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Troubled Production / Music Albums Artists S To Z

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  • Scritti Politti's 1982 New Sound Album Songs to Remember qualifies for this.
    • Its saga began in early 1981, when a cassette sampler distributed with an issue of New Musical Express included a demo of "The 'Sweetest Girl'", a synth-and-drums love song that was a radical departure from the band's previous work, which had been reggae-tinted social and political commentary. Fans were divided—it was either the greatest pop song ever written or a complete sellout. But everyone was talking about it, and assumed the band's label, Rough Trade, would capitalize on the buzz and release it as a single.
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    • However, Geoff Travis, head of the label, felt that the single would benefit from some further tweaking in the studio (it was just a demo, after all) and encouraged the band's leader, Green Gartside (who was rapidly becoming the whole band, effectively) to do so. Since the members were all being paid £50note  a week, on top of a very generous advance they'd already gotten, sure, they figured, why not? ... and took their time.
    • Lots of time. They finished the whole album in the process by August of that year ... and decided not to release it just then. Instead, they imagined, they could release the finished version of "The 'Sweetest Girl'", plus a few more singles, building up to the album's release. However, when they finally released the finished single in October, the British pop scene had moved on. Other artists had capitalized on the moment, and what had seemed like a contender for hit song of the year wound up barely grazing the charts.
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    • A few more singles were released, none of them becoming great hits, before the album was finally released in September 1982. Gartside in the meantime complained that Rough Trade hadn't promoted the singles as effectively as it could have. At least the album sold well, giving Rough Trade its first-ever Top 20.
    • However, around the same time Rough Trade, which had expanded upward from the eponymous London record store to become a distribution, recording and promotional operation as well, found out it had overspent on just about everything, not least the small fortune Scritti Politti had cost the label while putting the finishing ... and finishing ... and finishing touches on their debut album. Were it not for the indulgence of Mute Records' Daniel Miller over the £1,000,000 or so he was owed, Rough Trade would have ceased to be right then and there.
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    • Travis and Richard Scott, his co-founder, fought heavily over this and the net result was a major corporate restructuring. He had to let Scritti Politti go to a major label, along with Aztec Camera, who had delivered in "Oblivious" the hit pop single that "The 'Sweetest Girl'" had been expected to be, to Virgin. Both bands went on to success at their new labels. And fortunately for Scott, this gave him the space to sign the Smiths, who helped keep the label afloat for another six years.
    • "The 'Sweetest Girl'" ultimately did become a pop hit...but in a cover by Madness, and not until 1986. And it wasn't even one of Madness' bigger hits to boot.
  • Skinny Puppy ran hard into this trope with The Process. A litany of factors during its protracted two year development, including long-standing creative tensions and drug abuse problems between the band members, their new label American Recordings pressuring them to adopt a more mainstream industrial rock sound a la Nine Inch Nails, and a series of unfortunate natural disasters hindering studio sessions, would culminate with the dissolution of the group in mid-1995 and keyboardist Dwayne Goettel's tragic death by overdose later that year, with the finished album being dedicated to his memory. There were no plans to continue Skinny Puppy past this point, and indeed, it would take nearly a decade for Ogre and cEvin to fully reconcile and get the band running on all cylinders again.
  • Slint's Spiderland is known for being the first and sometimes best Post-Rock album ever created. It's also known for its freakishly stressful recording. The band only had four days to do the recording and had to pull all-nighters, only having energy drinks to keep them awake. The songs were originally written as instrumentals, but they were pressured into adding vocals and lyrics at the last minute (hence the spoken word throughout the album). Brian McMahan, the band's lead vocalist, threw out his voice after the take of the final track "Good Morning Captain", which may explain why Britt Walford performed the vocals and guitar on "Don, Aman". The producer that worked on the album, Brian Paulson, was also brutal, demanding absolute perfection on the takes, exhausting the band even more. The worst part is that two of the members were institutionalized for a few weeks due to the intense stress and pressure that was placed on them for this album. To this day, many rock historians believe it to be one of the harshest recordings in history. This is all believed to have been caused by the odd composition of Spiderland, leading many to believe it to be cursed. Paulson himself described the album as "fucking weird".
  • Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, the third LP by Slipknot, got off to a rough start, to say the least. Following their previous album Iowa and subsequent touring, most of the band members ventured off into various side projects, such as vocalist Corey Taylor's priority-band Stone Sour, and drummer Joey Jordison's group Murderdolls. Upon reuniting alongside producer Rick Rubin and being moved out to his Houdini Mansion in Los Angeles to craft the next record, most if not all of the members were not on speaking terms, and collectively contributed nothing to the album for three months, wasting away thousands of dollars whilst living inside said mansion. Even when they eventually gave themselves a kick in the ass to begin properly working on the record, Taylor still found himself drinking heavily throughout the entirety of recording, leading to some supposedly less-than-stellar vocal performances that ended up in the final product. This also wasn't helped by the fact that Rubin himself did not often show up for recording sessions (and didn't do a goddamn thing when he did), as well as the Houdini Mansion's documented paranormal activities spooking the band members. Nonetheless, Subliminal Verses was certified platinum, and is considered by many to be Slipknot's best.
  • Slowdive's Souvlaki almost makes Loveless look like a joke.
