.. where we consider the brave new world in which Rick Astley plays the Smiths, a documentary explores the reasons people detest Kenny G and Rolling Stone rather self-consciously revise their list of the Best 500 Songs Of All Time (should they declare 2001 the new Year Zero and just reset the clock?). And featuring … worst supergroups, acts who’ve never put out any cover versions, bands who arrived at the venue but never played and Morrissey answering the phones on Rock Around the Clock.
Among the white-hot news items fondly examined this week you’ll find … the eternal wars in Fleetwood Mac, how we broadcast our love of bands before the rock t-shirt arrived (involves a canvas bag, a biro and the words ‘Chicken Shack’), Michael Chapman, Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts, the one good thing about the pandemic, albums that were too long and a night featuring a navy surplus greatcoat and the non-appearance of the Move’s Ace “The Singing Skull” Kefford.
In which we consider the melancholy of Abba (and find a 45 year-old bar of Abba soap), applaud the hidden message in Lee Perry’s Cow Thief Skank, wonder how Judee Sill would be marketed today, remember the Beach Boys’ purple patch and note the only two things of any worth ever achieved by Iron Butterfly.
In which we wonder if it’s the Stones without the drummer, tell the whole story of the “work five years and 20 years hanging around” interview, salute the great Charlie album sleeve moments and investigate “the Rolling Stones wobble”. And there’s Reading Festival ’79, the Nirvana Nevermind saga and other random folk on record sleeves (the US marine on a Smiths cover, the Russian presidential candidate on a Pulp album, Supertramp’s singing waitress, the Bauls of Bengal) and a search for the origins of Prog.
‘I Wanna Be Yours’, the superb memoir by “the bargain basement Baudelaire”, is now out in paperback, much of it an account of growing up in Salford. Here he looks back at the days when “the Rialto cinema was my babysitter”, seeing Little Richard aged 11, the fine details of the Beatles’ tailoring, old TV ads, Stanley Holloway, Joe Loss, “Woodman, Spare That Tree”, the Mecca ballrooms, the Bernard Manning audition that launched his career, the pure sensory overload of hearing rock and roll in fairgrounds and life in a flat with two members of the Velvet Underground. It’s extremely funny and revealing – and, for anyone old enough to remember those times, exquisitely nostalgic.
Topics this week given a vigorous shakedown include … the magical story-telling of the late Tom T Hall, best-preserved ’80s rock stars, the construction of John Cooper Clarke’s pickled onion “pork pie doorstep”, the line-up and health risk of the 1971 Weeley Festival (Gnidrolog! Tir Na Nog! Castle!), a chance meeting with Una Stubbs, how Spotify changes your Greatest Hit, best opening songs on a debut album and what’s the annual miserabilis of rock?
The fourth and last guest at our sun-roasted live event in Holland Park on July 17 was the ever-supercharged Danny Baker. Straw-hatted, drink-toting and delighted audience members were treated to a series of superb comic monologues which featured his idea for a Beatles movie, the South London promoter who locked himself in a portakabin to evade the wrath of his acts and a magnificent riff about how the music-hall legend Bud Flanagan conned his way onto an ocean liner (aged 14) and joined a travelling show in America.
Topics subjected to the usual forensic scrutiny this week include … Jan & Dean’s role in the kidnap of Frank Sinatra Jnr, is it still the Stones without Charlie?, the Offspring drummer kicked out for being an anti-vaxxer, buying Revolver 55 years ago, Bobby Whitlock’s roasting of the All Things Must Pass remix, how Tot Taylor gatecrashed the music industry in ’73 and the least rock and roll leisure pursuits.
We staged our first live event for 18 months on July 17, a sun-baked day at a spectacular outdoor venue kindly lent us by Opera Holland Park. A vast amount of fun was had. We’re putting up podcasts of all four of our guests, this one featuring the world’s pre-eminent fount of all Beatles knowledge and wisdom, the great Mark Lewisohn and including his thoughts about Peter Jackson’s upcoming Get Back movie, why Brian Epstein is underrated, a pivotal moment in the Beatles story (1961), the treasures you find when leafing through old magazines (as opposed to googling), and the revelation that Mean Mr Mustard was based on a real life character whose wife has numerous grounds for divorce.
Topics plumbed to their very depths this week include …. are tears for Olympic athletes now compulsory? The absurd names of Usain Bolt’s children. The backstage chaos of the Concert For Bangladesh. Dusty Hill’s mid-ZZ Top job at an airport. Can Ryan Adams ever get another record deal? Why the Sparks story is unique and extraordinary. Can you ever feel as attached to music you don’t own in physical form? Bands you hated when young. Plus … Magic Alex on impersonating members of the Stones for a living.