The End Of An Era: SARM Studios to Undergo Redevelopment

The distinctive ZTT-Blue offices of SARM West Studios will soon be no more

The distinctive ZTT-Blue offices of SARM West Studios will soon be [Frankie Say] “no more”

Just yesterday, I received an email from ZTT. It was ostensibly about one of the pledge points on the current Frankie Goes To Hollywood Pledge Music campaign. One of the items that UK fans can pledge for is a playback of “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” for Classic Album Sundays in the studio where it was wrought from the then apex of digital technology. Trevor Horn himself will be present with Colleen Murphy of Classic Album Sundays interviewing him before the audience Q+A afterward. Imagine the effect of hearing “Pleasuredome” from the source files in the studio where it was recorded with the mastermind himself looking on. That is almost too much iconic power for me to contemplate.

Only 60 tickets at £200/$332 each were initially available to the loving public. If you wanted to add the megalithic boxed set to the deal, the price rose commensurately to £322/$524. Currently, half of those seats are still available for the playback event, scheduled for 7 PM, September 25, 2014. Either of these pledges is out of bounds to me as an American, much less a cash-strapped one, but details in the email caught my eye and gave me a bittersweet moment. It’s been said that god is in the details, but that applies to the devil as well. To quote the email itself:

“This will be one of the last times SARM Studios will be open to the public, as there is redevelopment work set for later this year.”

Let’s pause and reflect on that. What is the nature of this redevelopment that will see this state of the art studio change irrevocably? The studio and offices on Basing Street are being divvied up to the ravening maw of the real estate gods. Like in any city, history and tradition will be sacrificed on the altar of luxury condos and business offices. Right now, Mr. Horn is moving his operations to SARM Music Village at nearby Ladbroke Grove where he will be building a new age studio complex heavy on the digital workstations with only a single “first class analogue studio” as a sop to the past. If you don’t want your heart ripped out and chewed on by rats, then I can only say don’t click here.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to The End Of An Era: SARM Studios to Undergo Redevelopment

  1. echorich says:

    Ugh…There are only a few mythical studios in the history of the post punk era, and Sarm is certainly one of those. Its up their with Rockfield Studios in Wales, The Manor in Oxfordshire, Britainnia Row in London and Strawberry Studios in Stockport – all mecca’s of Post Punk recording.
    What’s so special about Sarm – East, West or Village, is that it’s purpose built by the man who’s vision most often emanated from its boards. While Sarm Studios (Sarm West) was around a decade before Horn took over and was where Island Records recorded many of it’s greatest acts and releases, Horn renovated and updated it to a specification which attracted dozens of artists looking for a certain studio magic.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Ecorich – Those were all valued studios in your list. Populating many an inner sleeve in the Record Cell. Personally, Rockfield in Wales is a fave. If studios are drying up left and right, how many residential studios are left standing? It only figures that laptops with DAWs have put the “big iron” out of business. It doesn’t mean that I have to like it. Inasmuch as it all comes down to the song, the accoutrements of recording said tune are often the make or break point in a recording. When the classic studios are all gone, we won’t hear their likes again.


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