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ALLEGRO SOUND, 1650 Broadway

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Much of what is considered to be “The Brill Building Sound” actually happened at 1650 Broadway. The Brill Building was a throwback to the Tin Pan Alley days of the 30s and 40s, and the new independent labels preferred the cheaper rent and hip modern atmosphere of the recently renovated 1650 Broadway.

With songwriters, publishers, arrangers, musicians, record labels, and radio promoters all working in the same building, the turnaround time on a hit record could be just a few weeks. “There was a real sense of community” recalls Mike Stoller.

 

In 1958, Publishing company Aldon Music set up on the 6th floor. Over the next five years, it produced over 200 hits including "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow", "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". 

 

Aldon paid their top songwriters - like Carol King and her then-husband Gerry Goffin,  $150 per week to write in a cubicle on the sixth floor.

 

“Each cubicle was barely big enough to contain an upright piano with a bench, a chair for the lyricist, and a small table with rough room for a legal pad, a pen, an ashtray, and a coffee cup.“ remembers King. “If you got a hit, you graduated to a cubicle with a window” recalled Neil Sedaka.

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In 1968, when the Vietnam War was providing ample material for protest songs and fuelling the counter-culture movement, Tommy James and The Shondells wanted to record a raucous throwback to the party records of the early '60s.

 

“Some of the lines came easy, like “Shoot ‘em down, turn around, come home, honey”, but we still had no title. And it's just driving us nuts,” says James, “We're looking for like a 'Sloopy' or some crazy name that was memorable and silly and kind of stupid sounding.

 

James was finally inspired seeing the Mutual of New York building at night flashing the neon initials “M.O.N.Y. - M.O.N.Y. - M.O.N.Y.” over and over.

 

The recording took place at Allegro Sound Studios at 1650 Broadway.  

 

“We dragged in people off the street, we had secretaries come downstairs. It's really a party that got captured on tape."

 

Allegro Sound Studios was located in the basement of the building, with the subway directly underneath.


“You'd have to wait until the train was past to go for a take if you were doing something that was relatively soft.” recalls engineer Ed Rahkow. “For most of the stuff done there, the train noise just became part of the wonder of Rock & Roll.

Tommy James (leaning on the console) and The Shondelles at Allegro Sound Studios, 30th October 1968.

©  Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Today 1650 Broadway is home to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a retro 1950s-themed diner with singing waitstaff. Former staff members have gone on to star in Broadway and off-Broadway musicals such as The Lion King, In The Heights, and Wicked.

 

The basement houses the Iridium Jazz Club, where guitar legend Les Paul performed weekly until his death at age 94.

 

Office space is available in the upper floors of the building. Most floors are divided into smaller units from 300 sq.ft. to 7000 sq.ft

 

The sixth floor, where Carol King and Gerry Goffin composed in their cubicle, currently has 2000 sq.ft. available.

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