Born: Robert John Lange
Date: Nov. 11, 1948
Where: Mufulira, Zambia
|“Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange…is a Zambian-born British record producer and songwriter” WK “known for his endurance in the studio and innovations in multitrack recording.” WK He “rose to fame on the strength of blockbuster albums from acts including Def Leppard, AC/DC, and Foreigner.” AMG However, dips into other genres, including R&B and country, have “proved Lange’s prowess as a pop producer without need for genre qualification.” AMG
Lange’s “mother came from a prosperous family in Germany, and his South African father was a mining engineer. Nicknamed ‘Mutt’ at an early age, Lange grew up a fan of country music, in particular the singer, Slim Whitman. Sent to study at Belfast High School in South Africa, he started a music band in which he played rhythm guitar and sang harmonies.” WK
“He eventually married Stevie van Kerken (a.k.a. Stevie Vann) and moved to England where, in 1970, he started the band Hocus in which his wife would sing. His marriage to Stevie broke down in the 1970s. Whilst still married, his personal attentions then turned to Belfast born employee Oonagh O'Reilly (see Oonagh Bowman) for a duration of 5 years before meeting Shania Twain.” WK
“Beginning production work in 1976, his first major hits came in October 1978 with the UK #1 single Rat Trap for The Boomtown Rats.” WK In 1979, he followed “with AC/DC’s seminal Highway to Hell. He reunited with the group a year later for the classic Back in Black,” AMG “which is currently the fifth-best selling album of all time in the U.S.” WK He followed that in 1981 with “Foreigner’s mega-hit 4, which earned him a Grammy nomination as Producer of the Year.” AMG
“That same year, he also helmed Def Leppard’s High ‘N’ Dry, his first collaboration with the band; 1983’s Pyromania made them stars, with Lange co-writing smash hits including Photograph and Rock of Ages. Other hits he authored from the same period included Loverboy’s Lovin’ Every Minute of It and Huey Lewis & the News’ Do You Believe in Love.” AMG.
“After his next monster hit, the Cars’ 1984 album Heartbeat City, Lange reunited with AC/DC on 1986’s Who Made Who before returning to the Def Leppard camp for 1987’s Hysteria, one of the best-selling rock albums of all time. With Billy Ocean’s Tear Down These Walls, Lange moved into R&B, scoring a smash single with Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car.” AMG
“In 1991, he produced Bryan Adams’ Waking Up the Neighbours, including co-writing (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, a hugely-successful single written for the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” WK
“While his skill as a producer and collaborator had by this point been proven many times over, Lange’s next project would bring him still greater success, and in some ways solidify his legacy.” AMG “After hearing Shania Twain’s material, he got in touch with her and they spent many hours on the phone with each other; they finally met six months after the initial contact and were married on December 28, 1993.” WK
Lange set to work on Twain’s follow-up album. “1995’s The Woman in Me was an immediate hit, spawning the inescapable radio singles Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? and Any Man of Mine. More importantly, it began to transform Twain’s sound from polite contemporary country into straightforward pop with country overtones. The molting process was completed two years later with Come on Over. Buoyed by the AOR production and pop-influenced co-writing of Lange, Twain emerged as true superstar.” AMG
“In 1999, Lange moved back into pop with the Backstreet Boys’ hit Millennium; that same year he helmed Celine Dion’s All the Way: A Decade of Song. The international versions of Britney Spears’ Oops!...I Did It Again followed.” AMG
“In August 2001, [Lange and Twain’s] son Eja (pronounced ‘Asia’) was born. The couple has since divorced.” WK
Lange is a teetotaler, WK “a strict vegetarian and a follower of Sant Mat.” WK He “prefers to live a secluded life, mainly in Switzerland.” WK “He has not given an interview of any kind for decades.” WK
Resource(s): Below is a list of albums on which Lange produced at least 3 tracks. WK Links connect to albums highlighted on this page. Note: eight of the albums in the top 1000 albums of all time according to Dave’s Music Database are featured on this page (marked by below). See that full list here.
