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SuperDave

Jimmy Page As A Producer

22 posts in this topic

Starting this topic, I'm surprised no one has ever done this one. With the first three box sets now here and whatever format you have of these the production job Jimmy did on these was impeccable overall. He really didn't have a lot of material as far as outtakes to give us and he gave us, I think the best possible versions. Most impressive was Zep III. The debut album was the Paris 1969 concert and Zep II had mostly instrumental takes. I was quite impressed with WLL and La La. What a piece with the latter. I've shared that with many of my friends, who are not core Zep fans, but who like Zeppelin and were quite impressed with it!

Anyway, with this and Jimmy's work as a producer with the post Zeppelin releases and during the bands' day, I think this would be a good thread to get everyone's....and I mean everyone's opinion of James Patrick Page as a producer for Zeppelin during their tenure, the post Zeppelin compilations and live material as well as his own material, solo projects, Page/Plant etc. To me he is about the best at this with his perfectionist approach.

There have been some great producers in the rock world, but very few have been part of the band or a solo artist. Mick and Keith come to mind, but aren't Jimmy Page as a producer. There may be others, in bands that are great etc., so that's why I need your help and welcome your input on this. Certainly one of the absolute best was George Martin. The work he did for the Beatles and sound and mix he was able to get was unbelievable. Many others. I'm sure.

Please provide as much details as you can, other great producers and as much info as you can. This could be a great topic.

Checking out this site below, will certainly give you a great feel for Jimmy Page as such a great producer with the Live releases!

http://www.thegardentapes.co.uk/

Edited by SuperDave

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I know very little about producing; however, I would say that the quality of everything he has produced (that I have heard) always sounds beyond the quality of other music of the same time period. (I hope I am making sense). These remasters are no exception! I have listened in headphones and surround sound and I am amazed. So many little nuances that I haven't heard in prior releases/remasters.

And I agree about Zep III. I have always LOVED his playing in Out on the Tiles. And this version without vocals... I thought no other version of SIBLY would beat my favorite from HTWWW. But this one is incredible!

And BBC Sessions-also a favorite. I don't know how he does it but he gets my vote for best producer. He is a stratosphere above others. Especially now when quantity outweighs quality and music just isn't what it used to be. This is definitely quality first.

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He is a great producer. probably one of the very best to come out of the last 50 years.

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Jimmy's role as Producer is vital to Zeppelin's success. It's one thing to say, "I want to produce so nobody else can tell me what to do." But it's another thing to know what to do on your own to get the sound you want that puts your band in the best possible light. Nobody can deny that Jimmy accomplished that.

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He is a great producer. probably one of the very best to come out of the last 50 years.

Agreed! Will go into detail another time, but I'm sure others here will as well! He's just so good at this. He just knows what he wants and how to do it! Just goes to work on it!

Edited by SuperDave

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He always surrounded himself with good people.

Learning from the best in England during his session days and no doubt he would've followed and explored production techniques from the USA, then expanding it into his own inimitable style.

As suggested before, being the primary composer and instrumentalist was and is a distinct advantage he had / has over his contemporaries.

The contributions of John Paul Jones (underrated IMO) as Arranger and his Engineers, Andy Johns, Glyn Johns, Eddie Kramer and Ron Nevison cannot be overstated.

Edited by Reggie29

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This, indeed, is a topic that merits worthy discussion. Not having a technical appreciation of the "art of producing", these remasters raise several questions in my mind:

1. As a man in his 70s, how good can Jimmy's hearing be, when his peers invariably comment on their pronounced hearing loss due to playing at high volumes over decades and how can this have affected how he re-heard the analogue tapes whilst undertaking the project? Even moderate hearing loss could have resulted in him not being able to discern the finer subtleties of the tapes?

2. Whilst producing the original recordings, one wonders how his excessive predilection for alcohol and drugs would have affected his aural perception? Presuming, perhaps erroneously he is relatively "clean" these days, could this have allowed him to do a better job this time around?

3. Given Jimmy's sacred view of the Zeppelin legacy, the idea of remastering the tapes for a second time must have introduced quite a challenge regarding the temptation to meddle and tweak the sound this time around. If he was happy with the original mix and masters, which were used to press the original releases, one wonders why he would alter anything (previously officially unreleased material not withstanding)? Is it just a case of utilising technology to enable greater detail/resolution of the music to be portrayed, revealing erstwhile hidden acoustic dynamics?

Cheers,

Indi

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A studio environment its very quiet. There are no extraneous sounds to muddle your ears. its much easier to hear when in studio. but if he does have enough loss to make it a problem for him to hear the extent of the high end I'm sure he had trusted ears with him to ensure they weren't overdone.

Drugs and alcohol ? have you listened to the original albums? they are master works of music and production. Jimmy is a perfectionist and imho would be very disciplined when it comes to work. I highly doubt he was sitting at the board for hours, days and weeks drinking enough to impair his thinking. That doesn't mean Jimmy didn't let lose after he was done, I just don't think we would be drinking hard while working.

