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Troubled Production / Music

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"Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is at once one of the most melodic and THE most bitter and vindictive album of all time ... I mean Taylor Swift writes the odd song about dumping some guy, but she doesn't then make that guy play on the recording of that song..."

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    Individual Songs 
  • Ozzy Osbourne suggested in a 1983 interview that "S.A.T.O.", from Diary of a Madman, fit this trope. Late in the sessions, he and his band were given, he says, two weeks to get that song in shape, "or else it's going out as is", implying that it was in no condition for release at that time. "We did what we could to fix it," he says, and judging from the lack of negative reaction to it he believed that they had succeeded, "although there's a point about halfway through where the track level drops noticeably. Nobody else seems to notice, but I always cringe every time I hear it."
  • Due to friction between the band members, The Police's Grammy-winning instrumental, "Behind My Camel", was this trope. Sting thought Andy Summers' Middle Eastern-influenced composition was so silly—its repetitive, easy bass part in particular—that he absolutely refused to have anything to do with it, so Summers played bass on it himself. Stewart Copeland's opinion of it wasn't much better, and he played the drums on it only because they couldn't find anyone else to do it (he later said that for all the time he felt he had been screwed over in his years with the Police, Summers got it even worse with this song). Producer Nigel Gray has joked that Summers knew how awful the song was and titled as an in-joke because behind a camel you'd usually find "a monumental pile of shit". Sting's antipathy to the track was so great that one day at the studio, seeing the master for the finished song sitting around, he grabbed it, took it home and buried it in his yard. Somehow, though, it was recovered and made it to the album, winning the band a Grammy that Sting nevertheless joined his bandmates in accepting, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with its creation.
  • "Humans Being", from the soundtrack to Twister, nearly destroyed Van Halen. The first half of 1996 was meant to put the band on a break, with the Van Halen brothers Eddie and Alex needing surgery and Sammy Hagar's wife about to have his third child. However, manager Ray Danniels convinced them that contributing to the Twister soundtrack would pay them enough to get through the rest of that year. Sammy and Eddie wrote two songs, "Between Us Two" and "The Silent Extreme". The songs were recorded, but before he could return to his wife Kari in Maui, Eddie called him back and informed him that "Between Us Two" wouldn't be used. Alex renamed "The Silent Extreme" to "Humans Being", while Sammy argued with the Van Halen brothers over lyricsnote  and flew back and forth between home and work — so often that he moved to San Francisco against Kari's wishes to deliver the baby. At one point, the lack of compromise angered Sammy so badly that he and producer Bruce Fairbairn rewrote their lyrics in 15 minutes on the hood of a car, recorded his vocals in less than 2 hours, and stormed out. Ultimately, Sammy quit Van Halen due to the Van Halen brothers's prima-donna tendencies. All of this is detailed in a particularly ugly interview from the April 1997 edition of Guitar World, which suggests the issues went as far back as 1994 with issues rising up from a greatest hits package of Sammy's solo work.
  • A forerunner of the production problems on Steely Dan's Gaucho had come three years earlier when the band was recording "Peg", which went on to be the biggest hit single from their album Aja. Recording the backing tracks and vocals went pretty routinely. It was when they went to add the guitar solo that things went haywire. Walter Becker wasn't satisfied with his attempts, so as they often did they went looking for the best studio musicians available. But none of them, reportedly including some big names like Robben Ford and Rick Derringer, could quite handle the sneaky variations on the standard I-IV-V blues progression underneath the solo. Eight guitarists tried and failed until Jay Graydon, later famous for the Night Court theme, nailed it. Becker and Donald Fagen played the master tapes of some of those rejected solos in the Classic Albums documentary on the album.

    Record labels 
  • The short-lived Nashville branch of Polydor Records was an example. When Mercury Records decided to establish Polydor Nashville in 1994, they moved Toby Keith, Davis Daniel, and the Moffatts over from Mercury's Nashville division, with Keith serving as the flagship artist. Rounding out the roster were 4 Runner, Chely Wright, Amie Comeaux, Mark Luna, Shane Sutton, Tasha Harris, and Clinton Gregory. Of these, all were newcomers to the scene except Sutton (who had recorded some songs for Jetsons: The Movie as a teen) and Gregory (who had multiple albums and low-charting singles on an independent label earlier in the decade).
    While the label showed initial promise with 4 Runner's debut single "Cain's Blood", none of the other acts except for Keith ever managed to crack Top 40 of Hot Country Songs. Daniel saw his second album delayed during the label transition (it was originally supposed to have been issued by Mercury in '93, but was held off until '94 so Polydor could issue it), which killed his momentum completely. Due to a dismal 1995, Mercury attempted to rebrand the label as A&M Nashville in 1996. This didn't work either, as label head Harold Shedd (also Keith's producer at the time) and vice president/general manager Steve Miller (not the same person from the Steve Miller Band) stepped down, leaving A&M Nashville without any guidance before it closed in mid-1996. Daniel somehow barely eked out a third album, but 4 Runner was not so lucky — one of their vocalists quit, and the label's closure turned their second album into a Missing Episode despite having a single on the charts. Finally, neither Luna nor Harris even got so far as releasing a single. Surprisingly, Keith's third album Blue Moon was unaffected: despite being split among three labels (Polydor issued the first single, A&M handled the second single and album itself, and Mercury took back over for the third), the album still sold platinum and all three singles hit Top 10 on the country charts.
    Besides Keith, the only other Polydor/A&M Nashville acts who didn't disappear entirely were Wright (who went on to have a few hits on MCA later in the decade) and the Moffatts (who had a few pop hits on Capitol Records in their native Canada; much later on, lead vocalist Scott Moffatt would become Luke Combs' Record Producer), while Comeaux died in a car accident before she could sign to another label. A 1996 article in Billboard pointed out that the failure of Polydor/A&M Nashville was due to Keith not yet being strong enough to serve as a flagship artist, combined with a surplus of new upstart labels that left too few people qualified for executive and promotional roles.
  • As the sections on the Happy Mondays album Yes Please! and the various New Order albums can attest to, legendary Manchester label Factory Records fits this bill. While there is no denying the influence the label had on post-punk in the late '70s into the early '80s through Joy Division and New Order, or their integral part as a hub for the "Madchester" scene through their nightclub The Haçienda, the label was notoriously bad with money, there were no formal contracts with their bands in the early years, and The Haçienda's clientele mostly took MDMA instead of buying alcohol at the bar, which further drained Factory's accounts. In spite of their successes and influence, it is generally believed that Factory Records was never profitable during its lifetime, and the label lasted for less than fifteen years before going bankrupt in 1992.