Home

 

 

Gooseberry Sound Studios 

19 Gerrard Street  Chinatown  London

philsbook.com                                                               


 

Gooseberry Sound Studios was located in a cellar underneath a dental practise in the centre of London's Chinatown in Soho. Opening in the early 70s as an 8-track demo studios it featured a custom built Richardson desk and an 8-tack Brenell tape machine. Although space was limited and home comforts  sparse the studio would thrive over the next decade helped by its central location but mainly because the engineers and the choice of equipment enabled artists to produce master quality recordings for a reasonable price.

In 1974, a 15 year old schoolgirl named Louisa Marks started entering a talent competitions held at the Four Aces Club in London. Sound system DJ and record producer Lloyd Coxsone would play instrumental  acetates for the contestants to sing over and Marks won the contest for 10 consecutive weeks. In November 1974 Coxsone  took the fifteen-year old schoolgirl to  Gooseberry for her first recording session. Backed by the reggae band Matumbi which featured Dennis Bovell on guitar she recorded  a reggae rendition of an old R&B song called "Caught You In A Lie". This was released as her first single and was a huge hit at sound system events around the UK and almost entered the UK top 40.

This track marked the birth of what was to be named ‘lover’s rock’ and helped to establish  Gooseberry Studios in the active ska, dub and reggae scene in London in the 70s. Dennis Bovell would become an integral part of the studio and go on to engineer and produce many other artists there as well as recording  his own albums  under the pseudonym of Black Beard starting  with 'Strictly Dubwise' in 1978.  The studio became part of a multi cultural scene of reggae and dub musicians mixing with  post-punk bands leading the way into the commercial pop/ska music scene that emerged at the end of the 70s and early 80s.

Infamy

In 1970  cabaret singer Johnny Carroll  reached the peak of his fame  by winning the TV talent show New Faces. In the mid 70s he recorded his cover versions album 'Do you want to touch me', at the studio. Judging by the cover of the record the answer was "no Johnny no" and it has gone on to become included in the list of worst album covers of all time.

By 1976 the studio had gone 16 track bringing in the newly released Soundcraft Series 3 desk and an Ampex tape machine.

The early Soundcraft desks used discrete transistor designs and became popular amongst the sound system crews for their distinctive sound at a reasonable price.

Engineer Mark Lusardi had also joined the studio and soon built up a reputation for his engineering work particularly amongst the dub and reggae crews.

I did a few things at Gooseberry in 1976 - back when I was a songwriter - the publisher funded the sessions, which I think cost around 150 a day at the time (a lot of money then!). I remember doing 3 songs in a supposedly 8 hour day, but the engineer enjoyed himself and we ended up doing 14 hours or so ... the gear was of a good standard - Ampex 2", Neumann 87s and a lovely baby grand. It was just the scruffy mayhem of the place that let it down - all that insulation, cables and a general mess everywhere. A good sound though.  

 Fran Ashcroft - Producer

Between 17th and the 28th January 1977 the Sex Pistols came to the studio to record demos that included 'Pretty Vacant',  'New York', 'God Save the Queen' and EMI. These were the last recordings made by the original group line up and took place between  the time of the band being dropped by EMI and before signing to A&M and then Virgin.  John Lydon would return to the studio two years later to work on the first  Public Image album.

Gary Numan - Are Friends Electric.

January 1979 would provide the studio with its biggest commercial success when Gary Numan entered the 16-track for  five days to record the Replicas album.  'Are Friends Electric' would spend four weeks at the top of the charts and the album would also reach the number one spot.

Listening back now to 'Are Friends Electric' it is easy to forget just  how radically different it sounded on first release. Although the album still used traditional drums and bass guitar and the Moog synthesizers that dominate the sound had been used many times on hit singles, the combination of these with the cold isolated vocal produced a sound that was new and exciting.

Numan's image complemented this sound perfectly, the whole concept being based on the novel    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  by American writer Philip K. Dick. The Replicas album provided the cross over from punk and new wave into the  Electro and New Romantic era. Whilst punk provided the sound track for an aggressive teenage street rebellion, Gary Numan became the leader of a more introverted revolution,  teens sitting in their bedrooms wanting to create their own style and individualism. It's easy to under estimate the impact that this album had on popular music over the coming years.

 

Equipment at Gooseberry

1975

1977

1977

In October 1980 the studio went 24 track and sold off the old gear. They installed an Allen and Heath Syncon console and an Otari MTR 90.

 

 

RECORDED AT GOOSEBERRY (AND HILLSIDE - H)


4TH STREET ORCHESTRA - YUH LEARN ! (1977)

ANTHONY PHILLIPS AND HARRY WILLIAMSON "TARKA"

BLACKBEARD "I WAH DUB"

BLACK BEARD* – STRICTLY DUB WIZE     1988

BLACK SLATE "AMIGO"

BLACK SLATE "BLACK SLATE"

BLACK SLATE "OGIMA"

THE BLUES BUSTERS "TRIBUTE TO SAM COOKE"

CHAPTERHOUSE "MESMERISE" E.P.

CLAYTOWN TROUPE "THROUGH THE VEIL"

CREATION REBEL  “DUB FROM CREATION"

CREATION REBEL "REBEL VIBRATIONS"

CREATION REBEL "STARSHIP AFRICA"  (1980)

EEK-A-MOUSE "MOUSE-A-MANIA"

GUNSMOKE "GUNSMOKE"

HARRY MOSCO "COUNTRY BOY"

HARRY MOSCO "PEACE AND HARMONY"

IJAHMAN LEVI     I AM A LEVI   (1975)

JAH BUNNY "DUBBS INTERNATIONAL"

JOHNNY CARROLL  "DO YOU WANT TO TOUCH ME"

JONA LEWIE "ON THE OTHER HAND THERE'S A FIST"

JUNE TABOR "ANGEL TIGER"

JUNIOR ENGLISH "CRASHED!" (H)

KILLING JOKE "WARDANCE" SINGLE   (January 1980)

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON "BASS CULTURE"

LOUISA MARKS  "CAUGHT YOU IN A LIE"  (1975)

MARIE PIERRE "LOVE AFFAIR"

MAXWELL PLUMM "WE CAN WORK IT OUT"  (1976)

NICO "DRAMA IN EXILE" (H)

OYSTER BAND "DESERTERS"

POET AND THE ROOTS "DREAD BEAT AN' BLOOD"

PUBLIC IMAGE "FIRST ISSUE" (H)   (July-November 1978)

RICHARD STRANGE "GOING GONE" (H)

SENSELESS THINGS "FIRST OF TOO MANY" (H)

SEX PISTOLS "DEMOS"  (Jan 1977)

THE SLITS  "THE RETURN OF THE GIANT SLITS (1980) (tracks)

SOUL SYNDICATE "FAMINE DOWNTOWN"

SPIRITUALIZED "LASER GUIDED MELODIES" (H)

TIGERTAILZ "YOUNG AND CRAZY"

TOM YOUMS "CLOSE TO ME" (H)

TRADITION "MOVING ON"   (1977)

TRADITION "HIGH RISK DUB"

TUBEWAY ARMY "REPLICAS"  (December 1978)

VIOLA WILLS "IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND" (H)

WINSTON CURTIS "TO LOVE SOMEBODY"

 

       Studio Index

 

 

 

19 Gerrard Street 

 

Dennis Bovell

 

 

 

RECORDED AT GOOSEBERRY