Stop the presses ...
Hi again MRB and Anneke,
Chris may be thousand times tired of his years with Magnet/Warner, but there was one big good thing about Chris's records from his "commercial" years: perfect production and sound engineering. When there were not so many musicians and real instruments invoilved, it was compensated by electronics but it usually sounded impeccable and very harmonic.
I cannot believe in that Chris really does not want his current records to be of the same sound quality and that he is satisfied with home-made recording done all by himself. Of course, this must be the easiset way to get what he and only he wants his music to be like, but still, I assume that musicians of Chris's band from different times did a fantastic job and determined Chris's brand sound not less that he did himself. You can just listen to solo works of Max, Robert, Sylvin etc. to get proof of that. And I still consider the real good old band with some session musicians will surely help Chris make his records much better. If it is too complicated to get it done for a big project, then it should be shrinked to a smaller release, it's simple as that. I find it no good to avoid quality to get more quantity in this case.
Maybe this big gap between the latest release and awaited new one is due to Chris's coming back to perfection of his recordings...
Thanks again for this discussion and best regards
Last edited by andrew fischer on 04 Mar 2015, 11:20, edited 1 time in total.
santo spirit is album which I would have not bought if it was done by anyone else but Chris. I don´t like to listen it, not to mention I would tell anyone to listen it.
I do fully agree that Santo Spirito seems to be the weakest Chris's album (for now). I have already criticized the songs CD and it is enough said about it, and the soundtracks are marvellous soulful music and Chris's guitar playing is brilliant as always, but they should have been recorded with real strings and drums, and in the way they exist they sound more like a studying musician's graduate work)) Moreover, one soundtrack CD contains too little music (only 30 minutes for 7 tunes ) and the other one appears too long and monotonous.
I really do wish the new release will not be of the same kind.
Sorry to those who love this album,
i think I have´t even listened those soundtracks at once, not even once. some of the songs are ok, but the production is not good. we really need good old school production on the next release or I am going to lose my hope to ever hear good release from him again.
Hi all and thanks for your inspiring comments on this very interesting topic!
I feel the same about the productions of the last albums. remember when Chris sang "I Can't Dance To That" back in '87? That's one reason why I like the albums from '87 until '91 best. I think it even started in back 1992 when he produced GGBS by himself - there is a huge difference in terms of originality and quality of production compared to the predecessors.
Jon Kelly gave Chris' songs a very organic but also crystal clear sound. The production was impeccable but not sterile sounding. Strings sounded like strings (because they were real) and the other musicians added a special flavour.
Chris may be a good guitar player but he has his limits and he is not a great keyboard player or drummer. Yesterday I listened to the "Auberge" album and was (as always) impressed not only by the songwriting skills (of course) but also by the arrangements and choice of instruments. And although this record is nearly 25 years old it sounds timeless to me and not like many other 90's productions.
Of course, Blues might be about downsizing and a more stripped down arrangement but especially the drums sound just cheap.
I wish Chris would concentrate on writing and producing 10 great songs instead of all these ear books or whatever he is planning.
Oh yes, Auberge is great. But even on the Blue Cafe (e.g. "Where do we go from here" or "Shadows of the Big Man") I think synthesizers are used, not real strings, but it still sounds perfect.
By the way, I've heard the new track by Mark Knopfler, "Beryl". He never loses the quality of his sound!
Don't cry, baby don't cry
The worst is gone....
Yes that new Knopfler track is good example, his music all together. He uses real musicians and not some electronics. That´s where Chris should be going, a straight answer to the question "Where do we go from here"
thank you very much for your comment, I never noticed it before, but you are quite right, Chris moved to some kind of downshifting in production after he quit his cooperation with Jon Kelly back in 1992.
Indeed, there are far less musicians and instruments involved in GGBS recordings in comparison to earlier albums. There are synthesizers on 90's Blues instead of stings section on Auberge and earlier records, and also Chris's massive use of drum machines started in those years (the first example that springs to mind is Jordan 191).
