Most Underrated Record Producers

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RobWS
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2017/02/24 10:00:28 (permalink)

Most Underrated Record Producers

Many years ago I remember a local Philly radio station discussing the most underrated bands of the day.  They listed The Kinks and Rush and one other band that I don’t recall today.  But this has made me think for a long time about record producers.  Who do you feel would make that list?  It’s not as though they’re unknown, they just don’t rise to the surface when names are mentioned.
 
Prior to Sir George Martin producing the Beatles, who even knew what a producer was?  His role as the fifth Beatle opened up the world of record production to the general public.  Other names have been highly regarded over the years; Roy Thomas Baker is one that comes to mind.
 
But what about those names not instantly rising to the surface?  I’d like to hear your votes.  I’ll start with my number one name that I have thought about for many years; Jeff Lynne.
 
As an example, the 1977 ELO double album Out Of The Blue is about as great a production gem as anything.  Jeff wrote all the songs in under a month, (I know, Handel wrote Messiah in under a month too).  The recording took a bit over two months.  There are so many examples of production genius on every song.  His use of an orchestral string section as just another instrument in the band is a totally different concept compared to what the Moody Blues did.   His orchestra was even used as a lead instrument many times, as if it were one instrument.
 
Jeff’s use of echo was ear-catching because it was not for background, but more for enhancing the pulse of the rhythm.  His use of background harmony vocals was used similarly, just like another band instrument would be placing accents throughout the song.  Even though his backing vocals were not the sky scrapers that Queen built, they still accomplished a similar end result in some places.  His use of chunky Gibson Les Paul guitar rhythms were huge.  And his arranging skills always impress me.  Although I’m sure keyboardist Richard Tandy had something to do with that as well.
 
What is really amazing is that he did all of that without a single plugin.  No digital editing, only tape.  You had to get it right.  It makes me feel lazy with today’s technology.  If you really want to hone your skills, use tape and outboard hardware gear.  Digital?  What’s digital?
 
So therefore, Jeff Lynn gets my vote for underrated record producer.  If I could give my second vote, it would go to Jimmy Page.  I won’t go in to all of the reasons that I just did with Jeff, but because he is known as a masterful guitarist and songwriter and performer, his production skills get pushed to the rear, but just as brilliant as Jeff Lynn.
 
Who would you vote for and why?  Thanks for chiming in.
 
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22 Replies Related Threads

    pwalpwal
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/24 10:18:37 (permalink)
    if you count jeff lynn as underrated what chance do any others stand?

    just a sec

    #2
    batsbrew
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/24 11:00:13 (permalink)
    Robin Lumley
    AWESOME TALENT.
     
     
    Martin Birch.
     
    Josh Homme/James Lavelle
     
    Jaco Pastorius
     
    John Cuniberti
     
    Mike Fraser
     
    so many good ones
     
     
     

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    #3
    RobWS
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/24 12:21:23 (permalink)
    pwalpwal
     
    Your point is well taken.  Let me explain my reasoning for naming Jeff Lynne.
     
    Don Knotts made a name for himself by playing the character Deputy Barney Fife.  He went on from there to other TV shows and many movies.  But everyone associates the name Don Knotts with Barney Fife no matter how many other characters he played.  He even made a similar statement in an interview near the end of his life.  He was always Barney Fife to everyone.
     
    My perception of Jeff Lynne is as the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra.  He went on to many other successful tasks in the music industry.  Maybe it’s just my point of view looking at the industry over the past 40 – 50 – 60 years.  I’m not looking at what’s the latest task anyone has accomplished, just what comes to mind first when a name is mentioned.  Maybe others equate the name Jeff Lynne with producer off the top of their head.  But, I don’t think producer is the first thing that comes to mind when mentioning Jimmy Page.  You see my point?  That’s why I perceive him to be an underrated producer.
     
    I’m curious, what is your perception of the name Jeff Lynne?  (Not trying to limit this post to just him).
    #4
    sven450
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/24 13:49:00 (permalink)
    Whoever produced Remy Zero's Villa Elaine and The Golden Hum.   Those albums are incredible sounding (especially the rock solid low end) yet I don't know who produced them.  Here is one of my favorites.
     
    https://www.youtube.com/w...NEB1wzMxB&index=19

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    Lynn
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/24 14:18:14 (permalink)
    Todd Rundgren, who produced Meatloaf, Hall and Oates, Grand Funk Railroad, and many others besides himself.

