The famous Blackwing Studios

The epicenter of everything Yazoo was an old church, located in London. Blackwing Studios were housed in All Hallows Church. Here's the story

An old church building near the Borough tube station was the epicenter of all things Yazoo. All Hallows Church housed the famous Blackwing Studios, owned by Eric C. Radcliffe, where Vince Clarke laid down all his recordings up and to You And Me Both. And even some after that. This is the place, where all the Yazoo tracks was recorded.

It is even said that the master tapes to Upstairs at Eric’s, You And Me Both and lots of other recordings were kept in the tower.

Blackwing Studios
Blackwing Studios was located in London SE1.

The church is surrounded by a beautiful garden, open for the public to this day. This is where some of the first photos of Depeche Mode was taken; just outside the studio. There are no photos of Vince and Alison from this garden, though they probably did spend a lot of time there during the recordings.

1981 and 2020. The bench is not the same, but the location is.
Blackwing Studios
More than 40 years apart. Same location.

A sign at the entrance to the park tells the story of Blackwing:

“For a period of time in the early 1980s, All Hallows Church was converted into a recording studio and became the home of the hits. Blackwing Studios was where Depeche Mode laid down their debut album, Speak and Spell, and it was also here that Yazoo made their early recordings. Blackwing was one of the studios that led the way in producing the synth sound associated with Brit Pop. The studios closed in September 2001. The building has been empty ever since.”

Vince and his Fairlight CMI
inside Blackwing Studios.

All Hallows Church was also the place where Vince built his Splendid Studios. He and Eric Radcliffe ran Reset Records from here after the Yazoo split.

According to Wikipedia, Eric Radcliffe initially used used an eight-track TEAC for recording artists; this was later replaced by a 16-track machine. A second recorder was acquired and locked together with the initial machine, giving Blackwing 32 tracks of recording. This system was used for many early recordings by Yazoo and Depeche Mode. 

Blackwing used an Amek 2500 mixing desk modified to work with electronic instruments. The equipment at Blackwing was designed to be patchable through patch bays, none of the effects units were hardwired. The Fairlight CMI Vince bought before the November 1982 Yazoo tour was installed into Blackwing.

Notable recordings at Blackwing Studios

  • Depeche Mode – Speak and Spell (1981)
  • Yazoo – Upstairs at Eric’s (1982)
  • Depeche Mode – A Broken Frame (1982)
  • Cocteau Twins – Garlands (1982)
  • Yazoo – You And Me Both (1983)
  • This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears (1984)
  • Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (1989)
  • My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
  • Stereolab – Peng! (1992)

Here are some pictures from All Hallows Church / Blackwing Studios in 2020 … click to enlarge.

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