Meet the Producers

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Steve Sutherland  |  Sep 03, 2020
From Monroe to McCartney, and the soundtracks to more than a few iconic movies, this US-born producer was never afraid to use the latest cutting-edge studio technology while also never forgetting his people skills. Steve Sutherland on the 'Pope Of Pop'...

Afew months ago I claimed in these very pages that Jeff Lynne of ELO assembling his new best buddies Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to tart up the deceased John Lennon's 'Free As A Bird' home demo and release it as a Beatles single was the worst musical idea ever. Well today, dear reader, I humbly recant that claim for what follows is surely far more dreadful.

Steve Sutherland  |  Aug 20, 2020
'Anything, anytime, anyplace and for no reason at all...' was how Frank Zappa described his musical style, but how did he set about achieving his production goals when working the studio faders? Steve Sutherland reveals the method behind Frank's fruitcake facade

Since lockdown you will doubtless have failed to escape the endless, and really rather tedious, Facebook/Instagram invitations to make lists. First Gig Attended. Ten LPs That Changed Your Life. Best Guitar Solo Of All Time. Yadda yadda zzzzz. Anyway, if you can't beat 'em... I'm joining the party fashionably late. Try this one on for size. List the Ten Weirdest LPs Ever Made and why they are so weird. I'll get you going if you like.

Steve Sutherland  |  Jul 08, 2020
From Fleetwood Mac to Focus, Bowie to the British blues greats, this UK-born producer helped create many of the greatest performances committed to tape, while founding his own label along the way. Steve Sutherland celebrates the work of Mike Vernon...

It may not have been the dumbest thing he ever did, but it was certainly up there. David Bowie announced that the set-list for every performance of his 1990 Sound+Vision world tour would be partially decided by the most popular songs from his back catalogue, as voted for by his fans.

Steve Sutherland  |  Jun 18, 2020
In the 1970s reggae joined forces with punk to create a sound that would reverberate throughout the British music scene. Steve Sutherland celebrates the Barbados-born producer Dennis Bovell, the man behind many of the period's finest dub and disco hits

It's the 13th of October 1974, a date remembered in some circles as Black Friday. The facts are somewhat sketchy but it seems a couple of police officers decide that some black dude is driving suspiciously through Cricklewood in London. They pull him over and are about to arrest him when he legs it into The Carib Club. Six officers give chase and grab him in the toilets. They're bringing him out with a bit of a struggle when some club-goers, mates of the pursued, tackle the cops, stabbing one and setting the fugitive free.

Steve Sutherland  |  May 29, 2020
The next time you hear the opening chords of 'Hotel California' spare a thought for the man who caught it all on tape... Steve Sutherland celebrates the work of a US-born producer who has shaped the sound of such greats as BB King, Joe Walsh and The Who

Here's a cool pub quiz question for you: who links 1960s Russian leader Nikita Kruschev to The Eagles' Hotel California? The answer? Bill Szymczyk. And while we're at it, here's another. How the heck do you pronounce that surname? Answer: Sim-Zik.

Steve Sutherland  |  May 11, 2020
After running his own studio while a teenager in Texas and playing guitar in Bob Dylan's backing band, this US-born producer went on to become the go-to guy for stars seeking to re-discover the very roots of rock 'n' roll. Steve Sutherland celebrates T Bone Burnett

Is nostalgia stopping our culture's ability to surge forward, or are we nostalgic precisely because our culture has stopped moving forward so we inevitably look back to more momentous and dynamic times?'

Steve Sutherland  |  Apr 29, 2020
From '60s solo artist to Phil Spector's right-hand man, this US-born 'influencer' not only produced superstars such as Neil Young and The Stones, but wrote a string of soundtracks nominated for Academy Awards. Steve Sutherland on Jack Nitzsche

There's a particular species of character that, although essential, has been mighty ill-served by pop historians. It's tough to pin down exactly what role these personalities play in the creation of popular music. What they actually do. And so it's hard to know what we should call them.

Steve Sutherland  |  Mar 16, 2020
From Nico's ethereal Teutonic tones to the snarl of The Stooges and funky acid rock of The Happy Mondays, this British born musician has produced many of the albums now regarded as turning points in the history of pop music. Steve Sutherland on John Cale

See that jittery bloke over there, the one who appears to be severely chemically imbalanced, the one shouting his head off waving around the half-drunk bottle of Stolichnaya? He's the boss. He's in charge. He's the producer. He's John Cale.

