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Princess of Tap

Record Producers in Pop Music

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Whenever I think of a great recording artist or a great record, I always think first of the record producer. It seems as though great records are not made, but really produced. Like making a movie, making a record is an collaboration --the smallest suggestion can make the biggest difference.

 

Recently I saw TV some programs featuring Kenny Gamble, the Philadelphia record producer and Sam Phillips, the Memphis Sun Records producer.

 

I've always wondered how different the record business would have been had there not been a Phil Spector, who in turn led to a Brian Wilson or a George Martin, spearheading the British Invasion or a Smokey Robinson who composed, performed, and produced to put Motown on such a high level.

 

Then you have a record producer like Arif Marden who produced and influenced so many genres of music and artists at Atlantic Records--from Aretha Franklin to The Bee Gees, from Hall & Oates to to George Benson, from Judy Collins to Phil Collins and from Bette Midler to Ringo Starr.

 

We often discuss artists and songs - - I wonder what you think of record producers?

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Whenever I think of a great recording artist or a great record, I always think first of the record producer. It seems as though great records are not made, but really produced. Like making a movie, making a record is an collaboration --the smallest suggestion can make the biggest difference.

 

Recently I saw TV some programs featuring Kenny Gamble, the Philadelphia record producer and Sam Phillips, the Memphis Sun Records producer.

 

I've always wondered how different the record business would have been had there not been a Phil Spector, who in turn led to a Brian Wilson or a George Martin, spearheading the British Invasion or a Smokey Robinson who composed, performed, and produced to put Motown on such a high level.

 

Then you have a record producer like Arif Marden who produced and influenced so many genres of music and artists at Atlantic Records--from Aretha Franklin to The Bee Gees, from Hall & Oates to to George Benson, from Judy Collins to Phil Collins and from Bette Midler to Ringo Starr.

 

We often discuss artists and songs - - I wonder what you think of record producers?

Sometimes the producer is also the writer of the song, sometimes he's not.. In the area of black music, the first name that comes to mind..is Quincy Jones. He did a lot of work with Michael Jackson and his brothers, also a lot on his own......

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There are and have been many music producers who have no knowledge or skill in music or even know how to play a musical instrument rudimentarily.

 

But they have a good ear for SOUND and a thumb on what will sell on the market, and their success comes in that form.  And still others, like JOHN HAMMOND, had a good ear and sharp sense of what TALENT was (Hammond first with Benny Goodman and later Bob Dylan) and so we all get treated to their findings.

 

I have no idea what would make a good producer good, but I feel a good producer might be one who not only recognizes talent, but also has an innate sense to know when to step in and guide an atist, or to leave them alone and do their thing.

 

To cite one example------

 

EMILIO ESTEFAN , husband of GLORIA was the producer of many of her recordings.  And although I'm not really a big fan of her MUSIC, my wife is, and when she puts on one of her recordings I'm always struck at the quality of SOUND they have.  His meticulous attention to THAT detail is why I'd say he is a good producer.

 

Interesting thread.  What's next?  Recording engineers?   If so, I'm putting in MY vote for EDDIE KRAMER right NOW!

 

 

Sepiatone

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Sometimes the producer is also the writer of the song, sometimes he's not.. In the area of black music, the first name that comes to mind..is Quincy Jones. He did a lot of work with Michael Jackson and his brothers, also a lot on his own......

Black music with Quincy Jones, that kind of makes me laugh-- because he did so many other things as well. I wouldn't want to stereotype him. And I wouldn't want to stereotype Michael Jackson's music either it was absolutely mainstream pop.

 

Quincy's first producing job was with Mercury records as a producer and A&R man. At Mercury he discovered the sixties teenage singing sensation Lesley Gore. He picked her voice from a plethora of tapes and made her the singing representation of teenage girls for the early sixties.

 

After buying those records I was astonished to find out that he was next conducting Count Basie's Orchestra for Frank Sinatra at the Sands in Las Vegas. I always thought that Frank Sinatra Live at the Sands was Sinatra's best live album-- well that was Quincy Jones in the sixties.

 

Decades later he was still conducting Frank Sinatra and was probably Frank's last record producer. I remember seeing the documentary of him producing Frank's single, L. A. IS MY LADY in 1984.

 

Quincy was such an important producer and conductor to Sinatra that Tina Sinatra gave him Frank's signature pinky ring to him after the singer's death.

 

I think many people remember and associate Quincy with the Michael Jackson Thriller album because it was probably the biggest album in pop history. And the album also solidified MTV and music videos into pop culture.

 

But I will always associate Quincy Jones with Lesley Gore because that's the first time I ever heard his name and with their big hit It's My Party in 1963. I was part of that audience of adolescent girls in that age group--we just loved it.

 

And I'll always remember how he made a shy little teenage girl from Tenafly, New Jersey a singing star.

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Black music with Quincy Jones, that kind of makes me laugh-- because he did so many other things as well. I wouldn't want to stereotype him. And I wouldn't want to stereotype Michael Jackson's music either it was absolutely mainstream pop.

 

Quincy's first producing job was with Mercury records as a producer and A&R man. At Mercury he discovered the sixties teenage singing sensation Lesley Gore. He picked her voice from a plethora of tapes and made her the singing representation of teenage girls for the early sixties.

 

After buying those records I was astonished to find out that he was next conducting Count Basie's Orchestra for Frank Sinatra at the Sands in Las Vegas. I always thought that Frank Sinatra Live at the Sands was Sinatra's best live album-- well that was Quincy Jones in the sixties.

 

Decades later he was still conducting Frank Sinatra and was probably Frank's last record producer. I remember seeing the documentary of him producing Frank's single, L. A. IS MY LADY in 1984.

 

Quincy was such an important producer and conductor to Sinatra that Tina Sinatra gave him Frank's signature pinky ring to him after the singer's death.

 

I think many people remember and associate Quincy with the Michael Jackson Thriller album because it was probably the biggest album in pop history. And the album also solidified MTV and music videos into pop culture.

 

But I will always associate Quincy Jones with Lesley Gore because that's the first time I ever heard his name and with their big hit It's My Party in 1963. I was part of that audience of adolescent girls in that age group--we just loved it.

 

And I'll always remember how he made a shy little teenage girl from Tenafly, New Jersey a singing star.

I'm glad I could make you laugh.

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My favorite is Jeff Lynne (the ONLY "rock star" autograph framed in my office) While I loved ELO, their popularity was limited and Lynne went to producing. Lynne was in the process of producing George Harrison's album when together they founded THE TRAVELING WILBURYS 29 years ago. (wow time flies)

 

For a Manchester Brit, he deftly nails the American "rockabilly" sound in writing as well as producing, just listen to Roy Orbison's "You Got It". I can always pick out a Lynne production, just like a Quincy Jones one.

 

I think another prolific producer of incredibly consistent quality, but with less a distinct "voice" is T Bone Burnett.

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