Radio Luxembourg 208 – Your Station of the Stars – on Radio 2

There’s a 2-part documentary about Radio Luxembourg starting tomorrow on BBC Radio 2.

BBC – BBC Radio 2 Programmes – Radio Luxembourg 208 – Your Station of the Stars, Episode 1.

I was thinking about this radio station on Saturday. I started watching the Eurovision Song Contest, something I’ve not done for many years. I wanted to see Englebert Humperdinck and some of the other contenders.

I saw about 5 or 6 acts before giving up in horror. I went over to YouTube to watch probably my favourite ever Eurovison song: Après Toi by Vicky Leandros. The first time I heard this song was on Fab 208, Radio Luxembourg, probably played by Paul Burnett. And I loved it straightaway, even told my Mum the next day that it would win the contest. Which it did.


RIP Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb died on May 20th after a long illness, at the ridiculously young age of 62.

I heard the news on the following Monday morning and was affected far more than I expected to be; more than I had been by the death of any other ‘celebrity’, famous person, pop star or  other prominent figure. Although we knew he was ill, the news came as a real shock.

The Bee Gees were my very first favourite group, in the late 1960s, from about the age of 12 onwards. Their 7-inch singles were the first new records I bought: Massachusetts, World, Words and so on. I suspect I heard their records on some of the old pirate stations, Radio London and Radio Caroline, and later on the then brand new BBC Radio 1.

I spent much of the day listening to old records and even watching videos on YouTube. It was great to hear Vince Melouney, one of the very early members of the Bee Gees, speaking on the Radio 2 news.

All that nostalgia and sadness. I usually listen to Danny BAker in the afternoons on BBC London 94.9. On this Monday, Gary Crowley was sitting in and he paid tribute to the group, playing a few of their somgs. he also invited stories from the listeners:

Here’s my Bee Gees story.

I listened to Paul Gambaccini last night presenting an appreciation of Robin Gibb. I think he explains very well why Robin’s passing meant more than that of, say, his brother, Maurice, sad thought that was at the time.

You can hear Spirit Having Flown: An Appreciation of Robin Gibb on the iPlayer until May 31st.

Another programme to look forward to is also on Radio 2, next Monday, 28th May. “In a special tribute to the late singer, Robin Gibb tells his own story in words & music drawn from over 40 years of BBC archive, & featuring rarely heard Bee Gees performances.”

Robin Gibb at the BBC – BBC Radio 2.

And of course, their music lives on in our hearts and in many, many media formats.

Thinking of Robin’s family and friends at this sad time.

Whatever Happened to Bobbie Gentry?

This is a wonderful documentray about the wonderful singer Bobbie Gentry, narrated by the equally wonderful Rosanne Cash.

Spoiler alert. I hadn’t realised that Bobbie Gentry had ‘retired’ in the early 1980s, and that nobody seems to know where she is now. Which is sad. But her most famous song, Ode to Billie Joe, still gives me goose-bumps.

PS I saw Rosanne Cash in concert recently, and she was brilliant. But she didn’t perform Ode to Billie Joe on this occasion.

You can catch the programme on BBC iPlayer until next Monday 21st May.

BBC iPlayer – Whatever Happened to Bobbie Gentry?

But if you missed it, here is their description. And of course, it will be repeated some time…

Rosanne Cash presents a profile of one of the most gifted, and enigmatic, of all American singer-songwriters.

Best remembered these days – if at all – for one hit record, there was a lot more to the now rather neglected talent of Bobbie Gentry than the mysterious Ode To Billie Joe. At her peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s, she was a million-selling artist who topped the charts in both the US and the UK, headlined in Las Vegas where she befriended Elvis Presley & Tom Jones, and fronted her own television show for BBC 2.

Alongside this she wrote and produced much of her own work and, across a series of albums, developed an idiosyncratic style of her own which owed as much to the tradition of the American short story as it did to country and folk music.

Whatever Happened To Bobbie Gentry examines her rise to fame and career trajectory from the international success of her debut release, Ode To Billie Joe, through to her subsequent decision to withdraw from both the music industry and public life.

The programme includes the recollections of those who worked alongside her, including arranger Jimmie Haskell, who recalls how the pristine detail of her lyrics inspired his sweepingly cinematic treatment for Ode To Billie Joe. Producer Rick Hall and musicians Jesse Boyce and Mickey Buckins reflect on her trip to Muscle Shoals to record her Fancy LP, and contemporary artists Shelby Lynne and Lucinda Williams comment on, and acknowledge, her on-going influence.

