PBS Series “Soundbreaking” A Must-See For Any Rock Fan



I’ve always believed that record producers were under-appreciated members of the Rock family, and whenever I can I try to highlight the contributions of all-time greats like Glyn Johns and Daniel Lanois. Sometimes we forget how producers can be so important in shaping the sound of the artists we love, but I think this is changing. A new 8-part documentary series airing on PBS is shining a well-deserved spotlight on music producers and how the recording process has shaped music, and it is fantastic.

Called Soundbreaking: Stories From the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music, the series takes a big-picture view of recorded music across eras and genres. In the words of the show’s producers, the series traces “this ongoing sonic revolution and explores the nexus of technology and human artistry that has created the soundtrack of our lives.”

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I watched the first episode called “The Art Of Recording” and I was transfixed. It discussed the various roles of a good producer, and examined the work of Sam Phillips, George Martin, Phil Spector, Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin. All the principals and more are interviewed, the show is supported by over 150 interviews which deliver some fascinating comments.

Even better, the program obtained the clearances for the all the music, so the soundtrack is unbelievable. I guess if I had a criticism I would say it moved between subjects perhaps a little too quickly. All that amazing music from all those different styles made my head spin a little bit, but in a good way. The programs’s producers really know their stuff, and the musical choices are uniformly excellent.

Other episodes in the series look at how the recording studio became an instrument, the art and science of recording the human voice, and how amps and electrification transformed sound. I can’t recommend it enough. You can watch the series on PBS or online here.

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