TotW 09/15/2018 - 09/21/2018: STEVE HACKETT - A Place Called Freedom

  • I don't have a problem with Steve's vocals for the most part.


    As for Jim Diamond... frankly, I'd rather listen to Steve sing.

    Most of what I really needed to know in life, nobody ever told me, and reality had to force it into my skull slowly and relentlessly until I couldn't ignore it any more. And, indeed, most people who had it explained to them to would angrily argue against it.

  • I don't have a problem with Steve's vocals for the most part.


    As for Jim Diamond... frankly, I'd rather listen to Steve sing.

    Which again speaks for the favorable bias we have towards artists we like. It's not about picking on Steve in particular, I could say I love Phil's drumming, his singing, some of his songs, his skills as an arranger and producer but if I say I, for the most part, cannot stomach his lyrics, some fans will resent that. Apparently you have to be fine with the whole package to be a fan.

    I 'm not a fan of Diamond's singing AND voice either but the broader point is, any singer delivering Steve's song, will be rightly scrutinized. How he performs, how his voice fits the song, what he brings to the song and so on…..Steve, as a singer, gets more than a pass. I understand it is his material and as such, said pass is partly justified, what I suggest though is, often he is not doing his songs any favor singing them himself.

    Edited 2 times, last by Fabrizio ().

  • It's a quite nice song. His voice is okay; it'll do. I regard vocals in the same sort of way as I do lyrics. I never expect them to be outstanding, so it's a bonus if a really good one comes along. I think about the overall sound of the song, if the words fit and make nice shapes, if the voice can carry it off. Overall I'd actually rather a solo artist had a crack at singing their own stuff even if their voice isn't one of the best - partly because very few voices are one of the best, and partly as it helps to stamp more of their identity on the material. e.g. I like The Fugitive, despite Banks's rather weedy scratchy voice. Ropey (or in his case, perhaps stringy) as it is, I like that he put more of his personality and identity into that album by singing it all. Similarly, while Hackett is also not a great singer (better than Banks though), his voice has a certain character and I think it's a shame he ended up ceding some of the vocals to other singers.


    That said, an interesting thing about Spectral Mornings and Defector is that while he didn't do any lead vocals, he had a consistent band with a good vocalist (and was there in the backing voices) and I don't mind that so much.


    I like some rough edges, I really dislike supposedly 'perfect' voices - people go on about Annie Lennox but I can't stand her voice, it's so cold, clinical and antiseptic. It's years since I heard any Shania Twain, I don't recall her voice as being bad as such, I think I was neutral about it but as i say that was quite some time ago.


    Someone will be along shortly to criticize the chorus! ;)

    I don't know if you had someone specific in mind or if the chorus just happens to be a frequent target of criticism - but I can say your expectations have been fulfilled: I like the song but the chorus takes some of the wind out of its sails for me.

    That bit at the end of each verse where the title is sung; that's the 'chorus'? If so, I personally don't see any problem with it.

    Abandon all reason

  • I regard vocals in the same sort of way as I do lyrics. I never expect them to be outstanding, so it's a bonus if a really good one comes along.}

    Overall I'd actually rather a solo artist had a crack at singing their own stuff even if their voice isn't one of the best - partly because very few voices are one of the best, and partly as it helps to stamp more of their identity on the material.

    It's always fascinating for me to see how differently people approach music listening, it's always a very unique experience and it's rare to find two people enjoying it in the same way. As it should be. Personally, I am more than able to appreciate instrumental music but I confess being quite demanding when there's a singer. Chops aside, i like voices with some character to them, a distinctive sound and that's why I find Annie phenomenal but as I said to each his own. I listen to vocals as an integral part of the sound of the song and intrinsically related to songwriting.

    As for artists wanting to sing their own songs, I think you have a point. There is an identity and personal factor which again makes us realize how important vocals are in the song's economy. I'm OK with say, Tony and Mike having a go at it and getting it off their chest. I'm even more OK with the fact they realized it is not their forte. Tony's material in particular is extremely taxing on singers, a certain range is required and the only valid alternative, if you don't have a good singer which Tony is not, is to hold back the song. I think the songwriting consciously or less, suffers.

    Edited once, last by Fabrizio ().

  • Very rarely do lyrics matter to me. I'd much rather an artist go instrumental with his/her compositions than have subpar vocals, and I've thought this numerous times regarding Tony's albums.

  • Very rarely do lyrics matter to me. I'd much rather an artist go instrumental with his/her compositions than have subpar vocals, and I've thought this numerous times regarding Tony's albums.

