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Utopia Studios 

 Spencer Court,  7 Chalcot Road.  London

philsbook.com                                                               

 

Utopia Studios opened for it's first sessions in October 1976, the cutting room being completed by January 1977. Owned by producer Phil Wainman and originally managed by engineer John Mackswith (ex Lansdowne studios), other engineers were James Guthrie and Ian Cooper (disc cutting).

Phil Wainman  had been a successful session drummer and after teaming up with Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman and John Goodison helped to write a number of chart hits in the seventies. As a producer he also had numerous hits with top 70s pop bands including Mud, The Bay City Rollers and a total  of seven U.K. top 10 hits  with The Sweet. He eventually took over the entire Spencer Court complex and called it Utopia Village.


 The studio originally consisted of a main recording studio and a cutting room. A mix room and a second studio were added later. The rooms were all designed by Eastlake's Tom Hidley, except for Studio 2  which was too small for a full Eastlake treatment.

The main studio featured a 40/32 Neve desk and Studer tape machines. Outboard equipment included Eventide Harmoniser and Flanger; A&D Vocal Stressor; Marshall Time Modulator, Klein and Hummel parametric eq; compressors by UREI (4x 1176s), Neve and DBX; and a Scamp rack. Monitoring by Eastlake with Gauss low/mid speakers and Emilar High Frequency drivers.


 

"Those Utopia consoles, I think there were 5 in all, were great consoles with 1272 bus amps and 1095 channel amps and had none of the design faults of the 8078 that followed them". Geoff Tanner  http://auroraaudio.net/
The studio area had a live end and a dead end plus an isolation room. Decorated with traditional Eastlake finishes with deep pile carpets, mirrors, tree bark on the walls, marble flooring and a flexible lighting system. A unique feature of Utopia were the murals painted on the far wall of the studio, these were painted by Dave Burns (ex Lansdowne technician). Instruments that were permanently available were a Steinway Grand piano, a Hammond C3 organ, a Fender Rhodes and a clavinet.
 The mix room was identical to the studio 1 control room and featured a  52/8 Neve desk with NECAM automation. It had a small overdub booth.


Studio 2 was a smaller room, still 24  track, featuring an AMEK 2000 desk and Studer tape machines. This desk was later replaced by a Soundcraft  2400.


 In 1981 Studio 1 was refurbished and in a controversial move a Neve 8108 was installed. The original Neve found it's way to Konk studios where it's still working today. The 8108  was replaced in 1982 by a 40 channel SSL 4000, originally installed without the computer.


 In 1984 the remix room was revamped as a video post -production facility. A 40 channel SSL 6000 was installed and the room and monitoring were revamped by Neil Grant's "Discrete Research" company. The monitoring was a DL7T system utilising Gauss units and Amcron amps.

A highly successful part of the Utopia "empire" was the cutting room. Originally overseen by Ian Cooper, latterly by Kevin Metcalfe and Steve Angel it became the hottest place to master in the late 70s and throughout the 80s. The distinctive "Lyre" engraving can be found on the run out groove of many a great album and single (Go on, go and have a look!). The room originally had a Neumann VMS 70 cutting lathe, soon upgraded to a VMS 80. Equipment included 2 Klein and Hummel stereo parametric eqs, Lang parametrics and EMT PDM compressors. A unique feature was the aquarium where the control room window would traditionally be.


 

1988

 

Utopia was sold in 1991 to John and Kate Hudson, owners of Mayfair studios and was rebranded as Mayfair Village but various complications lead to the studio being shut for good in June 1992.


The studio closed down in the 90's and is now used as offices, except Studio 2 which is currently occupied by  Ruby Slippers Records/An Endless Room.

Sound Developments Studio

The first studio set up in Spencer Court was  Sound Developments Studio established 1971 by Roger Sinclair. In 1972  the control room housed a Neve 12:4 and Ampex 4 track.

 

 

Recorded at Utopia Studios


AFTER THE FIRE                "80-F"
AMII STEWART                   "KNOCK ON WOOD"
BASIA                                "TIME AND TIDE"
BEYOND                            "CRAWL"
BILL NELSON RED NOISE     "SOUND ON SOUND"
BRYAN FERRY                  "MAMOUNA"
CARAVAN                          "BETTER BY FAR"
CENTRAL LINE                   "BREAKING POINT"
CLASSIX NOUVEAUX         "LA VERITÉ"
DEAD OR ALIVE                "SOPHISTICATED BOOM BOOM"
DOLL BY DOLL                  "GRAND PASSION"
DOLL BY DOLL                  "DOLL BY DOLL"
DOLLAR                            "SHOOTING STARS"
DONOVAN                        "LOVE IS ONLY FEELING"
DURAN DURAN                 "DURAN DURAN"
FASHION               "FABRIQUE"
GRAND PRIX          "GRAND PRIX"
HEATWAVE           "CENTRAL HEATING"
IAN HUNTER          "OVERNIGHT ANGELS"
INTERVIEW           "BIG OCEANS"
JAVAROO              "OUT!"
JOHN MILES           "STRANGER IN THE CITY"
JUDAS PRIEST       "KILLING MACHINE"
KAJAGOOGOO       "WHITE FEATHERS"
LANDSCAPE         "LANDSCAPE"
LANDSCAPE         "MANHATTAN BOOGIE-WOOGIE"
LIMAHL                  "DON'T SUPPOSE"
MARSHALL HAIN                 "FREE RIDE"
MIGHTY LEMON DROPS      "WORLD WITHOUT END"
MISSION                   "GOD'S OWN MEDICINE"
MOVIES                   "BULLETS THROUGH THE BARRIER"
NILS LOFGREN                      "NILS"
PETER GREEN                      "WHATCHA GONNA DO?"
PETER SARSEDT                  "P.S."
RED HURLEY          "WITH LOVE"
REFLEX                  "THE POLITICS OF DANCING"
RUNNER                 "RUNNER"
SALLY OLDFIELD    "CELEBRATION"
SENTACRUZ            "DIVENTIAMO PIU AMICI"
SLADE                    "ROGUES GALLERY"
SPANDAU BALLET  "JOURNEYS TO GLORY"
STRAWBS              "DEADLINES"
THAT PETROL EMOTION   "BABBLE"
TREVOR JONES                "RUNAWAY TRAIN"
UFO                     "THE WILD, THE WILLING AND THE INNOCENT"
WIRE TRAIN         "TEN WOMEN"
ZEE                      "IDENTITY"
ZERRA ONE         "THE DOMINO EFFECT"


 

 


 

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Utopia 1977 - Neve Desk

 

1977

1978

 

1981

 

 

Recorded at Utopia Studios