Steve Albini
Dani De La Cuesta/Flickr/Creative Commons

The legendary alternative rock producer Steve Albini died on Tuesday at 61-years-old.

Albini’s production style was largely defined by two things: He liked to capture recordings almost always on the first take, no redos, and he was relatively affordable. Whether you were a star or a no-name band, he would work with you at a cost relative to what you could afford.

Albini was also a legend. In his memory, let’s recall his three most important albums that he produced.

1. Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’

Nirvana’s third and final album was the band members’ favorite. After they released “Bleach” in 1989 on the Seattle-based Sub Pop record label, their follow up album would launch them into superstardom. Released by Geffen records, the biggest band in the world at the time would need a solid follow up.

Producer Steve Albini was ready for it.

What turned out to be Nirvana’s last album was recorded and mixed in less than two weeks at Pachyderm Recording Studio, in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, according to LouderSound. Albini first pressed “record” on ‘ on February 13, 1993, and the album was finished on February 26. This was the Nivana album that the band’s members considered to be their favorite.

Related: Man Sues Band Nirvana For His Naked Baby Photo On ‘Nevermind’ Album, Claims Image Was Child Pornography

2. The Pixies’ ‘Surfer Rosa’

The Pixies will always be considered one of the pioneers of the alternative rock sound that would eventually take over.

And their 1988 album “Surfer Rosa” was key to that revolution. Along with Albini, they pretty much created the sound of alternative rock in the 1990s.

As Rolling Stone put it, “The combination of the Pixies’ astonishing songcraft, sidelong humor, quiet-loud dynamics, and playfully twisted sensibility was the perfect match for Albini’s verite recording philosophy.”

“Surfer Rosa” was part of why Nirvana even wanted to work with Albini. Enough said.

Related: Taylor Swift And Beyoncé Slammed By Rock Legend Courtney Love – ‘They’re All The Same’

3. PJ Harvey’s ‘Rid of Me’

Once again, Albini’s reputation was significantly boosted by his 1980s work with the Pixies.

PJ Harvey is a good example. Her 1993 “Rid of Me” album was quintessential to alternative music at the time.

Rolling Stone described the album as transformative and an “emotionally leveling listen.” They are particularly enamored with the first track, which captures the crushing “emotional chaos” that comes from emotional entanglements. All this time later, it still holds up. As they put it, “And that’s just the first track.”

How did this transformative album come about? Of course it was Albini.

Albini actually didn’t even want to be credited for the album and didn’t even like being called a producer.

All that mattered for him was understanding and harnessing how intense Harvey was.

The album was recorded very quickly and PJ Harvey was happy with the result.

Singer Polly Jean told Spin, “I knew I wanted to work with Steve Albini from listening to Pixies records, and hearing the sounds he was getting, which were unlike any other sounds that I’d heard on vinyl.”

Steve Albini was a master of his craft. May he rest in peace.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: