Forums > Queen - General Discussion > Roy Thomas Baker vs Mack vs Queen

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philip storey user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 16 May 10, 08:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hello folks any thoughts on who gave Queen their best production sound? I think that RTB gave Queen a very complex sound on their early albums, where as Mack gave them a slighty  harder edge and a more lush sound. The worst produced album would be Hot Space, where Brians guitar got lost in the mix.When Queen started to produce their own tunes, did they lose a bit of quality control?How would it have turned out if they had carried on with RTB at the mixing desk?Your thoughts would be interesting to hear.

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Posted: 16 May 10, 15:19 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

To be fair, the actual production on Hot Space is very, very good, and involved a lot of technology in its infancy at the time of that record.  Whether you, I, or anyone else actually think it's amongst Queen's best output is another question!  The guitar being too low for your liking isn't really to do with the production issue, but more of a mix issue.

I do think that a lot of the work with RTB (SHA, ANATO, ADATR) was pretty ahead of its time, and I believe that Mike Stone had a lot to do with that as well as RTB (especially ADATR and then NOTW). 

Mack derserves credit for the stripped down sound and new way of recording the band for The Game (whilst still retaining their unique sound on tracks like Paly The Game and Save Me), but The Works is argueably the worst sounding album in the catalogue, and A Kind of Magic is not far behind with its sterile, processed, machine-like sound.

I like Dave Richards work on The Mircacle and Innuendo (and the technical brilliance of Made In Heaven), as these bought Queen a bit more back to their roots after The Works and AKOM.

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Posted: 16 May 10, 15:43 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

> The worst produced album would be Hot Space, where Brians guitar got lost in the mix.

That's a delicate point. Let's see track by track:

- Staying Power: Brian's guitar appears scarcely (blame the composer, not the producer), but when it does it's not lost  at all. So no.

- Dancer: Ditto.

- Back Chat: Ditto.

- Body Language: Ditto (the two notes played on guitar are clearly audible; as for only being two notes, blame the composer, not the producer).

- Action this Day: Ditto.

- Put Out the Fire: Not lost at all.

- Life Is Real: Same as on Side One.

- Calling All Girls: Same as on Side One.

- Las Palabras de Amor: Same as on Side One.

- Cool Cat: No guitar by Brian, but blame the composer(s) instead of the producer.

- Under Pressure: Same as on Side One.

So no, Brian's guitar did not get lost in the mix, and in fact, Roger's acoustic drums, Freddie's piano and John's bass suffered a lot more in that album, being absent much more frequently.

> When Queen started to produce their own tunes, did they lose a bit of quality control?

Maybe, or maybe they needed a referee for their arguments. Keep in mind that they only self-produced two albums, and there's a reason why they never did it after '77.

> How would it have turned out if they had carried on with RTB at the mixing desk?

They'd have had to leave the country much earlier, as Roy had moved to the States in '76.

> To be fair, the actual production on Hot Space is very, very good, and involved a lot of technology in its infancy at the time of that record.

Maybe that's part of the reason it sounds dated now. Listen to 'A Night at the Opera', 'Sgt Pepper's' or 'Pet Sounds'... they're still fresh even if they were at least partly done on machines that could easily be topped by today's home equipment.

> Whether you, I, or anyone else actually think it's amongst Queen's best output is another question!

And one that's more related to songwriting/arranging than to production per se.

> I do think that a lot of the work with RTB (SHA, ANATO, ADATR) was pretty ahead of its time

Roy was not involved in 'Races' (except for hearing some rough mixes). Mike Stone, however, was still there, suggesting that he was actually the instrumental component. Keep in mind that 'Jazz' has often been criticised for its lousy production (it's got Roy but no Mike) while 'Races' is generally liked (it's got Mike but no Roy).

> but The Works is argueably the worst sounding album in the catalogue

Again, a delicate point. Of course, at the end of the day it's subjective, but even in that case, keep in mind that there are many variables involved: acoustics at Record Plant and Musicland, equipment (Linn, Fairlight and so on), Fred's voice being affected by his smoking (even though he sounded great, just not as great as before or after), three of the four band members being at the same time involved in off-Queen projects, etc. It's not all because of the producer.

> and A Kind of Magic is not far behind with its sterile, processed, machine-like sound.

It may be due to the synths used at the time, rather than the actual mixing process. BTW, AFAIK, neither Mack nor David were involved in the mastering process, but they left it to Kevin Metcalfe.


John hated HS. Fred's fave singer was not PR. Roger didn't compose 'Innuendo.' Witness testimonies are often inaccurate. Scotland's not in England. 'Bo Rhap' hasn't got 180 voices.
Micrówave user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 16 May 10, 16:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Right on, Seb.

The keyboards they used at the time were extremely dated.  That era of synthesizers has died and no one wants it back.  Look at the boards they're producing today, heavy analog stuff.  Moogs, Mellotrons, etc.  I've always thought the Oberheims sounded very thin....  no one's sampling them for todays music.   Even the Vox and Farfisa organs of the 70s are back and are being used on modern recordings.

Kinda makes you wonder what mid-80s Queen would have sounded like if they had someone more knowledgeable in that department, like a Fairbairn or Ezrin.  How bout a Brian Eno produced Magic?

Side note:  I've always thought Baker was a creepy looking dude.

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Posted: 17 May 10, 20:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

When I saw the title to this thread I was hoping for it was announcing a charity cage match.


I saved Spike's life in 'Nam.
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Delilah, on Medium Power
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Posted: 17 May 10, 22:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

In that case, I'll take Mack.  I think he's the healthiest.