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Pastor of Muppets

The 60s and early 70s

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I was born in 1964, so according to conventional wisdom the musical era which should have defined me was late 70s to early 80s. However, I think that the 60s and early 70s were by far the best, most interesting and innovative period in pop and rock. The Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zep, Zappa, Bowie, Stones etc. This was ground-breaking stuff. Rock 'n' roll evolved from ritual dance music to something you might want to actually listen to. Am I ploughing a lonely furrow here?

Edited by Pastor of Muppets
Forgot about Bowie

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Add Yes, Moody Blues, Vanilla Fudge, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gino Vanelli, ELP, and quite a few others that I'll think of as soon as I click "post", and you get the most musically complex rock music of all time. Some of which borders on Classical music in structure.

 

Personally, I think that was rock's peak.

 

Not that there wasn't good stuff before and after, but it seems like it was the golden era of rock music from this musician's point of view.

 

Bot everyone is entitled to their opinion and I'm sure others have their favorite era.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I think the period will be remembered as truly the genesis of fusion. Cross over of probably every genre. Jazz-rock-classical-indian blended in ways never before heard in the main stream before, as just one example.

Edited by electrow
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I think the period will be remembered as truly the genesis of fusion. Cross over of probably every genre. Jazz-rock-classical-indian blended in ways never before heard in the main stream before' date=' as just one example.[/quote']

 

Indeed. I think it's fair to say that the majority of the record-buying public (here in the UK, at least) hadn't come across the 'dulcet tones' of a sitar before hearing Norwegian Wood

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That's exactly what I'm getting at. The crossovers, mixing, and matching.

 

And this sort of thing was occurring in various genres, including world/international music, jazz, experimental, West African, Asian, etc., incorporating many different elements from what was then typically outside their genre. It seemed to be a time for incorporating lots of things in.

 

It was also a time in which artists began stretching the boundaries of what was "normal" in pop music, whether it was thematic, lyrical, or instrumental passages.

 

By just about any measure, this seems to be the most creative period in music.

 

I don't know so much about fine art and such that I feel comfortable commenting on it, but my guess is that, as this was a largely cultural shift, at least in the West, this explosion in creativity was reflected in fine art (painting, sculpture, etc.) as well.

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And of course electronic technology was beginning to be incorporated into popular music which had never happened before. Hearing a Moog for the first time "truly" was amazing. It was such a diverse musical period which expanded my musical tastes in so many directions.

Edited by electrow

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Good point, that too. Synths were pretty big.

 

Technology kicked the creativity along quite well. Also, advancements in multi-track recording, using the recording studio as a musical instrument, tape loops, musique concréte, and on and on.

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I also think that musicians had more control over the product than the 'suits' in the office.

 

We got things in the music that we musicians love, themes with variations of those themes, longer development of musical ideas, and a break with that 2.5 minute AM radio format.

 

FM was just coming into it's own, and it took a while before the big corporate money dominated it. This gave the musicians with longer songs a place for them to be heard.

 

And I wonder if the drugs of the day had anything to do with it. LSD and Pot as opposed to Cocaine or Ecstasy or whatever the youth is into now?

 

I suppose there may be many factors, and these may have been contributors.

 

Anyway, the Beach Boys broke ground with "Pet Sounds", which inspired the Beatles to do "Sgt. Pepper" and eventually top it with the "Abbey Road Medley", and hen before long everybody jumped on the album as art form instead of just a collection of disparate 3 minute tunes with the weak ones supporting the hits.

 

Albums like "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Thick As A Brick", "Somewhere I've Never Traveled", "Days Of Future Passed", "Tommy", "Abbey Road", "Machine Head", "A Night At The Opera", "Close To The Edge", "Zep III or IV", Fragile, "In The Court Of The Crimson King", "Aqualung", "Royal Scam", "Aja" and so man others never happened before in the Rock genre and haven't happened in Rock or any of its descendants since.

 

I was lucky to be of gigging age during all of that.

 

Perhaps if music hadn't reverted back to overly commercial songs with a one month get-tired-of-and-need-to-get-something-new disposable format, the record companies wouldn't have gotten into the trouble they are in today. Why buy something that you will be tired of and dispose next month?

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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And I wonder if the drugs of the day had anything to do with it. LSD and Pot as opposed to Cocaine or Ecstasy or whatever the youth is into now?

 

Insights and incites by Notes

 

I think back then Music itself was the drug of choice for many - other drugs being incidental. Spending hours listening - the music it self was part of the conversation with those I knew. I remember being invited to a friend's place to hear Jimi Hendrix for the first time, on a high-end sound system - the record was played over and over.

