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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 21:06 GMT 
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OK, So the debate about MT is among the more rational we have around here about modern dylan. But, I think I've noticed something that has bothered me about the album (I searched, and I hope I am not just repeating something someone said far better -- if so, mods, just bury this thing).

Mr. Castro (and others) insist that the cd mix is terrible and that once you hear the vinyl mix, you'll see the greatness of the album. And you know what? There is a huge difference. Huge. It's warmer, more direct, Dylan's voice is much bigger on it. Sounds far, far better.

BUT...but the weakness of the album shows up more clearly as well. Dylan is mic'd so loud, his voice is so much bigger than all the instruments together, that it takes the power out of the music.
I think this is a way of allowing Dylan to be subtle and tuneful with his wrecked vocal chords -- which he can't really do in concert when the band plays loud.
So, my theory, in order to allow his singing to come forward, to be tuneful, Dylan mic'd himself (as producer) extremely loudly. This way, he can sing very softly. And the band sound is balanced way down.

The result: A song like Thunder on the Mountain, which seems like it ought to rock, to be an energetic, danceable number, feels a little anemic. Dylan barely raises his voice at all on this one. Just a little growl or a little spitting of syllable feels like a lot. And the band, the drums, the bass, the guitar, are all (as if on one speaker) in the background.

I can see why BennyBoy would not be so fond of this album given his love for the Hard Rain, Desire Dylan who was all passion and power and whose voice overpowered the band (in some ways) precisely without the technical tricks of MT.

A theory, anyway.


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 21:14 GMT 
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Quote:
Modern TImes - Here's What's Wrong


not a bad post or thought...but that thread title's way off, 'specially during a birthday month. Let's see if i can help:

Quote:
Modern TImes - Here's What's Right


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 21:16 GMT 
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Troubadour64 wrote:
Quote:
Modern TImes - Here's What's Wrong


not a bad post or thought...but that thread title's way off, 'specially during a birthday month. Let's see if i can help:

Quote:
Modern TImes - Here's What's Right


Much better ,thank you :)


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 21:58 GMT 
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It's been said that he spent lots of time getting his vocals right for MT, and it shows. They're very smooth but don't have the sort of rough-hewn passion of Love and Theft or good live Dylan. I've fallen in love with most of the songs, but haven't listened to the album itself more than maybe a half dozen times.


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:03 GMT 
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I used to listen to it every morning some months ago


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:08 GMT 
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Hmmm... interesting thoughts. Come to think of it, the album could benefit from a more vibrant band sound. A little more instrument clarity and a nicer stereo soundstage could really make the album more powerful sonically. I like the vocals but they're nowhere near as precise or nuanced as they were on L&T, so it would be worth a little compromise on this front.


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:13 GMT 

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MMD wrote:
Mr. Castro (and others) insist that the cd mix is terrible and that once you hear the vinyl mix, you'll see the greatness of the album. And you know what? There is a huge difference. Huge. It's warmer, more direct, Dylan's voice is much bigger on it. Sounds far, far better.

It's the same mix. The difference is in the mastering, or the EQ and compression applied.

Quote:
Dylan is mic'd so loud, his voice is so much bigger than all the instruments together, that it takes the power out of the music.
I think this is a way of allowing Dylan to be subtle and tuneful with his wrecked vocal chords -- which he can't really do in concert when the band plays loud.
So, my theory, in order to allow his singing to come forward, to be tuneful, Dylan mic'd himself (as producer) extremely loudly. This way, he can sing very softly. And the band sound is balanced way down.

The result: A song like Thunder on the Mountain, which seems like it ought to rock, to be an energetic, danceable number, feels a little anemic. Dylan barely raises his voice at all on this one. Just a little growl or a little spitting of syllable feels like a lot. And the band, the drums, the bass, the guitar, are all (as if on one speaker) in the background.

