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The Best Producers In The World

Nominated by Steve Levine, Steve Lillywhite, Peter Collins, Hugh Padgham, Swain and Jolley


Our favourite producers pick their favourite producers. Is this a recorder delivery?


PETER COLLINS (as in Nik Kershaw, Matt Bianco, Belie Stars...)



1 GEORGE MARTIN "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" LP The Beatles (1967)
2 UNKNOWN "Bookends" LP Simon & Garfunkel (1968)
3 ROY THOMAS-BAKER "Sheer Heart Attack" LP Queen (1974)
4 TREVOR HORN "Lexicon Of Love" LP ABC (1982)
5 GEORGE CHKIANTZ (?) "Itchycoo Park" Small Faces! 1967)
6 UNKNOWN "Montego Bay" Bobby Bloom (1970)

STEVE LEVINE (as in Culture Club, Helen Terry, David Grant...)



1 GEORGE MARTIN "Here There And Everywhere" The Beatles (1966)
2 QUINCY JONES "Stuff Like That" (1978)
3 KASHIF "Love Come Down" Evelyn King (1983)
4 TREVOR HORN "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" Yes (1983)
5 BRIAN WILSON "God Only Knows" Beach Boys (1966)
6 MAURICE WHITE "After The Love Has Gone" Earth Wind & Fire (1982)

STEVE LILLYWHITE (as in Simple Minds, Big Country, Frida...)



1 TREVOR HORN "Relax" Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1984)
2 TREVOR HORN "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" Yes (1983)

%image2%3 CHRIS THOMAS "Anarchy In The UK" Sex Pistols (1977)
4 BRIAN WILSON "Good Vibrations" Beach Boys (1966)
5 NORMAN WHITFIELD "Ball Of Confusion" Temptations (1970)
6 ROY WOOD "Blackberry Way" The Move

HUGH PADGHAM (as in Police, Phil Collins, Human League...)



1 GEORGE MARTIN "Tomorrow Never Knows" The Beatles (1966)
2 NORMAN WHITFIELD "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" Temptations (196?)
3 ERIC STEWART "The Wall Street Shuffle" 10CC (1974)
4 JOHN LECKIE "Public Image" Pil
5 FRANK ZAPPA "Dancing Fool" (1979)
6 TREVOR HORN "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" Yes (1983)

TONY SWAIN/STEVE JOLLEY (as in Spandau Ballet, Bananarama, Imagination...)



1 TREVOR HORN "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" Yes (1983)
2 GARY KATZ "Nightfly" LP Donald Fagen (1982)
3 PETER COLLINS "Wouldn't It Be Good" Nik Kershaw (1984)
4 GEORGE MARTIN "Strawberry Fields Forever" The Beatles (1967)
5 DAVE A STEWART "Who's That Girl" Eurythmics (1983)

NIGEL GRAY/POLICE "Walking On The Moon" Police (1979)



AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE


"Superb vocals – I've tried to analyse it so many times to work out how they've done different things. With a lot of producers, although you think you know what they've done, and although you can clearly hear the results, what's mysterious is the way they got to those results. Very often you're wrong." SLe

ANARCHY IN THE UK


"This was a starting point for me. You'd go to the Vortex and places like that in '76 and '77, and before the bands came on they'd be playing the latest Lurkers, Clash, whatever, but when 'Anarchy' came on it always kicked shit out of any other record at the time, it was louder, it was bolder, just about everything. I was doing the Banshees at the time." SLi

BALL OF CONFUSION


"The classic dance track of the time, a long moody thing. The sound was brilliant, too. It was rambling, with lots of nice effects in the background. I would think Norman Whitfield had a great ear. In those days, as with Spector, I think it was very much the producer who moulded the sound; the groups were sometimes a little bit faceless." SLi

BLACKBERRY WAY


"Roy Wood has had a very bad deal out of things. When I was a tape-op at my first job at Phonogram studio, now Paul Weller's studio, we used to work with him. His genius... I was knocked out. It was Wizzard stuff and solo projects – all those Spector soundalikes, he used to start with just acoustic guitar! Not even a click-track! But 'Blackberry Way': I know Jeff Lynne took everything Roy Wood had and turned it into financial success, but all the innovative ideas... they were all Roy's ideas. Of all the people copying the Beatles, this did it best I think." SLi

