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Author Topic: Why All The Hate Concerning Album/Song Production?  (Read 2733 times)
adamghost
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« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2017, 02:17:09 AM »

Last week I had to do a session that required a Farfisa organ sound.

I own a Farfisa.  But it's a pain in the neck to set up and get rolling for an incidental track.  I have an old Vintage Pro module that I often use for vintage sounds, but that also requires an extra layer of cabling.  So I set up the easiest thing available, a Korg X-50, to see if I could get by with the organ sound on there.  And as much as I wanted to save time, I had to put it away and get out the Vintage Pro.  Because I just didn't buy it.  It didn't sound or vibe like a Farfisa, it sounded like a crap synth imitation of one.  It wasn't about whether it was a sample or not, because I didn't wind up using the real Farfisa.  It was about whether it was convincing or not - whether the production choice enhanced and fit the song or if it took me out of it.  When I used the X-50 patch, I noticed the organ sound...in a bad way.  It was distracting, because it didn't fit.  It detracted.  The Vintage Pro, though it wasn't the real deal either, sounded "right."

If that's too obscure you could look at it like food or drink - like if you order a margarita and it tastes like gatorade.  You know, after a good workout, a gatorade can taste great.  But when you order a margarita, that's just not an appropriate taste to find in your glass.

When people hear things like digital artifacts from tuning, or in earlier days a cheesy electronic drum sample, maybe some people aren't that picky about their margaritas and that's cool.  But for a lot of people, that just takes them out of the moment.  Those aren't choices that make sense within the context of the Beach Boys' legacy, and it short-changes that legacy in service of ephemeral commercial considerations.  Commercial considerations in and of themselves aren't bad - but if you don't retain some of what you made you who you are it winds up being a bad strategy:  if it works, you maybe end up doing power ballads for years and never get to play anything you really enjoy (see Chicago for example), and if it doesn't, you just alienated your core fan base, lost your credibility and gained nothing.

Selling out can be great - look at what the B'52's did with "Love Shack" - but to be successful you have to do it within confines that make sense within the tradition of the band.  Or occasionally you get a transformative reinvention like Lindsey Buckingham for Fleetwood Mac or Trevor Rabin for Yes, where you are adding more than just commercialism - you're bringing in a whole new dimension to the sound.  Be that as it may, those choices are a lot of what production is about, because you need someone that can hold all those ideas, view the big picture, and then take it down to the granular level and make the call as to what works and what doesn't.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 02:24:28 AM by adamghost » Logged
Rick5150
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« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2017, 04:11:01 AM »

If that's too obscure you could look at it like food or drink - like if you order a margarita and it tastes like gatorade.  You know, after a good workout, a gatorade can taste great.  But when you order a margarita, that's just not an appropriate taste to find in your glass.

This is interesting. I know what you are saying, but this brings up a few points too. The obvious one is that if you ordered a margarita and they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita - would you be happy? (I will revisit this at the end of the post.)

Consider:

a) If Brian had mega-multi-track recording available to him back in the very early days, and some sort of pitch correction tool like Autotune, he probably would have taken advantage of them, at least at times. It would be an easier (and cheaper) way to achieve his vision without having to have 20 takes of the same thing. But there is an issue that I will discuss in a moment.

b) George Lucas remade the original Star Wars films by adding scenes that he always felt were needed, but he did not have the capability to realize at the time. Once the capability became possible he 'fixed' what was not broken.

The above examples (Autotune and CGI) reflect an artists desire to release something to the public that is less than perfect, but artificially making it closer to perfection using technology.

So my take-aways from this are:

1. In both cases, the end results are acceptable to the majority, but the purists and die hard fans are unhappy with the sterile look and feel and prefer realism and some slight flaws at times.
2. In Brian's case, after I listened to the multiple takes in the Unsurpassed Masters sets, I noticed that even if the notes are perfect, some takes just 'feel' better than others. Often, 2 takes are nearly indistinguishable, yet one is chosen over the other because it feels right. Brian is known for his hard work in the studio and for demanding perfect harmonies and 'feels'. The Autotune is cheating and sounds fake.
3. In George Lucas' case, is the 'special edition" vision only tainted because we saw the original first? If the 'SE' version was THE original version, would we have embraced it in the same way as we did the original, or would we have walked off feeling that it could have been done better? Lucasfilm is known for producing the best, most realistic special effects in the business. The CGI is cheating and looks fake.

