This album has a future….Posted: November 30, 2011
Well, I’ve been working on it for a while now and it’s definitely heading forward. The lyrics, of course, are all completed (after complete rewrites in a couple of cases) and so are the (Lead) Vocals. More contradictory, supportive or argumentative vox stuff in the BV and/or Choir range may still need to be added at a later stage, though some’s already on there.
But I’ve moved back to instrumental work, pasting stuff on, scraping stuff away. Immersing myself deeply in the songs one at a time, so that the last one is semi-forgotten the minute I’m onto the next. All the fun of album recording. I still love doing it and it’s still the main drive of my work, allowing that live performance is a wilder, different thing.
I still couldn’t say exactly what (if anything) this set of recordings is “about” but a couple of linked subjects seem to have emerged. That’s part of the function of working intensely over a comparatively short period: the things which are of interest to me, musically, lyrically, soundwise will poke themselves up like rocks through earth and define the tone of the collected work. I don’t, consciously, aim for “concepts” but I do want to have some sense of a rounded whole from a project.
So I intend to carry on working this way as long as I still find things to do.
I worry, though, that the album as a form is under threat as never before.
The other day I watched a documentary about the making of “Bridge over Troubled Water”. The sense of search and discovery, particularly from Roy Halee , the producer/engineer, was astonishing. And these people were striving for, making, Hits, not Art Rock. (By the by, “Bookends”, by the same team, was actually my preferred S & G album….) Is there the slightest chance that such work could be done under the aegis of, ahem, a “major label” today or at any near-incoming time?
Indeed, would anyone with any measure of sanity make the investment of time, money, enthusiasm required for such a project at this time?
I really don’t mean to whinge about the olden, golden days. I remain lucky enough (last time I checked, or so I like to think) to have something of an audience who have an interest in owning physical product, be it CD or vinyl. That gives me something of a living, though the man-hours of work involved probably put me a tad below minimum wage for each project if truth be told.
But I know for a fact that people coming in now – with quite a degree of success – don’t have a chance of earning such a living from sales and must rely on either live earnings (always a gamble on the profit/loss front, believe me!) or, of course, merchandise.
So we’re now at the point where effectively the spin-off stuff is the make-money part of the equation. That’s simply not one that’s going to produce the restless, go-forward thing that was at the heart of album-making back in the day.
No blame. The day has, perhaps, gone.
Instant download – or stream, or file-share – of individual tracks is evidently the main game now. And of course there’s nothing wrong with that. But even that’s not quite the same as the old days of, effectively, vote for the single you think is on the Good Side by buying it, to get it up the charts.
Anyway, as for me, well, I’m still making the album.
p.s. I appreciate the various comments which appear. But I’d very much appreciate it if no-one posted as “Anonymous”. At worst it’s not hard to make up a fictitious name and that would give at least a (spurious?) sense of personal connection and responsibility for one’s own opinions. But if not, then not, I suppose.