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Olympic Studios 

117 Church Road   Barnes   London

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Although Olympic Studios  was one of the few original London studios that managed to survive until current times, it is really the era between the  sixties and early seventies that established it as one of the greats. This was largely through the work and vision of two men - Keith Grant and Dick Swettenham, combined with an era of great rock and pop artists.


The original Olympic Studios was established in 1957 by Angus McKenzie who had bought Larry Lyons' 'Olympia Studio' in Fulham.In partnership with sound/electronic engineer Dick Swettenham they took over the  lease of Carton Hall,  a building that had been a former Dutch reform church and a  Synagogue in Carton Street, in London's WestEnd.

The studio was based around a tube desk from Olympia but  Sweetenham  set about replacing this by designing an early transistorised desk. It was installed into Studio One around 1960, along with one of the first 4-track recorders in England.

Keith Grant joined the company in 1958 from IBC studios as a sound engineer.


In 1965 the lease on  the Carton Street premises expired and the buiilding was due for demolition.  Keith Grant, along with  successful vocal group leader Cliff Adams, bought out  Angus McKenzie's share of the business and found new premises at 117 Church Road in Barnes.

Byfeld Hall was a truly impressive building both in its facarde, size and  up-market location. This new studio was built to be the best and compete with the best in the world, a major undertaking for an independent. It didn't fall short of its aim.

Originally built in 1906 as a Public Hall, Byfeld Hall  was  also licensed for Stage Plays, Musical Performances, and Dancing. A proper projection room was installed when the Theatre gained a Cinematograph License. The building functioned  as a Cinema until 1925 when it was renamed The Barnes Theatre. The building then reverted back to Cinema use again, under the name of the Ranelagh Cinema, until 1941. Guild TV bought it in the late 1950s and converted it into a film studio, a useful transition towards a recording studio.

The new Olympic Studios opened for business in January 1967.

Dick Sweetenham's various electronic designs  were amalgamated into what became a renowned desk built for the main studio (Studio 1 ) at the new premises. It used Germanium transistors, locally sorced Lustraphone transformers and inductor based channel eq.
 

'The form devised by the author at Olympic Studios in about 1964, and hence known as the 'Olympic equaliser' may also be of interest. Its character of sound, given mainly by the shape of the midrange curves arrived at empirically by listening tests, derived originally from the choice of particular inductors available. It could be switched to give a family of troughs in the mid range somewhat sharper than the peaks, thus enabling a few notes in the range of an instrument which stuck out too prominently to be reduced without sucking out too much of the midrange energy of the sound.

Dick Sweetenham

The bass lift section, instead of the more usual shelf levelling and continuing down to perhaps 40hz, was a broad peak boost, originally centred on 250hz which fell back to a very small lift by 60hz so the hum and rumble were not exaggerated. Later versions added a choice of bass peak frequecies'.                                                Dick Sweetenham,  November 82.

The Studio 1 desk was initially 16:4 channels, upgraded to 32:8 in 1969 with the arrival of their new 8 track machines. It also had the first A&D F600 limiters fitted into the console.

    'There are some desk where, by pure fluke, it actually enhances the sound - Dick Sweetham's first desk at Olympic for example.'      Glyn Johns  June 81.

In 1969 Dick was 'head-hunted' to build the consoles for the new studios of Chris Blackwell's Island Records in Basing Street, London. A new company Helios Electronics Ltd was established that would also build desks for other major studios. The first two to be commissioned were for The Rolling Stones Mobile and a second desk for Olympic. The Rolling Stones  were also among the first clients of Olympic. They ended up recording six consecutive albums at the studio between 1966 and 1972.

The Beatles also worked at the studio to record the original tracks of 'All You Need Is Love' and 'Baby, You're a Rich Man'

Virgin took over the  Studio in 1987 and  EMI acquired this arm of the Virgin Empire in 1992 and continued to run the Studio until December 2008 when it was finally closed down after the U2 album 'No Line on The Horizon' was recorded there.

