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Author Topic: The trainwreck that is The 50th ann. CD  (Read 3709 times)
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« on: May 07, 2020, 02:49:56 AM »



Everytime I listen to this album - which is not very often - I do it with the hope that it is better than I remembered, mostly only to be even more disappointed in the end with this disgusting release of a fantastic tour and band.
So, I wondered how this came to be. It seems to me that the album was not planned as it was released. From what we know what went on with the reunion and the band's break up, here are some guesses what happened. I'm not saying these are the facts, it's just a try to put as much sense into this as I can.


So, there is no question in my mind that some kind of live album was gonna be released at a certain point. That's just how you do it. Big reunion tour, afterwards release an album. I'm pretty sure though that the album we got was still a stopgap. Let's see why.
The Beach Boys not only had a tremendously successful tour, that got bigger as it went on - starting out in April on the level of an act for a QVC audience (not that there's anything wrong with that audience, it just shows you that it was sold to a limited group of people, probably because that's where they hoped for the biggest sells) to multi-song and -interview appearances on the biggest late night shows, headlining performances at festivals, headlines everywhere and the best music tour of the year with offerings for continuing and offers to play a. o. Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve - they also had a hit album (thanks in part to a performance on QVC!) that got them all the way to #3 on the charts. With all the success Capitol Records offered the band a contract for a new album and Brian Wilson was already working on ideas for new Beach Boys songs, some eventually wounding up on his "No Pier Pressure" album. We don't know what such an album would've been like and that's not the topic of this thread. We do know though that the Beach Boys would break up before work on new music would start.

Now, with a successful tour and a hit album, everybody expected new material from the band to cash in on this. It is possible that Capitol had no question in mind that a new beach Boys album would happen, considering that nobody would refuse a deal like the one Capitol offered to the Beach Boys (more touring in high regarded venues, a new album). Except The Beach Boys that is. So, knowing that the momentum of the reunion wouldn't last and nothing new would be coming, a live album was hastily compiled and released.
Of course a live album would've been released under any circumstances. But probably not right after the tour (and with such little promotion). And not THIS album. Considering that what I would call a very reliable source when it comes to the Beach Boys messaged me that Bruce didn't even hear the album before it was released and laterwards apologized for it, and that the collection seemingly comes from already released material (the Japan broadcast, the NPR collection, and other shows that where used for DVDs - I'd have to dig deeper to compare), it seems reasonable to assume that those performances where just thrown together and hastingly mastered so that they would more or less sound like a homogeneous performances (which they don't) - it seems that this was just the last Hail Mary shot. That doesn't explain what they where putting on Brian'S voice on tracks such as "Add some music", but since early concert goers complained about the sound of Brian's voice (which came to be know as "robot-Brian"), I guess these performances were recorded quite early in the tour.

Also the lack of artwork and a booklet suggests that this album was a throwaway to cash in on the last momentum. Now, I do like the pictures they used and don't mind it that much. But the usual way of such a release would go something like this, I'd imagine:
Try to compile the best performances of each song, settle on a setlist (not all songs are going to be used), mix and master the recordings so that they sound like they come from the same show. Now, there are different ways to do this. They don't need to sound the same if the album concept is to present different units of songs from different places. Like having one set from a concert hall, one set from a festival, one open-air set, one accoustic set. But clearly that's not the way these recordings are presented.
The artwork and booklet would then show as much of the excitement of the tour with a great variety of pictures and liner notes that mention all the successes of the tour, maybe some of it's origins, the places where each recording comes from and a generally positive and even nostalgic view of the great summer that was the summer of 2012, on tour with the Beach Boys.
It's also possible that Capitol, expecting the Beach Boys to continue, was waiting for another high-level appearance, like the one at Madison Square Garden, that they would release as the "soundtrack" to the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary. Who knows. But this is broadly speaking the way these things are done.

What does seem obvious though, is that no one, not Joe Thomas, not Brian, probably no one at the record company even, listened to the album that was released. No one with they're head at the right place would let such a travesty of an album to the public. The only reason would be that you know this is all you got and that the time to release it and sell as much units as possible is cut short. So you don't throw in any promotion (because that would cost money) and you hope that the momentum from the tour shifts enough CDs so you make a profit.

