Lipson started out as an engineer for The Rolling Stones and later went on to become the producer of some very memorable recordings. His career as a producer really began during his time with the infamously famous Trevor Horn at ZTT Records (Zang Tuum Tumb).
During the Nineteen Eighties, S.J. Lipson performed production and engineering duties for a number of artists, including Grace Jones (Slave To The Rhythm, 1985), Propaganda (A Secret Wish, 1985), Frankie Goes To Hollywood (Liverpool, 1986), Pet Shop Boys (Introspective, 1988), Paul McCartney (Flowers in the Dirt, 1989) and Annie Lennox (Diva, 1992, Medusa, 1995). Lipson also produced Ballad Of The Streets (1989 EP) and Real Life (1991) for Simple Minds, Street Fighting Years (1989) with Trevor Horn.
Highlights from the busy ZTT period might include Horn & Lipson's "Relax" recorded without FGTH (Frankie had Gone to Liverpool). Look elsewhere to read about the inevitable lawsuit.
More in the role of an artist, Lipson co-wrote Slave To The Rhythm in addition to playing lead guitar, bass guitar and keyboards, with Trevor Horn handling production. A close look at liner notes reveals that he often contributed more than just his technical skills to a production.
He also pioneered a tapeless sequencing technique which he shared with Horn. The complex process was prone to horrendous crashes, especially during the work on "Presents The Nine Lives Of Dr. Mabuse", a fact verified in an interview with Ralf Dörper years later.
It may be hard to imagine now that Propaganda's A Secret Wish was assembled without the benefit of MIDI (initially developed in August 1983). MIDI inevitably led to the development of hardware and computer-based sequencers which are routinely used to record, edit and play back performances. Now it's even possible to emulate the physical devices in software and perform multi-track recording and mixing within a home computer.
It's useful to keep in mind that early Propaganda and Art of Noise material released on ZTT were done "the hard way." It makes these recordings all the more remarkable.
He's a bit of an elusive character to nail down these days; there's a number of other releases and artists which mention Stephen Lipson as producer (even Geri Halliwell), but until a reliable dossier surfaces, his impact cannot be fully known.
Stephen Lipson Discography
- 22 Remix
- 4 Vocals
- 91 Instruments & Performance
- 151 Writing & Arrangement
- 2 Featuring & Presenting
- 439 Production
- 148 Technical
- 2 Visual
- 2 Acting, Literary & Spoken