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Trident Studios was a British recording facility, located at 17 St. Anne's Court in London's Soho district between 1968-1981. It was constructed in 1967 by Norman Sheffield a drummer of former 1960's group The Hunters and his Brother Barry.
"My Name's Jack" by Manfred Mann was recorded at Trident in March 1968, and helped launch the studio's reputation. Some well-known albums and singles recorded at Trident are The Beatles' White Album and "Hey Jude", Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" and David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. Rick Wakeman was the in-house session keyboard player at the time and can be heard on many recordings, including "Life on Mars?" and "Changes".
Other artists recorded at Trident included the Bee Gees, Carly Simon, Chris de Burgh, Genesis, James Taylor, Joan Armatrading, Joe Cocker, Kiss, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, Tina Turner, T-Rex and Yes.
The Sheffield brothers had a relaxed working attitude, but also emphasized high standards of audio engineering. The studio's state-of-the-art recording equipment helped to attract many major artists to record there.
The Beatles and Apple Records
While Abbey Road still only used four-track, Trident's Ampex eight-track machine drew The Beatles on 31 July 1968 to record "Hey Jude". (Abbey Road had taken delivery of a 3M eight-track machine earlier in the year, but declared it not yet suitable for use.) The White Album tracks "Dear Prudence", "Honey Pie", "Savoy Truffle" and "Martha My Dear" were also recorded there. On 22 February 1969, The Beatles first recorded "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for the album Abbey Road. John Lennon and Yoko Ono later returned with The Plastic Ono Band to record "Cold Turkey" featuring Eric Clapton on lead guitar.
Many Apple Records artists used Trident Studios, including Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, and James Taylor. Some of George Harrison's triple album, All Things Must Pass, containing the hit "My Sweet Lord", and Ringo Starr's "It Don't Come Easy", were also recorded there. Harry Nilsson recorded "Without You" at Trident, and portions of several of his 1970s albums.
The history of the Sheffield brothers and Trident Studios is also linked to the early discovery and success of the band Queen. In 1972, Trident Studios started two record production companies, one of which (Neptune Productions) initially signed three artists, Mark Ashton, Eugene Wallace and Queen. The agreements with the artists were for recording and publishing but Queen had no management, so they insisted that Trident also took on that responsibility. Trident agreed and Queen signed an agreement with Trident Recording, Publishing and Management, on 1 November 1972.}
The Management at the time claimed the deal allowed the band full access to the studio's cutting edge facilities, and supported them by providing the best producers and engineers - so long as the foundations of the band's first album Queen were recorded 'off peak'.
After the album was completed the Sheffield brothers had difficulty finding a record company to take on the album and release it. Finally, eight months later the brothers decided to take on the risk themselves and Queen released their self-titled first album under the Trident label in a license deal with EMI in the UK and Elektra in the US. Trident subsequently released Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack and A Night at the Opera under this arrangement. After the band left Trident, they signed directly to EMI and Elektra.
David Bowie, Elton John and others
In March 1968, Manfred Mann recorded Trident's first number one at the studio, the single "My Name's Jack". From 1968-1981, some of the most reputed artists used the studios for their recordings, including David Bowie, Elton John, Marc Bolan/T.Rex, Carly Simon, Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, Free, Lou Reed, Joan Armatrading, Black Sabbath, Lindisfarne, Dusty Springfield, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Krisma, Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart and other artists.
This period coincided with the incorporation of a young engineer called Ken Scott, who Trident hired and went on to become one of the most reputed engineers and producers in the history of rock music, with his involvement in David Bowie's albums Hunky Dory (1971) and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972). Scott later gained an international reputation with numerous works, including Supertramp's Crime of the Century (1974), Lou Reed's Transformer (1972), Devo's Duty Now for the Future (1980) and Jeff Beck's There and Back (1980).
Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records was also one of the most regular clients of the studios during the 1970s. Genesis recorded at Trident several of their most renowned albums there, including Trespass (1970), Nursery Cryme (1971) and A Trick Of The Tail (1976). Other artists from the label who recorded at Trident were Van der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill, Lindisfarne and Peter Gabriel. Charisma's first Van der Graaf Generator release The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other was recorded at Trident from 11 to 14 December 1969. Most of the album was recorded on 8 tracks, but the last song "After The Flood" was recorded on 16. Trident was yet again among the first studios in the UK to obtain a 16-track machine.
Life on Two Legs
In July 2013 Norman Sheffield plans to launch his autobiography celebrating the 40th anniversary of Trident Studios. According to the press release it lifts the lid on Trident while setting the record straight on years of rumours and hearsay stating "With original unseen photography and Queen contracts – this book shines a light on a time that could never exist in today's society, a place in rock and roll history that - in Freddie's own words - was guaranteed to blow your mind."
The Trident 'A' Range Console
The Trident A Range consoles were originally built by and for Trident Studios. Other studios placed their orders and Trident Audio Developments was formed. Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles was one of the early recipients of one of the first production models, and ultimately purchased three new from Trident and one from a broker at a later time. David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and Frank Sinatra are among the early artists who first recorded hit records on Cherokee’s first 'A' Range console.
“Though it had a very limited run, the Trident A Range console gained a reputation for its very distinct and pleasant sound with a very “musical” EQ section. Along with channel strips from early Neve and Helios consoles, original Trident A Range modules have kept a healthy resale value and are much sought after by engineers who like to combine old-school analog gear with bleeding-edge digital recording technology.”
Trident also gained a reputation for the sound of its piano, which can be heard on The Beatles' "Hey Jude", Elton John's "Your Song", and many other tracks. It was a handmade C. Bechstein concert-sized instrument that was over one hundred years old.
Trident Studios was sold in December 1981. It was bought by its senior engineer, Stephen Short, along with three other investors. In 1986, Short bought out the other investors and opened Trident 2.
The current residing business, Trident Sounds Studios Ltd, was named in recognition of the original Trident Studios. Trident Studios originally occupied the whole five floors of the building, but today's studio comprises only the ground floor and basement.
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The following list is a sample of work either recorded, mixed or mastered at Trident Studios between 1968 and 1981, and taken from the Trident Studios official website.
|Manfred Mann||"My Name is Jack"|
|Beatles||"Hey Jude", White Album|
|James Taylor||James Taylor|
|Tyrannosaurus Rex / T-Rex||Unicorn, T-Rex, Electric Warrior|
|David Bowie||Aladdin Sane, Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars|
|Jeff Beck||Beck-Ola, Wired|
|Queen||Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack|
|Elton John||Elton John, Tumbleweed Connection, 17-11-70, Honky Chateau, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Rock Of The Westies|
|Genesis||Trespass, Nursery Cryme, A Trick of the Tail, Wind And Wuthering, Seconds Out, ..And Then There Were Three...|
|Lindisfarne||Nicely Out Of Tune|
|Rolling Stones||Alladin Story|
|George Harrison||All Things Must Pass|
|Harry Nilsson||Nilsson Schmillsson, Son Of Schmillsson|
|Carly Simon||No Secrets|
|Mott the Hoople||All the Young Dudes|
|Joan Armatrading||Whatever's for Us|
|Bee Gees||Life In A Tin...|
|Free||Fire and Water|
|Chris de Burgh||Far Beyond...|
|Supertramp||Crime of the Century|
|Various||Peter & The Wolf|
|Charlie||No Second Chance|
|Judas Priest||Stained Class|
|Cerrone||Love in C Minor (arranged by Alec R. Costandinos)|
|Peter Gabriel||Peter Gabriel (1978 album)|
|Van der Graaf Generator||The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other|
- Mix Magazine, 1 July 2001
- "Ping Pong Music". Ping Pong Music. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-03-02.