"By the time I was at Olympic the original desks were gone but the EQs were put into the Raindirk desk in Studio 3. They all ran on -24 volts and the earliest were made on veroboard and used the early 'geranium' transistors... GET113 comes to mind! Silicon devices were used as soon as they became available and the later modules were much quieter!
The last great Olympic desk from Studio 1 was completly rebuilt by myself together with the help of Barry Porter, now sadly gone... It was installed in Petersham church for a while for Keith Grant to record large orchestras with, until it was sold to Henry Hirsch and was installed in a new studio in New York. Every module was rebuilt to the point that I found faults that had never been found before! The dodgy channel 12 fault was traced to poorly aligned holes for the red range connector. I remember Henry looking on in horror as I got a welder in to fill the holes so that I could re-drill them to solve the problem!
After the studio shut down the desk was sold to an american dealer and as far as I know, he still has it. Rumours that it had been broken up for the modules are unfounded.                                                                        Clive Kavan - 2011

Recorded at Olympic:

999 "999"

ALAN PRICE "OH LUCKY MAN"

ALAN PRICE “BETWEEN TODAY AND YESTERDAY”

ALAN PRICE "METROPOLITAN MAN"

ALAN TEW ORCHESTRA "THE MAGNIFICENT WESTERNS"

ALBION DANCE BAND "THE PROSPECT BEFORE US"

ALBION DANCE BAND "RISE UP LIKE THE SUN"

ALEXIS KORNER'S ALL STARS "BLUES INCORPORATED"

AL HAIG TRIO "INVITATION"

ANDREW LLOYD-WEBBER AND TIM RICE "EVITA"

ANDY FAIRWEATHER-LOW "BE BOP 'N' HOLLA"

ANITA HARRIS "JUST LOVING YOU"

ANITA HARRIS "LOVE TO SING"

ANJA GARBAREK "BALLOON MOOD"

ANTHONY PHILLIPS "THE GEESE AND THE GHOST"

ARCADE FIRE "NEON BIBLE"

ARMAGEDDON “ARMAGEDDON”

ARCTIC MONKEYS "WHATEVER PEOPLE SAY I AM, THAT'S WHAT I'M NOT"

ASOBI SEKSU "REWOLF"

AUDIENCE "FRIEND'S FRIEND'S FRIEND"

AUTOMATIC MAN "AUTOMATIC MAN"

AVA CHERRY AND ASTRONETTES "PEOPLE FROM BAD HOMES"

BABYSHAMBLES "SHOTTER'S NATION"

BAD COMPANY “BAD COMPANY”

BADFINGER "BADFINGER"

BADFINGER "ASS"

BADLY DRAWN BOY "BORN AGAIN"

BARBARA STREISAND "YENTL SOUNDTRACK"

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST "EVERYONE IS EVERYBODY ELSE"

BB KING "IN LONDON"

BEATLES

BECKETT "BECKETT"

BETHNAL "CRASH LANDING"

BETH ORTON "CENTRAL RESERVATION"

BILL JUSTIS "THE ETERNAL SEA"

BILL TARMEY "AFTER HOURS"

BLIND FAITH "BLIND FAITH"

BLOC PARTY "A WEEKEND IN THE CITY"

BLODWYN PIG "GETTING TO THIS"

BONES "BONES"

BOZ SCAGGS "BOZ SCAGGS AND BAND"

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ "DESPITE IT ALL"

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ "SILVER PISTOL"

BRYAN FERRY "MAMOUNA"

BRYN HAWORTH "GRAND ARRIVAL"

BUFFY SAINT-MARIE "SHE USED TO BE A BALLERINA" BUSH "GOLDEN STATE"

BUZZCOCKS "ANOTHER MUSIC IN A DIFFERENT KITCHEN"

BUZZCOCKS “LOVE BITES”

CAST "MOTHER NATURE CALLS"

CHAPMAN-WHITNEY "STREETWALKERS"

CHICKENSHACK "UNLUCKY BOY"

CHICKENSHACK "IMAGINATION LADY"

