The 'Pop' album's production job -- what the hell happened? - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-07-2007, 03:45 AM   #1
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The 'Pop' album's production job -- what the hell happened?

I'm sure the fact that 'Pop' was a bit rushed and that the band were a bit peeved with themselves over it, wanting to re-record parts and so forth, has been well-discussed on here.

Aside from that, when I return to it I'm always stunned by how bad the production job sounds. As soon as I clicked on the original 'Discotheque' the other day, my ears were swamped in a 3-metre-high wall of sonic sludge, from which Bono's voice simply could not be heard or understood. The worst may be 'Do You Feel Loved', a not-bad song (albeit not a great one) savaged by its awful studio bath.

I realize the guys were going for a new and progressive sound that wouldn't sound like a typical 60s-inspired guitar band, and that's to their credit. But with the best studio people in the world at their disposal, with trusted friends like Flood and with Nellee Hooper helping, how did they let it happen?

Don't get me wrong, I like 'Pop.' I think it's a fabulous collection of songs, but the songs are highly comprimised by the awful production -- and I don't think the band are largely to blame for it. So who is?
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Old 09-07-2007, 03:54 AM   #2
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Flood and Howie B.
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Old 09-07-2007, 05:42 AM   #3
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Pop...
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Old 09-07-2007, 05:54 AM   #4
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I can never understand people's problems with the production. Apart from IYWTVD and maybe IGWSHA, which are very quiet, I don't see the problem.
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Old 09-07-2007, 07:02 AM   #5
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Howie B just wasn't the right guy. IMHO the production role should have been given to Nellee Hooper Alone.
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:31 AM   #6
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I think Pop has some of U2's best production...probably only Zooropa is better. I love all the layers of sound in Pop. Not to hate on Eno and Lanois because they definitely bring out U2's best musically, but the production on most U2 albums is a bit bland. Pop is a lot more in-your-face (so was Bomb but too much so! no subtlety.)
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:47 AM   #7
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What problem? It's rough but i like it, not smooth overproduced stuff.
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:53 AM   #8
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POP is a great album...
...DYFL...MOFO...GONE...MIAMI...IYWTVD...WADM *****
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:19 AM   #9
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I agree that the roughness about it is an essential part to the album. Had POP gotten the same sheen as ATYCLB and HTDAAB, it would've sounded like a lame, pseudo-industrial, electronic rock album primed for the clubs, and mastered at an atrocious volume just waiting for everything to be EQ'd to hell.

However, we are left with a raw, loose production/mixing/mastering job that tends to make the album more interesting due to all of the electronic elements sounding decidedly un-electronic... for the most part. Kind of, not really, y'know?

POP is truly their punk rock from Venus.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:43 AM   #10
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The only mixes I don't care for on Pop is the vocals on Miami. They need a dash of reverb and Bono needs to take 1 step back.

Other than that the mix of Pop is very essential part of the album.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by schnumi
What problem?
Putting bleeps and effects into the guitar/rock songs (first and last song on the album being the prime examples). I also don't care for the sound they gave to Edge's guitar.

It comes across as a "rock album primed for the clubs". I think it would benefit from sounding closer to the live versions. Popmart -> the real Pop.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:32 PM   #12
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I actually like the actual sound of Pop and how everything sounds clean and open. I do think it was rushed as made obvious by Adam´s off key rendition of "Please".
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:32 PM   #13
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It's schizophrenic to be sure. I think like a lot of U2's stuff, they have pretty good intentions, then they get scared and try to compromise or pull back the reins.

I think Pop would have been more effective if the band had recorded the songs fairly straight - most are rock songs, after all - and then farmed them out to a bunch of talented remixers and picked the best remixes. Put that out as the record. Everybody has remixes that they favor over the originals anyway.

Then, later on, they could have released the basic sessions. Kind of the reverse of what most artists do with the remixes.

One story about POP that sticks out for me is this: They were past deadline and trying to slap the thing together and one of the producers (Howie?) got a last minute call from the band. Now they wanted "swirly" noises to open up the record. Could he work something up, like, now? Too many options, not enough time.

I also think everybody involved with that project was probably too intimidated to actually tell the band when they made goofy decisions.
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:39 PM   #14
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The only big problems in "Pop"'s production is in the awful production job in "Please" (for God's sake... the live version and single version give both a huge asskick in the album version) and some structure problems in "Staring At The Sun" and "If God Will Send His Angels" (corrected in the single).

Besides that, "Pop" doesn't have any other production trouble.
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Old 09-07-2007, 05:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by pacemaker

POP is truly their punk rock from Venus.
BINGO
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Old 09-07-2007, 06:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by ahittle
It's schizophrenic to be sure. I think like a lot of U2's stuff, they have pretty good intentions, then they get scared and try to compromise or pull back the reins.

I think Pop would have been more effective if the band had recorded the songs fairly straight - most are rock songs, after all - and then farmed them out to a bunch of talented remixers and picked the best remixes. Put that out as the record. Everybody has remixes that they favor over the originals anyway...

...I also think everybody involved with that project was probably too intimidated to actually tell the band when they made goofy decisions.
I think this is a very intelligent post, and thanks for it. You're probably right that the sessions were not only rushed but schizophrenic, with 3 or 4 producers and/or engineers taking orders from the 4 U2-ers right up to the last minute. I tend to agree with you that they should have spent more time on the band arrangements, played it, then let others mix it to their hearts' content.

To reiterate: I like Pop a lot, but it's the only U2 album where I notice the production actually getting in the way of the songs, rather than abetting them (this is in contrast to Unforgettable Fire or Zooropa, where I think the production helped some weaker tracks sound better than they are).
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