10 Of The Best-Produced Albums, Ever

production is like charming – the people who are actually good at it will never tell you their secrets. The reality is, however, besides like charming ; the only secret is intemperate study. These are ( in no particular order ) 10 of the best-produced album we know of, created by countless hours of hard work and creative brilliance. Want to jump straight to the music ? here ‘s a playlist of every album on the tilt ( plus a match extra ) for you to enjoy.

Note: I won’t be featuring any albums here that we’ve put on other lists. Yes, I know that Dark Side of the Moon has amazing production, but it’s already on this list so it won’t be here. Same with Thriller, Donuts, etc – yes they’re amazing but let’s show you something new, eh?

steely Dan, 1977

steely Dan have earned their reputation as studio perfectionists, and Aja might just be their finest ( and is surely their best-selling ) work. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen met when Fagen catch Becker practicing his guitar, and they soon formed a set ( sometimes featuring comedian Chevy Chase on drums ! ). After moving to Los Angeles they become songwriters for ABC Records ’ Gary Katz, who with Roger Nichols would go on to engineer their albums and earn 6 Grammy awards in the process. After 3 successful studio albums blending wind, rock, funk, and everything in-between, they entered the studio to create Aja .
“ We ‘re all perfectionists ” [ Roger ] Nichols said. “ It was n’t a scuff for me to do things over and over until it was perfect. ” He added : “ It would have driven a lot of other engineers up the wall. In my own means, I ’ molarity barely a crazy as they are. ”
For their fourth studio apartment album, Becker and Fagen enlisted the help of over 40 musicians, including luminaries like Wayne Shorter and Larry Carlton ( a well as Dan understudy Michael McDonald and Chuck Rainey ) to help them get the perfect sound. Their compulsion in the studio is fabled – as shown this snip showing the make of the racetrack “ Peg ”, and the 19 guitarists they brought in to play different versions of the solo :

often cited by audiophiles as an excellent test album due to its high recording standards, Aja has stood the examination of time. In 2010, the Library of Congress added Aja to the United States National Recording Registry for its artistic, historic and cultural significance. We ’ ll leave you with the words of british musician Ian Dury :
good, Aja ‘s got a sound that lifts your heart up.. and it ‘s the most coherent up-full, heart-warming.. flush though, it is a classical LA kinda sound. You would n’t think it was recorded anywhere else in the populace. It ‘s got California through its blood, even though they are boys from New York … It ‘s a record that sends my spirits up, and very when I listen to music, very that ‘s what I want .

Abbey Road
The Beatles, 1969

After the recording sessions for Let it Be, which John Lennon called “ hell … the most abject sessions on Earth. ”, and was The Beatles “ all-time low ” according to George Harrison, things didn ’ thymine seem to be going well for the Beatles. Within the class the band would go their divide ways, so far among all this discord, Abbey Road showed the huge talent and musicianship that defined their careers and a generation of artists that followed .
After Let It Be ( Get Back ), I in truth thought we were finished. So I was quite surprise when Paul rang up and said, ‘Look, you know, what happened to Let It Be is pathetic. Let ‘s try to make a criminal record like we used to. Would you come and produce it like you used to ? I said, ‘Well, I ‘ll produce it like I used to if you ‘ll let me. ‘ sol Paul rounded up John, George and Ringo and we started work on Abbey Road. It in truth was very happy, very pleasant, and it went terribly well. ”
– George Martin, Producer
The songwriting art of each member was on fully expose on Abbey Road, from Harrison ’ s “ Something ” ( called the greatest sexual love song of the final 50 years by Frank Sinatra ) to Lennon ’ s “ I Want You ( She ’ s So Heavy ) ”, the spell and engineering skills of the Beatles and long-time collaborator George Martin stand above the tension in the group. It would be the stopping point time the group recorded together, and appropriately, ends with the 16-minute medley track “ The End. ” In true belated Beatles fashion, the group was split on their opinions of the commemorate .
“ The second side of Abbey Road is incredible ! The White Album, ninety-nine percentage of it is very good. If I had Desert Island Discs, I ‘d take the White one or Abbey Road, I think. I like the boys playing together, you know. I like a group. ”
– Ringo Starr