So the reality is that if you ordered a margarita and they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita - you would still not be happy because it is still not a margarita. You would soon notice something is not right. The fake would be exposed because you do not get the same feeling from it. I guess that is what makes the Farfisa the better choice too.
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rab2591
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« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2017, 04:55:53 AM »

I really like that post Rick5150, especially your "they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita" comment.

When it comes to pitch effects, I'll always go back to Brian speeding up 'Caroline, No', per his father's suggestion, to make his voice sound younger. That is cheating too, and yet it sounds flippin wonderful.

There are good types of cheating and bad types of cheating. With great power comes great responsibility. Digital technology gives people so much power but that power can be excruciatingly obvious when done the wrong way. Some autotune is done tastefully and you don't even notice it. Other autotune turns vocals into what indeed sound like robots from a George Lucas prequel film and make you want to demand your $20 back from Joe Thomas....that C50 Live album is a worse listen than Summer in Paradise...at least the latter has comedic value, the former is just sad.

Brian had a lot of tricks he used back in his heyday, hell even Spector basically accused Brian of cheating when it came to 'Good Vibrations' (exasperated Phil: "It's an edit record..."). In Phil's eyes he sees any tampering with the recording tape as cheating, and GV probably sounds to him like what any given lead on Joe's C50 Beach Boys record sounds like to us. Cheating is in the eye of the beholder.

Another thing to consider is that this forum isn't (or didn't used to be) a place to find consistent criticism of production value. The same people who berated Brian over his apparently auto-tuned sounding NPP tracks seemed to achieve climax when they heard Mike's Christmas single (where it sounded like the kid from the Problem Child music video stormed the booth and maxed out the autotune dial on the lead vocals).

Anyways, this post is all over the place, and not necessarily a coherent response to you, Rick, or anyone here. More just a rambling string of thoughts. I will like to see Guitarfool's thoughts on this subject, unless he has commented already.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 04:57:46 AM by rab2591 » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2017, 06:08:11 AM »

All production tools can be used well and misused by less talented producers.
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2017, 08:19:47 AM »

Autotune can be a genuine artistic choice. I've heard artists use it to good effect when they want to emphasize an inhuman sentiment or detachment from a situation. It can be used simply to provide textural diversity, which is how Cher used it in "Believe" and is one of my favorite uses of it. It can be part of a genre - T-Pain popularized the association of songs with many autotune artifacts with hip-hop and RnB, to the point where more people associate it with T-Pain than they do with Cher, who pioneered it and had a hit song with it! I don't have a knee-jerk reaction against autotune. I also don't think it means you're a bad singer. I've tried to recreate the autotune effect and in my experience, it has much more to do with the particular autotune algorithm you're using (a bad one algorithm leaves much more noticeable artifacts) and the speed of correction (single most important variable in my opinion) than how bad you're singing. If you sing badly, unless you literally go back note by note and force the singing into a certain melody, it's just going to sound like a distorted version of whatever you sang. There's only so far you can go with autotune and if you change it too radically, you get ridiculous shifts (and that's not what you hear on Kanye West records). Like anything, it can easily become a gimmick in the hands of an unimaginative producer, but that doesn't mean it's inherently worse than, e.g., the gated-reverb drums of the 80s.

With that being said, autotune as used by "legacy" or "classic rock" artists leaves a sour taste in my mouth. If it's being used as a stylistic effect, it reeks of "hey, I'm down with the kids too!" and sounds really painful. Not to mention autotune is already sounding dated - I don't think you can go an entire song with autotune artifacts anymore. If it's being used to "fix" a poor vocal performance but it's not well done and leaves artifacts, then (a) it highlights that you're fixing something, which is bad and (b) that you couldn't even fix it well. Billy Joel's autotuned performance of the National Anthem is my go-to example of really poorly done autotune. I have not heard later BW albums, but I pray the autotune isn't that bad...
T-Pain definitely used it for an effect, that performance without autotune from a few years was great and showed he is talented no matter how he performs.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIjXUg1s5gc
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2017, 08:26:43 AM »

There is no cheating in production unless you're explicitly misrepresenting yourself. Otherwise any means to your desired end is entirely permissible.
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« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2017, 09:08:52 AM »

I made the one comment above, but I wanted to weigh in more substantively on this topic, too.
 
There isnít, to me, any such thing as right or wrong in production choices, which are really aestheticóand therefore inherently subjectiveóchoices. However, there are failures to achieve your intended result. You can be going for a Pet Sounds sound but through any number of failures along the way end up somewhere else entirely. Thatís a failure, not because sounding like Pet Sounds is correct production, but what your intended production that you missed on.
 