BOOKENDS


"There's a great variety of different music on this album, different backing tracks and effects. It seemed innovative to me at the time, they seemed to take a lot of chances. There's a lovely confidence about the album, they knew what they were doing, as with all Paul Simon's stuff." PC

DANCING FOOL


"I don't like a lot of Frank Zappa records, but on this one I love the vocal production and what I think is a marimba, maybe it's a xylophone. It's very well put together, I would have been proud to have done this." HP

GOD ONLY KNOWS


"My favourite Beach Boys track without a question of a doubt, I adore it. I like it because I cannot work out what the hell the snare drum is on it. I've listened to it so many times and I can't work it out – I think it's something going through a wah-wah pedal, peculiar sound. I know a lot of it was recorded at Brian's house with horn players in the toilet and so on, quite a few players, and because of the restrictions of 4-track some of it was done 'simultaneously'. And I love the French horns right at the beginning: it sends shivers..." SLe

GOOD VIBRATIONS


"There hasn't been much that's innovative out of America, but the one group that stands out from that is the Beach Boys. They had their own sound – as far as I know they didn't copy anybody. They and the Beatles were going hand in hand, in terms of new ideas. This track was very cool for America, and not much white music from there was cool." SLi

HERE THERE AND EVERYWHERE


"Difficult to pick one, but I think this is my favourite: I like everything George Martin did with the Beatles, it was one of the main things that made me think about being a producer. I like it for the amount of vocal harmonies that are on it, given the time at which it was recorded. The double-tracking is really good, considering that it was, I imagine, done on 4-track. The vocals are just so well recorded. I've heard it on some good pressings and on good systems, and it really stands up." SLe

ITCHYCOO PARK


"Another quite innovative one for the time, masses of phasing, done with tape, at Decca. I like the whole mood of it: it feels spontaneous, combined with a bit of studio technology. It's very difficult to get that combination on record." PC

LEXICON OF LOVE


"For sheer, stupendous, glossy drama and tension. It was original thinking. I love nearly all of Trevor Horn's stuff, anyway, but this says it all about his production – Trevor would probably say that Yes is his best to date, but I think this is a little bit more 'classic', it has a bit more of a lasting quality for me." PC

LOVE COME DOWN


"Kashif has changed a bit of the way that disco tracks have sounded of late – his production is very slick and tight, and I like anybody who creates a certain 'sound'. He certainly did. He used nearly all synthesisers on this, very little guitar chords, a very good Moog bass, a crystal clear sound, and he did a lot of the backing vocals himself, varispeeded." SLe

MONTEGO BAY


"I don't think this dates at all, sheer simplicity. It's one of my favourite pop singles. It's very happy, simple, the rhythm track's wonderful, excellent vocal, good song. It's timeless." PC

NIGHTFLY


"The only comment is 'immaculate', for the musicianship and the recording. I never tire of Steely Dan and Donald Fagen stuff." TS/SJ

OWNER OF A LONELY HEART


"Must mention Mr Horn, and this is excellent. I was in America when it was number one: it's so brilliantly 'American', the epitome of an American rock song. It's done completely synthetically, which I love. It's obvious that the Fairlight plays an important part, not only for those brassy things but I've a feeling the drums were done on it. The acoustic guitar, there's no way that was 'played', must have been varispeeded or something. I also love the bit in the middle where it all goes completely out of phase, a huge phase error, which sounds particularly weird if you hear it in a car, like the car's turning inside out. I'm very pleased with the sound of this track – I'm sure Trevor Horn is as well." SLe

"I remember hearing the middle bit of this for the first time, where it goes all weird, and I thought it was the best thing I'd ever heard on record! Normally when you listen to records you think oh yeah, I know how they did that, but this completely flummoxed me, with all the perspective going from ambient to dry so suddenly. Again, it's down to Fairlight, and a lot of time being spent on the record. And there's brilliant sound on the guitar solo – gated ambience, plus... I don't know!" SLi

"It's a really good production! Trevor Horn's a fine producer. I have to be careful what I say here: it sounds like Trevor Horn. It captivates your interest all the way through the record – he suddenly edits, you'll suddenly get that arpeggiated guitar on its own. It has a very good use of dynamics." HP