“ I liked the “ A ” english but I never liked that screen of pop opera on the other side. I think it ‘s junk because it was equitable bits of songs thrown in concert. “ Come Together ” is all right, that ‘s all I remember. That was my song. It was a competent album, like Rubber Soul. It was in concert in that way, but Abbey Road had no life in it. ”
– John Lennon

“ possibly when I get the album finished and in the sleeve, then I ‘ll get some sort of construction of it. When I did Pepper and the White Album I got an overall image of the album, but whereas with this one, I ‘m kind of lost. People have said, ‘It ‘s capital ! It ‘s a bit more like Revolver. Well, possibly it is, but it still feels very abstract to me. I ca n’t see it as a solid. It all fits together, but it ‘s a moment like it ‘s something else. It does n’t feel like it ‘s us. We spent hours doing it, but I still do n’t see it like us. It ‘s more like person else. It ‘s a very dependable album. ”
– George Harrison

In the end, though, I tend to agree with Paul on this – the alone real way to form your own opinion is to hear the album for yourself .
“ I do n’t like people explaining albums. The only means you can explain it is to hear it. You ca n’t actually use words about music, otherwise we ‘d do a talking album. The album is the explanation, and it ‘s up to you to make indisputable what you want of it. There is no subject to Abbey Road. ”
– Paul McCartney

Hello, I Must Be Going!
Phil Collins, 1982

Phil Collins ’ second solo album after leaving Genesis, Hello, I Must Be Going! was an immediate murder, with nine of the ten tracks charting global and “ I Don ’ t Care Anymore ” giving Collins his first gear Grammy nomination .
The slick record techniques and inclusion of perplex artists ( like Earth, Wind and Fire ’ s Phoenix Horns and guitarist Daryl Steurmer ) showed Collins ’ pop sensibilities could lead to enormous artistic creations vitamin a good as commercial success, with Hello, I Must Be Going! sell over three million copies in the US alone .

Der Ring des Nibelung
Sir Georg Solti & the Vienna Philharmonic, 1956 – 1965

It is extremely difficult to capture the power of a live orchestra on a record, but Decca ’ s recording of Der Ring des Nibelung, directed by caption Georg Solti and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic, is equally close up as you can get. systematically rated as one of the highest-quality classical music recordings ever, it showed that the nascent recording diligence could do more than merely pump out pop songs .
‘ Very dainty, ’ sneered a equal producer, hearing that Decca were embarking on the Ring. ‘ But of course you ’ ll never sell any. ’ To him it was good an obscure, prestige stick out. But at a solidus – Donner ’ s amazing hammerstroke in Rheingold, to be precise, the loudest sound then recorded – Decca ’ s new venture was to galvanise classical record, and begin a newly era.
– E. Davis, Classical-music.com
Recorded over nine years from 1956 – 1965, the album still sounds as crisp and fresh as ever. Decca pioneered the idea that LPs could record expansive works, and with hundreds of releases of the Nibelung cycle since, it seems they proved themselves right. The first passing in 1956, Rheingold, was such a success it even landed on the pop charts alongside artists like Elvis and Dean Martin. When a classical commemorate can compete on the charts with “ Heartbreak Hotel ”, you know you have something limited on your hands .

What’s Going On?
Marvin Gaye, 1971

systematically ranked as one of the greatest and most influential albums ever made, What’s Going On? is as ( or possibly even more ) evocative today as when it was recorded. The entire album and concept were initially rejected by Motown founder Berry Gordy ( who had no plaza for anything topical or political ). When he heard the first base reduce of the entitle single, Gordy told Gaye point-blank that he wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate release the song. however, Barney Ales, Motown ’ south head of sales, went over Gordy ’ s head to release the track as a single in January 1971. An immediate hit, reaching # 2 on the charts, it inspired Gordy to arrange a meet with Gaye .
“ Berry came to Marvin and said, ‘ Fine, you can have your album – you ’ ve got 30 days to get it done, ’ “ To which Marvin said, ‘ No problem. ’ Which was a bluff – because at that steer, he hadn ’ metric ton recorded a thing. ”
– Harry Weinger, VP of A & R, Universal Music Enterprises
Using every commemorate practice in the book ( including happy accidents like layering Gaye ’ second voice an octave apart in a mono channel ), the album was recorded in a series of whirlwind sessions. Though initial mixing finished on April 5th, Gaye ( who was filming a movie at the time ) decided to re-record his overdubs and then re-mixed the album himself in two day ’ s time. It would become the last major album recorded at Motown ’ second Hitsville, USA studio, and created the entire writing style of conscious soul and left a huge impression on not alone listeners, but on the musicians who helped bring it to life.

