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Episode 1 of PBS’ ‘Soundbreaking’ Explores The Holy Bond Between Songwriter and Producer [Watch]

Last night PBS began its journey into the ever-evolving world of music with the debut episode of its new eight-part documentary series, Soundbreaking. The first episode began where most music begins at the holy bond of songwriter and producer, charting legendary teams throughout history, marking the transitions between each.

They open with Sun Records, where Sam Phillips tapped into Memphis’ roaring rock & roll and electric blues (but made light of his exploitation of black music and musicians to cash his check with Elvis.) Next comes a profile on George Martin, sometimes known as the Fifth Beatle, even including a few interviews with the man before his passing early this year, as well as Phil Spector and his “Wall Of Sound,” how those massive rock-infused opuses gave way to singular talents like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Sly Stone (the latter being peak do-it-all, as he famously recorded There’s A Riot Going On all by his lonesome as The Family Stone deteriorated.)

They track Sly’s drum programming innovations to hip-hop where Africa Bambaataa and later, Dr. Dre, would carry the torch and redefine production in a sample-based world. Rick Rubin‘s work with everyone from The Beastie Boys to Johnny Cash concludes the episode with elastic eccentricities from a creator rigorously testing his talents and sensibilities. Everyone from B.B. King to Q-Tip to Brian Eno to Questlove to Leon Huff testify to the brilliance of their favorite artists and you can watch the whole thing for yourself down below.

Catch a lesson in music-making from the greats in episode 1 of PBS’ Soundbreaking down below. Tune-in tonight to PBS at 10pm tonight for the next installment.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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