Thursday, March 31, 2005

Abbey Road

A while back (I could find the correct date, but that would require me getting out of my chair), a group called the Beatles recorded an album at a studio.

Okay, that was bad, even by my standards.

In 1929, The Gramophone Company bought a house on Abbey Road in London and turned it into a custom-built recording studio. Over the years, some of the biggest names in music recorded albums there: Glen Miller and his orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald, the Spice Girls. But what put the studios on the map was a group called the Beatles. In 1969, they released their last album together and they called it, simply, Abbey Road. The album’s cover had a photo of the members of the band crossing the street in front of the studio. Following the release of that record, the studios officially renamed themselves from EMI Studios to Abbey Road Studios and became one of the best-known streets in the world.

People from all over the globe travel to the zebra crossing at Abbey Road to restage the Beatles’ famous photo. In fact, the day I visited, I ran into a group of my former students on a school trip from Roanoke, Virginia. They showed me the photo they had taken.

The Abbey Road Studios have continued recording CDs for groups but have also recorded scores for many big-name movies, including the Lord of the Rings films, the Return of the Jedi, and the Harry Potter movies.

Now, for the first time ever, the Abbey Road Studios have opened their doors to visitors as a part of a film festival which is showing many of the films scored in those very studios. I purchased a ticket to Monday afternoon’s screening of Brazil. I hadn’t heard anything about the film, but I was going to be in London anyway…when will I learn that this is not always the best way to plan an outing?

Part of the ticket price, and, for most people, probably the main reason for attending, was the privilege of seeing Studio Two where the Beatles recorded their albums. The walls were lined with various items, including pianos, an organ, and microphones used in recording the albums. There were also some photos, a video, and the obligatory gift stand. The screening of the films was in Studio One, a large room with space for an entire orchestra or chorus. I’ve been to recording studios before, but it was a nice experience to be able to stand in the room where so many famous songs were recorded.

So, the movie. Well, as I said, most people probably paid to see the inside of the studios rather than to see the movie. As I also said, I hadn’t heard anything about the film. It started off well but seemed to stray from the point which was…well…I’m not sure. And I guess that was the problem.

This is fun - it's a live Abbey Road webcam!


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