Young Bill wrote:
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.
Spot on! The result is that the vocal sounds restrained and the band sounds weak.
The songs have a stately, formal sound to them (as they're all so bloody long!), and the production described above mixed with the bland arrangements makes it all so...lifeless.
Despite all that I find some enjoyment from one or two songs and appreciate that he put more time into it than most other albums, but it only proves to me that he's best when he's thinking fast and acting spontaneously. This kind of attempt at a carefully constructed epic is not what Dylan does best.
Yes. I love Cry A While from LT, and Dirt Road Blues from TOOM, and on both the wrecked vocals are snarled with power here and there. The growl and snarls give a sense of old man menace that just knocks my socks off. But on this album, no menace in the growl (am I wrong? I mean Someday Baby has it, but by being tensely under-delivered).
Jack White got the nod from Dylan to produce Thunder on the Mountain with Wanda Jackson, and while her phrasing lacks the cleverness and sarcasm, her vocal performance seems to capture the possible juice in the song -- but, and I am no music expert, the arrangement seems close to Dylan's and plods a little. So, maybe I have to think about that.
Benny Boy, glad to see you at full piss and vinegar. But, what do you mean about "punching his vocals at the beginnings of tracks"?