I can't hear the words!

A couple of comments on the draft mixdown of 'I'm Back' (I'm-back4.mp3) have started up a whole internal debate in this little late night studio.

I first started playing rock music because it was wild and exciting and LOUD. It was a physical experience, not just a mental one. I still enjoy good dance music for exactly the same reason (yup - I one of those dads). So when I started out as a young christian rock musician, I was driven daft by folk saying after a gig " ...but I couldn't hear the words".

Yeah, and your point is? - was my internal reaction.

My assumption was they meant that the propaganda couldn't work properly. Surely you can tell it's rock music exactly because the words are lost in the noise of that scary jungle beat? With rare exceptions, I don't listen to the words in songs, so who cares if you can hear them or not. They just need to fit the shape of the melody and drive the rhythm.

I'm a bit older and wiser now, thanks to Joni Mitchell among others:

"Like a priest with a pornographic watch
Looking with longing on the sly
You couldn't step outside the boho dance
Even if good fortune allowed"

But I've worked in bands long enough to know just how loud everybody needs to be to play along with a rock drum kit, and the idea that a singer can come along and expect to be heard clearly just doesn't fit my understanding of physical music.

It's also true that I'm primarily a writer/composer and guitarist and I don't really think about my voice very much until I'm suddenly obliged to sing. So when I get down to arranging, recording and mixing down, I seem to be primarily concerned with whether the drums kick, the bass thumps, the guitars scratch and squeal, the strings float and shimmer; and whether the whole blends into a pleasing combination. The vocals are just 'in there' somewhere.

And anyway, if my voice is at the front of the mix, it's just embarrassing - ruins the whole thing.

But I bow to my public. One of the reasons for the whole Fiftieth Anniversary Project thang was to finally 'do it right'. No clever dick stuff, just simple songs with straightforward arrangements. And that means good strong clear vocals...

OK - when I find the time, the next mix will have decent vocals, and the mastering sorted out too.