September 19: Daniel Lanois’ 8 best album productions – Happy Birthday!

Daniel Lanois was born September 19, 1951 in Hull, Quebec) he is a Canadian record producer, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter.

Daniel Lanois has released several albums of his own work. However, he is best known for producing albums for a wide variety of artists, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson. Three albums produced or co-produced by Lanois have won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Four other albums received Grammy nominations.

I have picked 8 favourites among his great work, listed in chronological order:

Peter Gabriel – So (1986):


So is the fifth album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel, released on 19 May 1986 by Charisma Records. After working on the soundtrack to the film Birdy (1984), producer Daniel Lanois was invited to remain at Gabriel’s home during 1985 to work on his next singing project. Initial sessions for So consisted of Gabriel, Lanois and guitarist David Rhodes.

So is Gabriel’s best-selling solo release, and has been certified fivefold platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry. It spawned five singles, “Sledgehammer”, “Don’t Give Up”, “Big Time”, “In Your Eyes” and “Red Rain”.

Peter Gabriel – In your Eyes (official video):


Robbie Robertson – Robbie Robertson (1987):


Robbie Robertson is the self-titled solo debut by Robbie Robertson, released in 1987. The album won the Juno Award for “Album of the Year”, and producers Lanois and Robertson won the “Producer of the Year” Juno award, both in 1989 as there were no Juno Awards held in 1988.

The album includes contributions from the members of U2 and Peter Gabriel, both of whom were also working with producer Daniel Lanois at the time. U2 was recording The Joshua Tree and Gabriel was recording So. U2’s contribution is heard in the song “Sweet Fire of Love” which is a duet of sorts between Robertson and U2 lead singer Bono. The other track featuring U2 is “Testimony”, again with vocals from Bono. Gabriel’s contributions are heard on the song “Fallen Angel”, which was dedicated to Robertson’s former Band bandmate Richard Manuel, and “Broken Arrow” which reverberates with Gabriel’s signature Rhodes electric piano.

Robbie Robertson – Somewhere down the Crazy River (official video):


Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy (1989):


Oh Mercy is the twenty-sixth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on September 18  September 22, 1989 by Columbia Records. Produced by Daniel Lanois, it was hailed by critics as a triumph for Dylan, after a string of weaker-reviewed albums. Oh Mercy gave Dylan his best chart showing in years reaching #30 on the Billboard charts in the United States and #6 in the UK.

Bob Dylan – Most of the time:


The Neville Brothers – Yellow Moon (1989):


Yellow Moon is a 1989 album by The Neville Brothers. Lou Reed selected it as one of his ‘picks of 1989’

“The Neville Brothers made a bid for pop/rock stardom with this well-produced album for A&M, their first under a new pact with the label inked in the late ’80s. It was certainly as solid as any they cut for A&M; the vocals were both nicely arranged and expertly performed, the arrangements were basically solid, and the selections were intelligently picked and sequenced. The album charted and remained there for many weeks, while the Nevilles toured and generated lots of interest. It didn’t become a hit, but it did respectably and represents perhaps their finest overall pop LP.”
– Ron Wynn (allmusic)

The Neville Brothers – Sisters Rosa (official video):


Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball (1995):



Wrecking Ball is the eighteenth studio album by American country artist Emmylou Harris, released on September 26, 1995 through Elektra Records. Moving away from the traditional acoustic sound for which she had become known, Harris collaborated with rock producer Daniel Lanois (best known for his production work with U2) and engineer Mark Howard. The album has been noted for atmospheric feel, and featured guest performances by Steve Earle, Larry Mullen, Jr., Lucinda Williams and Neil Young, who wrote the title song.

Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois – Orphan Girl and Blackhawk (live):


Bob Dylan – Time Out Of Mind (1997):



Time Out of Mind is the thirtieth studio album by Bob Dylan, released on September 30, 1997, by Columbia Records. It was his first double studio album (on vinyl) since Self Portrait in 1970. It was also released as a single CD.

For some fans and critics, the album marked Dylan’s artistic comeback after he appeared to struggle with his musical identity throughout the 1980s; he hadn’t released any original material for seven years, since Under the Red Sky in 1990. Time Out of Mind is hailed as one of Dylan’s best albums, and it went on to win three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year in 1998. It was also ranked number 408 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.

Bob Dylan – Love Sick (Grammys 1998):


Willie Nelson – Teatro (1998):


Teatro is a studio album by Willie Nelson, released in September 1998 via Island Records.

