What is now the Blauvelt Auto Spa on Route 303 was once Brooks Arthur’s 914 Sound Recording Studios, a small space that birthed some of the best tracks of the 1970s. The converted gas station has become an important part of not just local lore; it is celebrated within the greater music community for committing musicians like Bruce Springsteen and The Ramones to tape. On Aug. 18, the Historical Society of Rockland will unveil a plaque to recognize the legendary landmark. To help pay tribute to this well-deserved occasion, here’s a primer on the three of the most classic (cult and otherwise) LPs and singles laid down right here the Valley by the legendary engineer.
Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run,” (Columbia Records, 1974)
The Boss found his way to Rockland after his manager, Mike Appel, pegged 914 for its reasonable recording rates. During sessions in 1972, Springsteen recorded tracks that found their way onto his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ. The following year, the New Jersey native recorded his sophomore LP, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle at Arthur’s studio. But it wasn’t until 1974 when Springsteen laid down his epic ode to Americana, “Born to Run.” The album of the same name was released the following summer, eventually selling six million copies in the United States and peaking at number three on the Billboard 200.
Janis Ian, Between the Lines, (Columbia Records, 1975)
Singer-songwriter Janis Ian recorded her number-one selling album Between the Lines at 914, which features her most successful song “At Seventeen.” The track landed her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and she went on to perform it on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live.
The Ramones, Judy’s in the Basement – The 914 Sessions (Unofficial Release, 1975)
This punk quartet—best known for their anthemic “Blitzkrieg Pop”—checked into 914 Sound Studios in 1975 to record a five-track demo featuring the popular songs “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” and the title track, “Judy’s in the Basement.” The Ramones used these recording to promote themselves to prospective labels, eventually grabbing the attention of major label Sire Records. Judy’s in the Basement is one of the band’s earliest recordings in circulation today.