Celebrating African Music and other radio highlights

I’ve always sensed there’s a massive difference between the BBC 6 Music audience in the week and at the weekends.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the station to bits but like all other stations, it has its playlist favourites and house style, focussing on a particular strand of cool white music, mainly from the 90s onwards but delving back from time to time as far as the Specials and occasionally the Doors.

There is room for a lot more experimentation and variety at the weekends, and this weekend sees their bravest move yet as they are devoting much of the weekend to African music.

Everywhere you look there are intriguing-sounding programmes, so here’s a few that sound unmissable, plus a couple of other radio highlights this week.

Chris Hawkins (Saturday 7.00 am)

Chris Hawkins has Rokia Traore as a special guest, and also features some great archive tracks and jams, including Tinariwen, who have a new single out :


Gideon Coe – Virtual road trip through Africa (Saturday 3:00 pm)

This is the sort of themed show Gideon Coe does really well, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

” From the Desert blues of the Sahara to the deep funk of Fela Kuti the music of Africa has long moulded our musical cannon. For this 3 hour special Gideon Coe restores African music’s place at the centre of the story, hitting the road with Rita Ray to unearth tracks from the townships of South Africa to the plains of Mali. We hear from Damon Albarn about the musicians who inspired him to work in Africa as well as Fela Kuti’s legendary drummer Tony Allen, Dave Okumu from the Invisible, Nigerian born African Boy as well as great Senegalese crooner Baaba Maal on their favourite tracks from the continent. With their help we trace a path from the biggest African artists to the western music they gave rise to, from funk to folk and back again.”

Gemma Cairney in Mali (Sunday 1.00 pm)

Presenter Gemma Cairney travels to Bamako in Mali to discover more about the music and artists there, and how it has been affected by the music ban which was in place due to the recent troubles in the north of country.

Mali, for so long a musical powerhouse with some of Africa’s finest performers has seen its music scene damaged by the coup, the collapse of the country and the Islamist takeover of the north. Incredibly, music was banned for several months in much of this nation that is so entwined with its musicians.

Gemma meets local musicians including Naba TT and Afel Bocoum who talk about their experiences of the ban and living through this very difficult time.

Sound Of Cinema “Filthy Lucre” – Radio 3 (Saturday 4.00 pm)

Matthew Sweet introduces film scores on the subject of money by Max Steiner, Ernest Gold and others, and profiles the music for the new cinema release from Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

“There’s nothing quite as wonderful as money on the this week’s Sound Of Cinema – except of course when it’s dirty, filthy, stolen and the root of all evil.”

The programme features music from – amongst others – “Rogue Trader”; “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”; “Indecent Proposal”; “Glengarry Glen Ross”; “Trading Places” and “Wall Street”

Matthew’s Classic Score of Week is Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”.

Bet there’s nothing from “The Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle”. I’d die a happy man if I could hear the Sex Pistols on Radio Three.

The First Time with Marianne Faithfull (Thursday 2.00 am)

Series in which figures from the world of music discuss the important musical milestones in their lives. The format is as old as radio itself, but what saves it from being merely a hipper Desert Island Discs is the excellence of Matt Everitt’s interview technique. Engaging and knowledgable, Matt’s got a genuine fan’s love of his subject, but the questions are intelligent and far from fawning.

This episode is one of the best – Marianne Faithfull is a loverly interviewee.

Matt leads Marianne through a warm, engaging look at a career spanning over five decades. She has worked with many great musicians including David Bowie and Dr. John, and, more recently, Blur and PJ Harvey.

Marianne discusses the music she grew up with – including Chuck Berry and The Everly Brothers – and the way it influenced her solo work. She also covers her forays into country music, her love of jazz, and explains why she received a credit on The Rolling Stones’ song Sister Morphine. The singer also talks about her past drug problems and the way that she has now made peace with difficult periods in her life. This is one of her best.

Adrian Longhurst “Let The Good Times Roll” (Angel Radio, 6pm Friday)

Finally a recommendation for an excellent station I discovered completely by accident.

Angel Radio (“Pure Nostalgia”) can be found online and on DAB, and on 101.1 FM in certain areas (Hampshire and the Isle Of Wight among them).

The show I heard was really excellent – “Let The Good Times Roll” presented by Adrian Longhurst, which featured jazz and swing. Particularly nice to hear Louis Prima and Keely Smith on the radio in the Friday rush hour.

