Skip

Studio Legend: Alan Parsons on "Dark Side of the Moon"
March 11, 2012 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Studio Legend: Alan Parsons on "Dark Side of the Moon"
posted by Ardiril (27 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was surprised to hear that The Alan Parsons Project is still going. Figured he would have completed it long ago.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:54 PM on March 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


The Alan Parsons Quadraphonic mixes of Atom Heart Mother and Dark Side Of The Moon are pretty sublime. I prefer them to the newer SACD Surround mix. (The Quad mix of Wish You Were Here is also pretty great, but Parsons didn't do that.)

It's funny how rarely I even consider how electric guitar sounds get onto recordings. This was illuminating. Thank you!
posted by hippybear at 12:57 PM on March 11, 2012


He addresses the technical hurdles surrounding how he managed to address the Wizard of Oz sync issues on page 4 of the article.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:58 PM on March 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Was surprised to hear that The Alan Parsons Project is still going. Figured he would have completed it long ago.

I prefer the Randy Disher Project.
posted by The Deej at 1:08 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


And here, I was hoping they'd ask him about the giant laser he invented while at Cambridge.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:14 PM on March 11, 2012


This is some great stuff.

Historically, I’ve used large-diaphragms most of the time, usually a Neumann U 87 or U 86.

*checks price*

Huh. $3300, plus $425 for the shockmount. How 'bout that.

Think I'll stick to the $150 three-mic bundle of knockoff SM57's.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:42 PM on March 11, 2012


Great read. Thanks.
posted by archagon at 2:12 PM on March 11, 2012


I'm a bit surprised with all the focus on the recording equipment and techniques no one asked him "Well, considering you knew your audience would be listening to these tracks stoned out of the bejesus, how have you taken that into effect."

The back and forth stereo mixing on "On the Run" wasn't just an accident you know.
posted by three blind mice at 2:16 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was surprised to hear that The Alan Parsons Project is still going. Figured he would have completed it long ago.

You try building a giant laser on the moon.
posted by codswallop at 3:18 PM on March 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


"I, Robot" was a huge part of my adolescence. Laying on the living room floor wearing giant headphones with the volume cranked. Wonder if I'd still love it as much if I heard it again now.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:27 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]



Huh. $3300, plus $425 for the shockmount. How 'bout that.

Dude, No-ONE uses the factory shockmount! I know a guy who knows a guy who has a source for custom aerogels and vulcanizes his own rubber...
posted by mikelieman at 3:29 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I, Robot" was a huge part of my adolescence. Laying on the living room floor wearing giant headphones with the volume cranked. Wonder if I'd still love it as much if I heard it again now.

Oh, man oh, man do I ever still love that album.
posted by sourwookie at 3:41 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was surprised to hear that The Alan Parsons Project is still going. Figured he would have completed it long ago.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:54 PM on March 11


Scope creep.
posted by Decani at 4:19 PM on March 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I Robot" (there's no comma in the name) stands up quite well - "Tales of Mystery and the Imagination" stands up even better - though for some reason when Parsons remastered it for digital he added some extra, not-very-good guitar solos and needless boomy reverb on the drums.

I've recorded in a studio with Neumann mics. And I'm the guy who thinks you're crazy to use expensive cables, who thinks most audiophiles are ignorami without real ability to hear music. But, wow, those Neumann mics. I'd heard of "imaging" but I never understood it until I sat in front of a Neumann singing with good headphones. If you ask me, they're worth every penny - and they're cheaper now than they ever have been...

Frank Zappa completely changed studio recording techniques (when FZ insisted on having a mic for each drum surface, people at the time thought it was a prank on his part! - but now this is standard practice for recording studios, and Frank's early work sounds modern and clear as a bell, whereas in, say, The Doors albums the drums could be in the studio next door); and Alan Parsons had an equal influence on the mixing and mastering phase of pop albums.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:01 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


(And here's why there's no comma in the album title...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:02 PM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would have liked to hear him address the issue of studio fussiness arguably squelching rock passion -- say, contrast with garage rock sounds, White Stripes or something. There's a reason Johnny Rotten wore an "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt.
posted by msalt at 6:35 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Passion.

