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A LOT of TV music shows INSISTED bands lip sync. "Canned heat" made a LIVE joke of it!

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If you watch TV music shows, a lot of them over the past 60 years have insisted that bands lip sync over the recorded version of their popular songs. I'm honestly surprised more people haven't noticed that the "live" tv version sounded IDENTICAL in every way to the record.

A few years ago I was reading up on "Canned Heat", a 60s blues band who played Woodstock. I found a 1970 tv variety show performance of one of their hits, which was itself a cover of an older blues song. Apparently they were told to lip sync on tv, but were none too happy about it! So, Bob "the bear" Hite decided to make a show of it, at 0:55. In the background, you can see singer/guitarist Alan "blind owl" Wilson laughing it up....

Less than 1 year later, Alan was dead of a drug overdose while hanging out alone in a field near their home/party pad. 10 years later, in 1981, Bob Hite died of a heroin overdose, after a fan handed him a vial of it in between sets, and he snorted the whole vial...

 

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If you watch TV music shows, a lot of them over the past 60 years have insisted that bands lip sync over the recorded version of their popular songs. I'm honestly surprised more people haven't noticed that the "live" tv version sounded IDENTICAL in every way to the record.

A few years ago I was reading up on "Canned Heat", a 60s blues band who played Woodstock. I found a 1970 tv variety show performance of one of their hits, which was itself a cover of an older blues song. Apparently they were told to lip sync on tv, but were none too happy about it! So, Bob "the bear" Hite decided to make a show of it, at 0:55. In the background, you can see singer/guitarist Alan "blind owl" Wilson laughing it up....

Less than 1 year later, Alan was dead of a drug overdose while hanging out alone in a field near their home/party pad. 10 years later, in 1981, Bob Hite died of a heroin overdose, after a fan handed him a vial of it in between sets, and he snorted the whole vial...



Up until about...oh I guess maybe fifteen years ago, audio for television was an afterthought!
Okay, maybe I am being too harsh...no one paid much serious love to television audio until maybe somewhere around the dawn of MTV.
Most TV sets of the old analog era usually came with a three inch el cheapo speaker, and the audio bandwidth was as pathetic as the frequency response. The ONLY saving grace was that the sound was transmitted with frequency modulation (FM) at a frequency at a fixed offset (typically 4.5 to 6 MHz) from the picture signal. But it was a MONO signal up until 1984, when the very first "stereo" TV's finally hit the market.

But just because analog TV used FM for the sound doesn't mean that they gave much attention to it.
And the studios used back in the old days were an audio engineer's nightmare, loud transformers, fans, squeaky cranes and dollies, piss poor acoustics...they really only care about the picture and just enough audio quality to make a person's speaking voice understandable.
It wasn't "radio with pictures", it was pictures with a TELEPHONE signal for sound, and a pretty crappy telephone at that.

And that is the main reason why bands had to lip sync so much.
It's not the only reason, but it's a major reason. One of the other reasons is because a good many popular bands just sounded terrible playing live, sorry but it's the truth. Without tons of reinforcement, the live sound of a lot of popular teen sensation musical acts was just deplorable.
Having seen Canned Heat live in a very intimate setting up in Topanga* on two occasions I can attest that Alan and the guys were actually pretty good musicians, but that wasn't always the case for a lot of acts and TV engineers just decided that they already had enough on their plate without having to be recording engineers as well.

Nowadays we are so very very spoiled by the incredible audio capabilities in high definition digital TV but to be honest, even now the audio is often still treated as an afterthought because quite frankly, even with the advanced properties of audio in today's modern TV programming, all too often the audio engineering is simply pathetic, even on some of the high end premium programming.

It's only when programming is being produced by film studio sound techs that you begin to notice some decent production values.
Audio for movies was always light years ahead of television and it still is today.

*I was friends with the whole "Theatricum Botanicum" family and inner circle (Will Geer) and Canned Heat did two lovely summer concerts up there many years ago.
 
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