Strawberry Recording Studios

A celebration of Strawberry Recording Studios, Stockport, 1967 - 1993.

Melody Maker
25th July 1970

by Andrew Means

For so long London has been the undisputed capital of Britain's music industry that it is almost unthinkable to suggest that its position could be challenged. But, lo! From the northern horizon emerges a new threat.

With a single, Neanderthal Man, galloping up the charts, Manchester-based Hotlegs are gleefully proving that it's the sound, not the city, the counts.

"We have already started work on a first album, consisting of a congolmeration of songs which we have written ourselves, and we have a future album planned which will have a theme running through it" singer Eric Stewart told me when I phoned Strawberry Studio, Manchester, where the group do all their recording. Other members are Lol Creme (bass, rhythm guitar, piano) and Kevin Godley. "There is also a follow-up single to decide on" he continued. "We have two possibilities. One is a beautiful ballad called Today with Kevin (drums, flute, guitar) singing at his best. We haven't given a title to the other thing yet."

"We have some fantastic vocals from Kevin. He has a superb voice. I have never heard anything like it - it is very high-pitched. It puts my voice in the shade, and I just feel like keeping quiet. Kev's voice sends shivers down your back. He sings on the flip side of our current single. I suppose you could call us a progressive band. We have got some very soft numbers, and we are using electronic equipment to get a sound of strings. We are also using things that give us an accordion sound."

"We want to exapnd the studio here now, because we are getting more work than we can deal with. I started the studio with a couple of friends up here about two years ago. It was originally just to record our own songs, but other people wanted to use it and it grew from there."

"London has been the centre for God knows how long. Nobody has been able to record elsewhere if they wanted success. But now we are producing a hit sound from up here, which just shows that it can be done. We are beginning to attract local groups. There are people like Joe Cocker who comes from Sheffield. He says he hates recording in London. Manchester is at the centre of this area and he would probably prefer to record up here."

Going back to Hotlegs itseld, Eric was full of praise for Philips, their recording company in this country. "They have been marvellous" he said. "I think they have made the record as far as the chart goes." Eric mentioned that they were doing a three-day visit to Germany, where they would make a television appearance. The single had been released over there and he was well pleased with the response. "In this country it was selling at 3,000 a day before we did Top of the Pops. Last week it sold 35,000. It looks likely to be a big seller."

Either Bell or Atlantic are likely to sign the group for America, and the single would be released there soon. A tour would depend on how well it sold. The group have refused to be pushed into doing gigs before they are ready, and I asked Eric what his feelings about playing live were.

"The other two are relatively new to the business, but I have done about six years of it, and it's crap" he replied. "We have got it all worked out they way we are going to do gigs. We are not going out with a barrage of amplifiers. We want everyone to join in."