Archive for February, 2008

Songlines at 50

February 29, 2008

The 50th “Collector’s” edition of Songlines, the London-based world music bi-monthly, is currently gracing the news-stands, with several special features capturing my attention, including a couple of genre-defining short surveys – 50 Great Moments In World Music, and 50 Years of World Music – and the mag’s selection of the 50 top world albums. 

Making this issue a must-buy is the high quality cover-mount sampler CD, with tracks by Music for Grown-Ups faves like Ali Farka Toure, Youssou N’Dour, Khaled, Fela Kuti and Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan. 

I normally only look at Songlines after its leafing through its competitor fRoots, but this (recommended) issue will force me to take more interest in future.       

Gerry Smith

Neil Young and the Chrome Dreams II DVD

February 28, 2008

Having been a long-time Neil Young fan, I guess I’m in for the duration.  After all, his back catalogue is one of the richest in rockpop.

But, though I’ve dutifully bought the last few studio albums, I’ve hardly listened to any of them.  Greendale (2003), Prairie Wind (2005) and Living With War (2006) have disturbed my hi-fi a mere once or twice each. 

If I want to listen to shrill preaching, I can go to a nasty little church. But the trio of heritage dadrock releases – Live At the Fillmore East (1971>2006), Live At Massey Hall (1971>2007) and Greatest Hits (2004) – have fared rather better.  They remind me why I like Young.   Chrome Dreams II (2007) sounds as if it’ll get some play, too.  But I’m bemused by the Chrome Dreams II de luxe release.  Disc 2 has the album repeated in “DVD” format; the DVD pictures are stills of cars in Young’s garage.   What’s he up to?  Should someone tell him that tape/slide presentations had become redundant 35 years ago? Wakey, wakey, Shakey.   

Gerry Smith

Mags go under: No Depression and Resonance follow Straight No Chaser

February 27, 2008

Hot on the heels of the demise of London-based urban mag Straight No Chaser comes news of two more casualties.  No Depression, the alt-country/Americana bi-monthly, has announced it’s to close its doors following the May-June issue, after 13 years of playing a lead role in fostering the emergent genre.

And Resonance, the stylish NW coast-based champion of hip pop culture, is closing after 14 years of documenting cutting-edge indie rockpop, film, books and the visual arts.

But why are music mags going t*ts up like this? 

Simple.  Reduced CD sales because of free digital downloads means record labels reduce adverting spend.  Competitive discounting by online retailers and supermarkets mean small music retailers close down, reducing distribution outlets.  And web sites (like this) supply free news and views which people used to buy in magazines.

Serious fans of grown-up music will miss all three fine magazines.

Gerry Smith

This Week’s Music for Grown-Ups on Radio/TV

February 26, 2008

Your exclusive listening/watching guide … thanks to compiler Mike Ollier:

Radio For Grown-Ups 

Tues BBCR2 22.30 ~ 23.30

* Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan: Dance 

Fri BBCR6 21.00 ~ 22.00

*  Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan: Laughter – Big Joe Turner, The Maytals and Gene Chandler

 Fri BBCR3 22.30 ~ 23.30
*  Jazz Library: Rex Stewart – the essential recordings of the cornet player
 Fri BBCR3 23.30 ~ 01.00
* Jazz On 3 – Spindrift in concert 

Sat BBCR2 20.00 ~ 21.00

*  Mark Lamarr’s Redneck Music (3/4) – the relationship between country and rock ‘n’ roll.  

TV For Grown-Ups

 A Friday night repeatfest on BBC4, but they are good shows and if you haven’t seen ‘em, you should! 

Fri BBC4 19.30 ~ 20.00

*  Transatlantic Sessions – repeat for the sessions recorded at Strathgarry House


Fri BBC4 20.00 ~ 21.00

* Legends: Al Bowlly ~ The Very Thought Of You – more excellence in the Legends series with a repeated profile of the pre-war popular crooner.


Fri BBC4 22.00 ~ 23.00

*  Emmylou Harris’ 10 Commandments Of Country – yet another repeat, but a worthy one as Emmy and her crack band take us through some superb country/bluegrass songs.


Fri BBC4 23.00 ~ 23.35

*  Emmylou Harris at the BBC – a selection of appearances Emmy has made over the years 

Fri BBC2 11.35 ~ 12.35

*  Later With Jools Holland – Andy Fairweather-Low with Chris Barber and his band are the ones to tape and watch later this week… Ha – so that’s why it’s called ‘Later’!

Coffee bar chain to release new Dylan influences compilation

February 22, 2008

A well-known chain of foreign-owned coffee bars is to release Artist’s Choice – Bob Dylan, next week. 

