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Music Diary


Started in November 2006, a repository for my comments on the music industry, the radio programmes to which I listen, and maybe even what is on the turntable at home.

24th March 2007

I recently discovered a website called Pandora. The idea is that you tell the website the type of music that you already like, and it finds other songs and artists in the same style. To test it I told it that quite naturally, I like Lefty Frizzell. It played one track by Lefty, followed by Buck Owens, then Ernest Tubb. This seemed wonderful! I then chose to further focus my choice by adding Ray Price. You then have the option to specify for each track it plays whether that song is typical of what you want to hear.

Eventually your personal radio station becomes more and more focused. Sometimes you' hear old favourites, and sometimes you hear something by an artist of whom you've never heard, but it meets your requirements! You can also query the system as to why it chose a certain record. It quite correctly picked another Buck Owens song, and gave me the reason for its choice,

    “Based on what you've told us so far, we are playing this track because it features country roots, demanding instrumental part writing, a vocal-centric aesthetic, major key tonality and slide or pedal steel guitars.” Wow!

Give it a try, I can't recommend it too highly.  After a while you might get bored with honky-tonk country so all you do is create another radio station, you're allowed up to 100. I started again and selected the Shangri-Las as the seeding group. Pandora then played a Shangri-Las record, followed by a range of other 1960s girl vocal group songs, some of which I liked and selected, and some of which I rejected. After half-an-hour of that I started another one of surf instrumentals, starting with the Chantays, which offered me the Trashmen, Davie Allan and the Arrows, Dave Myers and his Surftones, the Belairs and Tom Starr & the Galaxies.  After half-an-hour of that I discovered the quick mix option which allows you to listen to songs selected at random from any of your perfect radio stations.

14th March 2007

A recent episode of Midsomer Murders, an Agatha Christie-style mystery thriller series set in the Heart of England, had Suzi Quatro in a small role playing a blues singer, as well as cameo roles from Roger Chapman of Family, and Geno Washington with a neo-Ram Jam Band and he sounded wonderful.

1st March 2007

Anybody who knows me will be aware that I don't usually do commercials for free! However, here is an exception. Last week's Radio Times, (the UK television listings magazine) had an advert offering a 40-track double doowop CD free if you ask for a mail-order music catalogue. My free CD arrived today and it is currently playing in the background!  While many of the tracks are well known there are even some that I have never heard before, and I have a very large collection of doowop. It's worth the effort of writing an envelope and finding a stamp just for four or five tracks, 10, 13, 18, (memories of street corner bad harmonies in my youth!), 29 and 35. See a full listing below. One of the very first LPs I ever bought in the mid-1970s featured 13 year-old Arlene Smith of the Chantels, singing her heart out, and it still sounds good 30 years on from my first hearing. The address you need is “Finbarr, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2QQ”.  Let me know what you think! The 16-page A5 catalogue is worth the stamp anyway!

        Track listing
        1. Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Lymon, Frankie & The Teenagers
        2. Money Honey - MacPhatter, Clyde
        3. Little Darlin' - Gladiolas
        4. Teenager In Love - Dion & The Belmonts
        5. Ookey Ook - Penguins
        6. I'm So Happy - Lymon, Lewis & The Teen Chords
        7. Blue Moon - Marcels
        8. Under The Boardwalk - Drifters
        9. Remember Then - Earls
        10. Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop - Little Anthony & The Imperials
        11. Straighten Up And Fly Right - Gaye, Marvin
        12. You're An Angel - Penguins
        13. Guided Missiles - Cuff Links
        14. Only You - Platters
        15. I Only Have Eyes For You - Flamingos
        16. Glory Of Love - Five Keys
        17. Since I Don't Have You - Skyliners
        18. Goodnight Sweetheart - Spaniels
        19. Always And Always - Julian, Don & The Meadowlarks
        20. Ten Commandments Of Love - Harvey & The Moonglows
        21. I Wonder Why - Dion & The Belmonts
        22. Up On The Roof - Drifters
        23. Come Go With Me - Del-Vikings
        24. Stay - Williams, Maurice & The Zodiacs
        25. (Will you) Come back my Love - The Wrens
        26. Sh Boom - Chords
        27. Get A Job - Silhouettes
        28. Barbara Ann - Regents
        29. Denise - Randy & The Rainbows
        30. Trickle Trickle - Videos
        31. Book Of Love - Monotones
        32. Crying In The Chapel - Orioles
        33. Daddy's Home - Shep & The Limelites
        34. Day You Said Goodbye - Dootones
        35. Maybe - Chantels
        36. Devil Or Angel - Clovers
        37. Tears On My Pillow - Imperials
        38. In The Still Of The Night - Five Satins
        39. Only For You - Cameos
        40. Great Pretender - Platters

February 2007

At long last I have photographed my entire CD collection. You can browse through it here or by clicking on any of the images here. You can even watch a slideshow if you have broadband and 13 minutes to spare. Set the slider to your preferred setting.  Like my actual collection, the photographs are not indexed. This may change one day. Who knows?

I don’t know if I’ve suddenly turned hip and trendy, but I like a current record!! It’s called “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby”, by some fun-loving popsters called something like the Geezer Chefs. Could it be Jamie Oliver & Gordon Ramsay?

Danny Baker on Radio London just played Irish comedian Dave Allen’s version of Les Crane’s Desiderata.  He also threatens to have the sublime Bobby Valentino back early in March as his guest.

January 2007

Possibly it's just the beginning of a new-year, possibly it's because I'm running out of shelf space, or possibly it's just reality, but I decided that I must radically reduce my CD buying. I don't think I bought many last year but on going through my collection to photograph them and put them online here, I realised that I have so much good music that I don't listen too often enough, and that the more I by the more I have to spread my ears around!

In England we have a radio programme called Desert Island Discs. Each week a celebrity from some walk of life is invited to choose his or her 8 favourite records which they would want to have with them if stranded on a desert island. Last week it was the science-fiction writer Brian Aldiss, and we were delighted when his first choice was “Old Rivers” by Walter Brennan, one of our corny favourites. At the end of the programme the celebrity is asked to choose their one favourite, and Brian chose the Brennan track. Finally the celebrity is asked to choose one luxury item with which they would like to be stranded and he chose a banjo even though he can't play it.

December 2007

It was very sad to hear of the death of James Brown. I wasn't too keen on his later funkier music, much preferring his early Sixties sound, such as his Live at the Apollo recording. I do have this powerful image in my mind of his funeral. I imagine the earth being scattered on his coffin, when suddenly the lid flies off and he comes out, resplendent in a new costume, shrugging off his cape, to do one final encore, while the Famous Flames try to put his cape back on to him and guide him back to the coffin. Rest well James.

November 2007,

Recently I’ve had an exchanges of emails with Pete who is creating an excellent website about the 101ers, a mid-seventies pub rock/punk crossover band. I’ve also heard from Max, the saxophone player with Rocky Sharpe and the Razors. These were two bands I saw in the mid seventies.

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