Brendan O’Brien – Producer Extraordinaire #2

After I wrote on one of my favorite music producers “Mutt” Lange, I started thinking of other producers I tend to gravitate towards and the first one that popped into my head was Brendan O’Brien.

The 1990’s

Brendan was very busy in the ’90’s during the Grunge & Alternative movement and worked with so many of the top bands of that era.  He worked with Stone Temple Pilots throughout the ’90’s on their albums ‘Core ‘(1992), ‘Purple’ (1994), ‘Tiny Music’ (1996) and even ‘No.4’ (1999).  The relationship continued into the 2000’s with his work on their fifth album ‘Shangri-La Dee Da’ (2001).

If working with STP wasn’t enough, he developed a great relationship with Pearl Jam as well. Brendan worked on a number of their releases starting with the 2nd album ‘Vs.’ (1993). ‘Vitalogy’ (1994), ‘No Code’ (1996) and ‘Yield’ (1998).  Most of these albums, along with STP, were some of the biggest albums of the 90’s and critical in the Grunge/Alternative movement.

Another slightly famous band he produced a couple albums for was Rage Against the Machine.  Brendan put his stamp on the albums ‘Evil Empire” (1996) and ‘The Battle of Los Angeles’ (1999).  It still astounds me to this day of the magnitude of importance a lot of his albums were to the genres they represented.

He didn’t stop there.  The 90’s also saw him produce Jackyl’s debut album in 1992, Matthew Sweet’s ‘100% Fun’ (1995) & ‘Blue Sky on Mars’ (1997), Neil Young’s ‘Mirror Ball’ (1995) and Korn’s fourth album ‘Issues’ (1999).  Not a bad decade at all.

The 2000’s

The 2000’s brought even more success for Brendan.  He did a couple albums with a band that is near and dear to my heart, Train.  He produced Train’s outstanding album ‘Drops of Jupiter’ (2000).  This was around the time, I met my wife and Train became OUR band.  We have seen them at least a half a dozen times since and have taken our girls a couple times. He later came back and produced ‘My Private Nation’ as well in 2003.  These were 2 of Trains most successful albums up until ‘Hey Soul Sister’ (which he didn’t produce).  The third Train album he did was ‘For Me, It’s You’ (2006).

One of the biggest acts he worked with in the 2000’s was a guy from New Jersey named Bruce Springsteen.  He produced one of Bruce’s most critically acclaimed album ‘The Rising’ (2002).  Most of the songs were written after 9/11 and are reflections of that tragic day.  The album got him a Grammy for Best Rock Record.  He worked with Bruce on 3 more albums including ‘Devils & Dust’ (2005), ‘Magic’ (2007) and ‘Working on a Dream’ (2009).

Brendan even worked on several albums by Incubus. 2004 saw him work on both ‘A Crow Left of Murder’ and their live album ‘Alive at Red Rocks’.  He came back for the next studio album ‘Light Grenades’ (2006) and produced ‘If Not Now, When’ (2011).

His Pearl Jam connection continued into the 2000’s with ‘Backspacer’ (2009) and ‘Lightning Bolt’ (2013).  But it was the 2009 release that was part of a year of producing that saw him work with Bruce as mentioned above, Mastodon ‘Crack the Skye’, Billy Talent’s “Billy Talent III’ and Killswitch Engage’s self titled album.  This body of work garnered him a Grammy for Producer of the Year.

And still more including The Offspring’s’ ‘Conspiracy of One’ (2000) & ‘Splinter’ (2003).  He worked with Papa Roach ‘Lovehatetragedy’ (2002), Augustana’s ‘All Stars & Boulevards’ (2005), The Wallflowers’ ‘Rebel Sweetheart’ (2005), Trey Anastasio’s ‘Shine’ (2005), Audioslave’s ‘Revelations’ (2006), Velvet Revolvers’ ‘Libertad’ (2007), and AC/DC’s ‘Black Ice’ (2008).

The 2010’s

We are getting close to being done  but the ’10’s brought even more great albums produced by Brendan O’Brien.  He started off the decade with working on one of my favorite albums be Anberlin ‘Dark is the Way, Light is a Place’ (2010).  A band that should have been more popular in my opinion.

He even did a couple albums with Seether.  They were ‘Holding On To Strings Better Left To Fray’ (2011) and ‘Isolate & Medicate’ (2014).  Speaking of fray, he actually did The Fray’s album ‘Scars & Stories’ (2011).

The ’10’s saw him produce a few more album including Third Day’s ‘Miracle’ (2012), The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘Handwritten’ (2012) and AC/DC’s ‘Rock or Bust’ (2014).  The last two years saw him work on three more exceptional albums.  They were Blackberry Smoke’s ‘Holding All The Roses” (2015), Chris Cornell’s ‘Higher Truth’ (2015) and one of his most recent albums Wolfmother’s ‘Victorious’ (2016).

It is amazing how many of the albums mentioned that I have in one form or another.  All in all, you really can’t go wrong with an album produced by Brendan O’Brien.  He has a way of working with an artist that brings out their best.  It is a long and incredible resume.

8 thoughts on “Brendan O’Brien – Producer Extraordinaire #2

  1. Nice post. O’Brien helmed a few of my favourite alternative rock albums – particularly Evil Empire, the Stone Temple Pilots, and early Pearl Jam stuff. Those albums are incredible sounding – capturing the intensity and sounding vibrant and fresh even today. I found the Springsteen and most recent Pearl Jam albums to be a bit too comfortable for my liking, though. No denying that he’s a great producer, though – definitely one of the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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