For more than forty years Ian Penman has been one of the best writers about music in the country. His new book, “It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track“, is made up of essays about James Brown, Prince, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, John Fahey and other musicians who have a strange fascination for him. Ian came to the Islington to talk about his career as a writer, the book and his plan to write a book about searching for music in charity shops. Be warned. This is the kind of book that will send you straight back to your records to listen for things that you’ve been missing.
Is Nick Lowe the only musician of his generation who has actually got better as he’s got older? How did he survive the Famepushers hype? How did England’s most laid-back musician become the Midas of the punk era? What’s the secret of his success as a producer? What does he understand that most other musicians don’t? Will Birch, a musician himself, has known him a long time, and has written “Cruel To Be Kind”, the definitive biography of one of our great musical institutions.
Fifty years ago to the week the first Crosby, Stills and Nash LP was released in the UK, holding out the prospect of brotherly love in close harmony. Thus begun half a century of bitter infighting, chemical and sexual excess, regular break-ups and tearful reunions, all of which is documented in lip-smacking detail in “Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young” by one of our favourite authors Peter Doggett. He came along to the Islington to talk to Mark and David about it.
On Sunday the Dutch group The Analogues, who have set out to play the Beatles songs that the Beatles never played live, using the same equipment that was used fifty years ago, recreated the whole of “Abbey Road” in Studio 1 at Abbey Road. Mark and David were there and they haven’t stopped babbling about it since. Hence we thought they should share their enthusiasm with the wider public.
This conversation was recorded via Skype which is prone to the odd drop-out but we trust you’ll find it worth listening round. If you want to get an idea of why they considered it so remarkable, watch this clip from a recent Dutch TV show.
In his new book “Fried and Justified“, veteran PR Mick Houghton writes about his experience as the man whose job it was to get these bands and many others written about in the NME and Melody Maker, back in the days when thousands of bands formed, toured and split up purely in order to achieve their ultimate ambition, which was getting on the cover of a weekly music paper.
Have we really seen the last of all those mad haircuts, all those dramatic break-ups, all those madly controversial interviews in budget hotels in the Benelux countries? Mick came along to Word In Your Ear to tell us.
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.
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.
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.
David Hepworth’s new book “A Fabulous Creation” is about the era of the LP, from “Sgt Pepper” in 1967 to “Thriller” in 1982. The book was launched at Foyles in Charing Cross Road with a chat between David and Mark Ellen in front of a packed house. This was illustrated with the usual magic lantern show which you can probably reproduce in your head.
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.