Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The First Two Velvet Underground Records-part 1: The Psychedelic Recording Trends of the Late 1960s

Music production values in the rock and pop world of the 1960s were increasingly based on fidelity and clarity of reproduction. Multiple track recording allowed these intense layers of music to be piled on top of each other. Also, the instruments and sounds could be recorded at different times or places. This pushed the music toward the aesthetic of being more layered and combining sounds that could not necessarily be reproduced by a group in real time. The recording history of the Beatles is the best measure of aesthetic value during this period. In the beginning of their career, the Beatles’ records were representations of their live sets. As the decade continued, their production became more complicated and disjointed. The albums Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour were the pinnacle of this path. These recordings emphasized a big sound created by studio production and new recording techniques bred out of the use of multiple tracks to record. However, this aesthetic did not occur in a vacuum. Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones is another record that manifests this trend. The myth surrounding this album is that the band recorded everything in separate rooms and put it together afterwards because they were not getting along at the time. These albums came to be titled psychedelic, but more appropriately represented the attitudes and practices of late ‘60s recording techniques. While these efforts to become trickier in the studio were culminating in 1967, the trend had already been addressed and completely ignored by the Velvet Underground in 1966.


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