Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Stephen Street is a music producer best known for his work with The Smiths in the 1980s and Blur in the 1990s. Street also collaborated with Morrissey on some of his most popular work after The Smiths broke up, playing instruments and co-writing songs. As a producer, Street has served more as a musician than as an engineer, thereby significantly influencing the sound of the groups he has worked with.
Stephen Street began his career in music in the early 1980s at Islands Records' Fallout Shelter Studio. He worked as an engineer for reggae artists including Black Uhuru, King Sunny Ade, and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
The Smiths and Morrissey
He began working with The Smiths in the mid-80s and was listed as an engineer on the Smiths' albums Meat Is Murder and their breakthrough The Queen Is Dead. Street was credited as a producer on the Smiths' final album, Strangeways, Here We Come.
After the Smiths broke up, Street contacted lead singer Morrissey about pursuing a solo career. Morrissey agreed, and the result was his debut album, Viva Hate which reached #1 and spawned two top-ten hits in the United Kingdom. Street was credited as producer, songwriter, guitarist, and bass guitarist on the album. Street went on to co-write and produce two more top ten singles for Morrissey which appeared on Bona Drag before amicably ending their association.
After hearing Blur's first single, "She's So High", Street contacted their manager. Soon after he was called in and went on to produce their debut album, Leisure, along with the establishing hit "There's No Other Way". Street went on to produce Blur's sophomore effort, Modern Life Is Rubbish.
Stephen Street was a key force behind Blur's involvement in the Britpop movement. He produced one of the earliest and most influential creative works in Britpop, Blur's 1994 album Parklife. The album became Blur's best-selling ever and included the massive hit "Girls + Boys". Street later produced the #1 hit "Country House" for Blur's follow-up album The Great Escape, the song that won "The Battle of Britpop" for Blur by outselling rival band Oasis's single "Roll with It" from (What's the Story) Morning Glory in a Battle of the Bands that received massive coverage by the mainstream British media. After the Britpop movement waned, Street produced Blur's overdue chart-topping self-titled album, a work consisting of American low-fi alternative rock that showed that, unlike Oasis, the band could continue evolving. This album included the #1 hit "Beetlebum" as well as the extremely popular surprise hit "Song 2".
Despite the complete death of the movement in 1999 and the ending with this album of Street's association with Blur, he has gone on to produce for bands such as The Cranberries and The Pretenders. Street is currently involved in the production of the debut album by emerging band Kaiser Chiefs from Leeds, UK.
After Graham Coxon left Blur following a scuffle with chief artist Damon Albarn, he and Street aligned and went to produce Coxon's most successful album up to date — Happiness In Magazines. It featured the incredible talent and unique musicianship of the former guitarist and driving force of Blur, combined with Street's producing mastery, which made the record Coxon's highest charting ever. According to interviews, Street's work with Coxon hasn't finished at all and the pair are recording a new studio album to be released in early 2006.
It would be difficult to overstate Street's effect on the sound of the bands he has worked with. As he became increasingly prominent on the Smiths' studio albums, their sound evolved from a dull, leaden production (as epitomized by their Street-less eponymous debut) to a smooth, polished, cohesive, almost orchestral sound (the Street produced Strangeways, Here We Come). Additionally, in his solo career, Morrissey achieved greater success working with Street than with any other producer.
Street transformed Blur from a tentative, obscure Madchester outfit into international rock stars. He produced their most important songs ("There's No Other Way", "Girls & Boys", "Country House", "Beetlebum", and "Song 2") and their two most popular albums, Parklife and Blur.
Stephen Street is sometimes referenced by the artists he works with in their songs.
- In the song "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" from Strangeways, Here We Come, Morrissey's final words are, "OK Stephen? Do that again?"
- The Blur song "Death of a Party" from Blur is, according to some, a reply to the Smiths song "Death of a Disco Dancer". Both songs were produced by Street.
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