Bob Dylan: New records 'have sound all over them'

I don't know if he's been secretly listening to the contents of my hard drive, but Bob Dylan quite rightly says here that "the quality of modern recordings is 'atrocious'": "I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," ... "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static." Anyway, Bob, what's up with that synth covered in silver foil?

That ol' Bob isn't into, say, Daft Punk - just blows my mind!
he's right based on or at least in part because cd's are mastered louder and louder. Cd's come across as having terrible dynamics and furthermore cd recording itself the way it has been standardized (at 16 bits res *me thinks)is considered medicore at best. blah-blah but a solution would be nice, Bobbie, if you're listening
I must admit I read that with some scepticism. Particularly when it got to the bit about how Dylan has produced this album himself. Actually outright terror would be a better summation. Dylan's recording methodology is eccentric to say the least. He hates recording studios and hasn't really got over the folk experience of turning up at a studio, sitting in front of a mic, playing his current set and going home.

70s Dylan in particular was notorious for not telling the rest of the band the chords or even the key (which would he would also change on a whim). In the studio! While tape was rolling! He makes John Lee Hooker sound like some German with a laptop. The story of how Desire, in particular, was ruined by Dylan's constant change is well documented. Actually damaged would be a better description: it's still a great record. So, if yer records don't sound like you expected Bobby, it's kind of your own fault. It's a sobering thought that Dylan would have actually been even better if he'd teamed up with a producer who wasn't afraid to tell him to stop pissing about.

Trouble is, he was so revered during that period, that he didn't have to work with anyone who would challenge his authority. Imagine if he'd had a Teo Macero to tidy up after him.</dylanology>
So has Bob listened to EVERY single record out there then? No mean feat that.
hes right, all his records since the 80s have sounded like shit...but im not sure its because of the medium Bobby ;)
the tin-foil keeps the sound from leaking out
i guess its hard work being the baddest motherfucker on the whole planet - and having to pass absolute judgements all the time

there are only a handful of dylan songs i like anyways
Funny, Dylan's quote reminds me of another quote:

"During the media circus that surrounded OK Computer (documented in Grant Gee’s fascinating documentary Meeting People Is Easy), Yorke’s sentiments towards popular music shifted from slight embarrassment for his own buzz bin hit "Creep," to full-on hate – the radios played only "fridge buzz," and modern rock was not only in peril, but should be "bludgeoned to death."

I get what they're both saying, but I like Thom's quote better.
I'm a huge Dylan fan. However, I compeltely ignore him when he starts talking about current music. The guy dismisses everything new. Unless, of course, Robbie Robertson or some other contemporary of his records a new album. Then he's praising it everywhere.

David Bowie and David Byrne are two older rockers who stay very current with new music trends. They are in the clubs watching bands and experimenting with new sounds. So, I listen to them much more than I do Dylan when it comes to the modern music scene.

Dylan is a genius songwriter but a crappy music fan.
I know what Bob Dylan is talking about here. Just listen to any ultra-compressed FM pop/rock/rap station. It's loud, the space is filled up, and all the subtleness has been wrung out, pitch-shifted, and EQ'd to death.
Well, as some other are suggesting here, he *just now figured this out*?

Yes, top 100 FM radio is awful, both in being drastically over-compressed and hideously programmed. But there's no need to listen to it in the age of portable music players, internet radio streams, satellite radio, etc., etc. It's a dinosaur.

And I'm sick to death of this "music has gotten more and more compressed" over the last [insert time period here], because it ignores the bulk of what's actually getting recorded and produced. Yes, a small slice of music made for popular consumption that is often awful to begin with is overcompressed. But there are plenty of albums, plenty of which sell a reasonable number of copies, that are beautifully produced, in a variety of genres. And, in fact, what a lot of them have is more space and differentiation -- particularly if we're comparing to Dylan's great albums of the 60s, which I love, but not for that reason!

