It's sometimes difficult to critique a band as accomplished and as influential as U2. And it must be equally as challenging to be a band of that stature and continue to create music as stimulating as your earliest works. On their 12th studio album, No Line On The Horizon, U2 has yet again crafted an album that is expansive, and at the same time attentive to that familiar U2 spirit.
Rapidly approaching their 30th anniversary as a band, and now almost 25 years since the release of their debut, Boy, I can think of few bands who have not only continued to impact popular culture and music but who continue to make great recorded music. Undeniably, U2 is one of those bands.
Steve Lillywhite entered the music scene when he was 17 as a tape operator with London's Polygram Studios and has since been working in the industry for more than 35 years. Lillywhite has produced songs and albums with bands such as U2, Dave Matthews Band, Simple Minds, Peter Gabriel, XTC, The La's, and Morrissey. He has won Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year, Best Rock Album, and Album of the year for U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Known for his ability to inspire artists, Lillywhite has been instrumental in shaping many career-making albums and songs.
World Cafe host David Dye celebrates St. Patrick's Day with Steve Lillywhite, whose most recent project took him to Dublin producing U2's No Line On The Horizon. With an inside scoop on the definitive Irish rockers' new record, Lillywhite explains how he and co-producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois each contributed to the album and gives his personal insight into certain tracks.
The Irish pop-rock band Bell X1 has brought its catchy riffs and smart lyrics to America in recent years, long after it had already become a reliable hitmaker in its homeland. The group was initially led by singer Damien Rice under the moniker Juniper, but Rice left the group and was replaced by vocalist/drummer Paul Noonan.
Bell X1 joins host David Dye for a special World Cafe Lillywhite Session from Avatar Studios. During its visit, the group discusses how the new album marks a departure from its predecessors, with changes in both production and personnel.
An underground favorite since their distorted art pop debuted in 1991, Mercury Rev sees reinvention as the key to their creativity. With the new album, Snowflake Midnight, the psych-rock vets embraced open-source technology, allowing them to experiment with audio effects designed by people across the globe.
In this Lillywhite Session, Mercury Rev talks about discovering the sound for the latest record and the concept of a "Brain Waves Concert."
By the time Vauxhall and I came around in 1994, Morrissey had already wooed the world both in The Smiths and with a few critically-acclaimed solo albums. His fourth solo effort was a bit of a return to the jangly Smiths style, but as Morrissey has proved over and over again since then, he just keeps perfecting it.
Lillywhite gave Vauxhall and I the lush sound for which Morrissey recordings had been begging. In an interview with host David Dye, Lillywhite talks about the creation of the album and ultimately what made Morrissey ask him back for two more.
The Pretenders released their new album called "Break Up The Concrete" on October 7, 2008. It is the ninth in the band's career and their first in 6 years. This time the bandleader Chrissie Hynde is collaborating with a new group of musicians. Recorded in 10 days, the result is a stripped down roots album, pure and raw, which highlights Hynde's timeless vocal sound. In 1978, Hynde formed The Pretenders, originally three Englishmen and an American woman, that emerged as one of the new wave's most commercially successful groups. Its focal point was Chrissie Hynde, the band's songwriter, lead singer, and rhythm guitarist, whose tough songs and stage persona put feminist self-assertion into her own distinctive hard rock. Their self-titled debut album was released in early 1980 and eventually climbed to number one in the U.K., achieving wide success in America as well. Although the long waits between LPs have dulled her group's once shining commercial career, Hynde remains an influential performer and songwriter. Hynde is also an outspoken crusader for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The Pretenders were creative with the release of their new album Break Up the Concrete, and decided to give away every track as free downloads, one song each week leading up to the record's physical release, thus creating a buzz of anticipation that no Pretenders album has had in over a decade. The album marks a reunion with producer Steve Lillywhite.
Big Country was a Scottish rock band who reached their critical and commercial peak in the mid 1980s, though they continued releasing music throughout the 1990s to a devoted following. The band was noted for mixing their Scottish roots into their music and also for their unique guitar sounds. The band is best known for their lone US hit, 1983's "In a Big Country", but the album that song is drawn from, the Steve Lillywhite-produced The Crossing, is considered a great forgotten album of the 1980s.
In this interview, Steve Lillywhite discusses the recording of The Crossing.
The Strokes' rhythm guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr., recently joined World Cafe host David Dye for a Lillywhite Session recorded at Avatar Studios in New York City. Here, Hammond and his band perform four songs from his second studio effort, Como Te Llama?, with the help of famed producer Steve Lillywhite.
Hammond still keeps his day job in The Strokes, but two years ago took on the role of frontman, which he says took time to get used to. His music retains the guitar-driven style of his main band, but also incorporates Hammond's tender, bluesy vocals.
The La's only recorded one album, but the self-titled disc from 1990 features one infectious guitar-pop gem after another, including the classic, oft-covered hit "There She Goes." The group's main songwriter, Lee Mavers, notoriously fired multiple band members and producers because, according to Mavers, none of them got it. Steve Lillywhite came into the process later in the game, after The La's record label convinced him to finish the album. In an interview with David Dye, Lillywhite talks about the classic disc that Mavers never wanted released.
