[LAU] Chris McCormick

tim hall tech at glastonburymusic.org.uk
Sun Aug 26 06:53:14 EDT 2007

Rob wrote:

> Eh, no matter how well-rehearsed, a live band's sound can never 
> sparkle as much as a recording agonized over by a practiced 
> electronic musician, producer or engineer.  The best they can do is 
> try to approximate it and play a little faster to make up for the 
> shortcomings of live sound.  Conversely, I would question whether 
> electronic musicians are really trying to approximate that live 
> sound; I know that when I've used a sampled break, for example, it 
> was because I wanted it to sound like a sampled break.
> Live bands might have more "energy" or whatever it is that caused 
> people to follow bands like the Dead and Phish around slavishly, but 
> even in those cases I've always found their live performances lacking 
> compared to their comparatively primitive studio releases with their 
> well-defined stereo images, carefully chosen effects and precisely 
> mixed vocals.  Compare a studio recording of "Terrapin Station" 
> or "Reba" to the live equivalent, and I really think anyone with an 
> ear would be hard pressed to say the live one sounds as good.

You're insane!-)

Plus IMO you're not actually listening to the music, you're listening to 
the production. Terrapin Station, the Studio album is overproduced and 
two dimensional IMO. Yes, I know it's a technical masterpiece. I know 
the vocals are mostly in tune and the arrangements are correct, but, 
compared to the live performances of the early '80's, the recordings are 
rather flat and anodyne.

I do understand what you are talking about. Most musicians prefer the 
recordings of their own material produced under sterile conditions. An 
awful lot of bands kill the live dynamic and sound this way, 
particularly if conned into using a click-track and painstakingly 
building the piece track by track. Before long the whole thing is dead 
in the water.

One of the worst crimes to my ear, is the idea that the band should be 
able to play a studio track live and have it sound exactly like it did 
on the album and that the studio recording should be limited to being a 
representation of the live version. These are actually two very 
different mediums, with very different creative possibilities.

Live, the Dead did avoid playing numbers like 'Box of Rain', largely 
because they were not good enough singers, preferring to play numbers 
which had more room for improvisation and band interaction, stuff which 
just doesn't happen on studio albums with all the best will in the world.

Suffice it to say that my playlist is full of live Dead recordings 
rather than any of the studio albums. I don't think you're really 
comparing like with like. There are artists for whom what you say is 
true (The most extreme being XTC, naturally ;) but I think you chose a 
particularly bad example there.



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