The documentary also features contributions from John Cameron (the musical director of her BBC 2 TV series) and music writer Holly George Warren.


Sony Radio Academy Awards 2012: Winners and nominees in full – Media News – Digital Spy

I can do no better than point you to the full runners and riders from last night’s Sony Awards. I tied watching online, but it was decided that a sound-only stream would be provided, such is the nature of radio.

Sony Radio Academy Awards 2012: Winners and nominees in full – Digital Spy.

I blogged when the nominations were announced on March 30th. So how did my preferences get on? All I can say is: this is why I stay out of betting shops.

Very surprised and disappointed that Kiss Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin and Charlie won the Breakfast Show of the Year (10 million plus). Partly becaus it has no appeal to me and partly because: does it really attract over 10 million listeners?

Best Music Programme went to Fearne Cotton on Radio 1. I’ve not heard the show and have chosen not to because, whenever she’s on TV, at Glastonbury, say, she tends to over-use the word ‘amazing’ – to the point ehere nothing is amazing. It’s like having a boss whose every job is ‘urgent’. In the end, none of them can be, you just do what you can.

Adam and Joe won silver for Best Entertainment Programme. Hooray!

Chris Evans, Lauren Laverne and Christian O’Connell won gold, silver and bronze respectively for Music Radio Personality of the Year. Can’t really argue with that.

Jools Holland is Music Broadcaster of the Year. This is one show that keeps me entertained whjile at work, well, for an hour a week, anyway.

Danny Baker won Speech Radio Personality of the Year for his 5 Live show. And as I write, I’m listening to him on BBC London where he is berating the folks there for not being in raptures at his success, and for not putting this show forward. He just played an old GLR jingle by way of making some kind of point.

Best Comedy went to Mark Steel’s In Town on Radio 4. I do like Mark Steel but so far, I’ve managed to miss this particular show. I’m sure I’ll catch up with it on Radio 4 Extra.

A Tale of Two Cities got the bronze for Best Drama. When I first mentioned it, I hadn’t heard it. I’ve since heard one episode, and regret to say, I didn’t get on with it.

And UK Station of the Year is BBC Radio 6 Music which is terrific news. And to think a couple of years ago, it was under the threat of being closed down due to some misguided management at the BBC.

It was good to hear Tom Robinson accept the award for Best Use Of Multiplatform or Social Media for Now Playing @ 6 Music. This is a great little programme that invites listeners to take part and help build the playlist. It’s one of those programmes that you’ll love one week and turn off the next. But as I always say, it’s good to hear the unexpected, even if you don’t like it.

The Verb – Radio 3

Highly recommended for a weekly dose of poetry, prose, humour, drama and maybe some music.

In recent weeks, we’ve heard Simone Felice talking about his literally near-death experience, as well as Seth Lakeman, probably my favourite Devon-based folk musician.

Gary Numan is on soon, and he was very interesting recently on Jools Holland’s programme on Radio 2.

The host, Ian McMillan is a fantastic poet, sometimes reminding me of the Mersey Sound poets from the 1960s, such as Roger McGough. I was going to reproduce one of his poems here, but decided, instead, to point you to Ian McMillan’s own site.

BBC Radio 3 – The Verb.

BBC – Proms –

The first thing you need to know is: tickets for this years Prom Concerts go on sale tomorrow, Saturday 12th May, at 9.00am.

But before then, you’ll need to decide which ones you want to see. So here’s the link you need …

BBC – Proms – BBC Proms homepage.

I’ve had a quick look and there are  a few concerts (funny how it’s ‘concerts’ for classical music and ‘gigs’ for modern music) that I’d like to see, time and finances permitting.

I suspect I’ll listen to most of these and many more on Radio 3.

My Fair Lady – July 14. Well, we all like the songs, and they won’t mind if we sing along, I’m sure.

Beethoven symphonies 5 and 6 – July 23. Well, alright, I’d like to see all of them, I think he’s my favourite composer, but I do like these two in particular.

The Wallace and Gromit Prom: Musical Marvels – July 29. This includes a showing of A Matter of Loaf and Death, screened for the first time with a live orchestra. Magic.

BBC Radio 3 World Routes Academy – July 31. We’ve heard him on the show a few times, but this is a great chnace to see their apprentice José Hernando Arias Noguera play his accordion live.

