How to record a DVD that will get reviewed on

It is a running joke amongst bluegrass groups invited to appear at a Southern Gospel event that they are appearing at “a karaoke show.”

Numerous bluegrass artists, especially those on good enough terms with our genre to get these invitations, enjoy Southern Gospel music and count our artists among their favorites—so this is presumably said in a good-natured way, with a twinkle in their eyes. But there’s more than a little truth behind the joke.

I fully understand that this economy keeps all but the highest tier of acts from being able to afford the salaries of a live band. Given tracks or nothing, tracks is an easy choice . . . for a live concert.

But it doesn’t have to be this way for DVDs. Though they may be few and far between, video projects like the Collingsworth Family’s Fear Not Tomorrow, Greater Vision’s Live at First Baptist Atlanta, and the Bishops’ Chapter X Live show that entirely or mostly live orchestration is possible on a live recording.

From this point on, this caliber of DVDs will be the ones selected for review on Granted, circumstances such as an incredibly high level of interest in a special-event project (i.e., Gaither Vocal Band Reunion) may require a rare exception. But this site will focus on DVDs without canned orchestration. Unless you are the Dixie Echoes or the Chuck Wagon Gang, this probably means a live orchestra in addition to the standard piano/bass/guitar.

One important caveat: Of course, we won’t review every DVD released with fully live orchestration—it must naturally also be Southern Gospel, well-produced, and have good and theologically solid songs.

Will this result in fewer DVDs reviewed here?

Yes, but the DVDs we do review will be of a higher caliber. So it’s worth it.

UPDATE (1/12/11, 7:23 P.M.): A participant in the discussion prompted me to make the following comment, which I think is pertinent enough to append to the original post:

Live vocals bring a certain energy that studio vocals’ polished, phrased, and tuned perfection cannot.

In the same way, live musicians bring a certain energy that studio tracks’ polished, phrased, and tuned perfection cannot.

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106 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Interesting decision…

    • Here’s my thinking. If I just post that a project with live orchestration is stronger, people will pass it over as just another opinion. But if I say, “This is what I will review,” then people will realize I’m putting my money (or, more precisely, time and reputation) where my mouth is.

      • But there are also some pretty good projects done with tracks. I also recognize that live orchestration is stronger, but that doesn’t mean we can just ignore anything that doesn’t have a live band.

        Its your blog and you can do whatever you want. I just think it would be a disservice to those other projects.

      • That is interesting. What is funny though is that this decision would have kept you from reviewing most Cathedral videos unless you count part of the songs (but usually they had at least some tracks). I take it that a project doesn’t have to have a live orchestra, but that if it does use it must be live. In other words, no canned music only live instruments. Or are you saying they have to use an orchestra and the groups you mentioned would not be able to be reviewed?

      • Correct – a group like the Dixie Echoes or Chuck Wagon Gang would be eligible for review.

        As I indicated in the original post, I’ll still review projects that are nearly entirely live, e.g. one or two tracks, or a few instruments added to a largely live band performance (e.g., the Kingdom Heirs’ Live at Dollywood project).

        But by and large, I have moved to a point where if I’m reviewing a DVD, I want to review live music. Live live music. 🙂

  2. (Posting from my phone since my job’s closed due to weather) I get what Daniel’s saying after his explanation. It’s a little different version of voting with your pocketbook, I think. It would be great to see groups listen up and adjust the bar for great music accordingly.

    • I’m glad to see that someone gets what I’m doing! 🙂

      In SG, we’ve become so accustomed to soundtracks that a generation and a half has pretty much known nothing else. So I wasn’t sure anyone would really get what I’m trying to do here.

    • I hope this post didn’t show up 10 times! I got a 404 error the first time I posted, and a 502? the next … dozen or so. I kept trying and was quite surprised to see it here the next day.

      • Weird! The server must have been having some issues just then. Glad it’s going better now.

      • The streets are clear, temps are back above single-digits, and I’m back at work and off my phone.

        The posting errors were from my phone, if that wasn’t clear. When I saw that one post had gone through, I was afraid that it had posted every time I hit “submit.”