Steve Sutherland  |  Feb 25, 2020
He's a maker of massive hits, a man who has worked with global pop superstars such as Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift. And yet this US-born producer is happiest when honing his craft in a small studio he's built inside his house. Steve Sutherland on Jack Antonoff

When the Californian singer Kesha recently sought through the courts to escape her contract with producer Dr Luke, claiming harassment, abuse, violence and emotional distress among many other allegations, she lost her case, but many prominent figures within the music industry offered moral support. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to her cause, Adele spoke up for her while receiving an award at the Brits, while Lady Gaga, Iggy Azalea, Lily Allen, Lorde, Haim, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande were among those who took to social media to express their backing and their disgust.

Steve Sutherland  |  Jan 20, 2020
From The Allman Brothers to Aretha Franklin, this US-born producer helped create much of the greatest music being made as the '50s segued into the '60s. And he happens to be a dab hand with a soldering iron too. Steve Sutherland celebrates Tom Dowd

'I had no finished songs, no real concept or idea of where I was going, nothing but an abstract burning passion for live, spontaneous music. On top of everything else, I refused to make the record under my own name, and was developing a powerful drink and drug problem – not a great position for any record producer to be placed in, but [he] pulled it off.

Steve Sutherland  |  Dec 27, 2019
In 2003, this US-born producer had a hand in almost a fifth of the songs played on British radio. Then he really got started, applying his prodigious talent to pop in a way that would change it forever. Steve Sutherland on the phenomenal Pharrell Williams

It's June 2019 and Pharrell Williams is standing in front of 114 students about to graduate from the Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academies I and II. It's an inner-city school for underprivileged kids, and he's guaranteeing each and every one of them an internship at one of his many enterprises to give them work experience and get their careers up and running.

Steve Sutherland  |  Nov 27, 2019
From early fame in the '50s as part of an R&B duo, this New York-born producer was to change pop music culture forever by creating the world's first ever rap smash hit. Steve Sutherland on the life and work of the woman they call the 'Mother of hip-hop'

A-a-a-a-a-nd… Action! There's this young guy minding his own business outside the McDonald's on the corner of Palisade Avenue in Englewood, New Jersey, when an Oldsmobile 98 pulls up to the kerb. A teenaged boy jumps out, races over to the guy and shouts: 'Casper! Where you been? You were due in the studio on Monday!'.

Steve Sutherland  |  Oct 22, 2019
A succession of happy accidents or always ahead of the curve? However you judge the career of this British-born DJ and producer one thing's for sure: he became a messianic figure to a generation of clubbers around the world. Steve Sutherland has the story...

Try as they might, they couldn't get arrested. They were two albums into a career that was stalling fast. To be fair, their debut, a wan psych indie thing called Sonic Flower Groove had been quite well received but their eponymous new one was going nowhere, given the cold shoulder by pretty much everyone. Everyone, that is, except for this one dude who ran a very cool fanzine and was rapidly gaining a reputation as an inside track clubland scenester.

Steve Sutherland  |  Sep 26, 2019
Whether capturing The Kinks' proto-fuzz guitar on tape or the howl of The Who's feedback on record, this US-born producer's catalogue of firsts were to make him one of the most influential forces in '60s rock. Steve Sutherland celebrates Shel Talmy

Our tale begins in Cuba, or probably on a boat on its way from Havana to Miami. Let's imagine it's a choppy crossing and the rhythm we're here to follow has had a nip or two of rum, its footing unsteady on deck, rocking to and fro in a kind of exuberant stumbling macho strut.

Steve Sutherland  |  Aug 27, 2019
His shimmering guitar soundscapes not only brought the Cocteau Twins fame back in the '80s but would earn him numerous production credits with other bands seeking his trademark touch. Steve Sutherland on the Scottish-born producer Robin Guthrie

One of the '80s most over-the-top critical statements…' That's what the Guardian said.

'That was very naughty of you Steve, very, very naughty…' was what the singer said before she bit me on the arm in the pouring rain outside the Embassy Club in London and drew blood through my jacket, a small rosary of teeth marks tattooed there for a week or two, testament to her displeasure.

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