In 2019, Eurovision hits its 64th competition. The institution is more than twice as old as the European Union and will possibly outlast it. In the UK, Eurovision has attracted some ridicule, its recent surge in popularity more down to a sense of irony than respect. How wrong we are…read more
There has always been something special about the troubadour. The lone gun singer-songwriter with something to say. Something so personal and powerful, it’s best not to have band mates get in the way. Read more…
Born Elizabeth Grant in New York, Lana Del Rey made her name performing in bars and clubs in NYC. However, her breakthrough song ‘Video Gamesʼ and its accompanying self-made music video, is what elevated her to stardom. So distinctive was the construct, some suspected a one hit wonder. Far from it, she has effectively become a modern day pop icon. Read more…
Is rock dead? Don’t laugh at the question I am (deadly) serious. And so are record labels and managers (of rock bands) the world over. Such is the proliferation of other genres: hip hop, rap, pop, Latin and now country (not to mention K-pop, Bollywood) on streaming services, anyone with or close to an amplified guitar and a fuzz pedal can be left wondering where they might fit in today’s music scene. Bosh! Read more…
Every so often a tune can really get inside you. I’m not talking the proverbial ‘ear worm’ that nags away (more like an earache, usually) but something more akin to a second pulse, pumping through your blood. That happened for me with the opening track to this playlist: Celeste’s Father’s Son. Read more…
In Perfect Harmony arrives like a thing out of time. This isn’t nostalgia for Crosby or Joni Mitchell or the hay day of Laurel Canyon, nor is it exactly contemporary. It is just gorgeous music to move you. Jazz Folk with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, Crosby and friends...read more.
Scott Walker had the best male voice in pop, bar none. My introduction to his music came from the Midge Ure cover of No Regrets, but it was the purchase of the Boy Child compilation in 1990 that exposed me to his long deleted solo catalogue. The best £7.99 I have ever spent on music - every single track was genuinely memorable. His neglected backstory and artistic image were also off-the-scale cool - I still have a soft spot for black roll-necks….read more.
Song Sommelier has become something of a recent convert (like millions of others) to the world of ‘neo classical’ and what might be reluctantly referred to as ‘relaxing piano music’. Or perhaps nourishing is better word. Anyhow, I had always planned to curate a neo-classical playlist but where to begin, when there are so many already out there? The answer was right there in front of me, my friend and wonderfully talented piano soloist and composer Andrew James Johnson. Read More…
A collection of some of the very best of the hair metal scene from its late 70s origins through to the early 90s before it ceded power to grunge. Motley Crue, Van Halen, Kiss and friends. Where's the JD?...somebody pass me that bottle! Read More.
Spinoff bands and forgotten gems from the 80s LA Hair & Glam metal scene. Featuring L.A. Guns, Poison Ivy, Vain, Skid Row, Cinderella et. al. Where's the JD? Pass the bottle? Mmm, okay, Jim Beam it is then.
When it comes to the music business, the artists voice can be drowned out by commentators, execs and journalists even though one could argue the artist has the most valid voice of the lot. What do songs about the music industry tell us about the music industry? Read more…
Happy Saint Patrick’s day to Ireland. Although I have Irish roots, I have few strong musical connections with the country. Music via Ireland flows through one man, and it’s not Van The Man. It’s Phil The Man. Phil Lynott was actually born in the West Midlands but grew up in Dublin adopted by his grandparents and effectively, by Ireland itself. A statue of Lynott is right there in Dublin’s town centre. Read more.
In memory of Mark Hollis. 4 January 1955 - 25 February 2019.
I can forgive myself for my early doubts about Talk Talk. For a start, their name appeared to be a ham-fisted nod to Duran Duran, whom they supported on tour in 1981 before they’d so much as released a single. Read more.
Americana is a broad genre. The word has one visualising a vintage Mustang burning along a highway that cuts through a rocky mountain pass. A semi-abandoned gas station perhaps, with a battered sign blowing in the breeze. Steak with eggs on top. Tumbleweed. And these new tracks! Hit the road. Read more.
Teddy Pendergrass, Same Cooke, The Delfonics, Isaac Hayes and company tell you about love, heartbreak and what it means to be human, back when humans performed impeccable soul music. Not that long ago, you feel me? See the movie "Teddy Pendergrass - You Don't Know Me". Read more.
2019 sees the wild boys (mostly) from Birmingham claim their 40th year in pop. Celebrate differently with these deeper cuts from the cannon. You can get the more obvious choices elsewhere!
At their peak, I couldn’t much stand Duran Duran. They were too good looking and ubiquitous, and besides, I was a rocker. In the mid 80’s peak Duran time I was a northern council estate kid into the LA rock scene - Van Halen, Ratt, Motley Crue, that kind of stuff. Duran Duran was literally, music for girls. Then something strange happened. Read more.
Someone told me once that the world is so much better when you fancy someone. Perhaps, but then some of these songs beg to differ. The best Valentines playlist on the web? The darkest and deepest. We have SZA, Arlo Parks, Mahalia, ELIZA, Dawn Richard et. al. so mix that Dark & Stormy, drink up and forget they ever existed. Read More.
An early evening mix of retro forgotten and maybe more modern laid back disco to get you in the mood, but dance only if you dare!
Now, this concept of the Despacio playlist takes some explaining. Despacio is Spanish for slowly, and this playlist series was inspired by James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) and Soulwax, who created the Despacio Disco - epic, hours-long sessions that feature slower ‘dance’ numbers, mixed with tracks that might be previously more associated with ‘yacht rock’ or guilty pleasures. Read more.
Gerry Cinnamon, Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad. All here in the Scottish Indie Songbook. Rabbie Burns night in for ye hen? Grab a wee dram and sit back and relax. Aye why not, eh?
Rabbie Burns knew lyrics. He did write Auld Lang Syne after all. The Bard’s Red Red Rose was the primary inspiration behind none other than Bobby Dylan, so his connection with modern music is a thing. With his very own day in the Scottish calendar, Burns is the inspiration behind yer playlist here, pals. If Burns night means nothing to you (i.e. you are not Scottish), it should. Read More.
Lizzy, Maiden, Priest, Leppard. Growing up with British Heavy Metal was one of the benefits of being a child of the 70s & 80s in Britain. Metal, make Britain great again!
There were a couple of good things about growing up in the late 70s and 80s in northern Britain. One of those is British Metal. The other one will come to me if I think about it long enough. Being a northern metal fan was something a bit special - a tribal thing that has disappeared now. Read more.