Top 20 Most Overproduced Albums Ever

As voted by UG community...

Ultimate Guitar

This week's edition of the traditional Wednesday Question saw the lovely people of UG community discussing the matter of the most overproduced albums of all time.

We received a solid chunk of votes and over 250 comments, all of which were summed up into a Top 20 rundown.

As always, the goods await right in the section below.


20. Ramones - End of the Century (1980)

Kicking things off, it's the Ramones at the end of the '70s and their collaboration with the "wall of sound" inventor Phil Spector - "End of the Century."

Phil went on to utilize such production techniques as overdubbing and echo chambers, causing a row between him and the boys, who of course wanted more of a raw punk rock recording.

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19. Falling in Reverse - Fashionably Late (2013)

Produced by Michael 'Elvis' Baskette, up next is Falling in Reverse's "Fashionably Late."

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18. Bring Me the Horizon - That's the Spirit (2015)

As mauheb pointed out, "the dude doesn't come close to sounding like himself," with Gibson_SG_uzr55 adding, "Way too much pitch correction, and the guitars are flat in comparison the the electronica."

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17. Blind Guardian - A Night at the Opera (2002)

At No. 17, it's power metal champions Blind Guardian and their 2002 record "A Night at the Opera."

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16. Muse - Drones (2015)

IvyRock noted: "Good songs live. It sounds more alive live than in studio. Sounds like a computer made the whole album which makes it boring and almost too 'perfect.'"

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15. Oasis - Be Here Now (1997)

In 1997, Oasis were already not in a good place, and their "Be Here Now" effort was marred with arguments, drugs, pure financial motivation to create music, and of course overproduction.

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14. Chris Cornell - Scream (2008)

Produced by Timbaland, Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, Jim Beanz, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Tedder, up next is Chris Cornell's entrance into the world of electronic pop - 2008's "Scream."

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13. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown (2009)

TJ1991 noted: "Some really good songs on there, but the sheer number of layers in conjunction with the ridiculous compression and endless reverb makes the original release physically hurt to listen to," with richard.warts chiming in, "It's as if they thought, ''American Idiot' did well, so I figure if we do twice as much to it, it'll do twice as well... Right?' To me, THAT was the album that completely tore them away from their roots."

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12. The Beatles - Let It Be (1970)

Once again it's Mr. Phil Spector, this time around with the last The Beatles album ever - 1970's "Let It Be." TZombie noted: "Great record on its own, then Phil Spector got involved..."

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11. Trivium - Vengeance Falls (2013)

Produced by David Draiman of Disturbed, Trivium's 2013 effort "Vengeance Falls" is up next at No. 11.

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10. Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King (2013)

Cracking the Top 10, you folks voted Avenged Sevenfold's latest effort - the Mike Elizondo-produced "Hail to the King."

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9. Taylor Swift - 1989 (2014)

In the words of EntropicDiscord, "I still have a hard time telling if her vox are autotuned or just layered an obnoxious amount of times."

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8. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet (1986)

At No. 8, it's the album that launched Bon Jovi into the stratosphere, 1986's "Slippery When Wet."

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7. Ozzy Osbourne - Scream (2010)

SawGuru noted: "In general, later Ozzy has been getting the treatment, and I could arguably say 'Black Rain' here too (even though I enjoy pieces from each album). It's just so, so, overproduced."

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6. ZZ Top - Afterburner (1985)

ErnestoFidel pointed out: "They had changed their sound on 'Eliminator' from the dirty blues sound to a more mainstream studio-like sound and introduced synthesizers. To this day, I still like 'Eliminator' surprisingly well.

'Afterburner,' however, simply took it one step too far. As a huge ZZ Top fan, I find it their hardest album to appreciate. There's simply too much compression, synthesizers and sequenced drum beats to still sound like what ZZ Top was about on the early albums. They then, luckily returned to the rougher sound in the '90s (starting with 'Antenna') after making another mediocre 'Eliminator'-like album called 'Recycler.'"

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5. In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011)

Trouseredape noted: "Really like their older stuff but it seems like after 'Come Clarity' things got more and more overproduced."

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4. Metallica - Death Magnetic (2008)

Crowned as the loudest album of all time, Metallica's "Death Magnetic" brings us a step closer to the Big 3.

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3. Blink-182 - California (2016)

Josh100_3 said about the latest Blink-182 album "California": "I would've enjoyed it a ton more if it wasn't so squeaky clean."

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2. Def Leppard - Hysteria (1987)

The silver medal this week goes to the staple Def Leppard record "Hysteria." Some of you folks pointed out that this Mutt Lange-produced effort is a clear example of an album that's overproduced in a good way...

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1. Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy (2008)

At the throne of UG this week, it's the GN'R gang and "Chinese Democracy." Dewitt pointed out: "It's a great album, but it's probably the best (or worst?) example of what a negative effect overproduction can have on the final product. It would be a better album if it was a little more reserved."

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And that wraps it up! As always, stay tuned, thanks for stopping by...

