Phillips’ Sound Recording Services

The studio that tourism forgot

Authored by: Mike Brocken

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138237636
eBook ISBN: 9781315299310
Adobe ISBN:


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Percy Phillips was a pioneer, for he owned and ran Liverpool’s first professionally equipped recording studio; he was integral to Liverpool’s growing sonic bricolage. Yet his diminutive recording studio in Kensington, Liverpool awards us a good example of how, although popular music tourism gathers businesses and tourists together in geographic locations where they are able to collaborate and compete, inner city geographies and local politics and preferences still mitigate against historical visibility and veracity. Although buildings are relatively fixed spaces, they come to embody variable tactile meanings governed by contextually apprised authenticities. These authenticities re-define such spaces by and through manifold human experiences. For example, recorded sound narratives of popular music have a tendency to trample on romantic auteur-style dreams of ‘genius’ by showing just how collaborative and workshop-based (thus rather ‘ordinary’) all recorded sound production actually is. In Liverpool there are also contemporary determinants concerning routes and pathways around the city, transient communities and an increasingly ageing housing stock and poor road networks, and these suggest that the location of the Phillips studio in Kensington does not show off the city of Liverpool in perhaps the ‘correct’ twenty-first century tourist light. Despite a blue plaque adorning the front of this large terraced house, it is effectively ‘off’ the Beatles tourist map.

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