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Did Presence have a bad mix?


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On ‎19‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 0:51 PM, babysquid said:

I think the slap back echo in Candy Store Rock was a nod to the early rock n roll recordings of the 50's which the song was trying to emulate 

What he said, it's clearly a pastiche of the early rock'n'roll stuff Page & Plant loved so much.

I love Candy Store Rock, it never fails to raise a smile in my house.

Presence is a great album, in fact these days I find it's the Zeppelin studio album I go back to most (probably because I've listened to the first six so much).

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Strangely enough I think Presence is the go to album if even besides the interesting songwriting, the guitar architecture is

astounding and you will find something new with each listen. I think the band never did HOFN live , along with other songs

on Presence because besides the amazingly creative overdubs, Jimmy was boosting and cutting the EQ very sharply, something which would be extremely difficult or simply impossible live. A great example is on the 77' tour when Zep

pretty much played ALS like the studio version( except Jimmy's solo) and IMO this approach without the overdubs sounded

weak. Even with a few mistakes the song sounded  much better when the band threw away the rule book and just made

the song sound like some epic ancient Roman battle. Some will disagree. There was no Steve Vai or Yngwie as far as unique

style goes in the 70's , Page was the one on Presence calling the shots. And even now, who has matched the sonic labyrinth

of Presence ?? Great soloists have come, but meaningless without a matching compositional structure.

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On 7/18/2017 at 6:29 PM, gibsonfan159 said:

Apart from Achilles and Nobody's Fault, which sound great, the other songs seemed to have a strange mix. Candy Store Rock for example, which I've ways assumed I hated until I listened again recently. It's not the song that bugs me, it's the weird mix. The bass and drums are Ok, but the delay and reverb on the guitar and vocals are just too much. The guitar is separated to far off to one side. I imagined this song having a "drier" mix like III or HOTH had, and realized it's a pretty catchy song with a mean guitar riff. 

Plant's vocals seem to have a deep hall reverb on them that almost sounds like wind blowing in places. Page's guitar fills that jump in and out on the sides of the balance also have a deep reverb that pushes the sound back in the mix. Very noticeable on Hots On For Nowhere.

Bonham does excellent drum work on Royal Orleans, but the drums sit low in the mix and don't have that dynamic sound he had on songs like In My Time, Night Flight, or The Ocean. I think overall this album simply lost that layered, dynamic tone they had previously. 

I believe the slap back echo/reverb used on the track was done on purpose. I saw this as Jimmy's nod to Elivs and his "Baby Let's Play House" era.

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Yeah, Jimmy certainly intended that slap-back delay and the long reverbs. I personally like the stuff on Presence that

utilizes those "effects". I would say if you really want to be irritated, listen to the mid 60's and on almost hilariously

overdone reverbs and delays on non top 40 material. Page is at least arguably using the effects artistically.

 

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Been blasting presence to and from work all week and have been enjoying the trebley guitar solos, actually my eardrums have been electrocuted and its great. Its seems like jimmy followed the presence solo tone, on the next record with evening, suarez, hot dog, crawl....then again i always had the treble up a bit, bass back a bit and loud.  

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On 7/19/2017 at 0:39 PM, badgeholder said:

Presence is one that really stood out to me with the new remasters, where I thought the hi-res files were a bit dark, the CD a bit brittle, but the vinyl LP - perfect! On my system at least

Yep. My ears exactly. The LP sounds perfect - many have mentioned the lack of a bottom end, but it's there in a big way on the original album (vinyl on turntable) to the point where I thought page had perhaps mixed himself down overmuch. As I was reading the comments, kept hearing the opening jump of HOFN and the stumble down of NFBM wondering what album everybody's listening to. Of course, it's the remastered CD, which is  "a bit a brittle" and the guitar is edgier. Tea for One, which has a certain warmth on the record, sounds chillingly cold on the CD. Listening to Royal Orleans on the laptop right now, and even in this less than ideal playback environment, it sounds fantastic. Page's attention to detail in arranging the guitar army is mesmerizing in either mix. 

Presence is not the best Zep album, but it was my favorite of the original eight studio albums for many years (I tend to lean toward Houses these days).

