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Hard Truth

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  1. I listen to a lot of older music and often there are imperfections in the recordings. One of the most common is having a particular instrument too low or high when it first begins a solo. For me, a good performance and good material will usually transcend a flawed recording. By good performance I mean enthusiastic and heart-felt, not perfectly precise. It takes really bad room acoustics (as heard on many non-professionally recorded live performances on bootleg releases) and excessive noise (audience noise or the background noise heard on a damaged vinyl record) to make good music unlistenable. The advantage of digital recording is that it is possible to fix distracting errors in an otherwise good performance. The technology does not, and can not, make the music sterile, only a bad performance, poor material or excessive manipulation of a recording can do that.
  2. This is the second time Gibson has burned me this way. I loved Opcode's Vision, which they also killed. I noticed that the company Magix http://www.magix.com/us/ is keeping Acid and Sound Forge alive. Perhaps they can preserve Sonar also. I think part of the problem with the music software industry is the pressure to add new features every year. In most cases, for me, doing an update is not worth the installation effort, learning period and disruption that result. I wish there was more emphasis on making software reliable rather than continually piling on new features or rearranging the user interface. (However, I will admit that I have not had many stability issues in recent years.) Generally, the user can add a feature as needed by adding a plug-in. Perhaps, the subscription method for software as adopted by Adobe and Avid will help keep software makers financially stable. I just hope that buying the product rather than leasing remains an option. When I started to hate Apple due to their constant system changes that required replacing functioning hardware (peripherals) too often, I switched to PCs and Sonar. (largely due to Craig's recommendation). It has been a much smoother and more stable situation since I made that move. Largely. because I no longer try to make new software run on an older computer. Now I generally only use software bought within a couple of years after the computer was manufactured. After using Vision and Performer, I found Sonar fairly similar and easy to learn. I'll probably keep my current rig for a couple more years (hardware willing) and then upgrade the computer and move to Performer, which I liked on the Mac and would have used on the PC if it was available when I made the switch away from Macs. I'll gamble that selling hardware will keep MOTU and their software alive for awhile. I will be avoiding Gibson products in the future. They seem more pre-occupied with leveraging their "legendary" brand for maximum profit rather than providing good value for the money.
  3. Also noteworthy: George Harrison's "Sue Me, Sue You Blues" and Rob Fulkes "F*ck this Town" (about Nashville)
  4. I don't think this one can be beat: Hit Factory/Business is Business by Godley & Crème. [video=youtube;8sH9Cqmkwcg] We're all working in a hit Factory We're all working Keep it simple Keep it neat Aim your hook At the man in the street Throw him the bones But freeze the meat 'Cos the meat goes off But the beat goes on Business is business Business is business Business is business And only the tough survive Radio fallout In an open prison Jazz-based soul tinged Watered down rhythm Too many pretty sleeves With Nothing in 'em Johnny be good or bad But not indifferent Hard-core bland-out Stocking filler Soft-sell overkill Tee-shirts given Everybody's wearing them See you at the party tonight M. O.R. Is good M. O.R. Is safe M. O.R. Is here Just give it to 'em Never think about it Force fed On half dead melodies Dragged up from the archives Playing on your sympathies I'm being brain-washed And don't know how to block it 'Cos something in the chorus Burns a hole in my pocket And I can't feel the pain When my finger's in the socket And only the numb survive Only the numb survive Only the numb survive Business is business Business is business Business is business Everyone was doing it You weren't at the party last night M. O.R. Is good M. O.R. Is safe M. O.R. Is here Where Relax, Relax Relax, Relax Relax, Relax Relax, Relax Maybe you can think of a way To turn me on
  5. Doing covers can be a disservice if its done badly. In my opinion, medleys are often the worst way to do covers, especially when a band makes a bunch of different songs all sound the same by using the same beat and/or sound for the whole medley. Stars on 45 and Jive Bunny are a couple of serious offenders. If a performer doesn't like a song enough to play the whole thing, they probably shouldn't play it at all, there are many other songs that they can play. IMO artists who cover a relatively unknown artist's song should announce who wrote it when they play live. That is especially a good idea when it is an artist that never got the acknowledgement that they deserve, such as many blues players/song writers. Otherwise the audience may think its an original. The original artist needs the exposure and the audience will benefit from the quick and painless history lesson. I discovered a lot of great music because a performer announced where the song came from.