Call me idealistic but I swear you’d get rid of road rage overnight if you made this station compulsory. A real find.


Radio Radio #2

Here’s a few suggestions for your listening pleasure for the wee ending Friday January 17th 2014.

The Story Of Pop (daily on 6 Music and also on the BBC iPlayer)

You could easily have listened to the first episode of this epic 52-part series from 1994 and decide it’s too messy and unfocussed.

It’s a sprawling work for sure, some editions hit home while some leave you scratching your head – (did they REALLY shoehorn “Long Live Rock” by The Who into a show about the rock’n’roll star system in Part 4?)

But then .. ah, but then there’s the times they get it right.

Chief among these this week was Episode 2 “It Came From Africa”, an excellent, all-points-covered sixty minute trip through the black roots of white pop music, necessarily only scratching the surface, but the names are all there if you want to dig further.

And of course these days we CAN dig further thanks to the Interweb, further and in as many different directions as you like, so if you want to find,say, Nigerian music of the late fifties, it’s all there for you.

“The Story Of Pop” at its best provides an excellent starting point. Each episode is themed rather than being done year-on-year, so you can dip in and out – it’s not an encyclopaedia in partwork form to be read from start to finish, unless you’re doing a school or college project on pop music history – and if you are, then more power to your elbow. I can think of few things more worth doing!

For the rest of you, I’d recommend the following episodes meself. Still available on the BBC iPlayer but be quick are …

Episode 2 –  It Began In Africa
Episode 3 – Blacks, Whites And Blues – Blacks, Whites And Blues
Episode 6 – Goin’ Up Country Goin’ Up Country

And to come this week …
Sunday – Episode 9 Big Surf – the Californian surf sound
Tuesday – Episode 11 – When We Was Fab – The Beatles & The “British Invasion”
Wednesday – Episode 12 – England Swings – The myths and legends of Swinging London
Thursday – Episode 13 – Hitsville UK – The first ten years of the Motown label

Dave Rowntree of Blur (XFM,Thursday s)

Blur’s Dave Rowntree continues his regular weekly show at 9pm.

Dave’s an engaging bloke and – yeah I know this is an unusual criticism of a music dj but first impressions are that I’d like to hear him talk a bit more.

Oh, and ditch the sidekick, Researcher George. He seems a nice enough chap but when you have The Drummer From Blur, one of THE marquee XFM bands on the payroll, what we the listeners want is to hear his stories about his time at the epicentre of the Britpop scene in the mid-nineties,as we’ve been promised in the advance publicity.

Hopefully that will come in time. I’ll definitely be listening to the next edition.

Last week’s music choice included The Magnetic North, Alt-J. Beck. John and Paul separately. Kaiser Chiefs. Wall Of Voodoo – Mexican Radio. Polyphonic Spree and Wall Of Voodoo from 1982, who really should have been more popular.

Prezedent on Colourful Radio

It can be difficult to find he black music/chat digital station Colourful Radio outside of the London area, but you can pick it up online at www.colourfulradio.com. and it’s an absolute goldmine for black music.

As far as I’m aware you can’t pick it up on the Sky dish, which I think’s a bit of an oversight on the part of all concerned.

This is a station that provides news and discussion of things that affect Britain’s black communities, AND whether you reckon this directly affects you or not, the music is effing awesome.
Prezident’s reggae show is particularly fine. Going out at 10pm on a Friday evening, he features reggae ” starting from the dancehall then working our way all the way back to the beginning”. A lot less frenetic than the night dance music featured on pretty much ALL stations at that time on a Friday. Like this one from Don Campbell.

Along with the rest of Colourful’s output, the show is also available to “listen again” from Colourful’s site here.


Check it out.

As the man himself says, it’s all about da goodah Reggae Music mate!!!

Hawkwind Live In London 1972 (6 Music Saturday 02:00)

There are some superb live concerts in the BBC vaults and this is no exception. The psychedelic space cadets at their trippiest, noisiest, wall of soundiest peak featuring songs like this, their big hit.

Whatever happend to the long-haired chap with the tash doing the singing?

Hope you enjoy at least a couple of these shows. There’s never been more choice and variety on the radio if you know where to look, and this just scratches the surface.

