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Making Tracks: The story of Rockfield

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:11 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

Tomorrow writer and broadcaster Paul Morley takes us on a journey to Monmouthshire's famed Rockfield Studios. Making Tracks (BBC Radio 4, 11.30am) examines the history and legacy of Wales' best-known recording facility.



Beginning a series on recording studios, Morley starts at a farm that gave birth to some of rock music's finest recordings - everything from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to the Stone Roses' eponymous debut album, from Dr. Feelgood's Down By The Jetty to Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory, and even Adam Ant's Kings Of The Wild Frontier.

Those trying to explain what part the studio played in creating such musical magic include performers (the veteran Dave Edmunds and the newcomers Iko), technicians (John Leckie and Sean Genockey) and the people who (in some cases, quite literally) built the studio and the business (father and daughter, Kingsley and Lisa Ward).

As the money flowing through the music industry continues to dry up - Paul also asks what future there may be for the historic recording studios that helped build the industry in the first place?

If you want to find out more about the history of Rockfield, I heartily recommend Jeff Collins' Rock Legends At Rockfield (UWP, 2007).

Quoted in the book, Queen's producer Roy Thomas Baker said of the recording in 1975: "I remember Freddie playing me Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time on his piano at his place in London. Then later at Rockfield, with the basics mapped out, he focused on pinning down what was right. He played me the beginning part and said, 'Right, now this is where the opera section comes in' and he'd leave a gap and I'd have to imagine this dramatic opera style segment.

"And it just kept changing all the time at Rockfield. It took three weeks to record on a 16-track tape machine and we used 180 overdubs, which was very, very unusual for back then."

While not much of the song was actually recorded at Rockfield, it was largely honed and polished there. And a lot of its parent album, A Night At The Opera, was put to tape at the Monmouthshire facility.

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