TAPE BAKING, RESTORATION, TRANSFER & DIGITISING SERVICES
We're proud to offer our clients a professional analogue open reel (reel to reel) tape baking and restoration service, giving you pristine, perfect results. Your tapes will sound as fresh as the day they were recorded! So far, we have a 100% success rate with baking, digitising and restoring every tape. And we've restored 150+ so far. So-called 'Sticky Shed Syndrome' is cured here!
We're also delighted to announce that two of our tape restoration projects have seen official release. Kevin McDermott's 'Demos and Rarities '86/87' was released recently - also in reel-to-reel format! We were also gobsmacked and delighted that our transfer and remix of 10cc's 'Natural Wonder' is now featured on the band's TV-advertised 'Things We Do For Love' greatest hits compilation. This precious rarity was mentioned in Graham Gouldman's TV and radio interviews, including ITV News.
We've included here some exciting footage and audio files of our latest analogue tape baking and restoration projects. You'll be able to see and hear our Super-Q dehydrator and Revox PR99 tape machine in action. Our rates are staggeringly reasonable too. You can skip to our technical notes on equipment, process and rates here.
Professional. Precise. Passionate about your music and audio, with care.
Please read on for more information...
Our client roster is growing, as this is a relatively new arm to Sean Macreavy Media's business portfolio.
Thus far, our client list has been extremely exciting! We've been honoured to bake, restore and digitise tapes by many established artists, including Henry Priestman, Yachts, It's Immaterial, The Christians, The Suede Crocodiles, Kevin McDermott Orchestra, Spargo (courtesy of Netherlands 1980s hitmakers Rockaway Org and i-Scream Music), renowned Mute Records producer Paul Kendall and of course our work for 10cc.
One of our most recent restoration projects was this: seven copy masters for the 1977 debut album by The Clash!
Some of the successful artists and producers whose tapes we've had the honour of bringing back to life...
Here are some of our other tape baking stories:
Our July 2021 'Great Alcester Bake-off' unearthed some truly incredible lost tapes. Among them were an unreleased 'Hello Piccadilly' radio jingle and effects tape recorded by Paul McCartney in 1974 during the recording of his brother Mike's 'McGear' album. Not surprisingly, it's created quite a stir in Beatles circles, and our podcast episode enjoyed a huge boost in downloads as a result. The tape is so unusual, but weirdly wonderful!
Among many other tapes, we also unveiled the original demo mix of 10cc's timeless classic 'I'm Not in Love'! Suffice to say, this sounded absolutely incredible, and features a whole vocal section and lyrics that were cut from the released version. We're so privileged to have heard this, let alone to have held it in our hands! You can see and hear our work on these two breath-taking tapes and many others on our YouTube channel in the clips above.
Other master tapes we've retrieved, baked and restored from The Strawberry Archive include:
* Single masters for Wall Street Shuffle, Art for Art's Sake and Dreadlock Holiday
* Album masters for The Original Soundtrack, Deceptive Bends, Godley & Creme's monumental Consequences and Graham Gouldman's Animalympics (video to come next month)
* Unreleased studio tapes featuring Paul McCartney 'Hello Piccadilly' and McGear sound effects, Godley & Creme's 'Gizmo sales talk', Graham Gouldman's 'Important to Believe' and 'I'm Lazy', Barclay James Harvest musical sequences for 'Suicide?', 10cc vocal samples and more.
We've shared some of these on our YouTube channel. They're wonderful, and the quality is stunning!
In December 2020, we fulfilled a life-long ambition to discover, bake, restore, play and mix three multi-track tapes recorded by 10cc at their legendary Strawberry Studios in Stockport. Detailed footage of our baking and studio adventures can be seen in our film, 'The Great Stockport Bake-off'. The results were stunning.
One of the tapes we successfully restored at our studio in Alcester was:
Hotlegs (pre-10cc) - 'You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It' - 2-track 1/4-inch, 15ips tape (backing tracks and backing vocals) - WATCH THE CAPTURE HERE:
Since then, we've continued to bake, restore and digitise dozens of 10cc-related tapes, working with the Strawberry Studios Archive. You can see and hear the results on our YouTube channel playlist.
We rescued three spectacular tapes 2-inch 24-track tapes:
The multitrack tapes were successfully captured on an analogue 24-channel desk and digitised in Pro Tools. The 1/4-inch tape was captured from our own Revox PR99 machine. All mixing was done on an iMac running Logic Pro 10.
We're very excited about baking a new batch of Strawberry Studios tapes in the near future...!
