20 October 2009

Rock Monuments - Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin

Not far from the South Bank of the River Liffey in the Docklands section of Dublin, Republic of Ireland is a block of buildings chock full of graffiti tags located on a small street named Windmill Lane. [Our own TNOP correspondent Celtic Ray is seen strolling the area above.] A two-story building, now boarded up, was in fact the site of many great moments in rock 'n roll.

Windmill Lane Studios was opened in 1978 by Brian Masterson, who designated himself as company director and head engineer. Traditional Irish music and film scores (performed by as many as an 80-piece orchestra) were recorded initially at the facility. Even though the Irish rock scene had started to bloom around this time, groups like Thin Lizzy, The Boomtown Rats and The Undertones all went overseas to record their records.

Then came producer Steve Lillywhite and his production in 1980 of U2's first album, Boy: "We recorded at a place called Windmill Lane in Dublin. It was great for traditional Irish music but no Irish rock band had recorded there. . .So the studio crew were very surprised when I decided I wanted to record the drums out in the hallway by the receptionist, as there was this wonderful clattery sound I wanted to get. But that meant we couldn't record until the evening, because this girl was sat answering the phones all day. . .It was all pretty slapdash, But funnily enough, it's not unlike how the band still records."

U2 would go on to record October as well as the seminal War with Lillywhite at Windmill Lane. Portions of The Unforgettable Fire and one of the best selling albums of all-time, The Joshua Tree, helmed by producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, were also recorded in studio two.

The studios expanded in the 1980s and until its closing in 2006, Windmill Lane hosted a number of rock's luminaries, including R.E.M., Van Morrison (Back On Top), The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello (Spike), Kate Bush (Hounds of Love) and The Waterboys (Fisherman's Blues).

After moving to a new facility in Ringsend, Dublin (and retaining the same name), the boarded up Windmill Lane studio became a place for an on-going fan homage to U2. In addition to our original photos above, you can check out these shots as well.

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