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Chris Allan

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Rants ...the not so good things that happen ...well that has to be the new Regina Spektor songs up on myspace - especially Fidelity (Better aint to bad). Don't get me wrong, I love these songs, or at least did when I heard her perform them live, and in all the bootlegs I've downloaded. But Fidelity has been ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED, to the extent that I didn't really think would be possible. Crappy studio beats etc actually manage to distract you to the point where you miss the lyrics and the voice behind them. What are they doing to her? Hiding her behind rubbish techniques that are used to cover up lesser artists lack of talent. This is exactly what they're making her sound like.

I said it was a rant didn't I! Maybe I'm going over the top a bit, but was just extremely unimpressed. All an album needs to be great is a piano, guitar, maybe a stick, and REGINA SPEKTOR. Nothing Else!

What dya all think?

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Rants ...the not so good things that happen ...well that has to be the new Regina Spektor songs up on myspace - especially Fidelity (Better aint to bad). Don't get me wrong, I love these songs, or at least did when I heard her perform them live, and in all the bootlegs I've downloaded. But Fidelity has been ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED, to the extent that I didn't really think would be possible. Crappy studio beats etc actually manage to distract you to the point where you miss the lyrics and the voice behind them. What are they doing to her? Hiding her behind rubbish techniques that are used to cover up lesser artists lack of talent. This is exactly what they're making her sound like.

I said it was a rant didn't I! Maybe I'm going over the top a bit, but was just extremely unimpressed. All an album needs to be great is a piano, guitar, maybe a stick, and REGINA SPEKTOR. Nothing Else!

What dya all think?

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I never heard either one of them live, but in these versions I find "Fidelity" kinda bland and uninspired, cheapened by the stupid $5 drum-machine beat, but still showing glimpses of Regina's wonderful spirit... whereas "Better" I absolutely loathe, those stupid chugga-chugga guitars, the echoey over-compressed vocals, arrrrgh.

There are so many ways to do interesting production these day, kids with laptops in their bedrooms come up with amazing stuff. And here all the power the label had seems to have been used to stifle Regina's original voice, to turn her into another boring forgettable commercial artist. What a shame.

<disclaimer: these are just two songs; anxiously waiting for the rest>

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I'm glad to hear a glimpse that the album is not going to be quite as piano/vocal solo as Soviet Kitsch was.. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love piano-based songwriters (I kinda am one) but I also like when people try new things in the studio. Personally "Fidelity" is not at all one of my favourite Reginasongs, and I think the new version is actually a bit more interesting than the solo one. "Better" is lovely, live and studio..

I don't feel a comparison needs to be made between live vs. studio - they SHOULD be different, imo. If all Regina's albums just sounded like studio-quality live recordings (essentially like "Songs") then how can she ever grow/experiment? And to me the songs don't sound like Regina's lost the ownership of them...

Just some thoughts Smiler

xx

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Blood_Roses - I agree with you about trying new things in the studio and growing/experimenting. I was very excited to hear how a studio production might enhance or shed a new light on Regina's wonderful songwriting. The problem I have with these two recordings is exactly that there is nothing new, no growth or experiment, just a bunch of cliches strewn together to mold her songs into a more standard product. And the weird thing is, it's not even that well done professionally ("Better" sounds pretty muddy and lifeless as a mix actually). I don't know, maybe these are just rought pre-mastered versions?

Anyway I will shut up now until I hear the album in its entirety. I'm pretty sure that no matter what, there'll be a lot of rewarding moments on it - it's *Regina Spektor* after all!

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quote:
Originally posted by Blood_Roses:

I don't feel a comparison needs to be made between live vs. studio - they SHOULD be different, imo.

I could not disagree more! In fact, being a musician yourself I'm VERY surprised you feel that way.

FIRST of all, if there's a musician that has no talent at all, their album will almost certainly not sound like their (presumably worse) live performance. It will be a polished, fudged, digitally cheated album. This is nothing less than lying to the audience, and diluting the musical art form into the talentless industry that it has become. You then go to a show and are flabbergasted at how shitty the band sounds. A BAND SHOULD NEVER RELEASE WHAT THEY CAN'T PERFORM LIVE, PERIOD. I mean, if they don't have the talent to replicate their studio performance live, you leave fans with a band that will only ever sound like a cover band live. That's one reason CDs should sound like the real thing.

SECONDLY it takes a very skilled producer & engineer to capture and reproduce a live sound on a record; and the ones that can do it are among the most renowned in the business. It should be seen as no small accomplishment then, that Regina has consistently done this over 3 albums thus far. The reason of course, is because her voice so strong & consistent. There is no need to ever tweak her voice (other than for db levels of course). That, combined with her wonderful song-writing skills and unique playing style are what make Regina Spektor a true artist, and a beautiful musician.