The recording sessions for the album were held in an old movie theater in Oxnard, California and were produced by Daniel Lanois. The album features backing vocals by Emmylou Harris, as well as backing by regular Nelson harmonicist Mickey Raphael and Nelson’s sister, Bobbie Nelson, on piano. The majority of the songs are composed by Nelson, and most are re-recordings of some songs he wrote and first recorded in the 1960s: “Darkness on the Face of the Earth” (1961), “My Own Peculiar Way” (1964), “Home Motel” (1962), “I Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye” (1968), “I’ve Just Destroyed the World (1962) and “Three Days” (1962).

Lanois contributes one of his songs, “The Maker” (originally released on his album Acadie), and plays electric guitar and bass, and also took the photograph for the album cover. Mark Howard recorded and mixed the record. Jeffrey Green contributed the drums and omnichord tracks for “The Maker”. Jeffrey Green was not featured in the music video for the song, although his character was portrayed roughly by a man dressed like him. Willie Nelson never publicly accredited Jeffrey Green for his contributions to the song.

Teatro is noted for its spare, yet drum-heavy and atmospheric sound, credited to Lanois.

Willie Nelson (with Emmylou Harris) – Three Days:


Neil Young – Le Noise (2010):


Le Noise is the thirty-first studio album by  Neil Young, released on September 28, 2010. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Daniel Lanois, hence the titular pun (although “Lanois” is pronounced “Lan-wha”). Lanois stated in an interview with Rolling Stone that “We cut a couple of solo acoustic songs, but the rest is very electric” and “There’s no band, but I got in there with my sonics.” On August 20, Young posted to Facebook the release date for different formats (including BD and an app for iPhoneand iPad) and revealed that it would be a solo album. A music video for the track “Angry World” was premiered on September 14, 2010. A music video for “Hitchhiker” was also premiered on September 17, 2010. The video for “Love And War” was released on September 20, 2010 and the video for “Walk With Me” on September 22, 2010.The track “Angry World” won a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance.

I love it!

Neil Young – Hitchhiker (official video):

– Hallgeir

11 thoughts on “September 19: Daniel Lanois’ 8 best album productions – Happy Birthday!”

  1. It’s interesting how a producer, like Mr. Lanois, can color the sound of an artist or band. Apparently he does this very well. many of these albums can be considered these artists best work. Just wondering…has there been a failed attempt by Mr. Lanois? Has there been an artist/band who wasn’t able to use his distinctive sound to their advantage? Although there are only two albums on here that I haven’t heard I like the list. But as others have said, when I think of Lanois I think of U2. I think that’s a perfect example of how a producer can alter the way one hears a band. U2 was on the cusp of being just another Echo & the Bunnymen until Mr. Lanois enhanced their sound and the listeners experience. The Joshua Tree not only catapulted U2 into the musical stratosphere but helped create the sound that they would become. It was in my humble opinion a perfect match for the message they had. The track “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is an example. That song will forever give me chills. It reaches in. And I think that’s what they were attempting to do. Successfully. I appreciate your comments about the subjectivity of all this, and mine is a subjective as any. But thanks for the article. You got me thinking (and obviously pontificating….ha!)

    1. I haven’t heard all the albums he has produced, but out of those I’ve heard I dislike the Brandon Flowers album from 2010 the most. I don’t believe it is Lanois’ fault, but his production didn’t make me like the album in spite of the lesser quality of the songs.

      I know, it is unfair, but that’s the only one I really think is a stinker

  2. I can’t understand why this guy gets so much hate sometimes. I really respect and enjoy Clinton Heylin’s writing but I couldn’t diasagree more on his hate for Lanois. Love his work with Bob. Some of my favorite tracks are Most of the Time, Trying to get to Heaven, Red River Shore, Series of Dreams, etc. So many classics.

  3. Seriously, no matter what one thinks of U2, no reasonable person would omit Joshua Tree or Aching Baby. That’s just not credible.

    1. It’s just a matter of what I prefer, I’m not saying that everybody should mean the same as me. All the list we publish are very subjective. What are your 8 favourites?

      I can honestly not see which album I should replace with a U2 album (and I like the Lanois U2 albums). Credibility is of no importance to me. I’m having fun and write about what I like.

  4. No mention of U2? I’m not a big U2 fan myself, but surely they were a huge part of the career of Lanois

    1. Well, I did consider Achtung Baby, but then I listened to it and decided to leave it out (it sounds a bit dated to be honest.) Joshua tree, is also quite good, but I believe there are at least 15 albums in Lanois production that are better. I can see that they have been important for each other, but I like most of his production better than the U2 albums.

      But, hey, that’s me 🙂

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