The fact is – not many people are familiar with the roles and responsibilities of a music producer. People enjoy listening to produced albums, get involved with the artists, buy the CDs, etc. However, how many of those people actually and truly understand the crucial role of the producer who stood behind the album? –I don’t think they are that many… Recently, I’ve been having these conversations and discussions about the significant part a producer plays in a music project, as well as his/her numerous duties and obligations as one. Every producer does different things and participates or specializes in different areas of production. Most importantly, however, a producer is the one, who gathers ideas, help artists establish find their sound and looks for creative ways to present this sound to the general public. In addition, a producer is the one who decides which song would go on a record and would fit perfectly into the concept of the project. Once the selection has been made, he/she starts working with the artist/s to build up the sound together and bring to life the vision of a perfect album. Not only that, but the producer is “the coach of the studio” – in combination with managing the mixing board, a producer also supervises, gives advices and suggestions on how to better record a song…He/she may even encourage or help the artists with their confidence in order for them to give the best performance – a true studio “persuasive diplomat”. In some cases, a producer may also help an artist with the lyrics of the song or may add some new ideas about the ways to sing it or play it. A producer also brings all the audio elements together, deals with all the technical aspects, and adds effects, quality…a spirit to a song. The producer simply puts all the ideas and visions together with the primary goal to achieve the best results possible.
Back to what I was saying….as expected, during those discussions the name of Mr. Mutt Lange kept on coming out. No reason to wonder – Mutt Lange is a huge name in the industry. He is the mastermind behind albums such as AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” and “Hysteria”, The Cars’ “Heartbeat City”, Nickelback’s “Dark Horse”, etc. Except (classic) rock records, he worked with artists such as Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, The Corrs, Muse, Michael Bolton, Shania Twain and many more. One might find it quite difficult to image that a rock ‘n’ roll and metal producer like him worked with country and pop musicians, however his talents are versatile and it’s quite obvious…He was and still is one of the most in-demand producers in the world. I’ve listened to pretty much each and every album he produced, regardless of the genre, and all I can say is that this person is a music genius. As cliché as it may sound, he truly is one – his creativity is beyond words; his vision and ideas are beyond excellent… He started his career as a music producer in the ‘70s and within just a few years he became responsible for one of the greatest records of all time… In the following publication, I decided to gather up 5 of his most important and influential records so that we can truly understand the brilliance of his mind…Those 5 albums made such a big difference and were so successful that we still cannot stop listening or talking about them! It’s a rather informative publication, through which I hope we can better understand what a huge difference a great producer can have on a record! Here we go…
AC/DC – “Back in Black” (1980)
The second-best selling album of all time with more than 25 million copies sold, this album will forever remain as one of the greatest records of all time and a standard measure for any hard-rock band out there. Following up the tragic death of frontman Bon Scott, AC/DC were facing numerous difficulties and even thought about quitting. Brian Johnson was also dealing with many obstacles as the new vocalist. However, Lange’s influence once again stepped in and with brand new approaches he managed to give birth to “Back in Black” – an album that perfectly captured the electrifying energy, astonishing technical and lyrical arrangements and a new and reborn AC/DC, ready to take over the world. The album was released in 1980 and it quickly became their most critically respected album. It spawned 4 huge singles – “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Hells Bells”, “Back in Black” and “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”, all of which redefined hard rock music and left a mark that can never be erased! Bravo, Mr. Lange!
Def Leppard – Pyromania (1983)
Where do I even begin with Pyromania? I already made an appreciation post about this masterpiece which you guys can check here – [The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] DEF LEPPARD – PYROMANIA (1983)
We owe this album to Lange – the genius who took Def Leppard under his wing and encouraged them to dig deeper till they find their real talents and true meaning of their music. In addition, he also co-wrote all the songs of “Pyromania”. It seems like his lyrical approaches and touches were exactly what the band needed. With this album, Lange managed to create the perfect balance between hard rock and mainstream rock. Not to mention that after its release, the career of Def Leppard reached its peak! Pyromania is also an extremely important landmark album because it revealed the possibilities of an album – it produced 4 hit singles (“Photograph”, “Foolin”, “Rock of Ages”, “Too Late For Love”) – something no other rock record did before. I will be forever thankful to Lange for producing one of my most beloved albums.
Def Leppard – Hysteria (1987)
“Hysteria” – the album that took three-years to record; the album that perfectly showcased the strength of human will and ability to overcome any difficulty; the album that became the most distinctive hard rock record of the era…and of course, probably my favourite album of all time! Mutt Lange once again took matters into his hands and helped Def Leppard make history. “Hysteria” produced 7 hit singles – an accomplishment so rare that we cannot but respect him for making it possible. Lange co-wrote all the songs of the album, including the smashing hit “Pour Some Sugar on me”. The album ended up selling more than 15 million copies worldwide and once again proved how important the vision of the producer is. What can I say, each and every song from this album is impeccably written and it combines catchy and captivating lyrics with flawless technical arrangement. Thank you, Mr Lange!
Foreigner – “4” (1981)
Before releasing this album, Foreigner were already a well-known and established name in the rock music scene. However, their 2nd and 3rd albums were not as successful as their debut album, so they turned to Mutt Lange for help to find a new approach…a “raw edge” – great strategy and perfect timing. The result was immediate – “4” hold the number one position on Billboard for 10 weeks, sold over 7 million copies and it spawned 4 outstanding hit singles that blew away people’s minds back then (and still are, at least to me). I mean, who doesn’t know or haven’t listened to “Urgent” or “Juke Box Hero” at least once in their lives? This album made the band famous internationally and broke all the records. In terms of style, “4” marked the beginning of Foreigner’s shift to more radio-friendly, hard rock sound, especially with songs such as “Head Games” and “Urgent”…and we love all of them. Interesting fact, Mutt Lange actually contributed with the background vocals as well! That’s what I was telling you about – the producer is responsible for and can engage in so many activities!
Bryan Adams – “Waking Up the Neighbors” (1991)
After helping so many artists and producing so many albums in the 80s, Mutt Lange triumphantly stepped into the new decade (90s) by producing Bryan Adam’s glorious hit album “Waking up the Neighbors”. The album sold more than 16 million copies worldwide and was number one on the British charts for 16 weeks. Those numbers should tell you that this album was indeed one of the best accomplishments of Mutt Lange as a producer. With few nice commercial touches and beautifully crafted melodic rock ballads, Lange did it once again. “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” is probably the first song that comes to our minds when we talk about Bryan Adams (well, maybe it’s just me). The song we all remember him by features in non-other than this album – it was also included on the soundtrack of the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991 (yes, the movie with Kevin Costner). In addition to such unforgettable ballads, the album produced a number of nice and catchy rock tunes. Overall, brilliant work, Mr Lange!
Well, this is it for now. Those were 5 great albums, produced by Mr Mutt Lange – one of the most notable, versatile and respected producers of all time.I gave you five, however we should know that throughout his career he has produced more than 40 albums and worked with artists from all possible genres.
I hope this publication gave you some insight about the important role a producer plays in a musical project. He/She can either be responsible for turning an artist/s into a global phenomenon or the other way around. In the cases I’ve shown you, Mutt Lange did the first thing – he helped those artists and bands establish a distinctive sound and name in the industry. For that, we will be forever thankful!