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Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)

Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 29, 2005 11:10PM
In "End of the Century : The Story of the Ramones". Johnny dismisses Phil Spector as "just a producer, they're not important", but then basically goes on to blame him for hurting the album. (Johnny blames subsequent producers too). Any producers you can think of that "made" or "ruined" a band? What would Joy Division have sounded like without Martin Hannett - you'd have to say in a case like that he "made" the band, right? - or can that be disputed?

Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 12:41AM
i think richard gottehrer is a very influential producer that was not domineering like phil spector, but could pull a band together that was inexperienced and disorganized, ie the go-go's, and direct their sound. at the same time, he could respect a band/musician who knew what sound they wanted, ie marshal(l?) crenshaw.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 05:59AM
There always seems to be a producer of the moment who has a run where he seems pretty infallible - from about 78 to 81 it was Nick Lowe, from 80 to 83 Steve Lillywhite, from 84 to 88 or so T Bone Burnett. Right at the moment I'll generally give anything produced by Dave Fridman a shot.

My most hated producer of all time is Jimmy Iovine - a hack who never met a band whose worst impulses he couldn't send into overdrive. Simple Minds never recovered from having fallen into the idiot's clutches, and he managed to coax the hideous Rattle and Hum out of U2. Hell, he even made the Motors unlistenable.

There are some producers who get high profile gigs but never seem to be able to capitalize on them - Scott Litt produced REM throughout their most commercially successful phase, but never seemed to click anywhere else. And I'm unsure who's more responsible for the the current listenable but unexciting state of REM - the band or Litt's replacement, Pat McCarthy. The last couple of albums have been tastefully produced, but sterile - every song sounds exactly the same as the one before it and the one after it. The band needs a kick in the ass, but the albums sound like McCarthy is indulging their desire to rest on their laurels. Too bad Guy Stevens is dead - he would probably be able to terrify them into being relevant again.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 12:49PM
On the other hand, Iovine also gave us "Easter" and "Damn the Torpedoes," fine albums in my estimation. Love those drums!
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 01:30PM
Damn. That's a very good point.

Of course, those were while he was still young-ish and hadn't quite perfected his ability to bring out the worst in performers.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 04:01PM
Along the lines of your REM comments; consider Jimmy Miller with the Stones and George Martin with the Beatles.

I think both bands credited their producers as essential quasi-members and produced the finest work of their careers with them. However, I think you can make the case that in both these instances, the tenure of the producers with the bands coincided with their most creative years.

Jimmy Miller was a useless junkie by the time of Goats Head Soup and had no career triumphs after the Stones and George Martin's work with Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick, Ultravox and whoever else was fine but not necessarily magical. As an aside, I believe I read that Mick Jagger discovered Jimmy Miller when he was producing Traffic in the late 60's and was impressed enough with his work with that band that he hired him.

More thoughts:

The highly touted Scott Litt remix or Nirvana's Penny Royal Tea did nothing for me

Ted Templeman has had an interesting career: A Captain Beefheart record, Roth-era Van Halen, a not so great Cheap Trick comeback album, Doobies at the height of their top 40 appeal, the list goes on.

Chris Kimsey was around as engineer and or producer for some of the latter day triumphs of the Stones: Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You and Undercover. He also produced the pretty lame Steel Wheels, but again, I think this has more to do with what the band gave him to work with.

I absolutely loathe the production of Jeff Lynne, what an utter hack. How did this happen? Do you mean to tell me that Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, etc. Were cranking ELO tracks in the late 70's?

Don Was does nothing for me. I wonder why the Stones keep him around. I associate him with the middle of the road.

Rick Rubin had an extaordinary run in the early years of Def American / American but I think it had a lot to do with the fact that he discovered and signed some really great bands. He produced Mick Jagger's only good solo album, Wandering Spirit. He was also at the boards as the Chilli Peppers rose to prominence / dominance

Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 08:29PM
Well, someone's gotta throw Steve Albini's name out there as potential hero and/or villain, so it might as well be me. I for one think he produces some of the best drum sounds anywhere, tho it doesn't work for every band he "engineers" or "records" or whatever he's calling it these days.

For instance, I think the Pixies' "Surfer Rosa" and PJ Harvey's "Rid Of Me" are amazing sounding albums, but I thought Nirvana's "In Utero" and the EP he produced for Steel Pole Bath Tub sounded like **** (oops, that will probably get bleeped out). That unmistakable Albini drum sound just doesn't work for every band, but when it does, it's really great.

