Monday, December 5, 2022

100. The Band, Music from Big Pink (1968)

I feel some obligation to keep this going, less because you said you had been refreshing the page to see what was what and more because I realize it was something I started but didn't finish.

So I'm going to keep the album commentary / reviews going, only I'm going to do them a bit differently. I'll be counting down from 100 Rolling Stone magazine's top 100 albums from their top 500 list. This list is the 2020 version, slightly different than the 2012 version, and very different from the 2007(?) version, which was very Beatles-heavy. (Not that there's anything wrong with The Beatles. In fact, the more I've listened to their albums, the more they've grown on me. But they'll never topple The Rolling Stones.)

Now as for the 100th album on Rolling Stone's list, this album being The Band's Music from Big Pink, I'm going to have say I don't like it all that much. Sure, I like The Band. And goodness, The Last Waltz documentary (directed by Martin Scorsese) might be the best music documentary of all time. And of course I like most of the songs off of this debut album. The problem, as I see it, is the vocal tracking.

All the vocals were recorded as if everybody was standing far away from the mikes. To make matters worse, you hear multiple voices on those tracks, not just vocalist Richard Manuel's. Or, if it is in fact only Manuel's voice, then what's been done is his voice has been layered one track upon the other. Whatever the producer has done, the vocals sound weak and echoey. I like my vocals clean, son.

I blame sixties experimentation. It wasn't just drugs with those folks, it was stuff like this, where the vocals sound like a dadgum choir instead of one singer with a full-bodied voice, a real presence.

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