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A pop CD thought to be the first ever produced by a British university suggests that the country's educational institutions could provide rich pickings for the talent scouts. 
The album of songs, entitled Interplanetary Luggage Mix Ups, was written and performed by students at the University of Surrey and recorded in its state-of-the-art Performing Arts Technology Studios. Featuring a wide range of styles, including 90s pop, indie, funk, soul, rock, blues rock, Latin American and acoustic ballads, the 10 tracks on the CD reveal originality and skill. The professional standard of the album also underlines the success of the University's formula for producing graduates who can instantly excel in a competitive field like the recording industry. 
Interplanetary Luggage Mix Ups was produced by Ken Blair, a graduate of the University's famed Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) programme and head of the location recording and production company BMP Recording. He has worked with artists including Eric Clapton, Sting, Boy George, Black Sabbath, Vanessa-Mae and George Melly. 
The CD project was conceived in April this year as a showcase for the talents of Surrey's students which would also embody the University's commitment to promoting partnership between technology and the arts. The album had to be completed before students began writing exams so Ken Blair was faced with a tough challenge. "Time was not on our side," he said. "But within a day of snooping around the University Music Department I had discovered a wealth of pop music talent in the shape of bands, solo artists and writers. The enthusiasm with which the students reacted to the project was a bonus." 

A month later the bands and songs had been agreed, studio time booked, copyrights obtained, schedules organised and the first track was being recorded in one of the University's own professional specification, 24-track studios. The three student engineers had previously completed professional placements at studios like Abbey Road, working with performers such as Manic Street Preachers, M People, Goldie, Billie, Lesley Garrett and John Williams, and their experience counted. Working on a rota, they recorded ten tracks in 10 days, a feat virtually unheard of since the early days of pop. A month later, the production master tape of the album was ready for pressing and by mid-May 10,000 copies of the CD were released. 

The title of the album comes from a Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon which was in the studio control room during recording. Telephone calls to Larson's company in California secured clearance to borrow the phrase. The musicians come from across the University although many are music or recording students. Some of the performers play in more than one of the bands, like drummer Mike Reed who played on five of the tracks. Female vocalist Jo Holland, who sings on two numbers, is soon to audition for a new "girl band". 

For more copies of Interplanetary Luggage Mix Ups or information about the University of Surrey, tel. 01483 879905 

Media Enquiries and photos 
Contact Jacqui Spiers, University Press Office, tel. 01483 879314. 

© copyright The University of Surrey 1999
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Updated June1999