Live From Abbey Road

The sight of a band walking in a uniform line across a zebra crossing
is not only quintessentially British, it is synonymous with, an
instantly recogonisable as Abbey Road. Although this iconic image
undoubtedly helped to raise awareness of the studio, what cemented its
legendary status is the wealth of talent that has utilized its studios
and mixing suites. I challenge you to think of another studio that’s a
household name,  familiar even to those who are largely disinterested in
music history. Yesterday I was invited by the Live From Abbey Road team
to have a mooch round the legendary destination.
I had to avoid ruining many tourists photos when crossing the famous
road prior to passing through the graffiti-ed walls that flank the
studio gates. As per usual a sizeable multinational crowd were loitering
on the nearby pavement, all on their MARKS, SET, waiting to GO and
recreate the famous Beatles shot with every break of traffic. Hannah
from the production team informed me that there is a spying camera that
captures this snap happy activity throughout the day, occasionally
gifting the staff with some wonderfully entertaining viewing moments.

For a long time I have felt there is room for more real music content
on mainstream TV. We have various peak time shows that give artists
brazen opportunities to plug singles, flirt with desirable hosts or
enjoy ‘witty’ banter. While these show make for an enjoyable watch, as a
fan of documentaries I yearn for music shows that give a genuine
insight into a band and their performances, including all the prep that
goes on before red record light is switched. Previously Channel 4 have been able to deliver via the 360 sessions but currently the extremely stylish Live From Abbey Road Shows
are here to quench that thirst.  Due to very late night/early morning
slot I worry that music devotees are missing out on this gem of a show,
so I wanted to alert readers to the remaining shows in this wonderful
series….There really is no excuse for missing an episode with the
likes of 4 OD, Tivo, Sky Plus at your disposal.

Episode 9:Foster The People and Feist

We saw a nervous and jet-lagged Foster The People arrive at
the studio after a lenghty flight from LA.  Speaking of their anxious
energy, which they confess to being worse than before a  festival, they
explain the magical quality of the studio, commenting on that  Abbey
Road ‘vibe’. Knowledge of the many inspirational artists that have made
history in the space undoubtedly contributing to their pre-performance
panic, as well as the aforementioned atmosphere.  History is a common
theme in this episode as we hear Feist describe her love of old
gear. The quirky Canadian-American singer finds great pleasure in
imagining who may have ordered the amps from catalogues and where they
may have been used prior to her adoption of them.

Episode 10: Kooks & Viva Brother: WED 14th December,  quarter past midnight (0:15)
The Kooks have had a tendency to appear a tad awkward during
interview scenarios in the past, and you can’t blame them for having
their guard up on occasions. The band have been the brunt of unfair
comments, largely down to music industry snobbery regarding the fact
that some of the members attended a theatre school. Rivalries with
much-loved bands, and the fact that they dress rather nicely while
performing their catchy indie rock, hasn’t helped their case. It is a
rare treat to see them appear completely at ease as they chat from the
picturesque garden courtyard of the studios.  They talk eloquently about
the making of the their latest album, an output which which has forced
many to rethink previous negative notions.  They also raise interesting
questions regarding the very impactful changes the rise in social
networking has brought to the music industry – they show an appreciation
for the speed at which people can  access new music -the evolution of
listening –  but ponder the affect it has on the values of making said
music. They also touch on the loss of mystery, something I
personally believe Twitter had particularly obliterated. Completing this
episodes line up is Viva Brother, who look to be lapping up the
rock style life, donning John Lennon round framed sunglasses and garish
print shirts. Thankfully, despite appearances, they seem to have left
any band arrogance at home, constantly referring to the surreal nature
of the fact that they have been invited to feature. Both bands in this
episode speak fondly of the producers who have contributed to the sound
and the happy periods of time spent making their latest work. The Kooks
front-man refers to their producer Tony Hoffer as a 5th member
and a Brian Eno type figure while Viva Brother  describe the process as a
breeze, using various warm adjectives to describe the former Morrisey
and Blur  producer Stephen Street. I always like to hear bands
recognize successful collaborations like this. The catalogue of scrapped
albums that litter many artists histories prove how instrumental a
producer can be in creating a successful piece of work.

Episode 11: Ed Sheeran and & Gregg Allman: Wed 21st December, quarter past midnight (0:15)
Shearan mastered his acclaimed album at Abbey Road and is clearly
happy to return he fondly recalls watching the ‘Let it Be’ documentary
as a child with his father, a die hard Beatle fan. During the outside
interview, the speed at which he talks connotes an element of shyness, a
trait which disappears as soon as we seem him perform in studio which .
After we see the crew interact with Ed during set up ( one section
features a particularly funny to and fro,discussing whether he is
allowed to swear), he is then left as the solitary performer, with just
his sage green wooly hat and trusty guitar for support. He goes on to
sing, strums and rap with complete awe inspiring confidence and skill. I
don’t want to give too much away but Elton John fans will enjoy Eds
various anecdotes regarding his relationship the legend who owns the
label where Ed resides. In contrast to Eds solo efforts, Allman is
joined by a brass section (consisting of trumpets and saxophones), a
guitarist that can really wail, and an enthusiastic drummer with an
mightily impressive kit . Sat in front of the Mixer the blues performer
talks heartrendingly of the mind battle he faced when thinking about
recording after the loss of a member, which lead to having to accept
someone new to the band. One of the soulful track we see performed is
Melissa, a song which is preceded by a humourous tale regarding the
title. As well as an utterly mind blowing final song which see’s Ed defy
all rules of words per minute (even incorporating 50 cent into the mix)
this episode capture ones of the great selling points of the show. Not
only are we gifted with  one of the UKs latest prodigious talents we get
to hear the perfectly raspy voice of a legend, one who performs in a
way that only an artist with a lot of  life experience behind them can.

I will
be keeping in touch with the team, so I shall endeavor to keep you
updated on any news relating to the next series of the show….

Images courtesy of…

Thanks to Hannah and Simon 

Some blurry photos of me during the visit

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