    All the best,
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    jamesg1213
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/24 15:21:03 (permalink)
    I can think of plenty of producers I admire, but not one who's 'under-rated'.

     
    Jyemz
     
     
     



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    tlw
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/25 11:58:48 (permalink)
    Having seen the Kinks twice in the late 70s I'd say they were far from under-rated. Quite the opposite in fact. They were really dreadful. Sounded like two bands who found themselves sharing the same stage at the same time, each absolutely determined to ignore the other.

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    pwalpwal
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/25 12:16:41 (permalink)
    RobWS
    I’m curious, what is your perception of the name Jeff Lynne?  (Not trying to limit this post to just him).


    well, not only did he do the elo stuff, he also did the post-beatles beatles stuff, i'm not sure what you mean really? he's widely acknowledged for his producer skills... (good thread though!)

    just a sec

    #9
    pwalpwal
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/25 12:18:30 (permalink)
    and todd rundgren's certainly not underrated! (except maybe in his own mind ;-) )

    just a sec

    #10
    Jeff Evans
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/25 15:07:55 (permalink)
    I really liked the productions that Jeff Lynne did with Roy Orbison.  I was in a very good Roy Orbison tribute band for a while and obviously spent time listening to lots of Roy Orbison songs.  I noticed how the production changed big time though when Jeff Lynne got involved.  Around 'You Got It' era etc..  Much bigger and better sound overall.  Big drum sound at last!

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    bitflipper
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/26 09:44:01 (permalink)
    Neither Jeff Lynn nor Todd Rundgren could be considered "underrated" within the industry. But even though they are two of my all-time favorite producers I do not include them among the "greats", because they've spent a lifetime cultivating one particular style. Listen to a compilation of Tom Petty's greatest hits and you can easily discern which ones were produced by Jeff Lynn. George Martin, OTOH, was one of the greats because he produced such a broad spectrum of musical styles and ensembles with uniform skill and authenticity.
     
    So who's under-rated? John Hammond comes to mind. Hammond was the polar opposite of a Jeff Lynn or a Todd Rundgren. Unlike them, he didn't record backing vocals during the night because he wasn't a singer. He just had a really good ear for quality, and a knack for finding raw talent that he knew could be polished in the studio.


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    jamesg1213
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/26 10:24:13 (permalink)
    I don't know how Phill Brown is rated, but his book 'Are We Still Rolling?' is a fascinating read.
     
    Blurb about the book;
     
    ''From the author's first glimpse of a magical recording studio in the mid-1960s up through a busy career that continues to the present day, this rollicking story can only be told by those that were there. As the young tape operator on sessions for the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Joe Cocker at the famed Olympic Sound Studios in London, Phill learned the ropes from experienced engineers and producers such as Glyn Johns and Eddie Kramer. Phill soon worked his way up engineering sessions for Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and many other lendary rockers. He eventually became a freelance engineer/producer and worked with Roxy Music, Go West, Talk Talk, and Robert Plant. But more than a recollection of participating in some of the most treasured music of the past 40 years, this is a man's journey through life as Phill struggles to balance his home and family with a job where drug abuse, chaos, rampant egos, greed, lies and the increasingly invasive record business take their toll. It's also a cautionary tale, where long workdays and what once seemed like harmless indulgences become health risks, yet eventually offer a time to reflect back on.''

     
    Jyemz
     
     
     



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    #13
    pwalpwal
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/26 10:32:18 (permalink)
    great book!

    just a sec

    #14
    jackson white
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/26 12:11:34 (permalink)
    -Great topic-. But count me as another who does not see how Jeff Lynne/Todd Rundgren could ever be considered under-rated, especially given Lynne's high profile with the Traveling Wilburys/ or any of the solo efforts he did for the members (i.e. Roy Orbison. Tom Petty, George Harrison)
     
    That being said, he is not one of my favorites because despite his talent, I can tell it's a Jeff Lynne production in less then two bars into anything he does, starting with the Move. I think of a truly great producer as one who can get the most out of the artist's talent, the performance of a lifetime, as opposed to putting their stamp all over it. 
     
    George Martin is the best example. The Beatles, Jeff Beck/Blow by Blow are all I needed to hear. His contributions are significant, but all you hear is the artist. He's hardly under-rated. 
     