    I think it is safe to say that, although not a stranger to instrumentals, Tony puts a lot of emphasis on his lyrics

    Edited once, last by Fabrizio ().

  • I don't have a problem with Steve's vocals for the most part.


    As for Jim Diamond... frankly, I'd rather listen to Steve sing.

    I like Jim, but I can see he would not be to everyone's taste. Perhaps no-one is? I've always thought Elvis was over-rated. (I have the first Ph.D album, had it since 1982, great album, has similarities to ATTWT (Only one track with guitar!) Jim is the D in Ph.D)


    Annie Lennox was mentioned, she brings up an interesting point: she's OK, indeed, at times, very good, on Eurythmic records, where Dave Stewart is steering the ship and guiding her. Her solo efforts, however! No More I love You's (a cover) is awful, and she murdered A Whiter Shade of Pale. Point is, a Producer, or sometimes an artist who has a handle on the direction they wish to go, can make or break a record. Steve has, IMO, made a number of very fine albums which have hit the target (artistically) despite some arguable weaknesses. He has made one or two turkeys too, Cured is weak, Blues with a Feeling has some good moments, but as a Blues album, it's not quite there. As Graeme Edge of the Moody Blues put it: "We'd never even seen a bale of cotton, let alone picked one". He also hasn't made a good album since GR2, which may or may not be related, (I think it is, he had chart success and is trying to keep it up. Artistically, he has let the ball drop).


    As another example, Nanci Griffith has made some beautiful records with various producers. For Hearts in Mind, she did it herself with band member LeAnn Etheridge. She hadn't got a clue. She said she was amazed she could "scat" - She can't! She included a song by LeAnn about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, surely a guarantee of a good song, given the subject matter. A more prosaic, pedestrian song I can't imagine. I Love This Town is supposedly a satire of suburban life, by an English songwriter, but is just humourless and bitter. A producer would have got a good album out of her. A missed opportunity.

    Ian


    There is a church bell

    That rings on the hour

    Filling the streets

    Stopping the world awhile

  • Very rarely do lyrics matter to me. I'd much rather an artist go instrumental with his/her compositions than have subpar vocals, and I've thought this numerous times regarding Tony's albums.

    I'd even go so far as to say that if Steve's lyrics were sung in another language - German or Italian - I'd be just fine with that. As long as the vocalist can sing, it doesn't matter to me if it's in a foreign language; even if I don't know what they're singing about. Much of my collection is by foreign bands; some singing in English, some in their native tongue. It's all about the music to me, but if the lyrics are sung well, all the better.

  • I'd even go so far as to say that if Steve's lyrics were sung in another language - German or Italian - I'd be just fine with that. As long as the vocalist can sing, it doesn't matter to me if it's in a foreign language; even if I don't know what they're singing about. Much of my collection is by foreign bands; some singing in English, some in their native tongue. It's all about the music to me, but if the lyrics are sung well, all the better.

    Interesting too. I seem to need to have a general idea of what is it they are singing, after all, I think, what's the point of singing about something?

    That said, I agree that a particular beautiful melody and a great voice can captivate you to the point you can transcend the lyrics.

    Steve's music though, is imo more about texture, atmosphere and mood, he is quite the average if not mediocre vocalist and not known for stellar melodies, so it doesn't really apply to him, as far as I'm concerned.

  • She included a song by LeAnn about Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, surely a guarantee of a good song, given the subject matter.

    No subject is a guarantee of a good song.

    Interesting too. I seem to need to have a general idea of what is it they are singing, after all, I think, what's the point of singing about something?

    That said, I agree that a particular beautiful melody and a great voice can captivate you to the point you can transcend the lyrics.

    I sort of agree with the second point, the gist of it; something in a language I don't understand can be intensely moving. I listen to a fair bit of Scottish music with Gaelic lyrics and have been moved to tears because of the feel of it.


    The voice is like an instrument for me, it can become part of the music while the actual lyrics don't really matter.

    Abandon all reason

  • No subject is a guarantee of a good song.

    I sort of agree with the second point, the gist of it; something in a language I don't understand can be intensely moving. I listen to a fair bit of Scottish music with Gaelic lyrics and have been moved to tears because of the feel of it.


    The voice is like an instrument for me, it can become part of the music while the actual lyrics don't really matter.

    Actually, now that you mention it, there's this Clannad song: Coinleach Glas An Fromhair which always manages to move me. I have no idea what it is about, there must be some translation on line I can look up but I could never be bothered. Fact is that Marie's voice is so damn beautiful and the melody so evocative that it stirs something in me which brings me to the second point.