Over the years, clearly Brianís production has changed, as has the production of pop musics in general. I like some sounds more than others, and I donít think there is anything inherently wrong with me saying that the production on X ruins it for me. That doesnít make that particular recording bad, or me somehow superior. It just isnít a good match of my ear to its sound. Such is life.
 
What I find very interesting, though, is how often fans seem to believe their particular favorites are the real Brian Wilson production signature, while anything they donít like must have been the influence of Mike, Bruce, Landy, Thomas, Sebu, or some other villain du jour.
 
I canít imagine my Brian embracing tuning effects Ö and therefore he didnít.
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« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2017, 09:33:18 AM »

When people hear things like digital artifacts from tuning, or in earlier days a cheesy electronic drum sample, maybe some people aren't that picky about their margaritas and that's cool.  But for a lot of people, that just takes them out of the moment.  Those aren't choices that make sense within the context of the Beach Boys' legacy, and it short-changes that legacy in service of ephemeral commercial considerations.

I couldn't think of a better, more concise way to explain it! I can't separate the fact that autotune was the sound of one young generation any more than I can separate the fact that cheesy drum reverb was the sound of a different young generation. Going back and using cheesy drum reverbs uncritically makes you sound dated, and you don't even have the benefit of having been the one to use it in context at the time. Using them carefully can add a 'retro' element to a work. It's the difference between wearing 60s-style make-up to work and wearing an entire 60s-inspired outfit complete with miniskirt, flat knee boots, and big hair. The former adds flair; the latter looks like a costume. The same thing applies to music; too often with 'legacy' acts in the 80s and 90s, they sound like they're wearing a sonic costume... and not because they think these new trends can be used interestingly and creatively, but because it's what's selling now.

I mean, is there an alternate universe where 808s and autotuning and samples made sense on a Beach Boys record? If you look at Sweet Insanity, you get rapping and sampling - either a visionary example of meta-reference or a shameless rehash of old sounds and cashing in on modern trends. I was listening to Smile and there was one part - I'd have to check the tracks because I don't have the names memorized yet - where the voices sort of start echoing, but the delay between each echo decreases until the whole thing sort of mushes together and sounds like an explosion. I was thinking this was a surprisingly modern-sounding technique; I could imagine something similar being used in a modern day album by some alternative pop singer. There are modern vocal manipulation techniques, for example (chopping and screwing), that I think could be used. They'd be a link between that sort of early vocal manipulation by tape-cutting and delay, and more modern, sophisticated electronic control of formants and the like. A way to stay modern without sacrificing what makes you you.
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« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2017, 09:43:55 AM »



a) If Brian had mega-multi-track recording available to him back in the very early days, and some sort of pitch correction tool like Autotune, he probably would have taken advantage of them, at least at times. It would be an easier (and cheaper) way to achieve his vision without having to have 20 takes of the same thing. But there is an issue that I will discuss in a moment.

b) George Lucas remade the original Star Wars films by adding scenes that he always felt were needed, but he did not have the capability to realize at the time. Once the capability became possible he 'fixed' what was not broken.

The above examples (Autotune and CGI) reflect an artists desire to release something to the public that is less than perfect, but artificially making it closer to perfection using technology.

So my take-aways from this are:

1. In both cases, the end results are acceptable to the majority, but the purists and die hard fans are unhappy with the sterile look and feel and prefer realism and some slight flaws at times.
2. In Brian's case, after I listened to the multiple takes in the Unsurpassed Masters sets, I noticed that even if the notes are perfect, some takes just 'feel' better than others. Often, 2 takes are nearly indistinguishable, yet one is chosen over the other because it feels right. Brian is known for his hard work in the studio and for demanding perfect harmonies and 'feels'. The Autotune is cheating and sounds fake.
3. In George Lucas' case, is the 'special edition" vision only tainted because we saw the original first? If the 'SE' version was THE original version, would we have embraced it in the same way as we did the original, or would we have walked off feeling that it could have been done better? Lucasfilm is known for producing the best, most realistic special effects in the business. The CGI is cheating and looks fake.

So the reality is that if you ordered a margarita and they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita - you would still not be happy because it is still not a margarita. You would soon notice something is not right. The fake would be exposed because you do not get the same feeling from it. I guess that is what makes the Farfisa the better choice too.

