10 Great Albums Produced By Daniel Lanois

daniellanoisDaniel Lanois is a rarity among Rock producers because he’s also a performing artist himself. Here’s a guy with too much musical talent to stay chained behind the console. He has released at least ten studio albums of his own and toured extensively for over 25 years, while at the same time producing dozens of albums for others.

He is perhaps best known for producing most of U2’s albums, but inside the industry he is held in high demand for his signature “Lanois Sound”, which can be roughly described as an atmospheric feel heavily shaped by predominant bass and acoustic and electric guitars, instruments he himself plays as well or better than most musicians.

He is a musician’s musician, a collaborative producer, and a Canadian national treasure. Here are ten great albums he has produced, in chronological order:

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1. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

Lanois first came to the Rock world’s attention through his collaborations with Brian Eno in 1982 and 1983. U2 actually hired Eno to produce this album, but the avant-garde producer was less adept at straight-ahead Rock, so his engineer Lanois took the producing reins, and you can hear his influence right off the bat.

2. Peter Gabriel – So (1986)

This song is a great example of the Lanois sound. The signature bass, prominent and upfront but soft in tone, swirling atmospherics and airy percussion. Still one of the most powerfully moving songs I’ve ever heard.

3. Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson (1987)

Lanois deserves a lot of credit for forging the sonic texture of the former Band leader’s breakout solo album. Lanois plays the distinctive sounds of the rarely-used electric autoharp, which really made this track stand out.

4. Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy (1989)

Swirling atmospherics are one thing, but Lanois also specializes in a supple roots-rock, authentic and yet contemporary sounding, like this brilliant Dylan track.

5. The Neville Brothers – Yellow Moon (1989)

Lanois was maybe the hottest guy in music in the late 1980s, a musical Moses, one of several trailblazers who led Rock music away from the soul-sucking synthesized sounds of that ridiculous decade.

6. EmmyLou Harris – Wrecking Ball (1995)

Just look at the illustrious careers Lanois helped revive: Robbie Robertson, the Nevilles, and EmmyLou Harris. Who else on earth would have had folk icon EmmyLou Harris cover Jimi Hendrix? You gotta marvel at the incredible layered guitar work on this track.

7. Willie Nelson – Teatro (1998)

On this track Willie covered perhaps Lanois’ most famous solo song, a spiritual but not necessarily religious track that has been covered several times by a range of artists.

8. Dashboard Confessional – Dusk And Summer (2006)

Certainly Lanois doesn’t limit himself to working with old classic artists, and although nobody would call this a highlight of his career, it’s evidence of the guy’s openness and willingness to collaborate widely.

9. Neil Young – Le Noise (2010)

What an incredible album. Just Neil Young and his electric guitars, plus Daniel Lanois and his collection of “sonics”. It’s experimental, challenging, and not everybody’s cup of tea. But being both stripped-down and enhanced at the same time creates a new perspective of the songwriting and record-making process.

10. The Killers – Battle Born (2012)

Lanois shared production credits on this album with four other producers, including big names like Steve Lillywhite and Brendan O’Brien, but he also shared songwriting credits on three tracks. You can just tell this one’s got his fingerprints all over it.

Photo credit: By Juan Manuel Parra [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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