Below is a list of albums on which Lange produced at least 3 tracks. WK Links connect to albums highlighted on this page. Note: eight of the albums in the top 1000 albums of all time according to Dave’s Music Database are featured on this page (marked by below). See that full list here.
AC/DC: Highway to Hell
Charted: 8/11/1979 Peak: 17 8 Sales (in millions): 7.0 -- 15.0
Tracks: 1. Highway to Hell 2. Girls Got Rhythm 3. Walk All Over You 4. Touch Too Much 5. Beating Around the Bush 6. Shot Down in Flames 7. Get It Hot 8. If You Want Blood, You’ve Got It 9. Love Hungry Man 10. Night Prowler
Review: Highway to Hell was the last AC/DC album to feature singer Bon Scott, “who died just months after this album was released. Scott had a rusty, raspy, scream of a voice,” DC “the perfect instrument for…wild-living anthems,” DC and “provided the group with a fair share of its signature sleaze.” STE “Scott literally partied himself to death, dying of alcohol poisoning after a night of drinking.” STE
In his first effort as the band’s producer, Lange “gives the album a precision and magnitude that…[earlier albums] lacked in their grimy charm.” STE “The album was the band’s biggest yet.” WK “Filtered through Mutt’s mixing board, AC/DC has never sounded so enormous, and they’ve never had such great songs, and they had never delivered an album as singularly bone-crunching or classic as this until now.” STE
AC/DC: Back in Black
Charted: 8/9/1980 Peak: 4 1 2 Sales (in millions): 22.0 -- 42.0
Tracks: 1. Hell’s Bells 2. Shoot to Thrill 3. What Do You Do for Money Honey 4. Givin’ the Dog a Bone 5. Let Me Put My Love into You 6. Back in Black 7. You Shook Me All Night Long 8. Have a Drink on Me 9. Shake a Leg 10. Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution
Review: “Bon Scott’s alcohol-related death in early 1980 couldn't have come at a worse time for AC/DC; the band was poised for worldwide breakthrough success, as their last album, Highway to Hell, was Angus and company’s first gold-certified stateside release. They made an excellent choice in selecting Brian Johnson as their new vocalist; while he had the same bluesy edge as Scott, Johnson sang with more power and conviction.” GP
“Musically, the band hadn’t changed much, although producer ‘Mutt’ Lange,” GP “helped the group focus its high voltage rock.” GP The result, “Back in Black, was issued only five months after Scott’s passing but immediately rocketed up the charts, eventually becoming one of rock's all-time classics.” GP
Charted: 7/25/1981 Peak: 1 10 5 Sales (in millions): 6.0 0.1 11.5
Tracks: 1. Night Life 2. Juke Box Hero 3. Break It Up 4. Waiting for a Girl Like You 5. Luanne 6. Urgent 7. I’m Gonna Win 8. Woman in Black 9. Girl on the Moon 10. Don’t Let Go
Review: “Over the course of their first three late-‘70s albums, Foreigner had firmly established themselves (along with Journey and Styx) as one of the top AOR bands of the era. But the band was still looking for that grand slam of a record which would push them to the very top of the heap. 1981’s 4 would be that album.” ER
“Fresh off his massive success with AC/DC’s Back in Black,” ER Lange offered “guitarist and all-around mastermind Mick Jones found both the catalyst to achieve this and his perfect musical soul mate. Lange’s legendary, obsessive attention to detail and Jones’ highly disciplined guitar heroics (which he never allowed to get in the way of a great song) resulted in a collaboration of unprecedented, sparkling efficiency where not a single note is wasted.” ER
Def Leppard: Pyromania
Released: 1/20/1983 Peak: 2 18 Sales (in millions): 10.0 -- 14.9
Tracks: 1. Rock Rock ‘Til You Drop 2. Photograph 3. Stagefright 4. Too Late for Love 5. Die Hard the Hunter 6. Foolin’ 7. Rock of Ages 8. Comin’ Under Fire 9. Action! Not Words 10. Billy’s Got a Gun
