SOS takes you behind the scenes of the recording and production sessions of some of the most significant 'classic' tunes of the past 50 years. Best-selling author Richard Buskin weaves together technical and musical facts and anecdotes from the sessions to create an engaging series.
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Producer: Martin Hannett • Engineer: Phil Thompson
Engineer Phil Hampson didn’t even like punk rock — yet, with an inexperienced Martin Hannett, he recorded one of the defining records of the era.
In 1987, swimming against the tide of MIDI–powered pop records, Cowboy Junkies went into a church to record an album into a single microphone in a single day.
Throbbing Gristle’s highly individualist approach to music extended as far as making their own instruments and, ultimately, their own genre.
Hailed as the first British acid house single, A Guy Called Gerald’s sublime ‘Voodoo Ray’ has since become a classic in its own right.
In 2005 the only problem facing Arctic Monkeys was how to capture their frenetic live sound in the studio. Producer Jim Abbiss was ready to accept the challenge...
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In their 39–year career the Fall have always embraced chaos, but perhaps nowhere more so than in the studio.
Engineer Brian Humphries tells the story of recording Pink Floyd’s nine-part lamentation to their lost colleague, Syd Barrett.
Producer: Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange • Engineer: Tony Platt
In 1980 AC/DC were on a roll and nothing — not even the death of their lead singer — was going to stop them.
Producer: Daniel Lanois • Engineers: Kevin Killen, David Bascombe
When Peter Gabriel made the transition from prog to pop with 'Sledgehammer' he did it on his own exacting terms...
Producer: James Brown • Engineer: Ron Lenhoff
'Papa's Got A Brand New Bag' was James Brown's statement of intent as he abandoned soulful ballads in favour of a raw and frenetic new sound.
Producer & Engineer: Bob Tischler
His role as producer of The Blues Brothers soundtrack left Bob Tischler in charge of recording some of the best musicians of the 20th century, while managing conflicting shooting schedules and coping with the day-to-day effects of John Belushi's prodigious cocaine habit.
Producer: 808 State • Engineer: Graham Massey
Born of the fertile late‑'80s Manchester music scene, 808 State's 'Pacific State' was a landmark in British house music.
Producer: Mark Wirtz • Engineer: Geoff Emerick
Tomorrow's pioneering paean to the joys of communal public transport has proved to be a classic of the British psychedelic underground.
Producers: Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne • Engineer: Richard Dodd
While Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne’s writing partnership was certainly successful, it was the partnership between Jeff Lynne and engineer Richard Dodd that gave the records their distinctive sparkle.
Producers: John Barry, George Martin. Engineer: Eric Tomlinson.
Engineer Eric Tomlinson recorded a host of classic soundtracks during his 40-year career, not to mention what's...
Producers: Andy Warhol, Norman Dolph, Tom Wilson • Engineers: John Licata, Ami Hadani
Its status as one of pop's most influential albums is clear, but the circumstances surrounding the creation of The Velvet Underground & Nico have always been clouded. We asked Andy Warhol's co-producer to set the record straight.
Engineer: Simon Humphrey
When the Clash entered the studio for the first time they were determined not to sacrifice their punk principles, and the fates — not to mention a sympathetic engineer and a negligent record company — were on their side...
Producer: Jeff Lynne • Engineer: Mack
Melding Beatlesque pop melodies with symphonic strings, multi-layered vocals and leader Jeff Lynne's generally overblown production of his own compositions
Producers: Beastie Boys & Mario Caldato Jr (Mario C) • Engineer: Mario Caldato Jr
The standout track from the Beastie Boys' smash hit Ill Communication album nearly didn't make it onto the record at all — and when it did, it was the eight-track ADAT mix that made the final cut.
Originally intended for another group, ‘Kiss’ was quickly reclaimed by Prince when he heard David Z’s arrangement. Despite record company scepticism, the track became his third number one single and rejuvenated his career.
Producer: Chris Thomas • Engineer: David Nicholas
Pulp’s infectiously catchy commentary on the joys of class tourism helped propel the group to fame after nearly two decades of obscurity. Engineer David Nicholas tells us how ‘Common People’ was recorded.