“ [ Bassist ] James Jamerson was a guy who recorded sidereal day in and day out, ” notes Weinger. “ But the day he came base from working on ‘ What ’ mho Going On, ’ he went up to his wife and said, ‘ Honey, I just cut a classic. ’ That says it all. ”
– Weinger

Dusty in Memphis
Dusty Springfield, 1969

When Jerry Wexler ( celebrated for working with little-known artists like Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles ), Arif Marden ( Queen, Roberta Flack, Phil Collins, Norah Jones, and besides 10 Grammys ), and Tom Dowd ( the literal inventor of multi-track recording ) are an album ’ south listed producers, you know you have something special on your hands.

however, Dusty in Memphis wasn ’ t all magic trick, particularly at the start. According to Wexler, of all the songs that were initially recorded for the album, “ she [ Dusty ] approved precisely zero. ” For her, “ to say yes to one sung was seen as a life commitment. ” That said, this album is a testament to finding the best endowment possible, and letting them do what they do well. According to manufacturer Arif Marden :
“ With Dusty this is what happened : Jerry Wexler would play the show. If we had lead sheets, finely. If not, they would write out their own lead sheets, the five musicians. then they would start to play, would start to get a groove. It ’ s a family affair, about like a soup — it ’ randomness being made. And we are there, “ Keep that lick ! ” “ Add two beats here. ” That kind of thing. ”
Topped off with Springfield ’ s incredible voice, it was a recipe for perplex music. To further showcase Springfield ’ s incredible range and talent, hera ’ s a exist clip showing her covering Bill Withers ’ ‘ Ai n’t No Sunshine ” and moving into a blues fix with BB King and Gene Krupa – all in under 15 minutes !
When released in 1969, Dusty in Memphis was a commercial flop. however, upon far contemplation it has become one of the most-loved and respected albums of the twentieth hundred – Rolling Stone ranked it 89th in their top 500 Albums of All-Time rankings in 2003. It equitable goes to show that just because something ‘s democratic, doesn ’ thymine beggarly it ’ south any full, and vice versa ( looking at you, Despacito ) .

Fleetwood Mac, 1977

When your band includes one just-split couple ( Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham ), one going through a disassociate ( Christine McVie and John McVie ), and an inter-band affair ( Stevie and drummer Mick Fleetwood ), you ’ re going to have some concern record sessions, to say the least .
“ We refused to let our feelings derail our commitment to the music, no matter how complicated or intertwined they became … It was hard to do, but no matter what, we played through the suffer. ”
– Mick Fleetwood
In malice of the soap-opera drama involved in its creation ( or possibly because of it ), Rumors cursorily became Fleetwood Mac ’ s magnum musical composition. Conceived as a fomite for radio-friendly hits, all four singles ended up in the top 10 ( “ Go Your own Way ”, “ Dreams ”, “ Don ’ t Stop ”, “ You Make Loving Fun ” ) and the album has sold over 40 million copies worldwide. This was n’t just a radio-friendly compilation though – Fleetwood Mac was celebrated for their perfection in the studio. For exemplar, when recording “ Never Go Back Again ” guitarist Lindsey Buckingham re-strung his guitar every 20 minutes to maintain the clearness and crispness of tone ! The songs were chiefly written by the person members, without collaboration. This led to some interesting circumstances – such as “ The Chain ” being cobbled together from about 4 different songs and closely being left off the album
While the form of Rumors had far besides many twists and turns ( and drugs ) to fully explore here, I ’ ll leave you with the words of Stylus Magazine ’ s Patrick McKay in the hopes that you look far into the floor of one of the best albums of the 70 ’ s :
“ What distinguishes Rumours—what makes it art—is the contradiction between its cheerful surface and its anguish heart. here is a radio-friendly record about anger, recrimination, and loss. ”