So, anyway, Dylan feels free to whine needlessly, but I think we can take the higher ground.
I believe that is a lap steel guitar on a stand not a synth btw. To say that no one has made a decent sounding record since 1986...gimme a break.
Hey, what am I doing debating this?

What the world needs now is t-shirts.

Who's in?
Look, we don't need burned out, drug-addled, overrated, old rock stars to come and tell us that modern music is shit.

That's what we pay critics for.

And the reality that the "voice of a generation" now babbles nonsense and can't complete a sentence but is still treated like a genius. Well, you get what you pay for huh?
Having spent the past few weeks transfering my vinyl collection to CD, I can't help but agree. There's a warmth and character to those recordings I don't hear much anymore. (As a DJ with a weekly radio show - I listen to ALOT of music - both old and new.) The emphasis in the mastering world - and here comes the sweeping generalization - has been filling up the sonic spectrum - resulting in louder records with less dynamic range. The "new" sound. But at the same time, one has only to look the plethra of "tube" devices on the market. Tube pre-amps, tube overdrives, tube compressors, tube summing amps, tube guitar amps and so on. There's obviously something missing in the modern recorded sound we're all trying to add back. Take - for instance - the "tape emulator" plug-ins available for ProTools and other digital recording platforms. You can get 7.5 IPS, 15 IPS, etc. Why is that considered to be necessary? It's simple - discreet electronic circuits react different to input than chips. Were they better? If you look at how much money folks spend trying achieve that sound - you'd have to conclude - it was. Or so it seems. What I don't think most people realize is that the quirks and inefficencies of analog recording gear - is what set the standard for modern recording's sound and feel. Motown vocals - for example - almost always contain analog distortion - this is a signature sound created by cheap or poorly designed dicrete mic-pres. In short, it's all they had at the time and the distortion they produced because a musical instrument. One everybody want's on there recordings today. (Ever hear digital distortion? It ain't pretty!) The sound of early guitar distortion (Beatles, Clapton, etc.) that was created by overdriving the bias amps on the tape machines. We've spent the last 40 years trying to recreate that sound - "trying" being operative word. There are thousand of stompboxes out there. None really approaches that sound. Lastly, add snobbery to the mix. Having the lastest geegaws, plug-ins, amp-sims seems to be necessary in the digital arms-race. Only does it add up to good recordings? I wonder.
I would say something new here about Dylan, but there hasn't been anything new said about Dylan in ages -- probably since the 70's.

Wow. I wonder if Bob thinks anyone cares about his opinion on aesthetics.

Sure, new recordings sound quite different than they did 20 years ago (20 Bob? I suspect the "good" recordings you are thinking of are more like 30+ years ago.... you've been blowing in the wind for over 40!).

Personally, Dylan's music and singing bores me to tears. Sure, he was Socially very important....40 years ago, maybe 30 years ago, too. Since then - I can't see any reason to take him very seriously.
I really think this is an age-related thing. If you grow up loving records (because they have good music on them) that's the sound of good music. Vinyl. One man's warmth is another man's muddiness.

Kids today growing up listening to Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie on their iPods are not going to think that that "warm" sound is better. And when they get to be Music-makers this desire for tube-this and analog that is going to go mostly away. (Some analog stuff just IS better, but not just cuz its analog).

And while Bob is blowing in the wind about sound all over stuff, grown-up 80's kids are waxing nostalgic over that awesome 8-bit sound.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. People seek out "vintage" 909's but I don't see anyone scrambling for "vintage" ADATs.

Except for the mastering thing, that IS out of control. Tom, could you make them stop that? Thanks
Yeah, the new album sounds crappy because of the MEDIUM, Bob, I'm sure it sounded great when it was in your head.. ha ha...

That said, the man's a genius and can do no wrong. And is probably mental anyway, what is he, 73?
"Kids today growing up listening to Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie on their iPods are not going to think that that "warm" sound is better."

Of all of the modern bands you could have said that about, I don't think those two are appropriate.

Both of those bands use lots of vintage gear to get warmer sounds. Although, they both dabble with electronic instruments, the heart of both of those bands is electric guitars played through tube amps.

