Flavorless Producers

dann-huffWhile on the surface, music revolves around artists and the songs they sing, it’s the music producers who are ultimately essential to the finished product that we all hear and critique. Most producers have a hand in the vocals, the instrumentation and even the song selections that we hear on our favorite or not so favorite albums.

Often times, when I hear that certain producers are going to produce upcoming projects, I automatically get an idea of what the project will sound like based on that particular producer’s previous works. For instance, when I hear that Dann Huff is to produce an album, I fairly or unfairly assume that the album will be slick pop-country that will include a lot of needless eighties influenced electric guitar solos. Similarly, whenever Scott Hendricks is connected to an album, I’m even more sure that I won’t be impressed by the finished product that is almost certain to be full of blandly produced songs that all seem to run together.

Okay, I’ll be more positive next week, but for now, I want to know who your least favorite producers are and what’s so unappealing about his/her style.

We’ll talk about our favorite producers next week, I promise.

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16 Responses to Flavorless Producers

  1. This is a great topic:

    Up until last year I didn’t really look at the producer, but this year I decided that if I like one record that a certain producer had a part in, I might like another one they have produced:

    Bryon Gallimore & Dann Huff – They have produced a number of Faith Hill albums including the country-pop masterpiece Faith to the underrated Cry.
    Dixie Chicks & Lyod Maines – The Dixie Chicks are not only one of the best musical trios in music but they are great producers along with Natalie’s dad. Both were the only two parties to produce Home.
    Allen Reynolds- While some of Garth’s records may have gotten a bit too predictable with having this producer all the time, he has still managed to produce overall good albums and great songs. He also had a standout with Jasper County with Trisha Yearwood.
    Garth Fundis- He has produced many standout albums of Trisha’s including Hearts In Armor and Heaven, Heartache, & The Power Of Love
    Trisha Yearwood- She produced her album Real Live Woman solo, and it was a great record. She also co-produced some of her other albums.
    Tony Brown- I’m sure he has other hit albums, but he had helped produced Reba’s For My Broken Heart, marking the best album of her career.
    Mutt Lange- I don’t like him as a person and I don’t know what he was thinking when he was producing Nickelback’s Dark Horse, but I have to give him(and Twain) credit for The Woman In Me, Come On Over, and Up!

    More Non-Country
    Glen Ballard – His work with Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette makes it one of the greatest producing achievements of all time.
    Max Martin & Dr. Luke – they have made Britney Spears a 90′s sensation, turned Kelly Clarkson into a pop/rock queen, and have had a ton of other pop hits along the way.

  2. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    I think we’re talking about the most flavorless this time around, not the best.

    I’m really not sure how to respond to this, since a lot of today’s mainstream country music sounds like it was produced by committees or bean counters as opposed to actual producers. But if I were to pin one producer down to the mat that I find flavorless, it’d be John Rich, who seems to have his fingers on a lot of artists’ albums besides those of his Muzik Mafia, and it shows. The producer isn’t supposed to attract more attention than the artist, but that doesn’t seem to bother Rich one iota. His production style is the epitome of the blandness of mainstream country (IMHO).

  3. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    Eric, I would have mentioned Rich in this post, but I already said much of what you said in this rant that I wrote last summer.

  4. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar

    Joe Galante for pushing Sara Evans to go Pop…There, I said it,…now bring on the favorite producer topic, cuz I got one in mind who can be counted on every time! ;)

  5. “Most producers have a hand in the vocals…”

    That’s gotta hurt.

    But yea, Dann Huff is my pick for least favorite.

  6. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Leeann:

    A very good rant it was, too.

    When you get down to it, any self-respecting producer is really supposed to be squarely for the artist, and not in it for his/her own self-gratification. You have great producer/artist combinations like Garth Fundis working with Trisha Yearwood on all but two of her albums, and then you have someone like John Rich who seems to have this need to be on everybody’s albums. Either that, or they all seem to need him–which is just as bad.

  7. Haha, there’s an embarrasing way to start off the comments. I guess that’s what you get when multitasking homework with commenting on a topic.

    Anyway, I agree with you guys about John Rich, his style of producing music has become bland to me. I would just like to know why some of these artists think that they need him to help produce their albums, especially the established ones, as IMHO John Rich doesn’t seem like a great producer to me.

  8. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    Jake, I think you mean Garth Fundis produced “Jasper County” not Allen Reynolds. Reynolds is ok but I am kinda curious to see what would have been done with the Yearwood/Brooks duets if Fundis was behind the board instead of Reynolds…..

    But yea Dan Huff, Paul Worley for his work with Martina McBride. And Tony Brown, I know he produces chart gold with Reba, and George but how safe can you play it? He just dosent do it for me….Plus he produced the weakest album of Yearwood’s career.

  9. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I can handle Tony Brown, since he’s produced most of Vince Gill’s stuff. I liked his work with The Notorious Cherry Bombs too. I believe my favorite Reba tracks were produced by Tony. I agree that Strait could use a bit more flavor at times though.

  10. Cory DeSteinNo Gravatar

    I just dont know how creative Brown is…..all of it just seems like radio candy to me. Of course he has great tracks with Reba their work together is some of my favorite of her’s but lately its just like Straits….nothing sticks with me. His work with Vince though….excellent.

  11. JoeNo Gravatar

    I’d have to agree that Huff’s production is pretty predictable and way too slick. I was disappointed to hear he was producing Martina McBride’s new album. Although I will say I don’t mind his work with Keith Urban and I think he did a good job “staying out of the way” on LeAnn Rimes’ last album, which I think is a great record.

  12. Cory, I at first though Fundis produced Jasper Country but I decided to look on Wikipedia really quick and it said Reynolds, so another bad on my part.

    On the Brown thing, I have mixed feelings about him aswell, he seems to have made some great hits but when it comes to albums, they are very lackluster IMHO.

  13. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    I’ll give Huff credit on Rimes’ album, though a little less in some places would have been alright with me. I also don’t mind what he does with Urban, though I could have more impressed with his last album.

  14. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Jake:

    I think the reason a lot of artists want to work with John RIch is that he’s one of those “sure things” to them. But anything that looks like a sure thing almost invariably leads to blandness. And as the late, great film director Stanley Kubrick once said, “Nothing is as dangerous as a sure thing.”

  15. Leeann WardNo Gravatar

    The interesting thing about John Rich is that he mostly carries the perception of being a sure thing, but really hasn’t proven to be one. If you think about the artists that he’s produced lately (John Anderson, Shannon Brown, Jewel, James Otto…), for the most part, their albums haven’t been especially successful. Likewise, the shows that he’s participated in (Nashville Star, Gone Country…) haven’t produced successful artists. So, since he inserts himself into everything, he has been mostly successful in billing himself as a sure thing more than actually being one. Of course, I’m generalizing, since I know he has had success with Gretchen Wilson in the past and his own duo at one point, but even his duo’s success has dissopated quite a bit.

  16. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    Maybe people have begun to catch onto the notion that he’s nothing more than a big shot who wants to throw his weight around. But good producers, and indeed great producers, don’t do that sort of thing if they have any common sense.

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