Word Podcast 290 – Mark King on forty years of funk

In the entire firmament of those who busted the charts in the 1980s there was nobody more reliably sane than Mark King of Level 42. Before they start on their 2018 tour he came in to the Islington to entertain an enthralled house with his account of importing the first Mahavishnu Orchestra album into the Isle Of Wight, turning up on Lenny White’s doorstep in America at the age of seventeen, treating the bass as a percussion instrument, his ride on the giddy carousel of chart success in the 80s, prodding Sean Penn in the chest at Madonna’s party, appearing with Elton John and Eric Clapton at the Prince’s Trust and a recent run-in with Ginger Baker. Level 42 tour dates are here. This was one of the best evenings we’ve ever had at the Islington.

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Word Podcast 289 – Mark Kermode on his life-long struggle against musical instruments

Ever since first hearing the siren call of The Rubettes’ “Sugar Baby Love”, Mark Kermode, TV and Radio’s Mr Movie, has been possessed by a determination to find out how it feels to be on stage with a band and to make the noise that bands made. His new book “How Does It Feel?” recounts every step on that journey, from making his own guitar while at school through leading his own bands The Bottlers and The Dodge Brothers and masquerading as the musical director of Danny Baker’s late-night chat show to trying to learn the chromatic harmonica on stage in front of a large orchestra and an even larger audience. It has been a life devoted to the noble objective of getting some kind of noise out of just about anything he has been confronted with and being prepared to treat the twin impostors of approval and derision both the same.

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Word Podcast 288 – the uninterrupted Seymour Stein

We couldn’t get over the fact that Seymour Stein actually met Buddy Holly. It shouldn’t surprise us really because after all he is 76 and his first job in the music business was at Billboard when he was a teenager. It’s well known that as the boss of the Sire label he signed the Ramones, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, the Undertones and Madonna. What’s less well-known is the part played in the Sire story by Focus, the Deviants and the Climax Blues Band. The full story is written in “Siren Song” which he’s written with Gareth Murphy. He came to Word In Your Ear to talk about it. We let him get on with it.

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Word podcast 287 – Stuart Baillie on his brilliant book about music, Northern Ireland and the Troubles

Stuart Baillie’s book, “Trouble Songs” is, as he told us at this Word In Your Ear, his personal story as well as the story of music and the Troubles. Born in Belfast in 1961, Stuart came to London to work on the NME, returning to Belfast in the late 90s to run a music project in the city. His book paints a rich picture of a place with unique virtues as well as unique problems.

It’s the story of how entertainment has reflected both and how live music re-emerged from behind the ring of steel and came blinking in the daylight following the Good Friday agreement. It’s the story of Christy Moore, the Miami Showband, Stiff Little Fingers, Rudi, Van Morrison, the Undertones, Terri Hooley and scores of others, many of whom were interviewed specifically for the book. It’s also the story of the part played in the events of the time by outsiders like Lennon and McCartney, U2 and The Clash. It’s the story of how music both brings people together and sometimes drives them apart. It’s one of the best books we’ve ever covered in Word In Your Ear.

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Word Podcast 286 – with Kenney Jones – we can use the word “legend”, can’t we?

Drummer with the Small Faces, the Faces and the Who, supplier of the distinctive drum sound on the Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only ‘N’ Roll”, guest at Mick Jagger’s wedding in 1971, Kenney Jones is one of the few people born in Stepney in 1948 who wound up owning his own polo club. It’s all in his newly-published autobiography “Let The Good Times Roll”. He came to the Islington to talk to David and Mark about it. The new air conditioning was working and a splendid time was had by all.

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Word Podcast 285 – with Simon Mayo talking about his first adult novel – soon to be a major motion picture

Award-winning broadcaster and podcaster, successful novelist and former Word subscriber Simon Mayo makes his debut on the pod to talk about his ascent of the greasy pole of broadcasting, his experience fronting the Radio One Roadshow in the days when that was a very big deal, his radio husband Mark Kermode, his radio wife Jo Whiley, his first adult novel “Mad Blood Stirring”, soon to be a major motion picture, and the real reason why Dave Lee Travis always got the biggest cheer.

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Word Podcast 284 – with old friend of the pod Andrew Collins, Boswell to Billy Bragg

It was a delight to catch up with Andrew Collins on the occasion of the publication of “Still Suitable For Miners”, his biography of Billy Bragg which was initially published in 1998 and is now updated with additional material. He talked to David and Mark about the days when a biographer had a carrier bag of clippings instead of the internet, how the self-described big-nosed bastard from Barking managed to turn himself into a national institution and kept his brand burning bright for the best part of forty years and also tells us the one about the stripper and the banana. All this and an education too!

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Word Podcast 283 – his serene majesty Neil Innes on the legacy of the Bonzos and the 40th anniversary of the Rutles

In the sixties Neil Innes wrote and sang many of the deathless masterpieces of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. In the late 70s he was the leading light of the pre-fab four, The Rutles, still the greatest and most affectionate of Beatles parodies. He lives in France now. On a visit to the UK to take part in a tour marking the 40th anniversary of the Rutles he dropped in to the Islington to talk to old skool fans Mark and David about wooing women with fruit, meeting the Beatles on the stairs at Abbey Road, doing a weekly children’s programme live on TV with the one and only Viv Stanshall, helping George Harrison with his garden and not suing Oasis. A delightful guest.

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Word Podcast 282 – Garth Cartwright and his unique chronicle of UK record shops

Virgin, Harlequin, One Stop, Dobells, Rock On, HMV, Cheapo Cheapo, Disci, Andy’s, Woolies, Our Price and a million and one places called The Spinning Disc. It doesn’t matter where you did your record shopping in the far long-ago, they’re all in “Going For A Song”, Garth Cartwright’s information-packed survey of UK record shops past and present. In this podcast he talks to Mark and David about record retailing in this country from the days of the cylinder through the danceband boom of the thirties and the madness of Beatlemania to the recent rebirth of very specialist indies. It’s a road we’ve all trodden one way or another and it’s good to have it recognised.

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Word Podcast 281 – Sir Tim Rice talks about Cliff, Del Shannon, the Beatles, Sinatra, Elvis, Paul Newman, Elton and the second coming of Jesus Christ Superstar

Tim Rice didn’t particularly like musicals. He was a rock and roll fan turned junior exec. In fact when Tim Rice met Andrew Lloyd Webber in the late 60s he had his eyes on a nice job running one of EMI’s overseas outposts. But then there was Jesus Christ Superstar which was performed by the Grease Band and recorded at Olympic and sold in quantities nobody knew anything could sell and the next thing he knew he was a giant of the musical theatre and was writing with and for everyone. The perspective he’s acquired in the course of a fifty-plus year career is unique and he’s already distilled a lot of it into one volume of memoirs. He came along to The Islington so that Mark and David could encourage him to get on with the next volume. It was a delight to talk to him.

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