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Why do so many hit 80s records sound like crap?
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#751
4th May 2012
Old 4th May 2012
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Rock With You - Michael Jackson - YouTube



Blondie - Call Me - YouTube




Christopher Cross - Ride Like The Wind - YouTube




SOS Band - Take your time (do it right) - YouTube




Captain & Tennille - Do That To Me One More Time - YouTube




Part of the 1980's hit song aesthetic, which is a direct (albeit more technologically progressive) continuation of the 1970's hit song aesthetic, is the bold willingness to *poetically* state one's most raw and unconcealed romantic inclinations without any fear of hyper-sensitive / guarded / repressed individuals cringing at the openness and vulnerability. This was facilitated by the mixing and production. The melodies which deliver said aesthetic were exalted in the mix and production by keeping them as raw, upfront and pure as the message itself. Everything was considered subservient to the melodic theme.
#752
5th May 2012
Old 5th May 2012
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#754
5th May 2012
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  #754
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Lightbulb

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It's the diagonal zippers.

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#755
5th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
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It's the diagonal zippers.

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Be more worried about the rear zippers
#756
6th May 2012
Old 6th May 2012
  #756
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Talking

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Be more worried about the rear zippers
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Ha!

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#757
6th May 2012
Old 6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Musicfan View Post
It seems that some get truly irritated by the fact that not everyone likes to mock, generalize and dismiss an entire decade of music based upon juvenile overgeneralizations, personal preferences and hyped stereotypes.

That electronics music forum post did what you and some others repeatedly do : mock and dismiss an entire decade of music based on the *perceived* (interpreted) cheese factor, and then act as if the presumptuous, overgeneralized stereotype presented is absolute fact and must be universally adhered to.

Btw, I did not start this thread : Sounds of the 1980's as you previously implied.
But, what right do you have to judge if someone can or can't ask how to avoid getting a synth that sounds 'very 80ies'?
You critizise modern productions all the time, that's fine, we all do. Just look at the tons of 'I hate AT / loudness war' etc. threads. Learn to deal with it in the case of 80ies stuff too already.
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#758
6th May 2012
Old 6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeHayduke View Post
But, what right do you have to judge if someone can or can't ask how to avoid getting a synth that sounds 'very 80ies'?
You critizise modern productions all the time, that's fine, we all do. Just look at the tons of 'I hate AT / loudness war' etc. threads. Learn to deal with it in the case of 80ies stuff too already.
1) We all have rights to our opinions and it doesn't take away anyone else's right to their opinion. In that way, it's fully liberated judging.

2) Critical targetting of very specific and identifiable things (such as ''extreme autotune'' or ''extreme lack of dynamics'') isn't undefined, subjective and arbitrary smearing (such as, ''those cheesy 1980's synths'' or ''that crappy 1980's sound''). The former doesn't presumptuously assert personal opinion via overgeneralizations and grand stereotyping.


Calling an entire decade's massive variety of synth sounds ''cheesy'' or calling most of the hit songs of an entire decade's massive variety of sonics ''crappy'' are both nothing more than hyper-simplistic name-calling. The 2 terms are entirely vague and undefined and represent more of a raging personal bias based on limited exposure and cognitive scope.
#759
7th May 2012
Old 7th May 2012
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Well, I am in agreement about the DX-7 and various other synths that were on the cheesy side of the spectrum. Then we have drum machines which also sounded cheesy. Then we have the introduction of digital, which back then they were in the infancy stage. then there was a new crop of producers and I think budgets started shrinking, the usage of sequenced drum tracks, DX-7s and Disco mentality where artists that came from a more classical training were sometimes being forced to throw together danceable music where the artist had little say so. Plus, the SmoothJazz genre was also being produced where the labels were taking some really great musicians and forcing them to make Smooth Jazz or commercial music rather than concept albums with more experimentation. So, for the jazz crowd it was Smooth Jazz. For the pop crowd, it was disco.
#760
7th May 2012
Old 7th May 2012
  #760
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SingleDuality View Post
Well, I am in agreement about the DX-7 and various other synths that were on the cheesy side of the spectrum. Then we have drum machines which also sounded cheesy. Then we have the introduction of digital, which back then they were in the infancy stage. then there was a new crop of producers and I think budgets started shrinking, the usage of sequenced drum tracks, DX-7s and Disco mentality where artists that came from a more classical training were sometimes being forced to throw together danceable music where the artist had little say so. Plus, the SmoothJazz genre was also being produced where the labels were taking some really great musicians and forcing them to make Smooth Jazz or commercial music rather than concept albums with more experimentation. So, for the jazz crowd it was Smooth Jazz. For the pop crowd, it was disco.
You used a key word, 'infancy'. The 1980's exhibited 2 phenomenons in their very early stages of development : pop music synthesizers and digital technology. There is absolutely no way for things in their infancy to sound as mature, refined, balaned, deep and sophisticated as they can in their later stages of development, especially when so many people are getting carried away with the 'wow' factor of the time and jumping on the bandwagon. One could say the first televisions were 'cheesy', but a more fair and objective term would be 'primitive', 'simple' or 'limited'.

