A different take from a different producer
, Matt Dalton:
Just read this letter, and I may be no Steve Albini, but i AM a human being before I'm a record producer, and I have to say, there's a lot of non-committal language and predetermined passing-of-the-buck so to speak. Basically a guy like SA is good enough at being an engineer and has somehow assumed the role of being a producer but really puts the onus of producing back on the band so he basically can't be blamed if something doesn't go the way it was supposed to. This whole letter sets itself up to be like "i'll record you, and it's up to you to make it good... and my name will be attached to it... and if you love it AWESOME I DID MY JOB... and if you hate it it's not my fault cuz i told you to come here just being you." To me, that's not producing, that's refusing to be culpable for the litany of issues that can arise (technical, personal, inter-personal, unforeseen, acts of god, etc) during a recording process. I'm bothered by his "throw my hands in the air" approach of saying "hey idk man, i'll show up and do my thing and let you do your thing and hopefully it comes out the way you want it". it's so dismissive and NOT what the role of a producer should be. its what a label exec should be. it's what a manager should be. A producer is someone like Ross Robinson. TAKE THE BAND TO ANOTHER LEVEL. Make them live in a world that causes them to be more than what they thought they could be. Love them, hate them, push them, pull them and FORM a record. Get involved. Not just say "Hey I know Fugazi, I know Jesus Lizard, I'm punk rock man, let's be punk rock together"
All in all, In Utero is pretty good, but it was surely no great follow up to Nevermind (if you have a problem with me saying that, then I respect that you're a better Nirvana fan than me I guess) but I really don't think that album came out that great. it has its gems, but it also has its misses. A band like Nirvana should have never had a miss over the course of their short-lived career.
Pause rant... til the next rant. These are few and far between cuz I'm too busy living life to get too mad about stuff like this anymore. And I'm not MAD, but I do live life on the other side of the music that people hear, and maybe I'm just a little jealous that someone can build a career as successful as Albini by basically assuming no responsibility for the record he is supposed to be "producing". Movies have producers, directors, actors, etc. Music is just the same. The producer needs to do his or her JOB in carrying out the vision by any means necessary. Not sit back and let the actor do all the work and collect the check and the producer credit later. Kudos for not taking points though.