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Your favourite producers and what factors into your conclusion?
Old 21st December 2011
  #1
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Your favourite producers and what factors into your conclusion?

There's an old thread knocking about in here asking 'Favorite producers and why' but replies are extremely limited in terms of what trends people like in said producer's production discography or their produced material.

Here's a few things to think about:
What's the common trend in the work?
How does the sound of the individual instruments impact on the material?
How do the arrangements work well?
What wider context sets him/her up as your favourite producer?
Whats the end result?
Don't just list artists they have worked with that you like, and don't get confused over the artist's sole input to the producer's input.

As an example, my favourite producer is Rick Rubin. His 'stripped down' sound gives the music a live feel and atmosphere, which is generally the aim of any audiophile: to reproduce the sound as it would be live, with the best audio playback equipment at his/her disposal... or that's my understanding of an audiophile.
He generally favours 'naked' vocals and 'raw' guitars with very little reverb, but he quite often substitutes this with ambient recordings giving a more realistic tone to the instruments. For me, his raw cutting edge guitars give the energy to the music to make the listener feel excited when they hear it. Which turns me onto the sound of Rage Against the Machine; if you ever want to feel pumped when listening to your iPod on the bus home, stick some Rage on. Their breakthrough, self-titled album (produced by Garth Richardson) similar to Rick's work has a live atmosphere to the music, for me the most obvious reason for this is the spacing in the mix (pan & EQ) where you can picture in your mind each instrument positioned on a stage, which is in my opinion, the production device/technique that makes you feel pumped (besides the in your face 'im pissed off' vocals). Further to this, the 'snap' of the highly ambient snare, with a quick release time again strengthens the illusion that your at a gig. Besides Rick's production techniques, he is an inspiration to anyone looking to get into the music biz: having set up DefJam and popularized HipHop by blending in melodic and rythmic rock guitar lines as oppose to the standard 'vocals over a beat' of previous HipHop.
Everyone's definition of a producer varies from person to person. One aspect to a Producer's job in my opinion is to bring the best out of the performer's and their wider context, for example Red Hot Chili Pepper's 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' captured the youthful essence of the band by having that raw, distorted, heavy metal, punk funk sound. The simple bass lines meant for the guitar to express itself openly without the challenge of a busy mix; in contrast, further down the line when 'By the Way' was released Rick captured a matured band and lost the raw, youthful arrogance of 'Blood Sugar...' which meant that bass and guitar complimented each other in their expressfull playing. Another example of Rick capturing the performer's essence is his work with Johnny Cash and introducing Cash to Nine Inch Nails songs such as 'Hurt' which Cash then covered, resulting in a dramatic performance of a dying man.
Old 21st December 2011
  #2
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88fingerz's Avatar
 

Sir George Martin.

Sir George Martin.

To really understand what he brought to the desk, listen to the Beatles' Anthology CDs. You hear the raw ideas and in some cases nearly fully-fleshed out arrangements...but most were pale in comparison as opposed to once Sir George did his magic. Orchestration, arrangement, when NOT to include something or other..then he went on to carve out the hits for the group America.
Old 21st December 2011
  #3
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threesymbol's Avatar
 

Nigel Godrich, i remember growing listening to Radiohead and Beck and just loving the whole albums. Then as i got into recording i found out Nigel produced both and the sound of the records is what really turned me on to them. Even Paul McCartney's Chaos and Creation album has his sound that sets the listening experience apart from anything else I've ever heard. He also uses things that most producers wouldn't think of doing, like panning vocals hard left or right and letting guitars carry the lead alongside vocals. Or pumping thedrumsdramatically for feeling. His work is beyond the "this album sound like they do live" work and truly captures a new experience.
Old 21st December 2011
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by threesymbol View Post
His work is beyond the "this album sound like they do live" work and truly captures a new experience.
Aye thats a good point. To progress further you must do the unaccepted. In 'Revolution' (Beatles) produced by George Martin, all the drums are panned hard left, and the guitar hard right with vocals and solo guitar (when it comes in) centre. Im sure if I was working on a track and had panned all the drums hard left or right at least 90% I told/showed would be shocked and reply along the lines of "you can't do that" or "you shouldn't do that". When I first heard it I was shocked myself but that makes sure the track has an impact on the listener, maybe having the listener feel a bit uneasy is a good thing. I was talking someone through a track I was doing the other day and was talking about panning the bass and they replied "don't ever pan bass" which in itself I think is a bit of a nomadic approach to mixing. It's good to challenge peoples automatic conceptions in order to progress the general view of things. It all depends on your recorded material but I personally strive for that 'live sound' because I am an addict of live sound and basically live for it. However I do love experimentation and improvisation, which is why I love John Frusciante's work so much. Every producer has to evaluate at which point in the balance between musical experimentation/advancement and commercial value they wish to place their track.
Old 21st December 2011
  #5
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sonic dogg's Avatar
While its always nice to speculate about a 'producers' role in the production of a record and, as was stated, the differences in the 'stripped down versions' of songs on The Beatles Anthology makes it somewhat clear about Sir Georges' role in these recordings, theres very little information available about the vibe and working relationships established by these people with these particular artists.