Edited by Mercurious
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On 7/21/2017 at 8:21 PM, Mithril46 said:

This may sound ridiculous but I'm sure that even a smacked out Jimmy when he heard "free studio time" he suddenly jumped

out of his withdrawn shell to get all members aboard. Don't get me wrong, surely the studio had some reputation and was

state of the art. Yet later most Zep members complained bitterly against the near arctic cold, and in that situation I imagine

even drugs were not enough to justify the conditions. I do find it odd that a comment was made about Presence that Zep

wanted to "sound like new bands". Each to his own but I have never ever heard even one song on Presence that 

sounded even remotely  like anyone else. However, Presence was the first Zep album to end up in the cutout bins or

discount section. So apparently  it certainly was a misunderstood or harshtoned album.

Go figure, recording in Sweden in late November, now who would have thought the weather could be a wee bit chilly.

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Presence is the album I normally hover over on iTunes, just such a great record.

Each song is so different, yet they fit perfectly into the album.

 

Achilles Last Stand is also the best album opener of any album ever.

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On 31/07/2017 at 1:17 PM, elKZacha said:

Achilles Last Stand is also the best album opener of any album ever.

Great great song no doubt, but IMHO I prefer the openers to the first three albums. I always think GTBT says "ok we're fuckin here". Not as complex as ALS but that riff and drum beat has shitloads of attitude. 

I also think the opening track on 'Wish You Were Here' is pretty special....but obviously a very different style 

 

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Well it's funny, half of The Floyd's openers are about Syd Barrett. A never ending source of unique angles about their founder.

I think ALS is an amazing opener too, but like NFBM live is very close to the studio version, there are live versions of ALS

which are much more intense than the studio take.

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  • 1 year later...

Just listened to the album again and "What if" just keeps rattling around my brain the whole time. The music is there and the musicianship is definitely there (Jones are Bonham are ridiculous). The problem is undoubtedly how it's presented. It's presented with an unbalanced and over-compressed mix (mainly the rhythm guitars and vocals) which just gives a bad impression of the music overall. Hell, Candy Store Rock is an awesome track which could easily be improved by centering the guitar more and cutting the reverb on the vocals in half. The vocal recordings also, just sound lo-fi even for 1976. Almost like he's singing into a plastic cup. Bass and drums? No problem here. They sound fantastic and are some of the duo's finest moments. Whoever pushed Page's guitar way over to the right channel and killed the top end needs to be sued. 

I know this horse has been beaten back to life, but I'd love to just have the multitracks for this album so I could liven up this trainwreck of a mix. Why the "Remaster" didn't address this blows my mind. 

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8 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Just listened to the album again and "What if" just keeps rattling around my brain the whole time. The music is there and the musicianship is definitely there (Jones are Bonham are ridiculous). The problem is undoubtedly how it's presented. It's presented with an unbalanced and over-compressed mix (mainly the rhythm guitars and vocals) which just gives a bad impression of the music overall. Hell, Candy Store Rock is an awesome track which could easily be improved by centering the guitar more and cutting the reverb on the vocals in half. The vocal recordings also, just sound lo-fi even for 1976. Almost like he's singing into a plastic cup. Bass and drums? No problem here. They sound fantastic and are some of the duo's finest moments. Whoever pushed Page's guitar way over to the right channel and killed the top end needs to be sued. 

I know this horse has been beaten back to life, but I'd love to just have the multitracks for this album so I could liven up this trainwreck of a mix. Why the "Remaster" didn't address this blows my mind. 

When I listen to Presence, which is often, I think about what a genius Page was and how amazing the whole album/sound is.  As others have noted above, Page knew what he was doing and he did everything for a reason.  Every Zeppelin album sounds different.  The production is a major part of the music and the overall impact, and that is a big reason Zeppelin is so interesting.

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9 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Just listened to the album again and "What if" just keeps rattling around my brain the whole time. The music is there and the musicianship is definitely there (Jones are Bonham are ridiculous). The problem is undoubtedly how it's presented. It's presented with an unbalanced and over-compressed mix (mainly the rhythm guitars and vocals) which just gives a bad impression of the music overall. Hell, Candy Store Rock is an awesome track which could easily be improved by centering the guitar more and cutting the reverb on the vocals in half. The vocal recordings also, just sound lo-fi even for 1976. Almost like he's singing into a plastic cup. Bass and drums? No problem here. They sound fantastic and are some of the duo's finest moments. Whoever pushed Page's guitar way over to the right channel and killed the top end needs to be sued. 

