Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Won't Get Fooled Again" - Lessons From The Isolated Guitar

A few days ago we talked about the organ sound of The Who's classic "Won't Get Fooled Again." Today we'll focus on the guitar track, which is isolated from the rest of the instruments below.

I bring this up not to dwell on songs of the past but as a lesson to aspiring engineers, producers and guitar players since there are several interesting observations that can be made from the isolated guitar track.

1) The first thing to listen to is how each guitar track is played (there are two - left and right). There are sections of the song that are played with much less conviction that others. This would never fly with the production standards of today.

2) The guitars don't have a set part in some points during the song. Again, this wouldn't fly if recorded today.

3) The playing is somewhat sloppy by today's standards. There's a bit of a tuning problem, some of the rhythms are off between the guitars and that conviction thing pops up again and again, especially at the end of phrases.

Now this is one of the most iconic songs of all time in rock, always in the top 50 of all time songs, so why would we even bother to analyze the playing? Because the song simply would be recorded differently and as a result, sound different today, even if the original Who members were recording it. We listen a lot harder to a performance these days that we did back in 1971 when this song was recorded, and the little things mentioned above don't get by anymore.

But is this attention to detail really progress? People still listen to this song nearly 40 years later because the performance is so exciting. We frequently squeeze the life out of performance today by seeking perfection.

Some of the other things to listen to:

A) the drum leakage on the right channel
B) the way the track was cleaned up at :42 (probably by using something called "Spot Erase" on the tape recorder)
C) the guitar tracks were printed with reverb (commonly done during that era)

Have a listen.






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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even in isolation, that guitar track makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, especially the final 50 seconds. Sloppy and all, it is electrifying. Thank god they did not perfect the raw energy out of it.

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