As 2019 draws to a close, we look back on what has been an incredible year in music for Abbey Road by listing some of our favourite projects that were either recorded, mixed or mastered here over the last 12 months.
Listen to our end of year playlist here.
Studio OneTo begin, let’s look at some of Studio One’s highlights. Earlier this year, award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason recorded his new album Elgar with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by one of his lifelong heroes, Sir Simon Rattle. Sir Rod Stewart recruited the help of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for his new project, You’re in My Heart, claiming his tenth number one album and setting a new chart record in the process as the oldest male solo artist to top the UK Official Albums Chart. Academy award-winning composer Steven Price, together with the help of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, also put his stamp on Studio One this year thanks to his moving soundtrack to the new Netflix series, Our Planet, with Grammy-nominated singer Ellie Goulding also making an appearance with her original song, In This Together.It was a great year for film, too. Emmy Award-winning composer Geoff Zanelli recorded the score to the sequel to Disney’s dark fantasy epic, Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, with the help of a 108-piece orchestra. Based on the popular award-winning television series of the same name, composer John Lunn, together with the help of The Chamber Orchestra of London, brought upbeat jazz arrangements and a richly orchestrated score to Abbey Road for the Downton Abbey Movie Soundtrack. Legendary composer Alan Silvestri marked the final chapter in The Infinity Saga in incredible fashion scoring the music to the box-office breaker Avengers: End Game, which (as of July this year) amassed $853 million at the domestic box office, eventually going on to surpass Avatar as the highest grossing movie of all time.
BAFTA award-winning composer Daniel Pemberton made several visits to Abbey Road this year, scoring three incredible titles: Motherless Brooklyn, Yesterday and Birds Of Prey. There was also a return for legendary British animation studio Aardman and composer of 2015's Shaun The Sheep Movie, Tom Howe, who composed the score for the film's sequel, Shaun The Sheep: Farmageddon.
Studio TwoStudio Two played host to recordings from both industry heavyweights and promising new arrivals this year. Our Masters Of Potential programme, in partnership with Hennessy, challenged The Streets’ Mike Skinner and rising female rapper Flohio to collaborate in a way that pushed their own creative boundaries, writing and recording a brand new track together within 24 hours. The end result was a choppy melancholic sequence, with the pair trading lyrically relatable passages for fun. We also hosted a number of recording sessions for Canadian R&B singer-songwriter, Daniel Caesar, who returned to the fray with an introspective sophomore album, Case Study 01. Taken from their third studio album Doom Days, Bastille teamed up with The Chamber Orchestra Of London and Amazon Music to record a stunning orchestral rendition of their song Million Pieces in Studio Two.It was a standout year for British rap and grime artist Dave, who made use of our production suite, The Garage and Studio Two where he recorded an orchestral section for his poignant 11 minute track, Lesley, taken from his Mercury Prize-winning, number one album, Psychodrama. On the subject of grime, Kano, considered one of the pioneers of the scene’s music and culture, vibrantly reworked his tracks P’s & Q’s and Pan Fried for Spotify Singles; the latter created with a carnival atmosphere in mind, complete with Ladbroke Grove’s Metronome steel band and a live brass section.
Studio ThreeFormerly known as Critics’ Choice, we were once again proud to accommodate the latest shortlist of Rising Stars for this year’s BRIT Awards ceremony, which recognises and celebrates the best new talent for the forthcoming year. We had an all-female shortlist spanning musical genres such as indie-rock, soul and jazz in the form of Beabadoobee, Joy Crookes and Celeste respectively, who came down to perform a handful of tracks in an intimate session in Studio Three.
The space was also used for this year’s BBC Children In Need charity album. Celebrities including Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Colman and David Tennant recorded an album of cover songs raising money for disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. One of the tracks on the album, a cover of Taylor Swift’s song Never Grow Up by Broadchurch actor Shaun Dooley, prompted the American singer to pay him a surprise visit to Studio Three during the recording session.Another from this year’s Masters of Potential programme saw Grime MC Ghetts join forces for the first time with Irish singer-songwriter Maverick Sabre and producer Swindle to write and record a track within 24 hours, of which all impressively took place in under 12 hours. The finished article, Yss-en-neh was then cut-to-vinyl and performed exclusively to 60 fans. Ed Sheeran also released his No.6 Collaborations Project in the summer, his fourth studio album which included a number of guest appearances from the likes of Stormzy, Eminem, Justin Bieber and Travis Scott. Ed came down to perform three tracks from the album live in Studio Three: I Don’t Care, Beautiful People and Best Part Of Me, the latter of which featured Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter YEBBA.
