Radio 4 (etc) – Ziggy Stardust Memories and Ulysses

We’ve been away for a while. Up in the Lake District, since you ask. Absolutely stunning scenery, of course. Sunshine helps but we had some rain too. Sorry I didn’t send a postcard, but I hope this will make up for it.


There’s a lot of catching up to do as far as this blog is concerned.

I’m still listening to, and enjoying, Ulysses as broadcast of Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have been well-received by most, going by newspaper reviews and the Feedback programme. (Apart from it disrupted the usual Radio 4 schedule.) And so, far, I’m enjoying it too. Am I more likely to go and read the book now? Hmmm, who knows.

It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of David Bowie’s top album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The album is, of course, being remastered, remixed and re-released. But I’ll stick with my original 12″ vinyl album for now, thanks! Played at maximum volume, of course.

There are at least two documentaries on radio about the album. The latest was on Radio 4 at the weekend. Midge Ure explores the story behind the ground-breaking album.

BBC – BBC Radio 4 Programmes – The Stardust Memories.

Previously, there was a documentary presented by Gary Kemp. It was broadcast in three formats: a half-hour version on the World Service, an hour long version on Radio 2 but the longest, two-hour  version was on BBC 6 Music. In it, Gary explores the story behind the ground-breaking album.

Radio 2 – Ziggy Played Guitar (not availble to re-play)

World Service – Ziggy Changed my Life (still available to listen again)

6 Music – Ziggy Changed my Life (not available)

Plus there was a Ziggy Stardust evening on BBC 4 last Friday. I nearly missed it, being, as I was, otherwise occupied up in the Lakes. But a quick check reveals the following still on the iPlayer:

David Bowie at the BBC – in concert at the Radio Theatre (2001 I think)

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – Ziggy’s last ever show, July 1973

David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust – Jarvis Cocker explores the story behind the ground-breaking album

The Genius of David Bowie – his songs performed by others

That’s enough TV I think: you’ll be getting square eyes, as my Mum used to say.

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!



Mike Harding on Radio 2

Mike Harding plays my (almost) weekly dose of folk and acoustic music. As with Bob Harris, his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the music and the musicians is a wonder to behold.

Last week he spoke with Cathy Jordan, a lovely Irish singer who has taken a mere 20 years to complete the album All the Way Home. The fantastic Eddi Reader joins her on the track Eileen McMahon, just one of several traditional songs.

I was lucky enough to see Eddi Reader in concert last year at what has become my favourite venue, Union Chapel, Islington.

Mike’s next programme, tomorrow, Wednesday evening, features Seth Lakeman in concert with the BBC Concert Orchestra. I’m a big fan of his music too, and have also seen him in concert several times over the last few years.

Actually, I’m torn. I would like Mike Harding to play more tracks by my favourite singers; but then, it’s lovely hearing people, such as the aforementioned Cathy Jordan, who are new to me.

I think he introduced me to the Unthanks, who are currently on my List Of People To See In Concert.

So, big hat-tip to Mike Harding, Radio 2, every Wednesday at 7pm.

BBC – BBC Radio 2 Programmes – Mike Harding.

Celtic Connections 2012

Celtic Connections is, I believe, the first music festival of the year. Actually, it’s described thus:

“Scotland’s premier winter music festival. Held in Glasgow and featuring favorite acts and the best new talent in more than 300 events over 18 days including concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, club-nights, and talks.”

I’m in England so I don’t see or hear much about the festival, but I did catch some of the output on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 3.

But again <rant mode on> radio is treated badly compared with TV.

As I write, just one of the Radio 3 programmes is still available on the iPlayer. This is due to the default 7 day limit. However, there is a lot of video available. Which is great. Much of the festival was shown on TV in Scotland. but not here in England. So while it’s great to see it online, it would have been nice to see some, at the time.

This morning, I listened to Gerry Rafferty Remembered, a tribute to Gerry who died about a year ago. I was surprised that I recognised so many songs, even though I haven’t heard them for many years. But it was a lovely show, very respectful, and I’ll keep it for a while, even if the BBC can’t.

I’m also (very belatedly) listening to the four World on 3 programmes broadcast on Radio 3. There were two programmes on Radio 2, but I only heard one of them.

It’s possibly a moving target, but this is the BBC’s Celtic Connections homepage so nip over there, and catch at least some of it while you can.

BBC local radio

Later in the afternoon, I started listening to Danny Baker on BBC London 94.9. The Candyman’s studio companion today was David Kuo. He’s a financial expert in real life, but in this show he’s allowed to read and abuse listeners’ emails. No matter what the subject matter under discussion, the main entertainment is Dr Kuo’s misread electronic communications.