I know this horse has been beaten back to life, but I'd love to just have the multitracks for this album so I could liven up this trainwreck of a mix. Why the "Remaster" didn't address this blows my mind. 

Your opinions sometimes baffle me, truly.   There are Zero “Trainwreck” mixes on Presence.  Really?  Presence, although not their best album, is routinely held up as one of their best sounding albums with everything presented in stark clarity, as Jimmy, world class Producer, wanted it.

Also, the Remaster series only worked with original 2 track mix down tapes.   To date, no multitrack remixes have been done.  So not sure what you mean by that last bit.

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15 minutes ago, John M said:

When I listen to Presence, which is often, I think about what a genius Page was and how amazing the whole album/sound is.  As others have noted above, Page knew what he was doing and he did everything for a reason.  Every Zeppelin album sounds different.  The production is a major part of the music and the overall impact, and that is a big reason Zeppelin is so interesting.

👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

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1 hour ago, bluecongo said:

Presence, although not their best album, is routinely held up as one of their best sounding albums with everything presented in stark clarity

The bass and drums, sure. But that muddy, lifeless guitar panned over in the corner is anything but impressive. And  my point is that this would've been considered a better album if the mix had some life to it. Too much echo and reverb in places makes the album less vibrant and unappealing, and flattens the character of the songs. Page and the engineers dropped the ball on this one.

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1 hour ago, John M said:

The production is a major part of the music and the overall impact, and that is a big reason Zeppelin is so interesting

Which is exactly why this one ended up in the bargain bin. It has an oddball mix that is relatively unappealing. I really don't think the music is the problem.

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19 minutes ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Which is exactly why this one ended up in the bargain bin. It has an oddball mix that is relatively unappealing. I really don't think the music is the problem.

This is one for the Controversial thread.

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22 minutes ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Which is exactly why this one ended up in the bargain bin. It has an oddball mix that is relatively unappealing. I really don't think the music is the problem.

That is a HUGE leap in logic and projecting your own opinions on a situation.  I honestly in 40 yrs of fandom haven’t heard this opinion expressed by anyone anywhere.  

Its a dark, depressing album without the usual big musical hooks Zep was known for.  To blame the mix for poor sales, that’s just ludicrous 

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13 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Just listened to the album again and "What if" just keeps rattling around my brain the whole time. The music is there and the musicianship is definitely there (Jones are Bonham are ridiculous). The problem is undoubtedly how it's presented. It's presented with an unbalanced and over-compressed mix (mainly the rhythm guitars and vocals) which just gives a bad impression of the music overall. Hell, Candy Store Rock is an awesome track which could easily be improved by centering the guitar more and cutting the reverb on the vocals in half. The vocal recordings also, just sound lo-fi even for 1976. Almost like he's singing into a plastic cup. Bass and drums? No problem here. They sound fantastic and are some of the duo's finest moments. Whoever pushed Page's guitar way over to the right channel and killed the top end needs to be sued. 

I know this horse has been beaten back to life, but I'd love to just have the multitracks for this album so I could liven up this trainwreck of a mix. Why the "Remaster" didn't address this blows my mind. 

I think all of your nitpicking of Page has warped your brain or your hearing. If you think "Presence" has a bad mix or no bottom-end, the problem is with either your stereo or your ears. It is not with the mix.

Even "Candy Store Rock" sounds fine. It just needed better lyrics and more development into a decent song. It's my least favourite track on "Presence" and in the entire Led Zeppelin canon but it is not the fault of the mix.

To each their own and everyone is entitled to their opinion but you're entering bizarro world with this one.

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3 hours ago, JTM said:

This is one for the Controversial thread.

Maybe so. But there's a reason this release is regarded as the least appealing by most fans, and I really don't think the music is the core issue. The overall sound of the guitar mix is bland and uncolorful. It just doesn't have that fresh sound they usually achieved.

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3 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Maybe so. But there's a reason this release is regarded as the least appealing by most fans, and I really don't think the music is the core issue. The overall sound of the guitar mix is bland and uncolorful. It just doesn't have that fresh sound they usually achieved.

