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Word In Your Ear

Word Podcast 144 - with Wilko Johnson

Wilko Johnson joins Mark Ellen, "Seventies" Mike Johnson and Fraser Lewry in the pod, with tales of the false economy of cheap suits, speed versus alcohol, going round to Strummer's house, seeing The MC5's Wayne Kramer sprayed gold, being left-handed before Hendrix, and the still painful story of his ejection from Dr Feelgood.

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  • 624. Hollywood Babylon, the inspired gimmickry of Catch A Fire and the luck of Ron Wood

    58:43
    We lobbed the feathered arrows of enquiry at the rock and roll dartboard this week and these got the highest scores … … rock stars v the new league of the Super-Rich. … package tours of the mid-‘60s – eight acts, an interval, a compere plus God Save the Queen. … ‘Hits, Flops and Other Illusions’ by Edward Zwick and the fantastic tale about arrogance, money-squandering and Julia Roberts at the Halcyon Hotel.... pop music used to be about persuading people to cut loose; now it’s about getting them to tighten up. … why you can read Ron Wood’s memoir as either comedy or tragedy. .. Chris Blackwell’s post-production trickery that sold Bob Marley to a rock audience. … Master Tape Rescue: the arduous task of panning for gold. ... and why there should be a movie about the making of Shakespeare in Love. Plus birthday guest Chuck Loncon in Savannah, Georgia – Neil Young v Spotify, Lady Antebellum, the Dixie Chicks and the tangled world of political correctness.Subscribe to Word In Your Ear via Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 623. Neil Tennant remembers life “with dyed red Bowie hair and clattering platforms”

    43:54
    Neil’s an old friend from our days back at Smash Hits in the early ‘80s. The first Pet Shop Boys demos were played on the office tape machine, though he was a bit self-conscious about “the one with the rap on it”. He’s always had a journalistic capacity for story-telling, remembering everything in famously entertaining detail, and we had so much material from this reunion we turned it into a two-part podcast. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in this second half ... … “every group has to have an angle”. … pop’s current obsession with identity. … why Bronski Beat were so significant. … David Bowie’s scathing one-word reviews of Michael Jackson and Oasis at the Brits. … “the whole world of pop songs is a giant ever-expanding artwork”. … meeting Frida from Abba, “a song waiting to happen”. … the ‘Pits & Perverts’ gay benefit for the miners in 1984. … London clubs in the early ‘80s - “we had a competition to see who could wear the highest heels”. … how everyone at Smash Hits thought Michael Jackson’s Thriller was “a damp squib”. … recording West End Girls.  … first hearing a 12-inch single. … appearing on Soul Train with Don Cornelius – “like being on a different planet”. … why Dusty Springfield gave Jerry Wexler a nervous breakdown. … seeing the last Ziggy Stardust show. … meeting Steven Spielberg, Micky Dolenz and Joni Mitchell. … and Boy George's gag about George Michael.----------------------------------- PSB tour dates: https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/pet-shop-boys-tickets/artist/735852 Order the new Pet Shop Boys album ‘Nonetheless’ here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/nonetheless-Deluxe-2CD-Shop-Boys/dp/B0CTKKBBVF-----------------------------------Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear 
  • 622. Richard Thompson – “you know it’s time to go when the audience starts throwing chairs”

    24:01
    Richard Thompson first appeared onstage aged 14 playing Beatles covers in a school group “so bad we were pelted with pennies”. Sixty years later his range of operations includes touring solo and with his band, occasional reunions with Fairport Convention, residencies on Adriatic cruise ships and running a Guitar Camp in the Catskill Mountains (along with his sons and grandson). Much has he seen and learned about live entertainment along the way and he talks to us here from his home on the American East Coast on the day of the solar eclipse. Among the highlights …   … memories of the Marquee in 1965 – the Who, the Yardbirds, the Spencer Davis Group: “if you wanted to see both sets, you’d have to walk ten miles home”. … seeing Nick Drake and the value of being “a silent, tortured genius”. … life as a support act and how to “attack an audience”. … Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry at the Finsbury Park Astoria in 1963 “when Chuck was at the height of his attention span”. … Segovia at the Festival Hall. … the perils of playing on sea cruises in rough weather. … old and current album sleeves. “Dressed as a fly and now dressed as a fisherman … that’s progress.” … how Ian Anderson and Captain Beefheart told the audience who’s boss. … and watching the Band at the Albert Hall from a box with Fairport Convention.---------------------- Richard Thompson tour dates: https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/richard-thompson-tickets/artist/736296 Order the new album Ship To Shore here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ship-Shore-Richard-Thompson/dp/B0CVXHMFPB-----------------------Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 621. Neil Tennant remembers the pop press and “the last great era of forward-looking songs"

