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The record producer's mark

Tim Bowen

Some producers are known for maintaining artists' visions, setting the table with a cool vibe, and getting great performances; T Bone Burnett comes to mind.

And then there's Phil Spector. Sir Paul was none too pleased. I for one love Phil's ostentatious ornamentation on "The Long and Winding Road"! Many aficionados absolutely hate it... regardless, there's a sonic stamp for you.

And there's Ken Scott, Roy Thomas Baker, Tom Dowd, Louie Shelton, Sir George Martin, Eddie Offord, Alan Parsons, Rick Rubin, Nile Rodgers, Butch Vig, Ted Templeman, Mitch Easter, Quincy Jones...

The link below is to a track that charted briefly in 1982 by Eye to Eye. The producer was Gary Katz, better known for his work with Steely Dan. Check out the production values, harmonic content, and textures, especially from about 1:53 on.

"Eddy Offord's maturity as a producer and engineer gives Fragile the sonic depth and sophistication it deserves and this made the album in fact 'fragile'".
- Chris Squire

Do you prefer producers who are about general housekeeping of the artist's original vision, or those who impose more of their sonic signature? A bit of both? What exactly contributes to the producer's 'sound', approach, and philosophy of making records, in a way that distinguishes them?


Silver Supporting Member
The producer is there to ensure that product comes out on time and on budget. They keep the session moving, pick the best takes, and can quickly identify problem areas and solutions. It's very rare to find someone who can reliably produce themselves, or their bandmates--there's a lot of blind spots and egos in the mix, and it's also rare that someone is a skilled producer and a skilled band member, and that the rest of the band recognizes it when it does happen.

It's really hard to know what the "artist's original vision" is for a piece of music since we don't get to hear a "producer-free" version of the tracks to compare to what ever, oh, Bob Ezrin comes up with. There's been a trend to release "deluxe" versions of albums with a bunch of demos as bonus tracks, and overwhelmingly I think "this demo really suffers in comparison to the final version", and it's not just recording quality.

In general, an act's best works aren't self-produced, and it's not uncommon for the engineers in those situations to have had a lot of possibly unrecognized input beyond traditional engineering duties. I don't think that's a coincidence, or the result of The Man trying to keep everyone down. Creating and editing are distinct yet related skills, and it's rare to find someone who's great at both.


Wow.. Eye to Eye. I recorded and mixed one of their records in the mid 2000's with Rhett Davies producing.
Sweet hearts all the way around.

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