Other members of the ‘Candy crew’ are Amy Lamé and Baylen Leonard who appear twice a week each. This listeners’ stories are the point of the show, and Danny Baker plays some great music too, come familiar, some not so much. But very rarely do I have to switch off in disgust!

This programme was under threat last year. Well, the whole of the BBC local radio network was under threat when BBC management wanted to slash its budget. But listeners are very loyal to their own local radio stations, they can be a focal point for the community. Following a public outcry and a backlash, the BBC Trust have (so far) told the management to hold their horses.

Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012

I’m not a big fan of awards ceremonies. Why would I be? I never win anything. But anyway…

Last night I listened to the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (on Radio 2, strangely) while occasionally watching on TV via the Red Button channel.

Don McLean sang a couple of old songs: but it’s always sad when someone’s voice isn’t as strong as it once was. And I think his guitar need tuning. He won the award for Lifetime Achievement. I got the 7″ single American Pie for Christmas that year, 1971, I think it was. So I was disappointed he didn’t sing that in its entirety!

It was good to see Seth Lakeman whom I’ve seen in concert 4 or 5 times now, in venues as diverse as the Open Air Theatre, Regents Park and at a students’ venue in Manchester.

For me, The Most Gorgeous Performance of The Evening Award goes to The Unthanks with The Brighouse and Rastrick Band’s rendition on ‘King of Rome’. That’s a keeper.

The Red Button channel stayed right to the end so we saw The Dubliners singing Whiskey in the Jar. Sadly this was missing from the Radio 2 broadcast: the news beckoned, something earth-shattering about football managers. Sometimes I think their production values are a tad awry.

The whole show is still available online, presumably for the usual 7 days:

BBC – Radio 2 – Events – Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012.

BBC News – 6 Music to mark 10th anniversary

BBC News – 6 Music to mark 10th anniversary.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s hard to believe BBC 6 Music is ten years old. Three new digital (DAB) radio stations known as Network X, Network Y and Network Z emerged from their chrysalids as The Asian Network, BBC 7 (now 4 Extra) and BBC 6 Music in  March 2002.

I was particularly excited about 6 Music because many of its presenters had previously starred (yes, I checked: that is the correct word) on the old BBC ‘local’ radio station for London, GLR. In pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter days, the Save GLR Campaign was ultimately unsuccessful (apart from increasing its audience towards the end, but that’s another story). Compare this with the campaign a couple of years ago to keep 6 Music when it too was under threat from BBC Management. 6 Music recently celebrated its best audience ratings ever and I’m sure the reason is that

By the way: this BBC news item says that the first record played was Ash’s ‘Burn Baby Burn’. My memory tells me it was White Stripes’ ‘Fell in love with a Girl’. So now I’m hoping this question doesn’t come up in the pub quiz…

If I had to recommend any specific shows on BBC 6 Music, I would go for, in no particular order: Gideon Coe, Lauren Laverne, Cerys Matthews, Chris Hawkins, Tom Robinson and Jon Holmes. Too much for any normal person to hear it all, of course, especially when other radio stations are available too!

If you’re going to the South Bank on March 11th, have a great time. I missed out on tickets, but maybe I’ll come along for a wander. Happy birthday 6 Music.

Nile Rodgers – Outlook, 14/11/2011

This wasn’t the first time that Nile Rodgers has assaulted my ears this year. I heard the programme on BBC World Service this morning. ‘Outlook’ features ‘Extraordinary personal stories from around the world.’ And this week’s subject was Nile Rodgers. It is available here for a week: BBC World Service Programmes – Outlook, 14/11/2011.

He  is interviewed by Matthew Bannister on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography entitled ‘Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny’. He did indeed have a very difficult upbringing which makes it all the more surprising, perhaps, that he could write fantastic, uplifting songs such as ‘Good Times’.

Previously, in September 2011, my wife and I attended the Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park Concert, billed as ‘a festival in a day’. And amongst the artistes playing were Chic, featuring Nile Rodgers and his very distinctive guitar sound. Although the Sun was going down by the time they appeared on stage, they brought their own sunshine.

Chic at Hyde Park, September 11, 2011And finally, here is Nile Rodgers again being interviewed by Lauren Laverne.

Elbow at Manchester Cathedral

A week ago, Elbow played a concert in Manchester Cathedral. This was a bit of a homecoming for them after world tours and a fantastic Glastonbury Festival this year. The show was broadcast live on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 ‘In Concert’ and on the ‘Red Button’ channel on TV. The encore was broadcast during Gideon Coe’s show on DAB digital station BBC 6 Music.

I am listening to the show now, a week later, on BBC iPlayer, and it will be available there for just a few more hours. Until it’s replaced by tonight’s show.

I suspect that readers outside the UK might struggle to access BBC iPlayer but I’ve heard that there are ways around this geographical restriction.

I don’t know how to form links here, yet, but since this is only valid for a short while:

Cheers, Mick