I used to call 1980's drum machines 'toyish', because they are simple, limited, primitive and unsophisticated sounding compared to later models. Some people in this thread got tired of me using that term so I dropped it because it didn't respect the chronological *reality* of technological development.

Yamaha DX7 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Check out the very respectable list of artists who have used it, and put yourself in their shoes in their moment when technological hindsight was impossible.

As for disco, it is a creature born of the 1970's. And the 1980's were a *very* lucrative time for the music business. Record stores were thriving, as were live performance and tours.

Terms such as 'cheesy' and 'crappy' do not represent an objective synopsis at all.
#761
7th May 2012
Old 7th May 2012
  #761
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Musicfan View Post
You used a key word, 'infancy'. The 1980's exhibited 2 phenomenons in their very early stages of development : pop music synthesizers and digital technology. There is absolutely no way for things in their infancy to sound as mature, refined, balaned, deep and sophisticated as they can in their later stages of development, especially when so many people are getting carried away with the 'wow' factor of the time and jumping on the bandwagon. One could say the first televisions were 'cheesy', but a more fair and objective term would be 'primitive', 'simple' or 'limited'.

I used to call 1980's drum machines 'toyish', because they are simple, limited, primitive and unsophisticated sounding compared to later models. Some people in this thread got tired of me using that term so I dropped it because it didn't respect the chronological *reality* of technological development.

Yamaha DX7 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Check out the very respectable list of artists who have used it, and put yourself in their shoes in their moment when technological hindsight was impossible.

As for disco, it is creature born of the 1970's. And the 1980's were a *very* lucrative time for the music business. Record stores were thriving, as were live performance and tours.

Terms such as 'cheesy' and 'crappy' do not represent an objective synopsis at all.
+1
#762
7th May 2012
Old 7th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Musicfan View Post
You used a key word, 'infancy'. The 1980's exhibited 2 phenomenons in their very early stages of development : pop music synthesizers and digital technology. There is absolutely no way for things in their infancy to sound as mature, refined, balaned, deep and sophisticated as they can in their later stages of development, especially when so many people are getting carried away with the 'wow' factor of the time and jumping on the bandwagon. One could say the first televisions were 'cheesy', but a more fair and objective term would be 'primitive', 'simple' or 'limited'.

I used to call 1980's drum machines 'toyish', because they are simple, limited, primitive and unsophisticated sounding compared to later models. Some people in this thread got tired of me using that term so I dropped it because it didn't respect the chronological *reality* of technological development.

Yamaha DX7 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Check out the very respectable list of artists who have used it, and put yourself in their shoes in their moment when technological hindsight was impossible.

As for disco, it is creature born of the 1970's. And the 1980's were a *very* lucrative time for the music business. Record stores were thriving, as were live performance and tours.

