Andy plays his Fano guitar at Chipping Norton Studios, England... where Nonsuch was recorded.

Sadly, Chipping Norton Studios is no longer with us...

Technology pulls plug on studios

(First published on Thursday 10, February 2000, Newsquest (Oxfordshire) Ltd.)

World-famous recording studios in Oxfordshire have closed due to lack of business, writes Nick Evans.

Just yards from the tea shops and antique dealers, the Chipping Norton Recording Studios welcomed a host of rock and roll stars from the past 25 years who hid themselves away to record their albums. Radiohead, Status Quo, Duran Duran, Kula Shaker, Ride, Level 42, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Wet Wet Wet were just a few of the names on the gold and silver discs adorning the walls.

But now the studios, which were regarded as some of the best in the business, have had to switch off because of falling trade. Studio managing director Richard Vernon said the advent of computerised recording had meant keeping the studios running was no longer sound business. West Oxfordshire District Council planning officer Jeff Lowe told the uplands planning sub-committee that the owners of the studio wanted change of use of the property. He said: "They have told us that in recent times, as with a lot of other businesses, the technological revolution has radically altered the way music is recorded resulting in a dwindling demand. "The business is losing money and they believe the sale of the property is the only real way forward," he said. "For these reasons, we believe this proposal to be acceptable."

The building was a house before it was enlarged into a school in 1854. The recording studio took up most of the ground floor with residential accommodation, including five double bedrooms above. The property, a Grade II listed building in New Street, will now revert to homes.

Mr Vernon founded the studios with his brother Mike in 1972 after three years spent managing their own label, Blue Horizon, in London. The pair famously signed Fleetwood Mac and it was the profits from the group's 1968 hit album Albatross that allowed them to set up the studio. The first big hit to be recorded at the studio was the Bay City Rollers' Bye-Bye, Baby in 1975. More recently, Oxford's own stars Radiohead can trace the roots of their success back to three weeks spent in Chipping Norton in 1992. It was there that the band recorded their debut album Pablo Honey, including the smash hit Creep. Two years ago they returned to add guitar over-dubs to their album, OK Computer.

Dave plays his Fano guitar at Chipping Norton.

Nonsuch was produced by Gus Dudgeon and engineered by Barry Hammond. Nick Davis mixed Nonsuch with assistance by Simon Dawson. The album was recorded digitally from July to October of 1991 using the Mitsubishi system.

Rockfield Studios

Mixed at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, South Wales, November-December 1991.

Rockfield Studios: the world's first residential studio inspired in the early 60's by two brothers, Charles and Kingsley Ward when they needed their own studio to record their own group. In 1965 accommodation was catered for and the studio was renamed Rockfield, after the nearby village, as suggested by legendary rock Star Dave Edmunds who became one of the first artists to be promoted by the Studios. Many of the early 1960's groups commenced their recording careers at the studios including Dave Edmunds (Love Sculpture, Rockpile), Andy Fairweather Low (Amen Corner) and the Silence who eventually formed into Mott the Hoople. After the studios had their first number 1 with Dave Edmunds' "I hear you knocking" in 1970 the studios became a mecca of rock hits. Through the years many of the legends of rock have recorded here including Rush (Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres), Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Opera, Sheer Heart Attack), Iggy Pop (Soldiers), Robert Plant (Pictures at Eleven), Simple Minds & Oasis (What's the Story...), Julian Lennon and Paul Weller. During 12 months over 1996/97 Rockfield had no less than 5 number 1 albums (Oasis, Ash, Black Grape, The Charlatans, The Boo Radleys) which was more success than most of the other UK studios put together. With other '80's and'90's successes like The Stone Roses, Dodgy, The Bluetones, Edie Brickel & New Bohemians and Herbert Gronemeyer along with many more. Rockfield can not only claim to be the world's most successful Rock and Roll Studio, where others may claim it, Rockfield can justify it. (from the Rockfield website)

Rockfield Studios

Click on the image above to visit the Rockfield website.

Amberley Court, Monmouth, South Wales, NP5 4ET. Tel-01600 712449, Fax 01600 714421.

Nonsuch was first released in the UKon the 24 day of March, 1992 and it too (like Oranges and Lemons) met great success in the US college "alternative" charts where it climbed to number 1.

The band was then comprised of:

Andy Partridge: Lead & backing vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, tambourine, percussion, bell tree, circus band, keyboard programming, synthsizers, shaker, harmonica, cheers.

Colin Moulding: Lead & backing vocals, bass guitar, electric & acoustic guitars.

Dave Gregory: Synthesizers, electric & acoustic guitars, e-bow guitars, backing vocals, hammond organ, piano, cheers, church bell, string and brass arrangements.

Additional Musicians:

Dave Mattacks - Drums, samples, percussion, tambourine, shaker
Florence Lovegrove - Viola
Gina Griffin - Violin
Gus Dudgeon - Percussion, ringmaster, tambourine, chorus, cheers
Guy Barker - Flugelhorns & trumpets
Neville Farmer - chorus
Rose Hull - Cello
Stuart Gordon - Violin

The album featured these classic XTC tracks:

1. The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
2. My Bird Performs
3. Dear Madam Barnum
4. Humble Daisy
5. The Smartest Monkeys
6. The Disappointed
7. Holly Up On Poppy
8. Crocodile
9. Rook
10. Omnibus
11. That Wave
12. Then She Appeared
13. War Dance
14. Wrapped In Grey
15. The Ugly Underneath
16. Bungalow
17. Books Are Burning