Well, I don't know if this was considered the second album that Capitol offered the Beach Boys or if any such agreement was made before the band broke up. As I said, a live album was inescapable. But it seems that this careless disaster was done out of despair, because - and I quote Jack Rieley here - "they blew it" and nobody was prepared for that.
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2020, 04:24:59 AM »

What constantly surprises me about The Beach Boys is, ironically, their ability to consistently bomb after a huge success. California Girls, Barbara Ann, Pet Sounds, Good Vibrations and then it all goes to hell. Kokomo goes #1 and then it all goes to hell. Getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which immediately went to hell. C50 occurs and then it all goes to hell.

The C50 live album is just another product of the comical roller coaster ride that is The Beach Boys. Rocker, I think your theory is spot on. Now, I wouldíve hoped that a live album would have been in the works regardless of what the future held. But the quality of it makes me think it was just some last ditch half-assed effort to squeeze as much money as possible out of fans.

What also surprises me is the number of 5 star reviews on Amazon for that CD. Mike literally sounds like megatron, the audience noise sounds so synthetic - something I canít really explain well, but youíll get these random moments where the audience will cheer, and it always sounds the exact same. It almost reminds me of those clap-tracks on a keyboard.

I make jokes about how bad this album is, but it really does bum me out: I didnít go to any C50 concerts and I regret that a lot. I really hoped that this CD would give me a small glimpse at the magic of that tour. But instead it is just another reminder of how consistently inconsistent this band is. It is my hope that a proper release will happen one day - one that honors the fans, the band, all the roadies, and most important the legacy of Carl and Dennis. There was no need for all the autotune, no need to fly in Brianís vocals (didnít this happen on Heroes and Villains?), no need to simulate audience sounds (or at least mix the real audience so poorly into the blend).

With that said, itís not all bad. But the gems are so few and far between I just donít bother listening to it at all.
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2020, 07:37:35 AM »

Other than listening to bits of a few tracks for morbid research purposes, I've never listened to this travesty of an album. I literally get nauseous when I think about the Autotune on "don't back down". Utterly unlistenable. It turns my stomach and I'm not exaggerating. And the bad vibrations that Mike brought when he ruined this tour made me not want to listen to it whatsoever. If I would ever get the urge to revisit this tour, I would watch a YouTube video of a song or two, where there hasn't been any wretched post production sweetening nonsense done.

An absolute carelessly released album.  Done for contractual purposes. The only reason I could see anybody being interested in listening to this album for enjoyment is if they enjoy necrophilia. I can't think of an officially released album by this band that I would like to listen to less than this. (Except UTL disc 2, barf). Give me SIP on repeat over this.

All in all a true, true shame.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 07:42:03 AM by CenturyDeprived » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2020, 10:02:04 AM »

I don't even have this. Both Concert and In Concert are excellent live albums. Knebworth is fine too (especially Surfer Girl and Rhonda). But this...
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2020, 10:44:23 AM »

In all honesty I really don't have any real issue with this album.  Yeah, it's certainly not perfect but I'm not really sure what people were expecting with it.  The biggest, most reasonable gripe I've heard about it is that it sounds over-produced.  And it does; on "Do It Again" you can totally hear the band singing over the canned vocals from the 2011 remake.  There's weird edits here and there and definitely some pitch correction effects were in play.  Despite all this the mix still sounds pretty clean and completely listenable and you get to hear most of the songs they performed off that tour.  I don't think the casual listener is going to scrutinize over such ultimately trivial things such as CD packaging like us die-hards do (most people listen to music digitally nowadays anyway).  Maybe this live album could have been better but is it seriously that awful?  No.
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2020, 12:09:32 PM »

Iím not saying anything I didnít say at the time but no wonder people buy bootlegs. Another comment on Bruce. I donít know where I read it but he did say he thought the album was going to be from one show, thatís how out of touch and uninvolved he , and probably the others in the band were. We always knew a live album would come out and for months we and other boards literally pleaded for a pure product. The live DVD came out first, processed to hell and the calls got louder...and nobody listened. A real shame but not a surprise given the bands history. Once again defeat grabbed from the jaws of victory.
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2020, 12:21:05 PM »

Iím not saying anything I didnít say at the time but no wonder people buy bootlegs. Another comment on Bruce. I donít know where I read it but he did say he thought the album was going to be from one show, thatís how out of touch and uninvolved he , and probably the others in the band were. We always knew a live album would come out and for months we and other boards literally pleaded for a pure product. The live DVD came out first, processed to hell and the calls got louder...and nobody listened. A real shame but not a surprise given the bands history. Once again defeat grabbed from the jaws of victory.

