Wednesday, July 1, 2009


7-1-09 Producers

For the month of July – as much as possible, I am going to be writing on suggestions from long-time reader Jim Donato. I recently asked him for a list of suggestions – and the topic of producers came up. “Are there any producers you’ll buy whatever they produce?”

Yes, there are. The short list would be Joe Meek, Rupert Hine, Haruomi Hosono and Mark Wirtz (two Brits, a Japanese and a German). If I had to pick an American, it would be John Simon (“You Are What You Eat” OST, Leonard Cohen “Songs of”, The Band “Music From Big Pink”, Blood Sweat & Tears “Child Is Father To The Man” etc.) I wasn’t planning on mentioning any Americans here, but John Simon is the best.

I was a childhood fan of The Tornados “Telstar”; I was aware of the ‘cult’ of producer Joe Meek before I moved to England in 1990, but I actually got to meet and hang out with some nice guys from the original fan club, and John Repsch, who wrote a decent biography of Meek. Jim Blake from the fan club dubbed cassettes for me of some incredible stuff – the Silas Dooley Jr. album, my first hearing of “I Hear A New World” etc. Glenda Collins, Heinz, The Honeycombs – I’ve loved everything I’ve heard – and I’ve heard a bit more than most people – well, more than most people in the USA. It’s not for the technical precision, but really the “by any means necessary” style of Meek’s ‘producing’ (that style worked so well for Guy Stevens!) Trust me, you’re not an Anglophile until you’ve thrilled to Houston Wells & The Marksmen “North Wind”! Joe Meek lives!

I found Haruomi Hosono’s work in the 80’s – he was, of course, the bassist of Y.M.O., and one of the heads of Yen Records, where he made many masterful technically brilliant productions, most notably “Tutu” by Miharu Koshi, and his later collaboration with Koshi on “Swing Slow”. He also produced a wonderful album for Chisato Moritaka, and artist I normally wouldn’t pay attention to! And, of course, I can’t usually read his name (in Japanese) when I’m standing in the CD stores in Tokyo, but… I know what he looks like and often his name does appear in English!

The first place I saw Rupert Hine’s name was on a Kevin Ayers album, so good start. I love his “Immunity” solo album more than I can easily say; his work for The Fixx is excellent. For almost 30 years, Hine has fallen into the category of “If his name is on it, I’ll try it” – he also produced a very famous Tina Turner record, but I only buy her stuff with Ike Turner – and I can hear her famous stuff almost daily, courtesy oldies radio.

Suckered into buying the Tomorrow LP for $1 about 1970, I loved Mark Wirtz’s punchy late 60’s UK work; I loved the Tomorrow LP, but it was the singles I could find by Keith West – sometimes subtitled with “Excerpt from A Teenage Opera” that really drives me nuts. It took until the CD age to actually be able to hear much of that unusual body of work. The Wirtz solo albums on Capitol are fairly amusing (what with the “Silverlake Shuffle” practically being my theme song, with my current GF). I’d buy anything I could find from him – UK, circa ’67 – ’70. Anything.


Anonymous said...

Re: Rupert Hine

He's a very different kettle of fish for me. I love his music. I'm right in line there with "Immunity" and also with the first "Thinkman" album. They are the acme of apres-prog-gone-postpunk synth rock, but am generally cold to his productions. I have a few of them and I've heard many more and - they are never among my favorites. I really dislike The Fixx. (aka The Fix, eh Brian?)

I guess that his traits enhance his art (to say the least) but don't feel like a good mix with the many other artists I've heard.

Brian Ware said...

Re: The Fix

I wonder if that "Live At The 101 Club" LP is as coveted by Fixx collectors as it is for us Huang Chungers!!

Ron Kane said...

I've never seen those LP's sell for more than $5...