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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Recording Corner »

Permalink Snapshot or Ultimate Recording

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Hey All,

A group of us were sitting around the other night talking about art & music stuff. I was mentioning how when I first started recording many years ago it was about getting the perfect take, the ultimate version of the song (no mistakes).

More recently, I look at a recording as a snapshot of the evolution of the song & band. I'm much less concerned about the note perfect take, and more interested in the overall vibe of the song. If there are little unexpected bits here and there, it's usually not an issue. Sometimes those little bits lead to something more interesting than what was planned. They are often my favourite parts of the final product.

Any other thoughts and opinions?


Home of Surf & Twang

To me, a take doesn't have to be perfect or even sound good, but the song itself needs to be perfect. Or perfection based on your vision of the song. Vibe of the song is something I've been thinking about for the past couple years. I call that my 'aesthetic'. The final product is very important, but perfectionism within the product isn't that important.

If you are going to release something, you better think it's as perfect as can be. We have had instances where we recorded a song prematurely, in my opinion. And once it is released, it becomes the version of record. You can sit there and tell someone, "Oh, if you like that, check out this version" but it's too late.
I would much rather listen to live take of a song after it has been in the set for a couple of years and really found it's groove. And, I am also a fan of completely rearranging an old song, but really, you get just one chance to make a first impression.

Frankie in Frankie & The Pool Boys
Lazarus Longfellow in The TomorrowMen
DJ Frankie Pool Boy on North Sea Surf Radio
Phayrentz in Pollo Del Mar

I do agree that the song needs to be a great version of the song, but what I guess I meant is that there are several possible versions of the song if you aren't married to one arrangement. Now we do go into the studio with a specific arrangement in mind (sometimes rehearsed, sometimes not), but if something cool comes up, we'll more often than not keep the "new" one. Even it has a ringing open string, missed note, or rim hit instead of the intended snare shot. It gets back to the vibe I mentioned.

Ferenc, your comments had me thinking about this a lot the last day or so. I think I agree with you, and possibly don't agree at the same time (I'm still wrapping my head around this). If I look at a song & its performance as ever evolving, maybe it just needs to be as perfect as it can be at that moment, and be open to the thought that the song may become even more perfect (or a different perfect) later on.

I am not a fan of performing the song the same way every time we play it. The alterations aren't usually radical, but often lead to other interesting ideas, and pleasant (or not so pleasant) surprises.

I'm even open to the idea of recording a song that we've already released for another release, if the evolved version warrants it. We've done it with Giant Cow & Radarmen From the Moon. I think that each version of the songs provides an interesting snapshot of where we were at the time.

Metaphysical Rev

Home of Surf & Twang

Best it can be but no matter what will also be a snapshot in time. It's a rare musician who does not wish he/she would have changed something on a piece already in the can.
Also when a piece is new, one gets excited about the song and that can blur the perception.
On the other hand (love taking both sides of the argument) if you over work the mix you can lose the energy) We're in the final stages of mixing and mastering our next's taken several months to get this far and we're excited as hell and anxious to get this one out but I don't want to make it to "slick" I like the live in the studio feel.
There's a balance needed I guess is what I'm getting at.

It's a rare musician who does not wish he/she would have changed something on a piece already in the can. .

But imagine the freedom if you could. I don't think I'm there yet.


Home of Surf & Twang

I think one concern with trying for the perfect take is that the song becomes stale after too many takes. If you can get the perfect take in three or four takes that's great. One thing I like about 1st wave surf is that it wasn't always top notch musicians or perfect takes. It was go in the studio record a lot of material and release the best. And most of the time it was all in one day. The results weren't always spot on but had a certain energy that the "fake" surf of studio musicians from the same time lacked. I prefer energy of perfection ala Link Wray and most garage surf.

I'm no great shakes as a musician, but I find that my quest for a "perfect" home recording usually leaves me with something that sounds flat and lifeless. One of my favorite parts of "Louie, Louie" is when they screw up one of the verses, and that's probably one of my ideals as a rock n roll song.

"We're lousy, we can't play. If you wait until you can play, you'll be too old to get up there. We stink, really. But it's great," Johnny Ramone .

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