Thu
Jan 3 2019
08:07 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

I heard a couple of songs that I liked on the Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest New Year's Eve broadcast. I looked them up to find out more about the artists. One was Electricity, performed by Dua Lipa. Here are the credits for the song:

Personnel

Dua Lipa – vocals
Silk City – production
The Picard Brothers – additional production
Jarami – additional production
Riton – additional production
Alex Metric – additional production
Jr Blender – additional production, instrumentation, programming
Josh Gudwin – mixing
Hunter Jackson – mixing assistance
Thomas Wesley Pentz – instrumentation, programming
Mark Ronson – instrumentation, programming
Maxime Picard – instrumentation, programming
Clément Picard – instrumentation, programming
Jacob Olofsson – instrumentation, programming
Rami Dawod – programming
Chris Gehringer – mastering
Will Quinnell – mastering assistance

For some reason, this reminds me that the Beatles were four lads with a four-track tape machine.

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Factchecker's picture

All you need is cash

There's a parallel lesson somewhere about the information society allowing Donald Trump to hold title of leader of the free world. Less is more? Quality vs. quantity? Simple gifts? Decline of Civilization? Idiocracy?

I'm sure this at least beats almost all modern pop country.

Somebody's picture

The Beatles weren’t just four lads with a four track.

The Beatles weren’t just four lads with a four track.

They were four lads with the significant help of EMI producer George Martin and EMI engineers like Norman Smith, Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott, and Chris Thomas. They started out with these EMI boffins working the knobs and gear at Abbey Road to masterfully capture the band’s incredible live energy. Then they quit touring and used those same boffins to push every possible boundary in the studio, using and abusing every bit of technology they could.

The reason the recent Sgt. Pepper’s and White Album reissues are so completely brilliant is because Giles Martin (George Martin’s son) has been able to use modern digital gear to reverse the limiting compromises of those 1960s four track machines and more fully realize what the Beatles were going after in the first place.

If you put a time travel wormhole from 1967 Abbey Road Studios to 2019 Abbey Road Studios and pushed the Beatles though it, they wouldn’t long for the four-track and lament Pro Tools and all the digital gear, they’d just figure out what they could do with all of it.

R. Neal's picture

And who played the

And who played the "instruments"?

Seems like Dua Lipa could be replaced by an algorithm.

And the Beatles could just be CGI.

Factchecker's picture

Well, Eric Clapton played a

Well, Eric Clapton played a lot of the iconic solos, and they also used Klaus Voorman, George Martin (I think played some keyboard parts), Billy Preston, some string ensembles, and probably a few others. But I totally agree with your main point that the Beatles were relatively austere in both technology and ensemble size. And nothing anyone can do with casts of instrumentalists and state of the art technology will get them very close to what the four Beatles were doing from ideas in their heads and technology of the Apollo era.

Also, The Beatles works have stood up well enough in original form, long before the new remixes were considered. So Somebody has got good mitigating points, but the point of your original post is still just as valid, IMO.

Somebody's picture

“The Beatles were relatively

“The Beatles were relatively austere in both technology and ensemble size.”

As a generalized statement, that’s just factually untrue. The Beatles were loathe to repeat themselves, so sometimes they were austere and just played as the four of themselves live, sure. But if you know anything about that band, you wouldn’t attribute those qualities as a generalization. The Sgt. Pepper sessions in particular employed full orchestras, musicians from India, and sound engineers pressed to come up with all sorts of technical innovations and deliberate misuse of studio gear to create the new sounds the Beatles were after. Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite involved cutting a tape recording of calliope music into bits, throwing them up in the air and reassembling them forwards, backwards and out of sequence to generate a psychedlic fairground effect. This is hardly austere. A Day in the Life has a full orchestra employed just to build a cacocophany into a crescendo. The entire album was a deliberate effort to create a record that they couldn’t possibly play live. During the Apollo era, Apollo-era technology was cutting-edge, you know.

As Count Basie said, “If it sounds good, it is good.” It doesn’t really matter how you get there, and the world would be a boring place if everyone stayed in their lane to only get there one approved way.

You should check out the three albums by “The Fireman,” which is Paul McCartney and producer Youth cooking up ambient, techno, experimental rock just by themselves. Or, you know, don’t. Nobody has to like what other people like, and the truth is that an artist making music on a computer with Pro Tools is not in any way preventing someone else from picking up a guitar and making music from vibrating strings, wood and vocal chords. I just find the get off my lawn the kids these days don’t know how to make music arguments to be every bit as tedious as the nothing made before last Thursday could possibly be any good arguments.

