Who Was Ivan Vaughan?

Ivan Vaughan might¬†have changed your life ūüôā It’s unlikely that you know the name though. And he didn’t invent anything, he wasn’t a captain of industry or a pioneering scientist. In fact he was just a normal bloke and a schoolteacher for many of his adult years. He didn’t come from an extraordinary family and went to an ordinary school. Growing up, he had friends of course. One in particular friend was exactly...

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Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson

An appreciation of Abram Wilson, written by Andy Royston. All photos by Benjamin Amure courtesy of the Abram Wilson Foundation. Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson. ”¬†It‚Äôs about finding the inspiration and the energy to overcome any obstacles that might stand in your way as far as playing this music is concerned. You have to be a warrior to get through. It‚Äôs somebody who won‚Äôt stop pushing, who won‚Äôt give up on...

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When Fats Waller Met Al Capone

¬†When Fats Waller Met Al Capone. Fats should have seen it coming. But playing at the Sherman House Hotel, in the swinging heart of Chicago’s loop, he must have felt safe from the mob. As the song goes, the joint was jumpin’. Fats was only 21 years old in ’26 but he was already a big draw. He’d been making records for four years and was about to enter his first peak period. His¬†solo stride piano and pipe organ...

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Scandal: John Lennon and Alma Cogan

Yoko Ono did not break up the Lennon’s marriage. Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John, died on April 1st, 2015. Four days later, a newspaper broke the story that she had told a reporter, back in 1989, that it wasn’t Yoko Ono that had split up the Lennon marriage. Cynthia had revealed, the newspaper said, that the breakup of the marriage was due to a once-famous but then-fading British singer called Alma Cogan (pictured)....

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The Loudness of Jack Bruce

“Cream‚Äôs last year was extremely painful for me.¬†When we started in 1966, Eric and Jack had one Marshall each. Then it became a stack, then a double stack and finally a triple stack. By 1968, I was just the poor bastard stuck in the middle of these incredible noise-making things. It was ridiculous.¬†I used to get back to the hotel and my ears were roaring.”¬†Ginger Baker, Drummer: Cream Jack Bruce had been playing upright...

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Ivy Benson

Who was Ivy Benson? Have you heard of Ivy Benson? I doubt you have but her story is fascinating. Unusually, she was the leader of a swing band in England during the Second World War – and it was an all-girls band. They were incredibly popular. Women came into their own during World War Two. They drove trucks and buses, flew planes, worked as machinists and engineers, worked decoding messages and in general, took over the jobs of...

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Bing Crosby

Who doesn‚Äôt remember that one voice in a lifetime Bing Crosby? If you are too young to remember, or think that you have never heard him sing, think again. If you have listened to any radio station around the holidays then you have probably heard his voice. The famous song ‚ÄúWhite Christmas‚ÄĚ is played over and over again during the Holiday season. Written by Irving Berlin “White Christmas” was the biggest hit of Bing...

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Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran In 1959, Eddie Cochran found out about the tragic deaths of his young fellow musicians, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. They had been killed on tour when their plane crashed in bad weather. Eddie’s friends and family said that this led him towards thoughts of his own doom and that he too was destined to die young. Fourteen months later, when Eddie was on tour in England, he too was killed in an accident....

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Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge: When a Man Loves a Woman Did you know that Percy Sledge’s song, When a Man Loves a Woman, was based on his own experience? When he wrote the song, he had just been dumped by his girlfriend. He understood at the time that she had left him for another man. Someone had told him that was the reason why she had disappeared from his life and gone to New York. In an interview, he later said that the original title of the...

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Down With Kurt Cobain

Down With Kurt Cobain By Andy Royston Montage of Heck, a documentary film about the rock star Kurt Cobain, begins and ends with film of an adorable little boy, aged around eighteen months¬†old.¬†The film’s executive producer, Kurt’s daughter Frances Bean, was around the same age when her father was found dead at his Seattle home. He’d taken his own life. As a viewer one is left to contemplate the nature of...

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Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg

Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Je t’aime – banned. You’d have thought that by the nineteen sixties people were pretty much unshockable. Mind you, I suspect that the song Je t’aime shocked very few real¬†people, if anyone, but the stuffy BBC decided to ban it from their airwaves. I thought it was rather lovely. The title was repeated, whisperingly, to the sound of luscious organ music, by Jane...

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Goodbye Chuck Berry

To mark the passing of rock-n-roll legend Chuck Berry, Andy Royston takes another listen to the man’s first big hit. It was a spring day in Chicago’s South Side, just off 47th St, then the home of the blues. Some guy up from St. Louis walked in the door on a mission to see Leonard Chess, owner of Chess Records to see if he could make a deal. His name? Chuck Berry. The night before Berry had been watching Muddy Waters at...

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Don De Lion – Don Drummond and the Skatalites

Andy Royston takes another listen to one of Jamaica’s pioneer musicians and the scandal that shook the music. Extrovert, eccentric and self-taught Don Drummond’s trombone style has an earthiness and songlike quality that makes it immediately identifiable. His melodies are so simple, so perfectly constructed and memorable. Don Drummond was able to channel emotions from gentility to absolute rage through his music with as...

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John Lennon: The Beatles are bigger than Jesus

John Lennon: The Beatles are bigger than Jesus. In 1966, John Lennon was interviewed by Maureen Cleave, a friend of his, for an article entitled How Does a Beatles Live? John Lennon lives like this. In the lengthy article she spoke about his reading matter, Indian music, his Siamese cats, where he bought his clothes, films , games, his family and other trivia. The article, which was published in the Evening Standard on March 4th that...

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Von Trapp Family Singers: The Truth

¬†What is the truth about the von Trapp Family? There can’t be many people who are unfamiliar with the story of the von Trapp Family Singers. They were immortalised in the film, The Sound of Music. How true is the story that we know so well? I have another question too – one that I’ve never heard anyone ask. We know from the film that Captain (or Baron) von Trapp was a widower who had several children. In the film, a...

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Lou Reed: A True Transformer

Written on¬†October 27, 2013 I learned, just now, that Lou died today. I never met him or even saw him perform. But in so many small ways he made my life bigger and brighter and sharper and more inspirational. I was just eleven years old and living in a small Yorkshire village miles from Lou’s great New York City. He opened my eyes to a new world. It took just one song –¬†¬†Walk On The Wild Side¬†– to opened my ears to...

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Concert for George

The George Harrison Memorial Concert. On the first anniversary of George Harrison’s death, his family and friends took part in a huge concert to celebrate his life and his music. Hundreds of people attended the event which was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Millions more have seen it since. You can see the full, two hour plus video below. The concert had been organised largely by Eric Clapton who acted as musical...

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Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti

42 Years Ago – Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti At 4pm every weekday evening the parade across the fields began. The schoolkids from the village south of town would walk the two miles down into the hill, past the burned out coal mine¬†and up the other side. In age they ranged from 11 to 18; all in school uniforms of black,gray and navy blue, with a hint of the fashions of the day. In February 1975 Maggie Thatcher had been...

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Britain’s Got Opera!

Britain and opera. In 1990. I still lived in the UK and a friend from America was visiting. I remember him being amazed because the most popular song at the time – it was in the charts, played on the radio and was a favourite on pub jukeboxes – was Nessun Dorma performed by Luciano Pavarotti. ‘Only in England’ he would say ‘could the most popular song be an aria from a Puccini opera’. But was this a...

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Florida Songs: Margaritaville

And before you ask,¬†it IS a song. Sure, now you can mosey¬†into your big-resort Margaritaville restaurant and order your “Who’s to Blame” cocktail¬†with your Cheeseburger In Paradise, and wash it down with Landshark Lager before heading into the casino for your¬†Mississippi Stud or Texas Hold’em. Faux air-conditioned¬†beaches, fake palm trees, old-time photos on the wall and Hawaiian shirts on backs of the...

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Under the Covers: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Under the Covers: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow Andy Royston takes a listen to Carole King’s delightful¬†song Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and the different ways it has been covered through the years. The songs of Goffin and King are superb examples of the song writing craft of the Sixties. Finely honed to meet the demands of the clients who commissioned them, and written with the requirements of AM radio always firmly in...

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The Cramps – Poison Ivy’s Rockin’ Sound

The first I heard of The Cramps was on late night radio. The DJ on some fading pirate station was playing a massive reverb filled swamp punk number called Under The Wire, a paean to dirty phone calls. It was simultaneously subversive and hilarious. The sound was deeply familiar but disturbing and wild as if from another era. A forbidden planet. A monster from outer space. It had as much to do with old surfer music like Duane Eddy and...

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The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert

The Beatles: Rooftop concert in 1969 By January 1969, it was obvious that the Beatles were on the verge of breaking up. They were recording in the studio at the Apple headquarters and wondered where to have a live Рand final Рconcert. Various venues were  suggested including the Sahara Desert and the Cavern Club in Liverpool where their careers had started. But eventually they decided to simply move upstairs Рto...

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Cilla Black

Liverpool’s Cilla Black. When the Mersey sound of the Beatles started to dominate the hit parade in the early nineteen sixties, there was only one girl singer who was part of this phenomenon. Young Priscilla White started working as a cloakroom attendant at the now famous Cavern Club in Liverpool; the venue where the Beatles played their early gigs. And it was the Beatles who discovered that the red-haired Cilla ¬†should have...

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Paul Robeson’s Proud Valley

As the shadows of World War II were beginning to cast long shadows over London, Ealing Studios were beginning an ambitious new film. It was shot partly in the coal mining region of South Wales, and adapted the story of a black miner from West Virginia who drifted to Wales by way of England, searching for work. It documented the hard realities of Welsh coal miners’ lives and at the same time created a role that its star, legendary...

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Who Was Colonel Tom Parker?

To start with, he wasn’t a colonel. And actually he really wasn’t called¬†Tom Parker. He wasn’t a musician but his name has gone down in musical history. He was also an illegal immigrant, an army deserter and quite possibly a murderer. Some people who knew him say that you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer guy and that his generosity was legendary. Others say he was tough, ruthless and only interested in making...

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A Song for Sunrise – The Eagles

A Song for Sunrise – The Eagles. It’s the¬†weekend. The all-night partygoers are on the beach watching the night out and the day begin. The evidence of the party chill is right there in the form of¬†a phalanx of empty Corona bottles. The sun is beginning to burn a hole in the blue.¬†Conversation fades and it’s just time to let those sloe colors do their magic. And if the luck is still on your side it’ll be a dash...

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Allen Toussaint: Six of the Best

Six of the Best: Allen Toussaint. Andy Royston picks a half dozen favorite¬†songs by the late New Orleans composer, pianist and producer Allen Toussaint. Toussaint is New Orleans music’s renaissance man, the golden boy in the golden age of rhythm and blues.¬†Keith Spera¬†Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal, and the Music of New Orleans “I have never doubted that Allen was a prince in a thin disguise” Elvis Costello...

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In Praise of Elvis Presley

In Praise of Elvis! Elvis Presley was born in 1935. He first saw light of day on January 8th in Tupelo, Mississippi. Jan07 In Memory of Elvis Presley In Memory of Elvis Presley Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 ‚Äď August 16, 1977 His music is loved by all. He sang Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel. Elvis is regarded as one of the most popular figures of the 20th Century. His good looks, humor, impressive voice and...

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David Bowie: Early Years

David Bowie: Early years David Bowie came from a post-war London background. Born in 1947, his father was from Yorkshire and his mother from Kent. Both parents had children from previous relationships. From his earliest days, David Рhis surname was originally Jones Рwas interested in music. This was probably because of his father. Haywood Jones had been born in Doncaster in 1912. An orphan, he was brought up by the local...

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Slim Gaillard

It was at a free concert on London’s South Bank; one of the many events put on by the soon-to-be-abolished Greater London Council. The open air event was held in Jubilee Gardens, where the London Eye is situated today. I’d shown up with friends to cheer on the likes of Billy Bragg and Eddy Grant, but it was an¬†amazing old feller in a beret and a wild beard grooving away on piano that caught the imagination. I don’t...

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Music of 2016 – Women of the Year

Designer and artist Andy Royston looks back on his favourite sounds of 2016 – Part two is all female. I’m not at all sure what it says about the year’s music that it all came down to “Becky with the good hair”. Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ has topped all the¬†usual ‘best of’ lists this year including the venerable Rolling Stone Magazine, who called the album¬†“a major personal...

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If I Had a Hammer

Fighting Social Injustice In the early 1960s rock was still king of the radio airwaves, but people began to take notice of another genre. It was a harmonious,  melodious sound, friendly for easy sing-alongs. The new sound was known as either American folk, folk-rock or just folk. The songs were written as poetry, and in truth, many were exactly that. Because of this, the words had to have feeling and meaning, not just nonsense words...

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Choose Life – A George Michael Diary

As we say a fond goodbye to George Michael, Andy Royston remembers the hairspray days. Enjoy What You Do. “Do you, enjoy what you do? If not, just stop – don’t stay there and rot…” It had been a mad¬†year. I’d spent most of it living in a South Manchester bedsit, wasting time on a year out of college. Way too many nights had been spend on dank dance floors and working (badly) on my day job running...

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Strong and Steady – The Best Reggae of 2016

Artist and designer¬†Andy Royston picks his three favorite reggae albums of 2016 “Now that I‚Äôve introduced myself in the context of Rastafari consciousness, wellness, awareness, it is safe now to say ‚ÄėI am woman‚Äô and all of the other things that means‚Ķ playful, colorful, light, nurturing and to show sisterhood.”¬†Janine Cunningham (Jah9) 2016 may have been a tough old year in lots of ways, but this year reggae more than...

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Jimmy Buffett – The Road to Key West

After a year in Nashville, it was becoming clear things were not working out. Jimmy Buffett had moved to Nashville in late ’69 with a new wife and a promise of a music deal, but after a year it was falling apart. Out of work, his marriage already failing, his touring band breaking up within weeks… Things weren’t good. People were talking him up well enough. A local writer said “Jimmy’s music isn’t...

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The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly memorabilia. In the spring of 2006, Buddy Holly’s widow decided that she was going to put several items of Holly memorabilia into auction. Buddy Holly was twenty two years old when he died in an air crash. Also killed in the accident were Ritchie Valens (aged seventeen), The Big Bopper Richardson (aged twenty eight) and pilot Roger Peterson (aged twenty one). Maria Elena had married Buddy Holly just six months before...

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Fearless – Taylor Swift

Long before the fame and the glory and the VMA glamour turned her into the big superstar we know there was this honest-to-goodness teen talent. One look at this fair young swan and you know she was about to take off and really fly to the stars… On that video, though she was maybe 18, sitting with her buddies in a tour bus and doing a live spot for an Oregon country radio station.The kind of radio station you pick up on that long...

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Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Sinatra

Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Sinatra. Embed from Getty Images In The Beginning There Was Francis… Francis Albert Sinatra, born on December 12, 1915, in an upstairs tenement in Hoboken, New Jersey, would grow up to be a force to be reckoned with in America’s music industry. No one knew that yet and his birth certainly didn’t signify that kind of success. He weighed 13.5 pounds at birth and was delivered...

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Otis Redding

In the summer of 1967, it seemed that singer-songwriter Otis Redding had everything going for him. His career was really taking off and he’d bought a ranch where he lived with his wife and three children. In the autumn of that year he even purchased his own plane. He hoped that the new airplane would mean that he and his band would be able to travel more easily between gigs. On December 9th, they played for a television show in...

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Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation

Lennon & McCartney: The final conversation. In the final years of John Lennon’s life, the media had two major preoccupations when it came to the one-time Beatles. The first was that all four of the previous members of the group were constantly being asked if a Beatles reunion was on the cards. The answer was always in the negative. The second was the supposed animosity between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Journalists and...

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Elvis and Hawaii

Two years ago, my mother, sister and I were headed off to Hawaii. It was a dream trip that I never in my whole life expected to make. But it was a time of healing and renewing our shrinking family’s bonds, that made this trip what it was. My brother had passed away earlier that year. During the many site seeing expeditions along the way, I can remember thinking to myself, that these islands truly are paradise on earth. Everything was...

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Ace of Bass: Jaco Pastorius

Andy Royston looks at home town connections to the world’s finest bass player, Jaco Pastorius. Jaco Pastorius is one of the great music teachers of all times, aside from just being an awesome musician, and a great catalyst. He’s kicked us all into gear. He’s directly responsible for any growth that’s perceptible in me. Joni Mitchell – In Her Own Words “Music is in the air; it’s my job to pull...

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Bjork’s Vulnicura: An Emotional Release

I was one of the first to turn on to Bjork’s extraordinary solo talent. And I mean this literally – I was listening to her first album ‘Debut’ several months before its official release. Working on the fringes of the British music scene it was not unusual to find oneself holding pre-press or advanced copies of albums before public release. I’d written a good few music reviews for listings magazines and...

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Gifts for Music Lovers: The Bose Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Superior Sound in a Mini Speaker from Bose Talk about getting a wonderful sound from a super small speaker, and you will most likely be talking about the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker. It’s ideal, and it’s tiny. The name Bose is associated with quality sound, and this one performs as such. As you can see in the picture, it’s very attractive as well, with a matte finish on solid aluminum. It feels very sturdy...

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Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?

Suzanne:¬†The girl in the song. Arguably, Leonard Cohen’s most famous song is Suzanne. But who was Suzanne and what inspired the song? Like Cohen, Suzanne Verdal was Canadian. Despite what many people believe,she was not a girlfriend ¬†of his but they had a platonic friendship. And surprisingly, the lyrics of the song – which Cohen wrote¬†originally as a poem – are quite literal. Suzanne really did live in a...

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Paul McCartney: Real or Fake?

Paul McCartney died on November 9th, 1966 Or so certain people would have us believe. And recently, it’s said, Ringo Starr confirmed this. Nonsense? I think so. But according to conspiracy theorists, the bloke you see here¬†isn’t Paul McCartney at all. It’s an imposter who has been playing the part for almost fifty years. Yes, that’s a long time to live someone else’s life, isn’t it? What’s the...

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Joni and Jaco

Andy Royston takes a look how an unexpected musical collaboration Рbetween folk singer Joni Mitchell and electric jazz genius Jaco Pastorius Рcreated their finest music. He was an innovator. He was changing the bottom end of the time, and he knew it.  Joni Mitchell РMusician Magazine  It’s all in the hands; in order to get that sound, you have to know exactly where to touch the strings, exactly how much pressure...

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Just Kids – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

I first heard Patti Smith as a teenager. The song – if you can call it a song, was Piss Factory, an extraordinary conversational poem set to haunting improvised free-jazz piano by Richard Sohl. It turned out to be from Patti Smith’s first recording session, and tells a story¬†partly related to her time working in a low paid job back in New Jersey, at a factory that made baby buggies. It was a soul destroying environment,...

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Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?

Antonio Carlos Jobim & Vinicius de Moraes: The Girl from Ipanema. One of the finest songs of the twentieth century is now classed as ‘muzak’ – something light to be listened to in elevators or when you’re on hold. Sadly. But who was the girl from Ipanema? Did she really exist? She certainly did – her name is Heloisa Pinto (pictured on the right). In the early nineteen sixties, when she was fifteen she...

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Savory Jazz Treasure Trove Revealed

This week sees the long-awaited release of mythical and legendary Savory jazz recordings that had been rotting away in an Illinois basement for the better part of 50 years. Andy Royston tells the story… The story of the Savory Recordings begins and ends with the same man, Loren Schoenberg, now the director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Back in the 1980s Schoenberg played tenor sax, and in his 20s had¬†already¬†played...

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Taking The Rap – When Broward got Nasty

”It is an appeal to dirty thoughts and the loins, not to the intellect and the mind.”¬†Jose Gonzalez,¬†Federal District Court – Southern District of Florida On Monday, February 26th 1990 a Broward County Deputy Sheriff walked into his local record store, Sound Warehouse on Oakland Park Boulevard, and bought a cassette tape by 2 Live Crew. The recording,¬†As Nasty As They Wanna Be had been released in 1989 alongside a...

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Wilco – An appreciation

Andy Royston explains his musical travel companions… There’s some part of my brain geared toward making songs up, and I know it’s collecting things and I know when I get a moment to be by myself, that’s when they come out. Jeff Tweedy – Wilco Picking out a favourite band or musician out of the many thousands I’ve seen, or listened to seems impossible. But when traveling – the one time I can...

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Lyrics: Don McLean’s American Pie

Lyrics: Don McLean’s American Pie. What is Don McLean’s song American Pie about? I think that most of us would say that it’s about the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper in 1959. The song coined the phrase ‘the day the music died’ which, since the song was released, has come to describe that February day. Other than to confirm that certain parts of the song refer to Holly, Don McLean...

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Ben E King: Another Great is Gone!

Ben E King: Another Great is Gone! The music industry has lost another one of it’s great artists. If you were ever in the market for a song about friendship and love, then you know you would have to include Ben.E. King’s Stand by Me, in your repertoire! Ben E.King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson, on Sept 28, 1938. When he was a young lad his family moved from North Carolina to Harlem in New York. At the tender age of 20 Ben Nelson and...

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Bessie Smith ~ Empress of the Blues

Bessie Smith ~ Empress of the Blues. Bessie Smith would have been the first one to laugh at the title “Empress of the Blues.” Not because she thought she didn’t deserve it, but because her childhood and upbringing had accustomed her not to expect much. Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on a date that is still not clear. Census records say she was born on April 15, 1894, but others say she was born in July of...

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One Hit Wonders of the 60s and 70s

In the 1960s-70s, Some Performers Flashed Across The¬† World of Rock Like A Comet, Only to Quickly Burned Out September 25th is “One Hit Wonders Day,” spotlighting those musical artists who had only one hit to their credit. There were quite a few from the great era of rock and roll, the 1960s and 1970s. Whenever you hear the song that made them famous, you remember it even though you can’t recall their names.¬† A few...

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The Real Peggy Sue

Who was the real Peggy Sue? Which is Buddy Holly’s most famous song? I’m not sure but Peggy Sue must be up there. But who was the real Peggy Sue? Peggy Sue Gerron was the girlfriend of Buddy Holly’s drummer, Jerry Allison. As she recalls,the inspiration for the song arrived in the middle of the night and Buddy called his manager, Norman Petty, ¬†saying ‘I’ve just written a song and named it after...

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Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

My colleague, Andy Royston, recently wrote an article about the music of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He referred to the standard of music in 1960 until the time when the King-Goffin combo came up with Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. In fact, he referred to 1960 music as being ‘drivel’ and cited as an example,¬†Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Now on the basis of quality music, I will admit that Bikini isn’t...

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Bitter Tears by Johnny Cash

Bitter Tears by Johnny Cash. In the 1970s, Johnny Cash’s interest and compassion for the stories of the American Indian (as they were called in that era) grew, as the public became more aware of an activist group known as AIM ( American Indian Movement). Johnny recorded an album called “Bitter Tears Ballads of the American Indian,” for and about Native Americans. It was not one of his biggest sellers, but a few...

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The Boy in the Song: How Do You Sleep?

How Do You Sleep? By John Lennon. When John Lennon was recording the Imagine album in 1971, not all the musicians were aware that the song How Do You Sleep? was full of barbs directed at Lennon’s former band mate, Paul McCartney. But when Ringo Starr visited the recording studio during the session,it was obvious to him as soon as he walked in. He reportedly said “That’s enough, John.” Klaus Voorman, an old...

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Avicii’s Amazing Achievement

Avicii’s Amazing Achievement. Avicii’s work is a perfect example of quality modern dance music. This article explains why I like Avicii so much. I write my own songs and I make electronic music and Avicii is definitely one of my idols. He was born in 1989 in Stockholm, Sweden and his name is Tim Bergling. He is an electronic musician, DJ, and a record producer. Avicii is his stage name. The genre of his music is electronic dance music...

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Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend

Andy Royston pays a heartfelt tribute to Rico, the ‘bone man from Wareika, who died in London on September 4th after a short illness. Rico Rodriguez – Ska Trombone Legend From crucial horn breaks on the earliest ska and rocksteady songs (recorded by Coxone Dodd and Duke Reid), though session work for Chris Blackwell and Island Records (touring with Bob Marley and the Wailers) to providing the brass backline for one of the...

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Songs For New Orleans : Katrina

New Orleans is my essence, my soul, my muse, and I can only dream that one day she will recapture her glory – Harry Connick Jr.   All the songs - Spotify playlist A catastrophe like Katrina changes everything. The harsh and painful realities are so hard to bear. The experience losing your home and possessions, of enforced exile, of desperate¬†choices forced on families, on entire communities can be a massive challenge to...

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Brian Epstein

The day Brian Epstein discovered the Beatles. The date was November 9th, 1961 Рthe location was Liverpool. Brian Epstein, then aged twenty seven, was working for the family business; a furniture and music store called North End Music Stores. Brian, who had been privately educated, was in charge of the music department of the store. He knew nothing whatsoever about pop or beat music Рhe was a classical music lover....

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The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude

Hey Jude, by Paul McCartney. Hey Jude was the first record that the Beatles released on their own label, Apple. It was released in 1968 and its original title  was Hey Jules Рit was written for Julian Lennon who was five years old when his parents were divorced. John Lennon had married Cynthia Powell in 1962 and Julian was born the following April, just when Beatlemania was just starting to take off. John was on tour when...

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Mike Candys Magic Formula

Mike Candys Magic Formula. Mike Candys, or Michael Kull, was born in 1981 in Switzerland. The reason I‚Äôve chosen to write about him is because he is very, very good at what he does. He is in the DJ Magazine‚Äôs Top 100 DJs in Europe. Mike Candys has been actively making music since 1998 when he was just 17 years old, and he became popular in Europe in 2008 thanks to his track ‚ÄėLa Serenissima‚Äô. He became a very successful record producer...

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Song for Sunrise: Ed Harcourt

‘Watching The Sun Come Up’ A daily routine of mine is a beach walk in the early hours. I usually make it to the shore before sunrise and I witness the day begin over the great Atlantic Ocean from a South Florida shore. My twilight journey to the shore is a song long – in that there’s usually time for a piece of music¬†to play through before I walk out onto the sands to forget myself. There are lots of songs that...

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Frenchman Street Blues

I’m always a sucker for Brits who came to America on vacation and never got around to leaving. Jon Cleary turned up in New Orleans in his teens and ended up working doing odd jobs and bar work in one of New Orleans liveliest live venues. The star attraction at the The Maple Leaf back then was one of the great barrelhouse blues pianomen, James Booker, and Cleary got to watch Booker doing his own thing before the customers packed...

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Florida’s Finest: Cannonball Adderley

How The Cannonball Got His Name. The first in a series of profiles of Florida’s greatest artists, Andy Royston begins with Fort Lauderdale’s be-bop great Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley. “You don’t decide you’re hip. It just happens that way”. –¬†Cannonball Adderley On a Friday night in June 1955 a band director from Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High School set out on a long drive...

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Accentuate the Positive – The language of Louise Bennett

Accentuate the Positive – The language of Louise Bennett. Back in my high school days the deputy headmaster was trying to make a point about accent and dialect. He turned to me and suddenly I was held up as an example of someone making no effort to speak properly;¬†what he called the Queen’s English. I was dumbfounded (or should I say gobsmacked) by this. I hadn’t considered that the way that I spoke made any...

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Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday: The Voice of a Genius On April 7th, 2016 Billie Holiday, if she was still with us, would be 101 years old. She died too young from her own excesses, but she had a golden voice that will live on well beyond her lifetime. You can find out more here. See a documentary about the life and times of Billie Holiday.       ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Nancy Hardin is a highly experienced writer and author. A retired...

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Harry Pitch

Who was Harry Pitch? His name isn’t well known but it may well be that you know his music. Harry was born in 1925 in London. He was the son of a Polish immigrant and when Harry left school at the age of fourteen he knew exactly what he was going to buy with his first pay packet. He bought an instrument that was going to lead to his fame ¬†– a harmonica. Almost twenty five years later, he was in the canteen of the recording...

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In Spite of All the Danger

The Beatles’ first recording. Now that’s not strictly true, I’ll admit, but In Spite of All the Danger was the first recording by Paul McCartney, Jogn Lennon and George Harrison. Ringo Starr was yet to join the group. What’s more, although it was the Lennon McCartney duo that was to become so famous in the songwriting field, In Spite of All the Danger was credited to Lennon & Harrison. The recording was...

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Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia is one of my all time favorite musicals. The play and then the movie are based on the music of ABBA, a popular group from Sweden. The title was taken from their 1975 top of chart hit Mamma Mia. As a young adult in the 70‚Äôs I listened to all kinds of music. I always liked ABBA, as their music is just so lively and uplifting, how can you ever forget ‚ÄúDancing Queen‚ÄĚ Their music just gives me that all over good feeling every...

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The Boy in the Song: Someone Saved My Life Last Night

Elton John’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight. In 1975, Elton John released the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – which was an autobiographical record of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin and his earlier days in the music business. So who was it who saved Elton John’s life? And was this literally or figuratively? Well, it was a bit of both. Mainly, it referred to a time when Bernie Taupin...

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Under The Covers – Hey Mr. Tambourine Man

Andy Royston explores some his favourite cover versions and the stories behind them. There’s a new thing happening, and it probably started with Bob Dylan. He gave the audience a new vocabulary, a new set of symbols to fit the feelings exploding in and around them. The Byrds take his words and put them in the framework of the beat, and make imperative the meaning of those words.¬†Billy James, Sleeve notes – ¬†Mr Tambourine...

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Quiz: The Beatles’ Children

Quiz: How much do you know about the Beatles’ children? Between them, the Beatles had eleven legal and legitimate children. There were many lawsuits and paternity claims over the years (naturally) but here were are talking about those who were all legal and above board. How much do you know about the Beatles’ offspring? Test your knowledge.   Which is the oldest of the Beatles’ children? Note that this is...

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Demis Roussos

 Who was Demis Roussos? Demis Roussos was the most unlikely popular singer. In the nineteen seventies, when women were throwing their knickers at the (mildly sexy) Tom Jones, along came this fat, hairy Greek who sang like a girl Рand his female fans loved him. He was the most unlikely sex symbol. Demis was incredibly popular in England and he put this down to the availability of cheaper European travel. He suggested that his...

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The Late Great Johnny Ace

“I will tell you exactly what happened! Johnny Ace had been drinking and he had this little pistol he was waving around the table and someone said ‚ÄėBe careful with that thing‚Ķ‚Äô and he said ‚ÄėIt‚Äôs okay! Gun‚Äôs not loaded‚Ķsee?‚Äô and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face and ‚ÄėBang!‚Äô‚ÄĒsad, sad thing. Big Mama ran out of the dressing room yelling ‚ÄėJohnny Ace just killed himself!”¬†Curtis Tillman, bass player with Big Momma...

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Rehabilitating Brian Jones

Review: Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones. One¬†a summer’s night in 1969 in the wilds of East Sussex, Brian Jones was found¬†motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool. No one knows for sure what happened to the Rolling Stones founder and guitarist. This was just¬†3 weeks after being fired from the band, and instantly he was at the center of outlandish conspiracy theories.¬†Jones, just 27, drowned while under the...

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Mick Hucknall and the Art of the Cover Version

Mick knew his stuff. I knew I was on a hiding to nothing when I walked in with a brown record bag. “Hey, what’ve you got there…” “Some obscure James Brown” I replied proudly. He took the bag and removed the second hand 45 within, Prisoner of Love, 1964 on London Records with a pushed-out centre. “Bollocks, he said laughing. ¬†That’s not rare. Should be on King for a start. And it’s...

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Sergeant Pepper Taught the Band to Play

Over the years there have been some spectacular Beatles cover versions. I was always partial to the ones with soul, with Richie Havens’¬†Here Comes The Sun,¬†Ray Charles’ Eleanor Rigby¬†and¬†the Brothers Johnson’s, Come Together¬†up at the top of the list. But one album that’s spawned more than a few monsters is Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. We could be here all day looking for the absolute worst. Scots...

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In praise of sensational women – Siouxsie

Andy Royston continues his¬†series of articles on the women in popular culture who made his world quake. “There is a fun, flippant side to me, of course. But I would much rather be known as the Ice Queen. Susan Ballion/Siouxsie¬† I started to pay attention to¬†Siouxie after a trip to London. There used to be an open air street market at the end of Gerard Street, on Newport Court not far from Leicester Square. There was a stall...

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My Dream Lover’s Marriage Broke My Heart

On May 1, 1964, millions of broken hearted women worldwide were inconsolable. On that date, our idol and fantasy lover, Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in a private ceremony in their suite at the Aladdin Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. He burst our bubble, because now he was just another married man. And oh yes, this author was among those who were inconsolable. My dreams never pictured him married, but rather as a dashing,...

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Jazz Standards : Take the ‘A’ Train

Jazz Standards : Take the ‘A’ Train. The story of how Duke Ellington’s signature tune, Take The ‘A’ Train was written is¬†a classic. Billy Strayhorn, future¬†Duke’s right hand man, ¬†was said to have written the piece after Ellington had offered him a job as a writer, arranger and piano man , sending money for him to travel from Pittsburgh to New York and then up to Ellington’s apartment in Sugar...

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Little Stevie – That boy’s a wonder!

Little Stevie – That boy’s a wonder! How Stevie Wonder got his name. It started out with pots and pans. Lula Mae Morris Hardaway’s two year old son was driving everyone crazy banging out rhythms with a set of spoons. Tabletops. crockery, anythng to hand. She came home one day with a set of cardboard drums and little Stevie wore them out. A few years later an uncle had passed on a harmonica and he never went anywhere...

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Don’t be a Dropout – James Brown and Education

Andy Royston pays tribute to the hardest working man in show business. I first saw James Brown’s amazing live act in London in the early 1980s. He was around 50 years old, but the show was every bit as passionate¬†and energetic as it as when he exploded onto the stage in the early 1960s. A recent biopic concentrated on his musical impact, but equally important was¬†the energies Brown devoted to social causes, particularly the...

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Blues In The Night Jazz Classic

Blues In The Night Jazz Classic. Ella Fitzgerald could and did sing about the blues, as no other! Her smooth voice in “Blues In The Night” particularly sticks in my mind. The music was written by Harold Arlen with Lyrics by Johnny Mercer. I first heard this song back in the 70s and was totally impressed with the sound. When Ella sings it, her voice becomes a musical instrument, melodious and mellow. When Louie sings it,...

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Songs for Sunrise: Nina Simone

“Feelin’ Good’ Sometimes I see it in the eyes of people as I walk the dawn shores. They are here at the beach for a purpose. For change.¬†In their eye the sunrise marks an important moment of¬†inspiration. The time for change is now. A¬†sunrise can be a catalyst for action – witnessing the dawn with a new, steely eye, a clarity of purpose and understanding can be a life-changing thing. In these¬†moments the sunrise...

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My Favorite Album – Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life

Iggy Pop – Lust For Life Lust for Life, without question is the album that touches me the deepest. It’s by one of rock music’s most raw and outrageous singers and performers, Iggy Pop. As a kid I was a huge fan of David Bowie, and it was an article by him in an old music magazine (Music Scene) that changed my whole attitude and understanding of rock music. In the article Bowie talked of two musicians he idolized (and...

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Quiz: The Beatles’ Wives

Quiz: How much do you know about the Beatles’ wives? Just four lads from Liverpool – but between them, they’ve had a wide variety of partners. I guess this is understandable because all four are (or were) rather cute and they certainly had the money that many a girl finds attractive. Of course, some of the wives (do you know how many and which they were?) married their Beatles before they found fame and fortune....

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Don’t You Step on my Blue Suede Shoes

Don’t Step on my Blue Suede Shoes. A song’s got to start somewhere. This one started in Germany. A¬†young guy called John Cash was assigned to the 12th Radio Mobile Radio Squadron of the US Air Force Security Service in Landsburg, Bavaria. A few¬†years later John, now discharged and back in the USA, and a fellow¬†rock n roller named Carl Perkins were sharing a car whilst touring the American mid-west. On the way to a date...

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Eric Clapton: Early Life

The childhood of Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton is a grandfather now but what about his own early days and his childhood? It’s all rather complicated. Various websites will tell you – seemingly with authority – who Clapton’s father was but in his autobiography, he claims he wasn’t sure. He says he was never convinced that the man who was purported to be his biological father really was. In many ways,...

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Songs For Cities : Dublin

Jackeens, Dubs and Liffysiders. Songs for the city of Dublin by Andy Royston  I first arrived in Dublin late in the year, November. I remember it was chucking down, and the place I stayed was on the northside, a block from the river, right up beyond the old Jameson Distillery. The whole place is all gentrified now, and posh trams run right through the place, but back then the area was all run down and deserted, and after dark the...

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Who was Pattie Boyd?

Pattie Boyd, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. There must have been something special about Pattie Boyd. Actually, you might have noticed a minor pun there because Pattie supposedly was the inspiration behind George Harrison’s song Something. The Eric Clapton song Wonderful Tonight was also reputedly written about her. She was married to both men – George first and then to his best friend, Eric. She first met George in...

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I Walk A Lonely Street – checking into Heartbreak Hotel

Andy Royston goes down to the end of lonely street in search of a rock and roll ghost. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” Edna Buchanan 42nd street, just off Collins Avenue in Miami Beach doesn’t look anyone’s idea of¬†lonely street. These days it is home to a fancy condominium tower, and at the end is a beautiful beach boardwalk right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, beloved of morning...

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Bob Marley’s Family Legacy

Andy Royston marvels at the talent that continues to flow from the kids and grandkids of Robert Nesta Marley. “His work didn‚Äôt die with him; his legacy continues through his family. There is no end to Bob Marley‚Äôs reign. He will always be part of the existing world. Times change, generations change, but Bob Marley stays with the world. His work lives on.‚ÄĚ Rita Marley – Interview, The Voice When Bob Marley¬†married Alpharita...

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My Sweet Lord: He’s So Fine

My Sweet Lord: He’s So Fine. George Harrison wrote My Sweet Lord in late 1969. Yet seven years later it was the cause of a huge court hearing. His fellow ex-Beatle, John Lennon, wanted peace for the world. Spiritual George wanted peace within the many different religions of the world. Hence the chorus includes both ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Hare Krishna’. The song was written when Harrison was touring with...

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In praise of Sensational Women – Mavis Staples

Andy Royston pays tribute to a true musical legend, the magnificent Mavis Staples. We’ve come here tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration, and some positive vibrations! We want to leave you with enough to last you for maybe the next six months. – Mavis Staples /¬†Live: Hope at the Hideout Mavis is coming to Fort Lauderdale,just a walk away from my home and I just cannot wait. Here is an American voice...

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A Song for Sunrise : Bob Marley

Picking a sunshine song from the great Robert Nesta Marley isn’t too difficult; most of his music has the glow of the dawn about it. I always turn to the glorious sun-baked Sun Is Shining to throw some light on the day. It dates from my favorite¬†Wailers era –¬†that period in the early 1970s, when, for want of musical direction (a cover of The Archies’ ‘Sugar Sugar’ and the similarly saccharine Dance Do The...

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The Alternative Phil Collins

Andy Royston takes a look at the other Phil Collins, the hipster who played on some of the most artful records of the 1970s. “And, you know, I never wanted to be a singer.”¬†Phil Collins Think Phil Collins and it’s hard not to run away with your hands over your ears. He’s been out of the public eye recently, so there was no danger of him popping up on the TV¬†getting all angst ridden with¬†Against all Odds or...

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The Unknown Pleasures of Joy Division

Andy Royston takes a look back at Unknown Pleasures – a classic post-punk album by Joy Division, released in 1979. “What stunned me then, and still stuns me now, is how a band and their manager could have created a record of such awesome beauty and, by and large, fail to notice it”¬†– Mick Middles: Factory – The Story of the Record Label I picked up my copy of Unknown Pleasures around my 18th birthday from...

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The Velvet Voice – Appreciating Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner

The Velvet Voice – Appreciating Richard Hawley’s Coles Corner. My grandma Lily loved those velvet voices. Visits to gran’s house were so often soundtracked by her favorite crooners from the late 50s. Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were the cornerstones of her musical appreciation and of course this rubbed off on my mother who carried the torch (song) into the sixties with her own Roy...

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In praise of sensational women – Debbie Allen

Andy Royston introduces a new series of articles on the women in popular culture who made his ¬†world quake. “I don’t have time for prima donnas. You want to become a dancer? You’re going to have to work.You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here’s where you start paying in sweat. I want to see sweat. And the better you are, the more sweat I’m going to demand. So if you...

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Songs For Swinging London

Andy Royston takes a look at swinging London and picks out the songs (and videos) that defined the era. ” Suddenly life broke out in warm colors again, so young and beautiful that a lot of people couldn’t stand to look at it. For the first time ever, kids were teenagers. They had loot, however come by, and loot’s for spending. And where there’s loot, trouble follows.” – Absolute Beginners Colin...

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Forgiving David Bowie: China Girl

It’s a sign of how seriously I took popular music as a teenager that I would get so annoyed by a¬†silly love song. A case in point was David Bowie’s smash hit in 1983 China Girl, which followed his Lets Dance song up the pop charts across the globe. Quite why I got so hot under the collar about it is because it was a song that – in my mind at least – had real depth and meaning, and Bowie had the temerity to turn...

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Rod Stewart: The Autobiography

Rod Stewart: Autobiography. I definitely wouldn’t have considered myself to be a huge Rod Stewart fan- although I do enjoy his music – but I most certainly have become a fan of Mr Stewart himself after reading this fascinating and truly funny autobiography. There have been many books written about this famous singer but here you can discover the truth about the man, his career, his music and the women in his life from Rod...

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My Love Affair with Elvis Presley

My Love Affair With Elvis In 1956 when I was not yet 17 years old, I visited a couple of newly wedded friends, and we watched The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on TV. An odd looking, but handsome young man took the stage and began to perform a Bill Haley and the Comets song called “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” But he combined it with another song called “Flip, Flop and Fly.” The thing that caught my eye was that he...

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Songs For London – Music Hall to Rock n Roll

Andy Royston puts on his¬†titfer and whistle and wraps his britneys around some¬†ding dongs. I should cocoa… Music hall songs are London’s folk songs. This is easy music, delivered in language as familiar to the elderly as to the child in the streets. Themes are interwoven with songs learned in the playground and the Sunday Schools, and¬†delivered in the voices of the street barker and the barrow boy. They’ve borrowed...

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While My Sitar Gently Weeps

It was February 1965 and the London R&B band Yardbirds had convened at a recording studio to record a follow up song to their smash hit For Your Love. The idea was to open the song – Heart Full of Soul – with a sitar riff and they’d recruited an authentic player from a local Indian restaurant to do the honors. Journalist Penny Valentine recalled “Apparently the man, a highly proficient classical musician...

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Sam Cooke

The murder of Sam Cooke. On December 1964, singer Sam Cooke had been¬†in a Los Angeles nightclub. There he’d met (or probably picked up) a girl of ‘English and Chinese origin’, Elisa Boyer. He had taken¬†her to a¬†motel, booked a room, registered and the couple went to their accommodation. Some time later, the manager of the motel, Bertha Franklin, was in her room which was also her office. In burst Sam Cooke, demanding...

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Has Anyone Seen Our Pig?

On December 3rd 1976 a large inflatable pig made a run for it during a photoshoot at Battersea Power Station. Andy Royston investigates. ¬†‚ÄúI‚Äôve a right to think,‚ÄĚ said Alice sharply,¬†¬†for she was beginning to feel a little worried. ‚ÄúJust about as much right,‚ÄĚ said the Duchess, ‚Äúas pigs have to fly.‚ÄĚ Lewis Carroll It all started as Roger Waters’ bright idea to promote the new Pink Floyd album¬†Animals. He lived within sight of the...

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Modern Classics : The Family Silver

Andy Royston¬†discovers a fine new album from England that’s an instant rock winner.¬† “He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it must always be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light...

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Forty Years Young – Anarchy in the UK

Andy Royston’s fifteen again, re-discovering his inner Sex Pistol… It was forty years ago this month that the Sex Pistols, a wild-eyed punk rock band from London, made the news headlines. Seriously, folks, it must have been a slow news day. I was fifteen years old, delivering newspapers in a small mining village in South Yorkshire, and there¬†they were on the front page. The Sex Pistols. Fidel Castro took over as Cuban...

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Under The Covers – Shipbuilding

Andy Royston revisits the Falklands crisis and one of the most poignant songs about war ever recorded. I’ve always been skeptical about protest songs. What is this thing, a song for the barricades or a sermon from the pulpit? Is that a broadside, a bulletin, a lecture? Can a mere song change people’s minds? I doubt that it is so, but a song can infiltrate your heart and the heart may change your mind. Elvis Costello...

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ABBA’s First European Tour

The First European Tour Of ABBA The musical group ABBA topped the charts from 1975 to 1982 and nearly everyone has heard of or knows at least one of their songs. Members Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-FridLyngstad¬† made their first European tour and their first tour outside of Sweden on November 17, 1974. The group’s fame spread world wide and they became one of the largest selling musical groups in...

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Under The Covers – Hallelujah

Andy Royston looks at how a quiet and modest song became one of the most performed rock songs in history. Hallelujah is a Hebrew word, which means ‘glory to the Lord’. The song explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist. I say all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal or religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion. Leonard Cohen...

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Three Dog Night: The Show Must Go On

Three Dog Night: Show Must Go On The rock band Three Dog Night, with 12 Gold albums to their credit, and 21 consecutive Billboard Top 40 hits, began in the late 1960s and became one of the most successful bands in the United States. Their hit recordings were due in large part to their founders and lead singers; Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron, and Cory Wells. But the backup created by the remainder of the band gave it the needed depth for...

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Happy Birthday To You

History of¬† “Happy Birthday To You” Everyone knows the Birthday Song, from the time we’re little kids. It’s the song we always sing when someone has a birthday; it’s the song we always hear when it’s our birthday. Have you ever noticed in the restaurants where they sing to you on your birthday, that they don’t sing the usual one we’ve always heard? There’s a reason for that and...

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Sennheiser Headphones: Recommended by a Professional Sound Engineer

My son’s new headphones. At the time of writing my son is only 14 and seriously into music. He spends every spare moment either playing or listening. My job as mum is to protect his hearing and these Sennheiser HD201 Headphones do this very well indeed and are great value too. My son likes to crank up the volume and, before we bought him headphones, he was using ear-buds. This music sounded tinny and distorted and the sound...

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Learn To Play The Zither – Quickly and Easily

The Great Musician In my school years, the only musical instrument I ever wanted to play was the piano. But my school did not have one and neither did I, so that was the end of that. But I yearned to be part of music because I loved it so. In my school we were required to learn to play SOME instrument, and the music teacher handed me a violin and said, “Here, you can learn to play this.” Dutifully, I took lessons in music...

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Bob Marley’s American Connection

Andy Royston re-traces reggae legend Bob Marley’s days living in Delaware in the 1960s and how it influenced his music. When Bob Marley left his new bride to fly to America it felt like history repeating. Bob Marley’s mother Ciddy had married captain Norval Marley, on Friday, June 9 1944, a pipe stuffing white superintendent for the crown lands. She was just¬†eighteen; He was at least three years her father’s senior....

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Party Like it’s 1989 – Ryan Adams covers Taylor Swift

They‚Äôre not cover songs. They‚Äôre reimaginings of my songs, and you can tell that he was in a different place emotionally than I was. There‚Äôs this beautiful aching sadness and longing in this album that doesn‚Äôt exist in the original. Taylor Swift When Ryan Adams let it slip that he was contemplating doing a cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album it was hard to figure out if he was serious. He’s played a few curve balls...

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Tougher than Tough – The Original Rude Boys

In the light of the 2014¬†exhibition The Return of the Rudeboys¬†at London’s Somerset House, Andy Royston looks back at Jamaica’s original rude boys and the music they inspired. Rougher than rough, tougher than tough, Strong like lion, we are iron Rudies don’t fear no boys, rudies don’t fear – Derrick Morgan Rude bwoy is that person, native, who is totally disenchanted with the ruling system, who generally...

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“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…” The scene is a bar room in French Martinique, a hot and noisy club setting¬†where a piano player called Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael ) is playing for a gorgeous teenage singer, Slim. Slim was Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and what a star turn she gave, singing one of Carmichael’s most memorable songs, How Little We Know. Her vocal training was coming along, but no-one...

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Songs For New York – 21st Century

Andy Royston concludes his three part Songs for New York with a look at Millennial recordings featuring this great city. You can read part one here, and part two here. New York is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village – the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying this way is up. EB White Here Is New York, 1949 Now you’re in New York, these streets will feel brand new, the lights...

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Songs about New York : The Streets

Andy Royston continues his New York music odyssey – and takes it to the streets.¬†Read Part One here. I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air you breathe, but this is where it‚Äôs happening.¬†John Lennon People are working every minute. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep. Andy Warhol Songs For New York –...

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Song Writing Success Story

A few weeks ago I entered some of my songs in the UK Songwriting Contest. This is one of the most important competitions in the music world, and gets thousands of entries from all over the world. The judges are really important people in the music world like Kipper Eldridge, Sting‚Äôs producer. Another one is Stuart Epps who has worked with Elton John, Robbie Williams, Led Zeppelin, and loads of others.   It was set up with the aim...

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Soothe Your Soul with Santana

Carlos Santana Fan for Life. My dad was a teenager in the 70s, a grown-up in the 80s, and a lifelong fan of rock ‘n roll music. As a result, I grew up listening to the greatest music ever created. For example, my childhood was filled with AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Rush, and Carlos Santana, of course. Why I Love Carlos Santana Carlos Santana and the band Santana have been on my top ten favorite bands list for as long as I can...

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Under the Covers – Woodstock

Andy Royston gets muddy listening to cover versions of Joni Mitchell’s iconic anthem from of the Summer of Love. ¬†“500,000 halos¬†out shined¬†the mud and history. We washed and drank in God’s tears of joy. And for once, and for everyone, the truth was not still a mystery.‚ÄĚ Jimi Hendrix “There were a LOT of¬†people¬†there. It was more than a city of people – it was tribal. Fires were burning, smoke was rising,...

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Songs about New York : From Broadway to Harlem

Andy Royston writes about the songs that made New York. Part One : From Broadway to Harlem To say that New York came up to its advance billing would be the baldest of understatements. Being there was like being in heaven without going to all the bother and expense of dying. РP.G. Wodehouse New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten the children, its traffic is madness,...

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Higher Than The Sun – The Art of Paul Cannell

Andy Royston remembers one of London’s wildest artists, Paul Cannell, London’s Basquiat. “Like¬†all¬†great¬†dyslexic¬†artists Paul Cannell pants”¬†JEFF BARRETT Jeff Coons? Do¬†me¬†a favour!¬†Gilbert and George! Fuck off and die! The Grey Organisation?? In three years time if Paul Cannell is not a superstar artist with constant exhibitions in every main city throughout the world come and find me…¬†EDWARD BALL...

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Indie Classics : McCarthy – I Am A Wallet

Andy Royston revisits McCarthy’s ‘I Am A Wallet’, one of the great subversive indie records, as the band’s material gets a timely re-issue on bright red vinyl. Main headline photograph by Steve DT. “The most perfect record, a¬†Communist¬†manifesto with tunes” Nicky Wire – The Manic Street Preachers In modern rock and pop music the¬†band that showed the most striking influence of the German...

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The Magnificent Meschiya Lake

Andy Royston sings the praises of¬†Meschiya Lake, New Orleans nightingale made good. “I was driving in to meet the circus. I‚Äôd been driving alone for about eight hours, and I stopped in the French Quarter to use a phone to find out where I was supposed to go to meet everyone.¬†I looked around and noticed the gas lamps and the classic, Old World feel, just this feeling of timelessness. And I eventually learned that it‚Äôs a very...

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Musical Journeys – The Mayan and the Whale

Andy Royston tells the story of David Crosby’s ’47 schooner, Mayan, and a legendary sail¬†from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego. David was wonderful company and a great appreciator. When it comes to expressing infectious enthusiasm he is probably the most¬†capable¬†person I know. His eyes were like star sapphires to me. When he laughed they seemed to twinkle like no one else and so I fell into his merry company and we rode bikes...

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In Memory of Elvis Presley

In Memory of Elvis Presley.  Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 РAugust 16, 1977 His music is loved by all. He sang Rock and Roll, Country and Gospel. Elvis is regarded as one of the most popular figures of the 20th Century. His good looks, humor, impressive voice and charismatic moves on stage was endeared by everyone. In 1977 his death shook the nation including me and at present time it’s been 37 yrs. since he has...

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Under The Covers : Heartbeats

The greatest cover versions and the stories behind them Рby Andy Royston It would seem at first that this song owes its popularity to a TV ad. The presence of the song as soundtrack to an eye-catching commercial for a Sony television set has played a part in the careers of two entirely different Gothenburg musical acts. But the song has reaching into the furthest corners of the music world, with artists as diverse as The Gossip...

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Under The Covers – Take Me To The River

Sometimes songs from one generation can be covered in quite a different way by musicians and singers from the next. One such song is Take Me To The River first released in 1974, written by Al Green. Here was a singer who moved freely between soul and gospel styles, and at his best was writing songs full of nuance Рperfectly capturing both body and soul. Take me to the river, drop me in the water Push me in the river, dip me in...

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Songs for Cities – New Orleans

‚ÄúNew Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying, I want to be a policeman, or I want to be a fireman, he says, I want to be a musician.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Alan Jaffe, Jazz Musician and Founder of Preservation Hall Where do you begin with New Orleans music? We all know that jazz music began in this city, and that it profoundly influenced American music thoughout the 20th century....

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Songs For Yorkshire

Yorkshire is, for those that don’t know, God’s own County, the largest in England. Visitors have to a bit tougher than the average. Yorkshire is a big, strapping¬†rough-hewn diamond that even those born here are slightly in awe of. Here’s the tourism vid for the uninitiated. If you come to catch fish, be prepared to stand waist high in a¬†picturesque, unforgiving river. If you want to write your poem expect¬†to stand...

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Songs from the Heart : Landslide

A highlight of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks shows has always been Landslide, which is a song that seems to get stronger with age. In later live performances its clear that the song is almost a cathartic singalong, with Stevie; once the great Californian sex symbol, now fairy godmother to the classic rock generation, rising to the occasion. Her audience comes dressed in homage Рtop hats, shawls, feathers, long long hair and...

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Songs about Cities – Moscow

Before I start I would like to apologise in advance to my Russian friends who might be expecting¬†Muslim Magomayev’s Greatest City on Earth, or¬†a blast of¬†Moya Moskva.¬†And forgive my occasional inclusion of more general Russian songs too. I’m also writing this¬†from a peculiarly British perspective, as most of my impressions of the city filtered through Hollywood movies,¬†Peter and the Wolf¬†the occasional¬†bottle of...

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Electric Guitar Kit Review

Electric Guitar Kit Review. I was given an electric guitar kit for my birthday, which was in February. The fact that I finished in June gives you an idea of how many difficulties I had making it. I don’t want to put anyone off making a guitar from a kit, because it’s been great fun to do and I have learned so much. I’m just pointing out that how much you already know about woodwork, finishes, and electronics, will determine how long...

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Songs about Cities – Manchester

I must confess I knew little of Manchester before I arrived there to study in the late 1970s. Thanks to my cricket fanatic father I was a little wary of the place. The red rose of Lancashire were the enemy of any self respecting Yorkshireman and not to be trusted. Yorkshire Vs Lancashire? Think ‘Game of Thrones’ with cricket bats. For them as don’t know, cotton was the making of Manchester. It¬†was imported through...

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Songs about Cities : Chicago (Encore)

When it comes to Chicago music it all boils down to one thing. A cultural moment that overshadows all else. A watershed experience, not just for the city, but everyone else on the planet that witnessed the car crashes, the celebrity cameos, the flamethrower attacks, the shopping mall destructions, and the relentless car chase carnage that was The Blues Brothers. This is the second of two articles about music inspired by the great city...

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Songs about Cities : Chicago

Chicago is where I¬†first set foot¬†in¬†America. I arrived at O’Hare International Airport and entered the city via an airport shuttle. The sun was just breaking through the morning rain and I was dropped right in the center of town, close to the Wrigley Building. I walked around like a chump for days just gawping at the place. It was so fitting that Chicago was my first experience of an American city. I’d been a follower of...

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Songs about Cities – Liverpool

When I was old enough to know about Liverpool it was almost being talked about in the past tense. ¬†Liverpool for three hundred years was a magnificent seaport, the second city of Empire, with a flourishing trade with Virginia and the English colonies in America. It grew even larger during the industrial revolution¬†as most of the English north east’s trade left via Liverpool docks. During the 20th century, especially after World...

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Songs about cities : Miami

Some cities have elegantly created meditative pieces written about them, that are played in ornate halls by string quartets.  Some cities are honored in symphonic jazz arrangements that are premiered by orchestras and conducted by legends. Miami on the other hand has good time party songs performed by dudes with moustaches, wearing wife-beaters, gold chains and sunshades. I looked long and hard for songs that might inspire the mind,...

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Songs About Cities : Paris

Ten Songs For Paris In setting out to compile a favorite list of Paris songs I admit to being totally anglo-centric. There are hundreds of exceptional songs and performances en¬†francais¬†and a few great blogs cover this very well (a great example is this by Paris Attitude) ¬†so I won’t even attempt. Paris seemed to have inspired the jazz generation very much – there are enough Frank Sinatra songs about the city to fill an...

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My Parisian Soundtracks

If Paris was turning out hit songs, well I certainly didn’t notice. I had my ears glued to the radio for around half a century but very few French-flavored records made it¬†across the English Channel much less the Atlantic Ocean. Trust me I would have heard them. In France a¬†generation grew up on chanson –¬†where surrealism, jazz and Gershwin met French music hall in the form of Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf and a host of...

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Ukepocalypse Now!

The Great Ukulele¬†Invasion by Andy Royston Way back in the summer 2009 the UK’s venerable old Albert Hall proms played¬†host to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – a sold out night where a good proportion of the audience had brought along their own instrument to join in. Now it’s all well out of hand with the now annual Ukulele Hooley – a festival that’s taking over Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin this...

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Batley Variety Club

Yorkshire entertainment: The Batley Variety Club It all started with two Yorkshiremen, James Corrigan and Peter Fleming. Both were from fairground families so they knew a thing or two about entertaining the public. James was married to a girl from Batley in Yorkshire and his new wife Betty and his friend Peter joined him in their dream – to bring Las Vegas-style entertainment to the sleepy Yorkshire town of Batley. Batley was...

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Song for Sunrise – New York Morning by Elbow

  There’s this wonderful description of a New York morning hidden in an F Scott Fitzgerald short story, May Day, which he published in a long lost magazine. Smart Set. “Dawn had come up in Columbus Circle, magical, breathless dawn, silhouetting the great statue of the immortal Christopher, and mingling in a curious and uncanny manner with the fading yellow electric light inside.” F. SCOTT FITZGERALD The...

