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Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

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msnickybee
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Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby msnickybee » Sun May 29, 2016 4:28 am

Ok, so you get the idea, here's mine with YouTube links and why:

BUT YOU'RE ONLY ALLOWED FIVE

Heal the Pain (George Michael & Paul McCartney)
Great melodic vocal sound, despite heavy loudness mastering & autotune, just fab. This track was redone with Macca 10 years or so after initial album release. Listen to any George for his amazing vocals, and bass control on the track (eg "Everything She Wants" - you won't get better, technically a "Wham!" track). Listen to him or Macca to hear stuff that also behaves nice when played in your car too.

Another Day - Paul McCartney
For the songwriting & chords, smooth bass (he always thought he overdid it), home made table-tap sounds (I really wanted to include a George Martin one here eg "Tug Of War")

Cloudbusting - Kate Bush
And here's how you orchestrate and build rhythm. In Kate's case with just a Fairlight, some Cello's, and a studio she just built. And she's in 1984. Wow. Mind you, jump over to Peter Gabriel's "So" too.

A Most Peculiar Man - Simon & Garfunkel
Not a well known one (from the "Sounds of Silence" album) but here's how you start simple

Born and Raised (the track) - John Mayer
Just about the only album (and it's very cool) I know that you can listen to on *anything* with EQ fully off (something I never ever ever ever do), great mastering skill (Bob Ludwig!) esp the 44-24 version (even tho it's basically Neil Young's Harvest Moon)

PS
I hate sticking to five, and missing out Suzanne Vega, Supertramp, Jeff Lynne, Lloyd Cole, Jack Johnson, Fleetwood Mac, O.M.D, Sting, Crowded House... but... I'd be talking more about melody and songwriting and attitude there. Which is different.
:-)
Last edited by msnickybee on Mon May 30, 2016 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby AHornsby » Sun May 29, 2016 10:05 am

It's too difficult (for me) to try and sustain any credible knowledge of 'production' values for a time when I had no clue.

i don't want to have to listen to them all again so I'd just have to say that I was always partial to (orchestral) strings AND guitars AND squeeze boxes-- even though I was a percussionist -- and aside from Zepplin's Stairway (with some excellent flute accompaniment) -- I'd have to go with just two that made some impression from a production standpoint.

McCartneys 'Michelle' and 'Green Tambourine' by the Lemon Pipers. -h

P.S. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cf4eLaqk13E

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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby msnickybee » Mon May 30, 2016 2:44 am

AHornsby wrote:It's too difficult (for me) to try and sustain any credible knowledge of 'production' values...... I don't want to have to listen to them all again

Well, *apart* from Accordions (!), what songs are there that you do still listen to over and over and over again that you admire how they sound? I guess that's where I was going....
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby AHornsby » Mon May 30, 2016 4:11 am

msnickybee wrote:Well, *apart* from Accordions (!),


:lol:

Oh, just anything really.The newer the better. Maybe I'm just looking for the best apple on the tree but I don't find as much comfort in hearing something again and again as I once did. I've been turning up Soundcloud lately and just letting the Deep House original mixes play.(Maybe I've heard TOO MUCH but I've just started a new MC project with those mixes in mind.)

And you? (Just slightly OT) Doesn't any well-produced music ever go sour on you?

-h

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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby Mark Bliss » Mon May 30, 2016 6:19 am

Hmmm, even though tastes and preferences change (a lot) as I get older, theres certainly those pieces of work that always make you smile, or "take you back" so to speak, even when you have heard them so many times you should be tired of them.
And even over and above that, there has always been work well outside of my tastes that make me go "wow" in appreciation of the production!
Picking a good 5 for examples would be hard for me. Narrowing it down to "the" five for me would require some serious thought! Just 5? :lol:
For me, the magic happens when the songwriting meets an emotive performance and combines with just the right composition and arrangement and the producer captures it all in his presentation. Its elusive magic is what it is. And it often moves the listener in ways they aren't even aware of.
Then there's the appreciation for the talented manipulation of limited technology from times gone by.
And there's the appreciation for the avant garde experimentation far outside the box.......

5? Really? I've carefully studied recordings ranging from the scratchy earliest recordings of the Blues of southeast USA, archival recordings of obscure Appalachian music, the music of my father's era and the music of my youthful era and of modern music. Picking just 5 that impress and amaze me would be impossible. I appreciate the work involved in all of it.
What I have in phases of my life listened to over and over doesn't really reflect fully that appreciation for me, but.....

