Thursday, June 26, 2008

Production credit

Not only does it surely break all records for reissue speed, but the new version of the Mystery Jets' Twenty One now features a cover of Aztec Camera's Somewhere In My Heart. We don't dare post an mp3, so here's a live version (sorry about the beginning, can't be helped):

Because they're An Eighties-Type Band post-Two Doors Down, on the recording there's ostentatious synths, overcompressed snare, vocal echo, reverb... Erol Alkan's The band have really worked in the detail soundwise. And yet, it could never compete for the effect. Here's the original:

Roddy Frame is a man who has great courage in his convictions and great confidence in his own abilities, yet if he ever hears this sort of thing he must, if not break down in tears, then snuffle a bit to hear what producers Tommy LiPuma and Russ Titelman - not, one guesses, from Stoke Poges - did to his song. The drum sound somewhere between electronic kit and cast iron and that overly tricksy guitar solo for no reason other than a note reading 'SOLO HERE' is the key here. This is very much an eighties production, and in this current realm of making records that are Just Like The Eighties - a special hello to Ladyhawke, who's got that Big Love-era Fleetwood Mac channelling 1983 Bananarama effect down pat and made everyone believe it's a hip new sound - even Two Doors Down's superfluous sax can't fully reassemble what major label records, even those helmed by men like Frame, were supposed to sound like. It's not a criticism you can really lever at any other period of pop music as a whole - if you think about glam, which was supposed to be ostentatious rock'n'roll, those T-Rex and Slade hits still have space to breathe.

Except, does anyone think this period now might not be the best ageing? As any number of those pieces about bad mastering will tell you, this is the age of loudness for the radio, of wanting to fill every last ProTools display nook and cranny and destroying the nuances along the way, from Xenomania to John Cornfield. Even now records are starting to pull back from the brink, less, we suspect, because of hi-fi distortion and red levels in the studio and more because of what it looks like in the WMP display. In ten years' time we might be wondering just when it was unilaterally decided that Be Here Now would have been alright had it just been a bit more punchy throughout.

And in twenty years' time every record will sound like it again, natch.


Anonymous said...

alkan didnt produce the aztec camera, its credited as self produced by the band

Simon said...

We stand corrected.

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