Producers that make (or break) the band
The most common type of producer is the most difficult to find an example of and talk about because their role is simply to clean up the sound a bit. The eight-inchround cake tin of music. They’re not even making a point of not overproducing.
One 8″ Victoria sponge mould would be Stephen Street, who produced Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife and Blur (as well as albums by Kaiser Chiefs, Babyshambles and The Smiths). Given the very different sounds on each album – from pristine guitar pop to American lo-fi influenced rock – it’s clear that this is not the kind of producer who dominates the sound of the record.
If there’s one cohesive element to Street’s production work, it’s that he has a good ear for what works commercially. It just manifests a lot more subtly than the obvious crowd-pleasers like Bob Rock.
Another hit-factory producer is Linda Perry, initially famous for 4 Non Blondes, who has worked as a producer-songwriter since 2001. Though she’s more well-known as a songwriter (Gwen Stefani’s ‘What You Waiting For?’, Pink’s ‘Get This Party Started’), Perry’s production credits include acts like Christina Aguilera. Linda Perry was the original producer on Hole’s Nobody’s Daughter before Courtney changed her mind about the direction she wanted the record to take and re-produced the tracks they had recorded. Perry retains songwriting credits on four tracks and a production credit on one track (‘Letter To God’).
As you can hear, there isn’t a “sound” to those recordings, in terms of an identity distinctive to the producer that makes its origins immediately identifiable. If Timbaland’s records could have anyone singing and sound roughly the same, Linda Perry’s songs are generic in their production.
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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.