In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a musician on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: legendary record producer Stephen Street
Who is credited as singing backing vocals on The Smiths album ‘The Queen Is Dead’?
“Um – Ann Coates?”
“Which is Morrissey’s vocal put through a harmoniser.” (Laughs)
The pseudonym is a pun on the Manchester area Ancoats. You engineered The Smiths’ ‘Meat is Murder’ and ‘The Queen Is Dead’, before taking over as producer for their final record ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’, where there are stories that while Moz was in bed tucked up with a Sylvia Plath, Johnny Marr and the rest of the musicians would be covering Spinal Tap songs…
“That only happened during one session! (Laughs) Johnny was a night-owl so sometimes we’d work late. There was no messing around in the studio...
Morrissey’s 2006 track, ‘Ganglord’, is another one that Visconti adores, noting: “Sadly, ‘Dear God, Please Help Me’ and ‘You Have Killed Me’ from Ringleader of the Tormentors, the album I made with Morrissey, aren’t widely available. But ‘Ganglord’ is available on an album called Swords, a B-sides album. I’m so proud of it, and Morrissey still plays it in his shows. It comes from the sessions for Ringleader of the Tormentors, which came about because they’d sacked their first producer. I was a substitute producer, but that doesn’t matter to me.”
"The veteran British record producer has dealt with some of British music’s most notorious characters. How did he make their albums?
Stephen Street must have the patience of a saint. Over the last 35 years, he has become the go-to producer for some of music’s most demanding, damaged and downright difficult stars, coaxing career-defining albums from The Smiths, Blur, The Cranberries and Pete Doherty. He has never headlined Wembley or been stopped in the street by fans, but you almost certainly own one of his records.
“I don’t take any nonsense,” he says, speaking (via Zoom) from a home office piled high with CDs and cassettes. “We’re in the studio to do a job. It’s the artist’s money we’re spending and we have to deliver as good a record as possible.”
Straight-talking and considered, the 60-year old Londoner owes his career to this same sensible streak. He turned to music production in the early 1980s after realising that his...