Quick One * The Who
01 580 2000
in a Little Closer *
Others who have worked at 35 Portland place include Elton John, Rod Stewart, Johnny Mathis, Duane Eddy, Kim Fowley, Adam Faith, Billy J Cramer, Lee Hazlewood, The Action, Slade, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Page and Tony Blackburn (more to be added)
The site is written in red and black as that was the colour of the IBC label in the sixties.
joined IBC studio sometime in 1966, when London was the place
to be to hear the music of a young generation that had something new
to say. The capital was alive and although still run by the "Big
Five" record companies (Decca, EMI, Phillips, Pye and CBS) the
music business was changing as new labels emerged, as did young producers
with fresh ideas. The major record companies all had their own studios
but opposite the BBC in Great Portland Street there was a small independent
recording studio that played its part in music history, as can be seen
by the list above.
This was the INDEPENDENT BROADCASTING CORPORATION at 35 Portland Place London WC1, where the best musicians in the UK must have worked in at some time in their musical career.
can only write this through my eyes, which started as a 18 year old Who
fan from North London and ended 12 years later when I moved on. I joined
a few years after the days when engineers had to wear white coats with ties
and left when you could have your pick from hundreds of studios that had
shot up all over the country. London was no longer the centre of music
although the major record companies still maintained offices in the capital,
moving west and away from the buzz of Oxford Street and Soho.
But it would never be like the old days. It was like a small community with studios lending tape or lacquers if another studio had run out. I remember standing in studio A with the engineers and the technical staff trying to work out how the Small Faces had got the phasing on "Lazy Sunday" which was recorded at Olympic Studio. Since Sgt Pepper, studios were always on the look out for new sounds or gadgets which would impress the client. I think it took an afternoon before the workshop came back with the answer which was quite simple really. Today you can get any effect with the push of a button.
There are and have been some very good bands to come out of this country since my studio days, but I'm afraid I am one of those sad people who actually believes that the music of my youth was better (just like the cartoons of my youth).
What put down would a panel on one of those annoying pop idol shows have given if Mama Cass sang in front of them or if a band from West London suddenly smashed up their gear after their performance. Could you imagine if the one with the high belt had said something negative about their drummer!
Maybe it was a sense of humour thing but it did not seem so serious and the only bitch written about really was a dog. I can only sum up the feeling of the times by comparing it to a modern day top ten that consisted solely of tunes that you can whistle?? I rest my case!
It was also the experimentation that went with creating new sounds which eventually led to digital and the retirement of some of the old hands such as myself.
At heart I was a mono man as it was the mono disc cutting room that I started out in. Not many bands had thought about cutting in stereo as you could not get the level that you could with a single signal that came with mono. With a 100 watt Lockwood speaker in the corner of my disc cutting room I could crank the sound up and not worry about my dad telling me to turn it down.
Mono records were always louder than stereo especially the old London label that released classic tracks from America. Jimi Hendrix's first album and four singles were mono as were most of the early Who tracks. The stereo room was mainly used for mastering classical music until the bands and the fans put on their headphones and discovered that stereo does work in Rock and Roll,especially if both parties had taken similar substances. But the stereo room was not a rock and roll room and clients went else where to specially designed cutting rooms that were equipped to cater for the extra dynamics that had to be cut to precision.
the mono room was closed down all the work shifted to the stereo room and
although still badly designed it started attracting the big names again
through engineers such as Dennis Blackham,Melvin Abrahams and George ( Porky)
. This is a close up of a Stereo groove that cant take that rock 'n roll
There were two studios at IBC, Studio A and B. Studio B was mainly a dubbing/mixing studio where artist could add instruments or vocals and this is how the studio was advertised in those days: ( see more pictures on History page)
STUDIO A: Has 8 track, 4 track, 3 track 2 track and mono, a fabulous 24 channel mixer with all the limiter,equalisation, and echo facilities you could ask for.
STUDIO B: Has 8 track, 4 track, 3 track reduction facilities to mono and stereo, and voice to track, in a luxurious and relaxed atmosphere.
DISC CUTTING: Mono and stereo acetates and masters cut to highest professional standard.
Studio A was much larger with two pianos , a Grand (Steinway) and a upright. A Mellotron was usually handy and it could fit a forty piece orchestra.
There was definitely a buzz about the place, such as when I saw The Small Faces coming out of studio B and bumping into the Who coming out of A which resulted in loads of West and East London banter. (know what I mean?)
One of the tracks not listed on this site was a version of a song called "(Fly) Translove Airways" which was recorded one night by a bunch of musicians including The Small Faces and Donovan. Ahh, if only I had an acetate of that session.
I never kept much from my studio days as I never knew that someone would come up with an idea called E-Bay and to be truthful when you are in your twenties thinking about years ahead is the last thing on your mind. I know of some cutting engineers who kept copies of what they had mastered but to be honest I turned off from music after work and preferred a pint with my mates talking about football or girls.
We were taught in my early years not to pester artists that we worked with but sometimes you hit it of with a client and shared a few over the Dover Castle (our local pub). Sometimes I did take home an acetate of something like Otis Redding's latest single that I had cut but mostly it was done to impress my mates rather than judge the quality. What would an acetate of "Hey Joe" or "Purple Haze" be worth today? Doh!
If it is possible I would like to add to this site with reflections from people who worked there so that the history of the building is preserved. I have not been back there for years although the Dover is still a regular stop if I am in town. The studio is now offices and I often wonder if they ever took down the false ceiling to reveal the Adams ceiling that was covered over and is a work of art.
I have tried to get as much information as I can and if there is anyone out there who can fill in some more gaps please get in touch, either by phone, e-mail or a meeting at "The Dover Castle"
If I get anything wrong or upset someone I can only apologise. (and hope that in the next life you lighten up and appreciate the freedom of music). If I have forgotten anything please let me know. If you do not like this site start your own, as long as you preserve the history of music.
If you have stories of IBC press MEMORIES and share those times. If you want links to your siteregarding anyone who worked at the studio please let me know
who remembers IBC is the Who's PETE TOWNSHEND who
recorded some of the bands greatest tracks at number 35. Here are a few
answers he gave to questions about IBC Studio.
While working at IBC I was a partner in a production company with fellow engineer and friend DAMON LYON SHAW. This was HOMEGROWN MUSIC Which (if you are interested) recorded THE FACTORY - FIVE DAY RAIN and ONE WAY TICKET. All were recorded at IBC between 1968 and 1975 and shows the many influences we picked up from working with some of the best songwriters of our time.
I hope you enjoy this IBC web site as I think the old place deserves to be remembered. Not only for having mad musicians on the prowl in this old house but also for the talent of Townshend, Clapton, Page, Harrison, Big Jim Sullivan, Nicky Hopkins and all the other fine musician who recorded there.
If you have any IBC Memobilia click here
Like music from the sixties? then check out the Mod site I was working on.
Just hit the target to get there.
If any of you live in London ( or Britain) you might be interested in my Barnet (the town NOT the borough) web site. This is done to maintain that it is important to keep the identities and history of the various towns that have been swallowed up by boroughs and councils. http://www.barnet4u.co.uk