Question Great songs that lack production value

AJM1981

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I know Hi-Fi is simply put, a leap away from lower fidelity gramophone recordings. The difference between an ancient blobby old mono jazz recording and one that sparkled in stereo covering more frequencies.

But I would like to misuse it a bit in a different way.

There are tracks that sound slick and so well produced that they are even showcase material.

Though some have tons of potential but kind of fail to live up to what they could have been, because something is off. What are the songs that pop up into your mind? And why?

Let me give some examples

Coldplay - In my Place ( The drums)

I used to transfer CD's I bought to my iPod in the past. When I first played this track I questioned, checked and rechecked the bitrate of the Mp3, because I thought it was somewhere even slightly below 128kbps. But it is the drums causing the problem.

The way the drumkit sounds was a style choice because they thought it would be a signature of the band as in the (early) Coldplay sound. But I can just imagine how much better this track would be without that "low bitrate edit" on the drums. It would be able to produce a more solid foundation and lift this track into timeless territories.

Idlewild - You held the world in your arms tonight ( Lack of stereo imaging)

This could have been a timeless rock classic with a little more effort in the mixing and mastering stages. One of the early FIFA games contained it on its soundtrack. What's wrong is the way almost all all instruments feel like been placed fully centered. Like it's a first demo. If their producer had spent just a bit more work pulling things away from the center, it would already make a big difference. It also lacks some refinement in the way vocal parts are being handled and I would prefer a ride cymbal instead of that dry hihat to open it up. I really hope they will release a 2022 or later version :)


More examples are welcome.
 
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plastic penguin

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Squeeze - Cool For Cats album has fantastic songs/lyrics but the quality of production, even on vinyl is flat.

Joe Jackson - Look Sharp album has those flat values.

There are others but I don't buy any album/format based on how good it sonically sounds - I love the music regardless
 
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AJM1981

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Squeeze - Cool For Cats album has fantastic songs/lyrics but the quality of production, even on vinyl is flat.

Joe Jackson - Look Sharp album has those flat values.

There are others but I don't buy any album/format based on how good it sonically sounds - I love the music regardless
Same here. I have own some of those early albums of jazz recordings mentioned and played them dozens of times. But the production value of those are not necessarily low.

It is just that I respect the role of the producer. Apart from the solo artist or band a producer can make or break a song or album. If Dave Grohl would not have received the brushes last minute for Unplugged in New York, things would be out of balance and it would not have glued that well together.
 
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Rui

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Having a lot of records from the 70´s , i do not understand why those Lp´s refered have flat response , i remenber when joshua tree from U2 was released a lot of friends said that the record sounded strange ,also have some records that have more brightness in sound than others, sometimes it was only related with the turntable in use or it´s cartridge and stylus , normally they are produced in good studios with known technicians, but at home depending on the system one has the record might sound richer or poor depending on the dynamic of the recording and producer taste (as already refered),the Squeeze Lp "Cool for cats",i think it was here on the what hi-fi forum that someone told me that it was an interesting album, having the one song that i´ve never forget being played in the radio stations very often and having also a complete diferent sound of other songs from this band ,"Is that love?"this released in 1980 or 81 if i´m not wrong, i purchased it some monthes ago in second hand and it sounds very good but not as some Epic Lp´s from the 80´s that have excessive high frequencies , about old recordings of Jazz music it´s not bad recorded but choosen to sound that way , some were recorded with great components . but they sound not bad but as the producer wanted to, as an example i have a lot of freinds that play instruments and when going to their houses i notice they have a very particular way of listening to music ,i´m remenbering a friend that plays bass ,he has a sony system that uses equalizer and from the lower frequencies to the higher ones he puts almost all at the higher level till 1khz and from there to the highest frequency he puts almost all at zero level, this makes most of the records sound not as we are used to listen but i can´t say that it´s bad just having a very low level of high frequencies. also i like to refer that most of the old albums converted to cd sound really bad, as an example the "crime of the century" from supertramp ,released in 76 it sounds very good and dynamic but the cd version it´s in reality a crime ,the same happens with The Beatles albums ,some years ago i was ofered the stereo box ,being used to listen to their records i didn´t knew that the cds were so bad, some critisize the convertion to stereo , but having the doble Lp´s red and blue i think they sound fantastic compared to the remasterized recording in digital wich is also a crime in my opinion ,those that only heard the cds and like the band i imagine if they could hear the original records, and i own 3 diferent cd players and all are good ,at least it was what was told about them when released, regards
 
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GroeneLeeuw

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There are more (many more unfortunately) but the 1st example that comes to mind is Saxon´s live album "The eagle has landed" from the 80´s. Flat, no dynamics, no bass, missing sound clarity.
Just terrible, production wise. Great album what concerns the music and band performance.
 
