I remember being fascinated with the recording process at a pretty early age. I remember recording things well before I could even play an instrument. I would record songs from the radio, take a tape deck around the house and record random things, I was always tinkering with that stuff. In terms of being inspired by any particular mixing engineers or producers, I honestly don’t recall. That developed later on as I really started to dig in and learn recording and mixing at a more serious level. To be honest, it was the earlier days of RR that truly inspired me to grow. People like @Danny_Danzi, @garageband, @Paul999, @ColdRoomStudio (as fHumble fHingers), and of course, @brandondrury, and many others.
I’m going to be a bit predictable and say Brian Eno, the daddy of the non-musician engineers/producers.
Some producers are known for extracting the very best from their clients whether it’s distilling their essence or trying to capture their live feel or whatever but Eno tended to turn their worlds upside down. Quite simply he changed their sounds forever ( sounds and styles they generally tended to retain) and made them better artists.
A real inspiration and a genuine experimenter - just a bright incredibly inquisitive guy who happens to love making soundscapes.
This is so cool to read, thanks brother B! Made my afternoon! Ok, let’s see where I can go with this one. LOL!
I actually (sometimes) wish I never learned about production. Why you may ask? Because at times it’s made me struggle with turning off the engineer/producer in me to enjoy music. I listen to something, and cringe at a snare drum that sounds like someone punching a cardboard box…or a bass guitar in 2017 that sounds like Paul from the Beatles…or distortion on a bass to where it sounds like a farting tuba. Guitar sounds are usually pretty good…drums seem to always slay. Vocals are unique, to say the least.
But getting back, I never really favored any engineers or producers until I started to record and care what I sounded like. Like brother Stan, I too really jumped into this with the same Fostex. I made so many recordings…man, I have bag loads and cases full of those cr02 tapes. I even recorded with metal cassette tapes…anything to hopefully make things sound better. LOL! I got some really cool results, believe it or not. But I always struggled with my guitar tones.
Guys like Beau Hill (who is a personal friend of mine. Responsible for Ratt, Winger, Europe, Dweezil, Alice Cooper etc…I’d love to share an interview with you guys that I did with him) and Michael Wagener because those dudes nailed all the guitar tones I always wished I could get. I got a copy of Michael’s version of Ozzy’s Perry Mason that unfortunately, never saw the light of day. Knowing a few of these monster guys…I’ve learned a lot based on some of the hush hush stuff they shared with me.
So those two did it for me guitar wise…and I never really thought about drums or bass because I always did a decent job on them. Vocals…without thinking, Mutt Lange. Though some of his stuff was overkill, the whole whisper tracks thing intrigued me. It also showed me how to process lead vocals, not only for rock and stuff, but I think he did an awesome job on some of his later stuff as well as the Shania album. Everything the guy touches turns to gold.
Now, having said all that…listening to some of these guys work today, they (to me) seem to lack the large sound some of the lesser known guys are getting. I have a track from that Meytal Cohen chic (drummer) that she did at some studio…it’s so huge, I can’t even figure out how anything can be recorded that big. It literally puzzles me when I hear the guitars. Like, they are so loud and take up the whole stereo spectrum to the point of being symphonic. Yet bass and vocals are still completely audible. That said, the drums sort of suffer a bit as you lose the kick and snare on occasion within the mix. But it’s still a killer mix that raised a few eyebrows for me.
I like the newer production of today much better than anything in the 80’s and earlier. I’m so sick of people trying to warm stuff up with tape machine simulated plugs, warmth to the point of boxy and congested mids and just that flat sound of the 70’s. Granted, I’m a late 60’s child…I dig the music, but I’m tired of classic rock. How many times do I need to hear Led Zep, the Who, The Doors, the Beatles…and all the production people carry on about that I feel…well, isn’t really that good by today’s standards. Seriously, I respect it all, know it paved the way to where we are today…without it we wouldn’t be here, and there are some amazing things they created. I get all that. I just think, after 50 years of it…it’s time to stop blowing those dudes…what can I say?
Today we utilize more of the stereo spectrum, we use more frequency bands, we have incredible sounds that require less work…so we work smarter, not harder, and as long as the super loud compressed stuff is at a minimum, music really does sound pretty incredible today. From the modern rock country to the new metal, screamo, jazz fusion, gospel, and even those guys that do all the live sampling on the spot with loopers etc. It’s a crappy time to be alive as far as the world goes…but for technology and production, I welcome “today” with open arms.
I’m a musician and song guy first and foremost, so I didn’t really become aware of producers/audio people for quite a while.
The very first record to impress me specific to the sonics at a very young age (I think I was 8 when it came out) was Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”. Even on the AM radio we had, those songs sounded amazing. Even as a little kid, I remember being blown away by not only the clarity and separation, but also the energy and excitement of songs like “Second Hand News” & “The Chain”. It might be hard to believe now, but there was really nothing else like it on the radio back in 1977. Interestingly, I just re-read about “Rumours” making on holidays in this book: https://www.amazon.com/Making-Rumours-Inside-Classic-Fleetwood/dp/1118218086 A great read for those interested in music production/mixing.
Following that, the next thing that hooked me specific to the production was Dire Straits’ “Love Over Gold” - a lovely sounding record. Neil Dorfsman was involved in the production there - I also really loved the album that preceded it - “Making Movies”. Contrary to popular opinion, I disliked the production on “Brothers In Arms” - too fadishly '80’s for me…
Surprisingly though, I have a particular fondness for some stuff that might be considered quite “faddish” from the '80s - some quite bold and “cutting edge” (for the time) records. I love a lot of the early ‘80s work of Nick Launay. He did Midnight Oil’s “10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1” which has some pretty berzerk production on it. I also love his work on INXS’ “The Swing” - again, very 80’s, but somehow not in a “naff” way - to my ear, at least. Nile Rogers had a hand in that too, as well as another 80’s production that I fancy primarily for the sonics - David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”.
