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Martin Hannett
Maverick Producer, Genius and Musician
CD on Ozit Morpheus Records
Cat No: OZITCD9010 , Stk Ref 78877

Released on: 12 November 2011

Magazine Review
The role of a producer is rather overlooked in rock 'n' roll. In simple terms it is the artist that is cherished as the creative force write and executing their songs with the producer usually doing little more than pressing the record button and getting everything recorded as well as it can be. They are seen merely as part of the blueprint for the recording, subordinate to the artist and product.

Quite often though listen to a band's demos and then compare that to the finished, polished release and it quickly becomes obvious that the producer, can (and often does) add their own artistic input - even if it is just doing a better arrangement - into the mix.

Some producers go much further though and incorporate their own particular musical vision into a group's sounds. Just how different would the likes of the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers or the Crystals be without the visionary "Wall of Sound" production work of Phil Spector?

It is rather stretching things a bit too far to put the work of Hannett, effectively the in-house producer of Manchester-based indie label Factory Records, in the same bracket at Spector, but but one listen to the early demos of Joy Division and then compare that with the likes of their debut 'Unknown Pleasures' and Hannett's essential shaping of the band's sound is obvious. Admittedly in the post-punk atmosphere of the late 1970s Joy Division were growing at a rapid rate but Hannett helped turn the quartet into something special and unique rather than just another outfit who had been inspired to pick up an instrument in the wake of the likes of the Sex Pistols.

Clearly Hannett warrants the term 'acclaimed' and his role call of bands he worked with and helped shape is impressive: Joy Division/New Order, Buzzcocks, Magazine, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays... And the list goes on but it would seem using the word 'genius' would be a step too far. Spector would rightly deserve the term 'genius' but Hannett? Really? This is, after all, the man who wasted his talent on heroin and alcohol and was, for all intents and purposes, pushed out as a director of Factory Records because he was a liability which led to acrimony and court cases between Hannett and other Factory director Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton.

This two-disc compilation does a great service in filling out Hannett's career before he started twiddling the knobs on the sound desk for the Factory bands and gathered up here are some of Hannett's early attempts at producing as well as some of his musical experiments as well as a Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook talking about their producer.

The thing is absolutely everything gathered up here is completely inessential and really not worth the bother it really should have been left gathering dust on the shelf.

If you're going to dub someone a genius you'd better have the evidence to back it up with. There's nothing here that even warrants the label talented, let alone anything more.

Jon Rogers


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Visitor Reviews

Rating: 5 - This cd set shows the roots of Hannett- it is essential
Reviewed By: Ben Stacey
From: Manchester England

Martin Hannett was a genius in music production and this Maverick Producer 2 CD set really fills in the gaps of what he was doing prior to Factory Records and Joy Division production. To those interested in completing the picture of Martin's work and how he developed his career- from record collecting and his enthusiasm for West Coast American rock and folk and messing with hi fi and electronics- into becoming a producer of records- these two cds really tell the story of his early production well.


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