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Rui

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Mar 23, 2021
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There are more (many more unfortunately) but the 1st example that comes to mind is Saxon´s live album "The eagle has landed" from the 80´s. Flat, no dynamics, no bass, missing sound clarity.
Just terrible, production wise. Great album what concerns the music and band performance.
i know that saxon Lp it came out in 82 if i ´m not wrong and by that time i only had the wheels of steel album , its more or less like you said but that also happens with a lot of live albums , i don´t remenber the last time i heard it but it also depends on ones system , by that time i was using a good system from 76 , the top end components from pioneer i remenber that i had the equalizer and almost never used it but to make this album sound ok i had to use it, and it sounded ok to me , normally live albums are over produced and some parts are added in studio . The same happened to me with the cd version of iron maiden´s live after death but the doble Lp in vinil sounds ok , i was using a PL-540 turntable from pioneer with original stylus and cartridge ,i´m refering this because 70´s components had a lot more dynamic compared to the ones sold after 1981 , i have a 74 system bought in japan allthough it as better finishings than the components from that year catalog it as only 7w+7w but it delivers a very nice clean sound . The most listened live album at the time was the Ramones "it´s alive" that also seems very flat but never the less almost everyone in Europe and the U.S. heard it a lot(the ones who enjoy heavy rock) , also it sounds even worse in it´s cd version ,that i remenber the Live albums that had good sound was the "Nocturne" by siouxie and the banshes and later the dream syndicate "live at the rajii´s" that says there "directelly recorded into DAT " but later i bought the cd because it had some songs that i liked and weren´t available in the vinil version ,again the cd sounds very bad compared to the vinil version and maybe one of the best sounding live albums, at the time(second half of the 80´s) i was using my first standart size cd player a PD-7100 also from pioneer that still plays today in perfect condition, regards
 
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Having a lot of records from the 70´s , i do not understand why those Lp´s refered have flat response , i remenber when joshua tree from U2 was released a lot of friends said that the record sounded strange ,also have some records that have more brightness in sound than others, sometimes it was only related with the turntable in use or it´s cartridge and stylus , normally they are produced in good studios with known technicians, but at home depending on the system one has the record might sound richer or poor depending on the dynamic of the recording and producer taste (as already refered),the Squeeze Lp "Cool for cats",i think it was here on the what hi-fi forum that someone told me that it was an interesting album, having the one song that i´ve never forget being played in the radio stations very often and having also a complete diferent sound of other songs from this band ,"Is that love?"this released in 1980 or 81 if i´m not wrong, i purchased it some monthes ago in second hand and it sounds very good but not as some Epic Lp´s from the 80´s that have excessive high frequencies , about old recordings of Jazz music it´s not bad recorded but choosen to sound that way , some were recorded with great components . but they sound not bad but as the producer wanted to, as an example i have a lot of freinds that play instruments and when going to their houses i notice they have a very particular way of listening to music ,i´m remenbering a friend that plays bass ,he has a sony system that uses equalizer and from the lower frequencies to the higher ones he puts almost all at the higher level till 1khz and from there to the highest frequency he puts almost all at zero level, this makes most of the records sound not as we are used to listen but i can´t say that it´s bad just having a very low level of high frequencies. also i like to refer that most of the old albums converted to cd sound really bad, as an example the "crime of the century" from supertramp ,released in 76 it sounds very good and dynamic but the cd version it´s in reality a crime ,the same happens with The Beatles albums ,some years ago i was ofered the stereo box ,being used to listen to their records i didn´t knew that the cds were so bad, some critisize the convertion to stereo , but having the doble Lp´s red and blue i think they sound fantastic compared to the remasterized recording in digital wich is also a crime in my opinion ,those that only heard the cds and like the band i imagine if they could hear the original records, and i own 3 diferent cd players and all are good ,at least it was what was told about them when released, regards
One day someone will invent the paragraph...... :)
 
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AJM1981

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I know I will not please the old fans but take a moment to compare the production value between Nirvana's Bleach and albums like Nevermind and Unplugged in New York.

The quality of the songs and arrangement is nearly identical on Bleach. But it is to anyone's guess what the album could have been if Dave Grohl would have laid out the foundation like he did on Nevermind.

The key difference being timing and expression. Take a an intro like Smells like teen spirit. It is all about the drums.