    I do pay attention to the lyrics but it doesn't mean they always have to be meaningful and deep. The lyrics to FYFM are imo just perfect. Turn it on again lyrics are good, Same with Keep it Dark. They flow with the music, fit the atmosphere of the song and complement it. Bad lyrics however can ruin a song for me, I could mention Misunderstanding but the music already does the trick, the lyrics are just fittingly inane. Since I've lost you is one I find offensive. The way of the world incredibly glib, as well as Tell me why. Anyway, it is probably the reason why I don't look up the translation of that Clannad song. It could disappoint me and I really like it as it is.



  • I do pay attention to the lyrics but it doesn't mean they always have to be meaningful and deep. The lyrics to FYFM are imo just perfect. Turn it on again lyrics are good, Same with Keep it Dark. They flow with the music, fit the atmosphere of the song and complement it. Bad lyrics however can ruin a song for me, I could mention Misunderstanding but the music already does the trick, the lyrics are just fittingly inane. Since I've lost you is one I find offensive. The way of the world incredibly glib, as well as Tell me why. Anyway, it is probably the reason why I don't look up the translation of that Clannad song. It could disappoint me and I really like it as it is.

    The more Collins took over lyric-writing, as I understand he did on WCD, the more they took on the character of his somewhat unsophisticated style as seen on a lot of his solo work.


    I think I'll start a general lyrics thread as it's an interesting topic (even though I personally tend not to pay much attention to them) and we're steering the discussion away from the TOTW. Which we are warned not to do! =O

    Abandon all reason

  • No subject is a guarantee of a good song.

    Well, that's me told. Again! By the master of argument. Perhaps you missed the word "surely"?


    Read up on Ted and Sylvia's life story, and I think you'll find most half decent songwriters could come up with something interesting, lyrically. Then listen to the song in question, pretty much a chronological statement of the facts. Maybe you could think before posting "Am I adding something useful, or just getting people's backs up?"

    Ian


    There is a church bell

    That rings on the hour

    Filling the streets

    Stopping the world awhile

  • Well, that's me told. Again! By the master of argument. Perhaps you missed the word "surely"?


    Read up on Ted and Sylvia's life story, and I think you'll find most half decent songwriters could come up with something interesting, lyrically. Then listen to the song in question, pretty much a chronological statement of the facts. Maybe you could think before posting "Am I adding something useful, or just getting people's backs up?"

    Yes there's a lot of turbulence and tragedy in the story of Hughes and Plath, it's something I've read about a lot. I suppose I don't think about songwriting and lyrical inspiration in perhaps that sort of way. Anything has the potential to be the source of a good lyric whether it's the lives of TH & SP, or going for a walk and seeing a tree. I don't think the more deep and complex the subject matter, the more potential there necessarily is for a 'better' lyric. In the hands of the right writer, the tree song could be more rewarding.


    About my style of posting, I'm not sure about the 'again' - have I got your back up elsewhere? If so, sorry about that - but in this case I probably could've said what I just said above and not been so terse, my apologies if that's how it came across. I'm always up for being corrected or picked up on anything I've said where necessary.

    Abandon all reason

  • Personally, I believe the heavier the subject the difficult it is to write about it. Songs, being by definition a lighter artform, are perhaps not the most proper vehicle to tackle tragedies for instance but nothing speaks against it and it really comes down to the lyricist, keeping in mind that feeling strong about something is not the only prerequisite imo.

    If you venture in that territory you better be good and have a certain depth, in addition to the desire to talk about it. Social aware lyrics in the late 80s and early 90s were often glib and hypocritical but they were fashionable. it looked like successful artists, after having amassed enormous wealth in the mid-80s, felt compelled to write about those topics and generally garnered praises for doing so, irrespective of the quality of those lyrics.

  • A good song from Steve. I gave it 11/15 which seems to be a popular score.


    Regarding Steve's vocals, for me they seem to have improved over the years.

    I remember Chris Squire saying he wasn't aware that Steve sang before they did the Squackett album together - love the singing on the track 'Aliens' on that release.


    Would love to hear Steve and Ant attempt a song together utilising both their guitar skills and vocal harmonies.

    "She looks at me and gently smiles, as if she knew I'd ask her all the time..."

  • Would love to hear Steve and Ant attempt a song together utilising both their guitar skills and vocal harmonies.

    Those two really need to do a collaborative album! Their one brief instrumental collaboration on the "Harmony for Elephants" album doesn't even qualify as a "teaser"!

    Most of what I really needed to know in life, nobody ever told me, and reality had to force it into my skull slowly and relentlessly until I couldn't ignore it any more. And, indeed, most people who had it explained to them to would angrily argue against it.

    Edited once, last by DecomposingMan ().