I can see why BennyBoy would not be so fond of this album given his love for the Hard Rain, Desire Dylan who was all passion and power and whose voice overpowered the band (in some ways) precisely without the technical tricks of MT.

A theory, anyway.

I do agree with your observations, but I think it's a strength of the record rather than a weakness. His voice definitely sounds better on MT than any other record this decade. I love that he doesn't flail around on this one but is very focused and controlled, seeming to know just how much effort to expend without wasting any. And I don't see how one could listen to a track like, say, ROLLIN' AND TUMBLIN' and think the band is not loud enough. A lot of the songs, including THUNDER (as opposed to how it's been done in concert) just have a laid back feel to them. It's not an aggressive record and was never meant to be. You're not supposed to hear every instrument up front, it's supposed to be a unified backing for him with little details poking through here and there. That's much more the way music used to be recorded prior to the 60s/70s.


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:17 GMT 
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Troubadour64 wrote:
Quote:
Modern TImes - Here's What's Wrong


not a bad post or thought...but that thread title's way off, 'specially during a birthday month. Let's see if i can help:

Quote:
Modern TImes - Here's What's Right


Ha. OK, but I am forever trying to figure out what is wrong with my stereo or my disc in the car when I listen to that album. The structure of songs like Thunder on the Mountain make you believe you are going to get rollicking tune (and I am a big fan of the album), but there's some life, some juice missing. And what's missing is the energy of both the vocals (which are carefully managed and sung in a relatively soft/low-volume delivery and then turned up) and the band which is playing a fun piece that is too low in the mix -- almost in the background.

Even if you enjoy the kind of music there (and I do, I am not demanding anything experimental or innovative, I like the style), it doesn't deliver the energy...fully. It's implied. I saw the song live in 2008 or so. I really enjoyed it. The band was playing with verve and power. But Dylan's signing was, necessarily, less affecting -- and I like the rough, messed-up modern voice on record.

Its a dynamics things.

I'm just saying that part of what people might be criticizing about the album is that it feels soft. I think the "droning on" or "boring blues shuffles" critiques would be less common if you could feel power and joy in them. I think the recording itself takes that out a bit...a bit. And even though the vinyl is far, far better sounding, it actually reveals this problem more clearly.

Look, I like the album a lot. But, still...


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:19 GMT 
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No amount of mixing or remixing can hide the derivative arrangements, tedious lyrics, and anonymous playing. More prominent vocals won't remove the problem of the voice itself. It's the same issue as with Street Legal, although the earlier album is certainly a huge failure, while Modern Times is merely as good as an aging and inconsistent rock star is capable of producing. Polishing a turd doesn't help the smell.


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:20 GMT 
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i have to play around with my EQ after nearly every song to hear it just the way i'd like to.

but at night i could pop it in and drive around with it on repeat, or make my EQ go real soft and it hums pleasantly away in the background, fueling my fingers whilst i type...

Albert, you must've said some derivative of that somewhere else on another thread about MT already....i'm only guessing...let's move on...


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:25 GMT 
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The Mighty Monkey Of Mim wrote:
MMD wrote:
Mr. Castro (and others) insist that the cd mix is terrible and that once you hear the vinyl mix, you'll see the greatness of the album. And you know what? There is a huge difference. Huge. It's warmer, more direct, Dylan's voice is much bigger on it. Sounds far, far better.

It's the same mix. The difference is in the mastering, or the EQ and compression applied.

Quote:
Dylan is mic'd so loud, his voice is so much bigger than all the instruments together, that it takes the power out of the music.
I think this is a way of allowing Dylan to be subtle and tuneful with his wrecked vocal chords -- which he can't really do in concert when the band plays loud.
So, my theory, in order to allow his singing to come forward, to be tuneful, Dylan mic'd himself (as producer) extremely loudly. This way, he can sing very softly. And the band sound is balanced way down.