Their albums are also much more dynamic than just about anything else that passes for popular modern rock of whatever you want to call it.
David Byrne is about 100x as talented as Bob Dylan

therefore he doesnt need to blame modern music for his own inability to adapt
Bob Dylan - the music critic that famously slated Sgt Peppers, he's old and he's crap and he always has been.
...sgt peppers is one of the worst beatles albums though...if not the worst...which doesnt mean its bad...its better than almost all music ever made...but their other lps are better.
When Dylan plugged in and pissed off the folkies back in the day, he was taking music forward. Now he's asking us to make records like they did 30 years ago...Irony indeed.
...30 years from now, say 'Death Cab for Cutie' to someone and watch the dumbfounded blank stare you get...
...they'll still know who Bob Dylan is, though.
he's an old man,and he's clueless.and by listening to his records,you can tell he's been clueless about quality of sound recordings all along his carreer.
when Dylan was coming out 40 years ago, there werent 1/10th the amount of bands that there are now

its much easier to stand out when you have no competition, and when the general population are still basically clueless

now if you said this about Jimi Hendrix, it wouldnt be the same thing - there havent really been many master players like him

but there have been a zillion folky singer/songwriters
The analog/digital debate always tires me out. I'd like to give a shout-out to the 80s kids nostalgic for 8-bit music! YES!

I remember when mp3 technology was new, and hearing the high end on songs was complete crap. Cymbal sounds were ruined. But, it got better. Still, I've never really had a tape or vinyl record hurt my ears the same way an mp3 or CD can.

BTW, best recording of an electric guitar/amp ever: "We Will Rock You" from Queen. That guitar sound is so warm and and inviting it makes me weep! YES!
my theory is this, its simple, music is getting louder because we are loosing our hearing, because music is getting louder. thus its a vicious cycle, and bobby is part of it. i predict that by 2048, ipods will come standard with 4000 watt amps and quadraphonic subs....
my theory is this, its simple, music is getting louder because we are loosing our hearing, because music is getting louder. thus its a vicious cycle, and bobby is part of it. i predict that by 2048, ipods will come standard with 4000 watt amps and quadraphonic subs....
Comment on the image: He's playin' an electric piano (as he's been doin' on stage the last couple of years). The yellow one in front of the piano is a steel guitar.
bob dylan is my musical nightmare.
Hmm, I sort of see what he's getting at. Whilst I don't agree *every* album sucks, I do beleive that there is too much emphasis on 'polish' and 'production' .
If you like, compare it to the obsession with clean, digital synths in late 80s. Everything had to be 'perfect' which cost the instruments a lot of 'soul'.
I think he's trying to say the same about modern music. A lot of it is too 'busy' and most of it is over produced.
Personally, I've been going to see morelive music over the last 6 months, and enjoyed it far more than listening to a CD/Mp3.

So if CDs bore you, go find a local live venue, and 'feel' the music.
this argument over recordings is about as old as dylans music career already

hes not making some kind of innovative brand new statement here - people have been saying this kind of shit forever

when people started using electric guitars, people said "no!! it sounds like shit! its not nearly as good as it was"

same shit different day
Sometimes I get the feeling that something has changed since back then, and that something has been lost.

I wasn't alive yet -- but sometimes (and maybe this is just me) I listen to 60's, 70's records, and think that's when the whole "album/single" paradigm we've been in for 60 years really was at the top of its game.

What comes next -- or if anything comes next -- I can't say.

