The Velvet Underground & Nico – Originality as its best!

The American rock band The Velvet Underground & Nico style could be describe as unique, experimental, and at the forefront of originality. The lyrics from Lou Reed and music ideas and composition from John Cale were considered at that time, and until today, as a perfect combination, revolutionary and thoughtful.

Lou Reed and John Cale they both had years of music education and experience as professional musicians before they came together. Singer and guitarist Reed was part of numerous bands and later become a songwriter at Pickwick Records. John Cale, born in Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales, came to America after receiving a scholarship to continue his studies in music.  The ideas and desires of these two, of bringing something different musically speaking, provided The Velvet Underground unique songs and a well-deserved position into the music history.

Andy Warhol, a well-known Pop artist, was the manager and producer for The Velvet Underground & Nico. Warhol’s popularity at the time was one the things that helped the publicity of the band, plus the uncommon sound from the band.  Warhol was responsible of bringing Nico, a German actress and singer into the band. Though the band were not agree with this decision, many critics and fans praised the addition of Nico to the band at the time and until today.

The Velvet Underground & Nico definitely had what they needed to succeed at the time. The sensibility at the stage while performing and singing lyrics that were focused on some controversial subjects, like drugs, abuse, sex, etc., are some of the main reason that this band gain popularity and why other musician and bands wanted to take the same route.

Based in my very personal opinion as a listener and professional, listening to The Velvet Underground was a whole experience.  After listening their album and watch some other interviews, I’ve concluded that this band was definitely a combination of passion, experience, and knowledge translated into music. Although there music ideas were sometime a bit too much, for me, I have to understand that music is an art expression and some might like it and some others not.

Thanks for reading…

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Pet Sounds…

When we listen the name of the Beach Boys the first things that come into my mind is the beautiful scene of the a beach in California, surfers riding their surfboard, and a bunch of pretty ladies getting a suntan laying down in the sand. I will say that the Beach Boys main focus was to give to their fans a kind of refreshment through their songs.

In 1961, the brothers Bryan, Dennis, and Carl Wilson with their cousin Mike Love came together to create the Beach Boys. Bryan Wilson was behind for the most part of the group’s musical direction. He was very ambitious and a very talented songwriter. One of his first compositions was “Good Vibration”, a single that was release in the album “Pet Sounds” in 1966.  This track shows a complicated and multi-layered sound showing a more mature and complex composition than the earliest years of the Beach Boys.

Bryan Wilson’s influences came from Four Freshman, but also from the work of Phil Spector. Brian came a bit obsessed for years with Spector’s techniques. Also, the Beatles became his rival, but later they cite his work as their influence.

Bryan in “Pet Sounds” used multiple electric instruments and voices combining them with echo and reverb. Also, he often doubled bass, guitar, and keyboard parts, in combination with reverb and also adding some unusual instruments like the theremin, which an electronic musical instrument controlled without visible physical contact from the player.

Having the opportunity to listen this production, both mono and stereo, I have to say that differences between these two productions are very clear. The sound quality of the mono album is really low. It feels like you were listening the music through a tube, which makes the pitch of the singers sounds a bit off and the sounds of the instruments sometimes seems to be distorted or poor recorded. Instead the sound quality of the stereo album is much better. I was able to listened pretty much every single instrument that was playing in each track, and obviously, having mixed the audio of this album really helped to feel and enjoy way more this whole production.

 

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Revolver, the beginning…

The Beatles, who haven’t heard at least one song from this successful band? John Lennon, Paul McCartney George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; these four talented musicians came together in Liverpool in 1960 to write some chapters into the history of music and to raise the bar of creativity and originality, which still today is bit difficult to reach. Their unique style and use of several genres, from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, were just some of the way that this band captured the attention of millions throughout the world with their songs.

In August 5, 1966, The Beatles, released it a masterpiece, their seventh studio album named “Revolver” produced by George Martin. “Eleanor Rigby”, “Love You To”, “Yellow Submarine”, and “She Said She Said” are just some of the songs that were part of this magnificent album, which still today are being aired through many radio stations around the world and people are still buying them.

During the process of recording this album many things happened behind the scene, and many were not known until several years after that this album was recorded. As an example, according to John Lennon some of the lyrics of the song “She Said She Said” were taken from a conversation he had with actor Peter Fonda, while he, Harrison, Starr where under the influence of LSD.

In the studio, The Beatles were very creative in the use of different instruments and the way they were arranged. ‘Eleanor Rigby” is a perfect example of this.  Arrange by George Martin and directed by McCartney, they came out with a beautiful music piece combining the lyrics with a string octet with out any other instrument in the arrangement. Even the rhythm of this song was created by the strings arrangement. Also, in the studio EMI engineer Ken Townsend invented a technique called automatic double tracking or better knows as ADT. This technique linked two taped recorders to create a double vocal track automatically. This technique was used Lennon’s vocals in the song “Tomorrow Never Knows”. In this same song, Lennon and McCartney,they both prepared a tape loops as backing tracks, since they were interested in and wanted to experiment with musique concréte (a form of electroacoustic music that is made in part from acoumatic sound.) The use of this technique allowed them to created different sounds with music instruments and voices.

As a listener, this production really amazes me every time I have the chance to listen to it. Honestly speaking, although today we have all kind of technology to manipulate and create so many things in a recording studio, I still believe that there are many things that we can hear in this album that the only way to recreate them is by following the same technique that The Beatles have created and used in this album.

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Welcome!

My name is Gerardo E. Bartolomei, but all my friends and relatives know by my nickname, Jay. I am originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, but in 2006 I moved to the State of Florida. I am currently living in Kissimmee with my wife Solimar, and my son Jayden.

Even that I been working all my life in the automotive industry, my heart and mind are been always looking into the music industry. For more than 12 years, I was part of the worship team of the church that used to go in Puerto Rico. Then, when I moved to Florida, I started to work with the worship team at the church that I am assisting now in Kissimmee, Florida. One of my dreams has been always to record my own production. I sing; play piano, guitar, and drums, and I also write my own song and music arrangement.  Since I was teenager, everybody used to tell me that I have a gift, a talent, which I need to work on. Now, I know is not too late, yet. I know that I still have that gift and talent to work with and share with others songs that can be an inspiration and direction for their life.

Today, I am enrolled with Full Sail University with the only purpose of achieve my dream, and I’m just less than a year away to achieve this dream.

I hope you can enjoy reading my blogs.

Gerardo (Jay) Bartolomei

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Bartolomei Gerardo MH2 Blog

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Hello world!

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Happy blogging!

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