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Ukulele’s Coolest Moments

The uke is much maligned. This humble little instrument has¬†had more than a few uncool moments, and it’s hard to recover from the triple whammy of George Formby, Tiny Tim and Israel Kamakawiwo Ľole. Generations of Americans returned from their Hawaiian vacation with a plastic one. Cutesy kitsch from the Pacific islands. For Americans a visit to Hawaii was the¬†dream trip¬†during the 30s and 40s, and the appeal of the islands as a...

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The girl in the song: She’s Leaving Home

The Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home: The inspiration. Melanie Coe was seventeen years old when she ran away from home. The story of her disappearance was reported in the British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, and when Paul McCartney read it, he began to write the song She’s Leaving Home. What he didn’t realise what that he had met Melanie three¬†years previously, in 1963. She had been on the television show, Ready,...

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America’s Band: The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys and California Girls Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard the Beach Boys sing? They’ve been around so long, and are still popular. Often called “America’s band,” they were one of the biggest in America in their day. Over 80 songs on the charts worldwide, and over 35 in the United States. One of the most popular still is¬†California Girls. California Girls¬†takes me way back to the...

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My Hot Weekend With Frank Sinatra

I Was Breathless With Anticipation It was the Spring of 1994 and I was seated in the back of a long, black limousine that was taking me to the Las Vegas Strip. I was on my way to the MGM Grand to meet Frank Sinatra. My heart was running away with itself, and I had a hard time breathing. I was headed there to spend an intimate weekend with him. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself, conjuring up all sorts of scenarios and...

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Song For Sunrise – The Sopranos

“Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun…” The opening titles to the most highly rated TV show of the 21st century starts with a rumbling bass-driven trip¬†hop track, and¬†what sounds¬†like a southern fried pick-up trucker drawling the lyrics. A small-time mobster, who we’d later get to know as Tony Soprano, speeds out of the Lincoln¬†tunnel and heads¬†down the New Jersey turnpike¬†into the setting sunshine. The...

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A song for Sunrise – The Cherokee Morning Song

Over looking our Fort Lauderdale beach, his eyes trained on the morning sun, is a single tree totem, the Whispering Giant. He was carved out of a single cyress log by Hungarian-born scuptor Peter Wolf Toth. His aim is always to create a composite of all the physical characteristics of the local tribe or tribes, as well as their stories and histories. There are 74 documented giants around North America, one in each state of the union....

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Three Dog Night Рthe Music of the 70’s

Three Dog Night – the Music of the 70‚Äôs In the 1970’s there were so many young artists just getting in the music industry. The music business was exploding with hit after hit. My all time favorite band was Three Dog Night. The median income in 1970 was $8,734.00, the United States postage stamp sold for $.06, and a gallon of gas was $.36. I can remember a few years earlier my Dad complaining about gas at $.23 a gallon....

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Review: Meinl Cajon Kit

Review: Meinl Cajon Kit I’m very happy to say that I’ve just finished building my own Cajon. I didn’t have room for a drum kit so I got a Cajon instead. The Cajon is a percussion instrument that comes from Peru. It is a simple box with a hole in the back. The front of is made of slightly thinner wood than the other sides and inside there is a mettle grill that creates the sound of a snare drum when you hit the Cajon at a certain...

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Misheard Lyrics – What was that again?

Driving home from work tonight I had on one of my favorite British bands, The Jam. On their album ‘All Mod Cons’ there is a lovely ballad called ‘English Rose’ which contains one of those lines that I’ve never been able to figure out. “No matter where I roam,¬†I will return to my English rose¬†For no buns can ever tempt me from she…” “Buns?” I’m thinking; wondering if...

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Strange Deaths in Musical History

¬†Strange Deaths in Musical History What do the deaths of singer “Mama” Cass Elliott and drummer for The Who, Keith Moon, have in common? They’re four years apart, yet there are details they share. According to rumors “Mama” Cass died from choking on a ham sandwich. She didn’t. Keith Moon died from an illegal drug overdose. He didn’t. But their deaths have things in common. Read on for the...

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Masterpieces – Five Songs about Art

There was a bit of a fad for singing songs about film stars and artists back in the early seventies, and once or twice such songs burst onto the radio. As a kid I found this fascinating, even when the songs were a little bit saccharine. There was Elton’s Candle in the Wind, an ode to Marilyn Monroe ¬†long before the late Lady Di got her posthumous hands on it. There was You’re So Vain, Carly Simon’s beautifully...

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The Endless River by Pink Floyd

The Endless River by Pink Floyd Every Christmas I‚Äôm given a surprise CD and this year it was Pink Floyd‚Äôs new album, which is called ‚ÄėThe Endless River‚Äô. It was released late in October 2014 and quickly shot to number one in the charts around the world. The album was put together in Dave Gilmour‚Äôs amazing home studio on the river Thames just outside London. It has eighteen tracks, which are all instrumental, apart from the last track,...

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A Song for Sunrise – Mary Margaret O’Hara

Mary Margaret O’Hara turned up in London back in 1988¬†to play a show¬†at one of those old London jewel box theaters. She’d released a remarkable album earlier in the year called Miss America, which had been a fascination of mine from the off. I couldn’t wait to see if she could live up to her extraordinary record. On Mary’s music there’s nothing particularly unusual going on. Accomplished country tinged...

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Selling out – rock music in car advertising

Ever since I was a kid, and had an earful of Coca-cola’s hillside singers teaching the world to sing, I’ve been more than a little cynical about the use of music in advertising. A good song had great meaning and resonance and to use it in a commercial can seriously undermine the love and loyalty that the music has built up over the years. Take Renault’s use of Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’ to sell a...

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Ruby Ruby Ruby Rooobeee

Ruby Ruby Ruby Rooobeee Had a tune stuck in your head lately that you just cannot shift? For me, these past few days, it has been ‘Ruby’ by The Kaiser Chiefs. At Christmas while stuck in the queue at the supermarket, I was behind an elderly gentlemen that was whistling a tune familiar to me, yet I didn’t get it until hours later, and once I did, it was with me for days. It was Dean Martin’s ‘Everybody...

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Rogues Gallery – Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys

I’ve always been one for the eclectic, off-beat and downright wild¬†compilation albums. It’s all because I grew up with a transistor radio glued to my ear late at night; listening to the shows of British radio legend John Peel, making and sharing mixtapes and slowly becoming a curator of all kinds of musical styles. As a consequence I like a wide variety in my music. Sitting down to listen to an entire album by one artist...

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If you like Fleetwood Mac you’ll like… Haim

If you like Fleetwood Mac you’ll like… Haim In these days of TV talent show contestants hogging the airwaves¬†one¬†can be forgiven for getting the impression that teens are growing up ignorant of real music. But it’s also clear that playing a musical instrument hasn’t gone out of fashion. I think that we can thank our schools for this happy turn of events, and the growing amount of twenty-something musicians with...

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Why I Chose a Korg padKontrol MIDI Studio Controller & Drum Machine

Why I Chose a Korg padKontrol MIDI Studio Controller & Drum Machine I chose to buy a Korg padKontrol MIDI Studio Controller because it is made by Korg and they are a company that produce quality. I knew it would be an excellent device. I was looking for a drum machine that would make my life easier and I can say that I have found just that because this machine makes programming drum patterns into software easy. Here’s what I love...

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Happy Birthday Elvis! ‚Äď A Precious Tribute to Elvis

¬†Happy Birthday Elvis! ‚ÄďA Precious Tribute to Elvis Ella Mae Sings ‚ÄúAmerican Trilogy‚ÄĚ We celebrate Elvis Presley‚Äôs birthday today.¬† Born on the 8th of January in 1935, ‚ÄúThe King of Rock and Roll‚Äô lives on 80 years later. I can‚Äôt think of a better gift for Elvis and his fans than to share little Miss Ella singing ‚ÄúAn American Trilogy.‚Ä̬† She‚Äôll brighten your day, and no doubt, Elvis‚Äô spirit must be looking upon her fondly.   Ella...

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Happy Birthday Elvis, RIP Joe Guercio

Happy Birthday Elvis, RIP Joe Guercio Elvis Presley passed away on January 8th, 1977. He left this world a legacy that will never be forgotten. Elvis invented a new musical genre and a revamped world of entertainment, for which many of today’s musical artists owe him a great debt. He was called The King, because no one ever came near him for talent and ability to sell out a room. He wasn’t perfect, but those of us who...

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Bowling for Soup

Bowling for Soup ‚ÄėBowling for Soup‚Äô is an American rock band with a punk influence. They are from Texas. The band members are: Jaret Reddik lead vocalist and lead guitarist, Chris Burney who plays guitar and is a backing vocalist, Erik Chandler who plays bass guitar, and Gary Wiseman on drums. The guys met in high school where they eventually formed the band in 1986. Since then they have made 9 albums. They didn‚Äôt have much success at...

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