In which we salute Jerry Jeff ‘Mr Bojangles’ Walker and Spencer Davis (at the ABC in Wakefield!), comedians with catchphrase singles, the marketing genius of Lily Allen and the grand tradition of pop songs about – how can we put this? – “self-love”.
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Rob Halford – still proudly “a big daft kid” – remembers old musichall acts at the Wolverhampton Grand, wearing polyester suits and kipper ties when the manager of Harry Fenton’s, slogging round Europe in a Transit van, booze, drugs, bullwhips, “being head-to-toe in leather”, standing in for Ozzy, coming out on MTV and “wearing my sister’s purple top Old Grey Whistle Test”.
In which we remember Peter Frampton and the second golden age of the Scream Idols (and his hard-nosed manager Dee Anthony), are weirdly gripped by the recent screening of Cliff’s Summer Holiday, look at rock stars’ cars, Krautrock acts and rejected album titles, and name “the shabbiest sleeve notes ever written”.
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In which we salute National Album Day by digging out some much loved ’80s LPs, the Telegraph’s Neil McCormick tells us about the tyranny critics now endure from aggrieved pop fans and we invent fictitious Emo bands and live album titles.
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In which we unearth NME’s best albums and singles polls from the ’70s (Jethro Tull? Spirit? Country Joe?), invent fictitious Calypso and Blues stars, rave about Call My Agent, remember Lennon’s Aunt Mimi and Steve Strange versus Mick Jagger, wonder if it’s curtains for the age of the movie star and hear our producer Magic Alex on the joys of “flying and explosions” as he binge-watches all 23 Marvel movies.
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We look at Rolling Stone’s new Best 500 Albums update and think … where’s the 80s? Where’s the British stuff? Where’s the jazz, country, dance music, electronic, heavy metal? Is it just the classics plus hip-hop? Is it as useful as Elvis Costello’s Best 500 albums in Vanity Fair or Dave Marsh’s 1001 singles? Plus Michael Kiwanuka, the Mercury Prize and the Booker. And ’80s Peel Show acts with amusing names.
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Old pal Owen Parker on Street Life, Message In A Bottle, Superstition and other recordings that accelerate and the nightmarish complexity of playing stadiums to a click-track. Plus we predict the fate of CDs, invent ‘record collection wallpaper’ and look at Vertigo label landfill prog bands and the songs of John Shuttleworth.
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Mark Ellen talks to David Hepworth about his new book “Overpaid, Oversexed and Over There” which describes how British imitations came out from under the shadow of American originators in the early 60s, how a handful of acts from the UK went on to command the heights of the worldwide music industry, the things they learned, the things they taught and the transatlantic traffic in sounds and styles which led from the Beatles to Boy George. Also includes: the amazing story of the Dave Clark Five, the strange genius of the Animals, how the British invented the guitar hero, what the Stones learned in America, the bands that were built in the UK with the US in mind, why punk rock took years to detonate in America, the one thing that makes American music stars different from their British counterparts and the reason 2020 may turn out to be just like 1961.
In which we rope in a real musician – aka our producer Magic Alex – to discover why bands always play their big hits too fast (‘are you a dragger or a pusher?’), decode stage names (Perry Farrell, Lipps Inc, Fay Fife …), delight in Trump’s recent campaign trail faux pas with John Fogerty’s Fortunate Son and remember pop exploitation films (Gonks Go Beat!) and ill-advised rock star advertising capers.
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In which we dig out a Smash Hits from ‘79 (entirely written by D Hepworth), wonder if Ian Brown’s gone stir crazy, watch it kick off between Dylan and the Beatles (in ’66), navigate the enriching waters of NTS Radio, remember when Kevin and Perry went Mancunian and stage a stand-off between ‘60s folk revivalists and punning rock memoir titles (‘Kiss And Make-Up’ – Gene Simmons’; ‘I Did It Otway!’ etc).
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