirs are there to back everything up to – perfection. Indeed.
But I cannot help feeling there is something that got lost in all of this. Gone are the honest expression of the artists, the ”magic of the moment” to quote Scorpions. Gone is the attitude, which now more relies on the end production with its constant battling for loudest song of the year. Maybe it’s just me getting older?
I remember when bands like Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Jethro Tull for that matter, gave the listener something more then quantized perfection. There was feel, expression and passion no matter one sloppy vibrato or one sour vocal note here and there. They were for real, and you could feel it in your stomach – they meant business.
Sadly this hi-tech frame we locked our selves into has lead to a feel of ”paint by numbers”, but musically. At least to me. Where is the attitude, the craziness, where is that mad artist that dare to throw the frame and crayons out the window and start pouring emotions onto the canvas? I can’t be the only one missing this. I can’t be alone in this way of thinking. I know I am not.
Maybe it is time for a me(n)tal revolution since evolution without ’r’ got us all headed for the search of absolute sterility?
Just food for thought. Just saying.
Thank you for your time, and be sure to check out my ”revolutionary” new album ”Sold My Soul”, out the 24th of february. 🙂