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Over produced, well produced, and under produced Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 5th September 2007
  #1
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mahler007's Avatar
 

Over produced, well produced, and under produced

Hi Slutz,
I've been thinking a lot lately about the term "production" with regards to records, and I am hoping to start a discussion about what the terms in the above subject title mean to you (if anything).

I'm not sure that I've ever understood what exactly a "producer" does. While I of course know of several, the job seems to be difficult to define quantitatively (much less so than engineer, perhaps). It seems like producers can be everything from super creativily talented individuals to hacks with ties...

Along these lines, and to get things rolling, I have a few open questions. They are intended to stimulate conversation only, and certainly do not have concrete right and wrong answers. The questions are all based on perception and opinion, but that's sort of the point.

At the end, I'll give a few examples of projects I consider to correlate with the terms "over produced, well produced, and under produced."

Questions:
1. What is the *creative* role of a producer, and where, as an artist, does one draw the line for creative control? Van Gogh didn't need a "producer" to make great art- neither did Beethoven. Neither did Jimmy Page, for that matter.

2. At what point does the "over" or "under" production of an album contribute to its artistic (differentiated from commercial) success? For example, would The Sex Pistols have been nearly as cool if they had been recorded in a *great* studio?

3. To what extent does our relationship with technology (ie- GEAR! heh) influence the "production" of our projects. At what point do the roles of engineer and producer overlap- if at all?

4. Does the term "production" refer to the more *musical* ingredients of a tune- such as the arrangement, instrumentation, flow, dynamicism, etc.? Or does it have more to do with its *presentation*- ie, the ambience, mood, space, and character of the music that is created during the recording/mixing process.

There could be a million more, but I'll stop there for now. As for my own opinions, here are some...

Over Produced Records
YES- 90125: It's a guilty pleasure, but you have to admit that this record is *extremely* over produced heh.

Pink Floyd- The Wall

Along these same lines, I have to bring up somebody who I really love and admire as a producer- Daniel Lanois. U2's Unforgettable Fire, Emmylou Harris's Wrecking Ball, etc. runs perilously close to being "over produced," I think, although I have to say that some of his work is among the best I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Well Produced
Steely Dan- the songs are impeccable, and perhaps perfect. Great, musically interesting songs and arrangements. Pristinely recorded and presented without any sort of pretentiousness. I like 'em, although I wouldn't consider myself a "big fan."

The Eagles- Not a big fan of them either, but their records always struck me as being kind of "perfectly produced."

The Police- Pretty much anything, although Synchronicity shaves a bit too close, and perhaps makes a few nicks...

Under Produced
This is realkly difficult, as things that are well known and loved that are "under produced" tend to be loved for this fact! The early Bob Dylan records, The Clash, etc...

OK, sorry this is so long winded. I'll shut up now and hope that you guys feel like taking the bait...

Cheers,
Andrew
Old 5th September 2007
  #2
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The producer is the person who is responsible for delivering the finished recording to whoever will "own" it. This encompasses overseeing all creative and technical elements of the production. So in my own humble opinion a producer needs to be a well rounded person with some creative and technical smarts. Matching technical requirements with creative requirements can be tricky, ya know... Not to mention dealing with the suits.

Just my two cents...
Old 5th September 2007
  #3
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To me the producer is not only responsible for the product, he is reposible for the "talent". Keeping band members happy and fed. He is there to take out all the obstacles to making the music whether it's hiring the studio, players, engineer, transporation, etc. or just keeping everyone focused on the project. If you're having a bad hair day he is the one that sends out for a brush. At least that's what the ones I've worked with did.
Old 5th September 2007
  #4
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Agreed. I was putting that kind of stuff under the "creative" category. the producer is definitely the "vibemeister".
Old 5th September 2007
  #5
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I agree with ther responses. Maybe the thread starter means to say which recordings were recorded and mixed properly, etc....
Old 5th September 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcan View Post
Even if I love Trevor's production, I have to admit that some of his work is overproduced. Simple Minds – Street fighting years, Frankie Goes To Hollywood or YES - 90125 are examples of this.
IMHO overproduced is when the production is so obvious that it perverts the original intend of the artist.

I think the balance between the production and the song/artist is in the equation. That's why Seal is "very produced" but not overproduced. The balance between Seal's voice and Trevor's production is good. On Simple Minds or FGTH, production was all over the place and it completely overwhelms the artist and therefore distracts the listener of the original intend. However I like these albums because of the production, which means I was distracted by the production...
I do like this era but I think overproduction was the norm in the 80's (I didn't say everything was overproduced). This period was clearly in favour of the production. Stock, Aitken & Waterman is an example of this drift. The hits came from the production, the artistic substance was nonexistent and the artist was just a puppet (Did I define the 80's here? heh ). If you want to have an 80's sound, just overproduce it and it should be right.

I see two reason for this.
The first was technical. 80's was discovering sequencer, lexicon, sampler & digital editing (synclavier, emulator, akaï, …), hormonizer, SSL … All these tools gave much more power to the production and therefore the means to push the balance in favour of the production.
The second reason is marketing. Production was a way for the labels to insure a recurrent success of their artist.
Finally, albums like Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden or Nirvana – Nevermind showed the decline of the overproduced 80's (as the punk did for the progressive rock).
However, music isn't less produced today, it's just less obvious...
Old 5th September 2007
  #7
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NowandThen's Avatar
 

I think a good producers job is to get the most out an artist (whatever it takes, setting mood, comfort, focus...) and also to focus strictly on the music, but still understand the technical aspects. I also think the best producers, or the producers I like, are the artists they are the Van Gogh's and Beethoven's they take your ideas and make a painting. I would choose a producer on what kind of product I want.
Old 5th September 2007
  #8
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In L.A., the term 'producer' doesn't mean a thing.

It's all about the pudding, and there's a ton of flavors. Some people are more technical and some are more creative.

Just like in engineering, there's people who can dial in a sound by MHz, and some just 'know from experience'. The same way musicians play to ear or to chart.

Whatever one can contribute will create their reputation which is far more valuable than a title (excluding Executive Producers). That is, at least in smog central.
Old 5th September 2007
  #9
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As far as I know a music producer is the guy who makes the music sellable
He/she may or may not be an engineer but is more music and creation orientated.
He may be or not be there when the tracks are being laid but is defnitely there for mixdown and if he isnt technically inclined to mix himself he wld tell the engineer what he wants and tell the musicians 'hey how abt an overdub here, and cut this out.' or myb 'lets use an antares on the vocal for this number cos right now its fashion and it really fits'

Booking the studio, keeping the band happy, fed, obtaining gigs and dealing with clients is the managers task.
Old 5th September 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mahler007 View Post

Questions:
Neither did Jimmy Page, for that matter.
Jimmy page was a producer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mahler007 View Post
Over Produced Records
YES- 90125: It's a guilty pleasure, but you have to admit that this record is *extremely* over produced heh.

90125 is the best sound record ever. It is a sonic masterpiece.
To say it's overproduced is like saying a Gibson Les Paul is over designed
and the Godfather is over directed.

It is what it is. It is brilliant from the song writing to the perfoemnce to the production engineering an mixing.
It is the pinnacle of modern production

90125 is the abosolute perfectly eq'd record from start to finish.
Also keep in mind it was recorded in 82/83. It was THE first record to use a sample

Saying it is overproduced is ignorant and misguided. Some things are just meant to sound pristine.
Old 5th September 2007
  #11
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Coldplay's "Parachutes" is under produced, "X&Y" was over produced and "A Rush of Blood To The Head" was just about right.
Old 6th September 2007
  #12
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
There is not such thing as "over production" There is just appropriate and inappropriate production.

The producers job is to make sure that the record gets made in a way that best serves the goals of the recordings.

Old 6th September 2007
  #13
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I think that Producers are needed because with a few exceptions, the majority of musicians are lazy, self absorbed, obstinate, and just generally unable to see the big picture. They may have an extreme amount of talent, but they either just can't get anything done, or they get excessive. Depending on the artists they are working with, a Producers many titles are: Arbitrator, Arranger, Motivator, Reasonator, Etc.

As for the Over/Perfectly/Under Produced question, my thoughts are:
Over: This happens when the music is made so radio-ready that all character, inspiration, and integrity are smashed right out of it. Most pop music falls into this category as should be expected, but there are also some decent bands who have been destroyed by this.

Perfectly: The right songs with the right arrangements with the right sound with the right amount of character, etc. There are a good many producer & artist produced records that I think fall into this category.

Under: The ideas are there, but it's just not happening, for any number of reasons. As was already said, most of the records that we know of which fall into this category are there for technical reasons, but they get by because of the quality of the songs/performance.
Old 6th September 2007
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcm View Post
There is not such thing as "over production" There is just appropriate and inappropriate production.

The producers job is to make sure that the record gets made in a way that best serves the goals of the recordings.

I agree, the dichotomy of under/overproduced is just not a useful way of an analysing music IMO. But if works for you then...

I think the polarization of over/underproduction stopped making sense when people began working really hard at getting Lofi garageband sounds, or when people slacked off and overlooked a lot small details amidst making a very glossy, autotuned, cut on a grid, sometimes mistaken for overproduced record.

I do think there are such things as overediting/overinvolvement/and overengineering.

IMO, An example of Overengineering would be a 'preamp shootout' on the clients dime, an 89 track session file for a three piece band, or an excessive number of drum mics-But that's just the way I see it.

Cheers
Old 6th September 2007
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allencollins View Post
90125 is the best sound record ever. It is a sonic masterpiece.
To say it's overproduced is like saying a Gibson Les Paul is over designed
and the Godfather is over directed.

It is what it is. It is brilliant from the song writing to the perfoemnce to the production engineering an mixing.
It is the pinnacle of modern production

90125 is the abosolute perfectly eq'd record from start to finish.
Also keep in mind it was recorded in 82/83. It was THE first record to use a sample

Saying it is overproduced is ignorant and misguided. Some things are just meant to sound pristine.
Personnaly, I wouldn't change anything to 90125 but I can understand that some persons think it's overproduced.
Old 6th September 2007
  #16
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picksail's Avatar
 

There is still the misnomer in the use of the term "overproduced".

From what I can decipher most people are referring to "over processed".

But really who's to say that it's any of the above? As many hands (ears) as it's passed through, I think that someone would have caught it.

In the end it was all intentional anyway.
Old 6th September 2007
  #17
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by allencollins View Post
Jimmy page was a producer.




90125 is the best sound record ever. It is a sonic masterpiece.
To say it's overproduced is like saying a Gibson Les Paul is over designed
and the Godfather is over directed.

It is what it is. It is brilliant from the song writing to the perfoemnce to the production engineering an mixing.
It is the pinnacle of modern production

90125 is the abosolute perfectly eq'd record from start to finish.
Also keep in mind it was recorded in 82/83. It was THE first record to use a sample

Saying it is overproduced is ignorant and misguided. Some things are just meant to sound pristine.
Subjective opinion bro' - personally i think it sounds like a bunch of middleclass willy waving. Horrible record. Even when it came out it was music for an overblown overaged bank managers who want to sleep with girls too young for them. Doesnt have what I look for in music at all - no spirit, no politic, no sense of re-inforcing or starting a movement. No anarchy or artistry whatsoever. It may be music for muscians, fair enough, i can see that. But it sits with other acts i cannot comprehend such as Rush or Def Leppard. Not for me.

BUT that is entirely what subjectivity is - and music can be in NO category other than subjectivity. There is no absolute opinion. And yes - the Godfather is a pile of tosh too......
Old 6th September 2007
  #18
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triton's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
... But it sits with other acts i cannot comprehend such as Rush or Def Leppard. Not for me.

......
Dude ... u must have forgotten abt meatloaf hehheh
Old 6th September 2007
  #19
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tuRnitUpsuM's Avatar
 

my 2 cents

well produced..... in '07.

BEN HARPER & the Innocent Criminals ... LIFELINE.

especially the track "younger than today" ... aural textures and harmonies. Reminiscent of a collison between "Pink floyd > the texture of sound in the song and "The Beatles" > the harmony and fills.

My view on the title "producer" ..... for the true producer is the songwriter/musician/their inspirations and the muses they've channeled their inspirations through and from. are they not?

The "producer" nowadays is really the Asset Management.... but just sometimes can be the driving force and the inspiration to the "album" etc more so then the writers/performers themselves... which in turn they do become the "producer" of said album , joining in "behind closed doors as the writer and performer"...etc. Most times..though just a buffer with a cell phone and resources to keep smiles going. Managers disguise as producers...and the true producer could care less what u call them....they're just worried about getting **** done.

cheers
Old 6th September 2007
  #20
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picksail +1
Old 18th July 2018
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mahler007 View Post
Hi Slutz,

2. At what point does the "over" or "under" production of an album contribute to its artistic (differentiated from commercial) success? For example, would The Sex Pistols have been nearly as cool if they had been recorded in a *great* studio?
This is serious thread necromancy I know. And flaming. Normally I don't do either but your second question are, sorry to sound rude, so grossly misinformed that I just can't help myself.

2. Well, it WAS recorded in a "great" studio. Wessex Sound Studios was used by Queen amongst others. Enough said.
And produced by Chris Thomas, who also worked with "overproduced" Pink Floyd. In general Sex Pistols was a rather coorperate affair with recording company resources you would struggle to find more than a tiny elite of people getting in todays starved music business.

The production decisions was appropriate for the kind of music which makes it sound rather filthy in comparison to most other successfull releases from that period in time.
Old 18th July 2018
  #22
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mahler007 View Post
2. At what point does the "over" or "under" production of an album contribute to its artistic (differentiated from commercial) success? For example, would The Sex Pistols have been nearly as cool if they had been recorded in a *great* studio?
NMTB was recorded at Wessex Sound Studios with producer Chris Thomas and engineer Bill Price.

That was a first-class studio, and both guys were first-rank professionals.

You could also say the album is quite heavily produced. Purportedly, there are as as many as six guitars tracks on some songs and Steve Jones played most of Sid's parts as well.

In my own work with local rock bands, I've found it often takes quite a bit of "production" to get what appears to be a straightforward "guitar rock" sound.
Old 18th July 2018
  #23
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
Subjective opinion bro' - personally i think it sounds like a bunch of middleclass willy waving. Horrible record. Even when it came out it was music for an overblown overaged bank managers who want to sleep with girls too young for them. Doesnt have what I look for in music at all - no spirit, no politic, no sense of re-inforcing or starting a movement. No anarchy or artistry whatsoever. It may be music for muscians, fair enough, i can see that. But it sits with other acts i cannot comprehend such as Rush or Def Leppard. Not for me.

BUT that is entirely what subjectivity is - and music can be in NO category other than subjectivity. There is no absolute opinion. And yes - the Godfather is a pile of tosh too......
Tell us what you really think.......
Old 18th July 2018
  #24
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and eleven year old thread comes back to life!!!!
Old 18th July 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
and eleven year old thread comes back to life!!!!
The confederation of British middle-class willy wavers is seriously disturbed by the tenor of your comments.

We are considering our position, and contemplating further action, including possibly waving our willies at you.
Old 19th July 2018
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
Subjective opinion bro' - personally i think it sounds like a bunch of middleclass willy waving. Horrible record. Even when it came out it was music for an overblown overaged bank managers who want to sleep with girls too young for them. Doesnt have what I look for in music at all - no spirit, no politic, no sense of re-inforcing or starting a movement. No anarchy or artistry whatsoever. It may be music for muscians, fair enough, i can see that. But it sits with other acts i cannot comprehend such as Rush or Def Leppard. .

Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
The confederation of British middle-class willy wavers is seriously disturbed by the tenor of your comments.

We are considering our position, and contemplating further action, including possibly waving our willies at you.
Haha, might be that I've made a fool of myself posting a grumpy outburst on an ancient thread but at least the term 'middle class willie weaver' will now be an important part of my vocabulary till the dizzy heights of engineering gets rid of me. And gave life to an equally hilarious comeback
Old 19th July 2018
  #27
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kennybro's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
and eleven year old thread comes back to life!!!!
And in that span of time, the terms over-produced and under-produced (or "properly produced") probably have new definitions.
Old 19th July 2018
  #28
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kennybro View Post
And in that span of time, the terms over-produced and under-produced (or "properly produced") probably have new definitions.
We used to get over production intended to give to impression that a recording had taken weeks in a studio and 100s of musician to complete.

No we get over production intended to give to impression that a studio recording is a DIY job done on a faulty Portacassete in someone's garage.
Old 19th July 2018
  #29
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
We used to get over production intended to give to impression that a recording had taken weeks in a studio and 100s of musician to complete.

No we get over production intended to give to impression that a studio recording is a DIY job done on a faulty Portacassete in someone's garage.
To me, the bar for "how slick" has moved because of the shift in how and where many people's records get sold.

These days, many people go to the merch table to take home a souvenir of what they just heard in a club. In that paradigm, the difference between live and CD is often far too vast. I mean, you can still add in enough that it sounds "complete" enough for radio, but you don't have to go crazy. And you shouldn't.
Old 20th July 2018
  #30
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
No we get over production intended to give to impression that a studio recording is a DIY job done on a faulty Portacassete in someone's garage.
We got a guy on here who makes a box for that.
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