That being said, she can easily stand on her own without the obvious production that has gone into the preview songs we've heard from 'Begin to Hope'. Her talent demands it.

You know, when Regina said this album was going to have alot of new things she hadn't done before, I had assumed part of that would be additional instrumentation. I was (and still am) hoping that instrumentation will be more true to her past stylings with some new twists. String instruments like the Cello, stand-up bass, harps. Winds like flutes, sax, or even trumpets (like the fun sounding jam she did with Pascal Wyse) all come to mind.

I am not adverse to guitar being paired with Regina though. I LOVE "Your Honor". The energy and tempo changes in the song are so well executed, not to mention her kick ass vocals. "That Time" & "Bobbing for Apples" are both great Regina mainstays as well. The guitar works because she wrote them that way.

BEGIN RANT note, I no longer agree with parts of this rant, but I'll leave it up

BETTER on the other hand, was a piano song, and a beautiful sounding one at that. The new guitar is completely unoriginal regurgitated american pop-rock.... actually - here is my full review of the new sample songs.

BETTER - Ten seconds of piano begins the song nicely. Then it turns into the strokes for almost 20 seconds as it builds. Regina has always been far more original than the strokes, and by Julians own admission.

Anyway, Regina's voice comes in (her voice is beautiful as always throughout the song). From this point on though, the music sounds like someone asked for the most generic, corporate pop-rockey sound imaginable to be used to back up Regina's voice. Then they must've applied the "record label" filter to the overall sound because it just feels so dry and predictable, which is NOT a Regina trait. It probably works for people that like nickelback and ashlee simpson. But those people are not likely Regina fans, or even qualified to identify quality musicianship. Tell me this isn't a disgrace. (warning nickelback link).

I honestly felt my stomach sink when I heard this new version. It felt like the moment when your heart gets broken and you know you've lost something irreplaceable. How do you react? You don't. There's a powerlessness in defeat, like when Bush got re-elected. You feared it would happen, but you didn't expect it to. When it happens, you just kind of cry inside, maybe outisde too. The bottom line is that Regina is a damn fine composer and pianist, and this song was written with a piano. I don't see any motivation (musically or artisticly) to create this new less engaging version, unless of course Regina is truely feeling out some new territory. But she has a unique way of expressing herself musically, and I find it difficult to believe that this sound was all her doing. The END of the song has a closing drum bit that resembles a marching style snare drum. Regina's live redition of this vocally is SO far superior it hurts to listen to the real drum. Remember that Regina's vocal blurps, blips, hums, lip vibes, beats, coos, and other expressions as song elements are a wonderful part of what makes her music so enjoyable. Not to mention it's HER doing it and not some backing band. The band thing feels so forced, it's just not right.

FIDELITY - The musical translation on this song works very well, however the drums are hideously out of place on this track. They feel forced in for the sake of putting them in, whereas the song is already punchy and doesn't even require percussion. Regina's voice is very subdued in this song. Almost whispery, which is a shame because you don't get to hear her beautiful range of sound and emotion that we've heard in live versions.

MY CONCLUSION

Overall the two new recordings don't have an ounce of the presence of the originals, and are very forgettable songs. Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that the production sound is stepping all over Regina's vocals. Where as the original live versions will forver be etched into my mind with their powerful lyrics, vocal delivery, musical originality, and beautiful overall composition.

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I completely agree with what u just said(JohnnyC).I felt so so sad,I had to send an email to my beloved brother,who's a fan as well.I had to tell my flatmate how miserable I was,and she was like"it's not too bad.Ilike it,sounds like the Strokes!"(she loves them indeed!).But in a way I feel like I wanna see what it will give on a whole album,because u know we should trust Regina.And sometimes I feel like we are being judgmental,sitting in front of our damn computers:it's easy!!she must have so much pressure...

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quote:
All I'm going to say is: would you have booed Dylan for going electric?

LOl it is interestign that you should bring that up :

As rock legend has it, Bob Dylan was roundly booed at the 1965 festival for appearing backed by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, an electric blues band. Dylan was regarded by folk purists as betraying his "folkie roots" by doing this.

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Some controversy surrounds the existence, extent and motivation of the booing from the crowd.

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emcee Peter Yarrow's introduction of Dylan: "Ladies and gentlemen, the person that's going to come up now has a limited amount of time ... His name is Bob Dylan." In documentary footage, the sound of loud booing and sporadic cheering begins just a few bars into Dylan's first song, "Maggie's Farm", and continues throughout the next song, "Like a Rolling Stone" (which was the closing number of most of his performances around this time).

