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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The EMI archives: it's in here somewhere

Last week I made a trip I've been planning to make for a while. David Holley from EMI invited me to come out to Hayes to look around their archive. This is where the company formerly called "the greatest recording organisation in the world" keep everything from the equipment they no longer manufacture through all their important contractual correspondence to the tapes and artwork for all those tens of thousands of records that they've released down the years.
It occupies a huge area of the site on which they used to manufacture records, not quite like the warehouse at the end of "Raiders of The Lost Ark" but not far off. (EMI no longer make even one CD. It's all done in Northern Europe, apparently.)
I've got this idea for a radio documentary called "Where Is Everything?" This will examine our assumption that all the millions of media products that are made nowadays are actually being kept somewhere. And if they are, does anyone know where? EMI's archive is huge and comprehensive but some of their singles are filed under catalogue numbers rather than names which makes them awfully difficult to retrieve.
Still, it's better than it used to be. Apparently until quite recently it was all in a cold store beneath Smithfield market. The blood sometimes dripped through from above and threatened some of the precious artefacts below.