CHIEFTAINS "THE CHIEFTAINS 7"

CRAIG ARMSTRONG "THE SPACE BETWEEN US"

CRANBERRIES "BURY THE HATCHET"

CRAZY CAVAN AND THE RHYTHM ROCKERS "ROCKABILITY"

CURE "WISH"

CURE "THE CURE"

DADA "DADA"

DARTS "DARTS"

DARTS "EVERYONE PLAYS DARTS"

DAVID BOWIE "DIAMOND DOGS"

DAVID BRYNE "THE CATHERINE WHEEL"

DEFUNKT "THERMONUCLEAR SWEAT" (CHELSEA)

DEKE LEONARD "ICEBERG"

DEKE LEONARD "KAMIKAZE"

DENNY GERRARD "SINISTER MORNING"

dEUS "THE IDEAL CRASH"

DIESEL PARK WEST "SHAKESPEARE ALABAMA"

DEEP PURPLE "FIREBALL"

DEPECHE MODE "SONGS OF FAITH AND DEVOTION"

DONOVAN "BARABAJAGAL"

DR FEELGOOD "MALPRACTICE"

EAGLES “THE EAGLES”

EAGLES "ON THE BORDER"

EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND "OORA"

EDITORS "AN END HAS A START"

ELECTRIC SUN "EARTHQUAKE"

ELECTRIC SUN "FIRE WIND"

ELLA FITZGERALD "STAR COLLECTION"

ELLIS "WHY NOT?"

ELP “BRAIN SALAD SURGERY”

ELVIS COSTELLO “BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE”

EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER "BRAIN SALAD SURGERY"

ENO "HERE COME THE WARM JETS"

ERIC CLAPTON "SLOWHAND"

ERIC CLAPTON "BACKLESS"

ERIC CLAPTON "FROM THE CRADLE"

ERIC CLAPTON "PILGRIM"

EUROPE "OUT OF THIS WORLD"

FACES “NODS AS GOOD AS A WINK”

FACES "OH LA LA"

FAIRPORT CONVENTION "RISING FOR THE MOON"

FAIRWEATHER "BEGINNING FROM AN END"

FAMILY “ANYWAY”

FAMILY “BANDSTAND”

FAMILY “FEARLESS”

FAMILY “IT’S ONLY A MOVIE”

FAMILY “MUSIC IN A DOLL’S HOUSE”

FAMILY “A SONG FOR ME’

FANTASTICS "THE FANTASTICS"

FAT MATTRESS "FAT MATTRESS"

FAT MATTRESS "FAT MATTRESS II"

FEELING "TWELVE STOPS AND HOME"

FISH "VIGIL IN A WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS"

FOCUS “FOCUS 3”

FOCUS “HAMBURGER CONCERTO”

FOREVER MORE "YOURS FOREVER MORE"

FRIPP AND ENO "EVENING STAR"

FUNKADELIC "AMERICA EATS IT'S YOUNG"

FUZZY DUCK "FUZZY DUCK"

GINGER BAKER'S AIRFORCE "AIR FORCE 2"

GIRL “SHEER GREED”

GLENCOE "GLENCOE"

GOLDEN EARRING "EIGHT MILES HIGH"

GONG "SHAMAL"

GOODIES "THE NEW GOODIES L.P."

GRACE SLICK "MAMHOLE"

GRAHAM BOND "SOLID BOND"

GRAVY TRAIN "GRAVY TRAIN"

GRAVY TRAIN "(A BALLAD OF) A PEACEFUL MAN"

GREASE BAND "AMAZING GREASE"

GYPSY "GYPSY"

HAWKWIND "IN SEARCH OF SPACE"

HAWKWIND "HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL"

HAWKWIND "WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME"

HEAVY METAL KIDS "HEAVY METAL KIDS"

HELP YOURSELF "STRANGE AFFAIR"

HENRY SCHIFTER "OUT OF NOWHERE"

HERON "DIAMOND OF DREAMS"

HIGH TIDE "SEA SHANTIES"

HOCKEY "MIND CHAOS"

HOWLIN' WOLF "THE LONDON HOWLIN' WOLF SESSIONS"

HUMBLE PIE "SMOKIN'"

HUMBLE PIE "ROCK ON"

IAN CAMPBELL FOLK GROUP "THIS IS THE.."

