I suppose when you look at it that way it sounds like everybody's getting away with murder. (I would love to know who wrote this.)
Just for arguement's sake, let me defend how records are 'built' these days.
First, look at the list in a positive slant, item by item.
1. Do some preproduction, maybe even some rough recording. Make sure that the drummer (who has never cared to learn to follow notes) knows where the 2/4 turn-around comes (he misses it about half of the shows, and it pisses everyone in the band off, but they can't tell him because he owns the sound system and the van). Have everyone listen to what a recording of their material actually sounds like, as contrasted to how it goes over in the mosh pit. Have them make their own calls on their sounds, so that when they get to a studio they don't make the engineer responsible for everything
2. For those points in tunes where the members of the band can't play an instrument well enough to make themselves proud, find a good cat to come in and cover it. Have him come to rehearsals. Give the band an understanding of what the idea is.
3. Book a good studio with effective and thorough maintanence, one with equipment sufficient to so the job. Above all, make sure that the whiney guitar player can't say, "Well, what did you expect from 8 [16, 24, 32, 48...] tracks? I mean, we ran outta tracks man." And get good gear. Have some choices immediately available, guitars and drums for sure, but also percussion thingies in case someone 'hears' something.
4. If the band is so locked in that they can't find the way through the process...can't find that genius idea or force that brilliant moment to bring the piece around, bring in outside ears.
Everything in a complex process that can be done with expertise and sensitivity can be as easily corrupted by ham-handed idiots. But that doesn't mean the process itself is bad.
Let me forward the notion that *in*general* records are *engineered* better than they were 20 and 30 and 40 years ago. This is not to say that a Bill Putnam recording of the Basie orchestra can be beat - I don't think it can. But the *average* quality is up...way up. Part of this is better, much-less-expensive gear. But deconstructing the process, both musically and technically, and working harder on those facets that could use improvement, has done it's share to make a better presentation. At the very least it's improved our craft for those times when everything *does* work and productions don't require tweezering. Now that there's a certain percieved level of quality to mixing (and we got there by way of folks making demands and asking, "but why can't it be better?"), it's clear that one's job is on the line unless (s)he comes up to the bar in some fashion (or re-invents the art of recording entirely).
Hey, you're not going to tell anyone who *has* made a record in an incisive, logical way that it is 1> vulgar and counter-intuitive, 2> too expensive (where do you think that some of that dough goes?) and 3> not successful. Not surprisingly, the guys that whine the loudest are the guys who *can't* or *won't* make this kind of effort. Uh, also the guys who haven't had a 'hit' yet. And, make no mistake about it: nothing affirms and enforces methods, processes as well as prejudices like a hit record. Obviously, this is both good and bad.
I love pure music as much as the next guy. And I loathe clueless A&R men as much as the next guy. But I also really like the times that the intense approach works...like AC/DC records, to name one instance.
[This message has been edited by gm (edited 10-27-2000).]