The Front RoomNow into its second year, The Front Room has welcomed some incredible projects. Most notably this year, the award-winning Thomas Newman composed the score for the new Tolkien film, based upon the experiences that shaped the creator of The Lord Of The Rings. Part recorded in the Front Room, electronic trio Silk Road Assassins released their debut full-length State Of Ruin at the beginning of the year, blending grime and trap beats under the influence of video game soundtracks. Taken from his latest project, American rapper Jaden Smith re-recorded the vocals for the title track of his 2017 album, Syre, in the Front Room before it was taken into Studio One to re-amp and record the acoustics of the room. Our longest project of the year was the recording, mixing and mastering of Thomas Newman's score for the new epic war film 1917, set for release in 2020. Though the bulk of this project was conducted in The Front Room, it was also spread out across The Gatehouse, Studio One, Studio Three and The Penthouse, taking a total of 67 days to be completed.
The GatehouseNoel Gallagher announced his return with a new High Flying Birds EP, Black Star Dancing, written and recorded entirely in The Gatehouse Studio, taking influence from our Chief Creative Advisor Nile Rodgers, who Noel happened to meet during the recording sessions. Experimental pop artist Rebecca Lucy Taylor, also known as Self Esteem, got the opportunity to record, mix and master her alternative festive song in The Gatehouse. Titled All I Want For Christmas Is A Work Email, the song deals with the “enforced stillness” of Christmas which has proven to be a difficult time of year for her. The highly-anticipated Judy Garland biopic, Judy, centred around Garland’s final concerts in London in the late 1960s, also brought lead actress Renée Zellweger to Abbey Road earlier this year, as she recorded vocals for the film.
MasteringIt was a busy year for our mastering engineers this year. Post punk-rock band Fontaines D.C. released their critically acclaimed debut studio album Dogrel. Spoken-word artist Kate Tempest released her third studio album The Book Of Traps & Lessons, casting a look of disdain over modern day Britain and contemporary society as a whole, landing a spot in BBC 6 Music's top 10 releases of the year list alongside the aforementioned Dogrel from Dublin-based Fontaines D.C. English alternative rock group black midi impressed with their debut studio album, Schlagenheim; a genre-bending experimental offering that propelled the band into the spotlight, earning a Mercury Prize nomination in the process. And folk-influenced musician Richard Dawson released his sixth studio album 2020, both of which were also selected by BBC Radio 6 Music DJ's Marc Riley and Sean Keaveny respectively.English ska band The Specials bounced back in style and secured their first ever UK number one album with Encore, the band's first album of new material in 38 years, mastered at Abbey Road. Frank Turner returned with his eighth studio album No Man’s Land. The record was dedicated to the fascinating stories of women whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked due to their gender, from rock 'n' roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe to dancer-turned-spy Mata Hari. One of the UK’s most exciting and innovative drummers, Yussef Dayes, collaborated with Rocco Palladino and Charlie Stacey to perform a live rendition of Stanley Clarke’s 1974 hit, Yesterday Princess.Keane returned from their hiatus with a new release, Cause & Effect, their now fifth studio album and first full-length record since 2012's Strangeland. There were also new albums from Emile Sande, Oh Wonder, David Gray, Apparat and Big Moon, all mastered at Abbey Road.
MixedThis year we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ penultimate 1969 studio album, Abbey Road, with a brand new mix of the original tracklist plus a ton of new, unreleased content from the original recording sessions. For the first time in full Dolby Atmos, INXS’ legendary 1991 LIVE BABY LIVE concert at Wembley Stadium was newly mixed and remastered at Abbey Road. The soundtrack to Elton John's hit biopic Rocketman was recorded and mixed across Studio One, Three, The Penthouse and featured re-worked versions of classic tracks such as 'Your Song', 'Tiny Dancer' and 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'. All three projects were led by producer, composer and Universal's Global Head of Audio & Sound, Giles Martin, and Sam Okell.