Bitches Brew
Miles Davis, 1970

Miles Davis never stayed in one place for long. By the time of Bitches Brew, he was more interest in artists like Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix than in other jazz musicians, and with Bitches Brew he set out to create what he heard in his head. Producer Teo Macero speaks hera about working with Miles ( and some of the … difficulties … that entailed ) on the album :
Cutting and editing together bits and pieces of a three-day recording seance where the musicians were given little to no direction, Davis created an avant-garde masterpiece, filled with staccato start-stop sections and repeated grooves that blaze the way for the jazz-rock fusion of the 1970 ’ south. Though surely not the most accessible of Davis ’ albums, it is one of the most advanced and significant. I ‘ll besides fight anyone who says it does n’t have the best album artwork of anything Miles always did. The dreamlike painting absolutely represents the revolutionary music inside. You can learn more about the floor behind the sleeve and the artist, Mati Klarwein, in this article .

Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys, 1966

“ Pet Sounds was something that was absolutely different. Something I personally felt. That one album that was in truth more me than Mike Love and the browse records and all that, and ‘Kokomo ‘. That ‘s all their kind of stuff, you know ? ”
– Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson had in full taken over creative control of the Beach Boys at this sharpen, writing songs so complex the master members couldn ’ t even perform them without hours of drill. Some even consider Pet Sounds a Wilson alone undertaking, and indeed “ Caroline, No ” was released as his solo debut .
“ If you take the Pet Sounds album as a collection of art pieces, each designed to stand alone, yet which belong in concert, you ‘ll see what I was aiming at. … It was n’t truly a sung concept album, or lyrically a concept album ; it was in truth a output concept album. ”
– Brian Wilson
With pioneering engineer techniques ( including Wilson ’ s refinement of the celebrated ‘ Wall of Sound ’ manner ), unheard of instrumentation, and a litany of perplex musicians ( including L.A ’ s celebrated ‘ Wrecking Crew ’ ), Pet Sounds silent stands among the greats of record music, and 50 years after its release, shows no signs of going anywhere .

OK Computer
Radiohead, 1997

Dubbed by pronounce executives as uncommercial, OK Computer cemented Radiohead as the pre-eminent british rock band of the 90 ’ south ( Yes, even over Oasis. ) and was an immediate commercial success for the group. Breaking from the guitar-driven audio of The Bends, it showed the worldly concern a group unafraid to try anything and everything in pursuit of something new.

“ Everyone said, You ‘ll sell six or seven million if you bring out The Bends Pt 2, and we ‘re like, ‘We ‘ll kick against that and do the opposite ‘. ”
– Ed O ’ Brien, Guitarist
Produced by Nigel Godrich in collaboration with the band and recorded inside an english manor house owned by Jane Seymour, OK Computer epitomizes its claim. Sparse, electronic arrangements and songs focused on consumerism, social alienation, and emotional isolation lend to an album that eerily foreshadowed the twenty-first hundred ’ sulfur largest philosophic concerns. Drawing inspiration everywhere from Miles Davis to Noam Chomsky, Thom Yorke describes some of the think process that went into the record :
“ We had a sound in our heads that we had to get onto tape, and that ‘s an atmosphere that ‘s possibly a sting shocking when you first hear it, but only vitamin a shocking as the standard atmosphere on Pet Sounds. Pet Sounds is an fabulously amazing pop record, but it ‘s besides an album. It does n’t quite fit the “ format, ” or whatever, but then the kind of things we were listening to were so removed from all that anyhow. We were n’t in truth listening to any bands at all — it was all like Miles Davis and Ennio Morricone and composers like Penderaki, which is sort of atmospheric, atonal wyrd stuff. We were n’t listening to any pop music at all, but not because we hated pop music — because what we were doing was pop music — we barely did n’t want to be reminded of the fact. Bitches ‘ Brew by Miles Davis was the start luff of how things should sound ; it ‘s got this incredibly dense and terrifying sound to it. That ‘s what I was trying to get — that voice — that was the sound in my fountainhead. The only early plaza I ‘d heard it was on a Morricone record. I ‘d never heard it in pop music. I did n’t hear it there. It was n’t there. It was n’t like we were being snob or anything, it was just like, “ This is saying the same stuff we want to say. ”

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