the forum seemed dead for a long, long time and when openend the page after a while I was pretty astonished to see this thread
Thanks for this interesting topic!
Many times in the "good old" past the magic of Chris' songs really showed not only because of his songwriting skills but also due to his excellent band and studio musicians who really contributed to the sound.
And of course because of a great producer like Jon Kelly who was able to make a clean and professional sounding album - that still sounds organic. Auberge is a great example - for me the showcase of tasteful arrangements and production.
Personally, I think the overall sound of the production is a very important part in the process of making an album. There have been some cheesy sounding tracks in the 80's - sometimes due to the recording techniques used, sometimes just because of the taste then (I think most 80's productions haven't aged well).
But nowadays you have the opportunity to record an album on your own at a home studio and get a decent result with a lot less effort and money than back in the days - so there's no excuses in my point of view why Chris did such a bad job with the last albums.
I'm still dreaming of a new album with only 10 tracks - but all of them high quality.
Recorded with a real band.
Mixed and produced by a professional.
A keyboard player like Max Middleton or Kevin Leach can give the songs class - and I was very impressed by Anthony Drennan's guitar skills during the last tours, as well.