Audio

Listen To A 1960s Wonderland

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  With the 150 year anniversary of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ there’s been a lot of renewed interest in Lewis Carroll’s nonsense book this year. ‘wonder.land’ at the National Theatre is the latest updated incarnation of the Alice story, although – like the rest of the National’s winter season – it has proved a less than […]

What A Bullfight Sounds Like

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In the back-alleys of my overstuffed iTunes files I recently found all my old voice memos, from a rainstorm in Sri Lanka to kodo drummers in Japan, and this, matador Padilla’s return to the bullring after being gored through the eyeball, complete with cheers and a brass band. If you audio-scripted it you’d be accused […]

Rediscovering A Lost London Talent

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The UK has a system for dealing with its stars; we discover them and expect them to be humble and grateful, then destroy them if they get too big for their boots, or trot off to Hollywood. From the low comic to the intellectual author, we pride ourselves on turning our backs on them if […]

The Top Soundtracks

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Earlier this year, the soundtrack composer James Horner was killed in a plane crash, and we lost one of Hollywood’s finest composers working. I always play soundtrack music as I write, and his scores often feature in my daily playlist. The top soundtracks get voted on by the public every year. This year the top […]

The Lavender Song

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I stumbled across this on one of my freefalling internet music trawls. “Das Lila Lied” (“The Lavender Song”) is an astonishing German cabaret song that was written in 1920, and was rerecorded by Berlin cabaret artiste Ute Lemper. The 1920s produced some very sophisticated and very funny songs about sexual politics (there are several albums of them […]

A Theme For Our Times?

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Have you ever noticed how every James Bond title track reflects its time? ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Thunderball’ hit the sublimely brassy, sexy peak of the sixties, McCartney’s ‘Live And Let Die’ captured the escapist mood of the otherwise grim early seventies, A-Ha’s ‘The Living Daylights’ matches the watered-down sounds of the selling-out 80s that were also […]

The Night It All Went A Bit Right

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The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall has always been dominated by popular classical music, with intriguing sidebars of esoteric and eclectic pieces. Barring the ghastly flag-waving farrago of the Last Night, the selection is broadly sedate, pleasurable and not unlike listening to those albums of ‘British Light Classical’. This year was no different to […]

Witty Songs: A Brief Guide (Part 2)

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We came a long way from the Victorian music hall songs and monologues of stars like Stanley Holloway and Joyce Grenfell. After, we had Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight?’, Max Bygraves singing ‘You’re A Pink Toothbrush, I’m A Blue Toothbrush’, comedy songs like ‘When Father Papered The […]

Witty Songs: A Brief Guide (Part 1)

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Like the Fado is to Portugal and the tango to Argentina, the witty song is to Britain. We were always better at words, especially if they weren’t about love, which simply embarrassed us. We have Gilbert & Sullivan to blame for this, with their gymnastic lyrics. Here the Major-General lists his abilities, being a military […]

The Bond Track Nobody Heard

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While we’re talking about quirky soundtracks (oh, sorry, weren’t we?) the late sixties produced a lot of soundtracks with sung title themes, many of them extremely memorable and catchy earworms. First, here’s an audio Q&A of a song featuring Peter Sellars and The Hollies (does anyone remember them?) from the comedy caper ‘After The Fox’, […]