I mean to be honest most live albums aren't technically "live".  Lots of studio overdubs and post-effects to polish the product.  Some albums hide it better than others do but it's a common practice.  I remember shuttering at the weird auto-tune effects from Paul McCartney's Good Evening New York City album that made him sound like a robot.  And there are plenty of live albums where the performances are culled throughout the entire tour, not limiting them to only one show. 
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2020, 12:36:20 PM »

Iím not saying anything I didnít say at the time but no wonder people buy bootlegs. Another comment on Bruce. I donít know where I read it but he did say he thought the album was going to be from one show, thatís how out of touch and uninvolved he , and probably the others in the band were. We always knew a live album would come out and for months we and other boards literally pleaded for a pure product. The live DVD came out first, processed to hell and the calls got louder...and nobody listened. A real shame but not a surprise given the bands history. Once again defeat grabbed from the jaws of victory.

I mean to be honest most live albums aren't technically "live".  Lots of studio overdubs and post-effects to polish the product.  Some albums hide it better than others do but it's a common practice.  I remember shuttering at the weird auto-tune effects from Paul McCartney's Good Evening New York City album that made him sound like a robot.  And there are plenty of live albums where the performances are culled throughout the entire tour, not limiting them to only one show.  



No one's arguing with that. The whole album just doesn't come close to even the standard that you find on the average live album nowadays. It really is extremely bad.
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2020, 04:09:20 PM »

I don't know every in and out of the deals struck for C50, but I think we can deduce a lot about this live album based on when the tour ended, how it ended, when *this* live album was released, and so on.

The live album came out in May 2013, over a year after the C50 tour started, and 7-8 months after it ended. Let's remember that, apart from some BB fans living in false hope, everybody knew the reunion was DEAD by September 2012.

Long story short, this album reeks of contractual obligation. The label didn't promote it well (same went for the MIC set later in 2013), and even if they had, the band was back to being in shambles and fractured. Nobody wanted to promote it.

As for the album itself, it's not *that* bad. Some of the stuff (mainly some Mike leads) have waayyy too much autotune. Some other stuff on the album seems nearly or fully unscathed (take Dave's lead on "Getcha Back" for instance). It's mixed a bit sterile and dry, but I prefer that to live albums that sound like audience recordings.

No album was ever going to include all 61 songs (plus a few other variants) that had been performed on the tour. Brian always sounded weak when they did "This Whole World." The band never did "Our Prayer" enough to get it sounding as good as it could. Given the politics involved in C50, there was always little to no chance that any full backing band leads were going to be included, apart from Foskett doing a few partial leads on Brian or Carl parts on old songs. So that leaves out several Totten leads, and some Foksett and Darian stuff.

A *TON* of stuff made for C50 in 2012 was just left shelved because of the awful ending. *Multiple* full-length shows were shot for potential release, including Red Rocks. They shot the Hollywood Bowl show in 3-D (seriously!) and a planned theatrical release of that was shelved. Then there's that infamous live video reunion tour project where they solicited funds via "Pledge Music" or whatever it was called. That fell apart and refunds were issued. (Though that particular case may have had much if not all to do with the company doing it rather than the BBs).

The whole thing about C50 was and *could have continued to be* about momentum and marketing synergy and all of that. Had they done was a normal, baseline functional group would do given the RAVE reviews of the tour (and solid notices for the album), they would have done another year of touring in 2013, and *that* tour (new international and domestic touring markets, plus return visits to key markets) could have helped promoted the 2012 live album and Blu-ray (and vice versa).

We're probably lucky if contracts were signed for the Blu-ray and live album before the tour ended, as that stuff may well have never happened had it required the new post-breakup members to agree to those things.

So yes, the C50 live album is a weird lame duck release, essentially an "archival release" even though it was only months old. It came from a band that blinked back into and then again back out of existence in less than a year.

I think a better, fuller album could be pieced together from 2012 shows. I just don't see that happening other than possibly if or when the band opens up an expansive live online archive for download. *Maybe* some 2012 stuff could sneak out mixed in with vintage stuff from the 70s and 80s.
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2020, 04:18:38 PM »

There are no less than three Brian's singing the lead on "Add Some Music To Your Day". That's pretty much all you need to know.
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2020, 04:24:00 PM »

Just imagine the royal Albert Hall show got released as a live CD/DVD
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2020, 07:03:36 PM »

I bought it. I was thrilled to spend a nice afternoon at home listening to the Beach Boys. Listened to it once. Had to force myself to listen to it entirely. Then I sold it in a discount store the next day. I don't think I've ever been that furious after listening to an album.