The result: A song like Thunder on the Mountain, which seems like it ought to rock, to be an energetic, danceable number, feels a little anemic. Dylan barely raises his voice at all on this one. Just a little growl or a little spitting of syllable feels like a lot. And the band, the drums, the bass, the guitar, are all (as if on one speaker) in the background.

I can see why BennyBoy would not be so fond of this album given his love for the Hard Rain, Desire Dylan who was all passion and power and whose voice overpowered the band (in some ways) precisely without the technical tricks of MT.

A theory, anyway.

I do agree with your observations, but I think it's a strength of the record rather than a weakness. His voice definitely sounds better on MT than any other record this decade. I love that he doesn't flail around on this one but is very focused and controlled, seeming to know just how much effort to expend without wasting any. And I don't see how one could listen to a track like, say, ROLLIN' AND TUMBLIN' and think the band is not loud enough. A lot of the songs, including THUNDER (as opposed to how it's been done in concert) just have a laid back feel to them. It's not an aggressive record and was never meant to be. You're not supposed to hear every instrument up front, it's supposed to be a unified backing for him with little details poking through here and there. That's much more the way music used to be recorded prior to the 60s/70s.


MMoM, yes, Ok. I don't know enough about the technical aspects to explain it as well as I would like. Thank you.

As for your point about Rollin' and Tumblin': Here's the thing -- that's a fairly fast tempo... that drum (train) driving rhythm and the instrumentation (the guitar licks, the bass) feels like it ought to be overpowering. It doesn't feel like it ought to be laid back at all (to me). It feels laid back, I am arguing, because of the way the thing is mixed.

Now, I love hearing the nuances of that wrecked voice -- his inflection, sarcasm, growls, etc. Love it. Just saying it takes the oomph out of the album some.


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 22:28 GMT 
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harmonica albert wrote:
No amount of mixing or remixing can hide the derivative arrangements, tedious lyrics, and anonymous playing. More prominent vocals won't remove the problem of the voice itself. It's the same issue as with Street Legal, although the earlier album is certainly a huge failure, while Modern Times is merely as good as an aging and inconsistent rock star is capable of producing. Polishing a turd doesn't help the smell.


Lacquering it does, though. Right?


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PostPosted: Wed May 16th, 2012, 23:38 GMT 

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MMD wrote:
It feels laid back, I am arguing, because of the way the thing is mixed.

And you are right. But if you listen to records from the 40s and 50s, before multitrack recording, you'll find that this was how music used to sound, with the vocal way out in front and the whole band in the background behind it. The drums would NEVER be overpowering. A lot of people would say it's actually a more natural kind of sound. And I think that's the sound he was going for with this record, though obviously not slavishly.

Anyway, I think you're explaining what you mean just fine. And as I said, I don't think your observations are wrong. I agree that this may be a factor (among many) in why some people don't like it, I'm just saying it's one of the reasons why I do. So I disagree that it's "what's wrong" with the album. :D


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 00:00 GMT 
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It's not an album I reach for spontaneously...ever. As much as I want to. Not saying there's anything wrong with it, just hasn't pulled me back in and stayed in my head like many of his others. Can't say I've ever woken up and HAD to hear something off Modern Times. I hope I do though someday.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 01:33 GMT 
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Modern Times is probably my favorite Bob Dylan album, it sounds fine to me, it has variety, it's funny, it's poetic, I enjoy listening to it. That's all that matters to me.

So I disagree strongly with some of the so-called experts here who liken Modern Times to a turd. A turd! Did you know, Someday Baby got the Grammy for best rock vocal performance? This gives me hope that not all experts are idiots.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 01:38 GMT 
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The Mighty Monkey Of Mim wrote:
MMD wrote:
Mr. Castro (and others) insist that the cd mix is terrible and that once you hear the vinyl mix, you'll see the greatness of the album. And you know what? There is a huge difference. Huge. It's warmer, more direct, Dylan's voice is much bigger on it. Sounds far, far better.

It's the same mix. The difference is in the mastering, or the EQ and compression applied.

