Dammit’s studio is undergoing a refit: new acoustic treatment in the control room and redecorating is nearly finished.
“And as I watched him on the stage, my hands were clenched in fists of rage.” Don McLean, “American Pie” Went to Innsbruck (courtesy of a very kind friend!) to see the Bob Dylan/Mark Knopfler show. Out of consideration for the feelings of my host (who is a Dylan nut) I’ll limit myself to being …View full post
Rhodri Marsden in the Independent complains about “faceless session musicians” doing cover versions of “I Will Survive” on Spotify. Thanks God someone finally has had the courage to expose these criminals; wasters who can’t even be bothered to become celebrities! I wonder precisely how many such musicians Rhodri knows? If he met any, he would …View full post
The very talented and reasonably handsome Marcus Valance was in the studio last night recording vocals for his forthcoming album. This will be one to look forward to: he’s a great singer, pianist and writer and a pleasure to work with.
“And as I watched him on the stage, my hands were clenched in fists of rage.” Don McLean, “American Pie”
Went to Innsbruck (courtesy of a very kind friend!) to see the Bob Dylan/Mark Knopfler show.
Out of consideration for the feelings of my host (who is a Dylan nut) I’ll limit myself to being merely scathing when we come to Dylan’s part of the show….
Interestingly, both artists appear to be aiming at something similar: taking a bar band into arenas. Knopfler’s take on it has echoes of a session in an Irish pub (though the levels of discipline applied by (and maybe to) the musicians are significantly higher than those of the typical craic,) whereas Dylan appears to be acting almost as a curator of traditional blues/rock’n'roll forms applied to his own material.
The stage set was non-existent: amps and drum kit, keyboards and minimal lighting; no video screens, casual clothes. “This is about the music” was the clear message.
Knopfler played mostly his solo material (although to my ears there is an unbroken lineage from the Dire Straits repertoire: “On Every Street” led straight into “Sailing To Philadelphia” and the other so-called “solo” recordings.) The engineer managed to tame the hall’s worst excesses, primarily by keeping the volume down, in stark contrast to Dylan’s engineer…) and the band played with enormous sensitivity and subtlety. He played two songs from the Dire Straits repertoire: a sublime “Brothers in Arms” and “So Far Away From Me”, both of which were different from the original versions but recognisable… see where I’m heading here? Of course, like all artists, he’s more interested in what he’s doing now than what he did back then, but that’s no reason to be disrespectful of your back catalogue.
And so to Dylan… somehow the stage set seemed to shrink: the band took up less than half the available area, an statement of introspective intent that lasted throughout the show, the musicians huddled together in a closed circle.
I thought we were off to a good start with “Shooting Star” from ‘Oh Mercy’, but that was as good as it got. The engineer attempted to cope with the hall’s many echoes by compressing alll the transients out of the sound, making it sound like a bad 1980′s recording with the SSL buss compressor on full stun. Dylan barked the lyrics without even a passing nod at the melodies, totally ignored the audience and even treated his own band with contempt: at least 5 times he gave the guitarist a solo which he then played harmonica all over. No wonder then that about 45 minutes into the show the same guitarist turned so that Bob couldn’t see him and looked at his watch: even his own band can’t wait for it to be over!
The over-riding impression of the audience was that a significant number of them appeared to be there more because they felt they ought to be rather than because they wanted to! The steady stream of people leaving was occasionally alleviated by an almost palpable sense of relief as he started a tune that was slightly recognisable, only to reduce it to smoking rubble by the end of verse 1.
I know it must get boring to sing your hits again and again for half a decade, but the songs are not yours, they are gifted to you as a conduit through which they pass. You owe them a minimal amount of respect. Paul Simon’s ambient reworking of “Bridge over troubled water” at Hammersmith some years ago was a fine example; Knopfler’s versions of his “hits” tonight were equally effective.
There were positives: the band were excellent, and I loved what they did between songs. Instead of silence, they behaved like a bar-band – playing little riffs and licks, tuning and tweaking the sounds audibly until the drummer counted the next song in. The compendium of styles gave variety to the otherwise relentless onslaught, but they were made contemporary and fresh rather than regurgitated as museum pieces. But… but…. but…..
I know, I know…. this is old ground about which much has already been written, but as a musician I find it utterly intriguing: if he hates it that much, why do it at all? One theory advanced by the gloriously talented Marcus Valance (http://www.reverbnation.com/marcusvalance) is that he has no other life outside music, but I don’t entirely buy that, although I love the romantic image of this grizzled old troubadour still riding the tour-bus into his eighties. (Apparently he never leaves his bus apart from to go onto the stage or into the hotel room.)
Maybe he doesn’t hate it at all: he gave every indication of enjoying what was happening on stage, even appearing to dance albeit in a dignified septagenarian way…
But as another talented guy (who wishes to remain anonymous) said: “He’s been at war with his audience since the ‘Judas’ tour…”
The closest I’ve come to a workable theory is this:
He would be quite content playing in his local bar without the requirements of “stardom” but he gets so many offers from promoters guaranteeing him such huge sums of money that he thinks “might as well ride this while it’s there…”
One thing’s certain: even now, we’re all still talking about him, and that’s the greatest accolade you can have in showbiz.
Rhodri Marsden in the Independent complains about “faceless session musicians” doing cover versions of “I Will Survive” on Spotify. Thanks God someone finally has had the courage to expose these criminals; wasters who can’t even be bothered to become celebrities!
I wonder precisely how many such musicians Rhodri knows? If he met any, he would realise what dedicated professionals they are; talented, hard-working and content to remain anonymous. He would be surprised to learn how many of his favourite recordings are actually performed by session musicians: I used to make a significant part of my living from replacing guitars on records by so-called “bands” whose members were more competent at getting their nightclub escapades into the papers than playing their instruments.
And who played on “I Will Survive” anyway? Gloria Gaynor was not known for her talents as a drummer, bassist, guitarist or violinist: she is a singer. The backing was provided by those “faceless” musicians, none of whom ever benefitted from the massive success of the record apart from their initial session fee.
Meet some musicians, Mr Marsden: you’d be humbled and (pleasantly) surprised!
I’m sitting here listening to George Frakes singing new songs: I love my job!
Here’s a short video of Los & the Deadlines recording at Dammit studios recently.
New London band LoS & The Deadlines were in Dammit Music’s London studios recently to record their new EP with house producer Jay Stapley at the helm.
The tracks can be heard here: http://soundcloud.com/los-5
The band took advantage of Dammit Music’s services to make the record. Good luck, guys!
We will be broadcasting live on our Justin.tv feed from the studio tomorrow when Alex Tower is in working on his new EP.
I had a new young artist in the studio the other day. He was looking at my platinum discs, including a Golden Reel award from Ampex.
“Who’s this Ampex guy,” he asked, “someone you worked with?”