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woz70

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  1. Listen to music recorded by other bands that recorded in the same studios as Zep used during the same period. Do they sound murky or muddy? That should answer your question. (This is actually a bit of a red herring... because Zep used studios all over the place, as well as the Ronnie Lane and The Rolling Stones mobile studios, often recording basic tracks in one studio and overdubs in another! But I digress....) it’s a blend of engineering choices, equipment choices, mixing choices, mastering choices, and a result of the hearing of everyone involved in all of those parts of the recording process. Some people like bright, clinical sounding records, some like dark, warm sounding records. Your ‘murky or muddy’ is another persons ‘thick and warm’. In my opinion the only song that really does sound murky is ‘four sticks’. The only palpable issues with the recording technology of the time is the way they had to deal with bass response (Too much bass and the needle skips out of the groove on an LP) and the fact that your songs with the greatest dynamic range have to be nearer the outside edge of an album (due to the physics of vinyl records - angular velocities and track-packing etc.). They were unique in that they had the same producer throughout their career, who was also a band member. This is both an asset - for consistency of production values and overal continuity of sound - and a liability, because playing loads of really loud concerts in front of stacks of amplifiers for hours at a time is not going to do great things for your hearing. (This may be another explanation for the brightness of the sound of the ‘Presence’ recordings.)
  2. I meant comment on this too, but I forgot. This is actually a really interesting bit of recording, used a lot nowadays. There’s actually only one guitar here (the only obvious overdub is when the guitar sound changes during the solos)... but the signal has been split and sent to two different amplifiers - one with a fuzzy tone, one with a cleaner tone, each recorded to a different track. It would literally be physically impossible to play that slide guitar part exactly the same twice, without making a single mistake or going out of sync over the duration of an eleven minute song. A simple case of record as a band, overdub the solos (and maybe the vocals... you never know...) and Bob’s your uncle. Well, almost. If you compare the companion disc version with the album version I think there’s a bit of tape editing going on in there too. There’s a lot more of that going on in every Zep album than you’d think! Anyway... nowadays a producer might use a technique called re-amping to achieve a similar sound. What you do is record the guitar signal directly to one track as well as recording the amp used during the recording session. During production this gives you the opportunity to send the clean guitar signal to a different amp to reinforce/improve/change the sound, or to double up the part. Very easy to do with digital recording as you’re not so limited with the number of tracks you have available, and you have a far lower noise floor and a greater dynamic range than even the best analogue tape will ever give you.
  3. Not an oversimplification at all. As a real-world example, here's the actual track setup for Ramble On (the tracks might not be in the order the are on the original multitrack tape, but they are (copies of) the original multi's and it's how I've got them arranged in my studio): Track 1: Acoustic guitar Track 2: Bass (Judging by the spill that can be heard it was recorded simultaneously with Drums and acoustic guitar) Track 3: Drums L Track 4: Drums R Track 5: Electric guitar - obviously recorded as an overdub, but it was recorded on a pristine empty track, so only first gen. tape hiss - same as the Bass, Drums and Acoustic Guitar. Adding this overdub has not added any more tape hiss than was already there, and the same goes for the following overdubs:- Track 6: Guitar overdub - twinkly guitar but in the pre-chorus, plus one part of the harmony guitar solo - again an obvious overdub (it says so on the track sheet), again recorded on a pristine track so, again, only 1st gen. tape hiss. Track 7: Vocal - very obviously not recorded at the same time the rest of the band were tracking (the spill you can hear contains acoustic guitar, electric guitar and harmony solo), so an overdub. Again, only 1st gen. tape hiss. Track 8: Vocal doing a double of 'Ramble On' for the chorus, plus second part of harmony guitar solo. Again an overdub, but only 1st gen. tape hiss. So in this song: 1: no need to bounce any tracks to another and add generational noise; 2: only first generation hiss on EVERY TRACK; 3: only 8 tracks available; and there are still points with four guitars playing simultaneously, thanks to good planning of what each track would be used for. Just to reiterate: overdubbing on a pristine track will not add any more tape hiss than is already there. So that covers: Next point: No. Black Dog has 3 quite distinct guitar parts in all. One panned hard left, one panned hard right, and finally the solo. The 'thick' sound is all down to how it was recorded, and how the mixing engineer dealt with processing those tracks during mixdown. Lots of people (you, and a few people I have worked with amongst them) seem to think that you fatten up a guitar sound by recording multiple stacked version of the same part. Weirdly that can actually make a track sound thinner, and usually two versions of the same part recorded with different amps/guitars and panned apart sounds much fatter than 5 guitars playing the same thing - which, depending on the guitarist can often end up sounding like a right mess. I have