IAN HUNTER "OVERNIGHT ANGELS"

ISIAH PACKARD "SCAN THE HORIZON"

JAMES "SEVEN"

JAMIE T "PANIC PREVENTION"

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR "ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK"

JETHRO TULL "STAND UP"

JIMI HENDRIX "AXIS : BOLD AS LOVE"

JIMI HENDRIX "ARE YOU EXPERIENCED"

JIMI HENDRIX “ELECTRIC LADYLAND”

JIMMY DAWKINS "TRANSATLANTIC 770"

JIMMY JEWELL AND EARS "I'M AMAZED"

JOAN ARMATRADING "JOAN ARMATRADING"

JOAN ARMATRADING "SHOW SOME EMOTION"

JOAN ARMATRADING "TO THE LIMIT"

JOAN ARMATRADING "THE SHOUTING STAGE"

JOHN CALE "FEAR"

JOHN CAMERON "KES SOUNDTRACK"

JOHN GREGORY AND HIS ORCHESTRA "A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS"

JOHN (SPEEDY) KEEN "PREVIOUS CONVICTIONS"

JOHN PHILLIPS "PAY PACK AND FOLLOW"

JOHN WILLIAMS "CHANGES"

JOHN WILLIAMS "CAVATINA"

JONATHAN KELLY "TWO DAYS IN WINTER"

JUDAS PRIEST "ROCKA ROLLA"

KAISER CHIEFS "EMPLOYMENT"

KENNY WHEELER "SONG FOR SOMEONE"

KEVIN COYNE "HEARTBURN"

KHAN “SPACE SHANTY”

KILLERS "DAY AND AGE"

KING CRIMSON "RED"

KING CRIMSON "USA"

KIRSTY MacCOLL "KITE"

KURSAAL FLYERS "CHOCS AWAY"

LARRY CORYELL AND PHILIP CATHERINE"TWIN HOUSE"

LED ZEPPELIN “LED ZEPPELIN”

LED ZEPPELIN "LED ZEPPELIN II"

LED ZEPPELIN "LED ZEPPELIN III"

LED ZEPPELIN “HOUSES OF THE HOLY”

LED ZEPPELIN “PHYSICAL GRAFFITI”

LEO SAYER "SILVERBIRD"

LEON RUSSELL "LEON RUSSELL"

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III "I'M ALRIGHT" (CHELSEA)

LOUIS STEWART "I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU"

MADONNA "MUSIC"

MADONNA "AMERICAN LIFE"

MAGICAL RING "MORE AND MORE"

MAGIC NUMBERS "THOSE THE BROKES"

MAN "MAN"

MAN "DO YOU LIKE IT HERE NOW? ARE YOU SETTLING IN?"

MAN "BACK INTO THE FUTURE"

MAN "SLOW MOTION"

MAN “THE WELSH CONNECTION”

MAN "ALL'S WELL THAT END'S WELL"

MANIC STREET PREACHERS "GOLD AGAINST THE SOUL"

MANHATTAN TRANSFER "LIVE"

MASSIVE ATTACK "MEZZANINE"

MATTHEW FISHER "I'LL BE THERE"

McGUINNESS FLINT "McGUINNESS FLINT"

McGUINNESS FLINT "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RUTHY BABY"

MEMPHIS SLIM "BLUE MEMPHIS"

MICHAEL NYMAN "THE DRAUGHTMAN'S CONTRACT"

MICHEL LEGRAND "THE CONCERT LEGRAND"

MIKE WESTBROOK ORCHESTRA "LOVE/DREAM AND VARIATIONS"

MOCK TURTLES "TWO SIDES"

MOODY BLUES "KEYS OF THE KINGDOM"