      • Ah. I’ve had far less time spent testing the mobile version of the site.

  3. Methinks you had a less than pleasant experience reviewing a certain set of DVDs recently. 🙂

    • You’re onto something.

      It is one of two factors (the other being a conversation with a co-worker) that got me to thinking. If it bothers me that the vocals I hear on the audio were prerecorded, why does it not bother me that the music I see the musicians pretending to play was also prerecorded?

      So yes, that helped get me thinking—but the conversation with a co-worker preceded that and I was already planning this post before doing those DVDs. That just helped solidify my thinking. 🙂

      • I think that the drums are live most if not all the time if they have a drummer there. Ditto for an acoustic piano.

        My experience with tracks isn’t so much of musicians pretending to play, but simply of an invisible full orchestra that the few band instruments couldn’t possibly be producing.

      • No, what you describe is the norm. The musicians pretending to play—or playing and not being recorded—was a reference to the DVD series I reviewed over the weekend.

      • Oh, well of course THOSE DVDs. I was thinking about things like the Cathedrals Tribute, the Together video, etc…

      • Except actually with the Together video there was a full orchestra.

      • How do you define full? I do recall the brass section, but my recollection is more hazy on the string section.

        (Even if it’s 15-piece, it sure beats nothing, though!)

      • Naw…full. You should pull it back out some time. There’s also a harp, full percussion… the whole shebang. 😀

      • Very cool! I did recall liking that more than several videos released around the same time.

      • Yeah, me too. 😉

        The eight voices together really does create something special. It’s hard to put your finger on, but something *happens* when they all come together.

  4. I’m confused. What about, for instance, the Isaacs or the Lewis Family. They’re live, but they don’t have an orchestra. Are they disqualified?

    • Nope, I’d consider reviewing either.

      • We were thinking along the same stains, Kyle: “Would about twenty-something instruments played by a family band qualify for ‘live’ music?” Now the question has been answered! 🙂

      • Yes. Maybe I should have just kept my post down to one sentence: “Don’t use canned music in your DVD taping.”

        I wonder what that would have done to the discussion? Sometimes it can be hard to predict where a discussion will go, but the longer I do this, the easier it gets. I was fairly confident that someone would come on and make Ben’s point, someone would come on and make Kyle’s point, and some people would miss the point entirely. 🙂

      • And since I don’t care, I’m just watching. Pass the popcorn, please!

      • :hands popcorn over:

        It would stand to reason that people in a performing SG group would have a more immediate interest. 🙂

      • However, I do think it’s worth mentioning that one of Daniel’s all-time, top favorite DVDs uses mostly canned music, with one live instrument (a piano).

      • Do I have any all-time, top favorite DVDs?

        I guess it depends on how you define top favorite. I am fairly confident that I have never watched a live concert video more than five times.

      • Would live projects be better?

      • Live albums? Sure! I don’t know how many dozens of times I’ve played the Kingsmen’s Live at the University of Alabama and Live…Naturally, the Happy Goodmans’ Wanted…Live, and the Cathedrals’ Live in Atlanta and Travelin’ Live. I would say those are my top 5.

      • Do they use canned music?

      • I think we understood your point mostly about the “live music thing”, but still had a little doubt. 🙂

        Yep, keep passing the popcorn! In order for a SG movie to become a favorite here, the DVD should be relatively safe modesty/clothing wise and contain uplifting music (obviously), a solid message which points to the Lord, pretty much on-pitch vocals:), and of course, good humor!

      • NSF – umm…no.


        I’m talking absolute classics here, gems mainly from the 70s and 80s, that would fall on practically any longtime SG fan’s objective list of the most influential live projects – and also happen to be subjective favorites. 🙂

        Garms family – Modesty is a huge issue for me, as to whether a video is something I’d even consider watching a second time. You and I are from the homeschool movement, so I imagine we have similar ideas here, but I think most of my readers even here wouldn’t know what I was talking about unless I spelled it out – and it’s hard to spell that out without sounding legalistic!