It would be interesting to learn how they went about their business of pulling something that eventually became brilliant in someones eyes from these works.

How much of these incredible recordings were executed by a brilliant tracking engineer, or a mixing engineer?

I'm not sure that any of this is solely based on any one persons abilities but rather an amalgamation of talent throughout the recording process....not the least of which would be the writing of the songs in their original forms...

Unless we are talking a producer like Mutt Lange, who seems has total autonomous control over every aspect of the process, (according to some fine information provided by Mr. Shipley on these pages), crediting a whole sound to a single person isnt doing justice to the process.

Not to say the producer doesnt have a LOT to do with what goes on. I do and I am one.

I'm just saying theres a lot of aspects to the final noise coming out of someones speakers.
Old 21st December 2011
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonic dogg View Post
While its always nice to speculate about a 'producers' role in the production of a record and, as was stated, the differences in the 'stripped down versions' of songs on The Beatles Anthology makes it somewhat clear about Sir Georges' role in these recordings, theres very little information available about the vibe and working relationships established by these people with these particular artists.

It would be interesting to learn how they went about their business of pulling something that eventually became brilliant in someones eyes from these works.

How much of these incredible recordings were executed by a brilliant tracking engineer, or a mixing engineer?

I'm not sure that any of this is solely based on any one persons abilities but rather an amalgamation of talent throughout the recording process....not the least of which would be the writing of the songs in their original forms...

Unless we are talking a producer like Mutt Lange, who seems has total autonomous control over every aspect of the process, (according to some fine information provided by Mr. Shipley on these pages), crediting a whole sound to a single person isnt doing justice to the process.

Not to say the producer doesnt have a LOT to do with what goes on. I do and I am one.

I'm just saying theres a lot of aspects to the final noise coming out of someones speakers.
Totally right mate you gotta be careful and its rare to see clear cut evidence. I know that Rubin generally works very hands on, in terms of listening to and assessing the arrangement and making any changes and has a large input on the mixing stage. The tracking process however is as important, if not more than the mix stage and this is the engineers stamp on the material which is very often overlooked which is a shame. Rubin has been criticized in some of his later productions (particularly Slipknot) for not being around very much (I think Slipknot claimed to have seen him for no more than 20 minutes throughout the entire process) but unless your in his position where work is always looking for you, you don't know what he's actually doing or if you'd do it differently (for example spending more time with the artist). For me Rubin has proved himself substantially before and I know the general scale of his input (and im not into Slipknot anyway) so this doesn't really affect my opinion of him because I can't relate to his situation his later career years. You raise a very good point though, I assumed people would know their chosen producer's definitive stamp before replying.
Old 21st December 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MancSound View Post
Totally right mate you gotta be careful and its rare to see clear cut evidence. I know that Rubin generally works very hands on, in terms of listening to and assessing the arrangement and making any changes and has a large input on the mixing stage. The tracking process however is as important, if not more than the mix stage and this is the engineers stamp on the material which is very often overlooked which is a shame. Rubin has been criticized in some of his later productions (particularly Slipknot) for not being around very much (I think Slipknot claimed to have seen him for no more than 20 minutes throughout the entire process) but unless your in his position where work is always looking for you, you don't know what he's actually doing or if you'd do it differently (for example spending more time with the artist). For me Rubin has proved himself substantially before and I know the general scale of his input (and im not into Slipknot anyway) so this doesn't really affect my opinion of him because I can't relate to his situation his later career years. You raise a very good point though, I assumed people would know their chosen producer's definitive stamp before replying.
Oh and I should add Slipknot claimed that album to be their best to date!
Old 22nd December 2011
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by MancSound View Post
Aye thats a good point. To progress further you must do the unaccepted. In 'Revolution' (Beatles) produced by George Martin, all the drums are panned hard left, and the guitar hard right with vocals and solo guitar (when it comes in) centre. Im sure if I was working on a track and had panned all the drums hard left or right at least 90% I told/showed would be shocked and reply along the lines of "you can't do that" or "you shouldn't do that". When I first heard it I was shocked myself but that makes sure the track has an impact on the listener, maybe having the listener feel a bit uneasy is a good thing. I was talking someone through a track I was doing the other day and was talking about panning the bass and they replied "don't ever pan bass" which in itself I think is a bit of a nomadic approach to mixing. It's good to challenge peoples automatic conceptions in order to progress the general view of things. It all depends on your recorded material but I personally strive for that 'live sound' because I am an addict of live sound and basically live for it. However I do love experimentation and improvisation, which is why I love John Frusciante's work so much. Every producer has to evaluate at which point in the balance between musical experimentation/advancement and commercial value they wish to place their track.
Don't forget context. At the time of "revolution" it wasn't an (ahem) revolutionary idea to pan as you describe, it wasn't that there was an established norm and thus to do things hard left/right was "radical". It was a combination of tape track limits, no established standards and experimentation.