done, for over 40 years. I've covered this above - overdubbing does NOT (necessarily) mean more hiss. The apparent 'muddiness' is not down to fidelity, it's down to eq choice during tracking and at mixdown, which means that's exactly how Mr. Page wanted it to sound. "Celebration Day" is definitely complex, but there are only ever 3 guitars playing at once, usually panned hard Left and Right, sometimes one in the middle too. You're probably going to say 'but the guitar solo is surely two guitars - I can hear different sounds in each ear'. But.... they are the same part, the same track, split onto two channels on the desk at mixdown - one panned left, one panned right and both treated with different eq/delay/reverb/compression - another good way to make one part sound BIG. Kevin Shirley used this technique a LOT on HTWWW. So I count 2 tracks of drums (so they can be stereo), 1 track of bass, 1 track of vocals, 3 tracks of guitar, leaving one track free for the synth drone and the guitar solo. No need to bounce, no need to have anything other than 1st gen. tape hiss. "Dancing Days" is possibly four guitars (or three guitars and a synth) at it's most dense, but again : 2 drum tracks, 1 bass, 1 vocal is only 4 tracks, so plenty of room for four guitars. "Ten Years Gone" - Wikipedia says Page recorded 14 guitar parts for the harmony section. I think that's rubbish.. well certainly an overexaggeration. However this is the first track you've mention that probably does have some track bouncing involved. Towards the very end there are very clearly two guitars going on in each ear, and then another starts panned centrally. That's 5 distinct guitar parts, and because it's recorded on 8 track tape, there's obviously not enough discrete tracks for: 2 drums, 1 bass, 1 vocal, 5 guitars and a backing vocal, so somethings going on here. I reckon two guitars were bounced to one track and another two guitars to another track, leaving two free. One for BV's, one for the extra guitar at the end. It's worth noting that 'Ten Years Gone' is considerably hisser than many of the other tracks on Physical Graffiti, so that's probably down to the two second generation bounced tracks. It's also worth noting at this point that they didn't have to go through the rigamarole of bouncing all 8 tracks to a separate tape machine - if you haven't filled all 8 tracks you can submix any (or all) of the other tracks onto an empty one and then re-use the tracks you have bounced from. This is a great way of ensuring you don't get 2nd. gen. hiss on all the tracks - only the bits of a track where you've had to do a bounce. You might lose a bit of fidelity on the re-used tracks - depends how 'hot' you recorded the original signal. By the time they got to 'Achilles' there were not only improvements in noise reduction, but they were also using 16 track tape. Much more 1st. gen. tape to record on. They may have decided by then to record the drums on more than two tracks.... but I doubt it somehow. Page seems to be a 'get the sound right in the room and track it' type of producer, rather than spend hours making decisions on what compressor to use on the snare drum at mixdown etc.... Even 'Bohemian Rhapsody' which was recorded on 24 track tape (I've got a copy of that multi too....) only has two tracks of drums. So, based on their usual formula: 2 drum tracks, 1 bass, 1 guitar tracked with the band, 1 vocal - that leaves 11 pristine tracks for overdubs. Page was using a much less 'thick' guitar sound and going for 'glassier' tones generally at this time too - less thick means less frequency spectrum filled, which means everything sounds a bit more roomy and separate. That's be another reason why it sounds cleaner. I did cover this in my previous post: Sly Stone was notorious for going out, getting wasted, inviting a load of randoms to record their parts on the master multi tracks, and then having to erase them the next day. Totally ruined the tape because of a) too much playback, and b) too much erasing and re-recording. Yes - the multitrack harmony vocals are a nightmare to navigate - their mix engineer had an unenviable job sorting that lot out. Multiple nested bounces, and because they did it all on one 24 track tape there are no 1st gen. versions of those vocal parts available any more, so they couldn't do what Giles Martin has done with The Beatles back catalogue (they kept EVERYTHING) - go and find the earliest generation of each part and piece it together with Pro-Tools to do fabulous remixes with only one gen. of tape hiss. Again, shows the skill and diligence of those engineers at Abbey Road. Finally: That's because Zep generally prepared LOTS before going into the studio. Most of the arrangements will have been really well worked out, rehearsed and sorted LONG before they went into the recording studio. Why waste time and money pratting about in a recording studio trying to figure out parts? Musicians get bored/drunk/stoned and don't stay focussed if you spend too much time recording - you won't get the best, freshest performance. Work it all out first, in a much cheaper rehearsal studio. Use as little studio time as possible, spend as little money as possible. The end product sounds better, because it's well rehearsed and not made up on the spot, and also you can use that time to plan how best to use the limited track space available to you. I think that Zep were one of the most successful bands that literally spent the absolute least time possible in the recording studio. Some bands used the studio as a composition tool : The Beatles, 10CC, Queen to some extent, Jimi Hendrix after Electric LadyLand was built.... but that's a really expensive way of recording an album, unless you own the studio or in The Beatles case, your record company gives you carte blanche and a bottomless cheque book.
