24th May, 2022

MUSIC MATTERS - Leamington's Woodbine Street Studios gets a plaque and Wick is 'Chasing the Rainbow'

Coventry Editorial 16th Dec, 2021

COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.

Woodbine Street Studios gets a plaque

Forty years ago, that famous Specials song ‘Ghost Town’ had topped the charts in the summer and pretty well transformed the face of British music.

Although for such a huge changeling song, it had humble roots and wasn’t recorded in a resplendent 24 track studio in the Caribbean.

Instead, it was made in Leamington Spa at a semi at 27 Woodbine Street, and last Wednesday, this hallowed site finally got a plaque to proudly display its history and future legacy.

Although the studio was much more than just the embryo for ‘Ghost Town’, run by the brilliant producer Johnny Rivers, Woodbine was prolific in the 80s and beyond (indeed it’s still making magic at another location in the town).

Steve Gibbons, The Swell Maps, The Shapes, Eyeless in Gaza and the Cov compilation ‘Sent from Coventry’ and countless others were crafted here.

I had the pleasure of visiting the studio in the 80s. Like many others I marvelled at how such great music could be achieved in such a finite space.

The ceremony was an exciting affair with the attendance of Horace Panter of the Specials, Steve Walwyn former guitarist of Dr Feelgood and of course Producer Johnny Rivers and preceded over by the charming Mayor of Leamington Coun Susan Rasmussen.

The homeowner Jenny Brook and Steve Walker were the perfect hosts and Steve and Horace’s speeches were inspiring.

Horace said of the studio: “Woodbine Street Studios survived because of John Rivers, because he knew his equipment but also because he knew people.

“It’s all about people skills.

“If a new band came along, and they didn’t know a great deal, being their first time in the studio, it could be really daunting.

“However, John was able to get behind these people and work with them to see what they wanted to put out.”

 

Wick and Charlotte Kelly

‘Wick’ AKA Sean Whitcroft is a singer/songwriter from Warwickshire. ‘Chasing the Rainbow’ is the first song from an album entitled- ‘Bleary Eyed Blue Eyed Pop’- due for completion 2022.

He is truly gifted by having a unique vocal style, refusing to sound like anyone else, and it’s this kind of mindset that has seen the local media take notice.

I get to hear a lot of new songs as a music journalist, often they are forgettable, but not ‘Chasing the Rainbow’, after just a minute in it was clear I was listening to something a bit special.

There is just something so original about his voice and the song takes you on a musical journey on the high seas of emotion. I can’t wait to hear the album.

Wick said of the song: “When I wrote the song, I knew immediately I needed a female vocalist to validate this story.

“These stories are always told from a female perspective – Adele, Leona Lewis etc.

“But I didn’t want just any singer I needed the ‘Soul Girl’ my old friend from Coventry and Soul II Soul’s lead singer Charlotte Kelly.

“Chasing the Rainbow was released on December 7, 2021, and is available to download at Spotify and all major streaming platforms.”

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