7/18/2008

...and speaking of Rick Rubin

In the past, we thought it was a no-brainer to figure out why such disparate musical types as Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, Metallica, and now Crosby Stills and Nash, among many others, have chosen to have their albums produced by Rick Rubin. The man’s ears for music of different styles coupled with his commercial sense were great selling points for artists and labels alike. But, as we’ve recently learned, it may be perceptions tied into a ‘brand name’ that are doing the heavy lifting in most cases involving Mr. Rubin.

As it turns out, sources tell us that Rubin not being present, let alone interacting in the studio with the artists he’s “producing” is one badly-kept secret in the music biz. (We’re assuming Johnny Cash didn’t stand for this.) Basically, his production modus operandi consists of having one of his engineers work with the artist in the studio, messenger the day’s results to Rubin’s home, where he will take a listen, jot down some instructions and messenger the music back to the studio for fine tuning. Um, really? Scores of people can do that, probably as effective as or even more so than Rubin. But. Uh-huh. Yup, here it comes: it’s the Rubin name that generates press (in most cases, immediate critical acquiescence); raises profiles; and hopefully, for all involved, plenty of sales and associated revenue.

Be that as it may, his methodology has slightly tarnished his rep in our book, regardless of the results. Your mileage may vary.

7 comments:

H said...

I don't know if agreeing or disagreeing with you bro...but, hey...this is old news. In fact, I think he only shows up for bands he really really likes. Ie. The Mars Volta on their first record, Audioslave, among a few others I've read that he was really there.

Bands pay a price no?...and I am sure that money comes right back. Yet...he is still giving his input, whether he is involved in the creative process as it takes place or not.

Robert said...

It was VERY different with Cash. In fact while working with Cash; Rick (a Non-Practicing Jew,)would even join Cash in his morning Communion. Cash become a devout Christian in his later years and would have a priest visit the studio every morning.

The reality is that Rubin doesn't even know the difference between EQ and Compression; he gets payed to listen to songs and give suggestions but whatever it is that he does (using his name or actually producing) it generally works. Thats why people pay him the big bucks.
There is a great scene in the Dixie Chics documentary Shut Up & Sing (2006)where you see what they do (and a lot of bands do) with Rubin. Basically they take everything they recorded to him. Sit with him in his house while he listens, takes notes, and plays with some Buddhist beads in his hands. Then he tells them put this song, and that one. And thats it ! "You know where to send the check to, right?"
Hey, if someone pays you for that? Then more power to you.

SONYBMG is also giving him some MAJOR big bucks for him to "play with his beads, listen and tell them what to do."
It is part of his contract that he doesnt

In my book he has not tarnished his rep, maybe because I've never specifically bought something because he produced it.

godihateyourband said...

kiko, thanks for puttin this up. kinda sick of the rubin mystique. yeah, we get it ... bare bones. when you're working with johnny cash, neil diamond, etc, OF COURSE it's gonna sound great. songs, voice, legacy, etc. kudos for the idea, but let's see you work your magic with the killers, the strokes, or ashlee simpson. you also worked with the ugliest sounding band ever, the red hot chili peppers ... fame and $$$ withstanding, the worst blight on music of the last 20 years. seriously people, name a band who has inspired worse music than those guys (and i think 3 of them are talented) ... as GIHYB is blastin "no sleep til bklyn" and praisin you to the high heavens ...

Kiko Jones said...

From what I gather, Rubin actually worked closely with the RHCP during the BloodSugarSexMagic sessions. Oh, and sorry GIHYB, but I love that so-called 'punk-funk' sound, particularly on Mother's Milk and the aforementioned BSSM, even though the latter's second half is atrocious. Seriously. Everything after "Give it Away"--with the exception of "Under the Bridge" and the Robert Johnson cover "They're Red Hot"--is some of the worst dreck I've heard on an album released by a major artist in their prime. ("Sir Psycho Sexy", "Naked in the Rain", anyone?) As for their current output, whoever told Anthony Kiedis to drop his pseudo raps and attempt to sing should be shot on the spot, no questions asked.

Oh, and with regards to hating an artist for the crappy bands they spawn, my love of Van Halen--for instance--will not be diminished one bit by the lousy hair band army they inspired. Of course, plenty of folks disagree with me on that one.

godihateyourband said...

we'll probably never agree on rhcp, but at least we can agree that keidis might be the worst singer ever-- congratulations diddy and fred durst!!!

Kiko Jones said...

Actually, I'm more disappointed in John Frusciante: I'm the only guitar player I know who is COMPLETELY underwhelmed by his playing these days. (On latter-day RHCP records, that is. When he works with The Mars Volta it's a different story altogether.)

jeff weedy said...

SLAYER