Stephen Street

Stephen Street

Stephen Brian Street is a music producer best known for his work with The Smiths in the 1980s, The Sundays and Blur (often regarded as the "Fifth Blur") and The Cranberries in the 1990s. Street also collaborated with Morrissey on some of his most popular work after The Smiths broke up, playing instruments and co-writing songs. As a producer, Street has served more as a musician than as an engineer, thereby significantly influencing the sound of the groups he has worked with. He has recently extensively collaborated with the Kaiser Chiefs on their first two albums.

Production

Stephen Street began his career in music in the early 1980s at Islands Records' Fallout Shelter Studio. He worked as an engineer for reggae artists including Black Uhuru, King Sunny Ade, and Linton Kwesi Johnson. During this time, he also helped produce the first 2 pop albums by Stephen Duffy. 12 years later, he would again work with Duffy on his 1998 album I Love My Friends. In recent years, Street has used Olympia Studios in London.

(1985-1989) The Smiths and Morrissey

He began working with The Smiths in the mid-80s and was listed as an engineer on the Smiths' albums Meat Is Murder and The Queen Is Dead. Street was credited as a producer on the Smiths' final album, Strangeways, Here We Come.

After the Smiths broke up, Street was contacted by lead singer Morrissey, who offered him the position of producer and co songwriter for his forthcoming album, which came to be titled Viva Hate. Street accepted and this album reached #1, spawning two top-ten hits in the United Kingdom. Street and guitarist on Viva Hate, Vini Reilly, had a dispute over songwriting credits - Reilly claimed to have written the majority of the tracks on the album, which Street dismissed and claimed that he wrote all of the tracks on the album and Reilly had no part to play in this. Street was credited as producer, songwriter, guitarist, and bass guitarist on the album. Street went on to co-write and produce two more top ten singles for Morrissey which appeared on Bona Drag before the singer ended their association apparently because of disputes regarding the royalties.

(1990-1997) Blur and (2003-2006) Graham Coxon

After hearing Blur's first single, "She's So High", Street contacted their manager. Soon after he was called in and produced their establishing hit, "There's No Other Way", although he did not produce the album as a whole. Street went on to produce Blur's second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Stephen Street was a key force behind Blur's involvement in the Britpop movement. He produced one of the earliest and most influential creative works in Britpop, Blur's 1994 album Parklife. The album became Blur's best-selling ever and included the massive hit "Girls & Boys". Street later produced the #1 hit "Country House" and Blur's follow-up album The Great Escape, the song that won "The Battle of Britpop" for Blur by outselling rival band Oasis's single "Roll with It" from (What's the Story) Morning Glory in a Battle of the Bands fueled by massive coverage of the mainstream British media. After the Britpop movement waned, Street produced Blur's overdue chart-topping eponymous album, Blur, a totally different work very influenced by American lo-fi indie rock that showed that the band could continue evolving. This album included the #1 hit "Beetlebum" as well as the surprise hit "Song 2".

After Graham Coxon left Blur following a scuffle with chief artist Damon Albarn, he and Street aligned and went to produce Coxon's most successful album up to date — Happiness in Magazines (May 2004). Street's work with Coxon continued with, Love Travels at Illegal Speeds, released in March 2006.

(1992-1994; 2001-2002) The Cranberries

In 1992, Street started working with the Irish band The Cranberries on their debut album "Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?". The album turned out to be a huge success in America (singles Dreams and Linger), and is one of only 5 albums to completely drop out of the British charts only to return at number 1. In 1994, they released their "No Need to Argue" album, also produced by Street. This became their best selling album (over 20 million copies worldwide). After this album, lead singer of the band, Dolores O'Riordan, was stressed and burned out, and she wanted to do a more hardcore album. They supposedly had some differences, but after two albums not produced by Street (To The Faithful Departed produced by Bruce Fairbairn and Bury The Hatchet produced by Benedict Fenner) they worked with him yet again on their 2001 album "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee" and the two extra tracks that were recorded for their 2002 best of album Stars: "Stars" and "New New York".

After the Cranberries went on hiatus in 2003, guitarist Noel Hogan began working on a solo work then titled Mono Band. Street worked with Hogan in producing the album of the same name released in 2005.

(2004-2007) Kaiser Chiefs and The Ordinary Boys

Street produced Employment, the debut album by Kaiser Chiefs. Coincidently, like 15 years before when he heard Blur's "She's so High", he was in the same way involved with Kaiser Chiefs. Street heard one of their early demos and contacted the band with a view to producing them. As they were heavily influenced by, and fans of, his recordings with Blur they agreed. At one point Street brought Blur guitarist Graham Coxon into the studio to rev his moped for a sound effect. This can be heard on the track "Saturday Night". Street also produced the band's second album Yours Truly, Angry Mob. Kaiser Chiefs snubbed Street for production duties for their third album, "Off With Their Heads", and replaced him with celebrity producer Mark Ronson and assistant Eliot James. Street also produced the first two albums for ska-influenced British indie band The Ordinary Boys, also on the B-Unique label, Over The Counter Culture in 2004 and Brassbound in 2005, to high critical acclaim.

