On Monday evening, waiting for Allen Toussaint to begin his solo set at Ronnie Scott’s, I recalled the times in the early sixties when I would lie in bed listening to songs like ‘Working in a Coalmine’, ‘Mother in Law’ and ‘Fortune Teller’ on Radio Luxembourg. Although I was not aware of the fact at the … Continue reading Allen Toussaint performs his songbook at Ronnie Scott’s
In one of those curious coincidences that seems to happen to me frequently, the morning after we returned from our short break in Berlin BBC Radio 4 broadcast a drama based on the moment in July 1988 when, improbably, Bruce Springsteen performed before an audience of 300,000 people from all over the German Democratic Republic … Continue reading When Springsteen played East Berlin
Two years ago, in February 2013, I wrote an adulatory review of a concert at the Liverpool Phil by the Heritage Blues Orchestra. At the time they were pretty much an unknown quantity in the UK, having only recently released their first album, And Still I Rise. Last night they were back – and gave … Continue reading The Heritage Blues Orchestra’s triumphant return to the Phil
Fifty years ago, in May 1965, Bob Dylan’s fifth album Bringing It All Back Home was released in the UK. I don’t know for sure when I first began to hear songs off the new album, though it must have been soon after its release since by then I was listening for nearly a year … Continue reading Fifty years of Bringing It All Back Home: through the smoke rings of my mind
Last week we lost two giants of soul music – Ben E King and Percy Sledge. Hearing the news brought back memories of listening to Radio Luxembourg under the bedclothes in the early sixties – back when the BBC Light Programme was a waste of time for teenagers, and before the advent of pirate radio. … Continue reading Percy Sledge and Ben E King: dreams to remember
Tomorrow evening I was planning on seeing John Renbourn play at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, one stop on a tour he was doing with guitarist Wizz Jones. This morning I opened the paper to learn that he was dead. With Bert Jansch, John Renbourn co-founded Pentangle in 1967, the brilliant band of musicians which burst … Continue reading John Renbourn: buckets of tears
Professor Longhair, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint – three of the piano-player greats who have emerged from New Orleans, that laboratory of musical invention, the city where every stream of American music has converged and shape-shifted. None have transmogrified the music to the same degree as a fourth pianist, Mac Rebennack who reinvented himself as Dr John, fusing voodoo psychedelia … Continue reading Dr John at the Phil, Liverpool: Such a Night!