Welcome to this Blog.
It’s about my enthusiasms – mainly music and stuff – now & then.
Launched in November 2011, the blog received 123,494 page views during 2012.
It’s finally here – an album I wrote about way back in September last year is launched today with a special gig in their native Yorkshire. And the wait’s been well worthwhile. ‘Respectable Rebellion’ from Union Jill is a record I’ve been lucky to enjoy listening to since the turn of the year, thanks to a pre-release copy from my good friend John Wood. John engineered the album with Clive Gregson producing. And the result is a set of songs that any lover of acoustic music, harmony singing and the social...read more
The recent death of the conductor Sir Colin Davis at the age of 85 was a sad moment for anyone who enjoys classical music. So it was pleasing to see his life and career marked so promptly in a special programme on BBC Four. What became clear while watching ‘Sir Colin Davis With Love: In His Own Words’ was that it had been commissioned and recorded shortly before Sir Colin’s recent illness. What emerged in John Bridcut’s sensitive and thoughtful portrait of the man were a number of deep truths about classical music and...read more
Anyone who’s spent time living on an island or near a coastline will have a lighthouse story. I was brought up on a peninsula – surrounded on three sides by water – so daily life was punctuated by these magnificent structures. As their original use has been superseded by satellite navigation and automated ways of alerting shipping to coastal dangers ahead, lighthouses have found new roles. As long ago as 1984, I spent a week on holiday staying in a former lighthouse cottage, battered by the wind and waves of the Atlantic...read more
Fifty years today, a bunch of musicians gathered at the Columbia Studios in Los Angeles to work on a new Miles Davis album. Among them was a British pianist called Victor Feldman – not yet 30 years old, but with a lifetime of jazz experience, first as a child prodigy drummer and then as a talented vibes player and percussionist. By the time Miles came calling, Feldman had already lent his singular talents to other legendary jazz figures like Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and Cannonball Adderley. But the sessions with Miles on 16th and 17th...read more
Some films bear repeated viewings and the multiple-Oscar winner ‘The King’s Speech’ is one such movie. The scene in Westminster Abbey as Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) prepares the soon-to-be King George VI (Colin Firth) for his Coronation is particularly powerful. But what I hadn’t noticed before is that the music composed by William Walton for the real 1937 Coronation is nowhere to be heard. It’s the sort of commission that must give a composer nightmares. But such was Walton’s success, it’s now a...read more
Lists have become almost ubiquitous – whether it’s our favourite albums or lead guitarists or comic double acts. But 30 years ago, when Granta magazine published its first list of 20 young British novelists to keep an eye on, it established a tradition that has helped both writers and readers. Among the names featured in that first list were amongst others Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Pat Barker, Kazuo Ishiguro, Graham Swift, Rose Tremain…. all at the start of careers, which have blossomed and flourished. Also...read more
Grand National day in the UK has a special poignancy round these parts. Our village has the honour of being the last resting place of two winners of arguably the best-known steeplechase in the world. Reynoldstown was a back-to-back winner in 1935 and 1936, and Well To Do took the prize in 1972. It’s quite an historic double connection. The National has been part of my sporting life for over half a century through the Foinavon pile-up race in 1967 through to the race that wasn’t in 1993. Never a gambling family, our luck with...read more
For the past few years, Joe Boyd has been mounting concerts around the world, showcasing the songs of Nick Drake. As Nick’s mentor, it’s been something of a labour of love. Using a core group of musicians and performers, he’s allowed each song covered to develop and mature. So if you didn’t catch one of the concerts, we now have a new cd of the best performances from gigs in London and Melbourne. ‘Way To Blue: The Songs of Nick Drake’ (Navigator Records) is released on 15th April. Having recently declared my...read more
Big ideas can sometimes be so simple that it’s embarrassing. Take the latest ‘big idea’ series to grace the airwaves of BBC Radio 4. Put in one sentence, it’s about the role sound has played in the last 100,000 years of human history. Our guide through this story is Professor David Hendy of Sussex University, one of whose books about radio I’m currently staring at on the bookshelf in the room where I write. Made in handy-sized 15 minute chunks, scheduled between ‘The World at One’ and ‘The...read more
Opinions are what helps make the world go around, particularly so with music. So for every person who thinks that Elvis Presley was the bee’s knees, there’s another who thinks he was a charlatan who wasn’t in the same league as black performers of the time. The case for ‘Elvis Is God’ is put under scrutiny in the latest ‘Classic Albums’ programme about his 1956 self-titled debut. As with all the series, it’s full of great archive and insights from those who worked on the record as well as...read more