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Do Wilco need a producer?


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Talking about a name one e.g. Nigel Goodrich. One who would stand up to Jeff and occasionally say these lyrics need a little work or that arrangement is not too exciting. May lead to some difficult times in The Loft but could mean we get a record with a bit more light and shade than the likes of Cruel Country. I think in general the songs are there, but someone who occasionally told  Jeff some hard truths could help produce a much more interesting record 

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I think Tweedy is generally fair, curious and open to exploring different arrangements his band comes up with for records. But if you're saying that Cruel Country sounds too much all-Jeff, I'd agree.

 

I'd sign up to hear what a Wilco record might sound like with someone like a Nigel Goodrich producing, but ain't gonna happen.

 

Early buzz of Wilco's next record makes me think the band will have a LOT more influence on the overall vibe & sound.

 

 

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I think Wilco needed a producer when YHF was a messy pile of layers in want of direction and they were lost. Jim O'Rourke helped them find their record.

 

These days they seem to know exactly where they're headed. Whether it's to your liking is entirely up to you, but I don't think they're looking for someone to provide direction.

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I think they do and it would help me like their newer material more.  I'd love to hear what they come up if they worked with a strong producer somewhere other than the Loft.  The Loft is great and all, but It's good for a band to get out of their comfort zone, especially when the comfort level has reached critical mass, which I think has happened to Wilco.  

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2 hours ago, jff said:

I think they do and it would help me like their newer material more.  I'd love to hear what they come up if they worked with a strong producer somewhere other than the Loft.  The Loft is great and all, but It's good for a band to get out of their comfort zone, especially when the comfort level has reached critical mass, which I think has happened to Wilco.  

Couldn't agree more with this. Would LOVE to see a Wilco and Nigel Godrich collaboration. 

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I've been thinking about this lately. On the one hand, Wilco has never really had a true outside producer. O'Rourke would be the closest thing to that. And they don't need direction or anything. On the other hand, I do think Jeff needs someone to challenge him on some of his ideas or at least play devil's advocate with him, to objectively tell him to reconsider some of his first-blush choices (lyrics, vocals, arrangements). Tom Schick is a talented guy, but Jeff would benefit from a shaking things up sound-wise a bit, even if that means a more labor-intensive project.

 

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1 hour ago, DiamondClaw said:

I've been thinking about this lately. On the one hand, Wilco has never really had a true outside producer. O'Rourke would be the closest thing to that. And they don't need direction or anything. On the other hand, I do think Jeff needs someone to challenge him on some of his ideas or at least play devil's advocate with him, to objectively tell him to reconsider some of his first-blush choices (lyrics, vocals, arrangements). Tom Schick is a talented guy, but Jeff would benefit from a shaking things up sound-wise a bit, even if that means a more labor-intensive project.

 

 

There's something to this in that Tom Schick has been pretty firmly in the engineer role at the loft. He faithfully captures the sounds being made and uses his skills to present them in the way the artist/producer directs. Since that's Jeff the basic vibe of the presentation, the sonics, is coming from Jeff. I'm sure some of it is collaborative, it always is, but Schick is there to accomplish what the people he's working with are asking for.

 

You could also point to The Whole Love which is the only Wilco record co-produced by Pat Sansone. There is a different kind of meticulousness to that record. Pat has slightly more baroque (using this loosely) sensibilities, he's more of a Pet Sounds to Jeff's Highway 61 common sense.

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10 hours ago, lost highway said:

 

(Pat's) more of a Pet Sounds to Jeff's Highway 61 common sense.

 

I think that's an accurate description.  There's obviously nothing wrong with the Highway 61 style, but even that could be helped along with a good producer.  It might be interesting to hear Wilco lean harder into that approach by using someone like Buddy Miller or T-Bone Burnett.  I'd also like to hear what they sound like under the production of, say, Nick Lowe.  Or Daniel Lanois.  Or going in a more baroque direction, Todd Rundgren.

 

It'd be really interesting to see them do a series of singles or EPs, each with a different producer at the helm, and see what comes of it.  An experiment like that would shake up any band's processes.  I think it'd be really fun to see any established artist do something like that.

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You're right, Tom Schick is not responsible for the artistic direction like a producer or Jeff/Wilco themselves are, so he shouldn't be saddled with criticism really. It's not his task. I would definitely be interested in a bit more of a baroque direction, compared to the barebones approach they've taken recently. I can't see them bringing in a "name" outside producer like Lanois or T-Bone Burnett though. Just handing some of those duties and details back to Pat would be nice. He did such a great job on The Whole Love.

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^ Yeah, and producers like Burnett, Lanois and Rick Rubin seem most useful at helping artists get out of their own way, to get down to the basics, and to let the songs flow. Kind of artist-whisperers, zen guru type of guys. It so happens that Jeff is one of the least needy songwriters in this regard. He's literally written books about how to achieve these frames of mind.

 

Again, I don't think the guys need a producer, and I'm pretty sure they don't want one, but as a matter of mash-up curiosity in addition to the Nigel Godrich idea, I'd be curious to see what would happen if they worked with David Fridmann.

 

Back to The Whole Love, I totally agree. I remember Jeff leaving an unfinished thought in an interview, something about how they took that album for granted or something. I'm not sure what his relationship with that album is, but I'm curious because it's one of their highlights IMHO.

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Lots of great ideas and names tossed around in this thread.  So who volunteers to approach Jeff on this? :D

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25 minutes ago, lost highway said:

^ Yeah, and producers like Burnett, Lanois and Rick Rubin seem most useful at helping artists get out of their own way, to get down to the basics, and to let the songs flow. Kind of artist-whisperers, zen guru type of guys. It so happens that Jeff is one of the least needy songwriters in this regard. He's literally written books about how to achieve these frames of mind.

 

Again, I don't think the guys need a producer, and I'm pretty sure they don't want one, but as a matter of mash-up curiosity in addition to the Nigel Godrich idea, I'd be curious to see what would happen if they worked with David Fridmann.

 

Back to The Whole Love, I totally agree. I remember Jeff leaving an unfinished thought in an interview, something about how they took that album for granted or something. I'm not sure what his relationship with that album is, but I'm curious because it's one of their highlights IMHO.

I agree with all this. Jeff doesn't need or want any artistic or songwriting direction. Jeff's going to come in with the songs and a general direction, period. But the sound could be developed a bit. Dave Fridmann is a name that intrigues me because he's worked with Spoon, including on They Want My Soul, and I love the sound he gets.

 

As for The Whole Love, it does feel taken for granted in a way. They certainly haven't returned to the meticulousness of that album ever since.

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I'm under no illusions that Tweedy will ever hire a producer.  Why would he?  He's very comfortable, happy, and financially prosperous staying the course he's been on for the past several records.

 

I'm only stating what I would like to see happen, and what I think might be necessary in order for the band to pull my waning interest back from the cliff.  I'm certain that is of zero concern to Tweedy, nor should it be.  I'll try again when they put out the art-pop record that always seems to be next in line but never materializes. 

 

It does seem a bit weird, though, that as an outside producer for other artists, Tweedy doesn't seem to feel that there is value in bringing in an outside producer for his own music.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some interesting opinions here, thanks. Those suggesting also another studio is a good one. I am not saying Jeff is necessarily complacent, but getting him (and the band) out of their comfort zone could provide dividends. 

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