    John Hammond Sr. is anther great choice, but again hardly under-rated. I'm appreciating his "method" of being able to recognize talent and let it be, doing "little" more in most cases than provide insight/encouragement in a direction with a mind boggling track record (Bennie Goodman >> SRV). He did whiff a bit as a producer (imHo!!) on Aretha though as it took Jerry Wexler to put her in Muscle Shoals to realize her magic.
     
    One of my all time favorites is Sam Phillips. He had a relentless drive to settle for nothing less than "different" as the "best" realization of the artists talent however crude and rudimentary it might be. His discoveries hardly need mentioning but I'm not sure he's as widely recognized as a producer. But still, not under-rated. 
     
    Al Kooper is another interesting guy who's got his fingers all over some seminal moments in rock history. As a producer he can claim the first releases for Blood Sweat and Tears and Lynyrd Skynyrd. 
     
    My candidate might be Pete Anderson and his work with Dwight Yoakum. Some of the best examples of perfect arrangements and sounds to enable an artist's full potential. I find there is a very noticeable difference since they parted ways. I've asked him twice now about his approach and it's that he "thinks like a musician first" and "works with great musicians". Oh, so that's all it takes?  .....
     
    A related thread might be -the- single record which best captures the combination of an artist/producer. Something like Grace Jones/Trevor Horn. Or Nirvana/Butch Vig.  
     
    Great topic though....

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    pwalpwal
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/26 12:29:43 (permalink)
    brian eno
    pat fish
    sonic boom
    youth
    jack white
    dave fridman
     

    just a sec

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    jamesg1213
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/26 16:17:07 (permalink)
    I think it was Trevor Horn that made me realise that there even was a producer. A friend played me 'Adventures in Modern Recording' by The Buggles, (that would have been 1981)and I was blown away, especially by the track 'Vermilion Sands' . Up to that point I'd never heard anything sound as crisp, clean and deep as that. From then on I could pick out his work without being told he was the producer, starting with ABC's 'Lexicon of Love', which is still as good a pop record as you'll ever hear.

     
    Jyemz
     
     
     



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    dcumpian
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/27 08:55:28 (permalink)
    Whoever did the work on AU4's ...And Down Goes the Sky
     
    It's a magical mix of dynamics and ambience with power when required. I can listen to it over and over...
     
    If anyone is interested in hearing this, the album can be downloaded free from the band's site: http://www.au4.ca/
     
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    eph221
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/27 11:52:23 (permalink)
    jamesg1213
    I think it was Trevor Horn that made me realise that there even was a producer. A friend played me 'Adventures in Modern Recording' by The Buggles, (that would have been 1981)and I was blown away, especially by the track 'Vermilion Sands' . Up to that point I'd never heard anything sound as crisp, clean and deep as that. From then on I could pick out his work without being told he was the producer, starting with ABC's 'Lexicon of Love', which is still as good a pop record as you'll ever hear.


     
     
    Trevor Horn.  
     
    post edited by eph221 - 2017/02/27 22:18:04

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    Slugbaby
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/28 20:43:37 (permalink)
    I've gotta say:  For me, the most underrated is the guy who mixed my last album, and is about to start on my new one.  Along with mixing, he's given some great tips for editing/arranging and taken my songs from around the 80% mark to better than I could have expected.
    John Jamieson apprenticed under John Punter (another underrated producer, http://www.allmusic.com/a...mn0000235057/credits).  And given John P's resume, I'm not surprised that John J knows EXACTLY where I want to take a song.
     
    I was having a beer the other day with a musician that's negotiating a major label contract at the moment.  We were talking about control of our music, and I said "If I'm paying for a recording, John's producing it.  Period."  And I meant it, there's nobody I'd rather have in the control room.
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    Hatstand
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/02/28 21:35:50 (permalink)
    for me it is the late Alex Sadkin who went from engineer to producer

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    codamedia
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/03/01 15:15:17 (permalink)
    I like the Vancouver connection of Bob Rock and Bruce Fairbairn (RIP) but I wouldn't say either is/was under-rated. 
     
    Keeping it in Canada, not many people know who Murray Pulver is but his work with The Brothers Landreth, Sierra Noble and several others is getting noticed in the industry.

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    Kamikaze
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    Re: Most Underrated Record Producers 2017/03/03 11:02:11 (permalink)
    Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom
     

     
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