MOONRIDER "MOONRIDER"

MOTORHEAD "MOTORHEAD"

MOTORHEAD “BOMBER”

MOTORS "APPROVED BY THE MOTORS"

MOTT THE HOOPLE “MAD SHADOWS”

MOTT THE HOOPLE "WILDLIFE"

MOTT THE HOOPLE "ALL THE YOUNG DUDES"

NEUTRONS "BLACK HOLE STAR"

NEUTRONS "TALES FROM THE BLUE COCOONS"

NEW DEPARTURES QUARTET "THE NEW DEPARTURES QUARTET"

NICE "THOUGHTS OF EMERLIST DAVJACK"

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS "NOCTURAMA"

NO DICE "NO DICE"

OASIS "HEATHEN CHEMISTRY"

O BAND "WITHIN REACH"

OPEN ROAD "WINDY DAZE"

OZARK MOUNTAIN DAREDEVILS “OZARK MOUNTAIN DAREDEVILS”

PALADIN "PALADIN"

PAUL KENNERLY "WHITE MANSIONS"

PAUL KORDA "A PASSING STRANGER"

PEDDLERS "FREEWHEELERS"

PENDULUM "IN SILICO"

PEOPLE BAND "1968"

PEOPLE BAND "THE PEOPLE BAND"

PETE TOWNSHEND "WHO CAME FIRST"

PETER FRAMPTON "WIND OF CHANGE"

PETER FRAMPTON "SOMETHING'S HAPPENING"

PETER FRAMPTON "FRAMPTON"

PETER GABRIEL "PETER GABRIEL 1"

PETER SARSTEDT "AS THOUGH IT WAS A MOVIE"

PFM "COOK"

PLACEBO "BLACK MARKET MUSIC"

PRESUNTOS IMPLICADOS "SER DE AGUA"

PRETTY THINGS "SILK TORPEDO"

PRETTY THINGS "SAVAGE EYE"

PULP "THIS IS HARDCORE"

QUEEN “A NIGHT AT THE OPERA”

QUEEN "THE MIRACLE"

QUINTESSENCE "SELF"

RACING CARS “WEEKEND RENDEZVOUS’

RAIN TREE CROW "RAIN TREE CROW"

RAKES "CAPTURE/RELEASE"

REG KING "REG KING"

RENAISSANCE "RENAISSANCE"

REVEREND AND THE MAKERS "THE STATE OF THINGS"

RICHARD AND LINDA THOMPSON "SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS" (CHELSEA)

RICHARD ASHCROFT "ALONE WITH EVERYBODY"

RICHARD SARSTEDT "ANOTHER DAY PASSES BY"

RICK WAKEMAN "LISZTOMANIA"

RICK WAKEMAN "G'OLE!"

RIGHT SAID FRED "SEX AND TRAVEL"

ROBERT CALVERT "CAPTAIN LOCKHEED AND THE STARFIGHTERS"

ROBERT PLANT "MANIC NIRVANA"

ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW "ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK"

ROD McKUEN "LONESOME CITIES"

ROD STEWART "AN OLD RAINCOAT WON'T EVER LET YOU DOWN"

ROGER RUSKIN SPEAR "ELECTRIC SHOCKS"

ROGER RUSKIN SPEAR "UNUSUAL"

ROLLING STONES “SATANIC MAJESTIES”

ROLLING STONES "BEGGARS BANQUET"

ROLLING STONES "LET IT BLEED"

ROLLING STONES "GOATS HEAD SOUP"

ROLLING STONES "STICKY FINGERS"

ROLLING STONES "IT'S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL"

ROLLING STONES "STEEL WHEELS"

RONNIE LANE “HOW COME”

ROOM "IN EVIL HOUR"

RORY GALLAGHER "TOP PRIORITY"

RORY GALLAGHER "DEFENDER"

ROUGH DIAMOND "ROUGH DIAMOND"

SAN SEBASTIAN STRINGS "THE EARTH"

SAN SEBASTIAN STRINGS "THE SKY"