102 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ensifer1 · Sep 23, 2016 09:48 AM
    Carbin Monoxide
    Carbin Monoxide · Sep 23, 2016 10:20 AM
    copperwreck · Sep 23, 2016 11:45 AM
    acostade57 · Sep 23, 2016 12:21 PM
    --ESTRANGED-- · Sep 23, 2016 05:54 PM
    tcawkwell70 · Sep 23, 2016 06:12 PM
    Ok, now that we got those out of the way. How about a list of the best sounding most raw, unpolished records. By that i don't mean the lowest quality, i mean bands that really created great records without much assistance. Ironically some of these same bands would appear on the list which would be interesting. I.E. Metallica - Kill em All, and the Debut Ramones album.
    The first Boston album was pretty awesome, and I'm pretty sure they recorded it in one of the band members' garage or basement Lol.
    Heh heh, Im a figure out a way to get even more metallica into these bullshit countdowns, heh heh. That was fuckin Beavis by the way
    Yes, that is funny. I like Metallica, but am in no way a mega fan of the band. I was simply making a point that certain bands on this list could also apply to a list of raw sounding records, "Kill Em All" just came to mind because it is a classic record of lower production value. If you would like me to add some more variety, here's a few more Murmer - REM, Damaged - Black FLag, Foo Fighters - 1995 release, Nirvava - In Utero, etc. I would also add the Stones - Exile on Mainstreet, it does have a few tracks of higher production, but over all that thing is raw, dark and dirty
    Appetite for Destruction is perfectly under-mixed. Listen to that CD through headphones and you'll Slash in one ear and Izzy in the other. No needless orchestration or layering of tracks. It is so perfectly raw and it fits the album and it's songs to a T.
    Yeah, Appetite for Destruction is the perfect example of a perfectly raw record. Kill 'em All is TOO underproduced IMO.
    YES we need this one next. I love me some undermixed albums - like they cut it live - killed it and said print it. Record done. haha
    Man id chuck Katatonias "Last fair deal gone down" on that, while i love their more recent albums alot more, that album has just a beautiful raw sound to it, especially the drums
    I think Falling in Reverse has the most over produced hair in this list. Jesus Christ, look at that shit! Oof.
    i think the big reason its not higher is because the overproduction isn't quite as disappointing as some of the other albums on the list. Hard to care about overproduction when the songs are shit either way
    People might disagree, but listening to it in 2016, I think Metallica's The Black Album is overproduced. Some of it works, like the big singles, but listen to "Don't Tread On Me" and "Of Wolf And Man". To much reverb, overdubbed singing etc. Some of the previous albums were underproduced, but this went a bit too far the other way.
    Death Magnetic is not overproduced, it's just shitty sounding. Hell, it's pretty fucking raw compared to Load or the Black Album.
    I still don't understand why all this fuss about Death Magnetic, there's a very simple solution actually. Just download the tracks that were ripped form Guitar Hero, assuming you had bought the physical CD already. They are all over the place on pirate bay, especially the one that is remastered by an uploader called "DECEiFER". MUCH MUCH better than the original release. I believe people at Guitar Hero managed to snatch the original masters before being butchered by Rick Rubin. And it's not that I'm advocating Napster or anything. The thing is, blasting heavy metal is not synonymous with ear bleeding.
    Carbin Monoxide
    I like the 'wall of sound' style of production personally but it doesn't work with certain bands/genres, definitely not punk...
    I'd say the only song on End of The Century that was improved by "wall of sound" is "Danny Says". Spector took a good song and turned it into a beautiful song.
    I loved the return of jackie and judy personally. I thought that record stood up real well imo
    I presume the term "overproduced" is just a synonym to bad use of production techniques? Because I can think of someone like Steven Wilson, who employs plenty of production techniques and sound manipulation and effects into his albums, but damn does he do it well.
    Like I said in the wednesday poll, I think a lot of people commenting are judging by the way the album got mixed and mastered. Overproduced = lot of time was spent producing the album. Doesn't always end up with bad results. A lot of albums were heavily overproduced, but are in fact fantastic.
    I think when you say that something is OVERdone, that means it is bad.
    Garbage's Vol 2 had hundreds of overdubs for each track, but it was done in a way to really give it a raw power kinda feel.
    Fortunately the Beatles released "Let It Be... Naked" which has a lot of the production elements removed. It's well worth checking out.
    Naked is a great album and gives you a clear picture of what the Beatles originally had in mind before Spector ruined it.
    It should have occurred to me sooner, but Devin Townsend's Epicloud is a great example of an overproduced album sounding fantastic.
    I was considering throwing Epicloud too. I love Devin and I got a lot of respect for him always self producing all his work, however, I'm not really a fan of his production style, especially over his last couple of releases. Everything since Epicloud has all kind of sounded the same and he could probably do with working with different producer to bring some freshness back to his sound.
    Well, he co-produced the last one with Nolly from Periphery. There are tangible differences in the sound as a result, but still very much in Devin's realms .
    "working with a different producer" He IS his own producer. Usually his own engineer, too.
    I know he is his own producer, that's my issue. After years of it only being him producing all his albums, the sound has started to become stale and a bit samey, but as dogfacedgod pointed out, his last album was co produced with Nolly from Periphery.
