It’s been a bad week for music with the passing last week of Gil Scott-Heron, and on Friday Andrew Gold. Now we have the sad news that producer Martin Rushent has died at the age of 63.
Rushent was one of the most influential producers of the late 1970s and 1980s, who created the soundscape that defined the era. If you turned on the radio back then, you were guaranteed to hear a Rushent-produced track within minutes, for Rushent was the touch of genius on some of the best work released by The Human League, Altered Images, The Stranglers, Generation X, The Associates and The Buzzcocks.
Though Rushent may be best remembered for his work producing (and performing on) the Human League’s album Dare and its hit single “Don’t You Want Me”, for which he won Best Producer at the 1982 Brit Awards, his influence was not kept to one band.
There was a trick I once heard, which claimed: if you ever travel around London, vaguely point in the direction of old churches and say Hawksmoor, you’re bound to be right, so prodigious was that architect’s work. The same can be said for Martin Rushent, hear any track from the late 1970s and especially the early 1980s, and if you can’t name the band just say, Martin Rushent and you’re bound to be right, for so prodigious, and impressive, was his output.
Rushent also produced The Stranglers first three albums, which as Louder Than War states:
Rushent, born in 1948, produced the Stranglers first three albums – creating that classic sound that was clear, punchy, dark and sleazy and groundbreaking all at the same time. With The Stranglers third album, ‘Black And White’ Rushent with engineer Alan Winstanley created a soundscape that was post punk before the term was even thought of.
He had a trademark sound. Each instrument had its place. he could make the complex sound simple and harnessed The Stranglers weird imagination and pop nous into something totally original and very commercial making them the best selling band of their period with a bass sound that launched a generation of bass players.
In an interview with Uncut Rushent recalled recording The Buzzcock’ biggest hit:
“Pete [Shelley] played me ‘Ever Fallen In Love…’ for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. I felt it was the strongest song that they had written-clever, witty lyrics, great hooklines. I suggested backing vocals-to highlight the chorus and make it even more powerful. No one could hit the high part-so I did it. I’d sung in bands in my youth and I also worked as a backing singer.”
Before his career with Punk, New Wave and Electronic bands, he worked on records by T Rex, David Essex and Shirley Bassey.
Rushent was said to be working on a 30th anniversary edition of Dare at the time of his death.
A Facebook page has been set up by Martin Rushent’s family to collect memories of the great man, which you can add to here.
The Stranglers - ‘No More Heroes’
The Buzzcocks - ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have)
Human League - ‘Open your Heart’
Altered Images - ‘I Could Be Happy’
The Associates - ‘Waiting for the Love Boat’
Pete Shelley - ‘Homo Sapien’
Human League - ‘Don’t You Want Me?’