    • After an utterly moronic marketing campaign run by their label for Just for a Day, Slowdive started writing songs for the album while on tour in 1992. Around this time, band leaders Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell, who had been best friends since they were children, broke off a relatively brief romantic relationship that nonetheless seriously tested their close friendship and the band's entire dynamic. They recorded around 40 songs at multiple studios under harsh conditions including malfunctioning recording equipment and general laziness from some of the band members or outside interference. In a notably bizarre incident, the band went into a Bath studio previously used by Spiritualized, where they found a large Scalextric model train left behind; Neil Halstead snarked that it took so long to get rid of and the sessions turned out to be useless that it would have been more productive to have just sat around playing with the model. When presented with the tracks, Creation Records head Alan McGee bluntly told them "They're all shit." They went back in the studio, completely dry of ideas and where to carry the album next. Neil Halstead started increasing his smoking of marijuana to try to cope with the stress, which resulted in the band struggling to get him motivated. They requested Brian Eno to produce for them, which he declined and insisted on collaborating with them, saying they were "good enough" that they didn't need his help. When he came in to work with them, his bizarre studio behaviour proved nearly impossible to work with. He told the band to just play random bits with their instruments and took a clock from the studio wall and placed it on the mixing deck - two of the tracks from the album ("Sing" and "Here She Comes") were wrung together from these recordings, with Eno playing minimal keyboards on "Sing". Eno declined to work on any more than the two songs that he thought needed his input, and left the band to work more for themselves. Halstead, even more stressed, left the group to seek isolation in a cottage. This left the three remaining members to struggle with production until Halstead's return with new music just a few weeks before recording was scheduled to wrap up (among the songs Halstead returned with was "Alison", which the rest of the band immediately picked as the album's first single). The album was released in 1993 to mixed reviews due to the demise of Shoegaze at the time.
    • The drama didn't end there. The marketing campaign used for Souvlaki proved even more moronic than the one used for Just for a Day. Fans were offered free copies of Just for a Day if they posted 50 fliers around New York City. This backfired immensely when people refused to do it. Things escalated even higher when SBK blamed Slowdive themselves for the marketing campaign and pulled funding from their tour to promote the album, leaving the band to have to pay for it themselves. Tourmates Catherine Wheel even spoke of SBK's idiocy, calling it "bullshit". To this day, the management of Slowdive is looked at as a go-to example of what not to do when managing advertising for a band.
  • Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On has this trope written all over it. The band was agreed to be on a roll, due to the combined effect of the hit Stand album, their triumphant Woodstock appearance, and the new singles on the hit Greatest Hits album. Behind the scenes things were falling apart. Sly Stone moved from San Francisco to LA, creating physical and personal distance from the others. He and some other members greatly increased their drug intake. The Black Panthers, showing odd priorities, were pressuring Sly to fire drummer Greg Errico and saxophonist Jerry Martini because they were white. Errico did leave around that time, mainly because Sly's use of drum machines and guest musicians left him with little to do. During all this turmoil, song lyrics showed a surprising level of bleakness. The resulting album is remembered as simultaneously one of the group's classics and the beginning of the end for the Family Stone.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins have at least two examples.
    • Their mainstream breakthrough Siamese Dream ended up as this. Billy Corgan moved the band from Chicago to Marietta, Georgia in an attempt to get Jimmy Chamberlin to stop abusing so many drugs (it failed), he came down with suicidal depression and writer's block, D'arcy Wretzky and James Iha broke up at the same time and by the end Billy wound up playing most of the guitar and bass just to get things done quicker. By the time recording ended in March 1993, the album was four months and $250,000 over budget, and Corgan and producer Butch Vig were so exhausted they passed over mixing duties to Alan Moulder (chosen by Billy due to his engineering work on Loveless), who took 36 days to finish mixing it. The turmoil extended to the album's packaging as well, since Virgin Records vetoed the original plan to have an outsider artist do the artwork, and time constraints forced Billy and his wife Chris Fabian to assemble the artwork (largely old photos of his family and strangers, with the lyrics handwritten on top; the cover was shot separately by Melodie McDaniel) the day after their wedding, and he was ultimately dissatisfied with how it turned out. Still, the album debuted at #10 on the Billboard charts, earned great reviews and launched the band into mainstream success thanks to "Today".
    • Not quite as drastic as Siamese Dream, but the band have also stated that the recording of their debut Gish was troubled, despite lasting only 30 working days between December 1990 and March 1991. Billy once again performed nearly all the bass and guitar parts and commented that the strain of the sessions drove him to a nervous breakdown, and D'arcy Wretzky added that she had no idea how the band survived.
  • The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead may be seen as a masterpiece, but it had a turbulent time getting there. First off, before recording sessions even started, they were told by their lawyer that they only had to complete one more album for their label, Rough Trade. This excited them, making them think that they would be signing to a major label soon. This sent Johnny Marr into a workaholic frenzy. The band couldn't focus in their usual studio setting and instead settled in a cottage in the country. Morrissey started developing his infamous ego around this time, making him stressful to deal with. Marr would go days without eating, spending nights that he wasn't recording drinking and using cocaine. On top of that, he started getting exhausted having to manage the band. One phone call in which the label tried to get him to resolve a debt owed to a tour van they used, he screamed "Have someone else deal with it!" Their lawyer then came back and told them that there was a problem with Rough Trade, as the label thought the band owed them more than just one more studio album. The band pushed back, which caused Rough Trade to put an injunction on the new album, meaning it would not be released until a new agreement was made. This delay meant that the band was performing songs for an album with an unknown release date, confusing many fans. Marr attempted to get back at the label by unsuccessfully attempting to steal the master tapes. Finally, shortly before the album's release, bassist Andy O'Rourke's heroin addiction became so bad that he was thrown out of the band. Morrissey left a passive-aggressive note on his car, leading to him spending a whole day crying in Marr's shoulders, unknown what to do or how to cope. O'Rourke was let back in the band soon, leading to his replacement, Craig Scanlon, to be relegated to the position of second guitarist. An agreement was eventually made with the label and the album was released in 1986.
  • Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run is another legendary story. After two financially unsuccessful though critically acclaimed albums, the Boss' career almost came to an end when Columbia Records almost dropped him entirely. Springsteen promised a smash hit and Columbia gave him a deadline of six months to finish the album. At this point, Springsteen was running out of funds to pay The E Street Band, with many of its members thinking of walking out of the recording process. Recording ultimately took a year and a half, triple the time Columbia originally wanted. Springsteen got into dozens of arguments with his fellow musicians, as his musical ideas that were in his head were difficult to bring to fruition. The album ended up drastically over-budget, causing Columbia to almost consider dropping the album altogether. Song selection was so great that seven tracks were left on the cutting room floor just to keep the album from being overlong. Ultimately Born to Run turned into the Boss' greatest musical achievement, selling far more copies than Columbia was demanding. It thrust Springsteen into the limelight and even attracted attention to his prior albums, which are both also looked at as classics now.
