Stephen Street

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Stephen Street
Birth name Stephen Brian Street
Born (1960-03-29) 29 March 1960 (age 54)
London, England
Genres Pop, rock
Occupations Music producer
Years active 1982–present
Website Stephen Street's Official Website

Stephen Street (born 29 March 1960) is an English music producer best known for his work with The Smiths in the 1980s, as well as 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. More recently he collaborated extensively with the Kaiser Chiefs on their first two albums.

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Street started his musical career in the late seventies playing in various bands around London. He played bass in a ska/pop group, BIM, which also featured future Neneh Cherry/Massive Attack producer, Cameron McVey.Bim is featured in the Listen to London Documentary Film that is the only known footage of both McVay and Street in the early days playing in a pub. Street started at Island Records' Fallout Shelter Studio in 1982 firstly as an "in-house assistant" and then as an "in-house engineer".[1]

The Smiths and Morrissey (1984-1989)[edit]

One of Street's first jobs as in-house engineer was for a session for the The Smiths's "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now".[1] He was well aware of the band and excited by the prospect of engineering the session, saying in a HitQuarters interview, "I’d seen them just shortly beforehand on Top Of The Pops doing ‘This Charming Man’, and like most other people around that time who were into music I was really excited by them."[1] Street says his enthusiasm must have rubbed off on Morrissey and Johnny Marr because they took his name and number.[1] Although not contacted for the subsequent recording "William, It Was Really Nothing", he was asked to engineer their next album, Meat Is Murder, with Morrissey and Marr producing for the first time.[1]

During this time he also engineered for reggae artists including Black Uhuru and Linton Kwesi Johnson, and for jùjú musician King Sunny Adé. He also helped produce Stephen Duffy's first two albums, The Ups and the Downs in 1985 and Because We Love You in 1986. Twelve years later, he would again work with Duffy on his 1998 album I Love My Friends.

Street continued to work with The Smiths, working as an engineer on their album The Queen Is Dead before assuming a producer role for their 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 and alleged conversations between Street and author of controversial Morrissey texts, Johnny Rogan.

Blur (1990-1997) and Graham Coxon (2003–2009)[edit]

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.

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 by 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 hit "Song 2".

After Graham Coxon left Blur, he and Street aligned and went to produce Coxon's most commercially 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 and The Spinning Top released on May 11, 2009.

The Cranberries (1992-1994; 2001-2002; 2011-present)[edit]

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.

Street has also produced their sixth studio album Roses, released in 2012. [2]

Kaiser Chiefs and The Ordinary Boys (2004-2007)[edit]

Street produced Employment, the debut album by Kaiser Chiefs. Coincidentally, 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 did not use Street for production duties on 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.

Babyshambles (2007–present) and Peter Doherty (2008–present)[edit]

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 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."[citation needed]

Street also produced Doherty's solo album Grace/Wastelands (2009) and also will produce the next Babyshambles record.

The Courteeners (2007-2008)[edit]

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 but was subject to mixed reviews.

Other work[edit]

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

In 1989, Street produced and engineered "The Black Swan" by The Triffids. Street produced the 1990 Danielle Dax album Blast the Human Flower, released on Sire Records, along with a subsequent remix EP.

Street worked with The Darling Buds' on their third and fourth albums Crawdaddy (1990) and Erotica (1992).

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.[3] Street also co-produced A New Morning by Suede which was released in September 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 was 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.

Street also worked with alternative post-punk band White Lies when they were known as Fear Of Flying, producing "Routemaster" and "Three's A Crowd".[4]

In August 2010, Street produced the debut EP for Dublin based band The Vagabonds.

It was confirmed in late 2010 that he is working with The Subways on their third album, set to be released in 2011.[dated info][5] During 2011 he will also work with Britpop revivalist Viva Brother.[dated info][6]

Street approached the newly rising indie rock band, Life in Film, and is expected to produce their debut album in 2014.[7]

Influence[edit]

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 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.

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?" Also, 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 and have comparable qualities.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Interview With Stephen Street". HitQuarters. 27 Sep 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  2. ^ http://www.cranberries.com/news-all.asp#165 Retrieved on 2011-03-13
  3. ^ The Promise Ring's Wood/Water liner notes at Anti Records Website
  4. ^ Fear of Flying at Last FM
  5. ^ "The Subways: New Album". PledgeMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-02. 
  6. ^ Lester, Paul (5 October 2010). "Brother (No 880)". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^ "MUSIC: Life in Film keen to release as many songs as they can". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 

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