Of course, he can also come off as a pompous bastard with his semi-principled stands on who he will and will not record. And there's that famous screed out there on the web where he derides the Pixies as a bunch of sows being led around by their nose rings or some such. But for every Robert Plant or Bush (the awful band, not the awful president) that he records, he has also recorded a hell of a lot of unknown indie bands, apparently for peanuts.

And on another note, I loved Mitch Easter's production work in the 80s.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 31, 2005 12:51PM
yes, yeah for mitch easter, and don dixon. speaking of southern contributions, john keane and his studio continues to be productive since the 80's.
rubin did a good job helping johnny cash become popular with the younger, 'hip' crowd - especially those who liked to wear black.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 08, 2005 04:16PM
don't forget the hack job he did on the Pretenders and he was responsible for all those fine Stevie Nicks albums until she hit the blow too hard and he walked out on her during the making of "Rock a Little". He then founded Interscope records which ruined Primus.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 30, 2005 08:06PM
I really don't like producers like Jeff Lynne or Don Was or Brendan O'Brien, who really put their stamp on an album. George Harrison was right on when he said that songs produced by Jeff Lynne sound like Jeff Lynne songs (i'm roughly paraphrasing).

I love willful primitives like Jim Dickinson and Sam Phillips. Mitch Easter is also a great example of a producer I absolutely admire. I like JD Foster (Alejandro Escovedo, Richard Buckner, Calexico). I also liked John Leckie's work with the Stone Roses, even though the sound (by today's standards) is not that rich or full (but enchantingly atmospheric...and right on for what the group was doing).

The kind of producers l like tend to be resourceful (without the benefit of top-notch technology) and tend to be facilitators (rather than directors), letting the artists' work breath a little and knowing at what points to be assertive and when to back off.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
August 31, 2005 11:14PM
I'll stick my neck out and say that a producer IS the band. The 'sound' that makes a band distinctive IS the production. Particularly on a band's first classic LP. It's the producer that finds the sound for a band - the band can run with that sound on tour or after working with a new producer.
On almost every massive selling LP it's the production, not the performance.
When a band offers up the pieces, the producer keeps the picture of composition and levity as well as offering up a choice of directions and, above all, overall project input. He holds the reins.

Listen to what Mutt Lange did for Def Leppard - It's all production. Same for Mitch Easter projects. There was a time when I'd listen to ANYTHING with Albini's name on it - he's that distinctive; the single most important influence on 85-95 indie. Look what he did for Wedding Present's 'Seamonsters'.

Bad production usually consists of tinniness (though this too can work), glossiness, or oddball input (dance beats, horns, string sections) that lead the band away from their roots. Most hiphop, imo, is produced like shite.

Talking about Spector is like talking about the Beatles -- if he hadn't done it would somebody else have come along? And what about Les Paul?
Jeez I'd be here all day if I were to list what producers have/have not done for bands (with this caveat - I hold a recording engineering degree) ...But, aside from that, everyone on this board has the kind of ears that can readily distinguish the importance of this factor. Then there's the standard comparison to film; recording producer=director.

Post Edited (08-31-05 20:28)
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 09, 2005 12:17PM
Brian Eno and Bowie. nuff said.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 10, 2005 01:10AM
nuff said....as heroes or villains?

Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 10, 2005 11:26PM
the 90's saw TED NICELY producing lots of cool bands. Too nice? Well then, as a consolation prize, STEVE ALBINI still hates you.
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 10, 2005 11:31PM
ted nicely from d.c?
i have another question. did brian briggs do the song "you will always find him/me in the ktchen at parties?"
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 10, 2005 11:32PM
Inasmuch, the 'Mutiny on the Bay' CD was produced by...?
Frye...? Bueler...?

Post Edited (09-10-05 20:32)
Re: Producer Heroes (and Villians)
September 10, 2005 11:37PM
Jaysus Krist!
Kitchen at Parties...
reminds me of the time I drank w/ the ole man.
A fifth a chevas it was. Friends and relatives alike were astounded .
Not at the inspiring feat of drinking a fifth between us two.
But at the fact that were never sat down.
Guard your temple and fill your ice trays.

Post Edited (09-10-05 20:42)
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