Monday, September 14, 2015
While having dinner with friends last night, this bad sounding, badly produced, badly sung, badly played song was coming over the system. We all knew it was Michael Jackson, but certainly not good Michael Jackson. One friend commented on the lousy drum sound and I blamed the 80s. Another friend pointed out that it was much more recent, which is why none of us knew the song. Turns out, it wasn't that much more recent, but an early 90's tune called "Give In To Me" with my choice of most overrated guitarist, Slash, doing the honors of making the song worse than it already was.
But I'm not here to bury Slash. I am thinking more about just how bad it sounded. Two words that come to mind are cheap and shrill.
This brought to mind a few records, including the recent "stripped down" mix of Lennon's "Double Fantasy," "Let It Be...Naked," the "closet mix" of the third Velvet Underground record and the mono versions of both "Surrealistic Pillow" and "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn," not to mention most mono recordings versus stereo issues. (The differences in the mono and stereo versions of the Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow" are night and day, with the stereo and echo doing to it what Capitol did to the Beatles records in the U.S.) But rather than focus on mono versus stereo, I was thinking about all those records from the 80s and 90s that have not aged well, simply because of the recording and production.
I am not suggesting that "Give In To Me" or "Dangerous," the album from which it appears would improve in a "less is more" situation. "Double Fantasy" didn't, and quite honestly "Let It Be" was fine the way it was. It's "Let It Be," for Pete's sake. But if we are talking about fantasy, I'd give a few bucks for sure, to hear Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." rerecorded. "BITU' is not a favorite, but there are some excellent songs. (Of course, there are.) But the sound of the record, at least for my ears, overshadows the material, so it never gets spun.
It'd be too easy to just choose records from the 80's and 90's, so if it is at all possible, can you think of a record from a different decade (though choices from the 80's and 90's are totally acceptable), where given a rub on Aladdin's lamp, you'd take and produce differently?