I didn't have the chance to go to one of the shows (I'm from Belgium, by the way - Hi from Brussels!), so I was really thrilled to hear that a live album would be released. But the way they butchered most of the songs with that disgusting sound? No no no. I kept thinking : I'm glad Carl and Dennis will never hear this.

"Crank up the Beach Boys, baby, don't let the music stop!" sang Randy Newman. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have said that after listening to this monstrosity. It's probably one of the worst releases of all times from a major band. I can listen to SIP and actually enjoy a song or two. (I don't, but I think I could.) But this? Never again! What a waste, what a shame! 
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2020, 11:01:15 PM »

Assuming this Amazon reviewer is the real deal, (Nelson Bragg) itís embarrassing from someone who was on stage for the tour.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3OXJCLQWE0OOG?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2020, 03:05:51 AM »

When I first heard it, I wondered if this was done so badly on purpose by Brian, as a f*ck you to how it ended. Now, I don't know if Brian is the person to do that and I don't have any reason to seriously believe it (I am sure that it didn't happen that way). But when I first heard it, that was the only explanation I could find for it being such a horrible piece of work.





I think a better, fuller album could be pieced together from 2012 shows.


Thing is, there are much better and very good recordings that were broadcast on radio (Sirius, BBC2, NPR), that sound alright - and they even used some of those on the album.
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To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2020, 03:40:08 PM »

When I first heard it, I wondered if this was done so badly on purpose by Brian, as a f*ck you to how it ended. Now, I don't know if Brian is the person to do that and I don't have any reason to seriously believe it (I am sure that it didn't happen that way). But when I first heard it, that was the only explanation I could find for it being such a horrible piece of work.





I think a better, fuller album could be pieced together from 2012 shows.


Thing is, there are much better and very good recordings that were broadcast on radio (Sirius, BBC2, NPR), that sound alright - and they even used some of those on the album.

I'd be fine with the C50 live album treatment, but minus autotune, being given to every song from the tour. But it's not like I've heard immensely better-sounding mixes or performances from C50 compared to the live album. Again, autotune excepted. I've listened to dozens of C50 live recordings. I'm not saying every performance on the live album is better. I'm sure somewhere on the tour there are slightly better performances. But my main gripe with the C50 album was always the autotune, and the lack of additional songs.

But again, for instance, I'm not sure a solid sounding lead from Brian on "This Whole World" or "Good Timin'" exists from the tour. On yet *another* hand, sub-par performances didn't stop them from including "That's Why God Made the Radio" on the live album, a song that sounded near-off-the-rails seemingly *every* time they did it live in 2012.
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« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2020, 06:24:55 PM »

Somewhat related but these clips have just been loaded on YouTube allegedly from the Sirius show 19 April 2012 where Melinda had put auto tune on the mics according to Mike.

Good Vibrations

https://youtu.be/LPmjd_abMxE

Car Medley

https://youtu.be/aVEcZu0o1l4
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« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2020, 03:14:33 AM »

When I first heard it, I wondered if this was done so badly on purpose by Brian, as a f*ck you to how it ended. Now, I don't know if Brian is the person to do that and I don't have any reason to seriously believe it (I am sure that it didn't happen that way). But when I first heard it, that was the only explanation I could find for it being such a horrible piece of work.





I think a better, fuller album could be pieced together from 2012 shows.


Thing is, there are much better and very good recordings that were broadcast on radio (Sirius, BBC2, NPR), that sound alright - and they even used some of those on the album.

I'd be fine with the C50 live album treatment, but minus autotune, being given to every song from the tour. But it's not like I've heard immensely better-sounding mixes or performances from C50 compared to the live album. Again, autotune excepted. I've listened to dozens of C50 live recordings. I'm not saying every performance on the live album is better. I'm sure somewhere on the tour there are slightly better performances. But my main gripe with the C50 album was always the autotune, and the lack of additional songs.




I'm totally on your side with that. That's why multiple shows are recorded, so you can choose the best performance of each track for a live album (I love the performance of "Wendy" for example very much, including Bruce's husky lead), and you don't have to use every single song that was once played. And of course, some post-production work has to be expected as well. But the way it is done here is just awful.
The BBC2 show is pretty great and the NPR collection is available online here if you wanna compare (for the rest you probably have to find nice people who can share them with you as I don't know if those shows are available in an archive or something similar). I've listened just yesterday to the NPR shows and it was all in all a very nice listen while I was working out. Can't say that for the live album.
 
