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  • The sound of Classic Rock

    A lot of people complain about how they don't like the sound of modern rock music.

    Classic rock from the sixties and seventies is still popular and I still see teenagers even today wearing Beatles and Led Zeppelin T-Shirts.

    It's my contention that part of the reason music of that era has stood the test of time is because of the way those records sound.

    In the new Sound on Sound magazine there is an interview with Andrew Scheps about his work on the new Black Sabbath album.

    He says: "Rick Rubin told him to make sure he went back and listened to the first four Black Sabbath records. He did and immediately got it in terms of feel and balance, but also realised that, sonically, what we were going to do would have almost nothing to do with those records. As much as everybody says that the first Black Sabbath albums sound awesome, and they do, you could not put out a record like that now. They work because they're classic albums of their time, but it simply is not what records sound like today. If I had tried to mix their new album to make it sound like their first albums, nobody would have liked it. It would not make sense."

    He goes on: "Today's productions typically have a much louder and denser sound with more low and high end" Then he talks about his analog workflow and that he went out and bought a Neve 8068 console.

    So if people still like those old records and they "make sense" then why would they not like new music that was produced to sound like classic rock?

    To me that makes no sense.


  • #2

    The low end on vinyl is limited by the groove-to-groove spacing, not by what they wanted it to sound like. I agree that a less constrained low end is a good thing. As for the more compressed modern "sound" that is somewhat dictated by the high noise floor of today's typical listening environment - the automobile. In the bad old days the FM stations would compress the crap out of it anyways. I suspect the "more high end" comment is to compensate for the increased incidence of hearing damage amongst the typical music listener .


    "We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us" - Walt Kelly​

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    • guido61
      guido61 commented
      Editing a comment

      RoadRanger wrote:

       I suspect the "more high end" comment is to compensate for the increased incidence of hearing damage amongst the typical music listener .



      Or for the typical Black Sabbath fan, anyway.


    • Folder
      Folder commented
      Editing a comment

      RoadRanger wrote:

      The low end on vinyl is limited by the groove-to-groove spacing, not by what they wanted it to sound like. I agree that a less constrained low end is a good thing. As for the more compressed modern "sound" that is somewhat dictated by the high noise floor of today's typical listening environment - the automobile. In the bad old days the FM stations would compress the crap out of it anyways. I suspect the "more high end" comment is to compensate for the increased incidence of hearing damage amongst the typical music listener .


       

      I


  • #3

    Folder wrote:

    So if people still like those old records and they "make sense" then why would they not like new music that was produced to sound like classic rock?

    To me that makes no sense.


    They are "of a time".   A lot of people still like old black and white TV shows.  I run into lots of kids who love Andy Griffith reruns.  A lot of those old shows were some of the best things ever on television.   But should shows be made that look and feel the same way today?  No.  It wouldn't make sense.

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    • #4

      Folder wrote:

      A lot of people complain about how they don't like the sound of modern rock music.

      Classic rock from the sixties and seventies is still popular and I still see teenagers even today wearing Beatles and Led Zeppelin T-Shirts.

      It's my contention that part of the reason music of that era has stood the test of time is because of the way those records sound.

      In the new Sound on Sound magazine there is an interview with Andrew Scheps about his work on the new Black Sabbath album.

      He says: "Rick Rubin told him to make sure he went back and listened to the first four Black Sabbath records. He did and immediately got it in terms of feel and balance, but also realised that, sonically, what we were going to do would have almost nothing to do with those records. As much as everybody says that the first Black Sabbath albums sound awesome, and they do, you could not put out a record like that now. They work because they're classic albums of their time, but it simply is not what records sound like today. If I had tried to mix their new album to make it sound like their first albums, nobody would have liked it. It would not make sense."

      He goes on: "Today's productions typically have a much louder and denser sound with more low and high end" Then he talks about his analog workflow and that he went out and bought a Neve 8068 console.

      So if people still like those old records and they "make sense" then why would they not like new music that was produced to sound like classic rock?

      To me that makes no sense.


      The new Black Sabbath album sounds very analog, but also sounds modern.  It's quite good sonically, if a bit more compressed than I would prefer personally, but generally speaking, I think Rubin nailed it.  And I think he's right.  You don't need to or even want to try and replicate the sound of the old records sonically.  Record 'em on analog gear so it sounds great and just get on with it.

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      Comment


      • blue2blue
        blue2blue commented
        Editing a comment

        I love the way the Boswells Sisters records sound from the early '30s. But that doesn't mean if I had their greatgrandkids band that sounded just like them in the studio today I would want the finished sound to be that of those scratchy old records recorded not long after the advent of electric cutting.


        For that matter, I like the way I remember the early Sabbath albums sounding (one of the few bands mostly missing out on syndication except for some horrible sounding live records). I might try to capture the vibe of the sound, but I'm not going to purposely degrade the recording to sound nostalgic; as the quote in the first post hints, it's really nostalgia for the music that makes folks love the sound. If you slap those sonics on new music that doesn't have the charm the original brought to listeners in the early 70s, I don't think it's going to create the same kind of bond. 


    • #5

       

      Last year there was a big buzz about how Aerosmith had gotten back together with their seventies producer Jack Douglas and that they were making a record that was going to sound like their classic seventies records. I was really looking forward to hearing it .

      Douglas said:

      "I was looking to get back to the truth in both sound and the band themselves, breaking it down to the raw sound that we used to get, which is two guitars, bass and drums, vocals, an occasional keyboard, an occasional lead over the two rhythms going. And then truth in sound. I mean, we recorded to tape; the processing is all old analog 2 bear, so we're really looking to get back to where we were in the '70s in feel. So that's what we're doing, trying to make a true album."