Perhaps the worst thing about Lucas adding the CGI into the original Star Wars movies is that it completely betrays the aesthetic look of those films. It's got nothing to do with that I'm accustomed to (and have zero problem with) how they originally looked... and it's got everything to do with the fact that you can't shoehorn a late 1990s CGI aesthetic into a 1977 film and not have it look like poopoo. And certainly not for some major, entire character who didn't exist in the scene before. A film from 1977 is supposed to look like a film from 1977. Kinda like you can't do a bunch of modern day instrumental overdubs onto original Pet Sounds tracks. Blech.

I have little doubt that Brian would use pitch correction here and there if he had it at his disposal in the 1960s, but I really don't think he'd want it to sound so unnatural as to take the listener out of the experience. Yes, he messed with pitch on songs like She's Going Bald, but that was as a joke to make things sound super weird on purpose. NOT at all what Brian was going for on TWGMTR. Yet there are plenty of moments on TWGMTR where the band vocally sounds super weird, and you can bet that it ain't on purpose to sound weird.


I really like that post Rick5150, especially your "they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita" comment.


When it comes to pitch effects, I'll always go back to Brian speeding up 'Caroline, No', per his father's suggestion, to make his voice sound younger. That is cheating too, and yet it sounds flippin wonderful.



Regarding Caroline, No having been pitch-shifted per Murry's suggestion, I'll just say that while I originally fell in love with the released, sped-up version... once I heard the original speed version, there was NO going back. I don't even like to hear the sped-up one anymore. At all. Brian's voice is far more aching and REAL on the original speed (untampered with) version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWPi8PLo33o

You don't mess with perfection, Murry. You. Just. Don't.

Compare to the sped-up version. Yes, I know this is technically "THE" version of the song. But it's just a little bit off. Brian doesn't quite sound like himself (for good reason - it's not his natural voice!):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w7ZeSIC6K0

And let's not forget, the true reason this song was sped up was for some sort of notion of Murry's that it would be good for commercial purposes. Brian was basically shamed into it. Maybe Brian got talked into making the change and actually believed it was the right thing to do (with no regrets, even today), but Brian has been talked into a lot of things. Ultimately, the decision to do this was NOT motivated on Murry's part by any sort of notion that retaining the most natural, aching, longing emotions was of paramount importance. That was all secondary to trying to make Brian sound "young". It's misguided, and it shows when one really thinks about it. There is truly no comparison between versions, IMHO.

The "we need to sound younger than we really are" thing is as harebrained an idea as it was for Mike to ruin his style of singing in the late '70s, and try to ham it up to mimic his early '60s voice, thus betraying the great softer style he was developing on Meant For You and Big Sur. Bad, bad idea, whether by a singer trying to phrase their own vocals in a "younger" way, or by significantly speeding up a PERFECT vocal for the entirety of a song motivated by trying and create a silly youth illusion. Bad usage of Autotune equals the worst part of all of these aforementioned things, but much, much worse.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 10:00:05 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2017, 10:21:22 AM »

This topic made me listen to some albums I've basically skimmed over since becoming more of a hardcore fan over a decade ago. Specifically, MIU, LA and Beach Boys 85. What I found is that I did enjoy several songs despite the production. I found several tracks on LA and 85 that were extremely good- Where I Belong specifically sounds very 80s to me, but man, it's a great song and performance by Carl. MIU on the other hands, I found I didn't like most of the songs.. because they're just bad songs. But Won'tcha Come Out Tonight still is able to break through just fine. Even She's Got Rhythm has enough to enjoy. So I am convinced now- if the song is a good song, for the most part, the production doesn't matter.
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« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2017, 12:19:43 PM »

a) If Brian had mega-multi-track recording available to him back in the very early days, and some sort of pitch correction tool like Autotune, he probably would have taken advantage of them, at least at times. It would be an easier (and cheaper) way to achieve his vision without having to have 20 takes of the same thing. But there is an issue that I will discuss in a moment.

This kind of statement comes up often in audio-geek talks ... and I never buy it.

Bruce once said something about the type of Producer that Brian was in the '60s was essentially an artifact of the '60s.
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« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2017, 05:09:56 PM »

If that's too obscure you could look at it like food or drink - like if you order a margarita and it tastes like gatorade.  You know, after a good workout, a gatorade can taste great.  But when you order a margarita, that's just not an appropriate taste to find in your glass.

This is interesting. I know what you are saying, but this brings up a few points too. The obvious one is that if you ordered a margarita and they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita - would you be happy? (I will revisit this at the end of the post.)