  • Starflyer 59's sophomore album, Gold. Prior to recording, "internal tensions" reduced the band's members to Jason Martin, and then the pressure of recording the album all by himself pushed Jason to the verge of a nervous breakdown. As J. Edward Keyes' semi-official biography of the band describes it:
    Martin entered the studio with engineer Bob Moon – and wouldn’t emerge again for a month. Not to sleep. Not to visit friends. Not for anything.
    Moon’s recollection is vivid. “It was just insane. I remember at one point standing outside the studio with Jason, and hearing him say that it was the first time he’d seen the daylight in seven days.”
    "I didn't leave the Green Room for a month. Period. [...] I was having a semi-breakdown," he admits. "It was a sick experience."
  • Steely Dan's 1980 album Gaucho has one of the more troubled productions in rock music history.
    • For starters, guitarist/songwriter Walter Becker was hit by a car before recording began, and while recovering from leg injuries, developed other infections which further delayed recording. After his recovery, he developed dependencies on the painkillers he had to take, which he supplemented with illegal drugs, causing a rift between him and band co-leader Donald Fagen. Additionally, Becker's girlfriend died of a drug overdose in his house in early 1980, and her parents sued him, claiming he was responsible for her death by introducing her to heroin. As a result, Becker wasn't really present in the studio for three songs, among them "Glamour Profession", still one of the fan favorites on the album, and Fagen admitted later that his longtime partner's input would have been helpful while they were trying to finish the album.
    • Also, Becker and Fagen became control freaks in production to an even greater extent than they had already become infamous for two years earlier when making Aja, demanding dozens of takes from studio musicians and continuous tweaks to already recorded material (the fade-out for "Babylon Sisters" alone took 55 attempts for Becker, Fagen and their longtime producer Gary Katz to decide on a version they liked). One track was recorded over and over ... only so they could get the drum part right. Mark Knopfler spent five hours in another studio jamming over the "Time out of Mind" instrumental, only to see just a few of his fills used in the fade-out of what turned out to be the band's last hit single.
    • Then, a song called "The Second Arrangement" — which the band had slaved over more than any other track — was accidentally wiped by a recording assistant and eventually had to be scrapped. Bootleg versions of an unfinished version have long circulated among the fanbase.
    • Lastly after the album had been finally been finished, a three-way legal wrangle sprang up between the band's former label (MCA, who inherited Steely Dan when they bought out the struggling ABC Records), the label that the band had just signed to and planned to release the album on (Warner (Bros.) Records), and the band themselves, who just wanted the darned thing to be released. MCA won out, and released the album for an inflated price exclusively because the band were popular. Fagen and Becker, long-time friends and the only two permanent members of the band, began to grow distant due to Becker's drug use and Fagen's plans on releasing a solo album. Steely Dan broke up under a year after Gaucho's release, with Fagen and Becker not reuniting the band for 15 years.
  • Recording The Stone Roses' long-awaited second album Second Coming was slow, hampered by Ian Brown's and John Squire's new fatherhood, general procrastination, declining relations and the death of several people close to the band. Producer John Leckie ultimately left the project as the band would not sign a production contract.
  • The Strokes have had several issues trying to match the greatness of their 2001 debut, Is This It. This has lead to a few troubled productions on their end.
    • Room on Fire had the misfortune of being the album that directly follows Is This It. The band rushed the recording process, trying to make sure they stayed in the limelight, since the Garage Rock Revivalist fad was passing fast. This proved to be a problem, as the band was exhausted from extensive touring. They decided to work with a new producer in order to change up their sound. They settled with Nigel Godrich, citing his work with Radiohead as the reason. This proved to be a nightmare, as lead vocalist Julian Casablancas was starting to form a massive ego and argued with almost every decision Godrich tried to make. Eventually the band fired Godrich and settled with their previous producer, Gordon Raphael, who let them have the freedom they explored on their previous album. The Godrich sessions for the album were scrapped entirely, and the band had to rework the album from the ground up, only having 3 months to finish it. The album was well-liked by critics and fans, but was considered a small step back from the previous album, which was seen as a masterpiece.
    • First Impressions of Earth was rife with troubles due to the band being lazy. Members kept delaying the recording of the new album due to being more interested in solo efforts. Cassablancas felt overworked, refusing to write any new material. The band requested Gordon Raphael to have their own personal studio built, hoping it would allow for them to have more freedom. Months after the studio was finished, no new material was created. Drummer Fabrizio Moretti started exhibiting odd behavior, such as arriving to one mixing session in a Darth Vader mask. The band was also starting to crumble, getting into arguments constantly. During one recording session, Cassablancas trashed the studio because he couldn't find his lyrics sheet, prompting him to give up drinking. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. also started heavily abusing heroin, a battle that would continue well into the production of the next album, over 3 years later. He started passive aggressively trying to get fired from the band by showing late to sessions and falling asleep in the studio. However, the band's overall apathy when recording lead to them not even caring about Albert's lack of professionalism. The album is seen as the oddball album and was met with harsh criticism upon release. However, recent views of the album show that many fans see as just as good as, if not better than Is This It.
    • Angles was ridiculously troubled. The band were already having troubles getting along with each other back in 2007, resulting in a 2-year long hiatus. In 2009, they went back into the studio to begin work on a new album... with none of the band issues resolved. Hammond was still dealing with his heroin addiction. He got admitted to rehab, where he was required to stay for 3 months to get sober, delaying the overall process. Cassablancas felt even more unmotivated than ever. They recorded over 18 demo tracks with one producer and were unsatisfied with results. They fired him, and only kept one song from these sessions ("Life Is Simple In The Moonlight"). When they went in to record Hammond and engineer Gus Oberg took over as producers, but Casablancas stopped showing up to recording sessions, recording his vocal takes at home and sending them by email. He had been suffering from general apathy, which bled over from the previous album. When Casablancas finally sent directions for musical ideas to the band, they were vague and hard to follow. When the album was finally completed and released, it was heavily criticized for its fractured, confusing feel and for being vastly different from the rest of The Strokes' discography.