      • Good for you! You’re right, it’s like opening a huge can of worms to delve into that topic. A lot of people haven’t even considered modesty, unfortunately. 🙁

      • Okay, just wondering. But isn’t Signature Sound’s Stand By Me Live a huge personal favorite for you? And isn’t the Cathedrals’ Farewell Celebration a treasured video?

      • RE Modesty: I personally find it saddening that modesty has fallen by the wayside in the mind of the church these days. Many people don’t even think about it anymore. It’s becoming harder and harder for mothers to find modest clothes for their kids… and it doesn’t even necessarily help if she limits herself to dresses!

      • Garms and NSF – agreed on modesty.

        NSF – I enjoy both projects, but they’re not top 5 or top 10. Now, Stand By Me Live is indeed my favorite EHSS project, and when compared to other EHSS projects, could be called a huge favorite, I suppose. 🙂 And I did indeed enjoy the Cathedrals’ Farewell Celebration, but I rank some of their earlier, all-live projects higher.

      • Oh I see… since in your view Signature Sound hasn’t done anything that could be called a classic anyway, Stand By Me Live “stands” out. 😉

        However, I’ll wager that if I were to listen to, say, the Cats’ Live in Atlanta, my reaction would be “Thanks, but I’d like Signature Sound instead.”

        Now “Deep in the Heart of Texas…” that would be another thing entirely.

      • EHSS has had many individual performances that deserve to be called classics – I’m just not sure they have released a classic live CD yet. But then, they’ve only released one that I can think of, and with that strong of a start I think they stand a good chance of releasing a classic if they give it several good efforts.

        The Cathedrals’ last two live CDs are both good, yet there is something that a live band brings to their earlier work that illustrates the difference I was highlighting in the original post perfectly.

      • Whatever.

        (filler, filler, filler)

      • Live vocals bring a certain energy that studio vocals’ polished, phrased, and tuned perfection cannot.

        In the same way, live musicians bring a certain energy that studio tracks’ polished, phrased, and tuned perfection cannot.

      • Yes, but factors like how much I like the singers and the songs are more important to me.

      • They are incredibly important to me, too—for the same reason that I would prefer a studio CD of a group I enjoy to a live CD of a group that I do not.

      • Exactly. And I would prefer a live recording with mostly pre-recorded instrumentation from a lineup I love to a live recording with completely live instrumentation from a lineup I’m not so fond of.

      • Naturally. But that does not change the fact that, all other factors being equal, a live recording with live music is a higher quality project than a live recording with canned music.

        It is in this light that I set this policy. 🙂

      • Right. I was referring to your comparison of the Cathedrals’ earlier and later live projects. 🙂

      • Oh, OK. Of the final lineup’s projects, I’d have to point to Camp Meeting Live as my favorite – even if it has two soundtrack songs (and maybe another that slips my mind.)

        Part of the reason I like it so much is that several of the songs were new to the group, songs I can’t get on any studio project. (And it doesn’t hurt that the live band was incredible.)

      • I think that lineup had gelled better by the time they did Texas. Plus you can’t beat the song selection. Camp Meeting Live had at least one complete dud in “Champion of Love.” Then again, Texas had “Mexico,” so I guess those two cancel each other out. 😛

      • Well, most Cathedrals fans would not call “Champion of Love” an “absolute dud,” even if it was not their favorite song—and we’ve had this discussion a few times before, so I may as well just leave it at that. 🙂

      • :sticks out tongue at “most Cathedrals fans”:

        It just is cheesy. And I’ll leave it at that. 😛

      • “:sticks out tongue at “most Cathedrals fans”:”

        …only you, NSF, only you!

        (Oh, and a song can be cheesy without being an absolute dud. Even if it’s Mozzarella…)

      • Yeah, I guess I never was one to hop on the bandwagon… 😀

        Well I guess parts of the chorus are okay. And it’s a good tune. I suppose there are some songs with miserably bad verses AND chorus AND terrible music……

      • Yeah, like a certain song that appeared in my inbox last Halloween…

      • Rolling on the floor laughing… is that one still haunting you? 😉

      • No, not really. There are two categories of bad songs, the bad songs that are also catchy, so catchy that I cannot get them out of my head, and then there are the bad songs that also have bad melodies and I can promptly forget them.