SAVOY BROWN "STREET CORNER TALKING"

SCOTT WALKER "SCOTT 4"

SEEKERS "SEEKERS SEEN IN GREEN"

SHAKIN' STREET "VAMPIRE ROCK"

SHONA LAING "NEW ON EARTH"

SHOWADDYWADDY "RED STAR"

SIRKEL AND CO "WITH MICK TAYLOR"

SLADE "PLAY IT LOUD"

SLADE "SLADE ALIVE"

SLADE "OLD NEW BORROWED AND BLUE"

SLADE "IN FLAME"

SLEEPY JOHN ESTES "SLEEPY JOHN ESTES IN EUROPE"

SMALL FACES “OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE”

SNAFU "SNAFU"

SNOW PATROL "A HUNDRED MILLION SUNS"

SOFT MACHINE "VOLUME TWO"

SOFT MACHINE "FOURTH"

SPICE GIRLS "SPICEWORLD"

SPICE GIRLS "SPICE"

SPIRITUALIZED "LET IT COME DOWN"

SPONTANEOUS MUSIC ENSEMBLE "KARYOBIN"

SPOOKY TOOTH "IT'S ALL ABOUT"

SPOOKY TOOTH "WITNESS"

SPOOKY TOOTH "YOU BROKE MY HEART, SO I BUSTED YOUR JAW"

SQUEEZE "COOL FOR CATS"

SQUEEZE "ARGYBARGY" (CHELSEA)

STEVE ASHLEY "STROLL ON"

STEVE MILLER BAND "YOUR SAVING GRACE"

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS "NOBODY'S HEROES" (+CHELSEA)

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS "GO FOR IT"

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS "HANX!"

STOMU YAMASHTA "ONE BY ONE"

STONE THE CROWS "TEENAGE LICKS"

STORIES "ABOUT US"

STRANGLERS “RATTUS NORVEGICUS”

STRANGLERS "NO MORE HEROES"

STRAY "SUICIDE"

STRAY "MUDANZAS"

STRIFE "RUSH"

SUNSHINE "SUNSHINE"

SUPERTRAMP “INDELIBLY STAMPED”

TEN YEARS AFTER "A SPACE IN TIME"

TEN YEARS AFTER "ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC TO THE WORLD"

TEN YEARS AFTER "WATT"

TEN YEARS AFTER "CRICKLEWOOD GREEN"

TEN YEARS AFTER "A SPACE IN TIME"

TEN YEARS AFTER "ROCK AND ROLL MUSIC TO THE WORLD"

TEN YEARS AFTER "RECORDED LIVE"

THE WHO “LOADSA STUFF”

THE WHO “WHO’S NEXT”

THIN LIZZY "FIGHTING"

THIRD WORLD WAR "THIRD WORLD WAR II"

THOMAS F. BROWNE "WEDNESDAY'S CHILD"

TINY DANCERS "FREE SCHOOL MILK"

TOURISTS "REALITY EFFECT"

TOWNSEND &LANE “ROUGH MIX”

TRAFFIC "TRAFFIC"

TRAFFIC "JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE"

TRAFFIC “MR FANTASY”

TRANQUILITY "TRANQUILITY"

TURIN BRAKES "DARK ON FIRE"

UNICORN "BLUE PINE TREES"

UPP "UPP"

VICTORIA BECKHAM "VICTORIA BECKHAM"

VINEGAR JOE "ROCK'N ROLL GYPSIES"

WIDOWMAKER “TOO LATE TO CRY”

WILD TURKEY "BATTLE HYMN"

WINKIES "THE WINKIES"

WISHBONE ASH "WISHBONE FOUR"

WONDERSTUFF "CONSTRUCTION FOR THE MODERN IDIOT"

ZUTONS "TIRED OF HANGING AROUND"


       Studio Index

 

 

 

 

Lustraphone advert - 1959

The Rolling Stones - 1968

 

Olympic  Desk Channel Eq.

 

 

Raindirk Console - 1979

 

Recorded at Olympic: