Soho rocks. And rolls. And everything else in between. The Swinging 60s cemented the idea of the area as the centre of cool, but audio-wise its history goes way back.
Whatever sounds were hitting the airwaves, you can bet you heard them first in Soho. Record shops were so plentiful that a map produced in the 1990s detailed more than a 100 of them scattered around the area
The Saville Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue enjoyed a brief but spectacular incarnation in the late 60s as the world’s wildest music venue when it was leased by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. Everyone from Jimi Hendrix to the the fab four themselves regularly tore up the stage of a Sunday evening.
A quick reverse of the flow of time brings us back to the present. Contributing editor Gillian Smith takes you through a snapshot of Soho’s current auditory delights. Long may they continue!
With all the music production and sales busily whirring and clicking in the area, it was only a matter of time before Soho brought forth its own radio station. Since its inception in 2014, Soho Radio has grown rapidly to encompass both music and culture, uniting the worlds of London, the wider UK and globally. The station broadcasts more than 250 shows a month online covering every musical genre, along with the best of the arts, life and chat and its own podcast production arm. It also play a vital part in local community life. So turn on… and turn in…
33 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 0DG
While the music industry tends to capture the public imagination, the more grass roots world of voiceovers, audio booths and track mixing has always had a steady foothold in Soho. Most post-production facilities boast their own audio studios, but specialist companies are still very much around. One such is Silk Sound, which has been based on Berwick Street since the heady days of 1979. Through its doors have passed the actors, presenters and voiceover artists whose carefully modulated tones have reflected an ever-changing world via TV, advertising and drama. Listen up people.
13 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0PW
SISTER RAY RECORDS
Sister Ray Records, named after The Velvet Underground song, has been a fixture in the Soho Record Shop firmament since it was founded by Neil Brown way back when in 1989. Still going strong on Berwick Street, where many others have sadly foundered, the label’s dedication to vinyl has paid off handsomely. Whatever you’re looking for, if it’s not immediately available in shop, Sister Ray will get on order double quick.
75 Berwick St, Soho, London W1F 8RP
SOUNDS OF THE UNIVERSE
Another long-standing staple in the world of Soho Record Shops is Broadwick Street’s Sounds of the Universe. With shipments from the USA, Japan and Europe, the store reckons their selection of Reggae, Dubstep, Funk, Soul, Latin, African and world beats is the largest in the UK. They also have what they promise is a killer selection of books and DVDs. Linked to Soul Jazz Records, the label’s releases can also be bought on the website.
7 Broadwick Street, Soho, London,W1F 0DA
DEAN STREET STUDIOS
Sound studios have always been a vital component of the entertainment industry and one of the oldest and best known in Soho is Dean Street Studios. If these walls could talk they’d pen a tell-all biography selling millions. Music legends like David Bowie, T-Rex, Thin Lizzy and U2 worked with owner-producer Tony Visconti to create history. Later the likes of Tina Turner, Pink Floyd, The Smiths, Duran Duran, Ed Sheeran and Adele took their turn. Today the space is home to a main studio and a number of smaller concerns still creating audio magic across all aspects of media.
59 Dean St, London W1D 6AN
Written by Gillian Smith. This article was previously published in the winter 2020 issue of My Soho Times. CLICK HERE to read it online.
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