If we go with the idea that Jimmy is a perfectionist then it makes sense for him to want to go over his original work with better tools than he had back in the day. If he feels he can coax out that extra shine with today's tools why wouldn't he?.

Edited by juxtiphi

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A studio environment its very quiet. There are no extraneous sounds to muddle your ears. its much easier to hear when in studio. but if he does have enough loss to make it a problem for him to hear the extent of the high end I'm sure he had trusted ears with him to ensure they weren't overdone.

Drugs and alcohol ? have you listened to the original albums? they are master works of music and production. Jimmy is a perfectionist and imho would be very disciplined when it comes to work. I highly doubt he was sitting at the board for hours, days and weeks drinking enough to impair his thinking. That doesn't mean Jimmy didn't let lose after he was done, I just don't think we would be drinking hard while working.

If we go with the idea that Jimmy is a perfectionist then it makes sense for him to want to go over his original work with better tools than he had back in the day. If he feels he can coax out that extra shine with today's tools why wouldn't he?.

Agreed. Jimmy was extremely dedicated and a well rounded and skilled musician / producer. His studio efforts are amazing, especially if you sit back and audibly dissect the music, and think about what is going on in the mix. I was listening to an original pressing of Ramble On yesterday through my big rig, and was astounded at Jimmy's talent for adding color and depth to seemingly straight ahead compositions. With Ramble On, he could be heard strumming an acoustic in the right speaker, and noodling away in a repetitive pattern with his electric guitar in the left speaker, while also adding some slippery flourishes over both channels. Meanwhile, Robert was singing, Jones was laying down some fluid bass lines, and Bonzo was tapping on a pizza box. There was so much color in that piece that could easily go unnoticed, but for a discerning ear trying to figure out what Page was really constructing. Another example of this is Achilles Last Stand, which is just stunning in terms of the myriad little overdubs that were laid down to fill in the tune, and give it depth.

The one place that I will say that Page completely shit the bed was in his handling of all cover art post ITTOD. There was so much mystique in all of the album covers up to that point, with only a couple of average efforts (LZ II and Presence), but all visual mystique and mystery was sacrificed with horrible covers such as Early Days, Latter Days, and the various box sets. The days of the LZ IV or HOTH mystery were long gone, and I do think that Page completely missed the mark on approving the post ITTOD artwork. There really was a great opportunity to keep the Zeppelin mystique alive once they disbanded, and their visual presentation would have, as it had been in the past, been a key aspect of this.

Edited by The Dark Lord

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I'm not sure a meltdown over post 1980 artwork is really warranted. The music will live on regardless of how it's packaged. I became a fan thanks to Maxell XLIIs. The original artwork hasn't gone anywhere and the mystique is still alive. Anyway, Hipgnosis had a lot to do with the original artwork and they weren't around after 1983.

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I'm not sure a meltdown over post 1980 artwork is really warranted. The music will live on regardless of how it's packaged. I became a fan thanks to Maxell XLIIs. The original artwork hasn't gone anywhere and the mystique is still alive. Anyway, Hipgnosis had a lot to do with the original artwork and they weren't around after 1983.

If you need to define my post as a meltdown to prove your quasi-authority here, whatever. This is a place for opinions, huh. Just not ones you don't like?

Edited by The Dark Lord

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Not the most original, but possibly the most spot on rebuttal in any of your 563 posts. Your opinion's existence is righteous no matter how skewed.

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Jimmy Page might be the greatest producer we have witnessed to date, his direction has been proven correct because the music has stood the test of time with new young people discovering it every day and if we really listen to the band, you can clearly hear each member doing his thing, but it happens within the context of improving the song.

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The first Lp sounded great, a lot more "Hi-Fi" than most of the other records released in that era. Jimmy knew what he was doing in the studio. If you listen to the Stones Beggars Banquet next to Led Zeppelin I the Zeppelin record has a more 3D quality to it that's just not there on the stone's lp ( I'm not knocking beggars banquet I love it) Same studio, same year, same engineer (mostly) but different producer.

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In current interviews, Page has been talking about the formation of the band and how himself, bonham, jones and plant never having had a chance to sound/play like zep did. He talks about his idea for the arrangement of bigly and dazed was what it was, at that point, with yardbirds and there was just ideas for songs. But you can imagine, after hearing how they sounded...and the show from France/companion disc, being an example for us fans...that jimmy page and the band, knew how that first record should be recorded. It seems like things sort of fell into place for them as a band and even if that first record had a bad production quality, that it still would have captured the raw power of the band. That being said, it only must have furthered Page's ideas of what he could do production and song writing wise...along with Jones, the band record the rain song, kashmir, achilles etc. I don't know enough tech stuff to comment on any specifics...but damn the records sound great and the production and recording are different on all of them.

