Any fan of Rock music would notice that the majority of it comes from USA. Though the best of them, the most inspiring ones, seem to spring from the UK and then reach the world via USA. Either way, while listening to Aerosmith's Get a Grip this morning, I was musing at how the 90s saw some fine, polished production within the genre -
Aerosmith's Get A Grip (1993/Bruce Fairbairn)
Guns n' Roses Use Your Illusions I and II (1991/Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses)
Metallica's Black album (1991/Bob Rock)
Nirvana's Nevermind (1991/Butch Vig)
Bon Jovi's These Days (1995/Peter Collins, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora)
Scorpions' Pure Instinct (1996/Erwin Musper, Keith Olsen and Scorpions)
... and so on.

Each of these albums represent a slight change in the quality of production of these bands' music  from their previous releases. The bands' compositions were given that edge by working with some great producers who knew what to do with it, where to take it.

I learn today, that Bruce Fairbarn had died in 1999 (Read: Obituary Bruce Fairbarn), but had till that date produced a lot of very successful albums. He tried his hand first at being a musician but those  bands never reached heights he had hoped for. On the other hand, his successes as producer are noteworthy - Get A Grip, Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), Elegantly Wasted (INXS) and lots more.

Here in Bangladesh, a lot of bands start out and they really have to rely on themselves to produce their albums. There aren't really any 'producers' at work for the most part. Exceptions? In recent times, Jewel, who is a well known guitar player of Legend, Warfaze, and now Miles and X-Factor (his own project) has acted as producer for Black's album 'Abar'. That did seem like a well produced, balanced album, though 'Uthshober Por' before that, and 'Black' which came after 'Abar', were also well produced. Jewel however also arranged a series of rock albums with new and old talents of the country - Rock 101 till 707, where he played curator - selecting bands from a pool of probably 50 or 60 bands each time. A better use of Jewel's producing abilities would've been to select less bands and work on the production a little with them.

Western genres (esp. rock, metal and the like) are not considered widely marketable music (though time and again, rock concerts have had raised lots of money for different causes). In a country that sways so much to imported Bollywood music, its commercial success is also influencing local artists to follow their trends. As a result, even older local music or styles are not really getting produced. However, when you love a style so much, you tend to create and try, and there are some formidable Bangla rock bands here - Cryptic Fate, aforementioned Black, Arbovirus, Breach, Nemesis, Kral and others. They have all been around for some time, and spent countless years trying to realize and learn what makes a great production. Since we started from a point where we lacked even the tools for great productions, we have seen some studios (e.g. Bengal Studio in Baridhara, Acoustic Artz in Dhanmondi) invest in good equipment. Though we don't have studios apt for live recording (all instruments played and recorded at once), the album 'Arnob and Friends' (not rock, but an ecclectic mix of pop, folk and others) was done that way with musicians in different rooms. Others realize that since they payoff isn't much, it doesn't matter if you record everything digitally in your bedroom using lightweight soundcards and other shortcuts. Then comes the lack of producers - a person with ideas, with a vast landscape of aural vision, who when he or she hears a demo, can hear the possibilities ringing inside for a great song. On the other hand, some musicians fail to understand the role of a producer and bear negative impressions or mistake it for the role of 'the man'.

Some Bruce Fairbairn statements:

"None of the songs on Pump would have flown if the guys in Aerosmith hadn't played them great initially. Once you have something good on tape, then you have a really solid basis to play around with, adding the production aspects, mixing in texture and colour to the tracks. All those songs can be stripped down - you can get rid of the horns, the piano, the accordion - and still have a good album with great songs. The production is just there to enhance what the band has done. It's like baking a great cake with a lot of icing. I like a lot of icing."

"If a band feel they can't make a good record unless they're high, I tell them to find somebody else to get high and make a record with"
Kirk Hammett vs. Bob Rock
Classic Albums Documentaries