The new CD assembles 16 tracks of the type Dylan has played on Theme Time Radio Hour, by musicians of the Stanley Brothers, Junior Wells and Billie Holiday vintage. 

But, as with its Dylan Live At The Gaslight 1962 CD release, the “global” coffee bar company doesn’t supply online outside the US/Canada.  How terribly quaint!   

I assume the new CD won’t be available from local coffee bar outlets, either – I failed to find any evidence of the Gaslight CD in its central London branches last year.   

I’d start to boycott the chain if I hadn’t been doing so for years.  I never darken the doors of their coffee bars.  Not for any ideological reasons, though  – I just can’t bear to drink coffee from gross oversized mugs, or to sit amongst serried ranks of shiny happy customers with too much time and money to waste.  I choose to waste mine in Caffe Nero or Coffee Republic.  

Gerry Smith

Billy Fury – Liverpool’s foremost poprocker for grown-ups

February 21, 2008

The Beatles: Liverpool’s foremost poprockers for grown-ups, yeah?   

Naaaah: not even the foremost 1960s Scouse beat band (The Searchers, if you’re wondering).  No, Music for Grown-Ups’ favourite Scouse poprocker, by a country mile, is Billy Fury, best known for a slew of hit singles like Halfway To Paradise, which elevated the classic Goffin-King ditty into pop art. 

Until recently, though, Fury’s rich legacy was hidden, thanks to a confusing multiplicity of sub-standard compilation albums. 

Whenever I’ve attempted to play The Collection, a disappointing album in my collection, I’ve quickly switched it off, wondering why I ever thought so highly of Billy Fury in the first place.   Pap like covers of Hippy Hippy Shake and Glad All Over are not where it’s at, pretty baby. 

Fury was a powerful singles artist, but what’s been available hitherto have been compilations juxtaposing a few singles with filler. 

Thankfully, Fury’s catalogue has now been massively improved by His Wondrous Story: The Complete Collection, a high quality compilation which has been in the Anglo album charts for weeks.  It’s a complete collection of Fury’s singles, for the first time on a single CD. is selling it for £8.95 delivered – bargain of the month, I’d say.   

Track List 

Halfway To Paradise

Maybe Tomorrow


That’s Love

Wondrous Place

A Thousand Stars

Don’t Worry


I’d Never Find Another You

Letter Full Of Tears

Last Night Was Made For Love

Once Upon A Dream

Because Of Love

Like I’ve Never Been Gone

When Will You Say I Love You

In Summer

Somebody Else’s Girl

Do Really Love Me Too

I Will

It’s Only Make Believe

I’m Lost Without You

In Thoughts Of You

Run To My Loving Arms

I’ll Never Quite Get Over You

Give Me Your Word

Love Or Money

Devil Or Angel

Forget Him    

Gerry Smith

Asda supermarket keeping me out of HMV

February 20, 2008

I used to be a habitual HMV customer – and a strong advocate of the retailer on this site – but I gradually kicked the habit.  Because, while CD prices have been plummeting from online suppliers and supermarkets, HMV’s prices look stubbornly high. 

I was reminded of the gap last weekend after leaving my local HMV branch empty-handed (again), after recently visiting Asda, Wal-Mart’s English subsidiary. 

Sample price comparisons of product currently interesting me were startling: 

* Morrissey Greatest Hits De Luxe: HMV £19, Asda £14 

* Van Morrison Best Of v3: HMV £13, Asda £5 

* Morrissey Who Put The M in Manchester DVD: HMV £18, (has been widely available elsewhere @ £5)   

* Led Zeppelin DVD: HMV £30, (has been widely available at Asda and elsewhere @ £13)  

HMV might well manage to turn round its ailing chain, but until its prices are back in line with the marketplace, I won’t be contributing.   

Gerry Smith

Stunning rock photography in Birmingham

February 19, 2008

Birmingham’s Snap Galleries has an exciting season of rock photography coming up:   

1. Art Kane – Visionary Portraits 1958-68 now on show 

2. Eric Meola – New Bruce Springsteen photographs 

3. Elvis Presley from 1956 by Alfred Wertheimer 

4. Lawrence Watson – Britpop icons and more   

5. Art Fairs in London and Harrogate in March 2008 

6. Bob Dylan from 1966 by Barry Feinstein – next exhibition 

Info: Snap Galleries Limited, Unit 7 – Ground Floor, Fort Dunlop, Fort Parkway, Birmingham B24 9FD.  Tel: 0121 748 3408/from US: 011 44 121 748 3408.

