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CREAM -I'm noticing a lot of their recordings are kind of marginal
Old 17th August 2005
  #1
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CREAM -I'm noticing a lot of their recordings are kind of marginal

I know Tom Dowd did Disraeli Gears. And I love the guy so I don't really wanna bash it, but does it seem to anyone else that various Cream recordings kind of sound muddy or something? I can't really put my finger on it. Maybe it's not muddiness, but kind of far away, and not in a good way, like really cool ambiance, just kind of far away.
And it seems like Clapton is always way too loud, and the drums aren't loud enough.
Sunshine of Your Love bores me too. Why was that song so popular?
Oops, sorry, let's keep this on recording quality only. But SOYL is kind of underwhelming in that department too.

Is this just a case of me never hearing the original LP's and somebody remixed them really wierd for the CD's?

Edit:

Rereading my post, I can see it sounding awfully general and not descriptive enough as to what I mean. I guess that's because I can't put my finger on why I don't like the sound of most of their stuff. Maybe the best I can say is I'm not hearing the "punch" I want.

the kind of punch that's all over Axis/Bold as Love or Let it Bleed. Different bands yes, and high standards for sure, but they're Cream right? And it's Tom Dowd. What the hell?
Old 17th August 2005
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonk
Sunshine of Your Love bores me too. Why was that song so popular?
That's what we were all doing back then (Sunshine that is)
Old 17th August 2005
  #3
I've thought about this very thing quite a bit. Tom Dowd was a genious, and everything is subjective...but I think he was coming from a bit of a different place in that specific time period than Cream was. Like finesse versus in-your-face power. I didn't live through the 60's but '66-'67 in particular seemed like pivotal years of change in music and society, so I'm sure that influenced philosphies on recording (remember hearing about the Beatles wanting to close mic and the lab coat guys at EMI were all bent out of shape?). It looked to me from his mention of it in the Tom Dowd DVD that he was a bit overwhelmed (I hate to use that word in reference to him) due to time constraints and pressure of the situation. So maybe he was playing it safe. I also remember reading somewhere that the guitar amps were teeth moving loud, so maybe there was a problem with uncontrollable isolation on the drums vs guitar volumes. I wonder what Cream would have sounding like if Geoff Emerick or Alan Parsons recorded them.

Anyway...here is a pic of the first Cream sessions (that's Tom on the far right with Clapton next to him):



Old 17th August 2005
  #4
I read once in guitar player that clapton preferred to crank his amp and have the mic on the other side of the room during this time frame, no close micing of the gtr's may be what you're hearing
Old 17th August 2005
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonk
But SOYL is kind of underwhelming in that department too.
Or maybe you don't like music as much as you used to.
Quote:
I guess that's because I can't put my finger on why I don't like the sound of most of their stuff. Maybe the best I can say is I'm not hearing the "punch" I want.
You don't have to like it just because TD did it.

Please don't misinterpret my vibe here. I just can't identify with being underwhelmed with anything Cream since at least 1985.

Old 17th August 2005
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by everybody's x
I read once in guitar player that clapton preferred to crank his amp and have the mic on the other side of the room during this time frame, no close micing of the gtr's may be what you're hearing
You can both clearly hear, and see on pics that the guitar was close miced.

I love the sound of the cream records, with the possible exeption of the DI'ed guitar overdrive sound on "strange brew"
And I definately don't find them lacking compared to the same era hendrix.

Obiously the basic tracks are cut in a pretty large room. With some distance between the instruments. Pretty loud it sounds like too.

A bit of lack of punch in the drum department might come from Dowd probably having to keep the drum mics a bit down in level, so that the bass and guitarsounds wouldn't be to washed out from their leakage into the drum mikes.

I also love the naive kind of mix between super-obvious overdubbed dry sound on some instruments, and the washy live in studio with bleed sound on others.

And Sunshine is great!
Old 17th August 2005
  #7
84K
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The Cream albums sound great with their own charm. That is the thing about some albums/bands... I do not like the sound recordings in a technical way... they have vibe. Like: Some stooges stuff, not technically perfect recordings, but amazing and suiting vibe which makes it great (some of my favorite) recordings. A more recent example is the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's first album. Sounds like it was cut in a garage with bad overuse of delays, but I like it. Cream was from another planet.
Old 17th August 2005
  #8
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These guys were doing music that didn't just lay down for any given "must have" new jack mulitrack.

Live Cream Volume Two is a slice of no frills veracity that defines the now shopworn idea of "turning the air into cottage cheese" o0mph that can only be translated though the zeitgeist of it's own referential aspect, hipwise.