More next week , and every Friday, and don’t forget to check out This Week’s Gig Guide

And every week you can download a new music  featuring an hour plus of great sounds from all types of music. Latest one here.

Beat City Podcast #11

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Radio Radio #1

w/c Saturday 5th January 2013

First in a regular weekly blog in which I’ll be recommending some music radio highlights for the forthcoming week.

Saturday – The Story Of Pop (04:00 6 Music, continues daily)

Alan Freeman’s epic, FIFTY-TWO PART look at the history of pop music was first broadcast in 1994, so you could argue that there’s ample room for a sequel or an updated version.

I’ve never heard this but I’m a sucker for epic aural journeys so I’m going to tune in. It’s on every day, at 04:00 at weekends and 01:00 on weekdays, but you can listen again through the iPlayer.

One criticism is that without some means of recording these, it’s going to be difficult to keep up with absolutely every episode. Gonna see how it goes and report back next Friday.

Saturday – Hawkwind Live In London 1972 (02:00 6 Music)

The psychedelic space cadets at their trippiest, noisiest, wall of soundiest peak featuring songs like this, their
big hit. Not being familiar with the band, we all thought Lemmy was their lead singer, on account of he was apparently the only member of the band with the precise vocal range to sing the song. This happy accident did the old bugger no harm at all career-wise.

Sunday – Mary Anne Hobbs (07:00 6 Music, also Saturday)

Mary Anne seems pretty happy about returning to the BBC, and her Saturday and Sunday morning shows are an excellent, ecletic mix if you love music. The presence of Anna Calvi and Eddie Argos of Art Brut who will be sharing tips on singing, elevates Sunday’s show to “unmissable”.

Sunday – John Cooper Clarke (16:00 6 Music)

The Bard Of Salford ™ has been a highlight every time he’s done a stint as a DJ and I’m really looking forward to these shows, running for a few weeks on Sunday afternoons. He probably won’t get to play this though.

Monday – Thursday – John Kennedy’s XPosure (XFM) (10:00 – 01:00)

The Observer described John Kennedy as “the doyen of underground alternative music” which proves they sometimes DO get it right. He’s been around seemingly forever, a reliable source of sounds that make you go “WOW! WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!” on a regular basis. The line-ups for the XPosure gigs are always well chosen, too.

XFM’s output can get a little bit “landfill indie” at times, but not on JK’s shift. He remains the only DJ I have ever heard giving airtime to one of the great unsung bands of the Noughties, They Came From The Stars I Saw Them :

Thursday – Dancehall with Robbo Ranx (1Xtra) (22:00 – 02:00)

Four – count ’em, four! – hours of the finest modern dancehall reggae sounds. Deffo a bit of an eye-opener for those who tend to stick to reggae records made before 1980 … have to admit to a bit of the old school prejudice myself but this makes a refreshing change

There’s plenty more good listening out there, obviously, and I’ll be pointing you in the direction of a lot of it every Friday. Enjoy!

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day 11th November 2013

Just a short post today as the link below kind of says it all.

There is a huge tradition of war-related songs in folk music and a lot of them are included in Mike Harding’s special Remembrance Day podcast which you can download FREE here

Some of the tracks are not easy to listen to but they all have an important tale to tell.

Never forget.

Radio One Takeover Week, January 1973

This week is New Music Takeover week on Radio One, and it’s great to switch on at 6.30 am and hear Huw Stephens, followed by Annie Mac doing the mid-morning show.

The station deserves great credit for doing this every year, although it does beg the question, why not all the time? … but I guess you can’t have everything.

It is a little-known fact that Radio One first did this experiment in the first week of 1973, where each and every one of the station’s then-current alternative DJs got to broadcast throughout the day, and were given free rein to play what they wanted.

Owing to the BBC’s policy of wiping tapes, no official recordings exist, but I definitely remember avidly listening to it – can anybody else confirm that the schedule went something like this?

07:00 John Peel’s Breakfast Show

09:00 Housewives’ Choice with John Peel

12:00 Lunchtime show with your friend and mine, Johnnie Peel

14:00 Sequence. Two hours of records played without interruption while John Peel is given a cortisone injection

16:00 Drive time with John Peel.

19:00 Closedown. Thankfully the station closed down in the early evening in those days, otherwise Peel would probably not have survived “New Music Takeover Week” and therefore punk WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED.

Remember, this blog post must be true because you saw it on the Internet