King Tubby’s studio
Dromilly Avenue, Kingston, Jamaica
Along with Lee Scratch Perry’s Black Ark studio on Cardiff Crescent — about a mile or so to the northwest — Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock’s studio was the epicenter of the explosion of creativity that drove Jamaica’s reggae scene in the 1970s. It was here that Ruddock basically invented both dub and the idea of remixing on his home-built recording console, taking master tapes provided to him by local musicians and reinventing them as dark, echo-laden soundscapes. The studio was located at Ruddock’s home on Dromilly Avenue, in the Kingston 11 region of Jamaica’s capital. Sadly, there’s no Google Street View in Kingston, but from what we understand, the house is still standing — and we did find some great photos of it here.
Pet Sounds Studio
1170 Elati Street, Denver, Colorado
You may have noticed that we’re pretty big Elephant 6 fans here at Flavorwire, and as such we’d feel a little soiled leaving the studio founded by Robert Schneider and Jim McIntyre off this list. Named after the Beach Boys’ classic album, Pet Sounds was by far the most short-lived studio on this list — it was founded in 1997 and closed in 1999 — but while it was open, it gave birth to a number of notable records, including Neutral Milk Hotel’s all-time classic In the Aeroplane Over The Sea. The days, it’s a condo development. So it goes.
6252 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Being as he’s a convicted murderer and raving lunatic, it’s easy these days to remember Phil Spector for just being, y’know, a convicted murderer and raving lunatic. But back before he lost the plot entirely, he was a hugely influential producer, and it was here that he invented the Wall of Sound, building layer upon layer of instrumentation to create a sound augmented by the natural reverb that the hard walls of Gold Star provided. Apart from Spector, a heap of other artists recorded here before the studio closed its doors in 1984, including Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and The Beach Boys. The building burned down not long after the studio closed, and these days, from what we can tell, it’s some sort of medical marijuana dispensary. Which, in its own way, seems perfectly appropriate.
Founded by Island Records boss Chris Blackwell in 1977, Compass Point is generally identified with the sort of tropical sounds that befit its location in the Bahamas. The producers in residence throughout the studio’s halcyon days in the late 1970s and early 1980s were reggae studio wizards Sly & Robbie, and the house band — the Compass Point All-Stars — included luminaries like synth virtuoso Wally Badarou. But it wasn’t just artists like Grace Jones and the Tom Tom Club who decamped to Nassau to record — AC/DC’s Back in Black was recorded here, as was Iron Maiden’s Powerslave. The studio had something of a fallow period in the 1990s, but it’s still going strong today — unsurprising, as the location pretty much sells itself: “Rise in the morning for a swim in the warm tropical waters. Stroll or jog along a beautiful beach… Then make the short walk to one of the world’s most famous, spacious and well-equipped studios to begin your day’s work.” OK. If you insist.
[Image via .]
1 Camp Street, Cambridge, MA
If you like your ’80s indie, you’ll have heard of Fort Apache. This New England institution hosted recording sessions by a roll call of alt-rock pioneers, including Pixies, Dinosaur Jr, Throwing Muses, Sebadoh, Yo La Tengo, Weezer, Belly, and various others. Radiohead also recorded Pablo Honey here. The studio was founded in 1986 — the initial venue was a Boston warehouse, although it soon moved to Cambridge, MA, and relocated again in 2002 to the town of Bellows Falls, VT. We’ve chosen the Cambridge location, as it’s where the bulk of the studio’s most iconic records were made — happily, the place is still operating under the name Camp St. Studios.
2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI
This studio’s name wasn’t empty hubris — it was a bona fide hit factory during the 1960s, turning out song after song for the artists who just kept rolling off the Motown production line in the label’s glory days. When founder Berry Gordy moved Motown’s headquarters to Los Angeles in 1972, his sister Esther Gordy Edwards refused to leave Detroit, and remained behind to tend the label’s historic home. The building’s recording days ended soon after, but Edwards kept it in pristine condition, preserving Motown’s historical legacy in the process. These days, Hitsville USA functions as the Motown Historical Museum and has survived the company itself, which was sold to MCA in 1988.
3 Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8, England
Steady on, Beatles fans. We weren’t going to forget this.