  • Suede's second album Dog Man Star was troubled with band arguments, delays, and a scandal between the band's guitarist, Bernard Butler and producer Ed Buller. After a successful debut self-titled the band felt pressured to create an album that outdid the previous one. Butler wrote a song called "Asphalt World" that was 25 minutes and featured an 8-minute-long guitar solo. The rest of the band felt like the song was too demanding and this is where things started to spiral out of control. After the song was cut to 9 minutes, arguments got to the point where it was impossible to keep Butler in the same room as the rest of the band without fights breaking out. Butler tried multiple times to switch out the album's producer for a new one, but Nude Records refused several times. After this, Butler started feuding with Buller on Gallagher brother levels. Buller recalled a few phone calls where he could hear knife scratching against the phone. Then Butler stated making death threats directed at Buller and would start making claims that Buller was the dangerous one. After recording sessions got delayed an extra month and the drama continued, Butler made an ultimatum that Buller was switched out for producer or he would leave. The band chose to stick with the producer, thinking Butler was out of his head. Butler to this day still claims that they kicked him out. After Butler's leave, the band struggled the finish the album which delayed a couple of weeks more. It was released in October of 1994 to middling reviews, though many now view it as Suede's strongest artistic statement.
  • Suffocation's Breeding the Spawn is one of Death Metal's stand-out examples of Sophomore Slump due to this. The primary trouble came from their label, Roadrunner Records, who were busy basking in the surprise breakout success of Type O Negative's Bloody Kisses, and were consequently screwing over every death metal band on the label. In Suffo's case, this meant giving them a pittance for their recording budget, meaning they couldn't afford a return trip to Morrisound Recording, where Effigy of the Forgotten (and a slew of other legendary death metal albums) were recorded. For that matter, the band and producer Paul Bagin (subbing in for Scott Burns, Morrisound's resident death metal guru) apparently couldn't afford to do retakes, or properly master and mix the album, resulting in a full-length release with the audio quality of a demo - instruments are constantly surging or fading out of the mix, with the bass being particularly problematic in this regard, and the overall sound is much too thin for the genre. Naturally, all of this made it really difficult to appreciate the fact that Spawn represented a step forward for the band from a songwriting perspective, since they took the technicality that was already a stand-out feature of Effigy and pushed it Up to Eleven, something that fans have only really been able to appreciate once Suffocation started re-recording the album one track at a time on later releases.note  Some began to refer to the band as a One-Hit Wonder in the wake of Spawn's release, until they were able to get enough money to return to Morrisound and put out Pierced From Within.
  • Supertramp has had two of these:
    • In 1974 they were touring the West Coast of North America in support of their breakout album Crime of the Century when vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Roger Hodgson, one of the band's leaders, broke his hand. This forced the cancellation of the remaining shows, and with nothing better to do the band went into the studios in L.A. to record their next album. They had a lot of time ... but nothing else. Hodgson and songwriting partner Rick Davies hadn't even begun to think about their next album yet, and not only didn't have any overriding theme or concept for it, they hadn't even begun to write songs. Thus the band went forward with all they had: songs they hadn't used on Crime, and a few leftovers from previous sessions. Given those choices, it's no surprise that everyone took two weeks off at one point so Hodgson and Davies could write some new songs ... leaving them, despite their original surfeit of time, with no time left to rehearse the new songs before having to record them. The bandmembers' wives and girlfriends were also going at on their partners' behalf, to the point that their manager says that things really were the way everyone thinks it was with the Beatles. Davies came up with the title, Crisis? What Crisis?, as an ironic comment on the situation, as well as the cover-art concept. It got some good reviews, but on the whole the band was unhappy with it due to the circumstances under which they recorded it. (Hodgson, however, has since said that upon further consideration he likes it the best of all Supertramp's albums.)
    • A decade later there was ..Famous Last Words... The band, by that time living in L.A. and enjoying the success of their previous album, Breakfast in America, were feeling pressure to follow it up with a successful album. Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Roger Hodgson, one of the band's leaders, was growing disenchanted with the L.A. lifestyle, the music industry and touring, and was trying to start a family with his new wife and children. He had taken up yoga, meditation, vegetarianism and spiritual soul-searching, and wanted to record the album in his home studio. The rest of the band members were not adopting Hodgson's lifestyle, and he and the band were growing apart. Hodgson also felt that as Supertramp were getting tighter and more structured in soundcheck rehearsals, they stopped jamming, and were coming up with less ideas as a result; also, it had taken the fun out of the band for him. Vocalist/keyboardist Rick Davies, the other bandleader, recorded his vocals at his own home studio. Davies had also fired longtime manager Dave Margereson and employed his wife Sue as manager, a move Roger was uncomfortable with in a band already over-influenced by bickering wives gunning for their husbands in a Spinal Tap manner. When the album came out, it was criticized for (relatively) uninspired material and slick production, and sold a fraction of the amount BIA had done. Finally, Hodgson decided to leave the group in 1983 after a successful world tour.
  • Talking Heads' fourth album, Remain in Light is the band's most well-known and acclaimed work, but it was also extremely stressful. For starters, frustrated with David Byrne's increasing ego, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth were pondering quitting the band before recording even started. After spending a few weeks in Africa, the couple brought new rhythmic and tonal ideas to the band that intrigued Byrne. This ended up changing their style when they were already on edge. Brian Eno, who had worked with the band on More Songs About Buildings and Food and Fear of Music, initially didn't want to work with them again until he heard the new recordings, after which he changed his mind. Byrne wanted looped rhythms, which contemporary technology was incapable of reliably creating (computers outright couldn't do looped rhythms, and tape loops were a risky gamble due to both the high number of moving parts involved and the natural playback degradation of analog tape). Consequently, he resorted to making the band become increasingly good at playing repeated beats and musical ideas throughout an entire song. It sounds simple on paper, but it ended up exhausting his musicians all the more, as Byrne demanded mechanical precision from them. The breakneck pace of the recording caused original sound engineer Rhett Davies to step out, prompting Steven Stanley to replace him. After instrumental recording wrapped up, Byrne found himself suffering from Writer's Block, using more African techniques to finish up lyrical ideas. Mixing was done in two different sessions by Eno and John Potoker. The album was released in 1980 to critical acclaim, but Eno was so taken aback by the stress of the recording sessions that he vowed to never work with the band again. The perfectionism instigated by Byrne set the stages for the eventual demise of the band eleven years later.
  • Tears for Fears' 2nd and most famous album Songs from the Big Chair suffered from the band trying to go in a new artistic direction from the previous album. The band would spend 18 hours a day recording, sometimes not leaving until 2 in the morning. The label had them under pressure to make a hit. "Shout" in particular was written in retaliation to their A & R guy. There would be nights where the band had mental breakdowns due to being overworked. The original version of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was unsatisfactory, causing the band to consider scrapping it. Then, one night, producer Chris Hughes asked for a particular guitar riff and got push-back from guitarist Curt Smith. After some arguing, Smith then played the catchy guitar riff similar to what Hughes was asking for, which was secretly being recorded without Smith's permission. Hughes then said "That's perfect!" and Smith replied "Yeah, well, I'm not doing it," and he stormed out. Hughes took the recording, created a tape loop, and layered the synths on top of it and the final version of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was born. The album was a smash critical and commercial success. The subsequent tour, however, destroyed and exhausted the band to the point where they would take a lengthy hiatus from music. The whole experience was captured in the documentary Scenes from the Big Chair.
  • U2 have had a few:
    • October, their second album, was their first to be recorded under difficult circumstances. The trouble started when, while they were on tour in Portland, Oregon, supporting their well-received debut, Boy, the notebook in which Bono had been writing down lyrical ideas for their next album was either lost or stolen (it was returned in 2004, to his delight). He had to start over from scratch, pushing back the start of their recording sessions and forcing the production to be done on an accelerated schedule with less money. As a result, despite some high moments such as "Gloria", much of the album sounded unfinished and critics were not shy to point that out. The same critics forgave them when War was released a year later, but the fans have been less gracious: more than 20 years later it remains the worst-selling studio album in the band's entire catalog.
    • Achtung Baby was recorded at first in Berlin's famous Hansa Ton Studios (formerly Hansa By The Wall, what with them being right next to the Berlin Wall) starting in October 1990 (in fact, the band caught the last flight to East Berlin, days before reunification), at the same time that an intra-band conflict started up: Bono and The Edge, burned by the poor reception of Rattle and Hum and their own Creator Backlash, wanted to go in a cyberpunk-industrial-electro-alternative-rock direction, inspired by the contemporary growth of the Alternative Rock, Shoegazing and Madchester scenes. Larry and Adam, on the other hand, wanted to keep the "old U2" sound. Hoping that they would be inspired by the post-Cold-War-ending euphoria, the band instead found the mood in Germany something of a malaise and their hotel really poor, not to mention the "bad vibe" of recording in what had formerly been an SS ballroom, and their producers being forced to import recording equipment due to the studio being long neglected. Cue lots of arguments, fruitless jamming and little tangible progress despite the aid of producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, and Mullen admitted that the band came close to breaking up in the process. The turning point came as the band was jamming on an early version of "Mysterious Ways" and The Edge tried various chord progressions for the bridge. At Lanois' suggestion, the jam stopped and The Edge instead played the various attempts sequentially on an acoustic guitar. The result was something of an epiphany for the band, and they ended up writing "One". They decamped back to Ireland with the tapes in February 1991, and realised that the sessions had gone better than they'd imagined, and continued recording in a mansion in Elsinore nicknamed "Dog Town", which provided a more relaxed environment. Despite speedbumps like the band's confidence being affected by the Berlin sessions being stolen and bootlegged in April, and Eno intervening at one point to strip away excessive overdubbing (something the band credit with saving the album) and convincing them to take a two-week holiday a month before the deadline to regain focus, the band sorted everything out eventually, continuing to record and mix at a hectic pace until the label-imposed deadline of 21 September (including last-minute changes to "The Fly", "One" and "Mysterious Ways"; The Edge said he believes half of the work was done in the last three weeks to finalise the songs). The result? Only one of the most critically and commercially successful New Sound Albums that revitalised the band's career and still remains one of their most beloved albums.
    • Pop was meant to further the band's explorations into electronic and dance music, recorded with the help of more producers. They were so confident they allowed their manager Paul McGuinness to schedule a tour for the summer of 1997. Then Larry had to sit out a lot of the sessions due to back surgery, the band hit some walls creatively and ended up in a mad rush to finish recording the album in time for the PopMart tour: Bono's vocals for "Last Night on Earth" were, funnily enough, recorded on the last day of mixing and mastering, and the whole band basically worked like mad (without even an Achtung-style two-week holiday) until the CD was finally released in March 1997, then just went straight into touring. This left them no time to practice for the tour, resulting in some pretty poor early shows, including a disastrous start in Las Vegas on 28 April where they had to stop and re-start "Staring at the Sun" because they lost timing. Bono has since gone on record that he believes that allowing McGuinness to schedule the tour before anything was recorded is the worst decision that the band has ever made.
  • Velvet Underground suffered from this during production of both of their "last" albums.
    • Their last official album, Loaded was the victim of record label politics: the Velvets and Frank Zappa had been thrown off Verve by famed executive asshole Mike Curb because of their Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll image, and the Velvets had ended up on Atlantic sublabel Cotillion Records. As a result, the album was faced with a lot of pressure of producing hit singles (something the Velvets weren't too terribly fond of) - the album's title comes directly from Ahmet Ertegün's request that they write an album "loaded with hits". Doug Yule (John Cale's replacement in the band) had much more musical power on the album than Lou Reed did and therefore created much conflict in the recording and composition of some songs, while Maureen Tucker sat out the sessions for pregnancy reasons and had to be replaced by a series of session drummers, including Doug's brother Billy Yule, album engineer Adrian Barber, and Tommy Castanaro, though she was still credited in the inner sleeve. The recording process left Reed so stressed as a result of the Creative Differences and Executive Meddling that he quit the band after the sessions were finished but shortly before it was released. When the album finally came out, Reed accused the label of meddling further by shortening several songs, such as how "Sweet Jane" lost the entire "heavenly wine and roses" verse.