Doveman, the brainchild of Harlem-based keyboard maestro Thomas Bartlett, has just released a front-to-back cover of the Footloose soundtrack. While Doveman is normally a one-man act, Bartlett gets the multi-track treatment with Steve Lillywhite behind the boards at Avatar Studios for a unique Lillywhite Session.
Doveman's sophomore effort is a tribute to a friend who died at the height of the film's popularity. With Bartlett's understated delivery and beautiful piano work, he's crafted a heartfelt homage to the joys of youth. Stripped of those pop-infused dance tracks, the music has unexpected emotional depth.
On Peter Gabriel's third self-titled album, producer Steve Lillywhite made sense of the disparate elements that the sometimes-great second album could not. The 1980 release showcased a more song-oriented Gabriel, but also a bleak side of the former Genesis frontman.
In an interview with host David Dye, Lillywhite recalls laughing off the idea of recording an album with Gabriel, but both quickly found common ground in its musical direction. Music technology was moving quickly by 1980, and both men wanted to implement the new keyboard and sampling devices. While Gabriel would go on to make even better-selling albums, Peter Gabriel remains his finest moment.
Dr. Dog formed in 1999 in Philadelphia. Opening for My Morning Jacket in 2004 led to the beginnings of a commercial breakthrough - opening for other acts such as The Strokes and The Raconteurs. The group's fan base continued to grow with the EP Takers and Leavers and full-length debut We All Belong. Now they are headlining their own US tour for their newest album Fate.
Crash is the second studio album released by the Dave Matthews Band in 1996. It has been certified 7 times platinum. Steve Lillywhite produced 3 albums the Dave Matthews Band released - Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash, and Before These Crowded Streets. Steve also produced an album for the band that was never officially released, The Lillywhite Sessions. Steve talks about working with the band for the second time and how he wanted to amp up their sound for this album.
With a sound combining the baroque psychedelic pop of the '60s, sacred harp singing, gospel, and folk music, Fleet Foxes joins host David Dye for the latest in World Cafe's Lillywhite Sessions series from Avatar Recording Studios in New York City. The band's members grew up on the music of their parents: The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, The Zombies, Love, and Crosby Stills & Nash.
Robin Pecknold and Skye Skyelset are backed by some of Seattle's best musicians, including past and present members of bands such as Pedro the Lion, Seldom, and Crystal Skulls. Through the support of friends, families, and credit cards, material for both the Sun Giant EP and Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut were recorded. Both showcase an inventive, unfailingly sweet sound that spans genres and eras.
Bath, England's singer-composer-keyboardist Allison Goldfrapp began exploring music as a part of her studies as a Fine Art Painting major at Middlesex University, mixing sound, visuals, and performances in her installation pieces. While she was still in college, she appeared on her friend Tricky's 1995 debut Maxinquaye, which led to appearances on albums from other cutting-edge electronic artists, including Orbital's Snivilisation and Add N to X's Avant Hard. By the late '90s, Goldfrapp began honing her own compositions; one of her friends passed some of her demos on to composer Will Gregory. Finding much in common in their musical tastes and approaches, the duo took Allison's surname as the name for their collaboration. After signing to Mute in 1999, Goldfrapp delivered their debut album, Felt Mountain, in fall 2000. Felt Mountain went on to nearly universal acclaim and spawned several singles, including the Utopia Genetically Enriched EP, which arrived in early 2001. After spending most of that year touring, Goldfrapp spent most of 2002 recording and returned with Black Cherry in spring 2003. 2005 saw the release of the "Ooh La La" single and the full-length Supernature, both of which continued the disco and glam-rock influences of the duo's previous album. 2008's The Seventh Tree moved in a calmer, more acoustic-based, but just as sonically lush direction.
Steve explains how he got the job following Elvis Costello's footsteps - producing the next The Pogues' album If I Should Fall from Grace with God and their hit duet "Fairytale of New York" with Lillywhite's then-wife Kirsty MacColl.
Produced by the legendary Steve Lillywhite, She & Him inaugurates World Cafe's new Lillywhite Sessions series from Avatar Studios in New York City. David Dye hosts the duo with discussion of its debut album, Volume One, while Lillywhite offers his own commentary on the music.
Since their initial collaboration on a single for the soundtrack to the film The Go-Getter, M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel went on to record a full-length collection of her demos. Volume One seamlessly combines her syrupy-sweet voice with his simplistic yet stunning instrumentals. Through songs of love both lost and found, She & Him captures timeless sounds and rhythms.
In the span of three years, U2 delivered a one-two-three punch: Boy, October, and 1983's War. War begins with the legendary call to arms "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Its machine-gun guitar rhythms and Bono's passionate vocals set the tone for an album that took no prisoners. In an interview with host David Dye, War's original producer, Steve Lillywhite, talks about the creation of the landmark album.