Certainly classic albums like Sgt Pepper or Dark Side of the Moon meet some of my criteria. Amazing pieces of work, especially if you consider the technology of the time.
The effort and skill it must have taken for Eddie Kramer to get the results he did in sessions with Hendrix must qualify on the production side of the question. What a mess that must have been! (Kramer sheds light on this in some eye opening old interviews. If there's one producer I could choose to be......) Of course many of my favorites would come from an era when I was of a certain age, discovering and exploring music, but even now with all this modern capability, its hard to beat what was happening in the late 60's, early 70's for me.
And theres certain old songs in various styles and genres that will always move me. Dock of the Bay/Otis Redding, Lean on me/Bill Withers, Oh theres too many. Marvin Gaye moved me. Ray Charles.
And of course I wore out some of what are now called "stoner rock" albums. Cant deny. 8) Black Sabbath/Paranoid is actually quite a piece of work.
Oh My, This list could go on through/for a few decades. :D
Stay in tune, Mark

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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby msnickybee » Mon May 30, 2016 1:59 pm

Mark Bliss wrote:there has always been work well outside of my tastes that make me go "wow" in appreciation of the production!
Picking a good 5 for examples would be hard for me. Narrowing it down to "the" five for me would require some serious thought! Just 5? :lol:
Never said it was easy!!!

Mark Bliss wrote:For me, the magic happens when the songwriting meets an emotive performance and combines with just the right composition and arrangement and the producer captures it all in his presentation. Its elusive magic is what it is. And it often moves the listener in ways they aren't even aware of.
Then there's the appreciation for the talented manipulation of limited technology from times gone by.
Absolutely, I like how you say this, totally agree.

Mark Bliss wrote:5? Really?
Yes.

Mark Bliss wrote:And theres certain old songs in various styles and genres that will always move me
Ah well, I agree, but "which songs move me" would be an entirely different post I think Mister!
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby Mark Bliss » Mon May 30, 2016 5:06 pm

Too hard. And I forgot to add the thought that sometimes its hard to tell really. You put a mic in front of a performance and do nothing and magic happens. It wasn't the production at all.

It would be far easier, for me anyway- if the question was about music of importance that anyone who cares should take the time to not just listen to, but study. Or a list of epic albums that should be in every producers collection or something like that. It would still be a long list. 5 is not possible. Even if I tried I would quickly realize I had missed something important.

You mentioned Jeff Lynne, have to agree and add Tom Scholz (Boston).
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby Mab098157 » Tue May 31, 2016 7:51 am

Ok I'll bite...

Just grabbing any 5 from my playlist of great mixes. This playlist is my goto for mixing inspiration.
All great songwriting where the production pushes it to another level.
These are some of the songs I will continue to chase for the rest of my life.

Mendocino County Line - Willie Nelson/Lee Ann Womack - artist, Matt Serletic and Bernie Taupin - writers, Matt Serletic - producer. Perfect capture of performances, arraignment, Thick with every nuisance given the right spot/space.

The Man's too Strong - Dire Straits - artist, Mark Knopfler - writer, Neil Dorfsman and Mark Knopfler - producers.
Great example of capturing the dynamics and subtlety of the arraignment.

Narcotic Prayer - Chris Whitley - artist, Chris Whitley -writer, John Custer and Chris Whitley - producers. Raw, gritty, dangerous and emotional. A great example of the perfect moments that elevate a song. The moment(s) when everything hits together and its magical. "I copped and caught a movie", guitar riff, "but you know it can't last" - this moment makes my heart stop every time I hear it.

Don't try to change her - Peter Wolf - Artist, Peter Wolf - writer, Peter Wolf and Kenny White - producers.
A rich tapestry beautifully produced. The seamless weaving of instruments in the break amazes me.

Abbey Road Album - Beatles - George Martin - enough said. Yes, this puts me over 5- sue me.
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby Tiasdad » Tue May 31, 2016 2:43 pm

I'll have a stab at it but bear in mind, I prefer music that tells a story.

Tubular Bells - Mike Oldfield : The guy is a magician in writing, performing and producing his own work.
War Of The Worlds - Jeff Wayne : I'm still waiting to go see the live stage show. A definite on my bucket list.
Peter And The Wolf - Sergei Prokofiev : My first real experience of classical music as a 5 year old. It will stay with me forever.
Fast Car - Tracy Chapman : A great example of keeping things simple yet very effective.
Redemption Song - Bob Marley : I love reggae and the sunshine feeling it gives me. This one is 'The Classic' for me.
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby midimoose » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:54 am

Interesting premise! I'm sure these lists break down by generation, but as far as 5 "go-to's" that I can come back to year after year... not in any order, and with a disclaimer that the list could change by the hour--

The Band- Acadian Driftwood. Details the eviction of the French from Canada to Louisiana--the Cajuns, who formed such a vibrant part of the culture of the American south.
Joni Mitchell- Song for Sharon. Killer bass part by Max Bennett.
The late Stan Rogers- Scarborough Settler's Lament. Great song about fundraising attempts for the IRA in Canada.
Ambrosia- The biggest Part of Me. IMO, beautifully produced, (some would say overly). I love the bounce of it and the backing vocals.
Steely Dan- the "Aja" CD. Meticulous! Great headphone stuff.