Review: “While Def Leppard had obviously wanted to write big-sounding anthems on their previous records, Pyromania was where the band’s vision coalesced and gelled into something more. More than ever before, the band’s songs on Pyromania are driven by catchy, shiny melodic hooks instead of heavy guitar riffs, although the latter do pop up once in a while.” SH
“But it wasn’t just this newly intensified focus on melody and consistent songwriting (and heavy MTV exposure) that made Pyromania a massive success – and the catalyst for the ‘80s pop-metal movement…Lange’s buffed-to-a-sheen production – polished drum and guitar sounds, multi-tracked layers of vocal harmonies, a general sanding of any and all musical rough edges, and a perfectionistic attention to detail – set the style for much of the melodic hard rock that followed.” SH
The Cars: Heartbeat City
Released: 3/13/1984 Peak: 3 25 Sales (in millions): 4.0 -- 4.0
Tracks: 1. Hello Again 2. Looking for Love 3. Magic 4. Drive 5. Stranger Eyes 6. You Might Think 7. It’s Not the Night 8. Why Can’t I Have You 9. I Refuse 10. Heartbeat City
Review: In the long layoff between Def Leppard’s Pyromania and Hysteria, Lange initially resigned as the producer for the latter. In the interim, he led his talents to the Cars’ fifth album. It generated five top 40 hits in the U.S., including the #3 Drive and #7 You Might Think. True to form for a Lange-produced album, though, plenty of other songs on the album boasted potential as hits.
Def Leppard: Hysteria
Released: 8/3/1987 Peak: 1 5 1 1 Sales (in millions): 12.0 0.6 20.0
Tracks: 1. Women 2. Rocket 3. Animal 4. Love Bites 5. Pour Some Sugar on Me 6. Armageddon It 7. Gods of War 8. Don’t Shoot Shotgun 9. Run Riot 10. Hysteria 11. Excitable 12. Love and Affection
Review: “Plagued by many trials, such as the December 31, 1984 car accident that cost Rick Allen his left arm,” WK Def Leppard didn’t release a quick follow-up to their hugely successful 1983 breakthrough with Pyromania. Lange started producing the album with him, dropped out, and then returned after the band’s failed attempts with Meat Loaf songwriter Jim Steinman and an attempt at self-producing the album. WK
Things still didn’t progress smoothly, as Lange suffered injuries from a car accident and singer Joe Elliott was hit with the mumps in 1986. WK Despite all the troubles and the eternity of time since their last release, the result was “probably Def Leppard’s best album, and certainly their most successful.” GW Reportedly, Lange’s goal was to make the album “a hard rock version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, in that every track was a potential hit single. Songs were therefore written with this concept in mind.” WK It worked: “Hysteria pretty much sums up 80s hard rock: catchy, tuneful, and fun.” GW
Bryan Adams: Waking Up the Neighbours
Released: 9/24/1991 Peak: 6 1 1 Sales (in millions): 4.0 0.9 11.5
Tracks: 1. Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya? 2. Hey Honey, I’m Packin’ You In! 3. Can’t Stop This Thing We Started 4. Thought I’d Died and Gone to Heaven 5. Not Guilty 6. Vanishing 7. House Arrest 8. Do I Have to Say the Words? 9. There Will Never Be Another Tonight 10. All I Want Is You 11. Depend on Me 12. Everything I Do I Do It for You 13. If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?) 14. Touch the Hand 15. Don’t Drop That Bomb on Me
Review: “Bryan Adams’ 1991 album, Waking up the Neighbours, signaled his commercial apex. Bridging the time gap between ‘80s arena rock and ‘90s angst-ridden grunge, the album also ushered in an era in which Adams became more known for his sweeping power ballads than his straight-ahead rock tunes…the most notable being the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves theme Everything I Do I Do It for You,” JP co-written by Lange. “That ballad spent seven weeks atop the U.S. pop charts…[and] a phenomenon in Europe, becoming Adams’ biggest hit ever” JP with a whopping sixteen weeks atop the UK chart.