(2007) Babyshambles

Street produced Shotter's Nation, the second album by Pete Doherty's band Babyshambles. The recording of the album was said to have been a hard process, due to Street's lack of co-operation with then herion addict Pete Doherty. Doherty learnt to abide by Street's ruling and the rest of the band found the sessions with Street the most productive yet. Street later said in the NME: "Pete wasn’t in a very good state for the first couple of weeks of making the record for the reasons that people know about. It was a bit worrying to be honest with you. There were a couple of times I had to fire warning shots across his bow, say ‘Listen, you’ve got to sort yourself out here because if you don’t I can’t work with you’. I felt like I was going to let down the rest of the band if I walked away from things. I think the guy has got a lot of talent but for me it was hidden under this fog of addiction and I was desperately trying to get through to that young man that’s still there underneath it all who’s a very sharp, well-read, artistic person that’s let his less clever addictions get in the way. Sometimes I had to sit down with Pete and have really good heart-to-hearts with him to get through all of that and connect with the real musician and artist that’s underneath..I wanted to prove to those people that he can make a decent record.” Doherty told the NME that Street gave the band an ultimatum of “if you carry on like this, I’m going home” in reference to Pete's drug addiction at the time. Doherty also was quoted as saying, about Stephen Street: "It’s important to have someone who knew what he wanted, we worked 11 to eight with no weekends. It was a contradiction to how we would have chosen to work."

(2007-2008) The Courteeners

Street approached Manchester indie band The Courteeners after hearing demos and offered to produce the album. The album was recorded in London over a six week stretch and was named St. Jude. The album reached No. 4 in the British UK Album Charts and was subject to high critical acclaim. Former client of Stephen Street, Morrissey has also cited himself as a strong fan of the band. Street also produced the standalone single "That Kiss", released on 6th October 2008. "That Kiss" saw a departure from the traditional Courteeners sound of the debut whilst expanding on ballads on the debut album such as "Please Don't" and "Yesterday, Today and Probably Tomorrow" but more heavy on production, for instance the addition of a strings section. According to the NME in August 2008, Street will be producing the next Courteeners record, due for release in early 2009.

Other work

In 1988 Street, along with journalist Jerry Smith, set up the Foundation Label. The label was home to artists including Bradford and Spin. However, the label wasn't a commercial success and folded in 1991.

Street also worked with Lloyd Cole, produced Shed Seven's 1998 album Let it Ride and more recently worked with New Order. In addition to this, he also produced several tracks on the Longpigs second album 'Mobile Home' in 1999.

In 2001-2002, Street worked from Jacobs Studios in Farnham, England to produce The Promise Ring's final album, Wood/water, released by ANTI- in 2002.

Street produced The Magic Treehouse, the debut album from Ooberman and Tired of Hanging Around, the second album by The Zutons, released in the UK on April 17, 2006. He also stepped in on production duties for The Caretaker Race's album Hangover Square in 1990. The band, formed by ex-Loft guitarist Andy Strickland and roving drummer Dave Mew, had recorded a number of singles previously, some produced by John Parrish. For Hangover Square, the band added a number of new tracks including "Man Overboard" and "2 Steel Rings", both released as singles.

It was confirmed in 2006 that Street would be producing the next album by Feeder, which is currently untitled and will be released in 2008. Street also co-produced the tracks Save Us and "Burn the Bridges" from the band's 'The Singles' album with lead singer Grant Nicholas, released in 2006. An exclusive mix of this track, done entirely by Street, was available from iTunes upon release.

Influence

Street has a reputation for producing commercially viable music. As his role became increasingly prominent on the Smiths' studio albums, their sound evolved from the relatively cheap production of their Street-less eponymous debut) to the polished sound of Strangeways, Here We Come. This also worked to the advantage of the Babyshambles, who had struggled to achieve wide mainstream success due to lack of tight production on their debut album, from Clash guitarist Mick Jones, and lack of discipline in the studio - Street tightened the sound and enforced strict rules in the studio, and this resulted in a more commercially and audibly pleasing record, which went on to achieve great success and lift Babyshambles onto a higher platform and to gain new fans and much desired radio play.

Street helped transform Blur from a tentative, obscure London outfit into international rock stars. He produced some of their best known songs to date, including ("There's No Other Way", "Girls & Boys", "Country House", "Beetlebum", and "Song 2") and some of their arguably most popular albums, Parklife, The Great Escape and Blur.

References

Stephen Street is sometimes referenced by the artists he works with in their songs.

  • In the song "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" from Strangeways, Here We Come, Morrissey's final words are, "OK Stephen? Do that again?"
  • The Blur song "Death of a Party" from Blur is, according to some, a reply to the Smiths song "Death of a Disco Dancer". Both songs were produced by Street.

External links

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