I think, of all the periods of music in my life (apart from the the last 15 or so years), I disliked the late '80s & very early 90’s (before Grunge) the most for music production in general terms. Having said that, one production I love from that era is The Baby Animals self titled album - produced by Mike Chapman & Engineered by Kevin Shirley. To me, that album has a lovely balance of fidelity, rawness & energy - the pinnacle of the analogue era IMO.
Of recent times, I haven’t been as inspired by what I hear on modern (rock-leaning) recordings. A lot of it seems to be either regressive & just retreading the past, or shiny and polished to the point of soul-less-ness.
I now tend to look to the alternative/art-rock universe for sonic inspiration. In 2013 I heard a track call “Werewolves” by the Oz band Calling All Cars - I immediately LOVED the character in that. I found out it was a Tchad Blake mix. Tchad is the master of saturation and distortion. When I did some more research, I realised that Tchad was behind a LOT of the mixes/productions I’ve been into for the past 15 or so years. He’s done Gomez, Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys… tonnes of stuff in my CD collection.
Mike Champman and Kevin “Caveman” Shirley. I love the caveman dude. He brought the balls back into recording after the bass light '80s and he brought the sweet analog sound back. The two of them also worked together on the Billy Squier album Tell the Truth and I definitely recommend that to you. Fantastic songs, it’s a shame the label tried to sabotage it. Also Counterparts by Rush is Peter Collins and Kevin Shirley. That’s an amazing sounding one as it isn’t as raw as Squier or The Baby Animals, but it’s thick and analog while also being polished. Those are my recommendations to you if you haven’t heard them. Great songs, great sound.
It means the sound of dead bass strings. Paul had a very dead sound to me. Like the sound you get from a cheap bass with dead strings. I personally prefer a bass that nearly sounds like the low notes on a piano. Clean, new string sound, no muddy boxy mids. Hope that explains it a bit.
I do like Paul by the way…I just never liked his bass tone. Sort of like my feelings for John Myung of dream theater. Amazing player…but his tone sounds like a dying cape buffalo with a distorted tuba up its butt.
Hallejluiah, brother Danni !
The Fostex X-15 was my introduction into recording too. Those little multitrack cassette recorders were so fun and exciting to me.
I love the sound that Mutt Lange got on AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, Back in Black and Def Leppard’s High “N” Dry (I think he might have done Who Made Who, also) but I think he went way overboard with Pyromania and even Hysteria. It’s interesting that Shania Twain has some strong similarities to Def Leppard. It’s so obvious that Mutt put his stamp on both of their music. I tend to cringe at everything that Shania released except one of her ballads, so I haven’t closely examined her production…, but damn, sometimes her music sounds like The Shania Leppard project. That New Country style is so goofy sometimes, though.
No “For Those About to Rock” love? It was Harry Vanda and George Young that did the new songs on Who Made Who. I just wish Mutt had let Rick Allen play the drums on Pyromania, he still had both of his arms, what was the reason not to?
I really like “For Those About To Rock” but the production seems a “messier” than Highway To Hell and Back In Black. I like the way Brian Johnson’s vocal sits in the mix on Back In Black and the tight sound of the guitars, bass and drums. Everything sounds so clear and tight. Really nice drum sound too. For Those About To Rock has a “louder”, “bigger” drum sound but I prefer the Back In Black tightness.
When I search for the producer of “Who Made Who”, I get different results, depending on which site I get. Here’s a wikipedia page that lists Mutt Lange as a producer, along with the Young brothers. Man, where can I get the truth on the internet ?
Well that’s because it’s a compilation album so the songs that Mutt Lange produced on the album are credited to him, and the only other producers that the band had worked with at that point would have been Vanda/Young or in the case of Flick of the Switch and Fly On the Wall, themselves.
Foreigner records has no new material, but it’s credited to Mutt Lange/Keith Olsen/Roy Thomas Baker/Gary Lyons because it contains songs from each individual album produced by those guys
Flick of The Switch was a pretty decent production, but man, Fly On The Wall …that was a MESS! What the hell happened when they were working on that? Maybe too much drinking, too many drugs?..Too much ,…coffee/ caffeine?
Blow Up Your Video is even worse in my opinion. The guy that engineered and mixed “Back in Black” did “Flick of the Switch” (so underrated), and Mark Dearnley who did “Highway to Hell” and “For Those About to Rock” engineered and mixed Fly. If you listen to the remixed Shake Your Foundations they make Brian Johnson’s voice sound much worse than it is in the original produciton. The snare sounds like a windshield being crashed Fly on the Wall.
Blow Up Your Video is just wimpy, too much reverb and the guitars have no substance. Totally treble, drums sound mechanical, and Brian has so much pre-delay on his voice it mucks up the whole thing.
Yeah, I wasn’t into Blow Up Your Video…I even forget what it sounds like now!
It’s interesting that the same guy engineered both Back In Black and Flick of the Switch. I’ve always thought that they sound very similar, especially the vocal sound.
Yeah, the voice and drums are pretty horrible. Sounded like they were trying to make the production really big, but it just came out sounding messy and convoluted. Some good song ideas but that’s the album when I started to lose interest in them, although I still liked a few songs that they did after that.