Sunday, June 05, 2011

Producerobit: Martin Rushent

According to Louder Than War, the man who produced most of the key New Romantic and Factory legends, has died earlier today.

He'd made his name as an engineer - providing a wavy line from David Essex through to T Rex - before he moved over to the main position on the desk. United Artists had been impressed with the steady hand Martin had brought to Shirley Bassey's 1970s output and - when the money from those albums allowed the label to start hoovering up this new punk talent coming through, Rushent was an obvious choice to produce. His work on the first three Stranglers records saw him become a virtual member of the band; but by the time of the Black And White sessions Martin felt that there was little more he could offer and stepped aside shortly afterwards.

Managing to find a way to capture punky energy on record that involved a bit more than just turning everything up gave him a lead in the late 1970s market; his work with acts like The Buzzcocks and Generation X meant that he was well-positioned to shape the next generation of sound. Joy Division sought him out at miserablist edge of the new wave, while The Human League brought him in at the poppier end - his work on Dare winning him a Brit award, back when the Brits gave prizes to producers. (In fact, he was the first annual winner of a production award.)

Although things were going well for him professionally, personally the end of the 1980s were a less happy time. Falling ill with depression, Rushent suddenly found himself struggling to cope. If he never quite got back to his pre-illness financial position, he did return to health; he resumed working, but at a slightly less frenetic pace.

Amongst a massive collection of production credits, everyone has a favourite. For me, it's this:

RIP, Martin Rushent.

(At time of writing, there doesn't appear to be any formal confirmation of Martin's death on line.)