The shortcomings of the album in my opinion seem like they are no mistakes that happened for a reason like having problems with the recordings, not knowing the software they're working with or whatever. It is just that they didn't even try.
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To sum it up, they blew it, they blew it consistently, they continue to blow it, it is tragic and this pathological problem caused The Beach Boys' greatest music to be so underrated by the general public.

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« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2020, 09:51:08 AM »

The post-production "work" on the album is akin to this. Joe Thomas or whoever was responsible should be ashamed, as should anyone who greenlit it.

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« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2020, 10:50:12 AM »

Somewhat related but these clips have just been loaded on YouTube allegedly from the Sirius show 19 April 2012 where Melinda had put auto tune on the mics according to Mike.

Good Vibrations

https://youtu.be/LPmjd_abMxE

Car Medley

https://youtu.be/aVEcZu0o1l4

I listened fairly closely and I truly can't detect any autotune here. Mike has a voice where autotune is fairly noticeable(see his solo work...) and none of that seems to be apparent here. That being said, this might be the best performance of the 'Car Medley' I've heard.
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« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2020, 12:58:52 PM »

I think the truth is, we were so overwhelmed by the idea of the surviving Beach Boys being on stage together, that we overlooked a lot of mediocre performances. The magic of seeing them in person didn't translate to cd. If anyone asks me for a good live BB's album, I will recommend The Beach Boys in Concert from 73, or Knebworth.
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« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2020, 01:45:49 PM »

I don't think the C50 Live CD is as bad as everyone says. Is there auto-tune yes if there wasn't auto-tune it probably wouldn't sound that good. Let's be honest Brian's voice even at the time wasn't great nor is Mike's or was And Al's was still good but he didn't have a lot of leads. The songs were great the auto-tune help supplement it a lot and in general it's a  good live CD. But for my money I agree that the best Beach Boys Live CD by far is in concert from 73. That could be the best live CD ever.
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« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2020, 05:13:48 PM »

Somewhat related but these clips have just been loaded on YouTube allegedly from the Sirius show 19 April 2012 where Melinda had put auto tune on the mics according to Mike.

Good Vibrations

https://youtu.be/LPmjd_abMxE

Car Medley

https://youtu.be/aVEcZu0o1l4

I listened fairly closely and I truly can't detect any autotune here. Mike has a voice where autotune is fairly noticeable(see his solo work...) and none of that seems to be apparent here. That being said, this might be the best performance of the 'Car Medley' I've heard.


What the hell was that at the 1:18 mark? That sounded like a very poor edit
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NateRuvin
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« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2020, 07:23:48 PM »

To my ears, as someone who engineers for a living- there is definitely autotune on Brian's vocals in that Good Vibrations clip. However, I doubt Melinda has the live sound knowledge to actually set the autotune up, like Mike made it seem. It wouldn't surprise me if she requested it though.

That said, I'm glad they dropped the autotune for the live shows. None of the guys, even Brian, need or needed it. If anything, autotune can make pitchy singing sound even worse, by over compensating with the software trying to find the right note. Like at 1:18 during this GV clip. You probably wouldn't have noticed Brian being slightly sharp or flat, but you're sure as hell notice the digital artifacts created by the autotune- what sounds like a "bad edit".

Although I have heard that BW likes using to autotune, with his life long quest to achieve perfect pitch on records, but i have a feeling that the "tune" was a result of Joe Thomas co-producing. You can hear autotune on everything he's worked with Brian and the Boys since Imagination.

While the autotune is distracting, I have learned to enjoy this album. Like my experience with UTL, initially I couldn't get past the autotune, but once I was able to, I found myself enjoying the performances quite a lot. On this CD, I really enjoy Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Wendy, and Then I Kissed Her. I also feel the excitement of being at a BBs show when I listen to the start Do It Again, with Foskett's intro.
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B.E.
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« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2020, 08:02:32 PM »

If anything, autotune can make pitchy singing sound even worse, by over compensating with the software trying to find the right note. Like at 1:18 during this GV clip. You probably wouldn't have noticed Brian being slightly sharp or flat, but you're sure as hell notice the digital artifacts created by the autotune- what sounds like a "bad edit".

I couldn't agree more! Most people (including myself) don't have the ears or training to notice notes that are sung slightly out of tune here or there. And, even if we can, a natural voice singing out of tune still sounds better than an overtly processed voice (IMO). If we can hear the autotune, then it's done more harm than good.
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« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2020, 09:12:54 PM »

For those like you Nate who know auto tune, how would you rate those clips on a scale of 1-10? (with the Live CD being an 11)
I thought Mike was minimal if at all, and the backing 2-3 myself.
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