With Lange co-producing the album, “many of these songs sound as though they could have easily been Def Leppard recordings…Nonetheless, Waking up the Neighbours is a fun album and perfect for those who expect nothing more than an old-fashioned good time from their rock & roll.” JP
Shania Twain: The Woman in Me
Released: 2/7/1995 Peak: 5 9 Sales (in millions): 12.0 0.3 18.0
Tracks: 1. Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is Anymore 2. Any Man of Mine 3. Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under? 4. If You’re Not in It for Love, I’m Outta Here 5. The Woman in Me Needs the Man in You 6. Is There Life after Love? 7. If It Don’t Take Two 8. You Win My Love 9. Raining on Our Love 10. Leaving Is the Only Way Out 11. No One Needs to Know 12. God Bless the Child
Review: Lange lent his production help to his new bride’s sophomore album, making it one of the greatest selling country albums of all time and, in the process, expanding Lange’s touch of gold to yet another genre.
Shania Twain: Come on Over
Released: 11/4/1997 Peak: 2 1 11 Sales (in millions): 20.0 3.34 36.0
Tracks: 1. Man! I Feel Like a Woman! 2. I’m Holdin’ on to Love to Save My Life 3. Love Gets Me Every Time 4. Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You) 5. From This Moment On (with Bryan White) 6. Come on Over 7. When 8. Whatever You Do, Don’t! 9. If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask! 10. You’re Still the One 11. Honey, I’m Home 12. That Don’t Impress Me Much 13. Black Eyes, Blue Tears 14. I Won’t Leave You Lonely 15. Rock This Country 16. You’ve Got a Way
Review: Lange and Twain’s first collaborative effort after their marriage was her sophomore album, 1995’s The Woman in Me. The album was such a blockbuster, it was going to seemingly be impossible to top it commercially. Such expectations, however, were not new to Lange. He’d already topped AC/DC’s 1979 Highway to Hell with 1980’s Back in Black and followed up Def Leppard’s 1983 Pyromania with the even bigger Hysteria four years later. Could he do it again? No problem. As astonishing as The Woman in Me’s staggering global sales of 18 million seemed, Twain doubled that number for this album. It also became Lange’s second biggest seller, only behind AC/DC’s 42-million-selling Back in Black.
Shania Twain: Up!
Released: 11/19/2002 Peak: 1 5 4 Sales (in millions): 5.5 0.6 12.5
Tracks: 1. Up! 2. I’m Gonna Getcha Good 3. She’s Not Just a Pretty Face 4. Juanita 5. Forever and for Always 6. Ain’t No Particular Way 7. It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing 8. Wanna Get to Know You That Good 9. C’est La Vie 10. I’m Jealous 11. Ka-Ching! 12. Thank You Baby for Makin’ Someday Come So Soon 13. What a Way to Wanna Be 14. I Ain’t Goin’ Down 15. I’m Not in the Mood to Say No 16. In My Car I’ll Be the Driver 17. When You Kiss Me
Review: “When Up! was released…Shania Twain revealed in one of many promotional interviews that she writes far more songs than can fit on her records and that she hides any personal, introspective songs she pens, not even playing them for her husband and collaborator Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange. Now, this is certainly a psychological quirk worth exploring, but it also suggests why Twain's albums are such brilliant pieces of mainstream pop. Anything that doesn’t fit the mold is discarded, so the album can hum along on its big, polished, multipurpose hooks and big, sweeping emotions.” STE
“This is Super-Size pop, as outsized and grandiose as good pop should be.” STE “These songs have been crafted as universal anthems, so listeners can hear themselves within these tales.” STE “When it comes to shiny, multipurpose pop, nobody does it better than Shania Twain.” STE