2019: the sleeve notes

Every year since 1989, my partner Sue and I have sent a compilation of our favourite music released in the previous year to friends near and far. Since 2001 they’ve been on CD (before that: cassette, 8 track and eh… wire recording). And every year since 2005, in the run up to new year, I’ve written near daily sleeve notes to accompany the CD, with MP3s of the songs for those who don’t receive it. I know that some friends save up the CD and won’t read this until they’ve heard it. Fine. I start posting them this afternoon. Hey ho, let’s go. Listen to each song in the little players below each entry. Hot Chip – Melody of Love You have to start with…

Coming Soon

Every year since 1989 we’ve sent our more musical friends a best of year CD or cassette featuring our favourite music released that year. Some of them have done the same. Some even put together two or three CDs (but they’ve all fallen by the wayside). Since 2001 I’ve kept it to one, 80 minute, single disc (though it was previously a 90, 100 or, once even a 110 minute cassette). The first eighteen of them are above. That means leaving loads of favourite out. I listen to a lot of new music and average around forty gigs a year, not counting the acts I see at the Green Man festival. This year I would have liked to include songs by Lambchop, Big Thief and…

Whitney & Aldous RH at the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham 26/11/19

Chicago’s Whitney make short, sweet albums of indie soul. The second, Forever Turned Around, came out recently, and is full of memorable songs. The band they emerged from, The Smith-Westerns, were fun but frivolous. Nothing throwaway about Whitney, whose drummer and singer Julien Ehrlich (above left) takes centre stage. His diffident manner and Ed Norton meets Chris Martin looks appeal to the large female contingent in the packed, mostly twenty-something audience. The seven piece band includes two keyboards and occasional horns. Ehrlich’s blue-eyed soul voice is a distinctive wonder. It takes me half the set to realise what the soul inflected songs (co-written with guitarist Max Kakacek) most remind me of: pre-disco era Bee Gees. There’s also a clear influence from the late Southern soul…

Visiting The Beatles’ Childhood Homes

My family moved to West Kirby, on the Wirral in early 1963. Dad had a new job in Liverpool. It was a long, bitterly cold winter and I remember snow still covering the ground. ‘Please, Please Me’ was number one, but I don’t recall that. I was five. Across the Mersey, Beatlemania was begining. My mum bought all The Beatles’ Parlophone singles and albums, which I endlessly played. A year of so year later, with my late friend Mike Russell, we visited the NEMS record shop, where I was given money for the Long Tall Sally EP, the first record I ever bought. I’m playing the songs of my life on John Holmes’ legendary Sunday radio show just after 11AM next Sunday (Nov 3), a…

Weird Dreams: Roy & Buddy hologram tour

Royal Concert Hall, October 21st, 2019. This review first appeared in the Nottingham Post. Roy Orbison, famously, was one of the first superstars to play the Royal Centre, on June 3rd, 1985. Tickets were £8 and he played for 55 minutes. I’m told he did all the hits and his only words to the audience were before the encore: ‘I’ve had a request, so I’ll stay’. Buddy Holly and the Crickets played two shows at Nottingham’s Odeon on March 8, 1958. In a kinder world, perhaps, this would be a joint farewell tour. Holly died in a plane crash at 22, Orbison of a heart attack in 1988, aged 52. Both men would be 83 now, only four years older than Cliff Richard, who’s just…