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Max Norman, a producer who helped shape rock history with albums like Ozzy Osbourne‘s Blizzard of Ozz – plus working with other artists like Y&T, Armored Saint, Lizzy Borden, and Loudness – recently said in an appearance on the Talk Louder podcast that in today’s music landscape, crafting “world-class records” might be a waste of time. Why? Because, according to him, “nobody cares anymore.”

“The problem now is people can’t make world-class records because there’s 10,000 records a day coming out or whatever. So nobody’s making world-class records because nobody gives a shit. Because it doesn’t matter how good the record is. Only fucking two people are gonna listen to it anyway. And they’re both related to you” Norman quipped (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar).

But is he just being gloomy? Not quite. While Norman throws shade at the album format, he sees a silver lining: live music. He believes live shows, in all their forms, are thriving. From original bands to cover acts, the raw energy and unrepeatable magic of live performances are drawing crowds.

“I’m trying to think where the industry is going and where it’s happening. To me, there’s a lot more activity of live stuff. And to me, it shows that there’s a lot of longevity in live performance. Whether it be a cover band, whether it be a tribute band or an original band.”

“And I think tribute and cover bands are huge now. Fucking huge,” he continued. “They’re so huge that Kiss now can become a cover band of itself and keep going. They don’t want to pay anybody, so they’re gonna use computers. Whether that’ll work out or not, I don’t know. Maybe AI can help them.”

So, what’s the future? Norman envisions the possibility of a mobile recording setup capturing the essence of live gigs, offering fans a taste of the unpolished, electrifying atmosphere. It’s a future where the raw emotion and spontaneity of live performances take center stage.

“Maybe the future, or some of the future of music, is live performance. And I was thinking — maybe I should just put a whole rig together in a little van or truck and just go out and just punch, just kept performances from these clubs. Just go out and get all these and just keep pumping them out. Just fucking live mix them, don’t fuck with them too much, fix the shit that needs fixing a little bit.”

“But then bang them out because intrinsically, those things can’t be reproduced. I remember — years ago, I used to love the live albums because you can really hear the guys play, and you can really hear how good everybody was,” Norman added. “On the record, it’s all kind of sterilized and in the right place. And you knew what the song was. You didn’t necessarily get the real character of these players until you go to see them live.”

“So these actually are now becoming very special events because everybody’s trying to computerize everything. So I see, maybe there’s a good opportunity there to actually just start going out — fucking mic it up, press record, just record the whole fucking evening, have a few beers, quick mix a next day. Bang — put it out.” he concluded.

Is Norman right or simply out of his mind? Whether you agree with his assessment of albums or not, his emphasis on live music’s power resonates. In an age of digital perfection and instant gratification, perhaps the authenticity and shared experience of live music truly offer something unique and irreplaceable.

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