Elton John/Leon Russell "The Union" sound quality

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mindblanking, Dec 15, 2013.

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  1. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    I don't think I've ever started a thread just to rail about how horrible something sounds but wow this is bad. Loud, muddy, compressed to crap. Shame because there's some great stuff on here. Who could've possibly listened to this and said "yeah this sounds great.. Let's release it.". I have a friend who's a folk/country musician and he and his partner released an album on cassette and cd. They were out of CDs so today I hooked up my Tandberg 310 mkII to give the cassette a listen. They recorded it in his living room and the sound quality is a million times better than this abomination. Do others feel this way or am I just cranky?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
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  2. rockclassics

    rockclassics Forum Resident

    Location:
    Arkansas, USA
    I listened to it.....once. I thought the music contained on it was terrible too.
     
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  3. ego1jr

    ego1jr Forum Resident

    You're not alone in your opinion. The last two Elton albums (The Union & The Diving Board) produced by T Bone Burnett sound like crap. Muddy, compressed and the instrumentation poorly mixed. Perhaps T Bone's hearing is shot? It's the only explanation I can come up with. Too bad because the songs and performances are stellar by Elton.
     
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  4. jeff1951

    jeff1951 Forum Resident

    I most certainly agree that the recording quality is awful. What is with T-Bone Burnett? He seems to wear compression and distortion like a badge of honor.
    It took some real effort alsoto get past those same flaws that marred the otherwise excellent Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.
     
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  5. JoeF.

    JoeF. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    It's funny, because I always get suckered in by T-Bone Burnett hype, but I'm never satisfied with the results. The last Greg Allman album, the last two by Elton John, Raising Sand by Plant/Krauss--I thought it was just my hearing. These are all accomplished artists, and listening to these albums, you can sense something good is going on. Too bad they all sound like they were recorded under water.
     
  6. utopiarun

    utopiarun "on the road to Utopia"

    Location:
    Staten Island NY
    I cannot listen to The Union as its so bloody muddy. Supposedly Jim Keltner plays the drums but I can't hear them. The percussion sounds like a horse clomping. Diving Board production isn't great but IMO much better than Union
     
  7. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    I'm feeling better and sad at the same time. I was liking what I could kinda hear but had to take it off. It was that bad.
     
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  8. JoeF.

    JoeF. Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    Okay, then what it is? Why is Burnett the go-to guy among established legacy artists looking for late career buzz? Maybe his production sounds really good in the control room? He has his flaws too, but I think Rick Rubin would have done a much better on The Diving Board. As a huge Elton John fan in my youth who still listens to his earlier stuff, I so wanted that album to be great. Alas...
     
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  9. jeff1951

    jeff1951 Forum Resident

    In all fairness, I must say that T-Bone Burnett was producer on a near-perfectly recorded album that I cherish. I refer to the title Shuffletown by Joe Henry.
    It was an early-on release from his catalogue. It was recorded live to two-track and the intimacy of the recording is captivating. Joe has gone on to make quite a name for himself as a producer by placing established artists in settings he constructs to update their own sounds.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxoIMRS9ano
     
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  10. Captain Groovy

    Captain Groovy Senior Member

    Location:
    Freedonia, USA
    You're not alone - I've avoided buying this on HDtracks because I heard it's no better in hi-rez.

    It's a shame because the music on the album is fantastic. As opposed to The Diving Board which IMO is a lazy, crap album and I wouldn't buy it in hi-rez if it were audiophile quality.

    Give me any of pre-Diving Board albums in excellent sound quality though, please.

    But yes - shame about the SQ on The Union. It's Elton's Memory Almost Full.

    Jeff
     
  11. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mass
    You can add John Mellencamp's "Life Death Love And Freedom" and "No Better Than This" to the great-music-sound-in-the-commode list.
     
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  12. tonyc

    tonyc Well-Known Member

    The songs themselves on "The Union" get better over the course of time. T Bone Burnett does deserve credit for placing Elton's piano in one speaker and Leon's piano in the other speaker so you can listen with headphones and know who is playing at all times. However, the mix is so poor it is mindboggling. I think he did do a better job on "The Diving Board". Of course, there is less going on musically so less to screw up. And the bad news is Elton wants to use him again next time.
     
