Great songs can be spoiled by awful production and bad songs are made unbearable with awful sound. There’s millions of them out there, all making your ears’ life a misery and doing their best to make you wish you were deaf.
Some of the greatest, most forward-thinking producers have been responsible for awful sounding records. The picture to the right should give you a clue about one such chap!
And so, the folks behind the ASUS Sonic Master campaign asked us to have a think about some dreadful sounding records, which saw one hecklerspray writer being thrown into the street with a copy of ‘Pet Sounds’ and the imprint of a size 10 in his posterior.
See, what got us thinking about dreadful records was the fact that this new ASUS Sonic Master laptop has been designed with music in mind. Good news for music enthusiasts… bad news for anyone responsible for the list of music below as with louder, clearer speakers, you’ll be able to hear every single glaring mistake.
Of course, it’ll be a dream if you have a well-produced record, like the Vengaboys debut album for example.
Before we start listening to badly produced records, you can play with the ASUS Musicbox site and send your chums some silly e-cards. Go to the Musicbox site and choose one of six music characters and upload your ugly face into it!
Now, let us check out some badly made tunes that could very easily shown up by the ASUS Sonic Master.
1. River Deep Mountain High
What happens when you get a whole host of brilliant instruments and turn them into soup? You get Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound at its most gloopy and impenetrable. Obviously, Tina’s performance is wonderful, but the rest of the record sounds like it has been recorded in a corrugated iron bomb shelter. Spector clearly peaked with ‘Be My Baby’.
2. Rolling Stones ‘Exile On Main Street’
‘Exile’ is arguably The Rolling Stones’ greatest album (okay, ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Let It Bleed’ ain’t bad either), but weirdly, it is also the worst recorded. The whole album is covered in a layer of sludge, the bass is often mixed so badly it sounds like leaves on the line and vocals dip in-and-out leaving you unable to work them out and… for the fan of the enthusiastic amateur, this is a dream, but for those that want a cleaner sound, this must be hellish in places.
3. Sly and the Family Stone ‘There’s A Riot Goin’ On
What happens when you promise girls a singing gig on your album in exchange for sexual favours? Well, if you’re Sly Stone, you gleefully accept those favours and then wipe all the recordings of the girls who sang and thereby ruin the tapes making your final recording very muggy indeed. Or so the legend goes. Of course, the production has its own charm and the album is an absolute classic, but you can imagine some studio jerk weeping over this ‘imagining how good it could have been…’
4. Velvet Undergournd & Nico
Don’t get Andy Warhol to produce your record, okay? You may well invent the punk aesthetic for generations to come, but seriously, you won’t hear most of what’s going on and, importantly, the loudest, heaviest group at the time will occasionally come across like weeds.
5. Hips Don’t Lie
Shakira and Wyclef’s dreadful pop-monster is one of the worst production jobs in music history. The whole backing track and Wyclef’s voice all nestle in with each other very nicely, but then, POW, Shakira’s voice comes along twice as loud as everything else and sounding for all the world like it has been recorded in a different room, in a different country, on a different planet. So separate is Shakira’s voice is that it sounds like she’s turned her back on the rest of the song!
6. The Beatles ‘Let It Be’
Oop! Here’s ol’ Phil Spector again, taking a pretty enough Paul McCartney ballad and covering it in so much syrup that one listen will give you instant toothache. Props also need to go to those awful stereo mixes of a whole bunch of Beatle LPs that made it impossible to share headphones on the back of the bus. We’re looking at you ‘Revolver’.
7. Iggy & The Stooges ‘Raw Power’
When David Bowie was given the task of producing Iggy and the Stooges ‘Raw Power’, someone really shoulda told him that he need not bother turning up. The best way to record The Stooges is to stick all the faders up to 10 and then go for a smoke. However, in Bowie’s hatchet job, he squeezed all the life out of the band leaving a record full of great records bordering on weak. In later years, Iggy Pop would remix the whole thing (as below), turning everything up to 10 as nature intended.
8. Husker Du’s ‘Flip Your Wig’
Take one thunderous band and stick them in a recording studio and then, magically, take the nuts off everything they record and make the drummer sound like his tap-dancing on a biscuit tin. Shame.
9. De La Soul ‘Three Feet High And Rising’
Deep funk and cartoon rhymes made for one of the greatest LPs ever made… however, once Prince Paul had done a fine job in the studio, someone decided to print the LP on vinyl so quiet that the static hum of your speakers was likely to drown out the music. Mercifully, this was rectified on the singles and remasters.
10. Anything by Kenny G
Do we really need to explain?