The recording technologies change significantly between 1966 and 1971, and it is evident that the 4-track approach was replaced by 8-track versions. For example, the Beatles song Taxman uses electronic guitar from 00:27 to 00:51, and it sets the general feeling of the music (The Beatles, 2018). However, Marvin Gaye’s song slowly introduces percussions as the main rhythm delivery element, and it lacks string instruments (Marvin Gaye, 1971). One might argue that the 4-track recording is more simplistic and less fluent compared to the subtlety of sounds of the 8-track alternative.
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Nonetheless, it is also important to note that the 8-track recording feels unnecessarily noisier compared to the 4-track song. It is especially relevant because the Beatles performance is more active and dynamic by nature compared to more relaxed and slow-paced Marvin Gaye’s song. It is possible that the gradual addition of a series of tracks on the latter made it overflown by sounds since the tape is a track incremental version. However, it seems that adding more tracks does not necessarily improve the song but rather allows it to be coherent, fluent, and unique by adding both prominent and subtle sounds. In the case of the Beatles, the performance feels raw and stratified into tracks, which is evident due to the obvious limitation of four tracks. In other words, Taxman is more rigid and simple compared to What’s Going On, but the latter is still inferior to the former because the 4-tracks technology was properly executed. In the case of the 8-track song, the tracks seem to be filled unnecessarily, which made it highly noisy at the end with no clearly dominant track in the mix, and it is especially true in regards to the added singers at the end.
Marvin Gaye. (1971). What’s Goin’ On? [Song]. On What’s Going On [Album]; Tamla.
The Beatles. (2018). Taxman (remastered 2009) [Video]. Web.