Delius, Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky – August 14. In paticular, I like Tchaik’s fifth symphony. And it’s always good to hear other, unfamiliar music.

Gilbert and Sullivan: The Yeoman of the Guard – August 19. Well, we all like the songs, and they won’t mind if we sing along, I’m sure. Ahem.

Family Matinee: A journey to Far Corners of tour Musical World – August 27. I’ve always been a fan of Amadou and Mariam.

Desert Island Discs – 70th Anniversary – September 3. This is one of my favourite radio shows, and it looks like this show will be a good mix of selections from the programme.

Bruckner 9th Symphony and Beethoven Piano Concerto no 4 – September 6. Never seen either of these played live. Now’s my chance.

That’s my ‘short-list’. Good luck to you if you’re buying tickets tomorrow!



Loose Ends, Desert Island Discs, Cerys Matthews

Well that was a strange Sunday morning. I heard Broadcasting House OK but a long, long-distance phone call to my daughter, newly arrived in Sydney, meant that I missed both Cerys Matthews on 6 Music and Desert Island Discs on Radio 4. I usually hear one or the other, but this week, I shall look forward to hearing both while at work.

Desert Island Discs – this week’s guest is Tim Minchin.

Cerys Matthews – 6 Music – this week, Cerys celebrates the written word with Trembling Bells and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy live. And next week, her guest is Anaïs Mitchell, who as I’ve mentioned before, we saw in concert a couple of years ago so I look forward to that too.

But I am listening to last night’s Loose Ends mainly to hear Alison Steadman. We saw her just last week on stage at Kingston’s Rose Theatre in the newly revived (and revised?) Michael Frayn play called ‘Here’. I found it hard to watch, I couldn’t emapathise with the characters, but there’s nothing wrong with some challenging theatre once in a while. It’s on at The Rose until next Saturday, 12th May, so buy some tickets now.

Also on the current Loose Ends is actor Richard Wilson and top mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, both of whom are sort of heroes of mine.

Loose Ends – Radio 4.

Saturday Live, Bob Harris Country, Cerys Matthews, Mahalia Jackson

Saturday Live is growing. From the coming weekend, it will be 90 minutes each week, so it’s not only more of the same but also it will include what used to be Excess Baggage, which is no longer a separate entity.

As explained before, I usually listen to the programme a while after the broadcast, sometimes maybe weeks after. The benefit of this is that I can fast forward through those segments that I’m not particularly interested in. It has to be said, though, that this is a very rare occurrence.

Right, this week’s first long-lengtyh, extended Saturday Live will include the usual features: this week’s Poet is Luke Wright and the Inheritance Tracks are those of Cilla Black. Guests include David Cassidy and Patrick Duffy, ideal for those (like me) who were around in and still have affection for the 1970s. Presenter Richard Coles will be joined by Sian Williams.

Saturday Live on Radio 4.

My workday experience was enormously enhanced yesterday and today by listening to Bob Harris Country. I’m a little bit behind with the show, so I’ve only just caught up with his 1960s Special. And to use one of Bob’s own favourite words, it was ‘amazing’! At several points during the show, I thought he’d been cherry-picking from my parents’ own (albeit limited) record collection. Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash were all available at home during my childhood.

Usually, Radio 2 shows are up on the iPlayer for 7 days, until replaced by the following week’s show. But the good news is: as I write, there are many previous programmes up there. Which is good news for me. Bob alluded to a previous programme from a few months ago, a 1950s special. Well, I missed that at the time, but I now look forward to hearing it. (That one was 27/10/2011, by the way.)

Bob Harris Country on Radio 2.

On last week’s Loose Ends, Cerys Matthews poke about the documentary she’d made for Radio 4, called ‘Conjuring Halie’, about the delightful gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson. I can’t recommend this documentary enough. I’ve often said that despite being the nation’s major speech station, Radio 4 does come up with some of the best music documentaries.

Conjuring Halie is repeated on Radio 4 tomorrow, Saturday 5th May at 3.30pm, and will be on the iPlater for a week after that.

Conjuring Halie – Mahalia Jackson – on Radio 4.

Loose Ends on Radio 4.

And finally: if you donated material to the national archive and then, thirty-odd years later, find one of the items up for sale on eBay, you’d be a bit miffed, right? Well, this happened to J. David Goldin, from Connecticut. But he did the right thing: he tracked down the thief, who is now serving time.

Read the full, heart-warming story here in the Washington Post.