End-to-end (music) production excellence you can hear
June 5, 2013 7:20 PM   Subscribe

My go-to band for good sound is Steely Dan because, well, Gary Katz. His influence carries over to 10cc. Besides, both Becker and Fagen are committed to sonic perfection. Who else?

Brian Eno is very good as well. Steve Morse and post-Barrett Pink Floyd seem to have a lot of the fussiness or perfectionism I'm looking for. I have my go-to classical records that make me happy too, but what about really good jazz or pop/rock that sounds as though someone took care with microphones and mixing?
posted by jet_silver to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Thomas Dolby comes to mind. His solo work and the stuff he produced for Prefab Sprout.
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:26 PM on June 5, 2013

A recent discovery for me - Ry Cooder's "Chicken Skin Music". Beautifully recorded.
posted by davebush at 7:31 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

The band Boston was known for being meticulous about their recordings.
posted by kinetic at 7:32 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a ton of gorgeous recordings on the ECM label. Check out "Amaryllis" by Marilyn Crispell, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian.
posted by davebush at 7:47 PM on June 5, 2013

Radiohead is also persnickety.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:14 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by PussKillian at 8:16 PM on June 5, 2013

As far as rock/pop: Peter Gabriel's recordings are meticulous regarding levels for each instrument.
A vote for Sting's stuff including Synchronicity.
Producers: Daniel Lanois, Steve Lilywhite, Stephen Hague, Roger Nichols
posted by artdrectr at 8:24 PM on June 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Scritti Politti?
posted by en forme de poire at 8:25 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Quincy Jones.
posted by box at 8:44 PM on June 5, 2013

And, in hip-hop, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, DJ Premier.
posted by box at 8:46 PM on June 5, 2013

Phil Spector's '60s "Wall of Sound" work seems like the go-to here.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:48 PM on June 5, 2013

Additionally, whoever produced Roy Orbison records like this one.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:50 PM on June 5, 2013

For some less well-known music, go to Mapleshade. Total ear candy. (Ignore the fact that they also sell woo-based audiophile stuff - the recordings are the real deal.)
posted by Daily Alice at 9:01 PM on June 5, 2013

Brian Wilson
Steve Albini
posted by hydrophonic at 9:09 PM on June 5, 2013

John McEntire
posted by hydrophonic at 9:23 PM on June 5, 2013

Although he has some detractors (read the Wikipedia entry for details), Rudy Van Gelder is considered a noteworthy engineer with a distinctive sound and has recorded a lot of well-known jazz albums. Here's a video interview with Van Gelder, and here's part one of a five-part, print-only conversation with him. (Follow the links at the top of the blog post for parts 2 thru 5.)
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 9:46 PM on June 5, 2013

Autechre. When I interviewed them about their Minidisc release, it was all about making their aesthetic work within the unique technical confines of the format Sony offered for this format. I don't appreciate their latter work as much, but they sweat the production details as much as Steeley Dan's Fagen. Seriously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kate Bush
posted by porn in the woods at 10:44 PM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Marianne Faithfull - Broken English
Quincy Jones - The Dude
posted by falcon at 11:52 PM on June 5, 2013

I find Thomas Dolby's production on Steve McQueen/Two Wheels Good has dated very badly.

Anything recorded with Trevor Horn is a win for me - a lot of his stuff, despite being cutting-edge in the 80s, sounds like it was recorded last week - but compare the Belle and Sebastian album Dear Catastrophe Waitress, which he produced, with one of their earlier lo-fi ones to see the difference his production makes.
posted by mippy at 3:47 AM on June 6, 2013

ELO! Jeff Lynne was a nut when it came to production quality.
posted by saladin at 3:52 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

here are some rabbits to chase:
Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
posted by mrmarley at 5:06 AM on June 6, 2013

Jon Brion.
posted by D.Billy at 7:51 AM on June 6, 2013

Possibly too far over on the Americana side of things for you, but:

Mark Knopfler (his record with Emmylou Harris is one of the best produced I've ever heard)
John Cale
Aimee Mann's more recent stuff (related to Jon Brion above)
I love Nilsson Schmilsson (the album) above all of Nilsson's other work for this reason...
Trio, with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton, a brilliantly produced record.

Some relatively more recent bands that I think have incredible production in the vein of which you speak (I believe that arrangement and such are also a big part of this) - The Stills, The Strokes.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Rage Against The Machine (no, really)
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Jon Brion, expecially his work with Fiona Apple, especially her "When the Pawn..." album. A beautiful-sounding record.
posted by wolfnote at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2013

posted by DaddyNewt at 10:03 AM on June 6, 2013

Oh, and definitely the Goat Rodeo Sessions album (which is amazing. AMAZING.).
posted by saladin at 1:26 PM on June 6, 2013

The last few Flaming Lips albums—The Terror, Embryonic, and At War with the Mystics—have been really well produced.
posted by sinfony at 2:47 PM on June 6, 2013

I love John Farrar's production on Olivia Newton-John's early 80's stuff. I think "Magic" is perfect.
posted by black8 at 4:58 PM on June 6, 2013

Yeah, Quincy Jones was/is a notorious perfectionist. The Michael Jackson records are pretty impeccable. He and his team went to great pains to make sure each little drum sound was perfect.

Radiohead, obviously. Nigel Godrich is amazing.

I've been loving Colin Stetson's recording these days. Just a solo saxophone, but recorded in a room with up to 22 mics. And it sounds incredible.

You might be interested in Dave Grohl's new documentary about Sound City and the famous Neve mixing board they had there.

posted by Lutoslawski at 11:24 AM on June 7, 2013

These give me a lot of ideas to work from, thank you! I'd never have thought ELO, just for example, was anything special in the recording sweetness realm, I always heard them on PA systems. Good stuff!
posted by jet_silver at 5:03 PM on June 14, 2013

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