Henry Priestman, Yachts and The Christians
Henry Priestman, the talented singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is perhaps best known for his chart success in the late 1980s with The Christians. Prior to this, he emerged on the Liverpool scene with Yachts in 1977. They went on to record two albums, the second of which with Martin Rushent, who would later break new ground with his work for The Human League on their seminal album 'Dare'. In the mid-late 1990s, Priestman attended many of EMI Records' songwriting workshops at Huntsham Court, where he rubbed shoulders, and formed songwriting partnerships, with luminaries such as Kirsty Maccoll and Graham Gouldman. Sean Macreavy Media digitised the historic video footage from these fascinating annual events. He continues to write and record, and has released a number of solo projects, to critical acclaim.
Our work for Henry spans over a dozen precious tapes, ranging from small (and decidedly lo-fi!) 17/8 ips rough mixes, to full-size 7.5 and 15ips Scotch and Ampex 1/4-inch masters. The results have been spectacular and 100% successful.
Tapes baked and digitised include:
Yachts - debut demo
Yachts - New York recording for debut album, reference mixes
Yachts - mixes for second album, produced by Martin Rushent
Icicle Works and It's Immaterial - Radio interview
The Christians - Live at The Albert, Liverpool
You can follow Henry's exciting forays into tape baking with us here on his Facebook page!
The first of our jointly-produced short films captures the exciting moment when we baked and played the rarest of his tapes... It's lo-fi, but it's very cool!
Kevin McDermott, his Orchestra, Popgun and Suede Crocodiles
This was a real highlight from a recent batch of tapes sent to us for baking and restoration by the good people taking care of Glaswegian Kevin McDermott's back catalogue. This is a demo tape recorded on 27th May 1983 by Popgun, who appear to have changed their name to Suede Crocodiles during the session! The two McDermott-penned songs featured here are real crackers: Don't Stop the Rain and Pleasant Dreamer. Produced by Rab Noaks and engineered by Jon Turner at Palladium Studios in Edinburgh.
In the late '80s, The Kevin McDermott Orchestra found success with their debut album 'Mother Nature's Kitchen'. We also had the pleasure of restoring some of the original demo tapes for this terrific record!
1980s studio masters from Dutch labels Rockaway Org and I-Scream Music
We've had real fun working with Dutch label boss Dicky Lafour with an enormous haul of studio masters and multitrack tapes. Most famous for hits by Spargo at the start of the '80s, his other acts sound remarkably fresh and funky to this day! It's frankly incredible that Soul-Pop artists Rockaway Boulevard, Omar Dupree and Gaby Lang never achieved the commercial success they deserved.
RARE BBC RADIO and PROGRAMMES
We've recently donated recordings of five tapes to the BBC Archives. These were BBC TV and Radio programmes recorded at home in Coventry by Arthur James between 1958 and 1964. These incredibly rare shows include: '6-5 Special', Pick of the Pops, Easy Beat and Music for Sweethearts.
None of these recordings exist in the official archive, so these were gratefully received.
'Oven' / dehydrator / de-humidifier:
Old tapes, particularly those manufactured by Ampex and Scotch from the 1970s onwards, may suffer from 'Sticky Shed Syndrome'. This is where the binder 'glue' which adheres the magnetic particles to the plastic tape stock can become 'gooey' as it absorbs moisture from the air over time. These tapes need to be carefully 'baked' - that is, dehydrated - in order to make them playable again.
We bake our tapes in a Super-Q dehydrator, which can hold up to six 1/4-inch tapes. This helps to bring costs down for larger batches. The machine has an accurate temperature setting and a digital timer which allows us to bake tapes for precise durations, with no risk of over-baking.
The settings we've used (100% successfully) are as follows:
5 to 7-inch diameter 1/4-inch tapes: 2 hours at 55°C
10.5-inch diameter 1/4-inch tapes: 3 hours at 55°C
2-inch multi-tracks: 8 hours at 55°C or 7 hours at 59°C
Our customised Revox PR99 tape machine is a beauty. It was originally used at BBC Scotland in the early 1980s, and has been kept in safe storage since the mid-1990s. It was serviced, refurbished, cleaned and de-magnetised in February 2021 by Panda Sound in Lichfield and runs like a dream. We can accommodate any size tape up to 10.5-inch diameter, and while the machine has two speed settings (7.5 and 15ips), we can play faster or slower tapes and digitally slow down/speed up the audio. In this way, 30ips tapes can be rendered digitally in perfect quality. We also have two older 'domestic' machines with speeds from 1 7/8 to 7.5ips. Although neither is stereo, results have been good for the slower, 'lo-fi' tapes.
Specifications for this classic professional tape recorder can be found here:
We capture audio from numerous analogue devices using:
U-PHORIA analogue/digital interface from XLR feed for minimal loss and low noise
We capture master-quality audio onto:
Apple iMac Retina 5k running Logic Pro X and Audition