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Mythical recording studios: Abbey Road

Abbey Road Studios is one of the most iconic venues in music history. In operation since 1931, its history runs in parallel with that of the culture of the twentieth century. It has witnessed the creation of great records, but also significant technological advances in the field of music recording. In this article we will discover a few gems from its history through some of the artists who recorded their albums there, some of them Spanish.

Abbey Road Studio
Abbey Road Studio

Abbey Road Studios opened on 12 November 1931, following a merger with the Columbia Gramophone Company to form Electric and Musical Industries, EMI, and until 1970 this was how the studios were known. They initially specialised in classical recordings but a number of jazz groups and big bands soon began to appear among the studio's clients, and this was the prelude to the first British rock & roll recordings in the late 1950s. 

Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard

Specifically in 1959, just a few years before The Beatles arrived at Abbey Road, Cliff Richard recorded his first single, 'Move It', taking the first steps along a path that, in addition to the Fab Four, would later be travelled by numerous bands, building much of the history of recent popular music.

Starting in the 1980s the eighties, the studio began to record soundtracks, currently one of its specialities given the large size of studio 1, where there is room to accommodate entire orchestras. The first great soundtrack that was recorded there was 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' from the Indiana Jones saga, in 1981, this was followed by so many, among the most popular, the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series and Star Wars.

But when you talk about Abbey Road you are also talking about The Beatles. And vice versa. Its story is inseparable from that of the quartet from Liverpool. Lennon and company not only recorded virtually all of their songs there, but contributed to the development of music technology by making their albums, especially starting with 'Revolver', which was a challenge for the recording techniques of the time. Of course, another contribution to the legend of the studio is the iconic photo of the band crossing the zebra crossing on the cover of their last album, 'Abbey Road', converting the venue into a point of pilgrimage for fans of the group.

Another great album to be recorded there was one of the great masterpieces of the last century, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, by Pink Floyd. An album that came to represent a milestone for popular music, with more than 50 million copies sold worldwide. Abbey Road was also where they mixed and mastered another classic, ‘The Bends’, the second album by Radiohead, and the third by Oasis‘Be Here Now’, just to give you a few examples.

Oasis
Oasis

Of course, you will also find Spanish bands among those who recorded at Abbey Road. We could start with Mecano who recorded some of the tracks there for their fifth album 'Descanso Dominical'. After the band broke up, the singer, Ana Torroja, also recorded her debut album there, 'Puntos Cardinales'. Another example is ‘Eloise’, the mythical hit by Tino Casal (originally recorded by Barry Ryan, you may remember), published in 1987 as part of his album ‘Lágrimas de Cocodrilo’. No expense was spared for this recording and they spent eight days just to record the voice.

Manuel Carrasco
Manuel Carrasco

Moving on to the 21st century, specifically in 2016, this is where Dani Martín recorded his third solo album, ‘La Montaña Rusa’. Shortly afterwards, in 2018, it was Manuel Carrasco who went to Abbey Road to record his eighth album, 'La Cruz del Mapa', as well as a series of acoustic additions to some of the songs on the album.

Now in the 2020s, we find one of the last Spanish bands to pass through Abbey Road: Ginebras. This indie pop band recorded ‘Muchas gracias por venir’ there in June 2022, including the song with which his latest album closes ‘¿Quién es Billie Max?’. Best of all, they took advantage of the experience to include the whole experience in a hilarious documentary that can be seen on their YouTube channel, divided into two parts.

Abbey Road is undoubtedly one of the pillars of popular music. If you are still curious to know its history, you can discover it practically first hand in a documentary called 'If These Walls Could Sing', released last year, with testimonies from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Roger Waters and the Gallagher brothers. Of course, they all spoke separately.

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