Terms such as 'cheesy' and 'crappy' do not represent an objective synopsis at all.
+2. EXTREMELY well said!
#763
7th May 2012
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Well, while the "well respected" musicians were using the DX-7 because using a Moog or an Arp 2600 was way too sophisticated, delicate and didn't have presets. I always thought the DX-7 was cheezy, regardless of who used them. I always liked Moog, ARP, PPG, Fairlight and a couple of others, but the DX-7's always sounded like crap, but some people bought into the Yamaha signing famous musicians and pumping equipment out. Yamaha was sponsoring a lot of bands and therefor they used their equipment, some still do, and unfortunately some of it is money driven because people always need a source of free equipment and money. The other problem was, and still it, NS-10's. They give the listener a really cheap monitor to listen to, but the pop crowd got used to them. I guess we can thank Yamaha for the equipment and brainwashing. I remember BEFORE the NS-10's that people were using UREI, Tannoy, JBL as the go-to monitors and only used Auratones for seeing if it would sound great for car stereos for mixes given to the radio stations as they many times got different mixes on those cartridges. (this is back in the late 70's, 80's time frame.) Yeah, some resisted going digital, some went into it using expensive Sony decks. In addition, sampling became the rage back in the early 80's, but they were using early generation converters 16 bit, and the electronics started to take a back seat since they wanted cheaper equipment to make recordings in their house. Basically, I think the 80's was just too much change and equipment went from analog to digital thinking that it was going to solve everyone's problems. Over the past decade or two, vintage has been resurfacing while digital is progressing from 16 bit into 24 bit with better understanding of how to make digital sound more like natural with better converters, etc. We are still trying to get digital to sound as good as analog, but those converters are generally REALLY expensive for high track count studios. Now, we have another dilemma, AutoTune. But there were a few decent recordings done in the 80's.
#764
7th May 2012
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Here is what I remember being the quintessential keyboard rig. MiniMoog, Arp 2600, Oberheim 4 or 8 voice, Rhodes (w or w/o DynoMy upgrade), B3 w/a couple of Leslies, Clavinet, Yamaha electric grand, Arp Sting assemble all going through JBL speakers plopped in whatever brand cabinet with Crown Amps. But most keyboard players can't afford that equipment, don't have the room, the money to cart it around and maintain it.

Then everyone started using a DX-7 with a direct box. See the difference? Oberhiem eventually stopped making synths, Moog went away, Rhodes went away, Clavinets went away, because analog was too big, heavy, constant maintenance, etc. Now, some are going back to the old ways since digital samples just don't have the same guts, feel, and richness of the real thing. I am still waiting for Hohner to recreate the Clavinet. I still have yet to hear a really good Clav. Then we had DA-88's and Alesis DAT recorders coming into studios instead of using 2 inch tape. Then ProTools took over.

For whatever reason, maybe cheaper grade components, Marshall and Fender amps just didn't sound the same as the ones made in the 60's and 70's. Even guitars made by Fender and Gibson didn't sound as good because they are machine winding the pickups rather than hand winding them. Using cheaper grade wood because the good stuff is too expensive. Or using cheaper grade capacitors and resistors, etc. Boogie has maintained their quality, but now we have Marshall and Fender trying to go back to the old vintage sound and the boutique amp makers are making the good stuff again. Thank God.

I think some of the people getting into the record industry as engineers just didn't have the same approach as the legendary masters because some just had a different approach and for whatever reason, they just had an emerging market of people that didn't have experience using older gear. I find it funny that I run into keyboard players that are in their 20's and 30's that have never played a B-3, but they are used to some cheap imitation, because that's what they are exposed to. They never played a Moog or an Arp, so they don't have the knowledge of how to create the classic tones. They just know how to press a button for some factory pre-set. But, fortunately some of that is coming back, just not fast enough.

See some saw the drum machines as taking away the soul of the music before others and it just made the production cheaper because it takes a few hours to create a basic drum groove on a drum machine than it does to take a drummer into a decent studio, mike the set, get tone, and deal with mixing a drum set rather than a drum machine. Many drummers saw it coming, but producers were given a budget and they would cut corners and that's a big amount of money saved in production costs.
#765
8th May 2012
Old 8th May 2012
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The previous 2 posts do an honorable job of describing the *specific* gear and subsequent gear sounds not liked by the poster.

I guess it's a matter of prevalence and perspective : what percentage of the hit songs actually use the despised/'inferior' gear in question and is listener enjoyment of the sounds resulting from supposedly inferior gear possible and defensible.

THE MBG MUSIC CHARTS TOP HITS OF 1980
THE MBG MUSIC CHARTS TOP HITS OF 1981
THE MBG MUSIC CHARTS TOP HITS OF 1982

Top 100 1980 - UK Music Charts
Top 100 1981 - UK Music Charts
Top 100 1982 - UK Music Charts

In the previous 15 songs I've posted, there is no hint of the 'dreaded' and 'unlistenable' Yamaha DX-7 (because it didn't show up until 1983 - and at a price of $2000). Not much for 'soul-less' drum machines on the scene either.