R. Neal's picture

Nevertheless, Sgt. Pepper was

Nevertheless, Sgt. Pepper was recorded on four track analog magnetic tape machines.

Somebody's picture

Fact Checking Factchecker

Also, Eric Clapton played only one solo on only one Beatles track, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Klaus Voorman played on zero Beatles tracks. He drew the Revolver album cover, and played bass on a number of former Beatle solo records, but didn’t play on any Beatles records.

AC's picture

Dua Lipa was one of the

Dua Lipa was one of the audience highlights at Bonnaroo last year. I'm not the target audience but I was tipped off by my 21 year old niece and her friends and made it a point to check out her show. The audience - mostly female - knew all the songs and were having a great time. It was fun, and Dua Lipa kept her very large audience completely enthralled for her entire set.

I'm not sure what your point is. As Somebody points out, the Beatles were hardly four lads with four-track tape machine. They had a team around them, especially in the studio, and under the guidance of George Martin were eagerly exploring the sonic possiblities of the studio within a short period of time, using the technology at their disposal. They also had sometimes uncredited guest musicians, orchestras and more on their recordings.

As for the credits you publish, virtually every record in your collection from the 60s and 70s was produced, mixed, and mastered by someone. Those are essential roles in the recording process. As for the rest, young creative people coming together and using new tools and technology and instrumentation to create new music that speaks to their generation. Isn't that a large part of what pop music is all about? Recorded music is barely 100 years old. The invention of the microphone made it possible for Frank Sinatra to sing in his inimitable style in the context of big band and actually be heard, front and center. The invention of the electric guitar (considered an abomination by many at the time) transformed the entire range of possibility for the instrument and how it could be used and heard in various contexts...and that certainly didn't anticipate what Jimi Hendrix would do with it.

The road goes on. Relax. Enjoy what you can. Don't obsess too much about the rest - most of it doesn't have you in mind anyway.

R. Neal's picture

As for the credits you

As for the credits you publish, virtually every record in your collection from the 60s and 70s was produced, mixed, and mastered by someone.

No kidding? Really? (Seems a bit pedantic, don't you think?) Yeah, I get that there is amazing new technology that makes amazing things possible. Like typing a reply to this discussion on a handheld wireless device that also plays music from a virtually unlimited library somewhere in the ether while you're typing.

I'm not sure what your point is.

I guess I wasn't clear, so my bad. The thing that caught my eye is all the listings for "instrumentation, programming."

I'm such a dinosaur that I would expect to see things like "drums and percussion," "piano," "electronic keyboards," "bass guitar," etc. and who played them.

Instead, I get an image of a bunch of people sitting around computer DAW consoles dithering waveforms until all the humanity ("soul") is removed. It's quite possible, though, that I don't know what "instrumentation, programming" refers to.

The part about "four lads and a four-track" was "hyperbole," a rhetorical device intended to convey, in this case, a sharp (though exaggerated) contrast.

Anyway, I realize I am not Dua Lipa's target audience but I liked the song and the performance and the performer enough to to find out more about her, listen to her on Tidal, and add the song to my Tidal "library." Hopefully she (but more likely Mark Ronson) will get paid 0.5 cents every time it pops up on random play. (And there's "instrumentation" in the song that sounds remarkably like a "piano," but apparently nobody actually tickled any ivories?)

Regardless, I'm not obsessed about it. The post was an (apparently failed) attempt at a humorous observation about modern music production. I'm sure there were similar observations with the advent of the phonograph and the electric guitar. So get off my lawn! :)

AC's picture

It's fun bantering back and

It's fun bantering back and forth about music.

The recent threads here remind me of a story that John Miller Chernoff told in his fantastic book, "African Rhythm and African Sensibility" which documents Chernoff's fully immersive experiences in learning and mastering African drumming, living with mostly the Ewe tribe for seven years in the 1970s and early 80s. It's a deep book and very illuminating in its exploration of the social and spiritual aspects of music - and the political. Very special book.

At any rate, at one point, Chernoff tells of a conversation he has with one of the elder master drummers - about the tradition and how it has changed over the years. The elder recounts how, when he was a young man, he and his peers were often trying to introduce new rhythms into their practice - much to the anger and resistance of their teachers, who would tell them that they were ruining everything. Nevertheless, over the years, these new rhythms became part of the repertoire and were now part of the tradition.

Chernoff then asks him - do the young drummers that you are teaching also bring new ideas and rhythms into the group. Yes, the master says, they are always trying to do this. What do you tell them?, Chernoff asks. "Oh, I tell them that they are ruining everything," he replies.

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