But, I might just as easily be listening to: Fairport Convention, or Puccini, or Vaughan Williams, or Traffic, or Van Morrison, or Bonnie Raitt, pre-Buckingham/Nix Fleetwood, old Genesis....or...or...or :lol: Rick.
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby Mark Bliss » Sat Jun 04, 2016 7:34 am

Oh man there's some tasteful examples and suggestions here.

Mark, Mendocino county line is one excellent production. Stellar choice.

Gary, The Tracy Chapman song, another outstanding choice. I'd add "give me one reason." Nice work.

And Rick, Steely Dan and all the people who went into/came out of that stuff. Commendable observations. Hints at several other great examples in there too.

I am going to throw an oddball out, relevant only in the sense that I think it is one amazing bit of production work. Something I would aspire to? Cant even imagine. Performance, engineering, production...... Huge and amazing team, and some big names behind the curtain too..
David Gilmour, Live at Gdansk.
Keep in mind, I usually avoid live examples like they were the plague. Just inspiring work there.
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby outteh » Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:14 pm

OK! Here's my picks based on engineering and mastering. Caution, some of them go way back! Prefer the originals also in vinl, not the remastered CD takes.

Rolling Stones - Aftemath - Flight 505, Lady Jane, Under my Thumb
Beatles - Sgt Peppers - With a Little Help From My Friends
Beatles - White Album - the whole thing, I could listen to this over and over and never tire.
Bruce Hornsby and the Range - any cut. :D

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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby msnickybee » Mon Jun 06, 2016 6:02 am

outteh wrote:OK! Here's my picks based on engineering and mastering. Caution, some of them go way back! Prefer the originals also in vinl, not the remastered CD takes.

Rolling Stones - Aftemath - Flight 505, Lady Jane, Under my Thumb
Beatles - Sgt Peppers - With a Little Help From My Friends
Beatles - White Album - the whole thing, I could listen to this over and over and never tire.
Bruce Hornsby and the Range - any cut. :D

You're allowed one more ;-)

Great choice with Bruce Hornsby IMHO, not heard him for years.

And Mike Oldfield mentioned too, "Moonlight Shadow", perfect pop, and what a guitar solo.

So.... could any of us come up with any on these lists that were written and recorded in the last Decade.......?
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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby mick » Mon Jun 06, 2016 3:22 pm

I can't do five because my tastes go far and wide (so sorry to be a spoilsport!) but here's a sneak peek of the stuff I enjoy.
I'm not a fuzzy feedback /bit crusher fan as I prefer to hear the tones of guitar strings harmonising rather than explosive electronics going into meltdown. (and taking my ears with it) No offence intended as we all have different ideas of what music is and I do respect all tastes. 8)

The lyric is great, its beautifully performed, the individual instruments are easy to pick out so you can listen to it and focus on a different part each time. The sustained tremolo organ tones carries the melody with diligence and its simply one of the best songs of the sixties.
Sadly only Dave Clark and one other band member remains today.
Other stuff includes Bob Dylan (positively 4th st and others), Roy Orbison, Motown, Schubert. List, Mozart, James Last, General Lafayette, Stones, Beatles, Diane Warwick (that's what friends are for) Lennon sisters? Oh, and Accordians! :D

https://youtu.be/5huDSrs_zFQ

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Re: Song production - what are your go-to songs you admire?

Postby Mark Bliss » Mon Jun 06, 2016 8:29 pm

msnickybee wrote:So.... could any of us come up with any on these lists that were written and recorded in the last Decade.......?

Well the Gilmour/Dansk sessions I mentioned are close. I think they are about a decade old. 8)
https://youtu.be/kqXD5NKj4d4
https://youtu.be/lip4eEjOHFU
https://youtu.be/rU_k8BNCcOM
https://youtu.be/BaQrO55xmBs

Etc. Theres some good work in there for some old guys. What's David, 71 now?

But I hear you. The question makes me wonder, Is the trend toward the older favorites because of our age, or because the music in the last decade (or three) lacks something. (or has too much of something?) :wink:
I am going to say for me its a combination.

I could throw out some new music I think is outstanding and fits the criteria of the original question, but its not likely to be mainstream popular choices.
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