I think you are overthinking this.  I, II, III, IV, Houses and Graffiti all sound completely different.  I am not sure what you mean by the "fresh sound" they usually achieved?  You Mean like Custard Pie, or  Immigrant Song, or TSRTS, or The Crunge, The Ocean, No Quarter, Levee, what?   Most of PG sounds dark and dreary compared to Houses, but is still killer and enough tracks have commercial appeal.

If you look at Presence in it its actual context it had no broad commercial appeal and I can guarantee you that was not because of the mix.  Back in the 70s people mostly listened on the radio, or on a cheap home stereo or on a cheap car 8 track.  Nobody in the mass buying pubic thought about the mix.   In the summer/fall of 1976 kids were buying Aerosmith Rocks, Wings Over America, Frampton Comes Alive, Heart, Bowie, BOC with Don't Fear the Reaper, Steve Miller Band, Foghat, Bad Company,  Skynyrd,  Fleetwood Mac, Boz Skaggs, Kansas (Wayward Son) and most of all BOSTON...etc.  Every party I went to from the day Boston was released through all of 1977 prominently featured Boston BLASTING at least twice through a night.   People mostly wanted good time music in 1976.  People did not want to listen to For Your Life or Achilles Last Stand or NBFBM at parties.  They would have liked the words to Candy Store Rock (if they wanted something raunchy like Custard Pie - but Custard Pie is so much better - as is Wanton Song) but that is about it - and it was too different at the time in terms of the style.  Royal Orleans is funny if you know the story but it is odd in so many ways - it is not the mix.  I don't care how this was mixed the album did not fit popular tastes at the time, and the time was the summer of 1976.  Tea for One is incredible but so depressing.   For Your Life?  Antidrug message without being funny, and the music is so unrelentingly heavy.

And those casual Zep fans on the fence waited for the live album in Sept - alot of us did not have enough money back then to buy every album we wanted.  I knew alot of people who said the heck with Presence I am getting that double live album with the "hits".

Edited by John M
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6 minutes ago, John M said:

I think you are overthinking this.  I, II, III, IV, Houses and Graffiti all sound completely different.  I am not sure what you mean by the "fresh sound" they usually achieved?  You Mean like Custard Pie, or  Immigrant Song, or TSRTS, or The Crunge, The Ocean, No Quarter, Levee, what?   Most of PG sounds dark and dreary compared to Houses, but is still killer and enough tracks have commercial appeal.

If you look at Presence in it its actual context it had no broad commercial appeal and I can guarantee you that was not because of the mix.  Back in the 70s people mostly listened on the radio, or on a cheap home stereo or on a cheap car 8 track.  Nobody in the mass buying pubic thought about the mix.   In the summer/fall of 1976 kids were buying Aerosmith Rocks, Wings Over America, Frampton Comes Alive, Heart, Bowie, BOC with Don't Fear the Reaper, Steve Miller Band, Foghat, Bad Company,  Skynyrd,  Fleetwood Mac, Boz Skaggs, Kansas (Wayward Son) and most of all BOSTON...etc.  Every party I went to from the day Boston was released through all of 1977 prominently featured Boston BLASTING at least twice through a night.   People mostly wanted good time music in 1976.  People did not want to listen to For Your Life or Achilles Last Stand or NBFBM at parties.  They would have liked the words to Candy Store Rock (if they wanted something raunchy like Custard Pie - but Custard Pie is so much better - as is Wanton Song) but that is about it - and it was too different at the time in terms of the style.  Royal Orleans is funny if you know the story but it is odd in so many ways - it is not the mix.  I don't care how this was mixed the album did not fit popular tastes at the time, and the time was the summer of 1976.  Tea for One is incredible but so depressing.   For Your Life?  Antidrug message without being funny, and the music is so unrelentingly heavy.

And those casual Zep fans on the fence waited for the live album in Sept - alot of us did not have enough money back then to buy every album we wanted.  I knew alot of people who said the heck with Presence I am getting that double live album with the "hits".

Hammer. Nail. Head. Well said, John.

