This is going to be pretty localised in its interest, but it may perhaps conjure memories of similar practices used by various commercial recording studios in the 1980s.
Rich Bitch recording studios in Selly Oak, Birmingham, underwent a big upsizing in the mid 1980s, becoming in the process one of the city’s best known recording venues for amateur bands. Indeed, it wasn’t just amateur bands who used the facility. Major artists used it too, and that added to the kudos for us unknown musicians who discovered the place as teenagers and wanted to make music which would impress the likes of Polydor or EMI.
In 1985, the interior of the new Rich Bitch recording studio looked and felt highly impressive, and even smelled brand new – a mixture of construction materials, varnish or whatever. And the music production techniques, whilst sounding dated today, were definitely of their time and undeniably a big attraction for young bands. On our first trip to the studio we used the four track facility, and pretty much recorded our chosen songs live – guitar, bass and drums, plus vocals, plus one or two overdubs. It was certainly the best recording I’d ever been involved in at that time, and it wasn’t that expensive either. Studio proprietor Rob Bruce engineered and produced the session, and once everything was mixed and mastered, we were able to take away our new demo on audio cassette. The studio would supply cassettes if required, but we supplied our own. Mine were Sony HF 30s. After the studio had copied off our tapes, we’d get them in these cases, with very classy gold foil-stamped inlays.
Those who’ve been around Birmingham since prior to 1995 will remember the old dialling code on the telephone numbers. Birmingham’s code is now 0121, but before 16th April 1995 (known as ‘Phoneday’) it was 021, and that’s apparent on this old cassette inlay.
What an amazing feeling it was walking out onto the Bristol Road with your own little box of cassettes, containing tracks which you and your mates had written and performed, and which a professional, commercial studio had produced into something people would actually listen to. I don’t think any of it ever got anywhere near Polydor or EMI, but it made us happy, and indeed still makes me happy today.