the band The Power Station on SNL back in 1985

This is a tad obscure, but I remember watching their performance on SNL when it originally aired in '85 and being really impressed with how good they sounded. I finally taped the show off Comedy Central a few days ago and watching it now it looks, well, fake. That is, like they’re not really playing their instruments.

Robert Palmer is definitely NOT lip-syncing, but the heavy percusion and guitar tracks don’t stay in step with the guys playing them on screen. But it’s also not just the audio from the LP. Would they have used a rehersal recording instead? If so, why?

I realize it was, like, more than 16 years ago, but it’s still disappointing to think that they faked it.

Mr. Mister once got blasted for likely faking their way through an SNL set, it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened again.

People make mistakes when playing live. Also, it’s flipping hard to record live on a TV set!

I’ve only been in on one live studio taping and one live broadcast, but in both circumstances, we couldn’t get the guitars and drums down low enough that they wouldn’t bleed through the vocal mikes. If we did get the drums and guitars low enough that the vocal mikes didn’t pick them up, then they sounded terrible. Finally, we just gave up and recorded everything out of the vocal mikes.

Do you remember when the Replacements played SNL? Remember how badly it sounded? I’m sure it was because they did the sound check at low volume, then got drunk and turned up the amps for the show. If you have vocal mikes, you almost can’t play at volume on a television set without it sounding like crap, and if you play quietly enough that the instruments don’t bleed into the vocal mikes, then the band may not be able to hear themselves play. Saturday Night Live is the big time, and I’m sure that the producers like to play it safe. Admittedly, I’m sure I’m not the resident expert on sound recording, but I doubt I’m too far off.

I saw the same thing, and noticed that, but there was also a lady playing those electronic drums next to the other drummer.
Maybe thats the reason.

Also, it nice to see the old school SNL on TV again.

When you know something is going to be released as single, ome of the things you do is to record a version without vocals, known as a headless mix for use in TV performances. If you are worried that this will look bad, you record a live version of a song in a studio and mime to this on television.

Part of this is a time thing. When I recorded seriously it would take 6-8 hours to get the drum sound right. On a tonight show, you have perhaps 2 hours to get the whole band sounding good. On an awards show stage you might have 5 bands in a hour. Sounding good performing live can be done but you need very good techs. Most shows and most bands would rather not spend the money or take the risk.