Comment of the Moment: The Mix on The Americana Album
Frame from film A Day At The Gallery
(Click photo to enlarge)
Quite the reaction to the post Old Men, Take a Look at Your Work: Why Neil Young and Jerry Seinfeld Need to Stop Phoning It in or Retire Already earlier this week.
Some thought the thrust of the commentary that Neil Young is phoning it in on Americana was accurate. And -- naturally -- others disagreed feeling that the album demonstrates the passion and power that is known as Crazy Horse.
Lots of interesting comments all over the map to check out. And thanks to all for the civil debate.
But here's a comment that we'd like to highlight by BIGCHIEF regarding the mix on the Americana album :
I have to say that I agree with 'Old Black' in that even though Americana isn't the most vital or original Crazy Horse record to come along in quite a while, there's definitely something amiss in the mix.
Since I was already exposed to the music along with everyone else via the internet along with the videos as they were released, I was keenly aware that the sound quality had left a lot to be desired. especially since during this same era Neil had also been quite vocal of his dissatisfaction of the audio sources at his disposal.
Though I don't care for the record as a whole there are a few songs that I consider to be genuinely legitimate Crazy Horse rockers that I get into. I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my vinyl copy (compliments of my good friend Sandy Horne) which I must say left me disappointed when I placed it on my turntable for the first time. After having my ears teased for several weeks with the digital crap we were exposed to, as Old Black said the mix on the LP sounded 'muddy' and nowhere close to what I expected. I'm not even referring to whether I consider the songs not up to par with previous Crazy Horse recordings such as Zuma or Ragged Glory, I'm talking about the final mix here. Neil's guitar is buried in the mix at moments of brilliance which left me wondering how it would have been with Briggs at the mixing board. The vinyl recording did everything it was supposed to do as far as bringing out the depth and warmness and punch without feeling as if I'm being pelted by ice cubes, yet there is obviously something amiss in the final mix of the recording.
I'm sorry if I let some of you purists down with my observations here but that's just my opinion. However, I don't think it has anything to do with Neil's age and I doubt if he handed the mixing chores over to Jerry Seinfeld but as for me, I wish I never got old ....
Now we haven't listened to our vinyl copy as of yet and plan to soon so we can't really verify BIGCHIEF's comments. And we've primarily listened to Americana in our car and some of the early pre-release streams on headphones. And can't say that we find anything particularly problematic with the mix.
Our hunch is that we saw the Americana mix setup in the oh-so awesome "Horse Back" video we saw earlier in January. And that sounded pretty good streaming on crappy PC speakers.
Anyways, as with so many things, we're not an audio expert but just a fan so here's what the audio mix expert Bob Gendron at TONEAudio MAGAZINE thinks:
Recorded on a Universal Audio tube console and to Studer two-inch eight-track analog tape, thick chords and rough-and-ready riffs hang, wander, growl, gurgle, and toss around in the dirt; drum beats smack and slap like wet towels whapped against a cement wall. Everything, save for several well-placed choir vocal passages, is captured in the moment, fortifying Americana as the sound of a real, live band performing in a real space. After the collective’s nine-year hiatus, the dynamic is refreshing and reinvigorating to experience once again, even if it’s now been in commission for four-plus decades.
Now we're going to unwrap our vinyl Americana and give it a spin.
And then await the Bluray version... ;)