For a couple of years, I thought I’d own a harpsichord and feature it in my work. Then, I bought The Kinks‘ Face to Face album and realized how quickly the harpsichord could exhaust its welcome. The pervasive use of harpsichord on that album, it gives me the image of an old lady scurrying around the house to throw down lace doilies on her fine wood furniture before company arrives. Afternoon tea needn’t be so fussy. The harpsichord would cease to be one of my favorite devices.
Likewise, the megaphone voice device, another one my beloved Beatles leaned heavily on, would eventually run out of gas for me. I clutched onto that device much longer, as it was successfully employed by my favorite artists of my late teens and early adulthood, artists I still cherish as much as The Beatles today, like Elvis Costello and XTC. In 1988, my band did some recordings employing this device on two songs. That batch of recordings is near and dear to me and remains unreleased. Maybe the disappointment around that time in my life is connected, but that was the beginning of the end of the line for me and the megaphone device. I still like hearing it in small doses, such as on the intro to XTC’s “Respectable Street,” but The Strokes ran it into the ground on their debut album, on which the device was used to criminal levels.
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of fuzz guitars; four-on-the-floor drum beats; octave bass leaps, best represented by the bass part in Spencer Davis Group‘s “Gimme Some Lovin'”; the unintended squeak of a kick drum beater, such as on a few Led Zeppelin songs, or bass guitar frets, such as Bruce Thomas‘ fret squeak on Costello’s “Pidgin English”; and the drastic edits into a coda, such as the thrillingly clunky edit into the coda of the original Loaded version of “Sweet Jane.” Don’t get me started!
So how about you? What’s a device you’re happy to have put aside and a device you don’t see ever leaving your side?