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The Great British Recording Studios (Book)

The story of the rooms, equipment, and people who changed recorded music forever

by Phil O'Keefe
 


In the immediate post-World War II era, the United States was the biggest mover and shaker in the world of entertainment - but that all changed drastically in the early 1960s with the British Invasion. Suddenly Americans were just as interested in the music that was coming out of the UK as the British had been for years with American artists like Little Richard, Elvis, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters and Eddie Cochran. The love affair with UK artists and recordings continued well into the 1970s and beyond, but most people consider the heyday and period of greatest influence to be the 1960s and 1970s. Coincidently (or more likely from thoughtful planning) that's exactly the period of time covered in a new book about the Great British Recording Studios, where those classic recordings were brought to life.



                   


What You Need To Know

  • Written by longtime musician / music journalist Howard Massey at the request of and with the cooperation and endorsement of the British APRS (Association of Professional Recording Services), The Great British Recording Studios covers all of the major recording studios that contributed to the music produced in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Massey also has extensive experience as a recording engineer and has actually worked in some of the studios mentioned in this book, giving him direct personal insights.

  • The book's forward is written by producer Sir George Martin, who some of you may be familiar with from his work with The Beatles. He was also the driving force behind AIR's Oxford Circus Studios, which are also covered in this book, along with AIR's famous (and now abandoned) AIR Montserrat studio.

  • Carefully researched and written with input from numerous producers, engineers, and musicians who recorded in these very rooms, The Great British Recording Studios provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the facilities where some of popular music's most cherished recordings were produced.

  • In addition to floor plans, layouts and studio dimensions, there are also microphone and outboard processor lists, information about the tape decks and consoles that were used, details about acoustical treatments and lots of other technical insights sure to surprise and entertain engineers and fans alike.

  • Technical innovations that were made by the various studios are also called out and highlighted.

  • Studios are not just about acoustical spaces and equipment, but also about the people who run them. The Great British Recording Studios acknowledges this fact by discussing the key personnel that were so crucial to the operation of these studios and the sound of the records made in them.

  • Recording is not limited to fixed locations today, and it may come as a surprise to some that even in that earlier era with its more primitive equipment, mobile recording was able to take the studio to whatever location was desired. All of the UK's major mobile recording trucks and services of the '60s and '70s are also covered.

  • Interspersed throughout the book are "Stories from The Studio" sidebars. These short stories about events that occurred in the various studios - as told by the musicians and engineers themselves - are revealing as well as entertaining, and add considerably to the book.

  • Few Americans have the opportunity to work in English studios, so a book like this that covers how things were done on the "other side of the pond" during such a seminal period can offer interesting insights to American musicians and engineers interested in the "English Sound."

  • There are loads of rare photos - many in color. This would make a great coffee table book for your home, or for the studio lounge.



Limitations

  • I suppose its possible that this book failed to cover some interesting yet obscure studio I've never heard of, but I doubt it. If it did, I'm unfamiliar with the studio. Some famous UK studios, such as AIR Lyndhurst were established after the period of time covered in this book, so the author can hardly be criticized for their omission.



Conclusions

There is no doubt that UK-based artists contributed heavily to the music scene in the '60s and '70s; their recorded works are some of the most significant and influential of the era. In spite of that, most listeners - and even many musicians and engineers - know very little about the studios in which those recordings were made. Sure, the names of some of the more successful studios may be known by some fans - certainly EMI's Abbey Road is a household name, but that was in no small part due to the Beatles deciding to name one of their albums after the the street the studio is located on. So strong is the association that it eventually led to the studio officially changing its name to include the words "Abbey Road."

 

Yet as famous as that facility is, fewer know about the other well-known studios, such as Trident and Olympic, and even fewer still know about some of the other major studios covered in this book, such as Pye, Decca and Philips, to say nothing of smaller and independent studios like Chappell, De Lane Lea, Advision and Lansdowne. Every one of these studios made a notable contribution to records you're no doubt familiar with (and studio technology and techniques you may not know about), and this book covers them all. Even if you were an engineer working in one or more of those studios back then, chances are you'll learn more than a few things from this book, but don't assume this is only a book for tech-heads. Whether you're interested in the music from this era that was created on the other side of the pond, the famous bands who made that music, or are interested in the history of recording technology and recording studios in general, then this book is a must-add for your library. More than just an entertaining read, it's a important historical documentation of the British recording scene at the time when UK artists were making some of their most influential music.


Resources

The Great British Recording Studios by Howard Massey (Hardcover, published by Hal Leonard Books - $34.99 MSRP, $25.00 "street"$23.75 in Kindle format, $26.99 in iBook format. Hardcover and Kindle versions available from Amazon)


Hal Leonard Books product web page

$34.99 (US)
Inventory #HL 00333513
ISBN: 9781458421975
UPC: 884088635886
Width: 8.25"
Length: 10.25"
376 pages





__________________________________________________

 


Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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