Producers: Tom Newman, Simon Heyworth • Engineers: Tom Newman, Simon Heyworth
Forty years after its original release, Mike Oldfield tells us the story of recording his hugely successful debut album, Tubular Bells.
Producer: George Michael • Engineer: Chris Porter
Wham! went their separate ways in 1986, but the triumph of George Michael’s debut album Faith in 1987 meant that the success of his solo career was never really in doubt.
Producer: Chris Hughes • Engineer: Alan Douglas
To say that producer Chris Hughes was closely involved with Recording Adam & The Ants’ biggest records would be a bit of an understatement — he got so involved he joined the band...
Producer: Voyle Gilmore • Engineer: John Palladino
In 1956, Frank Sinatra revived his flagging career with an album that would define the swing sound and go on to become one of the most highly regarded in history. John Palladino, now in his 92nd year, was at the controls...
For many, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? is Oasis’s masterpiece. Producer and engineer Owen Morris tells us the story of its creation.
Although the shock value of its lyrics and ensuing censorship earned it notoriety, ‘Closer’ perfectly exemplifies Trent Reznor’s radical use of sampling and singularly focused musical vision.
The unlikely result of a collaboration between two 4AD bands, the release of ‘Pump Up The Volume’ by MARRS was a great day for house music and copyright lawyers alike.
'Parisienne Walkways' showcased Gary Moore's virtuoso guitar work and quickly became his signature song. Its recording also provided a young engineer at Morgan Studios with his first, unexpected production credit.
Recording the White Album was a major project by any standards, not least for Ken Scott, who, at the age of just 21, found himself engineering the biggest band in the world...
'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' was a huge global hit, but it also represented a tour de force in coaxing the perfect vocal from a singer, as explained by producer Narada Michael Walden.
Soft Cell's cover of 'Tainted Love' not only catapulted the duo to stardom in the UK, but also went on to spend a record-breaking 43 weeks on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The story of Don McLean's 'American Pie' goes from cryptic beginnings to massive chart success, and an eventual position as a perennial US radio favourite.
Recording Sinéad O’Connor’s breakthrough hit was easy in some ways, but difficult in others — for example, all compression was forbidden...
The single ‘Downtown’ gave Petula Clark a worldwide hit and rejuvenated her career. Presiding over the session was engineer Ray Prickett, who tells us how it happened...
The Buggles' JG Ballard-inspired 'Video Killed The Radio Star' hit the number one spot in no fewer than 16 different countries, and confirmed Trevor Horn in his career as a producer in the process.
The haunting dub of ‘Ghost Town’ perfectly captured the mood of its time, and spent three weeks at the top of the British charts during the turbulent summer of 1981.
Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has proved to be one of his most popular and enduring works. The man at the controls, David Hentschel, tells us how it came to be.
But for the timely intervention of Mick Ronson, John Cougar’s celebrated portrait of small-town American life might never have existed at all, let alone topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Dr Alex Paterson tells us how the Orb’s cavalier sampling and devil‑may‑care attitude towards copyright took ambient house from the chill‑out room to the top of the charts.
As the ’60s came to a close, Marvin Gaye was forced to ask some serious questions about the world as he found it; the result was the sublimely soulful piece of social commentary, ‘What’s Going On’.
Jerry Lee Lewis’s raucous piano playing is the stuff of rock & roll legend, but his discovery and signing to Sun Records was the result of a series of lucky chances. Engineer Jack Clement tells us the story...
Producer: Flemming Rasmussen • Engineer: Flemming Rasmussen
...And Justice For All marked a turning point for Metallica — one that would launch the cult band into the mainstream. The man at the controls, Flemming Rasmussen, tells us how it happened.
'Teenage Kicks' was the punk-pop gem that, with a little help from John Peel, kick-started the Undertones' career.
'Take On Me' was a huge hit, but its birth was a difficult one, taking three years, three versions and a pioneering video to finally give A-ha their first chart success.
'Do you have the time to listen to me whine?' asked Green Day in the opening lines of their song 'Basket Case'. For 16 million people, the answer was apparently 'yes'...
A song named for Christmas-cancelling regicide Oliver Cromwell may seem like an unlikely hit, but the infectious ebullience of 'Oliver's Army' provided Elvis Costello with his biggest-selling single...
