Production is an essential element to recording a good album; even the strongest set of songs can be ruined when the person behind the controls doesn’t give them the right treatment. With that in mind, let’s look at some albums that were severely marred by production that was either poor in quality, or simply didn’t fit the tone of the music in question. To be clear, some of these albums still would’ve been flawed even if they had been better produced, but in every case, an inept, or ill-fitting production job prevented them from reaching their full potential. This is far from a complete list; feel free to add your own candidates in the comments.
R.E.M. – Around the Sun
When drummer Bill Berry left R.E.M. in 1996, the band chose not to replace him. Or, rather, they replaced him with a drum machine. The result was a more atmospheric sound, which could be characterized as difficult, but ultimately rewarding. At least that was the case on the first two post-Berry albums, Up and Reveal. Around the Sun was where the bottom fell out. Rarely has an album ever felt so much like it was deliberately trying to sound boring. The thing is, a lot of the songs actually seem like they could have been really good. There are some interesting vocal melodies, and a surprising amount of memorable choruses. Lead single “Leaving New York” feels like it could’ve come from the Automatic for the People era, while “Wanderlust” is the best song The Turtles never wrote. Unfortunately, the drab production scrubs the life away from so many of these tracks, rendering it R.E.M.’s worst album by a fairly wide margin.