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I'm with @bluecongo, @John M, and @Strider on this one. Presence sounds astringent, to be sure, but that's clearly by design. And it doesn't sound muddy or muffled, nor to my ears is the mix bad. From a technical standpoint (which I freely admit is not the only or even primary metric to evaluate the feel of a Zep album), Presence might actually be the best sounding album in the catalogue. The clean quality of its mix and sound is rivaled only by the first album. (Again, not saying Presence is the most sonically satisfying album.)

As for the vocals, they are indeed thin on most of the tracks (except perhaps Tea for One). But that's probably because Plant was in a body cast and singing from a chair - that will rob your voice of some dynamism and make it sound thinner and reedier. And just as Page used Plant's voice to full advantage in the past - Plant sounds like he's gargling battery acid on "Sick Again,:" and his voice is actually quite thin on Custard Pie and Kashmir - he clearly worked with it on Presence too, capturing the vulnerability and isolation the band felt as injured tax exiles stuck in a Munich studio. Or maybe it's as simple as Houses of the Holy being a Jack Daniels type of album while Presence is a coke or heroin album. Who knows.

I would hate for all nine albums to sound and feel like Presence. But I'd hate every album to sound and feel like Zep II as well. As a unique one-off in their catalogue, Presence is electrifying and really intense - even the fun songs sound closed-in and ominous. It's a pretty tight, cohesive statement.

 

Edited by tmtomh
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19 hours ago, gibsonfan159 said:

Just listened to the album again and "What if" just keeps rattling around my brain the whole time. The music is there and the musicianship is definitely there (Jones are Bonham are ridiculous). The problem is undoubtedly how it's presented. It's presented with an unbalanced and over-compressed mix (mainly the rhythm guitars and vocals) which just gives a bad impression of the music overall. Hell, Candy Store Rock is an awesome track which could easily be improved by centering the guitar more and cutting the reverb on the vocals in half. The vocal recordings also, just sound lo-fi even for 1976. Almost like he's singing into a plastic cup. Bass and drums? No problem here. They sound fantastic and are some of the duo's finest moments. Whoever pushed Page's guitar way over to the right channel and killed the top end needs to be sued. 

I know this horse has been beaten back to life, but I'd love to just have the multitracks for this album so I could liven up this trainwreck of a mix. Why the "Remaster" didn't address this blows my mind. 

I find the two bolded comments a bit baffling, just from the context of previous work:

LZ I
GTBT - 2 guitars one panned hard L, one panned hard R
BIGLY - Acoustic guitar panned hard L (reverb in R channel), other guitars come in panned hard L & R
D&C - mostly guitars panned hard L & R, some active panning
YTIGC - Acoustic hard panned R
HMMT - Guitars panned hard L & R, some active panning.

LZII
WLL - Guitar panned hard L
LS - Guitars panned hard L & R - main part hard L
TY - Guitars panned hard R
HB - Guitars panned hard L & R
LLM - Main guitar panned hard L - other guitars need hard R
Ramble On - Guitar panned hard R - other guitars hard L
BIOH - Main guitar hard R, another one L, another in the middle.

LZIII
Immigrant Song - Main guitar panned hard L, other guitars hard R
Celebration Day - Main guitar hard L, other hard R
OOTT - Guitars panned hard L & R
Gallows Pole - Guitar panned hard L
Hats Off - ermm.... extreme example but still stands up.

LZIV
BD - one guitar hard left, one hard R
R&R - main guitar hard L
STH - acoustic hard R, other guitars hard L & R
MMH - guitar hard L
WTLB - main guitar hard L

I think you can see the point.  If there was a 'formula' that Page worked to production-wise, it would seem that for a majority of the time he had his guitars hard-panned, often with a big reverb on the opposite channel - BIGLY and WLL being excellent examples.  He also compressed the living shit out of his guitars throughout their entire recording career.

If you're criticising the guitar placement of Presence, why not on every other album too?
If your criticising the use of reverb on the vocals, why not just about every other album too?  (I think you don't like the slapback delay being used on Candy Store Rock (I'm not a fan either), but it was supposed to be a bit of a pastiche so it kind of stands up.)

(Totally off-topic, but interesting an fact, Candy Store Rock is also unique because - despite what they've said - there's an acoustic guitar strumming away in there.)
 










 

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