Saturday 6 October 2018

The Saturday List #191 - The Ten Best albums recorded in London

Roxy Music-Roxy Music.jpg
As with many of these lists, the germ that started this list was contracted on The Robert Elms show this week. Robert mentioned that the album debut album by Roxy Music was recorded in London (at Command Studios) and cost £5,000 to record. The first thought I had was that this must have recouped a good few times.

The second thought was "I wonder what the ten best albums recorded in London are?". Putting the list together I was rather surprised at what wasn't that I thought was. There were also a couple that I turned up and had never realised (Aphrodisiac by Fela Kuti being one of the biggest surprises). It has always amused me that the most "New York" album ever - Transformer by Lou Reed was recorded in London at Trident.

So I put on my thinking cap. Here is my selection.

1. The Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks -  Wessex Sound Studios
2. Joan Armatrading - Joan Armatrading -  Olympic Studios
3. The Who - Who's Next -  Olympic Studios
4. Ian Dury - New Boots and Panties  - The Workhouse
5. The Clash - The Clash - CBS Studios
6. The Damned - Damned Damned Damned - Pathway Studios
7. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust - Trident Studios
8. The Small Faces - Ogdens Nut Gone Flake - Olympic Studios, London; Trident Studios, London
9. Bob Marley and The Wailers - Live! - Lyceum Theatre
10. Fairport Convention - What we did on our holidays  - Kingsway and Olympic Studios

Of course there are some glaring omissions, you may think. Weren't all the Beatles albums recorded at  EMI Studios? Yes, they were, but I'm not a Beatles Fan, I can't remember ever playing one of their records. What about Kaleidescope by Souixsie and The Banshees? That was partially recorded in Monmouth in Wales. What about the Stones, surely they must have? Well only their really early albums, which are not their best. X-Ray Specs classic Germ Free Adolescence? That was recorded in Essex! my criteria was that the album had to be (arguably) the best or one of the most iconic. I had to include the Bob Marley Live album. Generally live albums are not great, but this is arguably Marley's finest recording. I would love to have included an Amy Winehouse album, but they weren't (exclusively) recorded in London.

If you are interested in such things, have a look at the list of recordings made at Abbey Road Studios AKA EMI studios. With this list alone, I am sure you'll conclude my list could be a 100 albums!  It is also worth checking out the artist roster for Olympic Studios.

What was really upsetting about researching this article was just how many of these amazing studios are now "Luxury appartments" or Supermarkets. Trident, Olympic, Pathway, Workhouse and Wessex in the above list. I can't think of any other nation on the planet that would demolish its cultural legacy with such scant concern for what this says about us as a nation. At the start of the article, I mentioned that the first Roxy Music album cost £5,000 to record. I wonder how much money that recording has made the UK PLC and how much joy it has brought across the planet. As we destroy our musical heritage, we destroy our ability to compete as a cultural powerhouse. That is why I got together with other studio owners and started the #SaveLondonMusic Campaign and why I do everything I can to keep these issues in the public eye.

Here is one of my favourite tracks from the the above list, have a great weekend!

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