"I've always thought a lot of Trevor Horn's imagination on tracks – this keeps me interested from start to finish every time I hear it. The guitar solo you look forward to as soon as the record comes on, it's some kind of gated echo. I also like the way he uses the Fairlight for the brass and stuff – I don't like everything he's done, but my ears do prick up when I hear his stuff." TS/SJ

PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE


"I like this for its atmosphere. On all those Tamla records there were just fantastic melodies, more melodious music than at any time, I think. And I think this one actually sounds quite good, production-wise." HP

PUBLIC IMAGE


"I wanted an example of new wave stuff in my list, and this single seems about the best – that vocal, and a good group sound." HP

RELAX


"It's a brilliant dance record, and the sound of it is just incredible on both big systems and small systems. The sound has a lot to do with the Fairlight. Pure sex, and it's a real production record, such a great bass sound: owwww, owwwww. I've never heard a bottom end come across so well anywhere." SLi

SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND


"It's a masterpiece. Imagination... and it's very difficult to divorce the songs from the production. It was very original, very different to anything I'd ever heard at the time: the sound, the construction, the instrumentation. It was the first time I'd been aware of a concept album. I think George Martin contributed enormously to the instrumentation, the way he was able to manifest the Beatles' ideas, to make them become a reality on disc." PC

SHEER HEART ATTACK


"Heavy production, multitracked vocals, state-of-the-art type stuff which I love. I just love the production tactics used on this album: all the operatic harmonies. Over the top, really. But it worked, and it made a big impression on me. Thomas-Baker trained at the same place as I did, the old Decca studios in West Hampstead." PC

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER


"The techniques that George Martin brought to people's attention... unsurpassed, really. This is not so much a song as every conceivable effect at that time that they could use. It wasn't sticking to the rules of making a record at the time, they stuck their necks out. And I like the way they used the tape effects." TS/SJ

STUFF LIKE THAT


"I like Quincy Jones for so many things. He's definitely given Michael Jackson the sound that people think is Michael Jackson: if you listen to previous Patti Austin albums they sound like Michael Jackson albums. But this track, from a solo Quincy Jones album, is my favourite, yet again for the vocal arrangement. What I really like is the use of space – although it was recorded for 48-track, he's used it wisely for dynamics, and I imagine he's used the 48 mainly for getting stereo rather than getting millions of overdubs." SLe

TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS


"This set me going at an early age, it didn't sound real to me when I first heard it, it sounded like it came from a different world. I suppose it was the first psychedelic record I ever heard, psychedelic in the sense of over-aweing. We did a cover of this with Phil Collins, it was one of his favourites, too." HP

WALKING ON THE MOON


"A perfect demonstration of a three-man band, recorded. It sounds like the three of them playing, and typifies the use of slap-echo, the sound of the guitar, and I just like the simplicity of it. The drum sound doesn't floor you, but it's very real. As far as production goes I prefer the earlier Police things like this, Sting's vocals are more forward and it's generally more refreshing." TS/SJ

WALL STREET SHUFFLE


"I was going to choose 'I'm Not In Love' by 10CC, but I s'pose that's a bit obvious. I like this track because it sounds so powerful. I love the guitar sound, I think Eric Stewart got some great guitar sounds on 10CC records. It's a well put together piece – I think they were one of the few groups into interesting production sounds in the early 1970s." HP

WHO'S THAT GIRL


"I like this track, and a lot of the Eurythmics things, for featuring the vocals: it's very refreshing to hear tracks where the drums are put back, incidental, and you hear all the instrumental parts. The whole track isn't held together with a giant drum sound — a trap we all fall into. No big snare drum! And this is a great song, recorded with very basic Soundcraft stuff." TS/SJ

WOULDN'T IT BE GOOD


"Peter Collins is a consistently good producer, but I've chosen this mostly for the solo on it, and the mood of the track. Peter told me the solo was done by recording the guitar part first, and then going to America and tracking the horn section on exactly with the guitar. That's given it a really unusual sound." TS/SJ



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When Is A Computer?


One Two Testing - Copyright: IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

 

One Two Testing - Jun 1984

Feature by Tony Bacon

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> Casio KX101

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> When Is A Computer?


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