Protests against Catholicism have taken many forms, Martin Luther nailing his objections to the cathedral door, but the Pet Shop Boys chose to make theirs in disco...• Producer: Julian Mendelsohn • Engineers: Julian Mendelsohn, Stephen Hague
As the first issue of SOS hit the shops in October 1985, Talking Heads were already climbing towards their highest UK chart position. The song was 'Road To Nowhere'. Engineer Eric Thorngren tells the story of its recording. • Producer: Talking Heads • Engineer: Eric Thorngren
1977's Hotel California saw The Eagles abandon their country origins in favour of full-blown rock & roll, and made them one of the biggest-selling groups in the world. Producer Bill Szymczyk tells SOS how it happened.
Producers: David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash • Engineer: Bill Halverson
As the 60s drew to a close, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash came together to form a new group, the unique sound of which was perfectly demonstrated by their first recording, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.
Classic Tracks: Producer Martin Rushent; Engineer Martin Rushent
When producer Martin Rushent took the Human Leagues leaden new song and turned it into pop gold, the band hated it — but that didnt stop it from being a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic...
Producer: Tommy James • Engineer: Bruce Staple
In 1968, Tommy James made a dramatic stylistic turnaround, swapping bubblegum pop for full-blown psychedelic rock. The result was the superlative single Crimson & Clover.
Producer: Bob Johnston
It took a while for Bob Dylan to hit his stride on his seventh studio album, but once he did there was no stopping him. Producer Bob Johnston recalls the difficult birth of Blonde On Blonde.
Producer: George Avakian • Engineer: Frank Laico
In 1956, Miles Davis was at Columbia Studios to record an album with the musicians who subsequently became known as his First Great Quintet. Engineer Frank Laico was at the controls...
Producers: Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt • Engineers: Toby Scott, Bob Clearmountain
Seven top 10 singles isnt bad going for a career, let alone one album, yet thats precisely what Bruce Springsteen achieved with his smash hit 1984 LP, Born In The USA. This is the story of how it was made...
Producers: Ritchie Cordell, Kenny Laguna, Glen Kolotkin • Engineer: Glen Kolotkin
Joan Jetts heartfelt reworking of the Arrows I Love Rock & Roll became an international hit in 1982 and turned her career around. Glen Kolotkin tells us how it happened.
Producers: The Bomb Squad • Engineer: Nick Sansano
Hank Shocklees 1988 collaboration with Public Enemy brought a new aggression to hip-hop — both sonically and politically...
Producer: Todd Rundgren • Engineer: Jack Douglas
The fact that they achieved little commercial success didnt stop the New York Dolls from making one of the most influential albums in the history of pop music.
Producers: REM, Mitch Easter, Don Dixon
REMs first single wasnt just an embryonic form of the style and sound that would later make them so successful, it was also a gem of the American new wave. But it took a long time coming...
Producers: Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte • Engineer: Juergen Koppers
The pioneering electronica of I Feel Love didnt just revolutionise disco, it changed dance music forever. This is the story of how it was made...
Producer & Engineer: Shel Talmy
There are very few records whose influence can be so strongly felt after 45 years as the Kinks You Really Got Me. At the controls was Shel Talmy, who tells us the story of a song that changed pop music.
Classic Tracks: Producer Jack Douglas; Engineer Jay Messina
In 1975, Aerosmith stormed into the mainstream with their Toys In The Attic album, and in doing so set the tone for a decade of West Coast heavy metal.
Classic Tracks: Producer Tony Clarke; Engineer Derek Varnals
Thunderous reverbs, haunting vocals and Mellotron galore: we tell the story of recording the Moody Blues symphonic rock masterpiece, Nights In White Satin.
Classic Tracks: Producer John Lennon; Engineers: Roy Cicala, Shelly Yakus
Engineer Roy Cicala worked on all of John Lennons albums from Imagine onwards, and in Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, recorded the only solo number one hit single of Lennons lifetime.
Classic Tracks: Producer Van Morrison; Engineers: Shelly Yakus, Elliot Scheiner
On his second solo album, Van Morrison took the production reins for the first time. Manning the desk was engineer Shelly Yakus, who tells the story of recording Moondance.
Classic Tracks: Producer Heavy Zebra; Engineer Kevin Byrne
Blighted by drug abuse and mental illness, Heavy Zebra never fulfilled their early promise. Nevertheless, the deranged majesty of their 1972 single Karla makes it a bona fide classic track.
