Robert John "Mutt" Lange (born 11 November 1948 in Zambia) entered the music industry in The '70s as a sometime session musician and budding producer, and eventually made his mark on rock music as Record Producer in The '80s through his high-profile collaborations with some of the biggest names of the day.
Lange started off producing such British stars as Graham Parker and the Boomtown Rats. Lange's international breakthrough came when he produced Highway To Hell, Back in Black and For Those About to Rock We Salute You for AC/DC and he gained further recognition when he co-produced 4 by Foreigner with the band's leader Mick Jones. However, it's arguable that his Signature Style is best represented by Pyromania and Hysteria, two of four hugely successful albums he co-wrote and produced with Def Leppard, and Waking Up the Neighbours by Bryan Adams.
In The '90s, Lange married country-pop superstar Shania Twain and produced her Diamond-selling albums The Woman In Me, Come On Over and Up! Since their subsequent split, the famously reclusive Lange has largely retreated from public view, resurfacing to work on albums by Nickelback (Dark Horse), Maroon 5 (Hands All Over), Muse (Drones), and Lady Gaga (some production on Born This Way).
Tropes associated with Mutt Lange include:
- Control Freak: Lange has been accused of exhibiting such a tendency, notably when he butted heads with Mick Jones of Foreigner during the production of 4, and his insistence on using a drum machine for much of the production of Pyromania. The same occurred on Hysteria, where Lange and engineers Erwin Musper and Ronald Prent had to record all of the drum sounds and play them through a Fairlight CMI because of Rick Allen's difficulties in playing the drums after losing his left arm. According to Joe Elliott, the recording of the eventual hit single "Armageddon It" during the Hysteria sessions almost drove Steve Clark to tears, because Lange purportedly insisted that he record every note of the song's guitar solo individually so Lange could stitch it together after the fact.
- The Man Behind the Man: One interpretation of his relationship with Def Leppard during the eighties.
- Reclusive Artist: Lange eschews publicity, has not given an interview for decades and tries to avoid being photographed wherever possible. He also chooses to live in a small town in Switzerland rather than somewhere more showbiz such as Los Angeles.
- Record Producer: He fits into several of categories listed on the page, including...
- Acrimony Producer: He reportedly had a hard time getting along with Mick Jones of Foreigner during the sessions for 4 because they both had extensive studio experience but different attitudes toward how the album should be approached. It ended up taking ten months to record and going significantly over budget, but it turned out to be their best record.
- Helping Hand Producer: He was reportedly this for Def Leppard, whose love of bombastic hard rock matched his own and allowed them to achieve great success with Pyromania and Hysteria.
- One Trick Pony: He developed his over-produced, grandiose style on the albums he produced with Foreigner and Def Leppard and subsequently applied it to his work with Bryan Adams, Shania Twain and other artists with whom he was less involved.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: As well as being one of his favourite studio techniques, Lange frequently contributes his own backing vocals to albums he worked. This trope is probably most in evidence on the albums he produced with then-wife Shania Twain.
- Signature Style: As noted, Lange became associated with massively over-produced arrangements and vocal harmonies, which have been a feature of many of his production jobs since the early eighties. He is so famous for this that it can be surprising to listen to the raw production job he performed working with AC/DC.