Slade At The BBC

BBC4 December 21st, 2012

Slade At The BBC, sandwiched between 'It's Slade', which is one of the better Slade documentaries seen by few and then mostly  from a dodgy VHS transfer (the recording, not the transfer), and Slade In Flame, the best film about the music business ever made. One for your diary, this is a night to remember, don't miss it!

My thanks to Gary Jordan, for his tenacity. Gary has worked tirelessly to make this happen, causing much consternation along the way. He has refused to let go and it has finally come to be. Great work Gary, hope somebody gives you a name-check somewhere.

Phillips Studio

December 1968, London
Philips Records
Stanhope House
Stanhope Place
W2 2HH

Express & Star: December 7th 1968

The group had a couple of recording sessions in December 1968. The 3rd December is yet to be confirmed but on the 8th. they were recording for a radio broadcast (possibly the BBC) and a few days later on the 11th they recorded four tracks for their album. More would follow in January 1969.

It is known that Irving Martin recorded four tracks with The N'Betweens but I failed to ask him which studio he used. He recorded The Californians at Decca Studios (Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, North London).

The N'Betweens went into the studio and recorded with Roger Wake

As Abbey Road was to EMI, so the ‘In -house’ studios at Stanhope Place, Marble Arch was to Philips. Situated on the cusp of London’s heart and above the central line – a faint rumble could be felt as the tube passed below – during it’s 30 year existence, the Philips studios would easily rival America’s Stax studios or London’s Abbey Road as a ‘Hit factory’.

The list of those who recorded there is eclectic and comprehensive, and includes practically everyone who was anyone, chart wise, between the 50’s and early 80’s.

At 60ft long, 20ft wide and 25ft high, the main studio, ‘Studio One’ has been described as ‘cramped’ by one engineer who routinely recorded full orchestral and choral sessions there and as ‘vast’ by The Who’s Roger Daltrey who recorded there as part of a four piece.
“The studio was a little bit confined, long and narrow and the control room had like a narrow walkway at the back where we used to stand and listen, you know.  So it was a bit restrictive, with all the orchestra and brass, percussion and singing groups…it was really crammed in”
Alan Parker: Session Guitarist 1965
Entrance to the studio reception was down a stairwell via the street, in through a side door, turning left to go up.  The actual recording space was on a raised level but the guts of the studio were typical of the time.

Roger Wake, then a teenage tape Op’ remembers the studios specifications with a boffin’s clarity.
“Physically the set up was this; there was the studio, then the control room, and then a separate machine room, where the tape machines were.  The control room had big windows so that Johnny (Franz-producer) and Peter  (Oliff –Engineer) could look out and see into the studio and from where I was, in the machine room, we had a little window about 3ft square, so I could see into the control room. We also had a set up so that I could hear what was going on in the control room.  If Peter wanted to speak to the studio or me, he had a talkback button for both.  So I’d be in the control room with all the tape machines, the multitracks and the stereos and big huge patch panel, which we would have to operate.  And Philips then had a totally different patching system to other studios such as Abbey road.  Huge plugs - send and return within the same plug.  The patch panel was about seven by four feet.  Of course, it was all valves back then.  The first Neve console was transistorised but (in the mid 60's) it would have been on an old German valve console.  On four track.”

I stole much of this information from Anthony Reynolds wonderful story 'The Impossible Dream: The Story of Scott Walker and the Walker Brothers' which is available on Amazon. It is the definitive story of the group and should be read by anybody with a slightest interest in the music of that period. Roger Wake did happily speak with me but no new information was forthcoming. He is happy with the original quotes being reused, for which I am very grateful.