Classic Tracks: Producers George Goldner, Terry Johnson; Engineer: Allen Weintraub
This is the story of how an inspired rearrangement of an old song created a track that, 50 years on, remains a genuine and enduring classic.
Classic Tracks: Producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman
Producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman developed a massively successful formula for making pop records — and the story of Rick Astleys 1987 smash hit, Never Gonna Give You Up, is a perfect guide to the SAW assembly line...
In 1977 Status Quo brought in producer Pip Williams to help them clean up their act. The result was a hit album and a best-selling single — 'Rockin' All Over The World'.
Producer: Steve Lillywhite • Engineers: Chris Dickie, Steve Lillywhite
A Christmas song was an unexpected move from a group like the Pogues, but the story of heartbreak and pain that is 'Fairytale Of New York' eventually became the band's biggest commercial success.
Classic Tracks | Producer: Arthur Baker
For mixing Kraftwerk's synthetic beats and simple melodies with New York rap, 'Planet Rock' and producer Arthur Baker can arguably be credited with creating an entirely new genre: hip-hop. This is how it happened...
Producer: Paul Simon • Engineer: Roy Halee
Paul Simon's Graceland album combined a huge mixture of musical styles and was recorded in studios all over the world. The man responsible for putting it all together, both sonically and physically, was Simon's long-time engineer Roy Halee. This is how he did it...
Producers: Devo, Robert Margouleff • Engineers: Robert Margouleff, Howard Siegel
Armed with a subversive view of society and a command of catchy synth-pop, Devo burst into the charts in 1980 with weird classic 'Whip It'. Producer Robert Margouleff talks de-evolution...
Classic Tracks - Producer Mike Chapman, Engineer Peter Coleman
The partnership between Blondie and producer Mike Chapman created a perfect pop record - and catapulted the group from the underground to mainstream chart success.
Producers: Ray Minshull, Michael Woolcock • Engineers: James Lock, Kenneth Wilkinson
Recording opera requires a completely different approach, environment and technique to pop or rock music — a fact that has seldom been better demonstrated than in Pavarotti's 1972 recording of 'Nessun Dorma'.
Producer: Trevor Horn • Engineers: Steve Lipson, Julian Mendelsohn
The debut single from Liverpool's Frankie Goes To Hollywood was the result of adventurous production and enjoyed massive chart success - as well as creating a great deal of controversy.
Producer: Jean Beauvoir • Engineer: Fernando Kral
Undisputed kings of the three-chord thrash and arguably responsible for punk rock, it took over 10 years and the theme song to a Stephen King film to secure serious US chart success for the Ramones...
Producers: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland
One of the most famous record labels of all time, Motown fostered a group of uniquely talented writers, engineers and musicians who often had to invent the equipment and techniques they used to keep their music at the cutting edge. Lamont Dozier explains how it was done...
Producer: Al Kooper • Engineers: Al Kooper, Rodney Mills
In 1973, a band from Florida and California went to a studio in Georgia to record a song, provoked by a Canadian, about Alabama - and managed to define the sound of Southern rock while they were at it.
Epic in every sense of the word — unning to 21 songs, involving more than 120 musicians and taking almost two years to complete — Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key Of Life was in many ways the high-point of an already illustrious career. This is the story of how it was created.
Classic Tracks: Producers Chip Young, Billy Swan; Engineer Chip Young
In 1974 Billy Swan walked into Chip Young's Young'un Sound studio and, in two takes, recorded a million-selling single that had taken him 20 minutes to write. This is how it was done...
Classic Track: 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick'
The story of how a characteristically chaotic and unorthodox 1978 recording session took Ian Dury & The Blockheads to the top of the UK charts.
CLASSIC TRACKS: Producers: Nile Rodgers, Madonna, Stephen Bray • Engineer: Jason Corsaro
In mid-1984 Madonna arrived at New York City's Power Station studios with Nile Rodgers to record the album that would make her an international superstar - using cutting-edge 12-bit technology.
In 1976, in the face of deteriorating personal relationships and massive record company pressure, Fleetwood Mac managed to create a record that would go on to sell 30 million copies.
