Radio City #3 – Charlie Sloth

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The John Peel of modern urban music

Sounds like yer classic Lahndon “white black kid”.

Looks like Jake from the “Blues Brothers” movie, updated thirty years to the present day and set in the world of rap rather than R and B.

Has John Peel’s passion for finding new artists and playing it on national radio.

Charlie Sloth

The Saturday rap show, presented by Charlie Sloth, is one of the best things on Radio 1 / 1Xtra.

Crucially, the show goes out on both stations so there’s no splitting of the audience.

Freed of the playlist considerations of Charlie’s weekday drivetime slot on 1Xtra, the show reads like a primer in “what’s good in current urban music”.

For example, a random selection from the 6th February show includes Big Narstie, Drake and Future, Chase & Status, Stormzy, Ghetts & Rude Kid, Yo Gotti, Wiz Khalifa, Bonkaz, Young Thug and Fetty Wap.

The best looking fat guy in the universe

Charlie first came to widespread attention as the creator, writer and star of the “Being Charlie Sloth” Youtube series.

A career as a rapper beckoned but after standing in as a DJ on 1Xtra as a double act with Wretch 32 the pair were offered a longer deal. Wretch wasn’t interested but Charlie, perhaps sensing a greater longevity as a presenter rather than simply as a performer, went for it.

Initially he filled the Friday night 1am to 4am slot (which given the age of the target audience is actually more or less peak time if you think about it) but he quickly graduated to Saturday breakfast and, famously, replacing Tim Westwood after the long-serving old skool DJ had been given his marching orders from Radio 1 and 1Xtra alike.

Not a man short on confidence, Sloth had already predicted this when the station first took him on.

“There was one producer that sat me down when I first started and asked me what my aspirations were. I said I was gonna take Westwood’s show, and he laughed at me so I said ‘give me 5 years and I’ll have his show’. I did it in three!”

The People’s Prince

These days Charlie has the control he had when putting out “Being Charlie Sloth”, hosting SIX three-hour live radio shows per week, all presented in his amiable but in yer face style.

Factor in a MINIMUM of three live gigs a week (usually more), as well as TV and production work – and it’s a workload that puts most of his peers to shame.

You get the feeling that for all the boasting and bravado, it is genuinely the love of the music that keeps him going, and there’s definitely something of John Peel in that, too.

Radio One Rap Show

1Xtra Drivetime Show

Fire In The Booth

MC Gravedigga (aka Charlie Sloth) raps at an old people’s home

Previous Post – Radio City #2 – Brian Matthew

Radio City #2 – Brian Matthew

Previous post – Radio City #1 – Huey Morgan

Next post – Radio City #3 – Charlie Sloth

Radio Two, as you would expect, has three regular weekly decade-based oldies shows every weekend, each highlighting one of the three decades during which the R2 core audience turned eighteen.

The excellent Johnnie Walker presents Sounds Of the 70s on a Sunday afternoon, which unfortunately mixes dull feature interviews with interminable West Coast rock, while Sarah Cox’s Sounds Of The 80s is a similar waste of a great presenter – a request-heavy trawl through the decade in the Saturday evening graveyard slot.

Sounds Of The Sixties, though, is an absolute bloody miracle of a show.


Presented by 87-year-old veteran broadcaster Brian Matthew, who was there pretty much at the start of rock’n’roll / pop music radio in the UK, hosting “Saturday Club” from 1957 and “Easy Beat “from 1960. He added TV to his CV from 1961, presenting “Thank Your Lucky Stars” for five years.

His clipped received pronounciation was very much BBC standard of the time, but the man’s enthusiasm for the music shone through, so he never really appeared “above” the bands he interviewed – you can hear plenty of examples of his rapport with The Beatles on the various sessions they recorded for the BBC between 1962 and 1965.

He continued on various shows on BBC Radios One and Two through the seventies and eighties -“My Top Twelve” was a particular highlight, his relaxed interviewing style allowing him to get quite a lot out of the likes of Rod Stewart, Rick Wakeman and (just twelve days before her tragic death) Mama Cass Elliot.

