The creation of a permanent screening room, The Bunker, and an eponymously-named record label confirm London studio group Metropolis’s intention to diversify six months after announcing a major restructuring effort and the arrival of three new investors. Another new string to its bow is a nascent events programme that, in late November, brought legendary producer/engineer Eddie Kramer to Studio A for a series of masterclass events promoted by The Guardian.
Now a sprightly 71, Kramer’s credentials are in no doubt and include numerous classic album list perennials, among them Traffic’s self-titled second album, The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet and Led Zeppelin II. But it for his association with Jimi Hendrix that he is most celebrated; not only did he record every album issued during the guitarist’s lifetime, he has also helmed many of the posthumous releases and continues to work on archival projects with trustees Experience Hendrix.
Taking an illustrated sortie through his own life in music, Kramer began by tracing his transition from South African-born aspirant classical pianist to London-based aspirant engineer working on recordings as divergent as The Kinks’ You Really Got Me and Petula Clark’s Downtown. Talent and good fortune then placed him at Olympic Studios for the second half of the 1960s – an undisputed golden era both for Olympic and the London studio scene in general.
Not surprisingly, Kramer’s affection for this period is profound and enduring. By contemporary standards, the technology might have been fairly formative, but was consistently pushed to its limits (and beyond) by creative ambition. Kramer chuckled as he recalled Hendrix’s enthusiastic reaction to his first encounter with stereo phasing (“I want that on everything!”) and the years of whirlwind sessions that frequently saw rock classics captured in a matter of hours; the boldly innovative Purple Haze, for example, was put to tape in just two four-hour sessions.