  6. Often forgotten is that minority cultures borrow as much artistic influence from the majority culture as vice versa. African American music is quite distinct from African music, largely due to the influence of European people's music. I listen to music from all over the world and can hear the influence of western styles on nearly every modern artist playing the music of their culture. The racist practices of record companies, radio stations etc. hurt(s) many minority musicians financially and otherwise, and the current division of the music market into rigid genre/demographic categories is also harmful to many artists. Elvis was not the problem, because his music sounded original and was not a mere imitation of African American music. Cultural appropriation can be problematic when the motive is purely financial and the underdog status of the imitated musicians is intentionally exploited. An artist like Pat Boone, who did covers of R&B hits without adding anything good and unique to his versions, was a better example of cultural appropriation and a symptom of music industry bigotry. Elvis, the Stones, Beatles etc. introduced many of us to black music and expanded the market for it. They also failed (if they were trying) to accurately imitate their influences. I find that some of the best music is "mis-interpretive music," when the artist tries to incorporate other cultural influences into their music and fail to get it quite right, creating a new music style. Examples include Elvis, Beatles, Stones etc. or more recently, hip-hop/funk influenced rock bands such as Rage Against the Machine. Similarly I enjoy the collage of international influences that appear in Bollywood music and Hindi Pop or the incorporation of hip hop and electronic dance rhythms by Balkan Gypsy brass bands. The world is too small to keep influences from creeping into our music. Music genres that never change with the times and/or incorporate new influences are doomed to fade away as living music. (by the way King Sunny Ade's band had a steel guitarist due to the influence of American country western music)
  7. Generally, I care way more about the music than the image and personality, but in some cases a unique personality is needed to make music special. I've been thinking about that in the area of the blues lately. Few blues artists these days have the big, often weird personalities of the legends such as Muddy Waters, BB King, Howlin' Wolf, and most modern blues is relatively bland as a result. Of course, those guys put their strong personalities into the music and they weren't trying to appeal to a focus group of pubescent girls. Same with Prince, you didn't need to see a picture of him to hear in the music that he was a unique personality.
  8. My two cents on the vinyl fad can be read at http://www.oranjproductions.com/vinyl.htm "...For optimum quality one needs a vinyl record that has not been played frequently that has been stored properly and cleaned before it is played. (of course the cleaning process is likely to damage the vinyl also) In addition, the needle (stylus) must be of good quality, in good condition and clean. The cartridge, which converts the motion of the needle to an electric signal must be of high quality and not too old. The turntable that spins the record needs to move smoothly and consistently and be isolated from any vibration in the room, otherwise someone walking heavily near the turntable may cause it to skip. The signal from the cartridge is very week and requires a good quality preamp for optimum quality. The sound system must be high quality overall to be able to perceive any differences at all. To summarize, the vinyl advocate will tell you that vinyl is better, but only the first few times you play the record and only if you have expensive equipment, properly clean the record and the stylus every time it is played and consistently store the record properly. That is why vinyl is a medium suited for people with ample wealth and leisure time. Of course, these factors can be considered benefits rather than negatives by elitists or the type of people who enjoy the required cleaning and storage rituals..."
  9. My favorite Holdsworth playing is on the Tony Williams Lifetime album Believe it. RIP
  10. Not all LP studios are the same. As I recall, some versions of the studio have all mahogany bodies and lack the maple top.
  11. As the very wise Dan Savage would say: DTMFA. Either that, or pay him by the hour for the work he does do with no promise of future loyalty. In other words treat like him a temp worker, if that is how he behaves.
  12. I have heard a lot of Beatles Bootlegs and outtakes before I ever heard the entire Decca session and the Decca audition recordings were still shockingly bad. There is virtually none of the quality that made the Beatles great. It is amazing how much better their first recordings with George Martin sounded. On the other hand, the live at the Star Club recordings from around the same time are quite exciting and the musicianship seems better. I suspect that the reason the Decca recordings were bad is because they tried to play it safe and were nervous in the studio. The song selection seems to show that they didn't think there was a market for rock music. (Except for the twist, rock 'n roll was in commercial decline at the time.)The beats are weak, there are no originals, the song selection is poor, they sing few harmonies, play almost no solos and there is nothing to make these recordings noteworthy. Some conclusions: 1. They were right to enlist Ringo 2. They needed to capture more of the energy that they could put out live 3. George Martin was the right producer to capture their live energy and add refinements to enhance it. 4. They got a lot better during 1962-63 5. They were good writers by the first album.
  13. You can save a bit of money with the RE320 rather than an RE20 and they are said to sound the same. Its a good mic.
  14. I like Strats but there is something about the attack of notes on the Tele that is special. On a tele you can control that attack and the rest of each note's envelope in a way that allows for a very individual sound for each player. It may be due to the ashtray plate on the bridge pickup. Also, the neck pickup on a Tele can get a very convincing jazz/hollow body type sound, something that the Strat can not do. You do get a greater variety of tones from a Strat, but none of them are as sweet as the Tele's best tones IMO.
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