It is funny how one of the most important producers for the independent music doesn’t even want to be called ‘a producer’. Instead, he insists on being called ‘a record engineer’. He considers it “an insult to take a royalty from a band just because we recorded their album”. Most people don’t even know his name, but good part of them have probably heard some of his work. Over the past few decades, Steve Albini has overseen the recording of numerous artefacts of independent music. Although Albini has been an outspoken opponent of major labels, he is known to work with almost anyone who requests his services. Without further ado, our list of top 5 albums recorded by Steve Albini.
- Pixies – Surfer Rosa (1988)
As the record engineer for Pixies’ legendary debut full-length, Albini made their sound louder and screechier than they ever would again. He recorded some of the vocals in a studio bathroom and even kept studio banter in on some of the songs which made the band sound like the biggest, nastiest thing on earth.
- Big Black – Atomizer (1986)
Influenced by the punk-noise band Naked Raygun, ‘Atomizer’ is the debut album from Albini’s first noteworthy band, Big Black. This album was highly controversial when it came out since it covered such subjects as wife-beating, pyromania and animal slaughter, to name a few. Although he is infamous for making every snare-crack being felt in your ribs, Big Black opted for a drum machine instead, and it seems that ‘Roland’ the drum machine was what made ‘Atomizer’ sound even more brutal.
- The Jesus Lizard – Goat (1991)
Albini worked with The Jesus Lizard throughout their surprisingly long career. But their second album of the angular-stomp masters is where the band’s drooling, violent attack is at its best. Albini was well aware that their power lay in the combination of David Yow’s wild Neanderthal act and the crushing precision of the rhythm section. That is why he makes sure we feel each and every bass-thud and garbled screech in the pit of our souls.
- Neurosis – Times of Grace (1999)
The Bay Area sludge-metal titans have worked together with Steve Albini on a number of albums. That is why it is so hard to pick just one of them, since they all seem to have bear the well-known Albini signature. ‘Times of Grace’ is their first collaboration and the chemistry is there from the start. When Neurosis tracks rock out, Albini’s mic techniques are easiest to hear, but when they have a space-out mode, Albini knows how to record without punching us in the gut. This shows that he really knows his job!
- Shellac – At Action Park (1994)
Steve Albini’s longest-running project is definitely Shellac (sometimes referred as Shellac of North America). And this should come as no surprise because the group consists of three excellent musicians. With Albini on guitars, Bob Weston on bass and Todd Trainer behind the drum set, you can bet your money that their albums will sound as tight as possible. Of all their releases, ‘At Action Park’ seems to punch the hardest!