Eric and company did not even vaguely drop the bloody ball, kindern.

You just didn't get the decoder ring in your cereal.

It's all good.

{I would have used a more appropriate "veritas", if I could have afforded Hehvuhd.} heh
Old 17th August 2005
  #9
They are great records. But they were not then state-of-the-art recordings, by and large. There are far slicker, fatter, smoother, rounder, glossier recordings. (Zombies singles, anyone?) But, yeah, those Cream records are great records.

Another great record, also not representative of the best technical quality of its time: Layla. A magical record. Don't change a lick. And not an EQ or fader setting, either. Like a beautiful woman, the album is sublime in its imperfections.
Old 17th August 2005
  #10
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Quote:
slicker, fatter, smoother, rounder, glossier
You have just summed the antithesis of the whole thing that was Cream...

Old 17th August 2005
  #11
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hoho and then came glam rock

IMO it should be seen in relation to the technical capabilities of live gigs in these days. walls of guitar amps that needed no PA, or small town boys in clubs with little more than heaps of valve AM radios pimped up by the electronic nerd of the clique..
the magic was in the music, no matter the sound.
Old 17th August 2005
  #12
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I think some of the best guitar sounds and playing ever is preserved on 'Fresh Cream'. I found the name of John Timperly credited as engineer on those sessions.
Anybody out there with some info?

I USED to think that the later Cream efforts sounded a bit too thin or tame but I really do love it now.

There is a 'Tom Dowd sound'. Although he might have been coming from jazz and R+B, to me there's a similar quality to the sound of say Coltrane's 'My favourite things' and 'Disreali Gears' or Aretha's 'Chain of Fools', no matter how different the music and instrumentation might be.

The 'Tom Dowd sound' strikes me as something very organic and dry-in-a-good way. There's an amazing amount of 'anaolgue' distortion in the recording of 'Favorite Things', another typical Tom Dowd-ism in my opinion.
These recordings have a way of aging very well because...well, it's some of the best music ever...but also because they never folllowed fads, I think something like a Ray Charles Atlantic recording sounds WAY more contemporary than most anything from the 80ies, these days.

A lot has to do with not overdoing the high end. There is a transcript on Daniel Lanois website from a speech he gave at SXSW where he talks about this:

.....emmylou harris and porter wagoner walk in and ask me --- why did soul train sound better than the david letterman show?
i tell them that the race to the extension of the high frequency part of the spectrum is choking the shadows of the bass
if you light your picture too bright you will lose your shadows



Read the full article here: http://www.daniellanois.com/soulmining.htm



Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 17th August 2005
  #13
Jai guru deva om
 
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Plenty of stuff sounding crappy from the 60's, and 50's, and 40's...and 70's, and 80's, and 90's...I don't think just because it's older stuff done during a different time it "should" be any better than anything now. There has been crap done throughout the history of recording, many of my favorite recordings from the 60's are lacking, it wasn't as magical all the time as we'd like to think?

War
Old 17th August 2005
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1
Another great record, also not representative of the best technical quality of its time: Layla. A magical record. Don't change a lick. And not an EQ or fader setting, either. Like a beautiful woman, the album is sublime in its imperfections.
By contrast, they recorded the guitars on Layla with Fender Champs (very quiet, but still cranked).
Old 17th August 2005
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead
There has been crap done throughout the history of recording, many of my favorite recordings from the 60's are lacking, it wasn't as magical all the time as we'd like to think?
But it was possible. 'Nights In White Satin' (1967) sounds as good as anything ever recorded. Maybe better. thumbsup
Old 17th August 2005
  #16
I don't know about the rest of you, but those Cream recordings sound a whole lot better than the current crop of distorted, compressed "music" that's released today.

You call this progress?


Jim Williams
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Old 17th August 2005
  #17
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Did teh original version of "White Room" have some phase issues, or just the copy I have ( 20th Century Masters?.. Cream)?
Old 17th August 2005
  #18
Get the box set "Those Were The Days". Sounds great, much better than the older releases on CD. You can't beat that Fallstaff beer commercial!

Jim Williams
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Old 17th August 2005
  #19
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Can I get an "A-MEN!" from the Choir on this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
I don't know about the rest of you, but those Cream recordings sound a whole lot better than the current crop of distorted, compressed "music" that's released today.

You call this progress?


Jim Williams
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Old 17th August 2005
  #20
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I'm not religious, but ok, for this one time:

AMEN!
Old 17th August 2005
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
I don't know about the rest of you, but those Cream recordings sound a whole lot better than the current crop of distorted, compressed "music" that's released today.