Producer: Billy Sherrill • Engineer: Lou Bradley
1973's 'The Most Beautiful Girl In The World' was one of the defining moments of the Nashville sound, and was the product of a finely-honed studio recording process.
Producers: Depeche Mode, Daniel Miller, Gareth Jones • Engineer: Gareth Jones
Released in 1984, 'People Are People' perfectly combined Depeche Mode's love of pop music and experimentalism, and gave them their first US hit single.
Producers: Paul & Phil Hartnoll • Engineers: Tim Hunt, Orbital
Orbital were renowned for their amazing live shows, and the story of 'Chime', the track that launched their career, shows how they brought their 'live' approach to electronic music to the studio and into the charts.
Producers: Garry Cobain, Brian Dougans • Engineers: Yage
In 1991 The Future Sound of London brought their unique brand of experimentalism to the dancefloor with the seminal track, 'Papua New Guinea' — and launched their career in the process.
Producers: The Band, John Simon • Engineers: John Simon, Robbie Robertson, Tony May
The origins of The Band as Bob Dylan's backing group are well known, but with songs like 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' they forged their own unique American sound.
Producers: Tom Dowd • Derek & The Dominos
Inspired by a Persian classical poet and a certain Mrs Harrison, 'Layla' went on to become Eric Clapton's most enduring hit.
Producer: Mike Chapman • Engineers: David Tickle, Pete Coleman
In 1979, at the end of a 13-way bidding war, The Knack went into the studio to record their debut single — a debut single that would go gold in seven days and sell six million copies worldwide. This is the story of how it came to be...
Producers: Bryan Adams • Bob Clearmountain
The Reckless album was a huge success for Bryan Adams, giving rise to six hit singles – but the first one, 'Run To You', was almost never even recorded.
Producers: Clive Langer, Alan Winstanley
Producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley helped to make Madness one of the most successful British bands of the '80s. Find out how they worked their magic on this 1982 classic pop track...
Producers: Mark Knopfler, Neil Dorfsman • Engineer: Neil Dorfsman
The Brothers In Arms album turned Dire Straits into one of the biggest-selling bands of all time, thanks to some technical innovation, tough decision-making, and that guitar sound — which was created by accident. Find out how they did it...
Producer: Big Star • Engineer: John Fry
Producers: Chris Blackwell, The Wailers; Engineers: Phill Brown, Tony Platt
Producer/Engineer: Bones Howe
Producer: Al Bell; Engineers: Terry Manning, Jerry Masters
Producer/Engineer: Gil Norton
Producer: Ron Richards, The Hollies; Engineer: Alan Parsons
Producer: Chris Thomas; Engineer: Steve Churchyard
Producers: The Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson
Producers: Supertramp, Peter Henderson
Producers: 10cc; Engineeer: Eric Stewart
Producers: Jon Astley, Glyn Johns
Producers: Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards. Engineer: Bob Clearmountain
Producers: Stephen Hague & New Order; Engineer: David Jacob
Producer: John Leckie. Engineers: John Leckie, John Cornfield, Paul Schroeder
Producers: Morrissey, Johnny Marr • Engineer: Stephen Street
Producers: Robert Smith, Mike Hedges
Producers: Robin Millar, Sade Adu, Mike Pela, Ben Rogan
Artist: David Bowie; Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti; Studio: Hansa Ton, Berlin
Artist: The Sex Pistols; Producer: Chris Thomas; Engineer: Bill Price
Producers: Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell • Engineer: Bill Bottrell
Producers: Duran Duran, Alex Sadkin, Ian Little; Engineers: Phil Thornalley, Pete Schwier
Artist: Kate Bush; Producer: Andrew Powell; Engineer: Jon Kelly
Artist: Tina Turner; Producer: Terry Britten; Engineer: John Hudson
Artist: The Rolling Stones; Engineer: Chris Kimsey
Producers: The Police, Hugh Padgham • Engineer: Hugh Padgham.
Artists: Natalie Cole & Nat 'King' Cole; Producer: David Foster; Engineer: Al Schmitt
Artist: THE DOORS; Producer: Paul Rothchild; Engineeer: Bruce Botnick
Artist: Cliff Richard; Producer: Norrie Paramor; Engineer: Malcolm Addey