Everyone at Chemikal Underground was extremely sad to hear the recent news that the BBC is to close Maida Vale Studios in London. The studios are the source of precious memories for many of the label’s artists who have been fortunate enough to record a session for the John Peel and Steve Lamacq shows over the years. Aereogramme, Arab Strap, bis, Cha Cha Cohen, Magoo, Mogwai, Sluts of Trust, Suckle & The Delgados all made the long journey south, squashed in a van with all the necessary gear, arriving weary but with their excitement unabated as they opened the doors to the historic studios for the first time.
The Delgados went on to record six Peel sessions at Maida Vale (their first session broadcast on the Peel Show actually recorded for Peter Easton’s Radio Scotland Show ‘Beat Patrol’) and the band remember to this day how pivotal a point that broadcast was in their career, subsequently leading to opportunities including tour slots with The Wedding Present and Elastica.
Stewart from The Delgados recalls their first session at Maida Vale in the liner notes of the album ‘The Complete BBC Peel Sessions’:
“Arriving at Maida Vale for the first time and descending into the studios is like entering a nuclear bunker: unassuming and characterless from the outside; nothing prepares you for the miles of labyrinthine corridors that snake and weave their way underground. Everything is dull and grey and bottle green and beige – it reeks of 50’s austerity and of a time when sound engineers and producers turned up for work in a shirt and tie.”
Long after the studios are gone the bands will cherish recording there and we hope you have enjoyed the music that Maida Vale has produced over the years as much as the bands enjoyed recording it. Its influence on the evolution of Chemikal Underground as a label is hard to understate. The support of John Peel was always present, never in question, and indeed his radio show undoubtedly helped to shape the musical ambitions of virtually all of Chemikal Underground’s artists.
If you haven’t already got a copy of The Delgados ‘The Complete BBC Peel Sessions’ CD then it is available for the alluring price of just £6. Clocking in at 29 tracks over 2 discs, that works out to be a pretty great deal. Check it out here.
Find out more about all of the sessions at the BBC Peel Sessions Archive