Tag Archives: music

a change of subject

When it comes to music, my favourite experience is a quality live performance, but I do mean quality – high quality. Because of the effects of studio manipulation, live reproduction is now an especially challenging environment. We’re so used to hearing sound manipulated to digital perfection, pumped through Reason, Rebirth or whichever software package and exported with bare remnants of the artist’s natural talent (or lack of) remaining – Brittany et al, I’m talkin’ bout you.

Nathan Haines could always throw down a live sound that exceeded the de-tuned blandness that his record label insisted on for his albums. Conversely, the American rock & roll legend of Guns & Roses had a shite live sound – nothing like the heavily processed hits featured on radio. The Travelling Wilburys offered an amazing clash – from Roy Orbison (that operatic voice didn’t ever need processing, the single best voice in popular music ever) through Jeff Lynn (whose production skills far exceeded his natural singing ability) to Bob Dylan (no post-production effort will ever make him a tuneful singer, although he remains America’s best songwriter.)

In a way, this thing for one-take live excellence is a metaphor for my own professional output. I do it by myself, often for myself – just to see if it can be done. I do it the best I possibly can – ignoring time & incurred expense – until the job has gone from concept to completion, from a fleeting idea to a finished article. I don’t hide behind a team of subjugates, there’s no-one doing my coding/layout/databases/graphics for me, apart from me. There’s no layers of electronic production smoothing over my work. 1024kb is quality one-take live IT support for you, your friend and your business.

Single-shot live performances that work for me include Billy Preston’s oh-so-right My Sweet Lord at Concert For George –

I read so much into this rendition. Billy recorded the song before George (the author) topped the charts with it. As such, the memorial Concert For George was the last time this song could be “officially” performed – in my eyes anyway. And they cracked it, fully.

Roy Orbison & Friends is the innocuous artist credit for A Black & White Night.

Roy’s friends include Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, kd lang, Bonnie Rait, Jennifer Warnes & Tom Waits amongst others. James Burton leads the ex-Elvis Presley TCB Band – just in case they needed a tight rhythm section. The entire DVD concert is great viewing – look for Bruce Springsteen sharing the mic with Roy. The Boss is yelling as he does, Roy is just singing, yet you can hardly hear Springsteen.

These performances are rare. When I find a gig that grabs my attention, it becomes an instant lifelong favourite. Which brings me to my newest Hall Of Fame addition. A double paradox this time – Led Zep were never really a band that grabbed me, I just didn’t quite get it. And their live sound was awful, Robert Plant’s voice is not an outdoor auditorium voice. Sure, the studio results were massively impressive – but it took 5 full years to engineer & master their reunion concert into a palatable retail offering.
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