Consider:

a) If Brian had mega-multi-track recording available to him back in the very early days, and some sort of pitch correction tool like Autotune, he probably would have taken advantage of them, at least at times. It would be an easier (and cheaper) way to achieve his vision without having to have 20 takes of the same thing. But there is an issue that I will discuss in a moment.

b) George Lucas remade the original Star Wars films by adding scenes that he always felt were needed, but he did not have the capability to realize at the time. Once the capability became possible he 'fixed' what was not broken.

The above examples (Autotune and CGI) reflect an artists desire to release something to the public that is less than perfect, but artificially making it closer to perfection using technology.

So my take-aways from this are:

1. In both cases, the end results are acceptable to the majority, but the purists and die hard fans are unhappy with the sterile look and feel and prefer realism and some slight flaws at times.
2. In Brian's case, after I listened to the multiple takes in the Unsurpassed Masters sets, I noticed that even if the notes are perfect, some takes just 'feel' better than others. Often, 2 takes are nearly indistinguishable, yet one is chosen over the other because it feels right. Brian is known for his hard work in the studio and for demanding perfect harmonies and 'feels'. The Autotune is cheating and sounds fake.
3. In George Lucas' case, is the 'special edition" vision only tainted because we saw the original first? If the 'SE' version was THE original version, would we have embraced it in the same way as we did the original, or would we have walked off feeling that it could have been done better? Lucasfilm is known for producing the best, most realistic special effects in the business. The CGI is cheating and looks fake.

So the reality is that if you ordered a margarita and they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita - you would still not be happy because it is still not a margarita. You would soon notice something is not right. The fake would be exposed because you do not get the same feeling from it. I guess that is what makes the Farfisa the better choice too.

I'm a little baffled by this post, Rick, because it seems you totally misunderstood what I was saying.  Perhaps I was not clear.

I did not use the Farfisa.
I used the Vintage Pro Farfisa sample instead of the X-50.  Because it tasted "exactly like a margarita" (well, close enough).  The X-50 sample didn't.
So when you say "I would still not be happy because it is still not a margarita" - that's simply wrong - you're trying to attribute to me a purism-related point I simply didn't make.  The example I used was almost identical to your own hypothetical!  I settled for the almost-margarita.  The point isn't that it has to be a margarita.  The point is that if it isn't even close, then that may be a problem....and if it's OK because not enough people notice it (or acquire the listening skills to notice it) - then does it even matter if anyone knows how to make a margarita anymore?  Some people are fine with gatorade margaritas.  But if you settle for that and say because enough people don't taste it it doesn't matter, there's no motivation or discernment when the margarita is good.

The X-50 simulation of a Farfisa marred the recording - just like the gatorade margarita, or egregious use of autotune, or some other poor production choice.  It was never about whether I hauled out the Farfisa or not.  If I was a purist, I would have hauled it out.  I'm not, and I didn't.  It was about being able to discern what was appropriate to the recording.

To repeat my point: it's not about purism.  It's about whether the production choice takes you out of the recording or not - just as for many of us (I would argue not just purists) the CGI revisions to Star Wars do.  It's not simply because they were "revised."  It's because they are jarring, inappropriate and seem out of place.

I do appreciate your taking the time to post but it's a bit frustrating when someone posts to that length without seeming to understand what they are responding to.  But I admit in the technical speak I was perhaps not clear and that is probably my own fault.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 05:17:15 PM by adamghost » Logged
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« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2017, 05:22:50 PM »

To give another example:  I produced David Marks' last album...but between the band and David's superb preparation and care with the gear, and the good sound of the room, my biggest production decision was to let it be, in effect, a mostly live recording and not mess with it too much.

One thing I did have to do, in order to make everything fit, was to add reverb on the drums, because otherwise they would have sounded too "modern" against the authentic sound of the rest of the band.  And to do this, I had to use digital, in-box reverb.  And this was the biggest thing I agonized over because it had to be authentic-enough sounding that it didn't take the listener out of the experience.

And it didn't.  Nobody ever noticed it was digital reverb on the drums.  Had I not been as careful, would the majority of people have cared?  Perhaps not the majority, but some would have, and it would have substantially marred the recording for them.  No one complained, everyone seemed to like the production from what I can tell, so I did my job which is to not screw it up.