I will point out however, that a great many of the most resolute 1980's music fans concede that the decade deteriorated towards the end. Or did it ?

Much of what we are discussing here is in the realm of subjectvity. While one is generous enough to say there was 'a few' good sounding hit records from the 1980's, others see and hear 100's upon 100's of them.
#766
8th May 2012
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Random thoughts...

I can envision a similar thread on GS in 20 years saying the same about the sound of the last decade.

I see people calling the DX7 cheesy. Personally, I would love a room full of cheesy instruments.

Speaking of instruments, I come across a lot of "studios" that are loaded with the latest plug ins but have very few musical instruments.

In the hands of a true artist a cheesy instrument can be magnificent. In the hands of many a complaining GS whiner a Steinway B can sound like a train wreck.

It ain't what you got but how you use it.

There were many brilliant artists in the 80's that took the tools of the era and spun gold out of em. Annie Lennox, Thomas Dolby, Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, Toto, Duran Duran, Jan Hammer, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, U2, Simply Red, UB40, Guns & Roses, Police, Prince, Pretenders, XTC, The Cure. Lots of variety for sure.
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#767
8th May 2012
Old 8th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toneguru View Post
It ain't what you got but how you use it.
+100. Gear application is infinitely more important than the gear itself.

Also, the 1980's served as inevitable historical counterbalance to the epic, massive, elaborate, indulgent (some would say 'wanky') synth sounds and drum sounds which were common in the 1970's (ELP, Bonham, Moon, etc.). There were endless improvisational displays of chops/pyrotechnics and the 1980's ushered in a more compact & innovative aesthetic which really curbed the highly technical, epic note-fests.

The thing about 'cheesy' (AKA 'simple' / 'thin') synth sounds, is that sometimes they deliver a melodic idea / hook better than a looming, cavernous pipe organ type of sound. It's all about creative context. Yes, ultimately, it's all about the *song*. And the texture choice shouldn't be competitive, it should instead serve and deliver the elements of the song.

I know people who dislike the Roland Jupiter-8 arpeggiator sound (in random mode, with a range of 2 octaves) and would never use it in their music. But for 'Hungry Like The Wolf', it works to perfection.
#769
8th May 2012
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The DX7 well what can you say really.
It was one of the first all digital synths it cut like a knife through mixes and live.
At the time you had never heard anything like it. It could do strings, brass and electric pianos that sounded more like those instruments than any analog could even get close too. It was half the price that a Polymoog was in its day and still way cheaper than the offerings from SCi and Oberheim the only direct rivals were Roland Juno's and JX's or Korg's Poly 800 or the DW6k and 8K that were really budget boards for all us mortals that couldn't afford a Prophet 5 or an OBXa or a Jupiter8. Nobody at the time could get close to the DX7. We even had are hopes pinned on Casio yep thats right with their CZ series that was going to be the DX killer. That title was eventually taken by the D50 and the M1.
Some of the DX series you could edit the welcome screen from "Welcome to DX" to something else, all mine read" Best of Luck Mate" Now fast forward 20 odd years to the Analog renaisance an everyone says "The Cheezy DX" There are many people who like the Juno60 and the one sound it makes. (The Juno Sound) and they sell for big money.
The Dx7 can make sounds that few other synths can do and were on a fair few hit records, yet they are worth next too nothing? its easy to look back and say the DX7 was shit and it's one of the main culprits for the bad 80's sound but at the time it had us all fooled. I did a session for a signed artist and on arrival his manager said "What gear do you want"? In the studio they had minimoogs oberheims Arp omni Linn Drum. So I asked for a DX7 and a S900 I think I used A Dw8000 to control the s900
After that I sold all my outdated analog gear as it was at the time to get a DX7.
Yep also got sucked in with the M1 and the Kurzweil K2000 that said those 2 I'll never sell. There is a place for everything the DX7's is the Dumpster.But without it you would not have had Workstations Romplers or VA's and maybe no VSTi's. Maybe we would all be using Prophet 30's Juno 608's Maximoog Jupiter 32 and Korg poly 9000's and we wouldn't have had Stock Aitkin and Waterman. So really the DX7 has a lot to answer for?
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#770
9th May 2012
Old 9th May 2012
  #770
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do more blow, then the sound of the 80s might make more sense..
joking btw..... well kinda..
#771
9th May 2012
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Never study music, never learn to play an instrument, dumb things down to the extreme, turn it up to 11, throw melody and harmony in the garbage and today's hit records might make more sense.