    • The final Velvet album, Squeeze, which is In Name Only, had even more pressure from the company (Polydor Records in this case) and was basically a Doug Yule solo album. The rest of the band had quit by this point and the album was rushed to release in order to cash in on VU's supposedly marketable name. Squeeze is hated by most VU fans and is usually left out of their discography. Vinyl pressings stopped by the mid-70s and the album is now only attainable by fans who Keep Circulating the Tapes.
  • WASP ran into this while recording The Crimson Idol. The album took a total of two and a half years to make and during production the band and producers had to deal with an earthquake, a major flood, a twenty four track recording machine that didn't go the distance and a couple of dozen "knock down, drag out" arguments.
  • Rufus Wainwright's Self-Titled Album introduces the singer-songwriter to all the aspects of recording his father warned him about. Due to his wealth, he was able to spend a lot of money on recording, which ended up costing an estimated $700,000 to $1 million. He also had a whopping 56 songs to choose from, which is a lot even by recording musician standards. He and producer Jon Brion fought over compositions. At times keyboard parts would be written so elaborately that Rufus' parts were barely audible. By the time it was over, he was more stressed than expected. Years in hindsight, however, revealed satisfaction and gratitude towards it for him. It is also his most acclaimed work.
  • We Came As Romans' fifth full length album Cold Like War has traces of this, both before and after release. We Came As Romans were dealing with the fallout of their Self-Titled Album, which saw their popularity take a hit. Equal Vision wanted more creative control of their future releases so the band quickly jumped ship to the growing Sharptone Records. Shortly after leaving Equal Vision, long-term drummer Eric Choi left the band in 2016 amicably. The first single "Wasted Age" released in 2016 to very positive reception. The band went into the studio for the better part of a year and Cold Like War released in October 2017 to a very warm reception and gave the band a second jolt of popularity. While the band was seeing their popularity grow again, things weren't going so well for clean singer Kyle Pavone. He went through a bad breakup and turned to drugs. His worsening condition was apparent during shows in 2018 and he was eventually hospitalized. Tragically, Kyle Pavone passed away in August 2018, putting the band's future into doubt. The band decided to continue on with Dave Stephens pulling double duty on harsh and clean vocals.
  • Whiskeytown's final album Pneumonia was this in spades. After two highly-critically-acclaimed albums, the band had a lot hype surrounding them. The band always had problems getting along, but by the time they reached this album things had gotten so bad that even the band's revolving roster of musicians all but disappeared, leaving Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary, and Mike Daly to figure things out. They had to rely on session musicians (some from famous bands) in order to get all the parts for the complex compositions. A whopping 100 songs were recorded, leaving song selection to be very very painstaking. Producer Scott Litt mixed the album to the band's displeasure. After the merging of record labels in 1998 (something that affected Red House Painters above) the album was shelved. It got Old Ramon status, and didn't get released until three years later. By the time it reached shelves in 2001, it had been bootlegged to death (to the point where it already had many reviews), the band had broken up over the drama the album caused, and Adams had already released one solo album with another on the way in four months. The album is often called one of the best Alt-Country albums, is the band's best-reviewed effort, and has had many of its songs performed by Adams himself in his solo career. The drama, however, has caused it difficult to make a Whiskeytown reunion and the people involved remember it as a mess. You can actually hear the frustration in Adams' voice in a strange case of Throw It In! on the final track (just before the silence that segues into the hidden track). He broke a string mid-performance. It was the last take the producer would allow so that's all he was allowed to do for the song. He says "Can you believe it? I had one more line to go and then I broke a string. Fuck it, I'm going to the bar."
  • The Who's Pete Townshend, after Tommy's immense success, intended to create another rock opera, this time with a sci-fi bent, called Lifehouse. Its plot would involve a dystopian heavily polluted virtual reality-based future (virtual reality before the term was even coined), where a Scottish farmer family go to the Lifehouse concert in London, the perfect note rings out and the concertgoers disappear after having achieved musical Nirvana (no, not that kind). The Who would take over the Young Vic theatre, develop new material with influence from the audience and a story would evolve. It would be a movie. Pete would modify his new synths to pick up information from audience members to create musical portraits (something basically impossible then and still pretty complicated now). Unsurprisingly, this was a recipe for disaster. Pete's inability to figure out what he wanted caused him to have a nervous breakdown, and after spending four months of live concerts at the Young Vic and unproductive studio sessions that ultimately led the band to ditch long-time producer Kit Lambert, he finally junked the whole Rock Opera concept. The Who gathered up their best songs, and entered Olympic Studios with producer Glyn Johns. The result was Who's Next, widely considered the band's best album.
  • Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has been dubbed by many as the Apocalypse Now of album recordings.
    • In 2000 after several successful shows showcasing new music, the band was excited to enter the studio for a new album. They recorded enough songs by the end of the year to release a new studio album, but Jeff Tweedy (the band's vocalist and guitarist) was so unsatisfied with the results of Ken Coomer's drumming style, that days' worth of arguments ensued afterwards. Ultimately, the band unanimously replaced Coomer with Glenn Kotche, which delivered much better results. Then there were issues with communication in album track transitions, which Tweedy was at first indifferent about, but band member Jay Bennett was trying to bring it to attention as a lot of them sounded out of place. When Tweedy finally heard them, he'd spark arguments with Bennett, which resulted in more time being wasted and Bennett being kicked out of the band. The band finally produced a satisfactory project by mid-2001 and were ready to get the album released by September 2001.
    • Then Reprise Records, concerned with the band's lack of commercial success, decided to dismiss the band after the merging of AOL with Time Warner. The album almost ended up getting Old Ramon status until Wilco's lawyer was able to negotiate a buy-out for the album's tracks. Tweedy did not want a changing of record labels to result in a delay in the album's release, so he started planning on releasing the album's tracks onto file sharing sites. Then September 11, 2001, the album's original release date, came and Tweedy had to hold off. The lyrics on the album would have proved to be tasteless in the wake of the attacks ("Tall buildings shake, Voices escape singing sad sad songs", anyone?). He finally released some of the tracks by September 18, and after that the band put the recordings up on their official website, which quadrupled the site's web traffic. The album was finally picked up by Nonesuch Records, after they offered to distribute it if the band paid them $50,000 which the band had a huge struggle accumulating the money. By the time the album was released, it had already been met with critical acclaim and most Wilco fans had already heard it and had their own digital copies on their computers. When it was finally released to stores in April 2002, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot charted higher than any of their previous releases, and it remains their best-selling album. The resulting tour turned in Wilco's largest outcome of their career, the album is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of the 2000s, and it proved that leaking music for free online can actually help a band's publicity. All of the struggles the band faced were featured in a black-and-white documentary titled I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Documentary About Wilco.
  • Wings' 1973 Band on the Run album. On the eve of the recording of the album, guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell leave the band, reducing the group to Paul McCartney, wife Linda, and guitarist/bassist/singer Denny Laine. The three of them decided to record in Lagos, Nigeria, helped by a recommendation from Ginger Baker and feeling that the change in atmosphere and sunny weather would do them good. Except it turned out that Nigeria was in the middle of monsoon season, and was going through violent revolution. The studio, owned by EMI, was a seriously under-equipped 8-track facility with limited microphones and inexperienced engineers. The hotel arrangements were miserable, and engineer Geoff Emerick (an associate from the Beatles days) was freaked out by the Nigerian creepy-crawly and reptilian population (Paul and Linda pranked Geoff by dumping dead spiders in Geoff's studio bed). Moreover, as Paul and Linda were out for a stroll, they were robbed at knife-point, and (among other possessions) the demos of the songs Paul wrote for the album were stolen from them, meaning Paul had to work from memory and/or write new material in the studio. They only got out with their lives as they were white, and the black thieves felt Paul and Linda would not be able to identify their muggers due to their skin color. On top of that, Paul suffered a bout of sunstroke while going outside for a break, and the band were cornered by a visiting Fela Kuti, who was convinced that Paul had come only to steal African beats and profit from them (Paul had to play back what Wings had recorded to Kuti to prove it untrue). The album was finished in England by transferring the Lagos recordings to 16-track for horns, strings and overdubs.
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs struggled hard with their Sophomore album, Show Your Bones:
    • Not wanting to create Fever To Tell Part 2, the band decided to scrap all pre-existing material they made. They started with Fever's producer, Dave Sitek.
    • Guitarist Nick Zinner and vocalist Karen O were at each other's throats. Karen had moved away from New York, where the band was based, and had grown apart from the other 2 members. Zinner started suffering from daily panic attacks and suicidal episodes. Sick of his drama and frustrated by the lack of work getting done, Sitek locked Zinner in a recording booth with his guitar, demanding that he finish his parts.
    • While it worked in getting the parts completed, Zinner was so angered by this that he demanded Sitek be fired. Sitek was then replaced by Squeak E. Clean, brother of Karen O's then boyfriend, Spike Jonze. Zinner disliked Clean's production methods, thinking everything sounded too polished for a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. Clean also told media outlets in 2005 the album would be a Concept Album, an idea that the band absolutely despised.
    • At this time Karen O was also starting to be courted by Interscope Records as "the next Gwen Stefani". She felt the pressure was too high and refused to allow the label to keep treating her as such. She decided to take a less-involved approach with the publicity and promotion for the album.
    • The band almost broke up on several occasions.
    • Ultimately Show Your Bones was well-liked by critics, though some fans were disappointed by the more acoustic nature of the album compared to its predecessor. It's still well-liked 10 years after, though.
  • Yes' ambitions have led to a number of troubled productions over the years:
    • Although Close to the Edge was one of Yes' most critically and commercially successful albums, it had a hard time getting there. Melody Maker's Chris Welch visited the studio as part of his research for an article about the recording and described the atmosphere as tense, punctuated by "outbursts of anarchy" from Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Bill Bruford.
      • The first rehearsals for the album that became Close to the Edge came in February 1972, at the tail end of the 1971-72 Fragile tour of the UK and North America. After the tour ended, the band took two months off and resumed rehearsals in May 1972, but none of the tracks were fully written, so they decided to write and learn them as they went along. After one too many sessions in which they hit on an arrangement they liked, only to forget it the next day, they began recording the rehearsals. Foreshadowing the fraught months ahead, Bruford suggested the title Close to the Edge as a reflection of how he and the others felt at the time.
      • Recording began in June 1972, and the sessions featured numerous technical innovations, as producer Eddy Offord wanted to capture the atmosphere of a live show and had a mock stage constructed in the studio, including a platform for Bruford's drums that resonated with them to create a "more live" sound and a special wooden booth in which Howe recorded his guitar tracks. However, Welch noted that Howe and Jon Anderson seemed to be the only people who really knew the ultimate direction the album would take, with the others contributing pieces to a "vast jigsaw of sound" assembled by Offord and Chris Squire as best they knew how; Wakeman and Bruford seemed to Welch to be reduced to the role of bystanders. Wakeman's organ solo in the title track was recorded on the instrument at St-Giles-without-Cripplegate in London, but when Offord came to insert it into the master recording, he accidentally used the wrong take and threw away the take the band actually wanted to use. With no way to reproduce the sound exactly, the version released on the album was left with a clearly audible edit.
      • The long recording sessions, sometimes going round the clock for days at a time, caused further problems for the people involved. Welch recalled going to the studio to hear a mix that the band and Offord had just spent several days working on non-stop, only for the playback to be interrupted by a thud; Welch rushed into the booth to find the exhausted Offord sprawled across the mixing console, fast asleep after days of continuous work. Bruford, meanwhile, sat in on a mixing session in which Squire was obsessively shuffling two EQ gauges for his bass track to get just the right balance for the master track; the exhausted Bruford dozed off on the sofa for several hours, and when he woke up, Squire was still shuffling the same two EQ gauges. A take the band decided to include in the master recording was discovered to have accidentally been thrown out as rubbish, leading to a frantic (and thankfully successful) search for the tape in the studio dustbins.
