Archive for April, 2008

FREE! Music for grown-ups on air in the next seven days

April 30, 2008

Over the next seven days, I hope to catch/record these tempting TV/radio broadcasts:



Thurs 1 May

2300 Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (rpt) – BBC Radio 2


Fri 2 May 

2100 Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (Series 2) – BBC 6 Music

2230 Thelonious Monk, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3


Mon 5 May

1200/2045 Schubert, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3

(1/5, continues Tues-Fri)



Gerry Smith

Van Morrisonfest on BBC Four: a mixed bag

April 29, 2008

Last weekend’s trio of Van Morrison features on BBC Four, an all-too-rare appearance by the Ulsterman on the grown-up TV channel, was a mixed bag.


The main event, a live show performed in February at LSO St Luke’s for the BBC Four Sessions series, promoting the new album, showcased Morrison the peerless live musician as he is today.


With an accomplished 11>13-piece band, he showed how he’s still cutting it as a great performer.  Improvisation has always been his calling card, and the scatting, swing and dynamics of this performance were exquisite. 


The artistry was most evident in benchmark performances of three varied classics – I’m Not Feeling It Anymore, Vanlose Stairway and Help Me.


But stirring performances of the new material couldn’t rescue it for this viewer: reverence for the bulk of the magnificent Morrison catalogue is matched by disdain for most of the material recorded since Back On Top, most of Keep It Simple, the new album, included.


Van Morrison on Later … was a compilation of weak clips from three shows, in 1999 and 2005.  Of the six tunes, only a stirring Philosopher’s Stone, was memorable.


BBC Four then pulled a fast one with its third programme, the 60 minute Van Morrison at the BBC, by including all six clips already seen on Later… .  A great pity, because the rest of the songs, notably And The Healing Has Begun, from Saturday Review of November 1986, were beautiful performances of great songs.


Occasionally, in all three programmes, I pondered: “why on Earth did I kick my two-gigs-a-month Van habit?”  The post-Millennium material peppering all three supplied a ready answer.  



Gerry Smith

Exciting new Fall product

April 28, 2008

These are exciting times for fellow fans of Manc contrarian Mark E Smith (main man in The Fall). 


* Today sees the launch of Imperial Wax Solvent, which has been attracting rave reviews –“best in years”…  


* Wednesday: free gig (1900) at HMV, 150 Oxford Street, just east of London’s Oxford Circus, sponsored by music monthly MOJO: for details check out


* and an important new approved biography, Renegade – The Lives And Tales of Mark E Smith, has just been published. 


In-depth interview in:


And lengthy extracts in:





Gerry Smith (no relation)

Bjork in Plymouth: superlative performance art

April 24, 2008

Bjork established herself as a leading talent fifteen years ago, with her debut release, Debut.  Her elliptical lyrics, exploring the big themes and her richly eclectic musicality – shifting effortlessly between dance beats and roots, Minimalism and jazz, as well as knowing pop and artrock – have long marked her out as a precious musician for grown-ups.


Her six studio albums reveal a restless, morphing creativity.  The first four are filleted on Greatest Hits, which repays repeat listening and careful scrutiny – every home should have one.


So Tuesday’s Plymouth gig, on the short English leg of the Volta tour, was approached with keen anticipation: a rare chance to check out the poster girl of grown-up pop at first hand.


Bjork didn’t disappoint. 


Her 90-minute show was superlative performance art.  Interspersing Volta songs with classics from the back catalogue, Bjork treated the largely local audience – there were few signs of travelling hardcore in this far-flung location – to a spectacular show.


The trademark vocals, ranging from intimate whisper to banshee howl, delivered the idiosyncratic songbook with a consistent force.  From the opening bars, when she bounded onto stage like a dervish possessed, to the soaring finale when she led the West Country choir in “Declare Independence!”, she acted out her unique catalogue in dance as well as voice. 


In a lifetime’s gigging, you’d be lucky to see a more energetic, more committed performer.


The show was an ambitious, complex theatrical production, with three keyboardists, a drummer and a horn section of 10, the Wonder Brass (nice touch, that).  Plus costumes, flags, emblems, fire, laser show, confetti storm … the circus was in town …


Bjork’s Plymouth show sounded and looked fabulous.  But it all meant something, too.  Working out what, exactly, will provide hours more fun.


Musicality, originality, ideas, ambition, execution, charisma… the gel’s got it all.





