Producers that make (or break) the band
Of course, tastes vary. I always regarded Mötley Crüe as bland and overproduced, and Def Leppard’s Hysteria as unlistenable. There was very much a fashion in the 1980s for music to be so polished that every shred of roughness was eliminated, including any “personality”, spontaneity or energy. For me, that kind of suffocated excess is typified by the records of Jim Steinman. What’s fascinating to me is how there’s so much bluster and emotion and so little impact and power. Underneath the overwrought veneer, the music is desperately flaccid and weak.
Just as punk in the 70s was a reaction against the overbearing chart music of the age, grunge developed as a rebellion against the likes of Meat Loaf. Jack Endino’s discography is characterised by stripped-down, bare bones recordings in total contrast to the glam rock that was popular at the time.
Endino’s work doesn’t sound sloppy – it’s more like radio “session” recordings in terms of clarity – but it’s not full of double-tracked vocals and multitudes of effects. It gives an impression of what the band would sound like playing live on a good day.
I found it ironic how (comparatively) overproduced Butch Vig’s Nevermind was, given its grunge ethic. Like everyone else, though, I didn’t really care.
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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.