AND THE PRODUCER SAYS . . . . .

On the day that the great record producer, Sir George Martin has passed, I'd like to share my thoughts on the producers that I have worked with.

I've been lucky enough to work with several producers now, and that experience has given me the knowledge to make informed decisions whether that be in the studio or songwriting. Record Producers can have a huge influence on how a musician performs and ultimatly how a song will sound and an album will ultimately sound to the listener.

Simon Humphry was the first producer that I worked with on my first Smokie album. Simon knew exactly how to deal with each and every member within the band. When I was new on the scene I found him quite strict and daunting, but he taught me a lot about getting the job done, he would have a real influence on my future recordings both in Smokie and elswhere. I still see Simon now and again, I have great admiration of his skills.

Barry Beckett, came with a past record that we all held with great admiration. Barry was the keyboard player in the Mussel Shoals setup and in it's heyday Barry played on all those great albums, from Aretha Franklin to Bob Seger and the Stones. Personally I was quite scared to work with the great man when we turned up in Nashville but Barry took me under his wing somewhat, and that apprehension soon disappeared. My first sessions in Nashville were most enjoyable and Barry gave me a free reign to play what I felt was right. He said to me on one occasion "It's your party Mick . . . . Play what you feel, if it's wrong I'll tell you" . . . and of course he did, but in a nice way ! . . . RIP Barry

Peter Iverson produced two albums for Smokie when we did the "Uncovered Projects"    Peter was a real technician, his knowledge of anything technical was really quite jaw dropping. Peter was also a great musician, both as a gutar player and keyboard player, so when he suggested something he had the experiance to grab the guitar and say "Like This" He knew sound no doubt about it. I had great times working with Peter and had many a fun session, but he was serious about everything he did. Peter also mixed both Uncovered albums, and they can stand tall that's for sure.

John Parr is a great songwriter and he learned most of his producing skills by working with the great Mutt Lange and David Foster. Myself and John co-produced a couple of tracks on my first solo album, and he produced the vocals on 'Remember Those Days" . . . . I don't think I sang the song that great, but It was a long hard session and when John says "Again" he means again and again and again and again untill you get it right . . . . he's a task master and his focus is one hundred percent especially when it comes to diction of sung words.

Stuart McRedie has produced four tracks on my new forthcoming album and he's another technical genius. He seems to make it a priority to get the drums and bass right before venturing further; for other musicians this can seem tedious, but he totally gets drums . . . . he will spend time making sure that drum fills etc will never interfere with what others are playing. I think he gets a better drum sound than anyone I have worked with. He hates autotune, so if it's going to be a vocal session, prepare for it to be a long one !!!!

Blue Miller has won two Grammys and for no other reason than having the talent to deserve it. Unlike Stuart McRedie and Peter Iverson, the technical side of things are almost totally ignored, he will sit with an acoustic guitar stating how bad the lyric is in a certain part of the song and needs to be changed. He works the song so that all is understood for both the musicians who are playing and eventually the listener.     Blue somehow gets into your thoughts, he has a mission to make ideas happen in a way that the writer will be happy and comfortable even after he has made changes. When it comes to vocals, all efforts are challenged to make a line or a word better but he keeps it enjoyable. Backing vocals are strict and he takes hours just getting them right. I think my recent recordings with Blue are some of my best ever works.

There were other Producers around whom I have worked with in the past.     I remember working on a session with two prominent producers from Sweden once. I hated every minute of it.  They did know their shit and I'm sure they were very good  . . . . I guess for them, right place wrong time . . . . That record never materialised, and perhaps at the time the band members didn't give them they effort that they deserved.
Another Danish producer for me, just never got it and the album made in ten days sounds like? . . . . well; an album that was made in ten days, with mistakes that should have been taken care of.


 

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