Gerry Smith

FREE! Music for grown-ups on air in the next seven days

April 23, 2008

Over the next seven days, I hope to catch/record these tempting TV/radio broadcasts:


Wed 23 April

2045 Vivaldi, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3

(3/5, continues to Fri)

2230 Natalie Dessay, Artist Focus – BBC Radio 3

(3/4, continues Thurs)


Thurs 24 April

1050 Callas, Pagliacci, Classical Collection – BBC Radio 3

2300 Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (Series 1 – rpt)

– BBC Radio 2


Fri 25 April

0050 Portishead in Portishead, C4

2100 Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (Series 2) – BBC 6 Music

2200 Van Morrison, BBC Four Sessions

2230 Wes Montgomery, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

2300 Van Morrison, archive footage from Later – BBC Four

2335 Eric Burdon and Marshall Chess, Later – BBC2


Sat 26 April

1830 Opera On 3, Live from the Met, La Fille du Regiment, starring Dessay and Florez, the best opera you’ll hear all year – BBC Radio 3

1900 Icons Revisited – Prince – BBC Radio 2  


Sun 27 April

2250 Van Morrison, BBC Four Sessions (rpt)

2350 Van Morrison at the BBC, more archive footage



Gerry Smith





ALTERNATIVE SELECTION: on air in the next seven days

 … thanks to compiler Mike Ollier:


Radio For Grown-Ups

Thurs BBCR2 ~ 23.00 ~ 00.00

*  Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan: Rich Man Poor Man

Repeats continue on terrestrial radio


Fri BBCR6 21.00 ~ 22.00

*  Theme Time With Bob Dylan:

On his myspace blog Mike Scott (Waterboys) has said he thinks this show isn’t very good ~ how wrong he is folks.


Fri BBCR3 22.30 ~ 23.30

*  Jazz Library: Wes Montgomery


Fri BBCR3 23.30 ~ 01.00

* Jazz On 3: Dave Douglas and Keystone


Sat BBCR2 19.00 ~ 20.00

*  Icons Revisted

Prince ~ a look at the tiny one’s enduring work which will probably ignore the last ten years.



TV For Grown-Ups

Tues BBC2 22.00 ~ 22.30

*  Later Live

More live music, that’s live, as it happens ~ oh yes!  Featuring Was (Not Was)


Fri BBC4 22.00 ~ 23.00

*  Sessions: It’s Van night on BEEB4 ~ yippee!  Van Morrison Live at LSO St Luke’s with a selection from his new album plus some classic older stuff like Vanlose Stairway ~ well worth a look.  John Platania now back in his band and the slide player Sarah Jory, too.


Fri BBC4 23.00 ~ 23.30

*  Van Morrison On Later

A selection of Mr Happy’s appearances on Later.


Fri BBC2 23.35 ~ 00.35

*  Later – See Tuesday


Sun C5 11.00 ~ 12.00

*  My Music

C5 did the naughty on me and swapped the listings around ~ this week it’s Ms Carthy.  I think.



Not Music, But We Like It

Congrats to the wonderful Gavin And Stacey on winning two BAFTA Awards ~ and don’t forget HIGNFY on Friday at 9, or on Saturday in the extended programme.

I’m Not There, masterly Dylan movie – DVD extras

April 21, 2008

The eagerly awaited I’m Not There (masterly Dylan biopic) DVD release is being variously advertised as 6 May (US) and 9 June and 14 July (UK).


Thanks to Bernard McGuinn for supplying this list of the DVD Extras.  They’re welcome, though such an impressive movie hardly needs extras – it’d fly off the shelves without them anyway:


– Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

– Audio Commentary with Director Todd Haynes

– Premiere Featurette

– The Making Of I’m Not There

– Subterranean Homesick Blues Music Video

– Audition Tapes – Ben Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin

– Gag Reel

– Conversation with Todd Haynes

– Making of the Soundtrack

– Dylan Filmography

– Dylan Discography

– New York Times Article on the Film, by Robert Sullivan

– Lyrics





Gerry Smith

Radiohead box at a bargain price

April 17, 2008

I usually avoid HMV these days – too expensive – and have warmed to Zavvi since it was bought out from The Bearded One.


But … HMV’s current sale has a tempting offer on the Radiohead albums box:



Radiohead – Album Box Set: 1993 – 2003: Deluxe: 7cd: Ltd


HMV 15/04/08: Was £55.00 Your saving £25.01.  CD £29.99,  free delivery




Release date: 10-12-2007

Availability: in stock

Number of Discs: 7

Catalogue Number: 5172292




 On 10th December Radiohead are releasing a limited edition deluxe 7-CD box set collection of all their Parlophone albums from 1993-2003. Each CD within the box will be re-packaged in a digipack sleeve featuring original artwork and booklet.


The first six albums Radiohead recorded for Parlophone are collected in this box set, charting the band’s journey from the indie rock chancers of ‘Pablo Honey’ to the seasoned experimentalists and political commentators of ‘Hail To The Thief’. In between we see the band’s incarnations as prog revivalists on ‘OK Computer’ and chart-friendly emotional giants with ‘The Bends’. Also included is the 2001 live recording ‘I Might Be Wrong’ which notably features the unlikely live favourite ‘Idioteque’ from ‘Kid A’, perhaps their most experimental release. Radiohead’s is a difficult career to summarise, but this completist option is possibly the most rewarding choice.


