Five Famous Makeshift Studios
As the general public finally starts to recognize the worth of classic recording studio spaces (RE: Nashville's Studio A), the appreciation will hopefully be taken a step further when it comes to other music making environments. After all, some of the most important recordings weren't even made in traditional studios, but rather in basements, bedrooms and garages.
While the recent boom of home recording has made the phenomenon more achievable, hooking up mics and tape players was a unique process for artists of earlier eras. Whether recording for archival purposes, publishing deals or official releases, these performers and the places they recorded in changed the landscape of music forever. Here are five of our favorite makeshift studios and the albums they spawned.
The Band and Bob Dylan - Big Pink, Saugerties, New York
With the recent release of The Complete Basement Tapes, the material recorded in the rental home of The Band's Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson has once again reached another generation. Known as Big Pink, this was the site of intense demoing after Bob Dylan's motorcycle crash in 1966. Thanks to Hudson's handy use of two stereo mixers and a tape recorder, the material was split up into songs for other artists and material for The Band's first two records.
Alan Lomax - American South, Haiti, The Bahamas and Beyond
While folklorist and archivist Alan Lomax didn't have one specific space he used for recording, it would be negligent to not mention his impressive body of work. Lugging his heavy reel-to-reel recorder around the American South, Haiti and the Bahamas, Lomax would capture some of the only recordings to exist of many singers and players. For instance, the album featured below, Negro Prison Blues And Songs, includes soul-stirring recordings made in Mississippi and Louisiana jails.
The Rolling Stones - Nellcote, Villefranche-sur-mer, France
It's true. The Rolling Stones set-up at Nellcote wasn't completely makeshift, seeing as though they were using their mobile recording unit designed by Dick Sweetenham of Helios Electronics. Yet, the walls of the mansion's basement clearly captured something special and the Stones managed to make their last masterpiece, Exile On Main Street. Even with limitations like no talkback and broken video cameras, producer Jimmy Reed and engineer Andy Johns traveled between the basement and truck to properly record tracks.
Donnie and Joe Emerson - Fruitland, Washington
The world of private press records is a wormhole that many music creators rarely have time to go down. However, thanks to the fine people at Light In The Attic, Donnie and Joe Emerson's classic Dreamin' Wild is more attainable than ever before. The unique story behind this record is centered on the Emersons' Washington homestead. Recognizing the brothers love of music, their father decided to build a state-of-the-art studio with a TEAC eight-track on the family farm. The only catch? They still had to do all of their chores.
Bruce Springsteen - Long Branch, New Jersey
On Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen left behind the bombastic E Street Band and journeyed towards a more subdued territory. Armed with nothing more than his guitar roadie, a Teac 144 tape machine and two SM57s, Bruce Springsteen set about making an extremely haunting record. This is the album that set the precedent for artists like Iron and Wine, Ray Lamontagne and Bon Iver setting out for a quieter creative process.