 

 

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I think back then Music itself was the drug of choice for many - other drugs being incidental. Spending hours listening - the music it self was part of the conversation with those I knew. I remember being invited to a friend's place to hear Jimi Hendrix for the first time, on a high-end sound system - the record was played over and over.

 

True. A new album was a social event then. Everybody gathered up to listen to an artists new work, examining the cover art, listening to and then discussing every song. It was a social thing, and one I miss very much.

 

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True. A new album was a social event then. Everybody gathered up to listen to an artists new work, examining the cover art, listening to and then discussing every song. It was a social thing, and one I miss very much.

 

The whole social aspect of music has taken some serious hits over the past few decades. Musicians don't play together as often as they used to, and many people record alone now too, where it used to almost require multiple musicians - Les Paul and Mary Ford aside, you certainly couldn't do extensive multitracked albums by yourself in the earlier days. Plus today there's the whole proliferation of the personal playback device - which is largely a solo listening experience. It's much harder and less common to "share" the listening experience as you described Joe.

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It certainly is Phil. And I think it's tragic really. I fear it will go the way of so many things that used to bring us closer to each other.

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And because most of us listened to the same bands, the music was an icon of a generation. Now that we have rock, alternative, hip-hop, dance, EDM, metal, and so many genres of youth music, we aren't all "on the same page" anymore.

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Music played live along with the singer has an organic feel. Not only are the musicians (singer included as musician) reacting to each other, they are musically breathing with each other.

 

I used to be a first call sax at a local music studio (before the owner had a stroke and closed it). I'd add sax to a rhythm track, sometimes with reference vocals, sometimes with none. It isn't the same thing.

 

One example. The vocalist might intentionally hit a note flat and scoop up to pitch. If I were playing the counter-melody, and if it was appropriate, I would hit the answer part flat and scoop up to pitch. Many other subtleties in pitch, timing, and dynamics are also included.

 

And while I'm on the subject of dynamics. Many modern recordings are so over-compressed the dynamics of the instruments are so diminished that it sucks the life out of the recording.

 

When I started recording, the only compression was what a vacuum tube does, you had to use mic control and the engineer had to be more volume astute. But millions of great recordings were made that way. Since the AM volume wars arrived, way too many recordings are way too compressed.

 

Dynamics are important. Pretend you are scolding a child and you make every syllable and every word about the same volume and see what happens to the expression.

 

Me? I prefer to record with the entire ensemble at the same time, and I prefer to do it at night because I think it works better then. That's how Sinatra did it when he was at his peak. So if you need a few takes, do it. But if everyone is properly prepared before the session, chances are one or two takes is all you will need.

 

And you don't need to take 20 takes of the vocals, snip a few words from take 2 a couple from take 14 followed by a short phrase from take 9 and so on. And if you need auto-tune - get a real singer.

 

End of rant ( for now)

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I used to be a first call sax at a local music studio (before the owner had a stroke and closed it). I'd add sax to a rhythm track, sometimes with reference vocals, sometimes with none. It isn't the same thing.

 

One example. The vocalist might intentionally hit a note flat and scoop up to pitch. If I were playing the counter-melody, and if it was appropriate, I would hit the answer part flat and scoop up to pitch. Many other subtleties in pitch, timing, and dynamics are also included.

 

That brings up an interesting question ... does one track the rhythm section and then overdub the vocals first, or the lead instruments? Some vocalists want to have everything there (including solos) and the track as finished and polished sounding as possible since they feel it's inspiring... while having the vocals there is obviously beneficial for the soloists and lead instruments - they tend to like to follow the vocalist, or at least know where the holes are that the signer left that they can fill...

 

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Well first, while I agree that it was an unusually creative time on many levels, don't forget that was also an era that continued the disposable pop music ethos that was so prevalent in the late 50s/early 60s. What endures through time is the cream of the crop...I'm sure there were a lot of Bach wannabes who did okay at the time, but are forgotten today. Regardless, though, when I looked at the top 100 for 1966, it was a formidable collection of music and almost all of it holds up today.

 

That brings up an interesting question ... does one track the rhythm section and then overdub the vocals first, or the lead instruments? Some vocalists want to have everything there (including solos) and the track as finished and polished sounding as possible since they feel it's inspiring... while having the vocals there is obviously beneficial for the soloists and lead instruments - they tend to like to follow the vocalist, or at least know where the holes are that the signer left that they can fill...

 

I kinda think this deserves its own thread, so I'll start one.

