Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bad Sound, Bad Music But Good Intentions?

When I was doing a Christian rock show on my college radio station I got a fist full of CDs from a new independent label.  It was 1990 and in the Christian music world hard rock was a big deal so I was very interested in their hard rock offerings.  One of them was Beat The Heat, by Lex Rex.

I was immediately torn.  On one had the music seemed at least OK.  I wanted to like it, but something was wrong.  Then I figured it out.  There was no bass.  I'm not talking about bass guitar.  I mean the CD sounded like somebody had turned the bass tone control on a home stereo all the way down.  So here was the hard rock band bashing it out, but the result sounded thin, tinny, and weak.

Some weeks later I got a call from the label's radio promoter.  There was an event coming up and there was a specific song on the Lex Rex record he was pushing for it.  He asked if he could count me in on playing the song prominently.  I mumbled something non-committal.  He pushed and I eventually told him, in clear terms, that I wouldn't be playing the song.

Radio Rep: "Can I ask why?"
Me: "The album sounds poor.  There isn't any bass."
Radio Rep: "Ya, I know.  It's the way it was recorded."
Me: "Well, I can't play a record that sounds like that. It's unprofessional."
Radio Rep: "But this is really important!"

But putting out a good sounding record wasn't?

This is part of what was wrong with Christian music the whole time I was involved with it.  People who knew and cared about good music were constantly being asked to make compromises based on other people's good intentions.  The same was true of that ever-redefined concept "ministry."  Whenever someone needed to undermine somebody else's standards that just had to appeal to one of these things.

"The new record by Major Artist is really good."
"But he doesn't do alter calls anymore."

"Band X is doing another video, and it's going to be professionally produced this time in stead of looking like a fan production."
"Do you think more people will get saved because they spent more money on it?"

I assume these attitudes are still prevalent.  I don't miss them. 

No comments: