Archive for March, 2009

Bach, Handel and The Smiths on BBC Four tonight

March 13, 2009
BBC Four, sometime* patron of music for grown-ups, has a wonderfully eclectic roster tonight – JS Bach at 1930, followed by some divine Handel and then a doc on, and clips from, Rough Trade, the seminal London indie record label which introduced The Smiths and Pulp, among others, to an unsuspecting world.

This is inspired programming by the digital TV channel for grown-ups.

*BBC Four’s music programming generally brings great musicians to a new audience, but some of its recent output has been dire – ill-chosen pap, schlock-filled profiles of show biz entertainers, blah blah… – somebody is slipping up….

Gerry Smith

New Dylan CD – possibly Best Album Of 2009, according to MOJO

March 12, 2009
Thanks to Peter Brookes for the tip that MOJO, the achingly beautiful London-based Heritage Poprock monthly, has scooped the pool with an early review of the new album.

According to writer Michael Simmons:

“YESTERDAY, MOJO HEARD seven of what may turn out to be ten or eleven Bob Dylan originals…

“… ample proof of an artist steeped in the past but thoroughly living in the present, cognizant of everything, not afraid to point fingers or laugh at fools or fall in love.

“It’s a powerful personal work by a man who still thinks for himself… it’ll be in the running for Best Album Of 2009.”

Simmons reviews the seven tracks in detail – his article is well worth your time:

Gerry Smith

Herbie Hancock on radio and TV next week

March 11, 2009
Jazz pianist/keyboardist Herbie Hancock, one of the world’s great musicians and long-time favourite of Music For Grown-Ups, makes a couple of welcome broadcast appearances next week.

On Monday 16 March at 2315 BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3 has excerpts from Hancock’s gig at the London Jazz Festival last November.

And then on Wednesday 18 March at 2405, in the last episode of Channel 4’s patchy Spectacle series, Elvis Costello interviews (and, presumably, plays alongside) the great pianist.

A rare treat for lovers of grown-up music!

Gerry Smith

Sacred music for Easter by Bach, Handel and Haydn at King’s College Cambridge

March 11, 2009
You don’t have to be a believer to appreciate the great Christian cultural legacy – soaring Gothic cathedrals, the cadences of the English language of the King James Bible, and a canon of sacred music that could keep you enthralled for a lifetime.

Easter’s the high point of the Christian calendar, which usually means some great sacred music gigs.

This year’s Easter offering by King’s College Cambridge is mouth-watering. The highlights are Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St John Passion and a celebration of Haydn.

I’m going to the Bach gig on Wed 8 April. King’s is one of the great iconic music venues of the English-speaking world; it’s my first visit, so I’m counting the days.

Gerry Smith

Bryn Terfel and Anja Kampe shine brightly in Flying Dutchman

March 9, 2009
Bryn Terfel and Anja Kampe shone brightly in the current London production of The Flying Dutchman.

This fine Royal Opera House version allows Wagner the breathing space he needs to deliver a deeply moving piece of art. He might not be the easiest of composers to love, but Wagner’s the heavyweight I respect most of all. His music is uniquely engaging, his libretti don’t waste a single word.

You expect greatness from Welsh bass/baritone Terfel, Britain’s major star in the operatic firmament. And he didn’t disappoint.

German soprano Anja Kampe is a premier league Wagnerian in the making. This breathtakingly powerful performance was her Covent Garden debut. I hope we’ll see lots, lots more of her.

Gerry Smith

Free MUSIC for GROWN-UPs Newsletter re-launched – second issue

March 6, 2009
The second issue of the free MUSIC for GROWN-UPs Newsletter has been sent to subscribers.

If you’re a subscriber, you should have already received your copy by email. If you haven’t, it’s probably because:

* your spam filter has rejected it – please ensure that my sending email address – – is in your spam filter’s Friends list

* you’ve changed your email address since registering to receive the free newsletter; if so, please re-register your new email address via the Music For Grown-Ups Home Page – it only takes seconds.

And if you’re not already a subscriber – why not register now, from the Music For Grown-Ups Home Page – it only takes seconds.

Receiving the free Newsletter is a foolproof way of catching up with new content on the web site that you may have missed.

The Newsletter is now mailed to subscribers on alternate Thursdays.

Thanks for your interest.

Gerry Smith, Editor


celebrating great musicians:
from Sinatra to the Stones, Miles to Mozart, and Dylan to David Bowie.

Exclusive news and views, emailed free to subscribers on alternate Thursdays.
Editor: Gerry Smith (


Welcome to the second issue of the new series of the MUSIC for GROWN-UPs newsletter, now published on alternate Thursdays. Thanks for all your kind messages received after the newsletter was re-launched two weeks ago.

Thanks also for all the messages of support and, especially, your orders for my new book, also called MUSIC for GROWN-UPs – check it out at

And thanks to readers who entered the competition to win a copy of the new book, by nominating their Top 5 Musicians For Grown-Ups. Please watch the website: your Top 5 Musicians For Grown-Ups will be revealed very soon.

If you haven’t visited for a while, please take another look – you’ll find more articles and a sharper, easier-to-use design. And please continue to send me your news and views – of gigs you’ve enjoyed, new releases, and back catalogue discoveries – and I’ll be pleased to post them on the web site for the benefit of your fellow grown-up music lovers.

Gerry Smith, Editor (email:

to read the articles listed, please log on to

* The new Bob Dylan album, according to Rolling Stone
* Mozart, Handel, Purcell: a classical feast on Radio 3
* Leonard Cohen Live in London – new CD and DVD
* Jim Moray last night
* Van Morrison’s new release – Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl

* John McLaughlin’s brilliant Corea
* Is Bob Dylan losing credibility? A resounding no!
* Free MUSIC for GROWN-UPs Newsletter re-launched
* New albums from Springsten, Morrison, Morrissey… : Encore #1


* New albums from Springsten, Morrison, Morrissey, and maybe Dylan and Young
* Bartok, Baaba Maal, Bob Dylan
* Your last chance to win a copy of new Music For Grown-Ups book
* A fine Buddy Holly documentary
* Jose Carreras and Roberta Flack play Adelaide

* Morrissey, Dylan, Beethoven
* Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Jeff Beck
* John Martyn RIP
* Bob Dylan, American folk, Handel
* Astral Weeks – live


Leonard Cohen Live in London – new CD and DVD

Raving about last July’s Leonard Cohen London show (MUSIC For GROWN-UPs review reprinted below) to whoever would listen, I suggested that the multi-camera big-screen live video mix was so good that the gig was destined to end up on DVD.

Well, I never!

Leonard Cohen Live In London on DVD and 2CD is now being advertised for (UK) release on 30 March.

Both could be strong contenders for Rock Album of the Decade.

Which to buy, though? Simple: both. DVD for the house, CD for the car.

Rave on, Lenny!

Gerry Smith

Leonard Cohen in London: Hallelujah!

Death-bed scene: “Well, Dad, that’s the money sorted out: you seem to have blown most of it on live music. As a matter of interest, what were your top five gigs?”

I think I’d have to include last night’s London leg of the Leonard Cohen tour at the O2 (aka Millennium Dome).

The septuagenarian charmer delivered almost three hours of intense beauty, deep joy and not a little glee.

For the assembled 20,000, it was a predictably reverential (if unexpectedly intimate) celebration of a major, rarely seen, talent.

The setlist (below) was remarkable, Zeitgeist-marking signature songs succeeding each other, relentlessly. Cohen’s performance was energetic, engaged, generous. His singing made you suspect that maybe he really does have the gift of a golden voice after all. His spoken renditions, particularly of A Thousand Kisses Deep, were deeply moving…

(You can see the full text online at:


Why not bookmark now, to make it easy to re-visit the site?

The MUSIC for GROWN-UPs newsletter is delivered free, by email, on alternate Thursdays. It’s sent to you because you have subscribed via the web site.

To unsubscribe your email address, please go to the web site Home Page (; in the Subscribe area in the left column, please enter your subscribed address in the “Your Email” box; select “Unsubscribe”; and then click “Go”; you’ll be automatically unsubscribed.

(c) Gerry Smith 2009

The new Bob Dylan album, according to Rolling Stone

March 4, 2009
Thanks to Peter Brookes and Patrick Jacobi for news that Rolling Stone has covered the new album:

“… dark new disc with a bluesy border-town feel … arrives in April, … raw-country love songs, sly wordplay and the wounded state of the nation … 10 new originals… feel of Dylan’s last two studio records… seductive feel … struggling-love songs…”

You can see the full text at:

Mozart, Handel, Purcell: a classical feast on Radio 3

March 2, 2009
There’s classical riches aplenty to feast on in the next few weeks:

* Mozart: the great man’s latter days are celebrated in Radio 3’s Composer Of The Week on BBC Radio 3 this week – 1200 and 2200.

* Handel: all the operas on Radio 3, every Thursday afternoon from 2 – they’re revelatory.

* Purcell: a feast of the 17thC composer as Radio 3 devotes the weekend of 21/22 March to the great man.

Great musicians… great radio station…

Many BBC Radio 3 programmes are broadcast live online. Some are also accessible online via iPlayer for a short period after transmission:

Gerry Smith