The uninitiated might expect Sounds Of The 60s to be simply a selection of chart hits such as you might hear on Gold or Absolute 60s – and I’m not knocking those fine stations, by the way, sometimes you just need something nice and familiar, which is the way 80% of all commercial radio works.

But Sounds Of The 60s is something different. Sure, there are hits, but these are interspersed with B-Sides, rare tracks from well-known artists and downright obscure sounds from bands nobody has ever heard of apart from a tiny number of aficionados.

The Sixties were such a time of musical change that it is relatively straightforward to build a playlist that covers tracks from the early 60s (1960-1962, pre-Beatles), the mid-Sixties (1963-1966,the Beat boom,Beatles,Motown,etc) and the psychedelic late 60s (1967-1969).


Each of these three eras is covered in each show, which means that any given “avid” will almost certainly not like all every song played but that’s fine, because the songs from “your” mini-era will inevitably be excellent.

An example playlist from 30/01/2016 contained The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions, The Ribbons, The Four Seasons, Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera (below), Bobby Vee, Sanford Clark,Kathy Kirby,Jet Harris & Tony Meehan, The Drifters,Gene Pitney, The Ugly Ducklings and The Honeycombs …
… and that’s just the first half of the show (“Side One”).

There are requests, but the show has been going for so long now (since 1990 with Brian at the helm, before that introduced by Keith Fordyce) that all us loyal regular listeners (“avids” – yes, the show has its own slang, and even John Peel never managed that!) both want and expect something different.

There are special features – a strangely arbitrary one where Side One Track One and Side Two Track Two of an album is played and the Loose Connection where a listener selects three songs linked as tortuously as possible by a common theme. I have yet to get one right.

If I have one slight complaint I’d like to hear more black music but that’s just a personal preference. The show does exactly what it is supposed to do, which is why it has lasted so long (and with the same presenter for the past 26 years)

Sounds Of The 60s group on Facebook

There’s an excellent Sounds Of The Sixties Facebook Group which I’d recommend to anybody who likes the show, especially when the show is actually on air.

Despite the saying, if you remember the sixties, that doesn’t mean you weren’t there, but it does mean that you’re an invaluable resource for fielding questions about the era if you don’t remember it yourself (which I don’t, not really, as I was just too young)

One of the topics exercising the fans just now is the vexed question of who will take over when Brian finally calls it a day? It’s hard to see Tony Blackburn or Johnnie Walker (the only survivors from that era) doing as good a job – both their talents lie in other directions. My vote would go to Craig Charles or a similar enthusiast – let’s hope a replacement is not required for a few more years yet.

Sounds of the 60s bingo on Twitter

Sounds Of The Sixties bingo

Every week you choose five artists, use the hashtag #sotsbingo and if Brian plays an artist you’ve chosen you get a point. It’s fiendishly hard. The average score is zero, and I’ve only managed more than 1 point on one occasion. It’s also great fun. I think Brian would approve.

See you round the radio on Saturday morning, avids. Leaving you with this obscure tune from 1961 featuring a man who decided (wisely or not, who can say?) to stick to playing other people’s records rather than making his own.

Previous post – Radio City #1 – Huey Morgan

Next post – Radio City #3 – Charlie Sloth

Radio City #1 – Huey Morgan

Next Post – Radio City #2 – Brian Matthew

First in a weekly series looking at radio shows and DJs. This week focusses on Fun Loving Criminal and DJ Huey Morgan.


The Dutch phrase for “Good Morning” is “Goedemorgen” but in the South of the country – the bit where it runs imperceptibly into Belgium – this is pronounced with a throaty “g” almost an “h” – like the sound at the end of the word “Loch” only a little bit more “g”ish – and also with the “d” swallowed beyond recognition.

I have this vision of a future in which an ageing Huey Morgan ends his days hosting a breakfast show in the Brabant region of the Netherlands. It could be called “Goedemorgen with Huey Morgan” or just “The Goede Morgen show”

See, this is why I don’t work in radio.

