Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I think regular readers of this blog would expect my vote for best rock and roll producer to be Todd Rundgren, and he certainly is among my favorites.

Truth be told, I am not sure I could name a favorite, because there are a lot of great ones out there, and they each seem to excel in their own niche.

I might have to go with Rick Rubin if I were pressed, simply because he has worked with such a diverse roster of artists, but is not quite as heavy-handed as Todd (who ends up leaving most of his charges with an album that sounds like it belongs in his catalog).

The Washington Times published their list of the top five knob-twiddlers. Each has exerted a strong influence over how acts sound, because at their best - or, if you prefer, their pushiest — producers often are de facto composers.

The text below in red font is from the Washington Times article.

1. George Martin — How do you turn a scruffy quartet of Liverpudlians into the most innovative act in rock history? Hook ‘em up with the classically inclined yet progressive-minded Mr. Martin.

2. Phil Spector — The progenitor of the so-called Wall of Sound (lots of echo and orchestration), Mr. Spector and his sonic architecture left indelible impressions on artists from Brian Wilson to Bruce Springsteen.

3. Quincy Jones — The 75-year-old is legendary in his own right as a composer and arranger. (The theme music for “Sanford and Son,” anyone?) But he found his biggest payday in a former child star, whom he helped turn into the biggest pop star in the world. Michael Jackson’s three albums with Mr. Jones (“Off the Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad”) were his best and best-selling. He hasn’t come close since.

4. Jeff Lynne — An inveterate wall-of-sounder from his days as the frontman of the Electric Light Orchestra, Mr. Lynne has a distinctive stamp: bright guitars, sunny orchestration and ringing vocal harmonies. Using a pair of unearthed John Lennon demos, he even made the Beatles sound like Jeff Lynne.

5. Brian Eno/Daniel Lanois — How do you take a scruffy quartet of Dubliners and turn them into the most popular band of the past 25 years? Hook ‘em up with master boardmen like Mr. Eno and Mr. Lanois. They’re not shabby on their own, either. Mr. Eno, a Roxy Music original, has done memorable work with Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads, while Mr. Lanois helped revitalize the recording career of Bob Dylan (“Oh Mercy,” “Time out of Mind”).

I would have ranked Todd higher than a couple of the names on this list, but there are others that are not on here that I cannot believe were left off.

Even if the list is all about who sold the most records, I think you might have to consider Alan Parsons for an obscure album called "Dark Side Of The Moon," or Robert "Mutt" Lange for a few Def Leppard titles that sold a bazillion copies. 

Heck, just going by the nickname of "Mutt" should insure his  spot on the list! 

Jimmy Iovine also comes to mind, as does T-Bone Burnette, and what about some character named Brian Wilson who I hear sold a few records when he was not on the beach with his woodie and his best girl?

If sales are important, Todd did produce an album called "Bat Out Of Hell" that sold a copy or two and paid for his house on the beach in Hawaii.

Not bad for a kid from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

That darn liberal media can't get anything right...

Back off, musical Left-I am kidding! 

The only constant about any "top" list is that every reader will think someone was left off!

I just happen to be right.

There are also interesting lists of producers HERE and HERE 


  1. I tried to visit both of the lists you linked to, but they were so full of embedded clips and links and photos and such that they would not load properly on my computer. Therefore, I don't know if Booker T. Jones was listed on either of them, but he certainly should be.

    I don't know where Booker ought to be ranked when it comes to the greatest producers, but he produced albums and songs by Otis Redding and Albert King, amongst others.

    He also produced Willie Nelson's 'STARDUST' album which was so successful and popular that it started the entire 'Current Pop Stars Recording Standards From The Great American Songbook' movement. Without Willie's 'STARDUST', brilliantly produced by Booker T., there never would have been all those albums by Rod Stewart singing stuffs by Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, etc.

    Come to think of it... maybe Booker should be blamed for this, rather than praised for it. Ha!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Interesting, Stephen, as I do not think of Booker T. as a producer, and missed that he produced Stardust.

      I usually think of Linda Ronstadt of having started that trend, but think Willie beat her to it by at least five years (I just did not learn of Stardust until the last decade-not sure if I picked it up at your recommendation or not but I think that was a title I got when Tower was going out of business)..

      I do not recall Booker's name on either of the lists.

    I've got that great 'STARDUST' album playing as I type this comment...

    Yes, you're right, Ronstadt was another one, as well as Stewart, and I know there have been a couple more whose names currently escape me.

    I just looked into it and the following comes from Wikipedia:

    In 1981, Ronstadt produced and recorded an album of jazz and pop standards (later marketed in bootleg form) titled Keeping Out of Mischief with the assistance of producer Jerry Wexler. However, Ronstadt's displeasure with the final result led her, with regrets, to scrap the project. "Doing that killed me," she said in a Time magazine interview.

    But the appeal of the album's music had seduced Ronstadt, as she told Down Beat magazine in April 1985, crediting Wexler for encouraging her. Nonetheless, Ronstadt had to somehow convince her reluctant record company, Elektra Records, to greenlight this type of album under her contract.

    By 1983, Ronstadt had enlisted the help of 62-year-old conductor and master of jazz/traditional pop orchestration Nelson Riddle. The two embarked on an unorthodox and original approach to rehabilitating the Great American Songbook, recording a trilogy of jazz/ traditional pop albums: What's New (1983—U.S. 3.7 million as of 2010); Lush Life (1984—U.S. 1.7 million as of 2010); and For Sentimental Reasons (1986—U.S. 1.3 million as of 2010). The three albums have had a combined sales total of nearly seven million copies in the U.S. alone.

    DISCDUDE, depending upon whether one chooses the 1981 date or '83, Willie's 1978 'STARDUST' album beat Ronstadt to that idea by 3 or 5 years. And Willie Nelson's album was such an unexpected smash hit that there can be no question that Ronstadt got the idea from Nelson's success. It was actually Willie and Booker who "embarked on an unorthodox and original approach to rehabilitating the Great American Songbook".

    Wikipedia... as I always say, is reliable for only two things: Correct dates, and the correct spelling of names. And that's ALL!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. Well I d not know about the scrapped album , but the 1983 date sounds about right for the Nelson Riddle collaboration-I remember buying the LP for my mother for Christmas and later purchased all three titles in a two-disc set for myself.

      I should have said "used to think" instead of "usually think" as I have known about and owned the Willie Nelson album for quite some time.

      I was not challenging your initial comment, it's just that the Rondstadt albums were the first standards albums I'd ever heard.

      I do not recall what prompted me to purchase Stardust, but I am certain it was after I moved to AZ and almost as certain that it was after the turn of the millennium. It is a BMG Music Club edition, so it could be as recent as 2009. But I'll assume I heard about it from you, as I know I rant a lot about how everyone is simply churing out covers albums instead of writing songs.

  3. Not for a second did I think you were "challenging" my initial comment. In fact, it was totally obvious that you were agreeing with it.

    Your comment inspired me to look into the Ronstadt albums of a similar nature, that's all.

    ~ D-FensDogg

    1. There were so many statistics, I wondered what prompted it!

      I am a little surprised that Rondstadt's discarded album has not yet been officially release, although now that she's officially retired it probably will not be long before they get around to it...

  4. Terry Brown was always a favorite of mine, simply for the work he did on the Rush albums.

    1. Alex-Terry has also worked with a prog band called Tiles that you might enjoy.