To the OP - interesting that you choose a producer who is often a "sub-contractor" of other producers. Rubin may well be in the room for some projects, but for others he's reputed to be more of a consultant. He has a team of producer-engineers around him who are most likely far more responsible for getting the results that he's asked for, and OKs. Credit where credit's due...
Old 22nd December 2011
  #9
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doorknocker's Avatar
Jimmy Miller.

There's definitely a common thread to his great work in the late 60s with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Spooky Tooth and of course the Stones.

As a drummer he brought a percussion-heavy production style to the table that first manifested itself with the Spencer Davis Group's great track 'I'm a man'.

I think that his focus on percussion/groove was tremendously important for those records to become timeless because when listening back today there is none of the '60s nostalgia' that so often dates even great tracks from that era.

I always thought that the way 'Sympathy for the devil' evolved from an acoustic ditty into a tribal Voodoo celebration was a stroke of genius and certainly a lot of credit should go to Mr. Miller for that. Not only is it a perfect translation of the lyrics and the vibe but it also is innovative in the way that a 'guitar band' doesn't use guitars on that track except for that amazing solo which again is so much more than just a 'solo' but rather a violent sonic event.

One the other hand, Traffic's 'Mr. Fantasy' has a pastoral, tripped-out whimsical vibe that again perfectly captures the spirit of the songs and the way they were performed.

To me that's what a truly great producer is about, there definiteky is a 'Jimmy Miller' imprint on all those tracks but it's always in the service of the artists and their songs.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psycho_monkey View Post
Don't forget context. At the time of "revolution" it wasn't an (ahem) revolutionary idea to pan as you describe, it wasn't that there was an established norm and thus to do things hard left/right was "radical". It was a combination of tape track limits, no established standards and experimentation.

To the OP - interesting that you choose a producer who is often a "sub-contractor" of other producers. Rubin may well be in the room for some projects, but for others he's reputed to be more of a consultant. He has a team of producer-engineers around him who are most likely far more responsible for getting the results that he's asked for, and OKs. Credit where credit's due...
With my 'Revolution' post I was talking about challenging modern preconceptions, Revolution is the most obvious track that came to mind that would challenge those preconceptions nowadays. I have no experience of analogue tape recording methods as of yet, or life before 1994 so I cant comment too much on that

With the Rubin comment, I mentioned in one of my posts in this thread that he has been criticized for being 'hands off' with some projects but I explained why this doesnt have too big an impact on my choice, mainly because I know how hands on he has been in the earlier stages of his career which got him to a position today where he can consult on projects. The work he has solely produced on shows clear trends and it is those trends I appreciate in music and like in his productions. The fact that other producers/record companies seek him as a consultant speaks for itself: he hasnt made a name for himself as a producer for consulting, but producing.
Old 22nd December 2011
  #11
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Jeezo's Avatar
Ennio morricone , he got no limit and the perfect merge bewteen "pop"(old) , classical , and new concept .....
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