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Looking forward to The Beginning. Listening to "Money" you can already hear Jimmy Page's production genius really working.

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Posted (edited)

For me, Jimmy's greatest contribution as a producer was the realisation that, as he put it, 'drums are an acoustic instrument' and should be miked accordingly. That sounds self-evident now, but when you compare the sound of Bonzo's drums to the close-miked drum sounds on thousands of other 1970s albums it's clear that Jimmy was the only guy that'd figured it out. I remember people boggling over 'Led Zeppelin's drum sound' and no one knowing how Jimmy had got it - and he wasn't telling! Obviously, you had to have John Bonham first - but it was Jimmy's understanding of microphone placement that enabled him to actually capture  that sound properly. Jimmy's production was a crucial part of the magic.

Edited by Brigante

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10 hours ago, Brigante said:

For me, Jimmy's greatest contribution as a producer was the realisation that, as he put it, 'drums are an acoustic instrument' and should be miked accordingly. That sounds self-evident now, but when you compare the sound of Bonzo's drums to the close-miked drum sounds on thousands of other 1970s albums it's clear that Jimmy was the only guy that'd figured it out. I remember people boggling over 'Led Zeppelin's drum sound' and no one knowing how Jimmy had got it - and he wasn't telling! Obviously, you had to have John Bonham first - but it was Jimmy's understanding of microphone placement that enabled him to actually capture  that sound properly. Jimmy's production was a crucial part of the magic.

Jazz recording engineers had been doing that for years. Jimmy had enough sense to employ similar methods to get a drumset sound as a whole instrument , perhaps intuition or his studio session experience. Listen to any Blue Note album recorded by Rudy Van Gelder and you'll hear a drumset as it should sound. The trend to control ring and bleed killed the drumset sound in the 70's. Jimmy had it down in '68. 

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4 hours ago, porgie66 said:

Jazz recording engineers had been doing that for years. Jimmy had enough sense to employ similar methods to get a drumset sound as a whole instrument , perhaps intuition or his studio session experience. Listen to any Blue Note album recorded by Rudy Van Gelder and you'll hear a drumset as it should sound. The trend to control ring and bleed killed the drumset sound in the 70's. Jimmy had it down in '68. 

And it takes a well tuned kit to start with. Bonham really knew what he was doing with his hardware and tone, much like a lot of jazz drummers. It's odd but I'm not surprised how many drummers don't know shit about tuning their own kit. Page knew very well the old adage that it has to sound good before it hits tape. If you already sound good then micing is crucial because your job is to simply to not fuck it up, but it's not easy to do either.

In a way Page's job was kinda easy in that the band already sounded good and could play, unlike other situations where the producer has to somehow make a band sound good, or hire outside musicians to complete a take. So many bands sound fine live but can't record, or can't adjust. It makes sense though seeing how Jones and Page stood in for so many other musicians for recording prior to Zep.

 

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2 hours ago, FL6 said:

And it takes a well tuned kit to start with. Bonham really knew what he was doing with his hardware and tone, much like a lot of jazz drummers. It's odd but I'm not surprised how many drummers don't know shit about tuning their own kit. Page knew very well the old adage that it has to sound good before it hits tape. If you already sound good then micing is crucial because your job is to simply to not fuck it up, but it's not easy to do either.

In a way Page's job was kinda easy in that the band already sounded good and could play, unlike other situations where the producer has to somehow make a band sound good, or hire outside musicians to complete a take. So many bands sound fine live but can't record, or can't adjust. It makes sense though seeing how Jones and Page stood in for so many other musicians for recording prior to Zep.

 

Absolutely true. Well put.

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12 hours ago, porgie66 said:

Jazz recording engineers had been doing that for years. Jimmy had enough sense to employ similar methods to get a drumset sound as a whole instrument , perhaps intuition or his studio session experience. Listen to any Blue Note album recorded by Rudy Van Gelder and you'll hear a drumset as it should sound. The trend to control ring and bleed killed the drumset sound in the 70's. Jimmy had it down in '68. 

I agree with you 100% on the jazz point, those engineers had been employing these methods since the 50s. however - it's worth noting that recording John Bonham would've been a different proposition to the likes of Philly Joe Jones as he hit the drums about four times harder.

At the end of the day, it's great that we can still sit & marvel at these drum sounds courtesy of John Bonham, Jimmy Page, Eddie Kramer, Andy Johns et all. Page certainly has to take a lot of the credit as producer.

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Some people seem to confuse a producer with an audio engineer.

A producer's primary job is that of a performance coach: to get the most appropriate instrument performance parts for the song. The audio engineer is jointly responsible for getting sounds, of which the producer has to direct what type of sound is required. The mixer then mixes, and again the producer will have directed what type of mix is required.

A producer does a lot more than just making it sound good; it has to play good as well. In sporting terms, the producer would be the football coach, and the team play the best game they can under the coach's guidance. Page happened to be both.

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