Song Of The Day 9/28/2014: Mallard - "Green Coyote"


Before They Were Famous - Producers Edition: Back in the beginning of 2014 this blog ran a theme week called Before They Were Famous, which exposed the pre-stardom recordings of Neil Young, Billy Joel, Eurythmics, Ice-T, Daryl Hall, Paul Young and, in a bit of a cheat because he's only had the one hit so far, Gotye. The week went very well and none of the featured artists left a severed roadie's head in my bed, so I thought a revisitation was in order. This time, though, I thought we'd look at the early work of superstar producers. Men (yeah, sorry, they're all men) whose vision, creative focus and ability to move faders whilst placing a specific espresso order have showered them with Grammys, paychecks and the freedom to expand their facial hair in any direction they see fit. But before all that many of them were recording local bar bands, putting in time with bands of their own, and fetching espresso orders for bigger producers who promised to show them fader-sliding in the off-hours.

First up is Robert John "Mutt" Lange, for whom it was decided that two first names were insufficient and a canine-derived nickname within quotes would complete the cadence. Lange's acknowledged masterpiece as producer is AC/DC's Back In Black, which has to be the greatest album produced under extraordinarily adverse circumstances, at least in pounds per square inch. Other behemoths which bear his stamp include Def Leppard's '80s work, The Cars' Heartbeat City, Michael Bolton's The One Thing, Nickelback's Dark Horse and the massively successful pop albums from his ex-wife Shania Twain.

Back when he was just starting out he worked on slightly less expansive albums from Clover, City Boy and Kevin Coyne, as well as one of my favorite Graham Parker albums, Heat Treatment (although Graham doens't care for it much). He also produced and engineered Mallard, a splinter group of disenchanted members of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band who thought they'd be happier if they sounded more like Little Feat. Come to think of it, I'm kind of happy they did as well. "Green Coyote" is from their second and final album In A Different Climate, where Lange is credited as Robert John Lange, pre-"Mutt." You don't get your monikers handed to you on a silver platter.

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