This has been an idea I have been kicking around for some time, and this is going to be based strictly on my opinion/taste in music, as good or bad as you may find it. The cool thing here is you guys can comment, and give your side of things below. This is what I consider to be the five best albums Martin Birch produced:
5. MSG – Assault Attack – The only studio album up till Tales Of Rock N Roll, and the recently released Michael Schenker Fest album Resurrection to feature Graham Bonnet on lead vocals. Both albums actually feature the same rhythm section of Chris Glen and Ted McKenna. This was the first album Martin worked on after Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast.
4. Rainbow – Rising – The album only has six songs on it, but what six songs! “Stargazer” alone could be considered one of the greatest hard rock songs of the 70s, and possibly of all time.
What a band Martin had to work with, Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio, Jimmy Bain, Cozy Powell and Tony Carey. The album is an important piece to each members’ legacy, and it helped further the dungeons and dragons aspect that someone like Dio was known for. If you look at the albums Martin worked on, you’ll see some of these names turn up over and over again, look at the albums listed higher up on the list, and albums by Whitesnake as your perfect example. Actually, outside of Maiden, Martin always was close to the Deep Purple family tree.
3. Deep Purple – Machine Head – Yes, he’s listed as the engineer on the album, but if you hear anyone talk about that time period, that the word producer was not really used until a few years after this release, which was a title then essentially given to the engineer. Nonetheless, this is such a hugely influential album, and let’s be honest, a lot of those early Purple albums he worked on where. Without Marin behind the helm, perhaps the album or tracks just don’t sound the same. Tracks like “Highway Star”, “Space Truckin” and “Smoke On The Water” are guaranteed to be on your local classic rock radio station at some point today. Hell if you were a fan of the recently cancelled series Ash Vs. Evil Dead, the show kicked off with “Space Truckin” and the series finale ended with title track off of Stormbringer, another gem produced by Birch.
2. Black Sabbath – Heaven And Hell – Martin produced the first two studio albums to feature Ronnie James Dio in the band, Mob Rules, and this one, both are great, but I would have to give the edge to Heaven And Hell. Who would’ve thought that Sabbath could recover after switching lead singers, and for a lot of us, we like the Ozzy era, but love the Dio era of the band. Check out Born Again (not produced by Martin and it suffered from sound quality issues) just to see how important Martin Birch was to the production of those Black Sabbath albums.
1. Iron Maiden – Killers – Here’s the thing, I could have listed practically any one of the Iron Maiden albums Martin worked on as number 1. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son is my favorite Maiden album of all time, but Killers, Powerslave and Piece Of Mind are right up there for me. Side two of Killers is just magical, flawless, an almost perfect album side, that perfectly demonstrates that you need someone manning the rutter to know how to get the best out of the band, how to arrange the order of the album, etc. and without Martin being a big part of the process, Maiden would never have reached the heights they did. Some of what they’ve released after working with him has proved that.