 

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I wonder if a lot of the cross-pollination had to do with the degree of independence of many FM radio DJs. I remember variety programing which really stretched the gamut of musical expression - from baroque to musique concrete to rock to jazz to ethnic to the DJ playing the same cut over & over because he/she personally liked it so much. Granted this was FM, what was considered underground but it influenced the more commercial programming also. The "long" version of Light My Fire was a big deal on commercial radio. Many of the commercial FM stations would be more adventurous in the early morning / late night hours. While there are probably many on line stations providing a wide latitude of musical exposure (the BBC's Radio 3 Midnight Junction for example) the push by the predominant technocratic algorithmic programming is niche oriented as everyone here knows.

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That brings up an interesting question ... does one track the rhythm section and then overdub the vocals first, or the lead instruments? Some vocalists want to have everything there (including solos) and the track as finished and polished sounding as possible since they feel it's inspiring... while having the vocals there is obviously beneficial for the soloists and lead instruments - they tend to like to follow the vocalist, or at least know where the holes are that the signer left that they can fill...

 

This is why people should be able to record with as much of the group playing and singing together as possible. If you need a second guitar, get another player. If you need a harmony vocal, get another singer. Maybe overdub the two bars of english horn in the third chorus, or, with some reservation, the string quartet.

 

Record what you are, not what you think you can be.

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I wonder if a lot of the cross-pollination had to do with the degree of independence of many FM radio DJs...The "long" version of Light My Fire was a big deal on commercial radio. Many of the commercial FM stations would be more adventurous in the early morning / late night hours.

 

As someone who did a lot of radio interviews back then, I can attest that many DJs played the "long" versions of songs so they could go smoke a joint in a leisurely fashion.

 

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That brings up an interesting question ... does one track the rhythm section and then overdub the vocals first, or the lead instruments? Some vocalists want to have everything there (including solos) and the track as finished and polished sounding as possible since they feel it's inspiring... while having the vocals there is obviously beneficial for the soloists and lead instruments - they tend to like to follow the vocalist, or at least know where the holes are that the signer left that they can fill...

 

Some of the tracks I did had a temporary vocal on it, that changed when the singer did the final take. And some of my answer parts were no longer appropriate, it sounded like I wasn't really listening to the singer. When the call and response was for the temp vocals, not the final track. This embarrasses me becatuse I pride myself on the ability to add response lines that are appropriate to what the vocalist is doing. They may contrast, slightly mimic, continue the theme, complete, or anything else that the vocal line inspires in me. But when I'm "on" they are always appropriate (at least I think so).

 

This is another reason why I like recording everything at once. When played live on stage, rock, blues, jazz, country and other modern pop genres of music are about group improvisation over a song structure. When we are doing it all at once, and when we are listening to each other like we should, the interactions are spontaneous and organic. The vocalist might inspire a line from the guitarist that inspires the piano to change his/her comp lines which feeds back to the vocalist, and so on with it's endless variations.

 

Of course there is more than one right way to do anything, and there are other advantages to endless tracks, but when we were limited to 4 tracks, and had to do everything at the same time, I think the interaction between musicians and vocalists was at its high peak.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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I was born in 1948 and I think I'd extend the the end of rock music that I enjoy into the 80's. A lot of the artists started a lot earlier, but they had some good stuff coming out after the 70's. I'm thinking of Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Pat Benatar, Boston, and Heart to name the ones that come to mind. I don't think I listen to any new groups that appeared in this century, and can probably only name a handful.

Edited by Jeff Leites

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I was born in 1948 and I think I'd extend the the end of music rock music that I enjoy into the 80's. A lot of the artists started a lot earlier' date=' but they had some good stuff coming out after the 70's. I'm thinking of Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Pat Benatar, Boston, and Heart to name the ones that come to mind. I don't think I listen to any new groups that appeared in this century, and can probably only name a handful.[/quote']

I was born in 1952 and I know where you're coming from, but I dug and still dig a lot of the stuff that came out in the 90's. Grunge brought the rock back to rock for a time..And the West and Northwest coast produced some fine rockin stuff. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden(and Soundgardens progeny), kept the Guitar front and center. As did STP. A lot of young blues artists came up as well. Rap and Hiphop pretty much have influenced everything since the turn of century as far as popular stuff is concerned. There's not much new music that resembles any of the music old guys like us grew up loving.

 

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This is why people should be able to record with as much of the group playing and singing together as possible. If you need a second guitar, get another player. If you need a harmony vocal, get another singer. Maybe overdub the two bars of english horn in the third chorus, or, with some reservation, the string quartet.

 

I agree with all of that in general principle, and like more "documentary" recordings... but...

 

Record what you are, not what you think you can be.

 

I can also appreciate creative recording too. I see nothing wrong with trying to create something more fanciful and beyond the scope of "the band" if that's what everyone is interested in trying to do.

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