  4. No you don't..... Unless you do it like The Beatles had to. Most of their output was recorded on 4-track tape. If you filled the four tracks up and wanted to overdub some more you had to do a submix (or a bounce) to a second tape machine - hence adding a second generation of tape hiss. For example : Track 1: drums Track2: bass Track3: guitar Track4: vocal You want to add some backing vocals and a tambourine... But you've run out of tracks. So you could send a mixed signal (sometimes called a stem) of drums, bass and guitar to track 1 on a second tape machine, and the vocals to track 2, leaving you tracks 3 and 4 to record Backing vocals and tambourine, like this: Track 1: mixed drums, bass and guitar Track 2: vocal Track 3: backing vocal Track 4: tambourine The techs at Abbey Road were truly excellent at their job, so generational noise was kept at a minimum, but The Beatles went too far with some songs. As an example you can really hear the generational noise building up towards the end of 'She's So Heavy'. Most of Zeppelin's output was recorded on 8 track tape. With careful planning there is no need for bouncing 2 or more tracks onto 1, so no need whatsoever to add generational tape noise.... Until you mix the track and record it to a stereo master tape. (So... Even the best quality analogue master tapes are 2nd generation... before they even get sent to be ‘Mastered’ which is a third generation of tape hiss! This is why some people liked (and still like to) master directly to acetate. Jack White is one of the modern proponents of this technique). A typical zep multitrack might look like this: Track 1 & 2: drums Track 3: bass Track 4: guitar Track 5: guitar overdub 1 Track 6: vocal Track 7: backing vocal Track 8: guitar overdub 2 and solo No need to bounce, no need to add generational tape hiss. The only other noise that will be added during initial recording, or overdubs, is hiss and hum from Amps, electrical (Johnson) noise added by compressors and other effects, the path of the signal through the desk and the tape machines' electronics, and eventual loss of high frequency response of you play the tape back too many times or do too many takes an overdub (this is why Sly and the family stone's recordings are so muffled sounding) By the time they got to Presence I think they were on 16 track tape, and ITTOD was probably 24 tracks... So ample room for recorded sources without having to resort to bouncing tracks and adding noise.
  5. As you've said, it's in A. 1st 'chord' is an implied Am (no root, so just C and E - almost a first inversion, but it's only two notes so it's not really a chord... There's no G present so it's not a C chord... If you're putting the G in you're playing too many notes!) 2nd 'chord' makes the minor 3rd (C) a major 3rd (C#) so A major (with the C# at the bottom, so again almost a first inversion). 3rd 'chord' is cementing the riff into A with an A5, and the riff eventually ends on a fully realised A6 chord (AEAC#F#). You wouldn't describe the C as a #9 (especially as the bottom note of a chord) it would be a simple b3. If there was a major third in the chord you could then get away with thinking it was a 9th, but it's simply a diad, or a two note interval The chord you seem to be playing at that point would be a C#min b5 or a C#dim without the 7th (root, b3, b5, or C# E G), which is interesting in itself, but incorrect. It's definitely blues based - the riff is a truncated part of the beginning section of Bring It On Home, the main riff for Rock and Roll and can also be heard in Boogie With Stu.... If you know what you're listening for!
