Guest Blogger: Kylee Swenson Gordon, editor of Electronic Musician Presents the Recording Secrets Behind 50 Great Albums.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed numerous producers, engineers, and artists about their recording processes, with topics ranging from the intangible whims of songwriting to the granular details of EQing a snare sound. While there are tried-and-true production techniques that are universally accepted as “the right way” to record in the studio, the formula for making a great album is elusive—because it doesn’t exist.
Looking back at hundreds of articles that were published in Electronic Musician, EQ, and Remix magazines over the last 10-plus years, I realized that there are many ways to go about creating a great album. The common thread of the artists featured in The Recording Secrets Behind 50 Great Albums is that they were all in some way or another passionate, inspired, and hardworking.
Fleetwood Mac and their studio collaborators were perfectionists. They once spent 10 hours trying to get the right kick-drum sound. And Rumours was recorded piecemeal, with almost every part meticulously overdubbed. In later years, A Tribe Called Quest recorded and sampled their parts bit by bit, too. And years beyond that, Imogen Heap used all the technology at her disposal to create her intricate musical collages.
At the other end of the spectrum, Aerosmith recorded take after take together in one live room. In recent years, bands such as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Tegan and Sara have recorded in much the same way, playing again and again until they attained the best performances.
There are so many possible pathways toward creating a great album. By reading the studio stories of the artists featured in The Recording Secrets Behind 50 Great Albums, musicians and producers will discover various ideas and techniques worth trying. As a musician myself, learning about the trials and tribulations (as well as the triumphs) of my musical idols has made the studio a less frustrating place for me—helping me to maintain perspective and get over my own recording roadblocks.
Ranging from such seminal classics as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, and the Who’s Quadrophenia to recently recorded works by Danger Mouse, Foo Fighters, and Phoenix, this compilation of articles taps into the inner studio realm of a wide range of artists, crossing boundaries of era, genre, geography, and recording style. But what these articles have in common is a wealth of behind-the-scenes secrets that inform how many amazing sounds and songs were captured and constructed. Musicians craving great tips and advice to pursue their own musical dreams – as well as fans interested in how their favorite artists made their music – will find a treasure trove of stories from the long-respected music-production magazines that dug deep to capture all of the juicy recording details.