While a majority of our beloved classic rock songs and albums were recorded and mixed at some of the greatest and most technically sound recording studios in the world – Abbey Road, Sunset Sound, Electric Lady and Olympic Studios immediately come to mind – things started to change in the early 70s. Artists would complain that the sterile atmosphere in recording studios stunted their creativity. Band managers didn’t like the distractions of being right in the middle of a crazy, busy city where the musicians could get into trouble and not concentrate and work.
The solutions ranged from building a self-contained mobile recording studio that could be booked for recording projects for an extended period of time, to outfitting giant mansions with gear, making sure there were enough accommodations for the artists to live there while making their album. Make your album on a yacht in the Virgin Islands? No problem! Do the drum track in the basement of an old mansion, surrounded by the boiler and the piping? If it sounds good, let’s do it! With recording studios on wheels like the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio or Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio, basically an Airstream camper outfitted with gear, artists could record their music pretty much wherever they wanted. And in the early 70s, they did! By the 80s, homemade recording rigs became available, so the possibilities were endless (as you’ll soon read!)
Not only was this, in many cases, a respite for the musicians while they worked, but a lot of the places where they recorded had incredible acoustics. The most famous example of that would be John Bonham’s drums on “When The Levee Breaks.” It was recorded up a small flight of stairs on a landing in the entry hall of Headley Grange. His drums came alive on that landing, and with the help of two Beyer M160 mics and a Binson Echo-Rec delay, engineered by Andy Johns, that iconic drum sound was born.
While there are certainly more examples, here are 11 examples of rock songs and albums recorded in odd and interesting places: