7 Classic Albums That Would Improve with Different Production: Paul Simon, Oasis and more
Though I wrote a list a few weeks ago about classic albums that sound awful, I wouldn't change a thing about the way any of those albums were produced. When I sit down and listen to Raw Power, I want it to be rough and fuzzy, because that's the kind of music the Stooges made. These seven albums, however, would have greatly benefited from a production overhaul.
1. Paul Simon - Graceland (1986)
Like virtually every album produced during the '80s, Paul Simon's brilliant Graceland was subjected to massive quantities of inorganic reverb and thinly recorded guitars, which undermines the music's South African influences rather than enhances them. Though it was probably difficult finding a producer during the '80s that wouldn't make an album sound this way, Brian Eno could have handled the music better, having worked with similarly African-influenced Talking Heads.
2. Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (1994)
Sunny Day Real Estate's debut album Diary isn't poorly produced on a technical level, but the songs cry out for something punchier and more intense than what producer Brad Wood provided. The guitars don't sound as immediate as they could, and the drums are recorded with a bland room tone and mixed slightly too loud. If the band wanted a big, slick sound, then Nevermind and Siamese Dream producer Butch Vig could have done excellent work with these songs.
3. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Though music from the '80s is known for its cold, chorused, and reverb-heavy sound, '70s rock sounded quite the opposite, employing a highly compressed sound that was dry and warm, most successfully executed on Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. Less successful examples of this style came from the glam rock scene, most notably David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album. Though Mick Ronson's guitar tones are pure ear candy, the rest of the album comes off as thin, particularly the drums and Bowie's acoustic guitar. If Jimmy Page had taken a brief break from Led Zeppelin to record Bowie, the songs would have sounded much bigger and more muscular.
4. Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
Volume was an integral part to the music of Oasis, but there's a fine line between tasteful volume and the obliteration of dynamics, and (What's the Story) Morning Glory? leans towards the latter. The track "Morning Glory" is a perfect example of this: the song begins at one volume and remains there for five minutes, even as the band drops in and out. It sounds like a jet taking off, and not in an awesome, "let's stand in the front row for My Bloody Valentine," kind of way. A band as huge as Oasis could have used some help from Flood and Alan Moulder, the producers of Smashing Pumpkins' epic Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
5. Husker Du - New Day Rising (1985)
It would be easy to blame New Day Rising producer Spot for the top-heavy, incomprehensibly fuzzy sound of the album, but Husker Du continued sounding like this even after the band took over production of its own albums. Bob Mould simply loved turning up his distortion and chorus pedals way too high, and I don't know if any producer could have convinced him otherwise.
6. R.E.M. - Reckoning (1984)
The production on R.E.M.'s second album Reckoning isn't bad, but simply confusing when considering it came after Murmur, which somehow took messy '80s production and made it organic and lean. After such a uniquely produced debut, R.E.M. seemed to backtrack when it came to production, which made the rest of its '80s output sound like typical '80s alt-rock.
7. The Clash - The Clash (1977)
If there's any reason why I would choose to listen to the Sex Pistols' debut over the Clash's, it's the production. Never Mind the Bollocks has those incredible swirling guitar tones and punchy kick drums, while The Clash had the typically clipped, concise sound of '70s punk. If you combined the Clash's songs with the Sex Pistols' production, you'd probably have the greatest punk album in British history.