Britannia Row Studios
35 Britannia Row Islington London
Pink Floyd's Studio.
Drummer Nick Mason was mainly responsible for the overview of the studio. It was built in a three storey block in Islington that originally housed a chapel as part of the Church of Saint Stephen. This had previously been used by the band as rehearsal space and storage for the stage shows. The construction work took place throughout most of 1975 and by the end of the year the studio was ready for testing.
One of the first test sessions in the studio was the completion and mixing of an album (partly engineered by Nick Mason) by avant garde jazz composer and trumpeter Michael Mantler called The Hapless Child (And Other Inscrutable Stories). This took place in January 1976 and featured Robert Wyatt on vocals.
The first desk installed was a MCI JH-440 with an MCI tape machines using dbx noise reduction. This was later changed to Dolby to provide compatibility with other studios. Outboard included Urei 1176 compressors, Lexicon 102 DDLs and Eventide harmonizers. Monitoring was via four JBL 4350 cabinets.
The Control Room in Britannia Row - 1977
In March 1976 Pink Floyd started work on 'Animals' the first album to be entirely recorded and mixed at Britannia Row. The recording took the best part of a year and was completed the following December.
In October 1978 Pink Floyd reconvened at Britannia Row to begin preliminary work on 'The Wall'. Producer Bob Ezrin brought in his own Stephens 24-track tape machine while the band worked on the pre production of the album.
The band and producer were looking for a more live auditorium sound for this album so the drums were set up in the large glass roofed, wooden floored area at the top of the building that had previously housed Roger Water's billiard table. The drums and bass were then recorded to a 16 track Studer using two inch tape. This would provided the optimum recorded sound quality available. A stereo mix was produced from this and recorded onto the 24 track Stephens as the guide tracks for the rest of the recording. The 16 track masters were then kept in pristine condition till mixdown were they could be synced back up to the 24 track, thus avoiding the continuous tape wear and loss of sound quality that endless replays during overdubs would produce. This was not a common practice at the time and produced a certain amount of nervousness as to whether the two machines would actually synchronize properly on mixdown.
"I remember as we were finishing up one song it was necessary to erase the copy-drums from the 24-track, which meant that if the two tapes didn't sync up there would be no drums at all. James (Guthrie) blanched when I made him press the erase button; it was like asking him to shoot a child. When it worked, you've never seen such a look of relief on the faces of so many people. That process has a tremendous amount to do with why that album has got that incredible presence and such a density of sound". BOB EZRIN
'During the recording of The Wall, Roger Water's home studio was relocated to an office in the Britannia Row building so he could carry on writing while the others fleshed out his ideas in the studio. Roger's desk was an old MCI that had previously been in Criteria in Miami. It had a distinctive large matrix of orange/yellow buttons and it can be seen in a photo on the sleeve of Derek and the Dominos' Layla'. Michael Johnson (Britannia Row 1979-1984)
The MCI Desk at Criteria
In April 1979 the recording of the album was put on hold because the band were forced to move out of the UK for the year due to tax problems. They relocated to Super Bear Studios in France which became the location for the majority of the recording. The Stephens 24 track went with them.
In 1981/82 a Studer A800 24 track and an Ampex ATR102 were added.
The control room - 1982 with band 'The Happy Kenneths' A strings session in the games room on the ground floor. Roger Water's snooker table has been moved from the top floor.
Originally the studio was jointly owned by all four band members. When Rick Wright left the band in 1979 he sold his share in the studio to the others, as did Roger Waters when he quit the group in 1985. Eventually, Dave Gilmour sold his interest to Nick Mason.
Britannia Row Studio was taken over in 1986 by the Pink Floyd management team and all connection with Pink Floyd ended in mid 90s when it was sold.
In 1995 the studio moved from the North London site that had given it its name to a new site in Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham. The new studio was based around a Neve 51 series console and is still in operation.
RECORDED AT BRITANNIA ROW (WANDSWORTH BRIDGE=WB 1996)
ALASKA "HEART OF THE STORM"
BERNIE MARSDEN "LOOK AT ME NOW"
BIJELO DUGME "USPAVANKA ZA RADMILU M"
BILLY BRAGG "MR LOVE AND JUSTICE" WB
CANCER "BLACK FAITH"
CARLA BLEY "HEAVY HEART"
CATHERINE WHEEL "CHROME"
CHARLATANS "WHO WE TOUCH" WB
DAMNED "MUSIC FOR PLEASURE"
DANSE SOCIETY "HEAVEN IS WAITING"
DURUTTI COLUMN "WITHOUT MERCY"
FATAL FLOWERS "FATAL FLOWERS"
FUTUREHEADS "THE CHAOS"
GALLIANO "A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE CREATOR"
GENE LOVES JEZEBEL "IMMIGRANT"
GILBERT O'SULLIVAN "FROBISHER DRIVE"
GLOVE "BLUE SUNSHINE"
GONG "EXPRESSO II"
JACK BRUCE "AUTOMATIC"
JIM DIAMOND "JIM DIAMOND"
JON LORD "BEFORE I FORGET"
JOY DIVISION "CLOSER"
JULIE COVINGTON "JULIE COVINGTON"
KILLING JOKE "ABSOLUTE DISSENT" WB
LES OBJETS "LA NORMALITÉ"
LIO "DES FLEURS POUR UN CAMÉLÉON"
MICHAEL MANTLER "THE HAPLESS CHILD"
MICRODISNEY "39 MINUTES"
MODERN EON "FICTION TALES"
MOTORHEAD "ROCK 'N' ROLL"
NEW ORDER "POWER, CORRUPTION AND LIES"
NASH THE SLASH "CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT"
NEW FAST AUTOMATIC DAFFODILS "BODY EXIT MIND"
NEW ORDER "LOWLIFE"
NICK MASON AND RICK FENN "PROFILES"
PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES "THE MATING SOUNDS OF SOUTH AMERICAN FROGS"
PETER MURPHY "DEEP"
PINK FLOYD "ANIMALS"
PINK FLOYD "THE WALL"
PINK FLOYD "THE DIVISION BELL"
SKIDS "DAYS OF EUROPA"
SECTOR 25 "ALWAYS NOW"
SNOW PATROL "FINAL STRAW" WB
SOFT CELL "THIS LAST NIGHT IN SODOM"
SOUL II SOUL "KEEP ON MOVIN'"
SQUEEZE "COOL FOR CATS"
STAMPEDE "HURRICANE TOWN"
STEVE HILLAGE "GREEN"
STEVE NIEVE "KEYBOARD JUNGLE"
STRANGE ADVANCE "2WO"
SUBKICKS "EXIST" WB
UNICORN "ONE MORE TOMORROW"
VALÉRIE LAGRANGE "VALÉRIE LAGRANGE"
WRECKLESS ERIC "THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF"
ZDRAVKO COLIC "MALO POJACAJ RADIO"
|Many thanks to Michael Johnson for the 1982 photographs and for helping with the article. See Michael's studio at tankfield.com|
35 Britannia Row