September 19: Daniel Lanois was born in 1951 – here are 8 of his best produced albums

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  (or 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 & Daniel Lanois Band (Leno show 1995) – Wrecking Ball:


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 & Emmylou Harris – The Maker:


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):


6 thoughts on “September 19: Daniel Lanois was born in 1951 – here are 8 of his best produced albums

    1. We did consider that album (Dancepark) and several others, my first contender for this list is the soundtrack album from The Last of The Mohicans (or maybe the one he did with Solomon Burke?). Thanks for your feedback

  1. I was going to ask about leaving off Gabriel’s So follow up US, but then I realized you didn’t include a single U2 album… how does Joshua Tree not make the list?

    Is there a better producer than Lanois? I don’t know of one… I sure wish Dylan would work with him again.

    1. Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are worthy contenders, but I can’t see which album they should replace. Also I would put Solomon Burkes’ Don’t give up on me or the soundtrack to The Last of The Mohicans on the list before the U2 albums. If we did a top 12 I think Joshua Tree would be included. Thanks for the feedback, always good to discuss art.

  2. Lanois is fantastic everytime out. All these are fantastic albums. I especially love his work with Dylan. I really love Dylan’s quote in Rolling Stone about working on TOOM with Lanois where he totally trashes the great producer – I mean Dylan really shreds Lanois – then ends by saying something like, “But I really like his work.” I hope someone can find that quote and post it here. It is classic Bob. LOL. (BTW, Lanois’ first solo album is simply awesome, totally sublime… one of the great lost albums. Check it out! You can thank me later.)

    1. I’ve got the first two albums (Acadie and For the Beauty of Wynona) in my CD-collection, fantastic albums! We will look for the Dylan interview, thanks for your comment.

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