Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Runicen, Feb 5, 2016.
there weren't any synths on the game. may went to great lengths to use his guitar to make those sounds. i do understand the point your making though.
i think a lot of seventies bands struggled to find modern sounds that suited them, for example jethro tull - lap of luxery, good songs, but it just doesn't quite sound right. i think drum machines had a lot to do with that.
nick cave and the bad seeds, joy division, the smiths, new order, the cure ... and even if you hate those bands there are dozens more that could be put forward.
every decade has its gold and its rubble.
I love most of those bands you mentioned (not the Smiths), but Joy Division can hardly be considered an 80s band. At least not to me.
They existed from 1976-1980. I get it, they sound a little 80s. But they're a forerunner.
Confession: I don't think of Talking Heads as an 80s band either. Their first 3 records (and best, IMO) came out in the 70s.
XTC utilized the DX-7 better than most on English Settlement. In fact, that album, and also Skylarking, I think, stand as great examples of what big 80s production could sound like in a more organic, less processed sort of way.
I don’t mind 80s music. Bad drum sounds though continue to plague otherwise great LPs and bands. Take near-Paisley Underground band True West....great songs, awesome guitar band, and the gated drum sound today just sounds ridiculous and actually detracts quite a lot, it’s so noticeable...
fair point with joy division. my personal favourite from talking heads was remain in light
A great record!
Yeah, a lot of people think of Joy Division as an 80s band, but to me they're more related to the left of center music coming out in the 70s. I do understand that it's hard to think of them as coming from the same decade as someone like Bad Company.
I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that The Game was the first album by Queen to feature synths... In any event, for a band that was so keen on what can best be described as "sound design" (check out the descriptions in their Classic Albums episode for A Night at the Opera to hear about this in full flight), it was was astounding that gaining synths in the mix led to less imaginative sound selections instead of more. Then again, this is a correlation/causation situation. Was it the crutch of synth presets and studio engineers who could dial in sounds for them that led to the laziness or did their increasing laziness as an accompaniment to explosive fame lead them to pick up synths?
Curious as to your thoughts on Under Wraps. Do you think it's just down to the drum machine? I'd agree that the album is lacking something, but I never felt that Tull misused or improperly utilized synthesizers in their music. The production is often what seemed to leave the records flat where they fell apart. Incidentally, if you haven't heard it, Ian Anderson's solo album Walk Into Light is what Under Wraps could have been, better managed. The songwriting is much more tightly integrated with the electronics, in my opinion.
However, their greatest record, - "Remain in Light" was released in Fall 1980, and remains one of the most influential albums of all time. Just my opinion.
You are correct. It is very influential. You are also correct that it is your opinion that it is their greatest.
Don't get me wrong, I love it. My favorite is Fear of Music.
yea the game sounds like it has synths, but it doesn't. it even had a disclaimer on the cover stating that it had no synths. i think freddie also got very into the dance music scene around that time and generally most dance music tends to be simplistic by its nature. i didn't hate post 1980 queen, but i much preferred seventies queen.
i listened to walk into light the other day (for the first time) and quite liked it.
i think it's mainly the drum machines on under wraps. most tull records had fairly dynamic drumming and at that point in time the machines were nowhere near able to replicate it. there are some of those early, cheesy synth sounds that spoiled quite a few songs. often time with new technology we get a new toy and a sound that seems fresh and new, as it kind of is, ends up being cheesy and short lived.
That's the stuff that's aged terribly. Synths imitating other instruments on MOR records. The robotic stuff still sounds great.
it sounds like toy music to me. And there certainly is a lot of toy music out there. It's like some squeeze toy picked up at the mall, repeated 128 times.(No disrespect to the band Squeeze, a band I like whose sound doesn't remotely fit that description.)
Uncomplicated, sequenced synth riffs pretty much define "middle of the road" to me, personally speaking. Gary Numan or Thelonious Monk? Gee, what a no-brainer.
Soft Cell over Bruce Hornsby...ooh, edgy. A musical breakthrough on par with being trapped in a refrigerator.
