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If Santana repeats, who gets Grammy?

November 17, 2002|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

The release of Santana's new "Shaman" album raises the possibility of a rerun of the 2000 Grammy Awards, with Clive Davis again accepting the album of the year trophy, as he did as co-producer of Santana's "Supernatural."

With that prospect, some issues raised last time are coming up anew.

The concern is that the storied record executive, who is listed as co-producer with Carlos Santana on both albums, is not credited on either collection as the official producer on any of the individual tracks. Some in the industry feel that makes him more of an executive producer.

That difference seems trivial, save for one thing: Producers receive an album of the year Grammy, executive producers don't.

No one disputes Davis' integral importance to the Santana albums. Santana himself routinely says Davis was involved in every facet, from song selection to assembling the collaborations that mark the collections.

"That's pure executive producing," says veteran musician, producer and record company executive Bobby Colomby, when asked to assess Davis' role. "A record producer is like a film director -- that's the analogy. A producer in film is the guy who gets the money and puts the team together. In music, that's the executive producer."

In the film world, criteria for such credits are governed by the guilds' rules.

In music, there are no such procedures, and the Grammy-sponsoring National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has no official rules as to what constitutes producing for the purpose of award eligibility.

"We rely on the accuracy of the record companies for the credits on their albums," says Diane Theriot, the academy's senior vice president of awards. "When you get 15,000 entries every year, we can't really get in the middle of that. I can't go into the studio to verify everything. We have to rely on the labels."

Representatives of both Davis and Santana stressed the integral role Davis had in the making of the music, but had no other comments on the matter.

The Davis credit is not the only one that has spurred some industry debate. Similar concerns came up earlier this year when the Grammy for country album went to Lost Highway Records President Luke Lewis and collaborators Mary Martin and Bonnie Garner, who were credited as compilation producers for the Hank Williams tribute "Timeless," although the actual songs were produced by others.

Daniel Lanois, who as a producer won best album Grammys in 1987 for U2's "The Joshua Tree" and in 1997 for Bob Dylan's "Time Out of Mind," is concerned that Davis' credit obscures the efforts of the actual producers involved in the albums, but does not begrudge him the recognition.

"There aren't many records made that way," says Lanois, who has six Grammys as a producer. "I wish [Davis] all the best and if he feels he deserves the credit and the award, then let him go up there. I know what hard work it is to mastermind something and have it succeed."

If Davis does get the Grammy again, it won't have quite the same intrigue as in 2000, when he'd just been squeezed out of the chairmanship of Arista Records, the company he'd founded and that released "Supernatural."

However, Santana's still on Arista, so Davis, who now heads J Records, would be on the podium, while his Arista successor, "Shaman" executive producer Antonio "L.A." Reid, would be sitting in the audience.

He's the Samuel Pepys of rock

Daniel Lanois handled the lead vocals on his solo albums, 1989's "Acadie" and 1993's "For the Beauty of Wynona."

But he's willing to share some of those duties on the album he's finishing now. No wonder -- Bono is his duet partner on one song.

The U2 singer and Lanois recently co-wrote a song titled "Falling at Your Feet," with plans to put it on Lanois' as-yet-untitled album. It probably will come out in March from Epitaph Records' Anti label, home to Tom Waits, Merle Haggard and now Nick Cave.

Meanwhile, Lanois just hosted a delegation from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has plans for a modest exhibition drawn from the detailed journals he kept while producing albums by Bob Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris and others.

"I have lots of notes and journals," he says, "things I wrote while working on those albums, sitting up at night wondering if maybe I could just get Peter to sing a certain way it might take a song a whole new direction. Lots of things like that. I'm flattered they asked."

Small faces

After a break working with such side projects as Boxcar Racer and Transplants, the three members of Blink-182 will reconvene in January to start work on a new album. No producer has been selected, and no release date has been set.

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