    Devin should consider graduating from reverb walls and "orchestral" synth pads entirely in the future. He even adds reverb to his own vocals, and it's very annoying.
    You know reverb on vocals is very standard, right?
    Not THAT much, I'm damn sure of that. You wanna sound like the room has better acoustic than the reality, not that you're some sort of booming-voiced ethereal being.
    Wasn't there talk of Cornell re-doing 'Scream' without all the hip-hop beats at one point? More as a rock record? I'm sure I remember reading something about it, but I can't find anything when I search now...
    I'm not sure of that but I like the idea. I love Cornell and all his musical ventures but that one was hard to swallow. His acoustic versions of songs from that album are fuckin incredible though...
    I don't understand why people think Drones is overproduced, I thought it sounded great.
    i fuckin knew it! was thinking of Chinese Democracy before i clicked the link
    No Ten from Pearl Jam ? I love those songs but god do I hate the chorus in everything and the effects in Eddie's voice (especially on Oceans)
    Definitely check out the 2009 Brendan O'Brien remixes. Lot less reverb and the guitars are more upfront. Fantastic album either way
    I nominated Ten. Zero up or down votes, which surprised me as I think of it as one of the over-produced albums.
    No Poison albums on the list? As a companion piece how about doing the "best produced" albums?
    i like that idea, my thought was best raw sounding albums, but this would be an awesome one to!
    No "Unleashed In The East" ? It was the greatest live record to ever be recorded in a studio !
    I came here thinking of California and Chinese Democracy. Perfect ranking
    how about EVERY Def leppard album. Holy fuck those guys suck, but the only crime worse than their music is what they did to the sound of their drums. You guys REALLY missed the mark. Listen to this shit.
    Listen to their first album, it's really raw compared to Hysteria. At the very least, their guitars used to actually sound like guitars.
    Well, funnily enough, that happens to be from HYSTERIA. And you do realize that the drum kit is semi-electric, right? That could be for a couple of reasons, but to me it fits well with the album. I'm actually beginning to wonder if you've actually listened to the rest of their albums.
    Try listening to "On through the night" & "High n Dry" '80 and '81, great rock n roll records
    say what you want about Be Here Now, but thats still one of my favorite Oasis albums.
    I think that the overproduction is not terrible in some of these songs, mainly the older ones. The main problem, that most people have pointed out here, is the over compression and loudness of these songs. I have yet to understand how mastering engineers can listen to their work and say to themselves that this sounds good. I understand that today's consumer listens through headphones and doesn't know any better, but these are professionals lowering a bar that had been set so high decades ago.
    When I started trawling through this list I did think of Blink's California. It tries to harken back to the Blink of '99, but it also tries too hard to be commercial, poppy and even a little ballady, with all the "woah"s and "woo"s and the squeaky production. It downgrades an album that could have been excellent to just being okay.
    Death Magnetic was over produced, it was over saturated. Over produced is open to interpretation. Robert Plants Now and Zen could easily be in the top 10 as well as The Cult's Sonic Temple. I like properly produced albums that are clean, well mixed and if your system is good enough, you can hear everything the artists recorded.
    I think Def Leppard works on the basis that they're over produced. I love it O_O
    What, no "Dark Side of the Moon"? That album was separately recorded by the artists in different locations and sewed together like Frankenstein's monster in the production.
    I mean, the blink one IS overproduced. But top 3 ALL TIME? Its not even half a year old haha.
    We do have a serious overproduction problem in this day and age. I'd expect many of the albums on this list to be from the last decade.
    My definition of an album having too much or too little production would remove several of these from this list. Did we ever define what overproduction is or sounds like? I a lot of "reasoning" behind many of these albums are simply because they are not liked by a group of people.
    nelliehill88 · Sep 23, 2016 12:57 PM
    m4ss3 m/
    Umm, where the fuck is Linkin Park? I mean, I love LP but people always bash their albums for being overproduced. I was sure to see Hybrid Theory as #1.
    Glad my choice made the list. Definitely wasn't expecting to be quoted on it. The funny thing is that I was tossing up between 21st Century Breakdown and Hysteria, but I couldn't bring myself to go with Hysteria because while it is extremely over-produced, it's one of those examples of it's over-production making it better. Apparently I'm not the only one who feels that way.
    Agreed 100% on Vengeance Falls (AKA Vengeance FAILS) -- It's the ONLY Trivium album out of their entire catalog, including the original / older stuff that I don't like. It's sad too because there are some great songs on there -- when they play them live it's SO much better. I love Strife though, the intro is so simple yet so recognizable and just immediately brings a huge roar every time they play it in front of any crows.
    C-C Beatroot
    I'd like to read more about how the End Of The Century collab came about; did the Ramones decide to work with him or was it foisted on them? You'd know what to expect, I don't know why you'd ask Phil Spector to produce your album then complain about him doing what he does...
    I disagree on Muse - Drones. But maybe that's because I was afraid that I would hear Mutt's voice in the backing vocals, and it didn't happen, so I was happy.