I was just reading a post by Bobby Owsinski about Jimmy Pages’ guitar on “Whole Lotta Love”; you can read it here: http://bobbyowsinski.blogspot.com/ He has a great blog there if you’re into recording, mixing, and such.
Anyway, he was talking about some imperfections in the guitar playing and how that would “never fly” today. He wasn’t being condescending at all; just stating a fact, and being a very successful Audio Engineer, he should know. To me, the fact that those imperfections would “never fly” today is just sad and is the problem with much of todays music. There are plenty of things that perfection is an important consideration when dealing with, but not in any of the creative arts, as far as I’m concerned. Good yes, perfect no.
I’ll take a performance with a few mistakes in it, but with good feel, over a perfectly played part and less feel, any day. Page was always a bit sloppy at times, but he had feel like crazy.
I don’t know this, but I just think that Page improvised most, if not all the solos he did; if he did something he liked the feel off and it had a few little flaws, I can’t see him going back, learning it, and then re-recording. It wouldn’t make sense. He’d never get the same feel back. You can repeat the notes, but it’s very hard to capture the same feel from performance to performance. This has been my experience anyway.
There’s another situation I wanted to address. For instance, I was recording a song of mine, “Will I Ever Get Home To You”, and was ready to record a guitar solo. I was just setting levels, hit record so I could hear the level, and improvised. By chance I played exactly what I was looking for, but it had a few very slight timing flaws. It was an easy solo and I could easily have redone it and captured very close to the same feel, but this was an improvised, first take. I had recorded the actual moment of creation and there it is in the actual recording. That means something to me. It was a no brainer to me that I should use that first take and I did. I could have fairly easily fixed the timing issues in editing, but that’s another topic all it’s own, so I won’t go into it here. If you’d like to listen to the tune I’m referencing, it can be found here: “Will I Ever Get Home To You”, or you can also find it in the “My Music” section of this page. I hope you’ll listen to the entire song, but if you want to cut to the chase, the solo starts about the 2 minute mark.
In my opinion, when dealing with music, perfection is boring (except maybe Classical music and feel is as important in Classical music as any other (those cats’ are superhuman anyway). I’d go as far as to say that feel is one of the most important musical ingredients, along with good material.
Let’s love our music with goodness, not smother it in perfection. We’ll leave perfection to the record producers. Heck, even a dying breed needs something to do :). Sorry guys, that was a cheap shot. That’s o.k., you can make fun of my corny “love our music” statement.
Ah smack, there goes my record contract! I do feel better though.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my question; leave me a comment.