Review Essay: “Representing Recording Studios of the Past.”: Andy Bradley and Roger Wood. House of Hits: The Story of Houston’s Gold Star/Sugarhill Recording Studios; John Hartley Fox. King of the Queen City: The Story of King Records; Roben Jones. Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios

Slaten, Whitney

The recording studio, a site that music makers use to represent and produce sonic culture, is not merely a musical place. Recording studios are social, electronic, architectural, acoustic, and creative technologies of representation. Throughout recording processes, music industries seek to mystify the functional status of the studio among consumers of pop music. This encourages alienation between consumers and producers of popular music, rendering the agency of music business interests invisible, inaudible, and transparent. Roben Jones’s Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios, John Hartley Fox’s King of the Queen City: The Story of King Records, and Andy Bradley and Roger Wood’s House of Hits: The Story of Houston’s Gold Star/Sugarhill Recording Studios present music scholarship with three recording studios that significantly contributed to American popular music. These works successfully document the local and national contexts in which these studios produced, as well as many accounts of individuals who were involved in the studios and specific recording sessions; however, these are books in which the representation of recording studios weighs heavily on celebrations of illustrious music makers and the popular music they produce. Jones and Fox are not as careful in attending to the diverse artistic and technological agencies of architects, carpenters, acousticians, engineers, musicians, producers, and business people in the history of the recording studios as are Bradley and Wood. Works such as these perpetuate readers’ misunderstanding of the complexities involved in recording studio labor and inhibit scholarly analyses of popular music production. Representations of recording studio life comprise a small category of scholarship on popular music.


Also Published In

Current Musicology

More About This Work

Published Here
August 18, 2022