      ?

      Then I heard this on the radio:

      ?

      I like the song but I don't think it sounds anything like their seventies records. 

      ?

      ??

      In this month's Vintage Guitar magazine Brad Whitford talks about Aerosmith and says:

      "It's all about the performance, I wish we could take it to that level in the studio, we haven't got back there yet. I keep pushing it, I keep trying to stop the pro tools people at the door because I don't like that stuff anymore. And, I'm seeing all those young bands go into the studio with no click track - Just a 24 track machine, no computers anywhere in sight, getting records pressed on vinyl. You listen to them and you go. "Oh my god! You can still do it, we should go in and do it like that! It sounds so great.

      So what happened?

      Comment


      • kurdy
        kurdy commented
        Editing a comment

        Lately, the gym I go to seems to be playing more of what you might call "classic-rock". Maybe sonically it's better, but certainly irritating in other ways (screaming vocals and long, screechy guitar solos, to name a couple). Makes me want to beg them to please put on some top-40.

        A lot of my favorite music is from the '60s, '70s and '80s, but let's just say those eras certainly had their share of quirks, like any other.

        I find a lot of music from the mid-to-late '80s to be pretty thin and brittle sounding. It doesn't keep my from enjoying it though (provided it's a song I like). You just sort of accept the sonics as characteristic of their time.


      • blue2blue
        blue2blue commented
        Editing a comment

        They may have used tape and old gear but whoever mixed it approached it as a 'contemporary' pop-rock mix... huge bottom, big reverb, even bigger vocal.


        Tape or retro gear will [EDIT: not], by themselves, give you a classic 70s mix. You sort of have to have that 70s dry sonic ethos in your head... 


        People talk as though all you have to do is get the band in a room and roll tape to get that classic 70s sound -- but it was a highly manicured, anything-but-off-the-cuff, very, very studio sound. One of the things about Aerosmith was that that brought a rough/rowdy rock vibe to what were mostly very clean, very well manicured records. Aerosmith was one of the first 'back-to-rock' bands if you are old enough to remember their introduction to the culture. They'd been ignored by labels and toured themselves into a raw sounding but ultimately tight band -- it was a nice contrast to some of the florid mid-70s band-as-demi-god sort of things. 


        And then they threw that down in the middle of some very good sounding studio recodings. It was a pretty winning combinatin in many ways. (It even drew me and a pal to one of their shows, where we were surrounded by male teenyboppers. It was pretty funny. I didn't feel so old again until I saw the Pixies in the 80s and the average audience member appeared to be 16 and female. Kids loove that hook music.


    • #6
      They forgot to call Rick Rubin^**
      ___

      Comment


      • Phil O'Keefe
        Phil O'Keefe commented
        Editing a comment

        That's the thing - I think it's more in the approach than in the gear you use. Don't want to slice and dice with a DAW? Then don't do it. Rehearse like mad, and throw it down as a band when you track the rhythm section, and then overdub vocals, leads, etc. and punch in when you need to fix any mistakes instead of comping, editing, and pitch correcting - approach it the way we used to do it in the 70s and 80s.


        You can treat PT (or any DAW) like a 2" tape machine if you want... it's all in how you decide to use it. If you want more vintage sounding tracks, then maybe consider taking a vintage recording approach, even if you're using a modern DAW. 


    • #7

      I think its probably a lot of very subtle reasons.  I want to give it some more thought - its a great topic to ponder.  I was talking with friends, just the other day, about how we actually missed the crackle sound from vinyl albums.  LOL!

      Comment


      • #8

        Folder wrote:

        A lot of people complain about how they don't like the sound of modern rock music.


        Classic rock from the sixties and seventies is still popular and I still see teenagers even today wearing Beatles and Led Zeppelin T-Shirts.


        It's my contention that part of the reason music of that era has stood the test of time is because of the way those records sound.


        In the new Sound on Sound magazine there is an interview with Andrew Scheps about his work on the new Black Sabbath album.


        He says: "Rick Rubin told him to make sure he went back and listened to the first four Black Sabbath records. He did and immediately got it in terms of feel and balance, but also realised that, sonically, what we were going to do would have almost nothing to do with those records. As much as everybody says that the first Black Sabbath albums sound awesome, and they do, you could not put out a record like that now. They work because they're classic albums of their time, but it simply is not what records sound like today. If I had tried to mix their new album to make it sound like their first albums, nobody would have liked it. It would not make sense."


        He goes on: "Today's productions typically have a much louder and denser sound with more low and high end" Then he talks about his analog workflow and that he went out and bought a Neve 8068 console.


        So if people still like those old records and they "make sense" then why would they not like new music that was produced to sound like classic rock?


        To me that makes no sense.




        I seriously doubt such a strategy would accomplish much in the marketplace.


        People bonded with those songs because of the songs, not the production niceties. Look at how many awful sounding records are 'classics.' And how many 'great sounding' records have gone straight to cut-out. 


        And, of course, the the core reason most bonded with the songs was because they were imprinted with them when they were young, impressionable, and often full of enthusiasm for life and in love with the newness of it all.


        The lo fi crowd have got themselves so bunched up around this they actually exalt low quality sound and prowl thrift stores looking for old four trackers just to get a properly degraded (but 'warm') ttape sound.


        You can thin out the bass as it would have had to be for a grooved record, dull the highs (most people have them too hyped these days, anyhow, seems), record on analog tape, use all old gear, press it in vinyl... but that's not what they came for.



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        The chorus seems a little weak... I think it needs more lasers.

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