  6. Despite all this, by far the majority of Zep songs were written and played in Standard Tuning. Your choice of tuning can greatly influence the overall sounds and textures of whatever it is you compose, but using a tuning on a guitar is not a method of composition, it's just the tool you use to express your musical ideas. In the early days of Zep, Page was obviously listening to other music voraciously - early blues, the folkiier musicians of the time as well as current bands of the time - and a lot of what he listened to informed his musical ideas (and his choice of tunings). His method of composition was pretty much like everyone else, ever: Listen to the stuff going on around you, stick it in a big mixing pot, add the filter of your own taste and preferences and see what comes out the other end. There's no 'trick' or magic(k) to it. Except, perhaps, the application of your own musical character to make all of the things you have referenced distinctively your own. He also had access to another great compositional tool - great collaborators who a) didn't necessarily listen to the same things he did (adding different influences can change the way you approach playing literally anything you hear), and very importantly b) came up with brilliant ideas of their own. If you come up with an idea, and run it through that particular filter you often find your own idea gets enhanced by the application of other peoples ideas, and their interpretation of your original idea. I'm sure I recall members of the band saying in interviews how much material came out of the improvised jams (and the way the band interacted in those jams), that happened when they were playing live - one of the best compositional tools there is!
  7. I clearly remember watching this complete train wreck, having just bought tickets for the Outrider tour. I was beginning to think I'd wasted my money... Couldn't believe how awful Page was. I mean, I was prepared for merely 'not very good' after the Live Aid debacle, but this was on another level. I think the general consensus is that he'd had waaaay too much to drink before going onstage. He played the Heartbreaker solo like somebody who had once watched Jimmy Page playing it without the sound on.... the motions were there, but his left hand seemed to have virtually zero strength or coordination. I was embarrassed for him. And yet, six months later at Hammersmith his playing was very good indeed. I think if he's not touring he simply doesn't practise - he just relies on muscle memory. Muscle memory is a fantastic thing, but if you don't practice regularly you lose strength and dexterity.
  8. There was a lot of mixing and matching between whole sections of different nights in some songs in the original release - but not just one instrument/voice. The easiest way to deal with it (and I think what they actually did) would have been to mix all three nights to stereo, and then edit together the 'best' bits to make an entire performance. By the time Kevin Shirley got onto the case in 2003 there was the ability to mix and match discrete tracks in each song (hence he was able to glue the mellotron from Stairway in Southampton into Stairway on HTWWW when Jones was actually still using the organ) and even to correct duff notes and incorrect timings. This would absolutely not have been possible in '76.
  9. With non-linear digital editing that would be relatively easy nowadays. In 1976 it would have been ridiculously difficult, if not impossible to match a vocal from one show to the instruments from another. Considering how much variation went on from song to song and from night to night in terms of tempo, dynamic and overall 'feel', I'm still not sure you could convincingly match a vocal from one night to the bands playing on a different night.
  10. Add to this that recent improvements in audio processing technology have also increased the possibility that multitrack recordings once dismissed as unusable for various reasons could now be rendered viable. Other innovations have opened the possibility that stereo recordings (soundboards for example) can now be remixed (to a certain degree). However... If there's not enough enthusiasm within the remaining band members, they're not going to see the light of day. If the sales figures versus effort involved don't add up, they're not going to see the light of day. Jimmy Page has a tremendous amount of inertia, and at the moment he's standing still.
  11. No, it was actually Allen Klein, the stones’ manager, although Loog Oldham did sue later over royalties. Sounds like the whole thing was a bit of a clusterf**k, until May 2019.
  12. Yup. It’s a completely digital recording. You're commenting on production values and instrumentation, not the recording medium. There are beautiful, warm sounding digital recordings and there are clinical cold sounding analogue recordings. It’s not what you record the sound on, it’s what you do with it during the recording, mix down and mastering.
  13. Do you enjoy listening to the O2 ‘Celebration Day’ recording?
  14. No. Obviously the implication is that Page would have been the one to die.
  15. Depends on what they/their lawyers negotiate. Could be a lump sum based on projected sales and the length of the clip, could be a percentage. I should imagine lots of wrangling, and big money involved. Just look at the recent Stairway to Heaven fishing expedition by Taurus. When you consider how badly the Stones screwed The Verve for Bittersweet Symphony (they made not a penny from that song, until Jagger and Richards relented last year I think..) you can see how difficult and long winded negotiations might be. Then also consider that Page grumbled about Charlie Jones and Michael Lee getting writing credits for Walking into Clarksdale, he probably objects to any amount being taken.... ...so the songs get taken out.
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