This all started with the question, ‘What makes a great album.’ I can only offer my own conclusion because if I ever went in a recording studio I can guarantee one thing, that I wouldn’t come out with a great album. I can’t play or sing, maybe a great spoken word album but then again people might return it saying the needle’s stuck. Oh right, you don’t know what a needle is, oh dear.
It would be great to see an artists definition of this, ‘What does make a great album’? I’m thinking belief, talent, commitment with a dash of reality and an understanding that no matter how good you think it is you need to leave it at the mercy of others to make that final decision. If your manager, should you have one doesn’t like it and if they don’t say so what’s the point of having them as your manager? The record company then would be the first to stand up and offer their opinions and here’s where it’s changed, would of! There were times an A and R person could be driven to tears going down to a studio to hear the end result from a band they’d signed, and feeling visibly moved. And more than likely they’d matched the producer with that artist. Had it worked? He/she was the proudest person on earth, all the hard work to get to this stage and now the anticipation of finally hearing it. More often than not they’d be down the studio intermittently during recordings to see how things were developing and eagerly awaiting the final playback. And the artist couldn’t wait to show them what they’d come up with. THAT”S what made a great album, people sensing greatness, always wanting it but never knowing if or when it might come. But it was enough to keep them striving for it. Part of being great is knowing you can be great.
I’d love to have the opportunity to ask people like Roger Waters or Dave Gilmour from The Pink Floyd, ‘What did it feel like when you were recording Dark Side of the Moon?’ Did they know they were creating history or did that come later? Was there any time in the studio they thought, ‘Oh my God!’ Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to ask them, I’d love to know. Was there that moment in the studio when they were listening back to it when they thought, ‘Fuck!’
Likely they’d all be together at the studio listening back to it, band , record company, manager and maybe even their publisher. I know how I felt as a kid just waiting for a new album by some of my heroes. I’m thinking as an artist you cared, you took pride in your work, you didn’t want to let people down. After all it’s your audience that put you there and they have a right to judge you on merit, you set your own standards. Was it as good as your last album and if it wasn’t could it be that maybe it’s just a change of direction, would it grow on you? If you’d made a great record were you really great, could you sustain that greatness or had you had your moment? Whatever it was it still kept you hungry and wanting whether you recorded it or you bought it.
As we discussed before and we’ll ponder over again no doubt, where is the drive and the ambition? Do you make a record knowing that not many people will buy it, does it affect how you go about making it? If that’s the case then give it away, just make sure you give it away to enough people to find out what they think of you. That’s if you care, because if you don’t care then don’t expect anyone else to. So many basic human ingredients are infectious, they rub off on you. If you’re passionate enough about something and are sincere people buy in to it. It’s easy and you know why? It’s because you’re not trying to convince people, it’s there and it’s natural. And you mean it. You’re exposed for what you are, just someone being themselves, behaving naturally. People feel comfortable and relaxed about you and interested. Be real to see for yourself if you are real and let others decide for themselves if you are real. Real artists can believe they can make great records. Do we have enough?
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