  13. ego1jr

    ego1jr Forum Resident

    ....that means the next EJ/T Bone album will also sound like crap and it will probably sell about 10,000 copies. A winning combination for sure...
     
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  14. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC USA
    I agree the sound is miserable. I actually like the music and the songs. I don't know what happened to T Bone he used to konw how to make great sounding records. See the reference to the Joe Henry album above.
     
  15. rstamberg

    rstamberg Senior Member

    Location:
    Riverside, CT
    I definitely feel HD Tracks' hi-res files of THE UNION sound better. I made a DVD-Audio disc from them and am very pleased with the sound quality.
     
  16. mindblanking

    mindblanking The Bourbon King Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Good to know. Thx
     
  17. tonyc

    tonyc Well-Known Member

    It is all about first week sales now not total sales. Elton got a U.S. #3 out of the "The Union" and a U.S. #4 out of "The Diving Board". Those are chart rankings out of the 1970s even though they probably sold one tenth of those old albums. But, Elton probably views the T Bone experiment as a success based on that.
     
  18. EddieT

    EddieT Forum Resident

    Location:
    London UK
    As far as TDB goes, talk about breathing the life out of something. Haven't listened to The Union in ages for the same reason. I'll give it another go.
     
  19. Todd W.

    Todd W. It's a Puggle

    Location:
    Maryland
    Absolutely agree!

    Agree again.
     
  20. crazywater

    crazywater Dangerous Dreamer...

    Location:
    Rolesville, NC
    I've got to say that although I agree with the sound quality argument about The Union I think The Diving Board sound is fine. And as far as the music goes, both are among his best work, in my totally non-biased opinion of course. :cool: Truthfully I would put on TDB before The Union anyday. I really didn't expect much from TDB and was very pleasantly surprised how well the songs worked even with the stripped down approach.
     
  21. ego1jr

    ego1jr Forum Resident

    I don't believe TDB has surpassed 100,000 units here in the U.S. which is an extremely dissappointing sale performance, regardless of initial chart debut. Back in the '70's he would achieve both....multi-million sales volume as well as impressive chart success. We live in different times for sure however I can't believe that Elton, T Bone or Capital Records will ultimately look at TDB as a successful project.
     
  22. Todd W.

    Todd W. It's a Puggle

    Location:
    Maryland
    I'm going to say Elton is doing what he wants now. I have read where he was very happy with The Diving Board. I don't ever think record companies are going to be happy with the "older" rock artists numbers any more. The market is just not there as much. So, I am going to respectfully disagree with you. Oh, and I enjoyed the diving board very much.
     
  23. Judge Judy

    Judge Judy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    The music on this album is excellent, in my opinion, probably the best thing Elton John has done since the 1970s. And I have no idea what problems you're talking about in the mix at all. I put it on and I enjoy it.
     
  24. ego1jr

    ego1jr Forum Resident

    Todd....I too really enjoy the songs and performances on TDB. I just an not a fan of the production. To these ears it's a muddy mess, lacking vocal and instrumental separation as well as an almost flat soundstage. Just my opinion....I could be wrong. :)
     
  25. Captain Groovy

    Captain Groovy Senior Member

    Location:
    Freedonia, USA
    You're absolutely correct. There is no way to spin "The Diving Board" as a success even for an "older artist". The labels would love Rod Stewart's attitude or at the very least, singles with a chance for airplay like McCartney's "New". I agree with you - this formula is stale and pleasing very few people. Even the die-hard Elton fans are split on the new album. I have everything he's commercially released, and I think it lacks creativity, memorable tunes, any kind of production finesse... a charmless record.

    I was really blind-sided by the new album as he had such a great streak going in the new millenium. Really shocked and like I've said before, it's sad the label tried to push this as a special record, when the special record, "Captain and the Kid" was just dumped to no fanfair.

    At least with The Union, they marketed it well and the music was top-notch.

    Ah, the days of dropping big coin on Peachtree b-sides. I'd gladly do it again since the songs were far superior to what's on "The Diving Board".

    Too bad about the sound quality of The Union, though. And I'm still waiting to see that Cameron Crowe documentary - anyone know where it is??

    Jeff
     
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