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.