In listening to several new albums released in the past couple of months my thoughts drifted to the broad category of "Indie" music. I'm not going to get into all the indie and alternative music dynamics as the business of popular music evolved or devolved in the late 20th century. What I'm thinking here in 2023 is that the general public doesn't know or hear about the 'Record Producer' much anymore.
Back in the day, major label recording artists would all use or were even assigned a Producer by the record company to enhance the odds of creating a hit song. One reason that artists slowly blew up this model was for the fact that the record label often used the Producer to control the recording process and thus, the product.
As newer folk, rock 'n' roll and rock artists and bands became more independent, the meaning of indie itself kind of found two camps.
- Successful and signed artists wanting control of their content in making albums on an established record label and,
- Lesser successful and unsigned artists without a record contract and a friggin' dime.
In cutting to the chase, sometimes in hearing professional artists self-produce their recordings is that feeling I get that something is missing. It's hard for me as a non-musician to put my finger on it, but maybe an established record producer à la Glyn Johns or Phil Ramone could add that punch and magic to make a professional recording, well more professional.
In listening to the indie pop group The Lemon Twigs' new album, Everything Harmony, I got the feeling that there are some really good songs here, but if they had only used a producer à la Todd Rundgren, I bet it would have been even better.
What's great about YouTube is hearing both the polished song version on an album, and the unpolished versions of the same song in various live performances. I'm often looking for the live performance of a song, and that is so much easier and accessible with music made in the 21st century.
As film turned to tape in late 60's, so many great performance really can't be heard or even seen well in the digital transfer to a YouTube video. Maybe that's why my old ear falls back to the standard of songs that were well produced and released on vinyl when hearing those 60's-70's original recordings on YouTube today.
In relation to songs being recorded today, I'm not talking about the quality of analog vs. digital, I'm talking about the teamwork of an artist and producer crafting the arrangement of a song together.
I don't want to make this a generational thing, I love and appreciate a lot of music being recorded today. On one hand it's easier to make music and share it with the world, on the other hand, it's still a small group of artists who get a great record deal and all the things that go with making a record, like maybe, an experienced record producer.
Enjoy the playlist my friends!