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Book Review: Producing Hit Records – Secrets From the Studio by David John Farinella

Readers with an interest in this book will already have some familiarity with the job of a music producer. For a further explanation, author uao of Blogcritics has an excellent article here, entitled "Top 20 Record Producers of the Rock Era."

The music producer is a jack-of-all-trades and is often expected to be a master-of-all-trades. A producer has to serve as psychiatrist, friend, mother, father, confidant, drug counselor, guru, AA sponsor, and play a lot of other roles as well. This is in addition to his or her role as sometime engineer, mixer, musical arranger, and overall dude in charge of the "vibe."

The title of this book, Producing Hit Records – Secrets From the Studio is a tad misleading. I'm not sure the key to producing hit records lies within, but it very well may, for all I know. Hit records are as much a result of dumb luck as they are a result of secret activities of producers. There are producers interviewed by author Farinella who have produced hit records, but there are no formulas like, "I did A, B, and C and that is why that record was a hit." A collection of anecdotes reveals the experience of numerous producers and the environment they tried to create in the atmosphere of the studio. There are no secrets as such, but revelations the likes of "This is what I did in this situation; I found this to be effective; I solved this problem by . . . " There's no "Hit" button on the mixing console. Often the producer and musicians will come up with a sound that all believe to be perfection itself only to have it rejected by music company executives for one inane reason or another.

There is no dearth of talented producers interviewed within. Names which I recognize: Solomon Burke, T-Bone Burnett, Ben Harper, Linda Perry, Rick Rubin, Rufus Wainwright, and Don Was. There are others just as stellar that I, in my ignorance, am not hip to.

The author has done a remarkable job of hunting down producers and interviewing them. The book goes far in removing the mystery surrounding the art of producing. If one desired to become a producer, Farinella's writing could provide the proverbial road map.

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