First coming to public attention as the frontman with Fun Loving Criminals in the 90s (and indeed currently on tour with them), Huey’s BBC 6 music show is on Saturdays at 10am, which is good because you can switch over from Radio 2 as soon as Sounds Of The Sixties finishes (and you really should. Graham Norton is a genius chat show host but doesn’t really suit radio)

Nobody ever goes on about The Huey Show, but for me its one of the best shows on the radio. Saturday is the only day you can hear a reasonable smattering of black music – in fact, a lot of the white music played is quite black, if you know what I mean.

You’ll hear 70s punk, US art-rock, reggae, 90s grunge and indie next to old skool hip-hop and garage, as well as carefully-selected current records. John Grant, The Coral, This Is The Kit and Bloc Party all featuring ont he latest show, as did Clear Soul Forces and the New York Dolls:

His presenting style is laid-back New York cool. There are no long interviews with musicians, no quizzes or phone-ins, only the Crate Challenge (which is really a way to get some love for some classic old records!) and the Soul Train, “stopping off at a different year in Soul Music history”, and you’re ever more than a couple of minutes away from a record.

His other show on Radio Two (in what will forever be “The Mark Lamarr Memorial Slot” to me in memory of God’s Jukebox, the best show on the radio ever) is primarily an oldies show but with a particular slant towards funk, soul, doo-wop, R and B and pre-stadium American rock – plus regular forays into older jazz and blues.

Within the space of half an hour of his most recent show (which you can still listen to here for another few weeks at least) he played Art Garfunkel, the Detroit Spinners, Dave & Ansel Collins, Harry Nilsson, John Cougar Mellencamp and some 1970s Nigerian high life from James Etamobe And His All Weather Band (incidentally one of THE great band names ever)

I have no idea what Mark Lamarr thinks of the show but I like to think, wherever he is, he’d approve.

Latest Huey Show on 6 music

Latest Huey Morgan Radio Two show

Next Post – Radio City #2 – Brian Matthew

Fay Fife Fo Fum – The Rezillos live 07/06/14

Half an hour into the Rezillos’ set, a mosh pit is forming.

By my reckoning the total age of the drunk,bald and balding middle-aged men in the mosh pit is close to four figures.

I can’t believe we’re all still here and still (knees allowing) pogoing. Soon it will be the fiftieth anniversary of punk. Think about THAT for a minute
Back in ’77, The Rezillos … stood out. It sounded punky. But the singing was different. They used to have a Dalek on stage. They had boy/girl singers. They sang in Scottish.

John Peel played their debut single Can’t Stand My Baby to death on his show and it was GREAT. A bit different from the snarling of the first wave of punk bands to hit.

The support tonight is the immaculately named Dick Venom & The Terrortones. A rocky, horror-influenced noise, and a Rocky Horror influenced frontman giving it loads. We love you, Dick.

The Rezillos love doing this and being here and the original cartoony, kitschy concept of the band means they can bridge the years quite easily.

Of the original band, bassist William Mysterious is no longer with us and principal songwriter and guitarist Jo Callis was recruited by the Human League after the original band split in 1978, but original drummer Angel Patterson remains and as long as the band’s faces Eugene Reynolds and his wraparound sunglasses and Fay Fife (greatest joke name ever – “Where are you from?” “Ah’m fae Fife”) are up front then it doesn’t matter who’s on stage with them.

In fact, I ended up on stage with them myself after a particularly big crowd surge. It was that or fall over and I chose safety and brief rock and roll stardom. The band didn’t seem to mind. Things may have gone differently if it was Kevin Rowland or John Lydon up front…

It very briefly flashed through my mind that this is how Chas Smash of Madness and Bex from Happy Mondays got started, and I contemplated staying up there and having a dance but bottled it. Sigh.

