Producers that make (or break) the band
Most producers are a lot more subtle in the way they direct the records. Timbaland is like an auteur director, or – if we’re retaining the cake analogy – he’s a fantastically-shaped mould into which vanilla sponge mix is poured. Bob Rock, by contrast, is like a cupcake mould: the outcome depends on the ingredients, but its sheer cupcakeness guarantees a hit.
Think of most of the radio-friendly trucker rock albums of the late 80s and 90s, and you’ll be aware of Bob Rock’s work: Metallica’s eponymous record known as the Black Album, and albums by Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Cher, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row and The Cult.
Even though the songs are very polished and commercial, they’re still immediately recogniseable as being by the artist. Unless you were a particular fan of the producer, it would be hard to distinguish his work from that of other blockbuster producers like Bob Ezrin. Where these producers earn their reputation is in retaining just enough edge to keep the music palatable to the rock fans who buy the albums, but knocking off all the rough edges so it won’t upset the folks listening to daytime radio.
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Princess Stomper is a former magazine contributor and music researcher, who now works in a marketing department for an academic organisation. She lives in the English countryside and runs the Reinspired blog.