Quote:
Dylan is mic'd so loud, his voice is so much bigger than all the instruments together, that it takes the power out of the music.
I think this is a way of allowing Dylan to be subtle and tuneful with his wrecked vocal chords -- which he can't really do in concert when the band plays loud.
So, my theory, in order to allow his singing to come forward, to be tuneful, Dylan mic'd himself (as producer) extremely loudly. This way, he can sing very softly. And the band sound is balanced way down.

The result: A song like Thunder on the Mountain, which seems like it ought to rock, to be an energetic, danceable number, feels a little anemic. Dylan barely raises his voice at all on this one. Just a little growl or a little spitting of syllable feels like a lot. And the band, the drums, the bass, the guitar, are all (as if on one speaker) in the background.

I can see why BennyBoy would not be so fond of this album given his love for the Hard Rain, Desire Dylan who was all passion and power and whose voice overpowered the band (in some ways) precisely without the technical tricks of MT.

A theory, anyway.

I do agree with your observations, but I think it's a strength of the record rather than a weakness. His voice definitely sounds better on MT than any other record this decade. I love that he doesn't flail around on this one but is very focused and controlled, seeming to know just how much effort to expend without wasting any. And I don't see how one could listen to a track like, say, ROLLIN' AND TUMBLIN' and think the band is not loud enough. A lot of the songs, including THUNDER (as opposed to how it's been done in concert) just have a laid back feel to them. It's not an aggressive record and was never meant to be. You're not supposed to hear every instrument up front, it's supposed to be a unified backing for him with little details poking through here and there. That's much more the way music used to be recorded prior to the 60s/70s.




you are 100 percent correct


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 02:44 GMT 
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carnap wrote:
Modern Times is probably my favorite Bob Dylan album, it sounds fine to me, it has variety, it's funny, it's poetic, I enjoy listening to it. That's all that matters to me.

So I disagree strongly with some of the so-called experts here who liken Modern Times to a turd. A turd! Did you know, Someday Baby got the Grammy for best rock vocal performance? This gives me hope that not all experts are idiots.


Here here! might be my most often played in the last three years...(not from the last three years)


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 02:46 GMT 
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So typical of you Carnap to use a discussion of a mediocre imitative blues album to toss insults but without the courage to address directly the substance of the music or lack of it. Liking something and developing a critical perspective are two very different things, and your monosyllabic pretensions aside, all you ever demonstrate is what you happen to like, and how very unlikeable you are in your narrow minded snobbery.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 03:53 GMT 
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I don't know what's typical of carnap, as I don't often visit the political world thread or other artists, which is where I think he posts most often, nor have I seen any threads titled, 'what's carnap like?'....but he did list four aspects of modern times I found myself agreeing with and one factoid that I had forgotten about, so in that way he has added value to this thread...I was looking for something of substance in yours (which is certainly not a challenge in most cases, don't get me wrong, but I struggled to do so in this case)....

Perhaps you could tell me how being imitative is at odds with performing the blues? As you suggested above.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 04:27 GMT 
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harmonica albert wrote:
So typical of you Carnap to use a discussion of a mediocre imitative blues album to toss insults but without the courage to address directly the substance of the music or lack of it. Liking something and developing a critical perspective are two very different things, and your monosyllabic pretensions aside, all you ever demonstrate is what you happen to like, and how very unlikeable you are in your narrow minded snobbery.


I'm obviously not one to post often here, though I've been around a while and read a lot in the forum. There are just too many people more knowledgeable and with more experience. I like to watch (and learn). The thing is, this has led me to have a lot of respect for Harmonica Albert's musical knowledge and I know he has a fairly stringent set of standards. If you've ever seen him writing about non-pop music, you know what I mean. And I can't recall if there is much in Dylan's later catalogue that harmonica has much interest in -- I think I remember that he doesn't. Further, the recent research (enabled by the internet) that has shown Dylan's magpie post-modern pastiche tendencies (that I think we could show are there all the way back) have really sullied Dylan in Harmonica's eyes. So, his assessments are quite harsh.