I don't imply that GGBS or Espresso or later albums sound worse than earlier albums produced by Jon Kelly. They just sound different. Chris was still cooperating with top notch engineers (Neil Amor, Stuart Epps, Stuart Eales) and had a wonderful band which was involved in every studio record, so the overall sound quality is impeccable.
And there were some session guys invited, e.g. Davy Spillane with his uilleann pipes on Espresso.
I think Chris was tired of dictation by Warner already in 1991 so he sought any ways of getting more musical freedom and he found out production by himself may be a compromise. He mentioned in several interviews from early 90s that he considered many of his records "overproduced", with "strings added for the wrong reason". He just felt the production was too complex and the instrumentation of GGBS and Espresso is indeed more simple, but it doesn't make these albums sound less full-blend and harmonic than Auberge.
There are synthesizers, drum machines and sampled guitars all over The Blue Cafe, but they mostly "belong right there" and sound perfect thanks to impeccable sound engineering - the thing Chris lacks the most in his recordings up from Blue Guitars. Chris did a great job producing his 1992-2004 albums by himself or with help of Kiadan Quinn, and it was all right until he gave up on proper sound engineering.
There are already 2 songs available from MK new album, Wherever I Go is the 2nd one: http://po.st/zcRb0L
Here are the official trailers for the album: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSMxz8TJiCkL-x6lCe1rNnQ
MK is working hard and sticks to the "old school" style of making albums and uses a heap of old analogue recording techniques but at the same time the top notch digital tools and sound engineers are involved, this is what makes his records sound absolutely fantastic on any reference stereo system. MK has a tight permanent band of 7-8 musicians who are together with him for almost 20 years now and also he still runs his own studio, British Grove, so he has as much freedom as possible it seems. Remeber, that Chris got rid of his home studio when he sold his Sol Mill property in 2007 and I think it was also for financial reasons.
I really wish Chris followed in MK's footsteps, as regards combining the artistic freedom, proper production and technical excellence.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on all this,
Well, first I think after Chris had paid his mortgage and his debts to Magnet he should have had some money left. From 1985 on his albums sold quite well and the frequent touring should have paid off as well - at least he could afford a Ferrari etc.
Second, as was already said you can achieve a decent sound without spending millions. The first album by "The Traveling Wilburys" was recorded in Bob Dylan's garage...
Travelling Wilbury's they just have fun, I don't give a sh*t about quality of sound it seems, since I started with buying all his blues.
I really believe Chris does what he does because he likes it. He can live by the royalties of "Driving home for Christmas", as he still owns them?
And the quality of the soundboard of the last Tour was excellent.
Isn't not just a choice I wonder....
You're never to old to dance!
You are not quite right in your assumptions about Chris's finances. He cannot just live on by the royalty cheques for using his songs as he himself gets relatively little funds for that and most of the income is received by Warner Music, the record company which owns the copyrights for all of his pre-2000 works.
Chris told in an interview that he booght his first Ferrari right after he had paid off his mortgage in late 80s, just because he wanted one so bad. But already in 1992 he claimed to stop running a Ferrari garage as it was too difficult for him and just had not enough sense. He build 2 vintage Ferrari replicas specially for La Passione film and donated them to Von Trips foundation.
He just enjoys driving rental racing and sports cars and occasionally buys and sells some moderately priced vintage cars.
Remember, artists usually do not mix up the music business funds with their own money, unless they have to. Chris had to use his own funds when he parted with Warner who backed all his previous projects. But remember, there were ups and downs for this backup which always has limits, regardless of a company's power: Warner demanded to release Espresso and The Best Of 1994 albums to compensate for the great expenses during La Passione project; after it failed commercially, due to underproduction in order to save money, Warner forced Chris to deliver commercial goods, not a peculiar product. That is why The Blue Cafe is not a blues album as it was supposed to be, but a pop-oriented best seller with fancy electronics and simple instrumentation, and that is why 1998 tour was so short with only 4-piece band roaming.
Chris has spent a fortune to help fund La Passione and also he got big cheques for his health care after 1994 illness. He also spent a great sum to purchase Sol Mill property in 1995, that is why he could not be his own boss that time.
As I see it, in most of such cases, it is money that matters, not principles. And do not consider Chris that much of a rich person.
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