The new tunes they played were surprisingly great. No deviation from the template here, Take Me To The Groovy Room, another one whose name I didn’t catch and the and ??? as well as recent single No.1 Boy :

Excellent nostalgic gig. Yeah, the sound wasn’t perfect. Yeah, they’re getting on a bit now – but then down in the mosh pit so are us middle-aged dreamers, dreaming of our youth when we had a bit of fire in our bellies where now we just have 40-plus years’ worth of beer there.

Beats the hell out of growing old gracefully.

You can hear a couple of old Rezillos tracks, and a live version of the new track Take Me To The Groovy Room on this week’s Beat City podcast here:

Also includes tracks from the new albums by …

The Moulettes …

Kate Tempest …

and Lee “Scratch” Perry …

And a themed section involving songs about the finest of all the fruits

TV & Radio Times w/e Jan 13th – Everly Bros, Vangelis, Father Ted

A personal and in no way comprehensive or objective list of some good music-related stuff on the idiot box and the wireless this week.

Huey Morgan – Radio Two, Friday

What a superb show this is. Loads of great old stuff and a smattering of cool new stuff – an hour-long segment taken at random from a recent show went – Tinariwen, Chuck Berry, Derek & The Dominoes, Koukie, Kate Bush, The Chi-Lites, Gabor Szabo, The Who and Smashing Pumpkins.

The moral is, in the post-God’s Jukebox era, the best music shows on Radio Two are to be found at midnight at the weekends.

Sound Of Cinema – BBC4, Friday

In a series celebrating the art of the cinema soundtrack, the heart of a BBC-wide season playing on radio as well as TV, Neil Brand explores the work of the great movie composers, and demonstrates their techniques.

Neil begins by looking at how the classic orchestral film score emerged and why it’s still going strong today, then traces how in the 1930s, European-born composers such as Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold brought their Viennese training to play in stirring, romantic scores for Hollywood masterpieces like King Kong and The Adventures of Robin Hood. But it took a home-grown American talent, Bernard Herrmann, to bring a darker, more modern sound to some of cinema’s finest films, with his scores for Citizen Kane, Psycho and Taxi Driver.

Among those interviewed are Martin Scorsese and Hans Zimmer, composer of blockbusters like Gladiator and Inception.

This is Vangelis’s beautiful, haunting theme to “Chariots Of Fire”, the only film ever where I’ve come out of the cinema feeling proud to be British. And that includes Zulu and Escape To Victory btw.

See also Saturday Night At The Movies on Classic FM (below)

The Everly Brothers: Songs Of Innocence & Experience – BBC4, Friday

The Everly Brothers Reunion Concert – BBC4, Friday

Its one of THOSE nights on BBC4. Neil Brand’s superb three-part series on music in cinema followed by the Everly Brothers reunion documentary and concert, both an elegy for a bygone rock’n’roll era as the brothers made up their differences and got back together for a couple of gigs at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Saturday Night At The Movies – Classic FM, Saturday

Odd title for a show that goes out at 5pm but when you look at Classic FM’s demographic – my 87-yo Mum is a devoted listener – I suppose by the time this programme ends at 7pm, much of the audience will in fact be ready for bed. This week’s show carries the geektastic theme of Space, including Star Trek, Armageddon and 2001:A Space Odyssey. The theme to the latter has been described on Youtube as “A less moody version of the Red Dwarf theme tune”. I love Youtube, me.

Jackie Brown – Channel 4, Saturday

Appropriate late-Saturday-night slot for Tarantino’s blaxpoitation homage / ripoff film, which may have dated more than somewhat, but the 70s funk soundtrack never gets old, right from Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street” which plays over the credits.

Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour – 6 Music, Sunday

I’m not the world’s greatest Elbow fan but frontman Guy Garvey’s 6 music show is always a joy, last week featuring Laura Veirs, dEUS and Broken Social Scene, among others.

Tell you what, I’d like Elbow a lot more if their music showed a few of those influences.

Guy’s delivery is perfect for late night on a Sunday, though, so I’m still scratching my head as to why the show was moved to Sunday afternoons.

Father Ted – More 4, Sunday

The one where Ted and Dougal enter the Eurovision Song Contest with “My Lovely Horse”.