Radiohead burst onto the Britpop scene in the early 1990s with a clamorous, post-U2 take on guitar rock, buoyed by the hit “Creep.” They subsequently developed their songwriting and production skills on THE BENDS and achieved iconic status with their breakthrough album OK COMPUTER, making art-rock cool again in the process. The mercurial band’s long-awaited follow-up three years later was a sharp left turn full of ambient electronics and Can-like sonic deconstruction, and they’ve continued the trend with subsequent albums and solo projects. The connecting thread through all the band’s phases has been Thom Yorke’s intense vocal frenzy.


track listing


disc 1

1. You

2. Creep

3. How Do You

4. Stop Whispering

5. Thinking About You

6. Anyone Can Play Guitar

7. Ripcord

8. Vegetable

9. Prove Yourself

10. I Can’t

11. Lurgee

12. Blow Out


disc 2

1. Planet Telex

2. Bends

3. High And Dry

4. Fake Plastic Trees

5. Bones

6. Nice Dream

7. Just

8. My Iron Lung

9. Bullet Proof…I Wish I Was

10. Black Star

11. Sulk

12. Street Spirit (Fade Out)


disc 3

1. Airbag

2. Paranoid Android

3. Subterranean Homesick Alien

4. Exit Music (For A Film)

5. Let Down

6. Karma Police

7. Fitter Happier

8. Electioneering

9. Climbing Up The Walls

10. No Surprises

11. Lucky

12. Tourist


disc 4

1. Everything In Its Right Place

2. Kid A

3. National Anthem

4. How To Disappear Completely

5. Treefingers

6. Optimistic

7. In Limbo

8. Idioteque

9. Morning Bell

10. Motion Picture Soundtrack


disc 5

1. Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box

2. Pyramid Song

3. Pulk/pull Revolving Doors

4. You And Whose Army

5. I Might Be Wrong

6. Knives Out

7. Morning Bell/Amnesiac

8. Dollars And Cents

9. Hunting Bears

10. Like Spinning Plates

11. Life In A Glasshouse


disc 6

1. National Anthem [live]

2. I Might Be Wrong [live]

3. Morning Bell [live]

4. Like Spinning Plates [live]

5. Idioteque [live]

6. Everything In It’s Right Place [live]

7. Dollars And Cents [live]

8. True Love Waits [live]


disc 7

1. 2+2=5

2. Sit Down Stand Up

3. Sail To The Moon

4. Backdrifts

5. Go To Sleep

6. Where I End And You Begin

7. We Suck Young Blood

8. Gloaming

9. There There

10. I Will

11. Punch Up At A Wedding

12. Myxomatosis

13. Scatterbrain

14. Wolf At The Door



Gerry Smith

Bjork – new tour

April 14, 2008

Bjork’s English tour, which kicked off in Manchester on Friday, is attracting rave reviews, notably this in the Da1ly Telegraph:


Ms Gudmundsdottir has reportedly forsaken a greatest hits show in favour of an in-depth exploration of Volta, the current album.  Which is exactly what a musician for grown-ups should do – greatest hits gigs are for adolescents (of all ages).


Watch this space – as I gear up for my first Bjork show, in Plymouth next week.




Gerry Smith 

Bjork’s English tour starts tomorrow

April 10, 2008

Bjork’s starts her short English tour, in Manchester, tomorrow.  She then plays seven more dates over the next three weeks.  I’ll be reviewing the 22 April Plymouth show. 


I haven’t seen the diminutive Icelander before, but she’s been a favourite on CD for years – her refreshing artistry marks her out as one of the leading musos for grown-ups of her generation. 





11 April Apollo, Manchester


14 April Hammersmith Apollo, London


17 April Hammersmith Apollo, London


20 April Hammersmith Apollo, London


22 April Plymouth Pavilions, Plymouth


25 April Civic Hall Wolverhampton


01 May Empress Ballroom, Blackpool


04 May City Hall, Sheffield



Gerry Smith

New Stones album: giving it a miss, for now

April 9, 2008

As expected, following Monday’s release of Shine A Light, the new Stones double CD, you simply can’t escape the Glimmer Twins: they’re all over the airwaves and the High Street.


As always when you get a new Stones product, Jagger& Co are dominating the media agenda and on this occasion they’re aided and abetted by the powerful Scorsese publicity machine.


I’ll be attentively recording/watching the promo, Rolling Stones: Shine A Light Movie Special on ITV1 at five past midnight on Saturday/Sunday night.


But I think I’ll give the new album a miss, even at the £10 supermarket price.  I know from experience that it’ll be available at £5 in six months time.  There’s nothing on the new release shouting “buy me, now”.  And I’ve already got eight official live Stones albums – more than enough.


Album tracks:


Jumping Jack Flash


She Was Hot

All Down The Line

Loving Cup (with Jack White)

As Tears Go By

Some Girls

Just My Imagination

Faraway Eyes

Champagne And Reefer

Tumbling Dice

You Got The Silver


Sympathy For The Devil

Live With Me 

Start Me Up

Brown Sugar


Paint It, Black

Little T and A

I’m Free

Shine A Light




Gerry Smith