Jimi Hendrix's studio is celebrating its 40th Anniversary, so you KNOW what that means around here!
When I first started this list, I figured I'd settle on 10. Then 15. Eventually 25. Yes, I've still got a few more. Never mind the idea that many big studios had studios on both coasts. The major label studios are the trickiest, since often the credits go to something generic like "Recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City."
In the end, I've settled for letting Memphis stand in for many of the smaller markets where great music has been recorded--and I STILL had to cut Stax. After all, I've got to attempt some version of balance. I didn't include any recording studios in the rest of the world, except England, since they once owned us and I can't pronounce French or German.
Feel my pain as I try to make sense of who recorded in these places. Sometimes the studios lay claim to artists who only had their records mixed there. Therefore, any room "magic" is done for.
You could even make a case that the records got recorded in some of these rooms IN SPITE of the room. After all, more lousy albums have been recorded in these places than classic ones. But nobody brings them up.
This is a "Rock-Era" based list. Hip-hop is in its own category.
Great music can be recorded anywhere. Just like a great photographer is often made great by his or her proximity to great subjects. You still have to know how to work the equipment, but if you've got John Lennon singing through the mic, you've got a much better chance of recording something good than if you had ME behind the mic.
Let's dig in! And be sure to write in your favorite studios!
After all this, I think I may someday soon compile a list of indie studios and oddly-recorded albums. Why not? Good music is fun to find!
24) Electrical Audio, Chicago: Steve Albini is a polarizing figure since he's extremely outspoken on his opinions of the music biz. He's turned out to be right much of the time. He's recorded thousands of bands. The ones listed below give you an idea of the spectrum. And if you're wondering where is Nirvana, The Pixies and the Jesus Lizard? Well, his studio opened in 1997, meaning the acts below were more likely to have recorded in the rooms he now calls home.
22) Britannia Row, London: If only because Joy Division's Closer was recorded here. The rest are gravy.
Porcupine Tree, Susan Boyle, Peter Gabriel, Sigur Ros, Scott Walker, Coldplay, George Michael, Beth Orton, Pulp, Damien Rice, Sting, Sparks, Portishead, INXS, Bryan Ferry, Adam And The Ants, King Crimson
20) The Magic Shop--New York: This place has solidly been growing its legacy over the past couple of decades and I know people who have been there to visit. Yet, I don't know how good the food spread might be. Anyone know?
18) Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco: What a great mix of performers. Rather than be known for a particular style--the San Francisco Sound--they serve up a variety Dunkin' Donuts would be proud of.
16) Columbia 30th Street Studios, New York: Considered "by some people" to be the best sounding room and the greatest recording studio in history, Columbia's 30th Street Studio is one of those places that was torn down because it's New York and nothing lasts. Kind Of Blue, the jazz album owned by everyone, was recorded there.
Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder, Billy Idol, Rod Stewart, Prince, Babyface, Janet Jackson, Marilyn Manson, No Doubt, Macy Gray, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Madonna, Rihanna, Lil' Wayne, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z
14) Gold Star, Los Angeles: Just for the name alone, I would want to record here. Phil Spector recorded here, as did quite a few other great acts, often asked to perform at gunpoint.
Phil Spector, The Ramones, Buffalo Springfield, Brian Wilson, The Ronettes, Richie Valens, Iron Butterfly, The Monkees, Tigers Of Instantaneous Death, The Go-Go's, The Association, Leonard Cohen, Joan Jett, Dick Dale, Tina Turner
India.Arie, Bjork, Blink-182, Blonde Redhead, Boss Hog, Boy George, The Breeders, David Bowie, Alex Chilton, Death Cab For Cutie, Marianne Faithfull, Hole, Monster Magnet, Phish, Sonic Youth, Wilco, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
12) Ocean Way, Los Angeles: If I were a successful musician and was asked where I would like to record, I would choose Los Angeles and then goof off by the ocean all day and let the session cats record my tracks for me.
Eminem, Avril LaVigne, Michael Jackson, Green Day, Elvis Costello, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, No Doubt, Beck, Filter, Counting Crows, Lyle Lovett, Snoop Dogg, Joni Mitchell, Ice Cube, Phil Collins
10) Chess Studios, Chicago: You'll notice the Rolling Stones recorded in just about every important studio because they were, among other things, high-class studio whores. Everyone else belonged there by birthright.
8) Sunset Sound, Los Angeles: Just a smidgen of the talent that's been to Sunset Sound over the years. C'mon, L.A., you had Air Supply in your crosshairs and you let them go?
The Cure, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Sinead O'Connor, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Big Country, Grinderman (Nick Cave), Arctic Monkeys, Ray Davies, Randy California, Stone Roses, The Jam, Fine Young Cannibals, David Bowie
6) Olympic Studios, London: Easily my pick for the best recording studio to record. If it was good enough for the Rolling Stones around the time of Beggars Banquet and the Yardbirds and Troggs, I would surely fit right in.
Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, The Small Faces, Boy George, Spice Girls, Bjork, Roxy Music, Cool Ranch (Hmmm.--ed.), Duran Duran, The Troggs, The Yardbirds, The Who, Queen, Hawkwind, Procol Harum
4) Atlantic Studios, New York: The Velvet Underground recorded Loaded here, which made me feel a little better that it wasn't Squeeze, an album I've never even heard, so maybe I'm completely wrong, but I haven't heard anyone really defend Squeeze, so I'm going to assume I'm right about this and not just being stupid about it and dismissing a completely great album without ever hearing it. Right?
John Coltrane, Cream, The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Winger, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Twisted Sister, AC/DC, Chaka Khan
The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, The Zombies, Al Stewart, Wang Chung, Duran Duran, Radiohead, Oasis, Al Bowlly, Dashboard Confessional, Iron Maiden, Glenn Miller, John Mayer, The Killers, XTC, U2, Syd Barrett,
2) SARM Studios (Island), Notting Hill, London: I'm really impressed with how many British acts recorded here. Nice to see them keeping us Americans out. Of course, they had to record "Do They Know It's Christmas," which as far as these dopey, big group things go, isn't quite so bad.
The Clash, John Martyn, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Dire Straits, Genesis, Bad Company, Nick Drake, Bob Marley, Iron Maiden, Roxy Music, Cat Stevens, Traffic, Jethro Tull, Depeche Mode, Queen, King Crimson, Fairport Convention, Jimmy Cliff, Mott the Hoople, Band-Aid
Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, Birdland With Lester Bangs, Eric Clapton, Rihanna, Beastie Boys, The Cars, Violent Femmes, Bob Dylan, Jay Z, Mary J. Blige, Elvis Presley, Peter Frampton, Curtis Mayfield, Alice In Chains, The Mars Volta, The White Stripes
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