There are a small number of albums that are viewed by many in the music industry as being near perfect in their production quality. From performance to recording to mixing and mastering, such albums often become benchmarks of engineering and producing.
We’ve said before that one of the best things you can do to create better mixes is tune your ear to great music. Study what great records on your monitors and learn how your mixes compare.
Here are four albums that you can start with. They’re considered by many to be masterpieces of production.
Rumors – Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac called their 1977 album the “most important album we ever made.” Fans agreed, and the album sold over 45 million copies worldwide.
Lauded for its unique three-part vocal harmonies, likeable songs and crystal clear recordings, “Rumors” is viewed as one of the iconic, great albums of the 70’s.
Sea Change – Beck
As singer songwriter albums go, Beck’s 2002 album, “Sea Change” is one of the toppers. With its simple arrangements, acoustic textures and overwhelming meloncholy mood, it’s an excellent example of a mix that captures raw emotion and organic performance. The arrangements are both simple, clear and colorful. Most of the recording was done with a live band over three weeks. Rolling Stone gave it one of the three only 5-star ratings of the year. It’s easy to hear why.
(Self TItled) – Rage Against the Machine
When engineers and audiophiles want to demo a sound system, Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 self-titled debut album, is often the go to choice for the rock genre. It’s a staple on “top rock albums” lists thanks to its perfect blending of the essential raw elements: vocals, bass, guitar & drums (with a few special effects). It’s a reminder of how a few well-performed elements, recorded properly, is all you need.
Aja – Steely Dan
Many of Steely Dan’s albums are viewed as examples of masterful production, but their 1977 album “Aja” is one of their most beloved. Listening to how the drums, piano, bass and vocals blend is hearing some of the best recording and mixing of the 70’s.
If you want to create great records, you first have to know great records. These four albums have stood the test of time for their popularity and production value. By paying attention to their mixes you can learn a great deal about what makes a quality mix and master.