We had a little break over the last two weeks from our weekly countdown of the 100 Recordings that Changed Music. You can follow these links to read Part One and Part Two before continuing down our list in today’s 80-71 countdown.
We’ve got ten tracks here that we really feel re-defined music production, some in small, minor ways and others that caused seismic, Earth-shattering changes to the way music is written, recorded and produced. This week rather than doing this a page per track we’re going to feature the full ten tracks on this page below. So without further ado, let us continue our journey…..
80: THE CHAIN Fleetwood Mac (1976) Producers: Fleetwood Mac/ Ken Caillat/Richard Dashut
Rumours has sold in excess of 40 million copies and it’s a quintessential 1970s rock album. The cocaine-fuelled sessions took place at Record Plant Studios in Sausalito with engineers/co producers Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut, who used a 3M 24-track recorder and an API mixing desk with 55A equalizers. Although never released as a single, The Chain has become Rumours’ most recognisable track through its association with Formula 1. The Chain’s guitar solo and drums were the only instruments played live on this album of overdubs where the original mutitrack tapes eventually wore out.
79: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Queen (1975) Producer: Roy Thomas Baker/Queen
Starting in Rockfield, sessions for Rhapsody continued at Roundhouse, SARM (East), Scorpion and Wessex. Much of the piece revolves around Mercury’s Bechstein grand, but the huge vocal chorus sections really define the track. During continuous 12-hour sessions, Mercury, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor (handling the tenor, bass and soprano parts respectively) laid down 180 separate overdubs on slave tape reels that were bounced for editing.
78: CROSS (Album) Justice (2007) Producers: Gaspard Augé/ Xavier de Rosnay
French electronic duo Justice ply a clever blend of house music and something resembling funk, characterised by cut-up bass lines (sometimes slap bass with heavily compressed, distorted synths) and very dry drums. Live, the band is quite experimental, using Ableton as well as JazzMutant Lemur input devices to mash up and mangle tracks on-the-fly.
77: BE MY BABY The Ronettes (1963) Producer: Phil Spector
Perhaps the best example of Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound, Be My Baby features numerous pianos and acoustic guitars playing in unison along with strings, drums and castanets. Topped with Ronnie Spector’s vocal, the track is bathed in the echo-chamber sound of Hollywood’s Goldstar Studios. A favourite of Beach Boy Brian Wilson (who also used Goldstar), he has claimed to have listened to the song 100 times a day in order to recapture that classic sound.
76: WAY TO BLUE Nick Drake. Producer Joe Boyd 1969
Nick Drake died in 1974 but his popularity, critical standing and fame have never been greater. Drake’s early music owes more to the English pastoral tradition than the folk scene he was nominally part of. The Five Leaves Left album was recorded during July 1968 at Sound Techniques, London, and featured the talents of Richard and Danny Thompson (no relation) as well as Drake’s mesmerising acoustic guitar work. However, this track features only Drake’s close-mic’ed vocals and the stunning string arrangement of his Cambridge University friend Robert Kirby.
75: BIRDLAND Weather Report (1977) Producers: Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius & Weather Report
Much as some would like us to try, we can’t entirely overlook jazz fusion. Weather Report lasted longer than most of their contemporaries and featured some stellar musicians of the genre. Fretless bassist Jaco Pastorius is the standout performer on this track with his trademark pinched harmonics, but there’s plenty to interest analogue synth enthusiasts too. Unusually, for an instrumental jazz piece, this track was a commercial success. Taken from the album Heavy Weather that was recorded at Devonshire Sound Studios in North Hollywood.
74: LONDON CALLING The Clash (1979) Producers: Guy Stevens/Mick Jones
Looking back at the Sex Pistols after three decades, they seem like a bit of a pantomime act. The Clash don’t – and they never will. The album was engineered by Bill Price at Wessex Studios (probably using a notoriously complicated Cadac mixing desk), with most songs recorded in one or two takes. The title track was influenced by the Three Mile Island nuclear accident but also addressed social issues in the UK at the time. Despite the record company’s objections, the band hired the troubled and unconventional producer Guy Stevens, whom the band credits as a major influence on the album.
73: RAW POWER Iggy Pop & The Stooges (1973) Producers: Iggy Pop/David Bowie
Like many seminal recordings, Raw Power’s importance was only fully realised many years after its release. Recorded in London’s Whitfield Street Studios, Iggy handled the production and mixing. Columbia rejected these mixes and David Bowie ended up re-mixing the album in a cheap LA studio called Western Sound Recorders in just a single day. Bowie recalls that Iggy showed up with a 24-track tape, with the band on one track, Iggy’s vocal on another and the lead guitar on a third. Raw Power is the album’s title track.
72: KICK OUT THE JAMS MC5 (1968) Producers: Jac Holzman/Bruce Botnick
Motown overshadows Detroit’s vibrant musical legacy. The MC (Motor City) 5 were proto-punks and, coming in at less than three minutes, the song was addressed to all the blues bores and their interminably dopey jam sessions that seemed all-pervasive at the fag-end of the 60s. The track was recorded live on 30/31 October at The Grand Ballroom in Detroit. The original lineup lasted until 1972; unfortunately, jamming culture endured a while longer…
71 COMPUTER WORLD Kraftwerk (1980) Producers: Ralf Hutter/Florian Schneider
Some claim that hip hop derives from jazz swing grooves, but listen to Computer World and ask yourself if hip hop would ever have existed without Kraftwerk. The track was recorded at the band’s Kling Klang studio in Düsseldorf. Check out the electronic vocals, provided by a Texas Instruments language translator and vocoders. Ironically, the band didn’t even own a computer at the time.
Join us next week for the next ten in our list, what do you think should be included?