Perfect Producer/Artist Pairs

recording-studio_500x375Last week, I berated producers that I could count on to produce bland, generic albums that I inevitably would not enjoy. As promised, I’ll be more positive this week.

As previously noted, producers play a very integral part in the outcome of the albums that we hear. Good producers will put aside their egos and create music that compliments their artists’ strengths.

I’ve noticed that much of the work from producers that I like tend to be the result of producer/artist pairings. For example, as discussed in the comment thread of last week’s discussion, I’m not always crazy about Tony Brown’s production choices. However, he helped to create the bulk of the music of my favorite artist, Vince Gill. In fact, he’s the one who saved Gill’s career from being destined to obscurity. Interestingly though, Brown took over Vince’s career from Emory Gordy Jr., who admittedly did not do his best work with Gill. Gordy, however, went on to create some wonderful music with Patty Loveless.

To go even a step further, I specifically mentioned that I did not like Dann Huff as a producer in my discussion last week. Our Dan Milliken, however, noted that he thought that Huff has done good work with Keith Urban, which is a point with which I actually cannot disagree.

So, it seems that many of my favorite producers have come from famous producer/artist pairings. Some people just click. Therefore, all of this leads to:

Who are your favorite producer/artist duos?

If you’re looking for a bigger challenge, tell us who your favorite producer in general happens to be.

Some of my favorite producer/artist collaborators include, but are not limited to:

  • Vince Gill & Tony Brown
  • The Judds & Brent Maher
  • Randy Travis & Kyle Lehning
  • Dwight Yoakam & Pete Anderson
  • Patty Loveless & Emory Gordy Jr.
  • Trisha Yearwood & Garth Fundis


  1. Hmm…

    Favorite producer overall is easy: Rick Rubin.

    I liked Paul Worley & Ed Seay when they worked together.

    Artist/producer pairs:

    I second the Yoakam/Anderson, Loveless/Gordy, Yearwood/Fundis. I think Brown’s approach worked better for Vince Gill than any other artist, because Gill had the musicality to fill in Brown’s vague templates.

    My own personal favorites:

    Olivia Newton-John & John Farrar.

    Emmylou Harris & Brian Ahern.

    Johnny Cash & Rick Rubin

    Rosanne Cash & Rodney Crowell

    George Strait & Jimmy Bowen

    Shania Twain & Mutt Lange (sigh.)

  2. For real, I was going to add Rick Reuben and Johnny Cash and Shenia and Mutt, but I forgot to add them in before posting.

    I think you’re exactly right about why Brown and Gill worked so well together. It’s just interesting to me that Gill and Gordy didn’t do as well, though I enjoy Vince’s music from that era too.

  3. Funny that you should post this because I was just thinking about something along this line the other night. I was thinking about Martina’s upcoming album and how my low my expecations are because Dann Huff is the producer. And I’m a little worried about Mark Bright working on Reba’s new album. I was trying to think of what producers I do like, and it made me realize how there reallly isn’t a modern day equivalent to Chet Atkins, Bob Ferguson, Owen Bradley, and Billy Sherrill.

    I do like Paul Worley & Ed Seay’s stuff. I just pulled out an old Highway 101 CD the other night – something I hadn’t listened to since God knows when. It just doesn’t get any better than that late 80s neo-trad stuff. I also like most of the work this duo has done with Martina.

    Pete Anderson and Dwight Yoakam were brilliant together, as was Anderson’s work on Sara Evans’ first album. Who else has he worked with?

  4. I agree with Yearwood/Fundis.

    I also think Garth Brooks wouldn’t be GARTH without Allen Reynolds. Love or hate Garth, his stuff really reflects a depth of musical knowledge that the then 27 year old may/may not have had on the first cd, which I think is one of the best Reynolds produced.

    Mac McAnally and Chris LeDoux were good together.

    And I have both of Ty Englan’ds cds, and the one Garth produced is far better than the first one with James Stroud & Brian Gallimore. I also like Ty’s version of Travelin’ Soldier better than the Dixie Chicks version.

  5. Radney Foster’s work with the Randy Rogers Band has been good,
    Keith Stegall and Alan Jackson,
    Kyle Lehning and Randy Travis,
    Blake Shelton & Bobby Braddock,
    Toby Keith & James Stroud
    Gillian Welch and Gurf Morlix
    Mary Chapin Carpenter and John Jennings…
    Collin Raye and Paul Worley…

  6. Felton Jarvis w. Elvis (from 1966 until the King’s untimely passing in 1977), though the King’s classic 1969 Memphis sessions were co-produced by Jarvis, Elvis himself, and legendary Memphis producer Chips Moman

    Peter Asher w. Linda Ronstadt + James Taylor

    Sir George Martin with (drum roll please) THE BEATLES

  7. I agree that the Brooks/Reynolds pair is noteworthy. I wish the Shelton/Braddock team had stayed together. I’ve enjoyed the Dierks Bentley/Brett Beavers albums, but this last one let me down.
    I have not heard Ty England’s version of “Travelin’ Soldier”, but I have a hard time imagining that I could like a version better than the Dixie Chicks’. I really like Bruce Robison’s version, however.

  8. Blake Shelton and Bobby Braddock – the change in producers combined with a decline in the quality of the songs selected made Blake’s current album a sad disappointment to me
    Doug Stone and Doug Johnson – the three albums they did together, 1990-1992, are the best of Stone’s career
    Emmylou Harris and Brian Ahern
    Gene Watson and Russ Reeder
    George Jones and Billy Sherrill
    Mary Chapin Carpenter and John Jennings
    Randy Travis and Kyle Lehning
    Reba McEntire and Jimmy Bowen (1985-1989)
    Ricky Skaggs and himself, if that counts
    Tanya Tucker and Jerry Crutchfield in the 80s and early 90s

  9. Razor X: “Pete Anderson and Dwight Yoakam were brilliant together, as was Anderson’s work on Sara Evans’ first album. Who else has he worked with?”

    Anderson produced both of Moot Davis’ albums. If you enjoyed his work with Yoakam, you’ll probably like these albums too – Moot Davis (2004) and Already Moved On (2007). Good old school Bakersfield type stuff.

  10. Pete produced virtually all of the stuff on the Little Dog Records label.

    In addition to Moot’s records, there is Adam Hood’s record which made a big splash in Texas.

    a Chris Jones (who is a bluegrass artist and sirius satellite radio dj) country record.

    and Curt Kirkwood (from the Meat Puppet’s) solo record.

    Pete also produced the upcoming Tanya Tucker record for Saguaro Road.

  11. One I’d have to say the Dixie Chicks and Lyod Maines, they made Home a twangy country masterpiece.

    I also agree with Garth Fundis & Trisha Yearwood, since her best albums have been produced or co-produced with him.

  12. This is one topic I have been waiting for…

    I’d like to affirm the previous choices of Vince Gill and Tony Brown, as well as Dwight Yoakam and Pete Anderson…Shania and Mutt were great as well, though their style of Pop Country was not my absolute favorite.

    But my favorite team of all is Patty Loveless and husband/producer Emory Gordy far and hands down. Patty and Emory are a match made in Heaven, on multiple levels..I love this quote from former Sony Nashville president John Grady:

    ” In all of the time I’ve worked in Nashville, the two people that have consistently made the best records in town are Patty Loveless and Emory Gordy Jr.”

    I rest my case. ;)

  13. I know, Leeann…;) ;) Great topic!

    That little rhetorical flourish I put at the end “I rest my case” ..was not meant to be taken too seriously, and I’m gald ya didn’t. I know it’s all opinion, and not gospel, lol.

    But I totally endorse the Grady quote, and have used it before, (no doubt)…The man knows his stuff! ;) I can’t help but wonder if Patty would have chosen to stay at Sony if John Grady were still president over there.

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