But, I do believe that it's not written anywhere that my grandkids will collect music (and the personas that make it) like baseball cards, as we have come to accept as the norm.

just saw dylan in pitsfield, MA, much better than usual, hats off bob, your still a mother fucker though.
Musicians have to "overload" songs today for three main reasons: attention span, the "it's been done before" syndrome, and this controversial "warmth" issue. Back then with vinyl and tape, producers were amazed that they got all the parts of the song to be audible, let alone "crystal clear." Nowadays, we take that for granted, and since the noise and warmth that existed in the past doesn't exist today, people feel the need to fill up that "empty space."
Look what I came across:
Can't say he doesn't, can you?
Five years ago, when my college roommate was digging up stuff on Napster, I said "No way..keep me away from that shit"- God, those 64 kbs MP3's were HORRIBLE..the worst thing I had ever heard. Now everybody's up to 320 kbs and I hope that, ultimately, methods of audio transmission that involve destruction of crucial frequencies will fade away forever.
In response to the T-shirt challenge on this subject I've made two clever logos. Check 'em out!
I think he's just saying that a lot of today's music doesn't have a lot of dynamics so the music can "breathe." So much of it is just a non-stop wall of noise.

I'm not a huge Dylan fan or anything, but I love this new iPod ad w/ Bob...
he's talking about repetition, he's talking about filters, he's talking about record companies pushing albums that nobody will hate, but inevitably noone will have a valid reason to love, either. he's talking about all those layers of sound that can get pushed onto one track today unlike the the standards between 2-16 back in the day. he's talking about the lack of interaction between musicians in tracks, because they aren't even playing together.

you are all talking about shit. cd's aren't the problem, bit rates aren't the problem. Musicians, producers, and record companies are the problem. The biggest problem is that you buy the shit they sell today, otherwise they would have to make it better.
I am Dylan's biggest fan but I agree with some of the comments. It is ironic how he could criticize music when you consider he broke most of the rule as he came up. I don't consider much of his music relevant after John Wesley Harding (realizing most fans would not go past Blonde on Blonde) except for Blood on the tracks and Infidels. Even though it is not relevant, I personally enjoy most of his 70s stuff when I need a change from the classics of the 60s. I have seen him live numerous times but, I think he is missing the mark with his shows where he plays the keyboards. I prefer the 60s approach to half the show acoustic, take a break while half the audience leaves, then come on with electric stuff. I love it all.
I keep reading about dylan's recent statements.... jeez, get over it. I think once you write "blowin' in the wind" you can pretty much mumble gibberish for the rest of your life and you're still an f'ing genius....

and also, replace "blowin' in the wind" with the title of any other song he ever wrote, or sang, and that statement still holds up.
also, if you know anything about the guy, you'll know he doesn't give a fuck about what anybody really thinks anyways. he never wanted to be what everyone made him into... he's a poet genius and he gave the world so much. if he doesn't agree with the music that came after him, so be it... let the man be with his opinion, it's the least he deserves.
Bob's right man! Most of todays recordings totally suck. The sound quality is shit and the over production is to the point of silly. There are some good bands out there and some good songs too, it's just that the gear being used by some musicians and the gear being used in most studios are lame. Digital and all this "pretend" sample noises and artificial tones and crap is for video game soundtracks and not live music and musicians. Listen to the new guitar and bass amps today and compare them to the same brands from the 50's, 60's and 70's. WOW what a total difference. I have been playing guitar and bass in bands live and in the studio for about 20 years and it's no secret that todays gear is made for profit and to take shortcuts on stage and in the studio. Right on Bob. Right on!
Bob Dylan is a genius and he is 100% right about todays studio recordings! Most are crap. Listen to Dylans best work, DESIRE, BLOND ON BLOND, HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, JOHN WESLY HARDING, NASHVILLE SKYLINE, also see the DVD called DON'T LOOK BACK. Amazing stuff and an amazing writer/musician. His new album is actually very good considering his age and not releasing anything for 5 years. Get it.
It's true nobody cares about the sound quality of music anymore. Everybody has their damn ipods and little in ear headphones which sound like crap. Nobody sits and listens to the dynamics, timber, depth etc. And yes modern CD's do not sound as good as the older ones because they try to max the output potential because most modern players are so anemic they can't cope with huge dynamics. Just take a listen on a pre 80's amp vs one of today. The old one will win every time.
he obviously hasn't listened to john mayer
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