Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Producers: Steve Lillywhite

Yesterday's mention of Steve Lillywhite got me thinking about all of the great names he has produced through the years... especially in the '80s. Siouxsie & the Banshees, Simple Minds, Marshall Crenshaw, Morrissey, Crowded House, World Party and Ultravox are just the tip of the iceberg. I think producers are a lot like sports referees. If you don't hear too much about them, they are probably doing a good job. It's tough to butt heads with rock-n-roll egos, but sometimes a producer sees art in a different way. This has happened a few times with Lillywhite, and there are a few bad stories floating around out there, but not too many when you consider his vast discography.

Crenshaw fans have been highly critical of Lillywhite's production on 'Field Day'. I admit the record has a muddier sound than Crenshaw's debut. Many have sought the 12" U.S. Remix of the 'Field Day' song "For Her Love" simply because it was not produced by Lillywhite. I have read interviews with Crenshaw that illustrate he liked the production, and so do I. In fact, it is my favorite Crenshaw album. A band that didn't like Lillywhite's work on their album was The La's. In fact, they disliked him so much they admitted to purposely playing poorly with hopes the record would not be released. It didn't work, and their debut LP was a big hit in the UK anyway. The La's spent many years afterward dissing the record, saying it was "like a snake with a broken back". The band's frontman vowed to never release anything else until the record was re-recorded. Ouch. The only other Lillywhite horror story I have heard about dealt with being fired by Dave Matthews Band. I could go into specifics, but since we are talking about DMB, who cares? Besides, there is just too much great music with the Lillywhite touch to realize these are isolated instances.

Besides the long list of bands I have listed above, here is a mix of others Lillywhite produced. It's quite impressive.

U2 - Two Hearts Beat As One (mp3)
XTC- Helicopter (mp3)
Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers (mp3)
Talking Heads - (Nothing But) Flowers (mp3)
The La's - Timeless Melody (mp3)
Big Country - In A Big Country (mp3)
The Psychedelic Furs - Pretty in Pink (mp3)
She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? (mp3)
The Rolling Stones - One Hit (To the Body) (12" Single) (mp3)
The Thompson Twins - In the Name of Love (mp3)

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