Word podcast 299 – Oscar-winning composer and arranger Anne Dudley on being the industry’s go-to woman

In a departure from our usual way of doing things we were delighted to welcome Art Of Noise-nik, ABC arranger and purveyor of fine soundtrack music for everything from “Poldark” to “The Hustle” Anne Dudley to talk about a career that has been largely spent behind the scenes.

Subjects covered include: the surprising things you can learn from working with people with no musical talent, why everything in a film is provisional, how to suggest a chord to Paul McCartney, the uncanny ear of George Michael and what it’s like to stand in front of an orchestra with a baton. Plus, for the first time ever, we’re delighted to introduce actual musical illustrations. Let us know what you think.


Word Podcast 298 – Gary Crowley on 80s pop and forty years as a teenager

Gary Crowley has just put together “Gary Crowley’s Lost 80s”, a lovingly-curated four CD set of the kind of oldies that the radio station computer doesn’t automatically reach for. It’s the kind of stuff that might have soundtracked his teenage discos, his nights at the Wag, his shows on Capital Radio and GLR or served to warm up the crowd as he presided over shows by Wham or the Style Council.

He came along to Word In Your Ear to talk to Mark Ellen and David Hepworth about his extraordinary career, which began with meeting Joe Strummer in the street, climaxed with introducing Oasis at Knebworth and involved everybody from Elton John to the Wonder Stuff.


Word Podcast 297 – Eamonn Forde on the demise of “the greatest recording organisation in the world”

In 2007 private equity firm Terra Firma borrowed a lot of money from Citibank to buy EMI, the UK’s most venerable music company. Their plan was to transform this most traditional of companies to meet the challenges of a new age. A year later the economic crash came along to make what was already a difficult job even harder.

Eamonn Forde covered what was going on at EMI for The Word as the smart guys from the city tried to grapple with the idiosyncrasies of a business which is strangely touchy-feely and utterly unscientific. And now that the Terra Firma misadventure is over and EMI has been divided up among the other major comglomerates he’s brought it together into “The Final Days Of EMI: Selling The Pig”, a uniquely authoritative insider account of an industry that was losing an empire and was yet to find a role. He came along to Word In Your Ear to talk about it.


Word podcast 295 – Midge Ure on a 50-year career you simply couldn’t make up

We were delighted to welcome Midge Ure to the Islington to talk about growing up in Glasgow, becoming a teen idol by accident, being offered a slot in the Sex Pistols, almost becoming the Next Big Thing, assisting at the birth of the Cult With No Name, becoming a temporary rock star with Thin Lizzy, becoming a genuine rock star with Ultravox, writing the biggest hit in chart history, getting his slot at Live Aid pinched by his mate Bob Geldof, appearing on “This If Your Life”, “Celebrity Masterchef” and playing the blues on the porch with Eric Clapton. Truly all human life is here.

Midge is touring twice in the next year. In the first jaunt, beginning in March, he’ll be playing and also taking questions from the audience. In the second he’ll be supported by a full band and reprising many of the Ultravox and Visage songs which are about to celebrate their 40th birthday. Details and tickets here.

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Word podcast 294 – David Hepworth & friends swap sweeping statements about both pop and rock

In introducing this session, which was inspired by David Hepworth’s new book “Nothing Is Real” Mark Ellen said “I’ve know this man for over forty years and I’ve never won an argument with him”. On this occasion the two of them were joined by old friends, writer Jude Rogers and broadcaster/podcaster Geoff Lloyd, to chew over some of David’s theories, such as why the Beatles were underrated and why you should never play pop records at funerals, and to add a few of their own, which cover such topics as the girlfriend who changed the direction of popular music, the redundancy of the live album and the records that you should and shouldn’t play at a wedding disco. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

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Word podcast 293 – Mark Blake on Peter Grant, the man-mountain behind Led Zeppelin

Peter Grant was the former all-in wrestler turned manager whose reputation was built on his knack for making sure his bands got paid. In this respect didn’t hurt to have the build of a screen heavy and the reputation of a gangster. When Led Zeppelin got paid it was in quantities so large that they had to be taken away from the venues in carrier bags from supermarkets.

In “Bring It All Back Home” Pink Floyd and Queen biographer Mark Blake tells the full story of Peter Grant from his time as a wartime tearaway through road managing Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent to his meeting with Jimmy Page, with whom he formed what was probably the key relationship in the Led Zeppelin camp through their rampages across America in the 70s to a very dark period holed up in his moated house in the country taking cocaine in immense quantities and harbouring dark thoughts about the world outside. As we told Mark Blake when he came to the Islington to talk about it, this one really should be a movie.

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Word podcast 292 – Kenneth Womack on the sideways genius of George Martin

Kenneth Womack, who actually teaches a course in the Beatles at Monmouth University in New Jersey, has just published “Sound Pictures”, the second part of his mammoth biography of Beatles producer George Martin, and he came to Word In Your Ear to talk about it. There was plenty to cover: from his childhood in the Depression through a transformation thanks to the Fleet Air Arm and the Guildhall School of Music to an apprenticeship at EMI which led him to produce everyone from Flanders and Swann to Peter Sellers and then confronted him with the challenge of making something of the four boys from Liverpool that the publishing division were keen on signing.

He wasn’t convinced at first but as soon as they did something he thought was good he was the first to recognise it and he was the only person apart from Brian Epstein who believed they were going to be huge and helped make sure they were. Kenneth provides a gripping account of what was arguably the most productive creative partnership of the 20th century. How does he think they would have fared if they had ended up with some other producer at EMI rather than George Martin? “I think they would have had a few hits and then faded away,” he says. “What make it all work was that they came at everything sideways.”

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Word Podcast 291 – Billy Bragg talks about the vital role played by skiffle in the story of British rock

David Hepworth writes: We dropped off Billy Bragg at his London hotel after this evening at Word In Your Ear and on my way home I started spooling back through the dizzing range of subjects we had touched upon in the course of the evening: Izal medicated toilet paper, the Beatles, Joe Henry, the restorative effects of finishing the evening signing tea towels, Bovingdon tank museum, an old copy of the East London Advertiser, meeting Bob Dylan, watching old Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, the importance of accountability, what the Clash could do and what they couldn’t do, meeting Ray Galton in the pub, what poems could each of us recite from memory, Lead Belly, the cultural importance of TV cowboys, how many of the Quarrymen are still alive and then there was a joke about a doctor and a cat which I can’t recall enough of to relate here.

In the middle of all that we recorded a podcast where Billy talked about “Roots, Radicals and Rockers”, his acclaimed book about skiffle.

The following day I asked Mark if there was anything I’d forgotten and he added: Conscription, rationing, availability of post-war foodstuffs (sugar, sweets), embouchure re brass instruments, Italian fashion and screen idols, American ’50s pop culture, the birth of ITV, cowboy mythology, Dixie, blues, trad jazz, bop, jive, rockabilly, skiffle, punk, garage rock, ragtime, syncopated rhythms of New Orleans, Spasm band instruments, the laws of the railroad & transport of livestock and, well, you get the idea. Thanks to Billy for giving us one of the great nights at Word In Your Ear. If you enjoy the Word podcast don’t forget to favourite it in all the usual places.

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Word Podcast 215 – with Chas Hodges

For all the people who have been asking to hear the long version of our chat with Chas Hodges, who was our guest in the podcast on June 1st 2012, here it is. It’s all here: growing up in Edmonton, playing in Joe Meek’s house band, hearing “Revolver” on acetate, playing with Heads, Hands and Feet, the amazing story of Chas and Dave and much more.

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