Steven Wilson: 'Records Sounded Best In The 70s'

Wilson hired "Dark Side Of The Moon" engineer Alan Parsons to help him achieve timeless sounds on his new record. Do you think 70-s recordings sound better than modern ones?

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Steven Wilson has expressed his affinity for classic 70s recordings, and how he tried to live up to them with his new album "The Raven That Refused To Sing".

In our exclusive interview to be published tomorrow, Steven tells us about hiring legendary Pink Floyd engineer Alan Parsons, best known for his work on "Dark Side Of The Moon".

"I'm a great believer that records sounded the best in the 70s. I don't really like the sound of most modern recordings, including most of my own," he said. "I had this idea that I wanted to work with an engineer that was familiar with working in that way, and Alan was the top of my list."

For all his fame in the prog-rock world, Steven is surely a music fan with heroes, just like the rest of us. Did working with Alan Parsons fulfil a lifelong ambition?

"I wouldn't say I had any burning ambition to work with Alan," he says, "but I've been very privileged to work with some people who were very important to me growing up, and Alan would certainly be one of those.

"Luckily he knew who I was, and was already a bit of a fan, so there was a mutual thing there already. It was great to work with him."

As you might expect, the engineering lived up to Steven's high expectations. "The sounds he got on the record are exactly what I wanted," he said. "I didn't want the album to sound retro for the sake of it, but I wanted sounds that were timeless. Alan is someone who knows how to get the best out of those sounds."

Hear the title song from "The Raven That Refused To Sing" here:

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Look out for our full interview with Steven Wilson tomorrow, where he discusses mortality and his biggest ambition: to score movie soundtracks in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, you can read about how he was moved to tears in the studio in our post yesterday.

You can order a limited-edition version of the album from Burning Shed, which includes HD audio, a studio documentary, exclusive stories written by Steven Wilson and much more.

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Alan Parsons is a great engineer (and has some pretty good songs and albums too). 70's records were well recorded, the sound was clear, you would hear all the instruments, music of that time had a soul, you would recognize who was playing. I don't say that you don't recognize who is playing in modern bands nowadays, there are some exceptions. But in the 80's, they began to use a lot of reverbs, heavy drum sounds that bury everything, full synthesizers, the sound was less precise and clear, at times muddy. Still the same today, in the mainstream world, everything sounds the same or over the top, too much compression, etc. I think 70's music was more pure, clear and great. Still there are a lot of great bands today, and a lot of great recordings too. This critic applies more to the mainstream/radio-friendly music I think.
    I feel that the 90's had the best production, there was alot more experimentation with concepts that were not possible during the 70's.
    The sound you hear on the records, is actually the sound that the 1970's made... Good luck trying to achieve that without a time machine...
    I think its pretty simple. Analog sounds better than compressed digital. End of story.
    True: 80's = digital came in = crappy music began.
    This is funny because engineers at the time would speculate about mythical audio machines that didn't induce noise and recorded the sound as intended at the source. Funny how tastes change...
    You don't really believe shitty music started in the eighties do you? There has always been shitty music, the fact that Disco Duck was released in the 70's proves this.
    lol, so true. For as long as there has been music, there has been shit music.
    I'm sorry but there are new electronic artists much better than most guitar driven bands and vice versa.
    Nah, I'd say there's been a lot of great production since then. Someone mentioned the 90s' experimentation being a highlight. I definitely support that statement. Brickwalling during mastering really ****s up a lot of albums though. Digital has advanced far enough to sound fine compared to analog, but nothing sounds good compressed to the level most of the industry wants things to sound.
    I gotta agree with him. Two words: Led Zeppelin
    You need more words than that. Pink Floyd, Camel, King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Billy Cobham and Al Di Meola are just a few of the words you're going to need if you're describing the awesomeness of 70s albums.
    With almost every interview he name drops like 5 or 6 prog bands, and usually 3 or 4 of are quite incredible. The man has excellent taste and has managed to reignite my passion for some of the music I grew up listening to. On a more related note, Raven That Refused to Sing is incredible. I didn't think he'd ever do anything as great as Grace for Drowning, but he totally proved me wrong. Holy Drinker is seriously one of the best songs he's written.
    I have a soft spot for the production on a lot of 80s Records, stuff like Seventeen Seconds by The Cure and The Gutter Ballet by Savatage, it just sounds really cool. But id defineately say that the 70s was the most pure and clean era of production. So many great sounding records. Early 2000 is probably among the worst, too much compression and stuff like that imo.
    Hell. No. 2-mic drum recording? I'll stick to 8 mics, thank you. Also, sound was so muddy and EXPENSIVE then. Now you can get a great mix from your house.