        That song belonged to the latter category.

      • True. It wasn’t exactly memorable. 😆

  5. I was at the together taping. Definitely full orchestra. NSF, there is something about the 8 of those men singing together. For one reason or another it didnt translate well when the GVB made their changes. However, now that Wayne is singing several songs a night with EHSS, I can’t help but secretly hope for a 10 man, “together…again”

    Arranging would be killer but between Phelps and Haun it would be epic!

    • I’d say that part of it has to be that Ernie Haase’s and Wes Hampton’s voices play naturally and well to the other’s strengths – but David Phelps’ voice is better standing alone at the high frequency end of the mix.

    • Wow Nick, that’s awesome! And I agree, it’s not quite the same now after the member shifts.

      And yes Daniel, I agree that Wes and Ernie complement each other great. I still get chills when they nail their tenor notes together on “He Touched Me” or “These are They.”

  6. Kyle, his mentioning the full orchestra kind of muddied it. I think he basically meant live music and IF there were orchestra on the song, they had to be live too. (Not that an orchestra had to be in the instrumentation).

    • Yes, that’s exactly what I would have said had I thought of it. 🙂 Thanks for the interpretation and translation. 🙂

  7. This reminds me of what Michael Booth says on An Evening With the Booth Brothers.

    “Let me introduce these guys to you… this is Jim, that’s Ronnie, I’m Michael, and this is our invisible band.”

  8. This is not a bad move at all. If my time were limited, I’d consider implementing a similar policy.

    It can be beneficial to review DVDs that don’t bring as much to the table, just as it can be beneficial to review a really bad CD from time to time. If I were forced to pick and choose, though, I’d do the same thing, and not review stuff that’s obviously of a lower standard right out of the gate.

    Right now, I’m blessed with plenty of time.

    • I’ve had some moderately bad problems with eyestrain in the last month or two. It’s not enough to require me to stop all off-hours computer work, but it is enough to require me to prioritize.

      • I imagine that would also discourage watching DVDs!

      • True.

        So in the more limited time I have before my eyes start hurting, I’d just rather spend it on the highest caliber of content. 🙂

  9. Now, if we could just get people to quit attending concerts with canned music. When will these groups learn that they don’t need all that fancy accompaniment. Guys like the Statesmen and Blackwood Bros sounded good with nothing more than a piano, and when you occasionally see a quartet try it in these days the crowd inevitably likes it. The bluegrass guys are right; today when you attend a SG concert you essentially are seeing nothing more than karaoke. I haven’t bought a new CD in months and have cut way back on the number of concerts I attend just for that reason.

    • I have mixed feelings on this one. I still go to concerts with canned music, but I am more likely to go if there is, at least, an instrumentalist in the group and there will be at least a couple of all-live songs.

      • Tell the Booth Brothers I said hi… 😀

      • I went to a Booth Brothers karaoke show recently. Would have been a whole lot better with a live pianist. I’ll tell them “hi” for you.

      • You know, the Booth Brothers put a live band on the road for a good portion of last year – I just am disappointed that I missed those shows.

  10. Daniel, I understand where you are coming from, but I think it is misguided. For example, group A records a CD with live orchestrations and records a video in a concert using tracks recorded with live orchestrations. Do you disqualify that because the instruments were not available for the DVD taping? A good string section can cost thousands of dollars, and hiring those musicians to then come an play for the DVD record is simply out of the question for all but a handful of wealthy artists. Also, I have recorded many artists that have the resources to record with any orchestra they choose, but because of ideas of musical direction, choose to use synth (keyboard) orchestrations. Do you no exclude those the same way? How do you know which was decided on musical direction and which was decided on cost alone? Also, many times basic tracks are used to record live and then orchestrations and misc overdubs are added later. How do you determine which is which? The policy you invoke is to raise the bar…I get it. And I agree the bar should be raised. But if this is to be done, you are discriminating against a wide and diverse talent pool without knowing the actual intent, order of production, or musical insight that was used to determine the final product.

    • Ben, these are good questions that I could feasibly raise in an email conversation with someone interested in submitting a DVD for review.

      To address two specific issues:

      (1) Synth strings as stylistic preference – The easy way out would be to say that, in that event, I have a stylistic preference against reviewing the DVD! But, more seriously, if they choose synth strings as a matter of stylistic preference, then perhaps the can get several expert keyboard players to synth the strings for the live taping.

      (2) Budget. I realize not every group is wealthy. But, here’s my core point on the budget issue: I believe it would be far better for a group to only release one quality DVD every five years than to release low-quality canned-music DVDs yearly.

      I would encourage groups to wait however long it takes to release a quality product with live instrumentation (whether orchestral or not). This is far better for the genre, and ultimately in the long run, I believe it’s better for the artist, too.

      • I disagree for the most part that releasing one quality DVD in five years is better for the group than releasing substandard ones annually is. A group spending much more money on a project to see it sell probably not a whole lot better than a regular project and then not having a different project to sell every year seems to me to be cutting off over 80% of their DVD profit. I don’t know how many more people would buy a DVD with live instruments because it had live instruments. Even though I like the idea, I will still buy ones with canned music if they are good. I really don’t know how many people really care if there is live instrumentation or not. Some of us might prefer it (or like a mix depending on the material), but it probably isn’t a deal breaker for most and I imagine quite a few couldn’t care less.

        Not everyone has a budget of Elvis Presley (who is the only one offhand I can think of in popular music who took an orchestra with him). I guess though, you aren’t so much expecting them to travel with them (are you?) than just use them on a video.

      • >>I guess though, you aren’t so much expecting them to travel with them (are you?) than just use them on a video.

        Correct, though I sure wouldn’t complain if they figured out a way. 🙂

      • Daniel, it’s not like you’ve suddenly made a law about who puts out DVDs. You’ve set a standard about which ones will be reviewed here.

        I personally don’t quite get the group who records a CD and then does a “live” project of the same songs. I guess it’s a very common practice, but … I’m not likely to spend my money on both, although I might if I could. I don’t see why you should be obligated to review them both, either. (I know I’m saying this on the heels of SSQ’s Tribute release, but all the same…)

      • Good points. As a matter of fact, I only reviewed the CD. I was planning/hoping to leave it at that, but NSF really wanted to review the DVD, so I didn’t have a problem running it.

        (That was, of course, before I thought through this. I’m trying to picture how much more incredible the arrangement of “We Shall See Jesus,” which was great on the studio track, would have been with a live orchestra!)

      • I’m glad the review of the DVD went up. I personally consider it to be 5-star quality even if they used some tracks.

      • And in the case of Signature Sound, the videos are just as important as the studio projects if not more so.

      • I think everyone is glad for it. I also think it was just a little different situation – it was Cathedrals music, and it needed to be done live! (This said without ever hearing it, ha!) Of course, it would have been magnificent to do it with live instrumentation. But it seems a little different to me than the guy that just hauled his tracks out and recorded the last CD in front of an audience in order to sell extra product.

      • Agreed – it is somewhat different.

        NSF – The DVD is more important to you (and likely to Ernie), but not to everyone – after all, the CD is more important to radio, and to people whose thought processes are more auditory than visual, like me.

      • I’m also more of a CD man myself. I have a few DVDs (Gold City stuff, King’s Gold, Travelin’ Live), but I can’t think of a reason I would watch them more than once. I think it’s an attention span thing for me.

        Well, maybe Travelin’ Live I can watch over and over again. 🙂

      • I’m glad to have both myself. It’s nice to have just the music. But a large part of why I prefer the DVD is the live vocals. There’s a lot more warmth and chemistry there than on the super-polished studio versions.

        The video is undoubtedly more important to Ernie.

      • I love live DVDs, but CDs are more convenient (meaning I can listen to them in the car, at work, doing other things etc.) and not have to be looking at the screen. However, if I have the time (or take the time) I suppose I prefer DVDs.

      • Ditto. And I’m one of those people who like to take their music everywhere, so convenience is a big factor.

        However, there have been times when I’ll find the live performance on Youtube and record it instead of the studio version because it’s so much better. 🙂

  11. I’m just going to make one final comment about this policy. Once again, its your blog, and you can run it however you want, thats fine. I just think doing this excludes a lot of groups….including some of the best in our genre. If one of your goals is to bring more fans into the genre, wouldn’t you like to do this by bringing attention to those who are the best in the genre, regardless of if they used canned music?

    You made the following comment: “All other factors being equal, a live recording with live music is a higher quality project than a live recording with canned music.”

    Once again, this is your blog. But that comment is an opinion, not a fact. But you are using it like it is the absolute truth when it comes to southern gospel projects. But its not…

    Thats really the only beef I have with the decision. I’ll continue to read this blog daily. Just had to share a little of where I was coming from.

    • “But that comment is an opinion, not a fact. But you are using it like it is the absolute truth…”

      Not to be mean-spirited, but it wouldn’t be the first time.

      However, in this case I’m willing to consider that if all factors really are equal, Daniel may have a point.

    • Josh, I understand your concerns.

      We share a common goal of getting more fans into the genre—it just looks like we have a different way of achieving it. I believe that if you look across a broad variety of genres, performances with live instrumentation are generally considered to be better/more valuable than performances with canned instrumentation, so much so that many genres use no canned instrumentation. So I believe that I do the most to achieve our common goal when I present potential fans the best of what the genre has to offer, musically as well as vocally.

  12. I can guarantee you I can make a far better recording in a studio than I can live at any church or performance hall. Given those factors that are hard and fast truths, if you wait for a live orchestra you will, in all likelyhood, be waiting for an inferior product. Now, lets take a Gaither Homecoming for example. The choir made up of various artists is actually pre-recorded. Yes the choir on the live taping does in fact sing, but the only vocals that get actually recorded on these tapings are the solos, and even then they are subject to being overdubbed after the fact. The only live choir that is recorded is whatever little bleed of the choir coming into the soloist’s microphones is present. The same is true of the band and orchestration. Will you refuse a Gaither production? I would dare say you had better not if you wish to be taken seriously, as he is the giant in our industry whether you are a fan or not.

    Now your comment “I believe that if you look across a broad variety of genres, performances with live instrumentation are generally considered to be better/more valuable than performances with canned instrumentation, so much so that many genres use no canned instrumentation.” is far to broad to be accurate. Many pop, rock and country acts use tracks to augment the live performance. For example, many use Pro Tools and its multi-track capabilities. One good example is the midi inherent in these DAW programs. With this they can tune vocals live via midi, so that the vocal performances are spot on. (I have developed such systems for more than one secular artist) IN the case of orchestrations, which seems to be your point of contention, many live performances use “canned” orchestration and hire local musicans from symphony halls etc, to augment the “live” appearance. In effect the public is being fooled by the underlying music track(s) being assembled as if live. I have helped do this very thing for TV shows here in Nashville. A recent Crabb Video I was watching shows a Grand piano being played by their piano player. The “whats wrong with this picture” comes from some of the keys of the grand piano being depressed without human assistance. How does this work? Well. You have a studio Musician play the original, and save his performance via midi. Play the midi back from a DAW, into a Midi Grand, and bingo…you have his exact performance live. You are kidding yourself to believe you can tell when it is live and when it is not. In todays high tech age, it can be so transparently done that it becomes impossible to define which is real and which is Memorex.

    • I agree that it is getting harder to celebrate truly live from faked live.

      Also, I review some of Gaither’s products, but have never seen the need to review every single Gaither release.

    • Stop it Ben… you’re disillusioning me. 🙁

      • …but what if he’s right?

        I suspect he’s in a position to know. 🙂

        Seriously, though, how does that differ from the GVB and EHSS doing a taping with stacked or overdubbed vocals?

        I know everyone does it, and I know you will say, “that doesn’t make it right” . . . which brings me right back to my original point. 😉

      • Ditto.

        (filler, filler, filler)

      • Cross-post with Daniel – hadn’t refreshed in a while.

      • Don’t mean to to disillusion anyone. Just one of the many modes of doing live these days. Some gospel groups carry Pro-Tools and have replacement vocals for each singer, if one is sick on a particular evening. We of Southern Sound still do it the old fashioned way, we actually sing live. But I must admit, there are nights I would have loved to have had a replacement “Ben” on a nearby computer.

      • Replacement singers??? Oh good grief…

      • You hadn’t heard that yet? In fact, one very prominent group used replacement voices during their baritone singer’s vocal troubles for months, rather than replace him.

    • Ben, is that particular performance from the Crabb video on Youtube somewhere? You’ve got me curious now.

      • I am not sure if it is on YOu Tube or not. I ran across the “Live” concert on TV one evening about 4-5 months ago. It would either have been on Trinity Broadcast or that Catholic channel, for those are only the two religious channels we get at home.

    • Yeah, it’s pretty obvious to me watching the Gaither videos that what I’m hearing isn’t actually the large group of people singing on the screen.

      Now, I’m not sure that’s true for the earlier videos (early-to-mid-90’s).

      • I wish Bill would go back to the old days. Why bother even doing it if you’re not going to make it authentic? I know, I know, because it sells…

    • Ben, Your Spot on my friend.
      These tactics are being used on some of the
      biggest Country tours out of Nashville…

      This is partly the result of Artist wanting a much younger look on stage and with that the quality of musicianship is lost… So in return they can a lot of music to make up for the lack of musicianship…
      The sad part about this is, Gospel Music although on a much smaller level makes the same decisions…

  13. Has anybody thought about the possibility of scaling back instrumentation on a live album? There is a big difference between most of the Cathedrals’ live and studio projects, even in the same time period. The charisma of that live performance probably isn’t going to be faked by big orchestration. I really think the Cat’s were onto something. Roger even had a very different piano style on live recordings, more unrestrained. It’s just “a different breed of cat.”

    • I have thought about that, particularly in light of the Cathedrals, and I would be perfectly fine with that.

      In fact, I’de be even more excited about a DVD that brings something new to the songs than about an attempt for a note-for-note duplication of the studio.

      Two groups I could really see running with this approach are the Perrys (with Matthew Holt) and the Mark Trammell Quartet (with Dustin on piano and Mark on bass guitar).

  14. In 1976 studio musicians at the taping and “punch-ins” in the studio afterwards had long since become the norm. It was that year that The Inspirations stood up to their record company to use only their own people and not “fix” anything afterwards. In fact in the book (“What A Wonderful Time – The Story of The Inspirations”- By: Bob Terrell) I believe it is mentioned that the only thing re-done was the introduction of the group, by Marvin Norcross. Sadly this was a major departure from the norm.
    If anyone can remember even further back, when Bob Wills had his male quartet, they did a “live” album where the fake and re-done elements were so poorly done that the album was almost humorous. Unfortunately, it did not represent them well as a group. Bob Wills had a very good and often underrated group, I grew up listening to their records and they were as good as many groups of huge reputation.
    Now for the opinion… When I watch a video of a group what I am looking to hear is exactly what I would hear if I went to the church down the street to hear them tomorrow, mistakes and all. If the group normally sings with tracks I have no problem with using them in a video. Where I would have a problem would be editing the vocals and or instrumentation afterwards, or cutting the video into pieces and mixing up the concert so that you no longer have the full flow of the concert including intros and talking. One of the things I look for and expect to see from a true live performance video is the mistakes and reactions un-edited. I admire the groups and record labels when they choose leave them. At the same time I expect that the group would be making a concerted effort to use their best material in terms of song selection, etc. when making a video, regardless of the age of the song or when they have recorded it in the past. Also one might note that not all groups should do live albums. Not that I have anything against them, I fact I would highly respect a group for not doing a live album, if they knew it would not represent them well. Jim Hamill was one of the best emcee’s gospel music has or likely will ever see, because of him and The Kingsmen’s presentation style a “live” format worked very well for them, and was a good image for the group. However, I have seen and/or heard groups and even “live” recordings of groups that (would have or have) shown great wisdom in their ministry to not do a “live” recording, and I respect that decision.
    I know this has gotten long. However, my length was in order to attempt to present what I had to say as clearly and precisely as possible.