Great thread about a fascinating decade. I was born in 1965, so I came of age during the 80s. Lots of accurate observations.
The veteran bands mostly ran aground although many (Moody Blues, Floyd, Stones, Who) ironically began the decade with more than respectable efforts. The great Punk bands (Jam, Clash, Minor Threat) briefly flourished and then exited the stage. I guess both the US and UK became more prosperous. But lots of new stuff emerged such as REM, Replacements, Teardrop Explodes, Husker Du, U2, Psychedelic Furs, etc, etc. And Guns n Roses was just up ahead.
I recall being appalled by the drums/synth sound that was all over the place. Now Synth Pop brings back great memories and almost epitomizes the era for me. It is so associated with the 80s that you cannot imagine it during any other time. And it really was bizarre in a wacky sort of way. I have come to view it (bear with me please) as genre similar to what Space Age Pop was to the 60s. Both of them epitomize an era, sound zany but fun, and defy categorization.
I still recall driving with my then girlfriend to her parents's house in Queens with WLIR on the radio. OMD, Divinyls, Depeche Mode, .... ah the memories.
I like a lot of music from the 1980s. I want very little to do with "'80s music." The bands I like with an "80s sound", like Tears For Fears and Crowded House, retain a lot of reference to the music I like from earlier eras. Although the production is often still really glary and overdone. All that reverb, it's like a caricature.
Why does reverb sound similarly obvious on many records from the 1950s, but totally natural in comparison? You got me.
And those clattery drum sounds...no wonder hip-hop swept that aside. If you're going to loop a rhythm track, at least make sure it has some weight to it. The difference between coked-up producers reading an audiology manual on how to obtain maximum midrange punchiness for pop appeal, and weed-smoking producers who realized that bass-heavy production is at least as ear-catching, and that bass riffs can be hooks, with an emphasis on frequencies that don't grate on the ear when overdone. (Or at least they don't grate as much...bass can also be a headache, especially in the hands of ignorant people who can't tell a working woofer from a blown one.) Not that either sound is particularly sophisticated musically. They both impede nuance and sophistication, in point of fact.
U need your hearing checked son
Add Public Enemy
Except that when Steven Wilson reduced some of the reverb on TFF's "Songs from the Big Chair", the sound fell apart. The reverb serves a purpose (though, I admit, it could be replaced with more natural sounding reverb). There is a lot of pathos in typical "80s" vocals, which works well with reverb.
I think you're right about that- the music on that record does require a lot of reverb to tie it together. I just want something warmer, or more tonally dark. Or something. And more swing in the drums. More in the pocket. I think, say, Davitt Sigerson could have done something to bring the sound in a little closer.
Not sure about that. "Are Friends Electric" sounds pretty modern even today. And at the time, it was an extension of punk - something that was decidedly different from the current mainstream bands (the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Boston etc.). Talk Talk said they used synths because they wanted to be different from the mainstream, it was part of a nonconformist attitude. As soon as everybody started using synths, TT dropped them.
Have you ever heard the story of how frustrated Mark Knopfler got during the "Love over Gold" sessions because the sound of the piano on "Private Investigations" kept changing? Hence, the embracing of digital technology on the next album, "Brothers in Arms".
People WANTED a precise sound at the time. Engineers were happy that they didn't have to compromise the masters for vinyl pressings. It was only later when they felt people responded to that analogue "dirt" (which still doesn't equate to "analog is better"). These days, MK records his albums onto digital, but goes through an intermediate tape stage before returning the tracks to the digital domain. The best of both worlds, if you like.
It's a fine song now and very innovative when it was done. Comparing it to Thelonius Monk is ludicrous - if that's how you define MOR, then you're about the most extreme outlier I can imagine.
By the way "Are Friends Electric" is a 1979 release. These two piano interpretations show just how much depth there is to the song. No, it's not Monk, but I think the man himself might appreciate this piano approach
Another nice piano and synth interpretation
"Down in the park" also from 1979 is even more beautiful
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