Just kidding !

Well, kinda....
#772
11th May 2012
Old 11th May 2012
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CHEAP DIGITAL RACKMOUNT. That even the best engineers couldnt make sound good.
#773
13th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toneguru View Post


There were many brilliant artists in the 80's that took the tools of the era and spun gold out of em. Annie Lennox, Thomas Dolby, Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, Toto, Duran Duran, Jan Hammer, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, U2, Simply Red, UB40, Guns & Roses, Police, Prince, Pretenders, XTC, The Cure. Lots of variety for sure.
T.Dolby,A.Lennox,Duran Duran,U2,Madonna,and horror of horrors Simply Red.....Awful music,Awful Sounds.........The rest,had their moments[especially the Police/Pretenders before James Honeyman Scott died]but basically,this list has a majority of why the OP started this thread.
#774
13th May 2012
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#775
13th May 2012
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So sorry,as far as synths for me,it was Wakeman,Eno,etc,but as annoying as he was to look at,yes TD was an original.
#776
13th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rksguit View Post
T.Dolby,A.Lennox,Duran Duran,U2,Madonna,and horror of horrors Simply Red.....Awful music,Awful Sounds.........The rest,had their moments[especially the Police/Pretenders before James Honeyman Scott died]but basically,this list has a majority of why the OP started this thread.
I suppose I am a bit of an anomaly, I can enjoy Annie Lennox, Police, Prince, The Pretenders and The Cure and also , Jean Michel Jarre, Count Basie, Led Zeppelin, Burt Bacharach, Stone Temple Pilots to Peggy Lee and Rachmaninov.

I'm not particularly attached to 80's music but I do keep in mind that every era and every genre has its gems and plenty of em.

I can understand somebody not liking the sound of a decade for I am not fond of the sound of the last decade... Layered, auto-tuned, crafted, over compressed and gridlocked with very little soul, air, dynamics or nuance. Even still I recognize that there are lots of great songs that emerged thru the muck.

The important thing is variety and musicality. Even more than sound... and I am extremely discerning with timbre and tone.

No doubt there was some bad sound in the 80's but that era brought us AC-DC, The Pretenders and Kings X. Personally, I think those three acts are the pinnacle of rock music and sound. I can imagine a kid today listening to those three acts and asking... why does 80's music sound so good.

PS. You can listen to some old Louis Armstrong or Art Tatum records and the sound may seem limited relative to today's standard, but don't let that dissuade you from enjoying the great music that they created.
#777
13th May 2012
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To us,AC DC are a 70's band,that were forced to change gears after Bon Died.

When Bon was alive they toured the US constantly,opening or Co-headlining with Aerosmith,et al, through most of the Mid-to late 70s,often blowing away the headliners.

PS, I happen to agree with the OP,I loved it when the 90's happened,and decent acoustic sounding drums became cool again,but I became disillusioned when Korn and drop C nu metal appeared,and since then,find myself listening to great rock records from the 70s again,spiced with a bit of Soundgarden,and A.I.CH,especially the Jar of Flies EP.
#778
13th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Musicfan View Post
Thomas Dolby - Europa & The Pirate Twins - YouTube



Thomas Dolby- Airwaves - YouTube



Thomas Dolby - a true pioneer, with some really good songs beyond his stereotypical smash it. Here he is, in the early 1980's, decades ahead of his time. When people mock synth players as not being real instrumentalists / real musicians, they can't mean people like this.

Thomas Dolby - Interview + Airwaves (Riverside) - YouTube
Think Thomas Dolby was also keyboard player for foreigner?
And his noise reduction system is brilliant
#779
14th May 2012
Old 14th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamster View Post
Think Thomas Dolby was also keyboard player for foreigner?
He was. Foreigner 4.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamster View Post
And his noise reduction system is brilliant
You have him confused with Thomas Doubly!
#780
14th May 2012
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Thomas Dolby played the famous synth line on Foreigner's smash hit, "Urgent". He's also played synth for Pink Floyd & Lionel Richie.


Thomas Dolby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A very versatile and progressive musician - an *elite* collaborator.
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