That's what "producing" is supposed to be about....knowing the world the record is supposed to live in and honoring that world - which sometimes means restraining or disciplining yourself.  Purism is not the same thing.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 05:24:35 PM by adamghost » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: April 07, 2017, 11:58:08 PM »

I was never as bothered by the 80's production touches on BB85 or BW88 as some; I was growing up when everything on the radio had that overproduced, synthy sound, so I was used to it. And like it or not, if you wanted airplay back then, you had to present your music in a way that was acceptable to programmers and the mass audience. It's true that at the same time that sound was dominant, there was a movement among some of the new wave rockers back to the basics. Stray Cats, Marshall Crenshaw, the Blasters, Los Lobos - and if you were a veteran rocker like Rick Nelson or the Everly Brothers, that might inspire you to get back to basics in your own music. But I never thought of the Beach Boys as that type of band. Their greatest creations were dense, heavily layered studio productions. In 1966, that meant having a studio full of great musicians playing together live. In 1986, that meant tracking parts separately, on synths and drum machines. Although, in the 90's, when Unplugged caught on big, I could have imagined the BB's doing a semi-live disc of stripped down performances - that's kind of what Brian did on IJWMFTT.
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« Reply #39 on: April 08, 2017, 06:01:35 AM »

Quote
If that's too obscure you could look at it like food or drink - like if you order a margarita and it tastes like gatorade.  You know, after a good workout, a gatorade can taste great.  But when you order a margarita, that's just not an appropriate taste to find in your glass.

Sorry, adamghost - I misunderstood the statement above as you saying that if you order a margarita, Gatorade is not a appropriate substitution. I guess I did not interpret it the way you intended, and instead took that to mean that if you purchase a Beach Boys album expecting one thing and get another, it would not be appropriate.

I did not read the Farfisa statement correctly either. I misread the part where it said "wind up using the real Farfisa". 100% my fault, but in my defense I have no idea what a Farfisa is, so please excuse some of my ignorance. It does not mean I should not have read the post more thoroughly, though.

I was not intentionally trying to misinterpret your words. I just misread your intended meaning and fit the analogy to the perceived outcome. No offense intended, believe me.

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« Reply #40 on: April 08, 2017, 12:33:13 PM »

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If that's too obscure you could look at it like food or drink - like if you order a margarita and it tastes like gatorade.  You know, after a good workout, a gatorade can taste great.  But when you order a margarita, that's just not an appropriate taste to find in your glass.

Sorry, adamghost - I misunderstood the statement above as you saying that if you order a margarita, Gatorade is not a appropriate substitution. I guess I did not interpret it the way you intended, and instead took that to mean that if you purchase a Beach Boys album expecting one thing and get another, it would not be appropriate.

I did not read the Farfisa statement correctly either. I misread the part where it said "wind up using the real Farfisa". 100% my fault, but in my defense I have no idea what a Farfisa is, so please excuse some of my ignorance. It does not mean I should not have read the post more thoroughly, though.

I was not intentionally trying to misinterpret your words. I just misread your intended meaning and fit the analogy to the perceived outcome. No offense intended, believe me.



I wasn't offended.  It happens all the time, so I have to take at least partial responsibility for not being clear.

The gatorade example, btw, is from real life.  In Texas, no less.
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« Reply #41 on: April 08, 2017, 12:36:17 PM »

Adam...Rather than go hunting...Any new recordings from you lately?  I've got the 2006-Dennis and Carl c d sitting right here in front of me.  Lee
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« Reply #42 on: April 08, 2017, 02:42:10 PM »

I wasn't offended.  It happens all the time, so I have to take at least partial responsibility for not being clear.

The gatorade example, btw, is from real life.  In Texas, no less.

Wow, at nearly 55 years old, you might think I was more worldly when it came to drinks, but other than many (many, many) craft beers over the last 35 years, I tend to drink whisky, whiskey or bourbon only, preferring Maker's Mark and Woodford Reserve as well as some scotches like a simple Glenlivet or Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. Never cared for sugary drinks, rum, gin, tequila or vodka.

In your post, I thought you meant that you got Gatorade instead of a margarita, never realizing that a Gatorade margarita was 'a thing'. After you said it was a real life example, I Googled it.  Embarrassed That makes all the difference in the world, as your version has alcohol and would still give you the 'feel' I was referring to. With the inclusion of the alcohol, there would probably be no discernible difference in the concoctions to the average person, and your point is very valid. Oops.

