Celebrating David Bowie

Lots of David Bowie around at the moment. A new album, ‘The Next Day’, and exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, ‘David Bowie Is’ and to cap it all, a big celebration over the Easter weekend on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2.

Already during the last week, I’ve heard two Bowie tracks that I don’t think I’ve heard played on radio before, despite one being 40 years old: Lady Grinning Soul and Repitition.

I don’t know if this list is complete so please let me know if I’ve missed anything big, important, major, unmissable.

Celebrating Bowie.

David Bowie on 6 Music.

From the Media Centre: 6 Music.

From the Media Centre: BBC 2 (in May).

BBC – Radio 4 – The New Elizabethans

This is a long series in which James Naughtie gives us a short profile of 60 prominent British people, who have had a noticeable effect on us during this new Elizabethan era.

The programmes are always interesting, even when I haven’t even heard of the subject before. Yes, it’s obvious that someone must have pioneered and popularised the idea of package holidays, but have you herad the name Vladimir Raitz before? I hadn’t.

Today’s programme was about David Bowie. As a fan, I obviously felt he deserved a longer programme but I think the 15 minutes was pretty good, despite at least one factual error. I don’t think Mr Bowie recorded that duet with Bing Crosby five years after Crosby had died.

Still, it was good to see that he was recognised as one of just 60 New Elizabethans. The good news is, it looks as though this series will be up on the iPlayer for a long time.

BBC – Radio 4 – The New Elizabethans.

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.

Broadcasting House

Very disappointed not to win the BH competition again this morning. I don’t always know the answer to their quiz, but when I do, I do like to enter. I say ‘quiz’, because that’s what Paddy O’Connell calls it, but it’s not really, it’s a montage of sounds that are clues to a news item that occurred during the week.

I won’t tell you the answer but you can listen again here.

It may have escaped your notice that it is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It took me by surprise too when I half heard something mentioned in passing on the radio this morning.

Hah… actually, towards the end of today’s BH, Steve Punt does a pretty good job of exposing the over-exposure of the Titanic ‘celebrations’, not only on Radio 4, but pretty much on every other radio and TV station too. Skip to 57m08s for Steve Punt if you don’t want to hear the rest of the show.

Earlier on, while searching for some Titanic-free output, I heard Norman Jay on Nemone’s show on 6 Music. I haven’t heard him on the radio for quite a while but he always used to keep me company on a Sunday night on his GLR show, while I did the washing up. And every time(*) I’ve been to the Notting Hill Carnival, I always make a pilgrimage to his Good Times bus.

In other, totally unrelated news, this is a long but very interesting review of a couple of new books about David Bowie. Can’t help noticing the writer’s name is Thomas Jones. Major Tom? Related to Davy Jones (aka David Bowie)? 

(*) I just checked: I haven’t been since 2005.


Johnnie Walker’s Long Players

Sometimes I hear a radio programme and it blows me away, it melts my heart and soothes the soul.

Former pirate Johnnie Walker has a new series on BBC Radio 2 in which he discusses some of his favourite albums from the 1970s. The first episode featured Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane by David Bowie. Both of these have been my favourite Bowie album at different times in my life, so it was a joy to hear the songs again and the chat between Johnnie and his guest David Hepworth.

I listened to the programme this morning while on delivery. Usually I rush to get finished as quickly as possible. But two or three times today, I just had to stop and listen, paying full attention.

Any time something like this comes on that makes me wish I’d been there at the time must have something going for it.

I’d forgotten that Rick Wakeman played the piano on Hunky Dory, for instance. And it hadn’t occurred that David and Angie Bowie were a ‘celebrity couple’ before the concept really existed.

This show is one I’ll keep forever because it was brilliantly entertaining and informative – and it left me wanting more. (Yes, I know, I can always play the records at home!)

I might find the next episode more difficult to listen to. It’s about Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, from 1973. I’ll probably listen in the privacy of my own home. Why? Well, this was the last album that my wife Sarah and I listened to, the night before she died. I’ve not listened to it since, and it’s been nearly 11 years. But when one of the songs is played on the radio, I still get goosebumps.

Johnnie Walker’s Long Players, BBC Radio 2, next Thursday at 11.00pm. And the previous show is here on BBC iPlayer until Thursday. Highly recommended.

PS I have a Johnnie Walker story, a David Hepworth story, a David Bowie story and an Aladdin Sane story – but I’ll save those for another day, when this blog has settled down and I have a better idea of what I’m doing here.

PPS I named this blog Radio Top Soup on Day One in a moment of desperation because all the other names I thought of were already taken. I now have a better name (I think) so as soon as I find out how to change it in WordPress, I shall do so. Meanwhile, don’t change those bookmarks.