Rock: The Rawer the Better

Posted: April 5, 2012 in Editorials
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Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Rock and Roll has always been as much about the attitude as the music.  However, in recent years, the sheer power of the genre has somewhat dissipated.  Robert Plant, the lead singer of the legendary Led Zeppelin, exemplifies the raw energy that Rock is purely based on.  While Plant is primarily a singer, he sometimes reaches a point where he is so into his music that he starts screaming, yelling and shouting.  Those bold moments are part of what made him such an outstanding musician and performer alike.

Nowadays, it’s very hard to find music that sounds as unprocessed and fervent as the old tunes.  Artists overproduce their music so tremendously using computer programs like “Pro-tools” that listeners may often wonder whether singers actually sound like their voices are projected on the record.  The older recording devices also gave songs a distinct sound.  Bands such as Coldplay or Nickelback layer every instrument frequently and delete all errors, thus giving their tracks a perfect sound quality production-wise.  However, they have difficulty recreating the same sound live, an issue that few older bands struggle with.  The Grateful Dead are even considered to sound better live, in fact, than in studio, as they are not restrained by having to make sure a song is “radio friendly.”

Countless modern rock bands claim to have been influenced by groups such as the Ramones, Sex Pistols and Nirvana.  These bands made their living off wavering from the tide, refusing to make “better sounding” music.  While it is not easy to make out all of the Ramones’ lyrics due to the quality of their sound recording, it would go against everything “Ramone” if they allowed for their music to be “cleaned up.”

As soon as you play a classic rock record, listen for the quiet fuzz of the tape turning that is audible even on re-mastered tracks.  Even that tiny announcement of the start of a song has been eliminated by modern production.

True Rock and Roll is a man sitting in a room, playing a guitar and singing.  Put that on a record and you have music; that is, music full of attitude.

  1. david kaminsky says:

    Listen to “Baby I love you” by the Ramones produced by Phil Spector. He cleaned up their sound, added his wall of strings and made a song which i felt was such a weird mash up of genres, yet I liked it. The Ramones, I heard, hated the results and it’s not played very often.

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