That is Old and Wise off Eye in the Sky by Alan Parsons Project, Colin Blunstone (Zombies) singing. There is sometimes a fine line between passion and kitsch but I don't think this one is even close to it.
posted by bukvich at 8:27 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, we might have to agree to disagree on that one. I was thinking of something a bit more like this.
posted by msalt at 9:45 PM on March 11, 2012


Sys Rq: “Huh. $3300, plus $425 for the shockmount. How 'bout that. Think I'll stick to the $150 three-mic bundle of knockoff SM57's.”

For what it's worth, the third page goes over those microphones again and offers some lower-cost alternatives that sound pretty neat.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 PM on March 11, 2012


Good example of specialist / general appeal... I was expecting gossip about Gilmour and Waters, stories of fights and drugs, instead I get mic placement distances.

But hey, obviously someone needs to care and people are enjoying it so rock on!
posted by Meatbomb at 6:35 AM on March 12, 2012


There's a reason Johnny Rotten wore an "I Hate Pink Floyd" t-shirt.

I don't know if there really was. The only reason Rotten gives these days is that he didn't like pretentiousness. He does, however, love Dark Side of the Moon. More generally, I think the "garage band" v "studio fussiness" argument was mainly played out years ago, with Jack White actually being a great example of someone who, for all his talk of ideological purity, makes pragmatic studio decisions to get the desired result.
posted by howfar at 6:40 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this thread, I listened to I Robot (on Spotify) for the first time in over 30 years. It really does hold up!
posted by The Deej at 7:06 AM on March 12, 2012


Just as an aside regarding expensive mics. RENTAL RATES are ususally quite reasonable by tghe day/week so if you have a project and you're thinking 'hmmm....', solicit a quote from your local rental house...
posted by mikelieman at 8:43 AM on March 12, 2012


I would have liked to hear him address the issue of studio fussiness arguably squelching rock passion -- say, contrast with garage rock sounds, White Stripes or something.

I would actually argue that Jack White, in his never-ending quest for authenticity, is at least 100 times more fussy over studio sounds than Gilmore is or ever was.

And then you have somebody like Jimmy Page, who is probably the king of fussy guitar players (of that era). Even if you don't like Led Zeppelin, I don't think you could argue that his studio theatrics squelched them. Led Zeppelin without the crazy studio shit would have been a forgettable whiteboy blues band.

I think the real way to look at it is that some musicians operate in the studio-as-"instrument" model, while others view the studio as simply recording the fully formed sounds they make. A good example is early Beatles versus late Beatles. I'd say that the later Beatles stuff represents their peak creativity. Either period resulted in amazing music, but the methods were vastly different.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:07 AM on March 12, 2012


I would actually argue that Jack White, in his never-ending quest for authenticity, is at least 100 times more fussy over studio sounds than Gilmore is or ever was.

Interesting, I'd love to hear more. He is famous for recording quickly, with few takes, to keep the sound vital.

There's definitely a tension; anyone who cares about their music wants it captured well and faithfully, but enless takes has an obvious effect on spontaneity and emotion. I guess ideally you get great technicians and gear to capture it quickly and worry less about the band missing a note here or there. (EG Cowboy Junkies, Trinity Sessions)
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on March 12, 2012


ThatCanadianGirl: ""I, Robot" was a huge part of my adolescence. Laying on the living room floor wearing giant headphones with the volume cranked. Wonder if I'd still love it as much if I heard it again now"

It holds up fine; it's a record that I've always tried to have a copy of, vinyl then recorded onto hi-qual cassette for car or truck, bought the cd as soon as I started buying cds. It was a great record at a horrific time for me.

The cut Don't Let It Show particularly holds, not that I could stop anything from showing but I understood the wanting to hold my cards close. Breakdown also fit perfectly my life at that time and it has held, it doesn't feel dated to me.

Day After Day (The Show Must Go On), yeah, that was right on the nose, still holds.

Really, for me, the whole record holds. It doesn't hurt anymore, or maybe, more accurately, I'm not hurting anymore about all that, but I can listen and feel the depths it held for me; I love when a song or a story lets me know that someone else has been there.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:14 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


yeah, but I really dug his groundbreaking work with the cowbell...
posted by k5.user at 9:44 AM on March 13, 2012


« Older Critical thinking for kids   |   Nothing gonna stop me now Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post