As a result, I don't take his savagings personally. I like the Dylan of TOOM forward as much as any Dylan, maybe a little more, and it is grounded in something other than a technical musical skill.

My critique of MT here reflects just an Aha! moment that tied together criticisms I have rad here and my own low-key frustrations with the sound of the album.

Mighty Monkey: I agree with you about the 40s-50s sound. I put on my Sun recordings after I read your post and see your point. But, there is a difference. Same idea but not the same execution. Cash and Perkins and Lewis could vocally really let it rip and bring intensity to the performance. For Dylan to keep his tunefulness, he can't.

I repeat, I really like the album. It's nowhere near a turd to me. But I also know it's not -- thinking of Levon's recent passing -- Music from Big Pink.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 05:38 GMT 

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Nice read here.

I'm not the kind of person to listen to music through a microscope, hunting for flaws.

When MT came out, I had other priorities in life - so I spun it and filed it away.
Later I revisited it, and it became all I wanted to hear. Modern Times in the present.

Last winter I did a whole lot of painting in my garage, with MT playing loudly
in my livingroom. Sounded like a band playing in the next room. Fantastic.
I couldn't play anything other than MT for my garage painting sessions.
Still cant.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 05:58 GMT 
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By the way, points for most restraint in/from a thread: Benny Boy (to whom I remain thankful for the MSG Best Sound shows).


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 06:07 GMT 

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asdf29 wrote:

I couldn't play anything other than MT for my garage painting sessions.
Still cant.


What do you mean asdf29? Do you have a huge garage and are you still paintingit? Or did you continue painting the whole house just because you just can't stop listening to MT? :D

I listened to MT every day while driving my son to school during the whole school year. Sometimes its hard to disconnect the music from the accompanying activities afterwards. :?


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 06:08 GMT 
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MMD wrote:
By the way, points for most restraint in/from a thread: Benny Boy (to whom I remain thankful for the MSG Best Sound shows).


Sorry - post delayed due to technical difficulties. Apparently the internet has had to go back to the 16th century to check some of the swear words.


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PostPosted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 06:51 GMT 

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MMD wrote:
harmonica albert wrote:


Mighty Monkey: I agree with you about the 40s-50s sound. I put on my Sun recordings after I read your post and see your point. But, there is a difference. Same idea but not the same execution. Cash and Perkins and Lewis could vocally really let it rip and bring intensity to the performance. For Dylan to keep his tunefulness, he can't.

.


Your arguments can be applied to TOOM. MT does not aim for the sound of the 50's,and no Sun recording sounds like it. He just hasn't got the power anymore to pull it off.The big Shure mic just muddles it.. And i think he feels it didnt quite come off like he wanted it, i presume because of the push and pull with Lanois. The product fell in the middle with which neither were reasonably satisfied. Some of the live recordings are less troublesome, though. I think for L&T and especially MT Dylan went the other way,most likely out of frustration, with uncluttered direct vocals, and i do prefer those productions. . MT contains some really great tracks, but quite a few mediocre ones.And so did TOOM, as far as i'm concerned. I will leave out which, to stop any to and fro-ing.I think L&T holds up on all fronts and will over time.

As far as EQ-ing is concerned, TOOM is all over the place.I had to do some post production work on it on quite a few tracks to lose the troublesome frequencies. Also very inconsistent mixing on TOOM, with the vocals sometimes up front and sometimes buried.Granted, MT vocals way up front, and some will dislike it.

By the way,I'm so glad they went back to mix 'Street Legal' again, as i had produced my own copy after i got the first CD. My fingers are itching to work on TOOM, if i only could get my hands on it.I actually don't blame Lanois. I suspect Dylan wanted to go somewhere with it, but failed.I'm pretty certain that Lanois would have created a much more transparant album. More like 'Oh Mercy' as it were.


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