Producers on this page:
Dallas Austin - Tom Dowd - George Duke - Sergio George - Glyn Johns - Bill Laswell - John Leckie - Steve Lillywhite - Arif Mardin - Richard Perry - Nile Rodgers - Rick Rubin - Phil Spector - Narada Michael Walden
Q: How many producers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: I don't know, what do you think?
Kidding aside, producers can range from bureaucrats who know nothing about music and just take credit for the artist's work, to the other extreme of producer/writer/arrangers who dominate a record's sound so heavily you can hardly tell who the artist is. In between, there are producers who really work with the individual artist or group, helping to get their unique approach, perspective and ideas out of their heads and onto tape. Here we've rounded up a number of producers who've worked with at least four different artists reviewed on our site. (Artists with their own pages who've also produced other people, for example Quincy Jones and Prince, are not covered here.) (DBW)
George DukeThere comes a time in every R&B artist's life when you end up working with George Duke. Unfortunately.
Sergio GeorgePrimarily known for the New York Sound of 80s/90s salsa, George has worked with a broad swath of artists and tends to get the best out of whoever he's working with.
Bill LaswellExtremely prolific New York-based producer, who typically plays bass, assembles beats and loops, and gets a couple of co-writes on the records he produces. Paradoxically, though, he can be very lazy: using the same bass lines and rhythm patterns on record after record, homogenizing Third World musical forms to fit his standard ambient-trance-funk approach, and leaning on his core musicians whether they're appropriate for a given project or not. I get the impression Laswell thinks purely on the genre level - "Some metal here, some funk there, a rapper here, some ambient sound there" - without considering whether the melodies, harmonies or rhythms are actually any good. In particular, when Laswell falls in love with someone's lyrical vision he puts no thought into the backing tracks, settling for drab, unchanging semi-funk grooves. Laswell deserves nothing but praise, though, for reviving the careers of old-school pioneers like Bootsy Collins, Buddy Miles, and Grandmaster Melle Mel, and launching guitar virtuoso Buckethead. Perhaps Laswell's greatest success was 1983's "Rockit!," which not only brought turntable scratching to Top 40 radio and breakdancing to television, but also brought Herbie Hancock back from slick soul/fusion irrelevance. I'm listing just the projects I have reviewed or intend to review in the near future - there are dozens more. (DBW)
John LeckieBritish producer who lent a distinctively psychedelic 60s sheen to several sophisticated pop-rock records in the 80s and 90s.
Richard PerryAt his best, Perry produces pop that's catchy but sophisticated. The rest of the time, he gets whoever he's producing to cover 70s rock standards using whatever production technique is currently "hot." (DBW)
Rick RubinCo-founder of Def Jam Records and current Columbia exec, Rubin started out producing hip hop artists, moved into heavy metal, and has since split his time between helming high-profile pop releases and resurrecting desiccated idols like Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond.
Phil SpectorProbably the first producer to become more famous than the acts he produced, Spector created a distinctive "wall of sound" approach, and is almost never referred to without the epithet "enigmatic." (DBW)
Narada Michael Walden