Friday, December 09, 2005

2005's Best: Producer

2005's Best lists gets it's start today with something seemingly innocuous, but incredibly important... the knob-twister, the sound behind the sound, the producer.

The top of the list: Dave Fridmann

Both Sleater-Kinney and Low's albums this year represent a shift in sound for both, yet you can't really peg them as being recorded in the same remote New York studio (Tarbox Road Studios) helmed by Fridmann. If those juggernauts weren't enough to garner praise this year, he also helmed 2005-released albums for Lake Trout, Goldrush, and his own band, Mercury Rev. Wonder what stokes he's got in the fire for 2006 (new Flaming Lips, would be a safe bet.)
Play it: Dave Fridmann Production 2005

Runner up: Joe Henry

In 2002, Joe Henry made a lot of waves (and lists) revitalizing Solomon Burke with his contemporary soul production of Don't Give Up On Me. (If there was any doubt how much he had to do with the sound, just listen to Burke's release this year, Make Do With What You Got, which was disappointing due mostly to Don Was' overly slick production.)

This year's 'Burke' for Henry is under-appreciated soul singer Bettye LaVette, with her release, I've Got My Own Hell to Raise. Henry takes the same approach with a spare and open sound, and, like he did with Solomon, he canvassed other artists for songs for her to perform. This time around it's strong women performers, songs from Sinead O'Connor, Joan Armatrading, Dolly Pardon, Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann and Fiona Apple get the soul treatment, and the results are gritty and... well... fun. Play it: Bettye LaVette's covers vs. originals
Beyond that, Henry also produced Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm, and the incredible I Believe to My Soul, featuring Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Billy Preston and Mavis Staples.
Play it: Joe Henry Production 2005

Also worth mention:
Jon Brion - Co-produced Kanye West's Late Registration while his production (and later, um..., non-production) of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine made 2005's controversial production story of the year (if there is such a thing.)
Play it: Jon Brion Production 2005

John Leckie - Co-produced My Morning Jacket's incredible Z and produced New Order's Waiting for the Siren's Call.
Play it: John Leckie Production 2005

Check out the Mother of all Year-End lists page (continually updated)

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Matt said...

interesting post here and I couldn't agree more about Dave Fridmann, specially his work on The Great Destroyer and The Woods.

drake leLane said...

Thanks... yeah, you know w/o Fridmann's work on those albums, I'm not sure they would warrant as much attention.

Eddie Vedder had the best compliment for The Woods when he asked Sleater-Kinney to buy him new car speakers, as he'd blown them on playback of the album... the disc just demands to be played extra, extra loud.