I guess I will have to drink more, so I can understand the references.
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« Reply #43 on: April 08, 2017, 04:56:54 PM »

In 2017 Brian has nothing to lose if he did a mono "wall of sound" type analogue cd/album (like he did with "Today", "Summer Days" and "Andy paley sessions") if he used real instruments and no synths and used old machines from back in the day, old mics etc..IF he did this for his next album I'm sure it would win a grammy!!! It would blow peoples minds..First off (believe it or not) Mono is retro right now (and so is vinyl) but also it would sound so different from what other people are doing now that THAT alone would win him a grammy!!! I think Brian should go into a room with the old equipment with the (surviving members) of the wrecking crew for 3 or 4 months and just do whatever he feels like doing without any other person helping him co-produce..and just see what he comes up with..THAT'S what he should do after he's done touring, just record, record, record....
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« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2017, 06:57:37 PM »

I really like that post Rick5150, especially your "they gave you Gatorade - but the Gatorade tasted exactly like a margarita" comment.

When it comes to pitch effects, I'll always go back to Brian speeding up 'Caroline, No', per his father's suggestion, to make his voice sound younger. That is cheating too, and yet it sounds flippin wonderful.

There are good types of cheating and bad types of cheating. With great power comes great responsibility. Digital technology gives people so much power but that power can be excruciatingly obvious when done the wrong way. Some autotune is done tastefully and you don't even notice it. Other autotune turns vocals into what indeed sound like robots from a George Lucas prequel film and make you want to demand your $20 back from Joe Thomas....that C50 Live album is a worse listen than Summer in Paradise...at least the latter has comedic value, the former is just sad.

Brian had a lot of tricks he used back in his heyday, hell even Spector basically accused Brian of cheating when it came to 'Good Vibrations' (exasperated Phil: "It's an edit record..."). In Phil's eyes he sees any tampering with the recording tape as cheating, and GV probably sounds to him like what any given lead on Joe's C50 Beach Boys record sounds like to us. Cheating is in the eye of the beholder.

Another thing to consider is that this forum isn't (or didn't used to be) a place to find consistent criticism of production value. The same people who berated Brian over his apparently auto-tuned sounding NPP tracks seemed to achieve climax when they heard Mike's Christmas single (where it sounded like the kid from the Problem Child music video stormed the booth and maxed out the autotune dial on the lead vocals).

Anyways, this post is all over the place, and not necessarily a coherent response to you, Rick, or anyone here. More just a rambling string of thoughts. I will like to see Guitarfool's thoughts on this subject, unless he has commented already.

What stands out to me - great post - was the mention of Spector. The very tools and techniques that gave Spector his signature sounds and made him a millionaire had been derided and criticized a decade earlier when a record called "Peg O' My Heart" by The Harmonicats *dared* to use what some considered too much electronic trickery in the form of what some called "electronic reverb" or other variations. As much as listeners loved it, there was some backlash on how the sound was being tampered with electronically. Same with Sinatra when he moved from Capitol to his own Reprise and set up shop at United. Some purists thought there were too many of Bill Putnam's electronic gizmos being used on Frank's records and it was distracting.

How about Les Paul? Lover, 1947- sounds like the soundtrack to a supersonic jet taking off toward Mars. All of Les' varispeeding and phasing and trickery, in 1947...I can't recall how many dozen or even hundred blank acetate discs Les said he burned through in the making of that record. In that era, if you made a mistake you had to scrap the whole disc and start over.

Just take roughly the years 1945 up to 1964, and note how studio tools and techniques which became standard if not required as part of the ground-level recording process had been derided or dismissed years earlier as gimmicks or trickery that affected too much of the pure sound. This was the era when recording meant doing everything live in the same room at the same time, if someone messed up they'd start over.

The tools not only made the process more streamlined, but the true innovators found ways to use those tools in ways no one had done before, and that includes tape editing and use of processing and effects. Like I said, Spector became Spector thanks in large part to Larry Levine, Gold Star, a glorious sounding echo chamber, and creative use of tape delay. While the songs were damn good songs, would they have become massive hit records if they were recorded completely dry with no effects or processing at all? I say no.

And in that regard, any producer has the initiative to do what he or she is feeling like at that moment, on that particular song, etc. Yes, there can be pressure from labels, etc to add certain things to make it sound current (see Bruce's Here Comes The Night disco version for a prime example of how to sound dated before the release of the record itself).

My own opinion, and driven by comments Brian has made on the subjects: As much as it would be cool to go completely retro-vintage-oldschool on a studio session would the 23 year old Brian have chosen to record Pet Sounds or Good Vibrations on the same 2 or 3 track tape machines he used in 62-63? Hell no. If there was something new or something that could be used to create totally new sounds and listening experiences, Brian of all people was one who would push those envelopes and try it. And he did. And I'd say that legacy continued when Stephen Desper began recording the band, and applied technology to the recording process that even today is advanced and groundbreaking in terms of what you can do to create the illusion of depth in a field of sound coming through two speakers.