Gerry Smith


This Week’s Music for Grown-Ups on Radio/TV

February 18, 2008

Your exclusive listening/watching guide … a warm welcome back to compiler Mike Ollier:   

Radio For Grown-Ups 

Mon BBC R2 20.00 ~ 22.00* Mark Radcliffe: shorn of fellow talking head Maconie, Radcliffe is a much more inspirational broadcaster, with some excellent guests this week. Tonight it’s maverick Grammy winner Steve Earle and on Thursday Noddy Holder reviews the TV for the week. Bound to be more insightful and humorous than my attempts. Mon BBC R2 22.00 ~ 22.30*  Big Band Special: Tribute to Joe Zawinul Tues BBC R2 22.30 ~ 23.30* Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan: Food Thurs BBC R2 23.00 ~ 23.30* The Music Club Presents: Patti Smith talks us through her career. In half an hour?  Fri BBC R6 21.00 ~ 22.00*  Theme Time With Bob Dylan: ???  Glad to see that the Beeb keeping on top of things in my absence. Oh, they haven’t … . Fri BBC R3 22.30 ~ 23.30*  Jazz Library: Abdullah Ibrahim: choosing highlights from his own career, the South African pianist. Fri BBC R3 23.30 ~ 01.00* Jazz On 3: Dave Liebmann and Evan Parker in concert from the Vortex, London Sat BBC R2 20.00 ~ 21.00*  Mark Lamarr’s Redneck Music (part 2): I’ve never liked him as a comedian, but he’s becoming a fine radio presenter ~ his regular shows on RnR and reggae are a delight, as he reins in his ego and puts on his music fan hat. Probably a trilby. Here, he journeys to America’s backwoods to find the birthplaces and inspiration of some of the forefathers of country music; tonight he features Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams   

TV For Grown-Ups 

A bonanza on ITV4 this week, though you’ll need a recorder. 

Weds/Thurs ITV4 22.00 ~ 00.20*  Quadrophenia: One of my favourite teaching aids; the brilliant Phil Daniels’ Jimmy tears up Brighton to a marvellous soundtrack. Watch and see a litany of future TV/film stars in early roles. One of the best English films ever made, all about growing up and identity. Weds/Thurs 00.50 ~ 02.00* The Who ~ Live In Boston: Concert film from 2002 Thurs/Fri 00.20 ~02.40*  The Kids Are Alright: Who doc. Fri ITV4 22.00 ~ 23.00*  Marc Bolan ~ 20th Century Boy: Tribute to the Elfin one Fri/Sat & Sat evening ITV4 01.00 ~ 02.40 *  This Is Spinal Tap: A rockumentary, if you will, of ’80s HM group’s disastrous US tour. 11 out of 10. Fri/Sat ITV4 00.45 ~ 02.05*  The Clash: No other details, I’m afraid. Fri BBC4 19.30 ~ 20.30*  Legends: Jacques Brel ~ Ne Me Quitte Pas: Repeated profile, but none the worse for it.  Fri BBC4 20.30 ~ 21.00* Brecon Jazz Festival: Fusion Fri BBC4 22.00 ~ 23.00*  Caledonia Dreamin’: The emergence of Scotland’s Postcard Records Fri BBC4 23.00 ~ 23.35*  Edwyn Collins: Home Again: Profiling one of Postcard Records’ brilliant singer/songwriters, this doc follows Ed’s rehabilitation from a brain haemorrhage and his struggle to produce a new album. Fri BBC2 11.35 ~ 00.35* Later With Jools Holland: Here’s hoping he doesn’t play piano on Steve Earle’s songs.

Massive Attack to curate Meltdown, the music festival for grown-ups

February 14, 2008

London’s South Bank Centre has just announced that Bristol band Massive Attack are to be Artistic Directors of its 15th Meltdown festival, to be held Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 June. 

Massive Attack follow a run of directors from the top echelons of music for grown-ups, including John Peel, Scott Walker, David Bowie, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Morrissey and Patti Smith. 

Emerging from the Bristol club scene in the late 1980s, Massive Attack are innovators; they’ve worked with collaborators as diverse as Tricky, Portishead, Liz Fraser, Sinead O’Connor, Mos Def and Damon Albarn. 

Meltdown, the highlight of London’s summer music scene, is almost guaranteed to offer an outstanding programme of gigs for grown-ups, far more engaging than all the contemporaneous summer festivals in muddy fields catering for kiddy campers (of all ages).   

Meltdown takes over all 21 acres of South Bank Centre – including the riverside, Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall – for nine days of concerts, DJ sets, talks, films, and visual art. Watch this space for the line-up for Meltdown 2008. 

You’ll have to book quickly, though – demand for Meltdown festival tickets is always high.  

Gerry Smith