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Many of the festival's performers were backstage during this part of the performance. Peter Seeger said that he went to the sound system and told the technicians, "Get that distortion out of his voice ... It's terrible. If I had an axe, I'd chop the microphone cable right now." A rumour spread instantly among the performers that Seeger was backstage with an axe and was threatening to cut the cables.

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The crowd's motivation is unclear. As one version of the legend has it, the boos were from the outraged folk fans Dylan alienated with his electric guitar. An alternative account has it that audience members were upset by poor sound quality and a surprisingly short set.

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Also, Al Kooper, Dylan's organist at the concert, claims:

The reason they booed is because he only played for 15 minutes and everybody else played for 45 minutes to an hour, and he was the headliner of the festival. [...] The fact that he was playing electric...I don't know. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (who had played earlier) had played electric and the crowd didn't seem too incensed.

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Professor Jackson was present at the 1965 concert and in 2002 reviewed an audio tape of the performance (see the link above for a partial transcript); he contends the booing was directed at Peter Yarrow, who upset the crowd when he attempted to keep Dylan's spot to its proper length rather than let the crowd hear more of his music; Professor Jackson maintains there's nothing to indicate the crowd disliked Dylan's music, electrified or not.

Dylan himself said, "I had no idea why they were booing... I don't think anybody was there having a negative response to those songs, though. Whatever it was about, wasn't about anything that they were hearing."

you can read bruce jackson's (the director of the newport Folk Festival, who was aslo in attendance) account of the events and a transcript of the recorded tapes HERE

.

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I jsut thought this was an interesting story, because i had always believed the rumors of a bunch of high brow folk snobs booing Dylan, but it just goes to show that you have to do your research, and not judge too quickly.

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However, the style of the music features heavily in several accounts such as that of Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman - "Backstage, Alan Lomax was bellowing that this was a folk festival, you just didn't have amplified instruments."

.

________love,

_______________david

.

Ohh and in response to what you actually meant by your statement, no one is angry at Regina for "going electric" whatever you encompass that to mean. If you refer to a literal translation, Regina featured effects, different insturmentation etc, on SK, and no one complains much there....."Carbon Monoxide" features an electric guitar and "your honour" has a whole "electric" band, but it is not the same one featured on these new tracks. The vocals are edited on 11:11 tracks such as "Flyin". But they are done in an interesting stylized manner that i really really love. No one is calling for a halt to any mixing/re editing/effects here. When we say we want to hear the live versions on the record, people refer to the integrety of the music. But alas Regina has already said her peice/peace on the myspace blog, so there is not much more to be argued.

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"A BAND SHOULD NEVER RELEASE WHAT THEY CAN'T PERFORM LIVE, PERIOD"

I can't agree with that one...

Some artists use studio recording time to do just as Bloodroses suggests and create something that can only be done in that environment - even if it means it does sound different in a live setting. There's nothing wrong with trying to create an accomplished piece of work in this way. (And at the other end of the scale, most bands overdub and add extra pieces that aren't produced live.)

If you've heard recordings of Pink Floyd play Dark Side Of The Moon around the time of it's release you'll know they couldn't touch the studio version live (back then anyhow!).

This goes for countless classic and amazing albums. You might not be into it, but for another example, Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins was an amazing piece of production, sometimes incorporating 40+ guitar tracks on the one song (mad, but tru!). This obviously couldn't be reproduced live and the band couldn't even play half the songs anyway, having to re-learn the lot before playing it "live", yet their live shows were amazing. Different in many ways to the album but they kept the main essence - just like Regina here. Great songs, played with passion.

Conversley, I don't necesarily think albums should *always* sound different to the live songs, but I would agree with some of BloodRoses' other comments.

Anyhow, I don't want to plough to deep into the general debate, cos a lot of it's just people expressing their personal prefferences and feelings and that's fair enough, but to go so far as to say...

"Crappy studio beats...rubbish techniques that are used to cover up lesser artists lack of talent..."

...is a little much, no? Maybe read Reginas' MySpace blog and have a re-think.

Finally, just to stir it up a little (muhaha) - Anyone else dead keen to hear what's become of Samson? I was sceptical that it should be appearing on the new Cd, however I'm now quite excited to hear how a re-recorded version might have come out. I, for one, LUV the Songs version (obviously!) and I can understand if it was another straight piano/voice version on the nu Lp, but I'm very curious to see what else she might have done with it and what additional parts have been added. Full band? 120bpm casio beats? The possibilities now seem endless! Smiler

(I know some of you hate me right now....heh)

Wink

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