You call this progress?


Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
The recording is simply a vessel. The music is the content... and, you know, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker could really, really play, and Clapton, clearly was at the top of his form.

(BTW, I was listening to a track from Baker's 95 jazz album [sorry, I'm blanking on the title] and it was really, really nice. Some extraordinarily subtle drumming... very nice hat work.)

In the postwar period, the introduction of new technologies allowed the capture of higher fidelity recordings.

If you want to hear some stunning engineering, check out Rudy Van Gelder's jazz recordings from the fifties. (My personal preference is to avoid the late 90s 'remasters' of these recordings, though, even though they were overseen by The Great One himself. I think his once-golden ears had dimmed and he allowed a horrible jacking of the treble that was not only completely unnecessary but greatly distorted the original, usually sublime tonal balance of the original recordings.)

Also, anyone wanting to check out some brilliant Brit pop production from the cream era should, as pointed out above, check out the big singles from the Zombies. She's Not There and Time of the Season, I think, are extraordinary productions. Better than anything I've heard in years.
Old 17th August 2005
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1
Rudy Van Gelder's jazz recordings from the fifties. (My personal preference is to avoid the late 90s 'remasters' of these recordings, though, even though they were overseen by The Great One himself. I think his once-golden ears had dimmed and he allowed a horrible jacking of the treble that was not only completely unnecessary but greatly distorted the original, usually sublime tonal balance of the original recordings.)
I think you're right. I'm by no means a vinyl purist, I think CDs can sound very good and I accepted the format in a 'you gain some-you lose some' way.

But just the other day, the mailman brought me the Van Gelder remaster of Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage' . It's a incredible record but the remaster just doesn't cut it. I was really annoyed about the distortion, not just the changing of the balance that you mentioned but a real annoying sonic distortion happening throughout that absolutely wasn't there in the vinyl version. The whole thing just doesn't gel.

I have some doubts about 'legends' who were there on the original sessions handling the CD remasters. In that sense I' was also a bit underwhelmed with what Eddie Kramer did for the Hendrix remasters.

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 17th August 2005
  #23
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are the remasters made from vinyl transfer or from the master tape? I think the difference would be huge.
did they use denoisers?
anyway, I think 16bit is not enough for the nuances, it works only well, when the spectrum is used to the full extent and compression is high, like modern productions.
I think, the distortion is an effect that analog flaws and digital flaws are multiplying in some cases.
I have a "motown unmixed" album, some songs are ~ ok, but some are really bad.
its about the density of the mid range, I think.
Old 17th August 2005
  #24
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Listen to 'Kind of Blue' on SACD, then on CD. A simple recording that sounds like real instruments in a real room (which of course is what it was).

On the CD there is definite distortion along with the sax, and some horn pasages. It wasn't the remastering or anything else. CD is NOT capable of reproducing some complex waveforms properly. Specs, schmechs.
Old 17th August 2005
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallace
By contrast, they recorded the guitars on Layla with Fender Champs (very quiet, but still cranked).
and were painfully out of tune in spots. those dueling slides? ouch! but also classic. saw this GREAT PBS documentary which shows dowd at the controls messing w/ the multi-track of layla bringing various tracks up and down. very cool....
Old 17th August 2005
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred
Anyway...here is a pic of the first Cream sessions (that's Tom on the far right with Clapton next to him):
Where Nathan!?
Old 17th August 2005
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Messiah
Where Nathan!?
The 4 hippy emoticons at the bottom of my post....it was a joke.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams

You call this progress?

No, progress stopped around the mid 90's (at least in most commercially available rock music).
Old 17th August 2005
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
I don't know about the rest of you, but those Cream recordings sound a whole lot better than the current crop of distorted, compressed "music" that's released today.

You call this progress?
Agreed Jim!

I like music to sound better as I turn it up not more annoying... It actually ****s me off as there are some recent records that my enjoymeny and appreciation of has been spoiled because I can't turn the ****er up...
Old 17th August 2005
  #29
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Messiah's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanEldred
The 4 hippy emoticons at the bottom of my post....it was a joke.
ahh, ok. Just remember in future that this is no place for jokes please, Nathan...




heh
Old 17th August 2005
  #30
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One has to wonder how much degradation on some of those older records was contributed by the mastering process.

I would have to agree about the older Rudy Van Gelder stuff. Can't say I've heard anything better in terms of technical recording quality. On a good stereo the musicians are in the room with you.
Not to mention the music was incredible!
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