Find any processing or effect or technique which is considered standard and I guarantee you'll be able to find detractors and critics using similar arguments against it as those who were upset with Peg O' My Heart and that electronic reverb.

And that spirit of innovators and innovation continues as long as they are active. If a producer like Brian can use something in his process to streamline, enhance, improve, change, etc some element of it, he'll try it or do it. Or he'll choose not to. That's what a producer does, not just producers in the upper echelons of pop music history.

The whole retro thing - as much as I love all of the retro stuff - can get ridiculous sometimes. When you have people recording new music in carnival disc-recording booths from 70 years ago, is it more about the novelty or about best serving the song? If the producer wants that sound, then they make the ultimate call. But I can't see bands paying so much extra to go completely retro to the point of obsessiveness if 1. the songs don't measure up as songs and 2. if it's being done more for the retro fetish than serving the music and presenting their vision.

Here is a parallel, and the answer has to be honest. Would anyone use an old mechanical ribbon typewriter in 2017 to type up an important report or paper? It's either yes or no, and I have to think someone who would say yes is either a Luddite or has taken the retro throwback ethic from a cool pastime and hobby into something that is bizarre.

Then apply the manual ribbon typewriter example to a question about whether using or not using newer tools and technologies in the recording process is valid.
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« Reply #45 on: April 09, 2017, 06:18:16 AM »

GF, I agree entirely with that post.

And Rick5150:
I guess I will have to drink more
That's my strategy.
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« Reply #46 on: April 09, 2017, 07:28:29 AM »

Same here GF, Cap what's on tap?
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #47 on: April 09, 2017, 07:35:52 AM »

I don't want to say something off topic and risk crucifixion. (Though tis the season for resurrection, so maybe I shouldn't worry: I'd be back in three days.) So my response is instead to deflect and instead to repeat an earlier sentiment: good production is that which results in the finished recording sounding the way the artist wants it to sound. Listeners' problems are listeners' problems.
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Demon-Fighting Genius, Patronizing Twaddler, Argumentative, Sanctimonious Prick, and Sensationalist Dullard who (occasionally to rarely) puts songs here.

No interest in your assorted grudges and nonsense.
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« Reply #48 on: April 09, 2017, 12:32:36 PM »

Any person who can use any era's production techniques to perfection are great in my book. (To stay on topic during Easter)
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I don't see the point in punishing Brian's musical output solely because Mike wants to wow the President Elect with how long he can weeze "wheeeeeeen" into a microphone.- rab2591
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« Reply #49 on: April 09, 2017, 12:41:06 PM »

Adam...Rather than go hunting...Any new recordings from you lately?  I've got the 2006-Dennis and Carl c d sitting right here in front of me.  Lee

Phew...well, so as not to derail a thread (but there is relevant Beach Boys content) I'll just post a list and a link, and you and others can make your own judgments as to what's worth your time.

As artist, since 2006:
Daylight Kissing Night (2008) - 20-track compilation.
Go West (2009) - 23-track double album, made #22 on amazon for three seconds.
Hello Cleveland (2010)
The Owl and the Full Moon (2013)

Albums I've produced and also performed on in the last two years include:
Summer Children - On The Go (2015) - mostly retro country album with several ace Beach Boys pastiches including the title track
Mod Hippie - Tomorrow Then (2015) - Psychedelic wall-of-sound garage rock
David Marks & The A-Phonics - Back In The Garage (2016) [I did not play on this one, producer only]
Pacific Soul Ltd. - The Dance Divine (2016) - retro soul album (think '70s Bee Gees/'80s Prince) - includes an Al Green-styled version of "God Only Knows" that people either love or hate
Rob Martinez - New Love Environment (2016) - straight down the middle power pop album, really catchy songs; I played all the instruments on this one.
Mod Hippie - Big Wow (2017) - Angular garage rock/post new wave pop album.  David Marks is all over it on lead guitar; D.J. Bonebrake of X drums.

And countless sessions I won't bore you with.  Currently working on Rob Martinez' second album and an album of my own partly recorded in Bali.  Most of these records are available at www.karmafrog.com/store.html

Oh, and I filled in on bass with the Rembrandts last night.  Badly, I might add.  And that's what's going on with me!
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