Play the f***ing note, Dougal !

Sounds Of The 80s, Radio 2 – Friday

Sara Cox has always been one of my fave radio presenters right back from her days on Radio One in the 90s where she added a welcome left-field and slightly disturbing tone to the prevailing lad(ette)-ish radio culture.

On the face of it, a DJ with a track record of playing dance music with the occasional indie track is an odd choice to introduce an 80s show but until such a time as Radio Two reaches “Sounds Of The 90s” (which in any case you can hear most days throughout 6 music’s programming) it’s good to have her in a regular radio slot again.

This week’s guest is the superb and underrated Marc Almond of Soft Cell and subsequent lesser solo hits, who at least hails from the Good Eighties (pre-84).

Love ya Sara, and I can hear the desolation in your voice when you have to say “Starting off the show there with Journey”.

To be fair, the show mixes and matches and provides as acceptable a mix as you can manage from the decade that music forgot.

One day soon, Sara, the 90s will be retro and you can play stuff you like again. As the hair-metal stadium rockers so rightly put it, Don’t Stop Believin’.

Danny Baker’s Rocking Decades, BBC4, Monday

Danny Baker takes an hour-long look at the Seventies in music, which some would say was about nineteen hours too short a time to do justice to the decade in which we moved from bubblegum to electro and New Romanticism via acid folk, punk, funk, prog, reggae, 2 Tone and stadium rock.

The suspicion that this show may be weighted towards the latter part of the decade is strengthened by the panel of Joy Division bassist Peter Hook, Slits guitarist Viv Albertine and Loyd “I was in a punk band you know” Grossman, the latter a top bloke but a very odd choice indeed.

Still, it’s Danny’s show and the man is always worth watching – and since he spent the 70s first as a a teenager, then a record shop assistant and finally the funniest and best journo ever to write for the NME, his is a voice worth listening to.

There’s Danny’s selection of archive clips at 10.30 too, in which the links will undoubtedly be even better than the music (which will be great, obviously). Continues on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Eighties and Nineties.

The Life Of Rock with Brian Pern, BBC4, Monday

Splitting the two sections of the Baker seventies retrospective, and redressing the balance a little in favour of the early seventies, prog legend Brian Pern – unfairly neglected by most scholars of music in this era – presents this alternative take on the history of rock.

Brian has done it all in a long career, and this documentary series looks unmissable.

Monday – Lauren Laverne, 6 Music

Temples have been getting a lot of positive attention in the run up to their debut album, which comes out this week. They play a live sesh with Lady La-La which despite being on at a time when wage slaves are all toiling away at t’mill, will be available on Listen Again.

I will take any excuse going to play Temples. This was their debut single.

Tuesday – I’ve Played In Every Toilet, Radio 4

The excellent John Harris mourns the decline of the UK’s toilet circuit – a network of crappy, cheap and cheerful venues where up and coming bands learn their trade and spread the word. Inluding, I’m pleased to note, the Forum in that legendary rock and roll hotbed of Tunbridge Wells, which is an actual converted toilet 8=)

From where I’m standing, I’d say venues are still surviving well if not actually thriving – a good example being Joiners in Southampton which has gigs on most nights. This is a nice clip of local boy Frank Turner returning to play one of the places that helped him on the way up.

Thursday – Johnnie Walker’s Long Players, Radio 2

David Hepworth and Johnnie Walker discuss a couple of classic albums. The format is a good ‘un, but it does pretty much live and die on whether you like the records they pick each week. This week’s is a cracker, featuring Blondie’s “Parallel Lines” and Elvis Costello’s first LP with the Attractions, “This Year’s Model”.

Should be something there for most tastes. Haven’t mentioned regulars like the Charlie Sloth show on 1Xtra and Marc Riley on 6 Music, both excellent all the time. This is a clip of Charlie’s visit to an old peoples’ home to perform a rap (as MC Gravedigga)

I Got 99 Problems But Me Gran Ain’t One