The Beatles had Pete Best, Nirvana had Chad Channing. Great guys, but they were pattern followers and unwilling and / or unable to improve beyond their level and playing their way rather than providing or serving a foundation to the style of a band.
The difference between someone telling a story in a monotonous voice or one who is telling a story in an engaging way. Drummers like Grohl and Ringo Star can do that.

It is like that in addition the producer didn't seem to really care about refinements on Bleach as the sloppy drums were not correctable. Compensating for that by crafting out every detail on the other albums after Bleach.
 

Winter

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Oct 28, 2019
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I know I will not please the old fans but take a moment to compare the production value between Nirvana's Bleach and albums like Nevermind and Unplugged in New York.

The quality of the songs and arrangement is nearly identical on Bleach. But it is to anyone's guess what the album could have been if Dave Grohl would have laid out the foundation like he did on Nevermind.

The key difference being timing and expression. Take a an intro like Smells like teen spirit. It is all about the drums.

The Beatles had Pete Best, Nirvana had Chad Channing. Great guys, but they were pattern followers and unwilling and / or unable to improve beyond their level and playing their way rather than providing or serving a foundation to the style of a band.
The difference between someone telling a story in a monotonous voice or one who is telling a story in an engaging way. Drummers like Grohl and Ringo Star can do that.

It is like that in addition the producer didn't seem to really care about refinements on Bleach as the sloppy drums were not correctable. Compensating for that by crafting out every detail on the other albums after Bleach.
 

Winter

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Oct 28, 2019
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Got to say all of iron maidens output simply sound dull ! No punch ! No dynamics ! Power ! Some great songs for sure but sadly never really hit that mark. Judas priest 1976 album sad wings of destiny simply blows them all away . Give this a listen ok .
 

Rui

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Mar 23, 2021
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Got to say all of iron maidens output simply sound dull ! No punch ! No dynamics ! Power ! Some great songs for sure but sadly never really hit that mark. Judas priest 1976 album sad wings of destiny simply blows them all away . Give this a listen ok .
I do have those albums you refer , and at the time i was using a complete system by Pioneer ,all the top-end models from the 76 catalog ,it was a offer from my father after buying a terrible expensive system from revox including speakers , at the time it was so ridiculous expensive that my mother asked for divorce, but only in the 80´s when he bought a new car (mid-life crisis)it happened. This to say that i don´t find any of those albuns with no dynamics or punch, and i do think they are well recorded as an example the first Iron Maiden album it´s a type of sound that one can hear well the diferent instruments no matter the frequencies used by each , it sounds very "70´s"(not depreciating the sound ) and i do find horrible their cd version it´s like they trew away the guitars and substituted by a similar sound with no quality, the same happens with the nevermind album from Nirvana ,i remenber hearing about the quality of the production being very good but it sounded so bad to me ,i remenber Sonic Youth saying they would put in court of law the label by not giving to each band the same oportunity´s in the quality of the studio recording but then they were told to work with the same producer of Nevermind( Butch Vig)and their most sold album came out at a 100% and at the time i had bought a new system having a high quality cd player and i used to remenber their sub-pop recordings that i had because i worked in a radio station for 35 years and i used to show the in bloom version from sub pop being great compared to what came in the nevermind album that sounded bad to me only some 7 years ago a friend of mine that died of cancer gave to me and other friends some records and one of them was the nevermind version in vinil ,i have to say that i never thought of that , the record sounded much better to the point of making me hear it several times . Before i found the sub-pop version of in bloom better and the nevermind so bad that i used to say that they destroyd the song but it was only a matter of changing the source, also i heard someone say that the Aqualung album now, sounded great "no wonder that i never liked it" well , it´s maybe the only album that i still hear from Jethro Tull and i always found it a great work ,it made changes on the way albums were produced , and now a thing that almost doesn´t sound like Jethro Tull it´s an improvement? the same happens with many bands albums as an example the Supertramp album "crime of the century"in my opinion was a great Lp(as i always refered in a early coment) with also a great production work , there´s a digital version that also is said to improve the sound of the album ,how can one improve perfect ,it made me hear a band that i never had heard just for it´s quality in sound and till today the only Supertramp album that i enjoy. What more i can say, this new re-re-remasters are destroying music , that´s it, the most strange and at the same time funny was the remaster of the Procul Harum song a whiter shade of pale, i know it was recorded with a lower quality but that´s the sound printed in everybody´s memories ,that new remaster made the song sound horrible and that´s an improvement but one when hearing it doesn´t relate that version with the Procul Harum song , this are examples of what was done and the new remasters aren´t always an improvement, just a lot of work for nothing or maybe destroy the work of others
 
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