      • The grueling experience of working on the album ultimately proved the end of the line for Bruford, who had been growing disillusioned with the band's motion toward upbeat, diatonic melodies and harmonies while he was more interested in darker, dissonant, jazz-influenced sounds. He later said that input was solicited from each band member for each new section of a track, but presenting their ideas amounted to an election campaign to persuade the other members to vote for a given idea, which he found "unbelievably hard work". Although Bruford was grateful for Anderson's encouragement to write for the band, he felt that he had peaked with his contributions to Close to the Edge and decided it was time for "a breath of fresh air". He left Yes to join King Crimson after recording finished and was replaced by former session drummer Alan White (who has been with Yes ever since).
    • But this was merely an appetiser for the quagmire that engulfed production of their next studio album, 1973's Tales from Topographic Oceans:
      • Yes were near the end of their 1973 Close to the Edge tour when Jon Anderson came up with the concept, which was an interpretation of a lengthy footnote in the book Autobiography of a Yogi, which was four paragraphs that described the "Shastas", known in Western culture as the four bodies of Hindu text. Anderson later admitted, some years after the album came out, that he didn't truly understand this and regretted it. Anderson pitched this idea to Steve Howe, and he was on board with it, with the two spending nights in their hotel rooms devising vocal guitar melodies, and one final seven-hour session completing their ideas for the album, which to the two of them, was "magical". This was where the album began to take shape as a double album of four side-length tracks.
      • The other band members, on the other hand, hated the idea but still agreed to it, mainly due to Anderson and Howe's persuasion powers. Despite that, Chris Squire thought there was some substance to the music, but not enough, and Rick Wakeman's comments that the band had "ventured into avant-garde jazz-rock, and I had nothing to offer there" had ended what Howe described as a period of "elusive harmony" within the band. Despite this, Anderson wrote in the liner notes that the band members "made a contribution of their own to the music".
      • Then when they went to record, nobody could agree on a location - Anderson and Wakeman wanted to record in the countryside, Squire and Howe decided to continue recording in London, and Alan White didn't seem to mind either - but even he couldn't help but side with the band when Anderson pitched the idea of recording in a forest, under a tent at night. The band eventually agreed on recording in London at Morgan Studios, mainly because it had the country's first ever 24-track tape machine.
      • Recording sessions were, to say the least, a farce. Brian Lane, the band's then-manager, persuaded Anderson to help decorate the studio with plants and toy farm animals; Squire, until his death, believed that this was a joke on Anderson who wanted to record in the country. This went to hell in a handbasket, as the plants died halfway through production and the cows were covered in graffiti.
      • Anderson started growing an ego, which irritated Wakeman. His requests became increasingly bizarre and nonsensical; i.e. during rehearsals, he had vacationed to India with his wife, leaving the band to work 16 hour days in the studio, up to seven days a week at a time, with little to no contact. And then he wanted a "bathroom sound effect" on his voice (whatever that is), asking Michael Tait, their lighting engineer, to build him a plywood box with ceramic tiles stuck to it to filter his voice through. The tiles often fell off while they recorded, leaving him to junk it completely.
      • Wakeman, at this point, stopped caring. During recording, he often wandered off to the studio bar to play darts, skipped a whole session to record Moog and piano for Black Sabbath's "Sabbra Cadabra" in the neighboring studio, and ordered and ate a curry on stage during a show on the supporting tour.note  Wakeman would leave the band after the tour's conclusion.
      • In one particular incident, Anderson left the studio one morning with producer Eddy Offord, who had the master tapes with him, and left them on top of their car—the tapes slid off the roof, into traffic, and Anderson had to narrowly stop a city bus from crushing the tapes.
      • The result got heavily mixed reviews, bombed on the charts and was hated by critics. Even die-hard Yes fans believe it dragged down Progressive Rock's reputation as a whole, with its contrived format of a double LP full of 20-minute songs. While the album has been somewhat Vindicated by History, it's still seen as a symbol of excess in progressive rock.
    • Yes' last major label album, Union, was recorded by two separate bands: Chris Squire & Trevor Rabin’s LA-based Yes and the European Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe, with some vocal overdubs for a unified sound. At least that was the theory. In practice Anderson wasn’t getting on with his band mates, no one was getting along with producer Jonathan Elias, and the ABWH contributions were mostly created by session musicians. Wakeman and Howe especially were livid after many of their recorded parts were overdubbed or dropped. The result is often considered Yes' worst album.
  • Apparently a long series of these is what caused Dwight Yoakam to stop recording studio albums of original material for over seven years after 2005. In 2012, he produced 3 Pears independently and faced a slight Career Resurrection. Details on these troubles are few and far between.
  • Frank Zappa himself also had his fair share of Troubled Production problems.
    • 200 Motels was a low-budget film where only one third of the script could be filmed. Several actors left halfway the shooting. Zappa's performance in the Royal Albert Hall to promote the film was legally halted because of the questionable content in the lyrics. The film also flopped tremendously, but was seen as a Cult Classic years later. Later that same year (1971) all of Zappa's equipment burned up during a show in Montreux, where an idiot with a flare gun in the audience burned the place to the ground. (If that sounds familiar, it's because it's what "Smoke on the Water" is about - look at the Deep Purple entry.) The very next show Zappa was in the UK, where another lunatic pushed him off the stage, causing him to fall several metres below. He had to spent several months in the hospital as a result.
    • Zappa's recordings London Symphony Orchestra and The Perfect Stranger were collaborations with a huge classical orchestra, but Zappa had a Creator Backlash over them, as he felt that the musicians weren't really into the project and made a lot of mistakes. He also complained over the fact that there weren't enough rehearsals to do the music justice and that he couldn't spent overtime with the musicians because of the unions protecting them. Zappa felt particularly angry over the fact that between breaks the musicians spent time in a pub and came in 20 minutes late, causing a "drunk performance" of "Strictly Genteel" on London Symphony Orchestra.


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