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By this time, Island Records purchased an old church on Basing Street and converted it to a “state of the art” studio facility with two studio and control rooms.  Each of the control rooms were equipped with Helios desks created by a new start up company owned by the original engineer over at Olympic studios, Dick Swettenahm. Dick handbuilt the desk at Oylmpic with had gotten rave reviews.  While still an employee of Olympic other studio owners were trying to get Dick to build them a musician requested desk as well.  Much to the chagrin of Olympic studios, Dick decided to go freelance and start his own company that was financed by non other than Island Studio’s owner Chris Blackwell. The new Basing Street Island facility was built around two of the first Helios desks to hit production.


Basing Street Studio (aka, Island Studios) was a very rare recording space for its time.  Ian Anderson actually complained about the acoustics of the tracking room (old church) in that it was too boomy and complained that the engineer kept telling him everything was going to come out correclty (the engineer being Johnnie) but Ian was very unhappy with the results but by his own omission and the success of the this TULL breakthrough album, Aqualung, came to the conclusion that this new engineer must have known what he was doing.  Led Zeppelin happened to be in the studio’s other room at the time and there is a story of Jimmy Page coming into the control room during the guitar solo to the title track by Martin Barre and was on the other side of the glass playing air guitar to push Martin further to pull off the solo. I can almost picture this scene in my mind.


It turned out that the Helios desk was a very unique sounding desk and many classic progressive rock bands from the early 70s used Basing Street and the Helios desk to create the classic British progressive rock sound. The picture on the left is the actual control room of studio number 2 that was used for the vocals, final overdubs and mixing of The Lamb.


The Island Mobile also had a Helios desk that was used for the tracking of the album. Luckily, I was able to make contact with Johnnie directly and had the real honor of asking him questions concerning the recording of The Lamb. Even though this work was completed decades ago, where Johnnie could remember some of the information, he was and is very helpful and generous with his time.  Currently, Johnnie is still keeping active in the business and working closely with the band, JEBO, a very talented PROG ROCK act out of England. Rumor has it that Johnnie is still interested in producing/engineering acts.  I know I would hire him if the opportunity presented itself.


Johnnie Burns was about the third engineer that Genesis went through on Foxtrot and due to his public school background and Johnnie’s tape editing skills shown on Supper’s Ready, a partnership was born and Johnnie engineered and produced the next Genesis releases up to and including The Lamb.  Johnnie also toured with the band as their live sound engineer.  As just a coincidence, the sound man I was using the early 80s name was John Burns as well. Only my John Burns was from New Jersey.


Johnnie Burns also sent me photo copies of all the Track Sheets from session for The Lamb and I found these astounding, amazing and chuck full of answers. Just the working titles for the songs were interesting.  Try to imagine what song’s working title was Sex song or Steve’s Solo? Some other working titles not that easily connected with the final titles are Blue Lagoon and Wild West.