    36:37
    Neil’s an old friend from our days back at Smash Hits in the early ‘80s. The first Pet Shop Boys demos were played on the office tape machine, though he was a bit self-conscious about “the one with the rap on it”, and he’s one of the few people who’s seen the music press from every angle - as a reader in the ‘70s, as a writer and interviewer and as a musician on its front covers. We had so much great material from this wide-ranging conversation that we’ve turned it into a two-part podcast. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in this first half ...  … the NME article he and his brother pinned to their bedroom wall. … the event at a Sex Pistols show “which stopped me going to gigs for about three years”. … the first time he saw his name in print. … interviewing Marc Bolan in his “fat phase”. … a barbed chat with Morrissey. … the pop press shift from “super-showbiz to super-counter-culture”. … Television, the Clash and other music he discovered through the NME. … meeting John Taylor 35 years after interviewing him.   … the pop decade when “something extraordinary happened every day”. … his mother’s horrified reaction when he left Smash Hits to start the Pet Shop Boys. … the Human League in their Imperial Phase. … Phil Collins showing him round Abba’s studio in Stockholm. … and why ‘80s pop stars were “the most controlling”.------------------------------------- PSB tour dates: https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/pet-shop-boys-tickets/artist/735852 Order the new Pet Shop Boys album ‘Nonetheless’ here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/nonetheless-Deluxe-2CD-Shop-Boys/dp/B0CTKKBBVF-------------------------------------Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free! - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 620. The Stones’ clothes, our love affair with Abba & rock’s most appalling spectacle

    47:26
    We lobbed the cracked wooden ball of enquiry at the rock and roll coconut shy this week and a few choice items dropped off their perch, among them …… was Kate Bush ‘the Queen of Prog’? … ELP, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple playing to 350,000 people on a Speedway track. … the three things that sparked the Abba revival. … the Further Adventures of Desmond and Molly Jones, Mean Mr Mustard, Polythene Pam, Father McKenzie, Rocky Raccoon, Maxwell Edison, Rose and Valerie, Sweet Loretta Martin, Vera, Chuck and Dave … Beatles characters awaiting development deals. … was Britpop the moment the engine went into reverse? … the two years went rock went ‘fancy dress’. … why the Stones in 1964 were five walking fashion statements. … Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel and its Yes connection. … how the Beatles were in uniform on every album cover. … David Vine at the 1974 Eurovision: “if all the judges were men, this lot would get a lot of votes and you’ll see why in a moment!” … plus a birthday guest party - Al Hearton’s life in a Kate Bush tribute band and Stephen Lambe on the complicated birth of 90125 by Yes.Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 619. Big Characters we have loved and why the Clash wouldn’t last ten minutes in 2024

    46:51
    We’ve applied our celebrated sheep/goats separation technique to the rock and roll pasture and shepherded the following into this week’s pod … … Beyoncé and why it’s hard to connect with songs written by committee. … are we too old for biopics? … Marvel films, the Arctic Monkeys and other things you either love or avoid.   … reviewing Human Touch and Lucky Town in a high-security studio (and how you can only tell if an album’s any good if you’ve lived with it for two months). … why Tony Blackburn is the greatest British DJ. … “Bing was no more Bing than Sinatra was Sinatra”. … hoary old tales that were the engine of the rock press - the Clash shooting pigeons, Kevin Rowland stealing his own master-tapes, Cliff v Elvis, Beatles v Stones, Hendrix v Clapton, Bowie v Bolan, Clash v the Pistols, Spandau v Duran, Oasis v Blur. … are Oasis songs mostly about being Oasis? … “fame is no longer enacted in the public space”. … indie cliches – escaping the drudgery of the Man and mundanity of Small Town life. … “the harder I practice, the luckier I get”. … Scots punk act get movie soundtrack windfall! … Alex is arranging a woke stag do - “you go to places where ladies put clothes ON”. … plus birthday guest Andrew Newbury wonders if Country is more than “the three Ds - driving, dogs and divorce”.Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 618. How Paul Cook broke into Hammersmith Odeon to see the Who, Slade, Queen & Alex Harvey

    18:16
    Paul Cook’s post-Pistols band the Professionals were once, rather surprisingly, on the cover of Smash Hits - “the pinnacle of our success!” – and they’re including the 100 Club on their upcoming tour, the location of another career highlight. He talks to us here about how the first time he played live was also the Pistols’ first appearance (Saint Martin’s College of Art - “utter chaos”), how their old Denmark Street rehearsal room is now an AirBnB (Rotten’s cartoons still on the wall), old punks in the audience, Danny Boyle’s TV series and the very slim chance of a reunion (“never say never”). But much of this is about climbing through back windows to see bands in the early ‘70s, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Queen and Mott the Hoople among them. And seeing Alex Harvey on the day the whole of Scotland descended on London for the match against England at Wembley. The Professionals are playing four UK dates (and often chuck in a couple of Pistols' tunes):https://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/the-professionals-1-1Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 617. Sharleen Spiteri saw Joe Strummer onstage and thought “that’s what I want to be”

    35:14
    exas are touring in the autumn and she talks to us here about what’s required to make it all look easy, a conversation that includes …  … why working in a Glaswegian hair salon was the perfect preparation for pop stardom. … the difference between the first second onstage and everything that follows.  … the advantage of being a singer with an instrument.   … seeing Jim Kerr in his mother’s blouse at Tiffany’s in Glasgow when she was 15. … how Dusty Springfield remembered lyrics. … Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie, Depeche Mode, Cameo and the Clash. … the overpowering spectacle of Prince’s Sign O’ The Times tour in Paris. … playing racecourses and the unsettling sight of an audience wearing fascinator hats. … supporting Fleetwood Mac (her second gig) and something useful learnt from Stevie Nicks. … and the nocturnal sound of lions “going at it full swipe” near her house by Regents Park. Texas tickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/texas-tickets/artist/742180 Texas & Spooner Oldham sessions: https://www.texas.uk.com/Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear
  • 616. Album sleeves as lifestyle statements and 5 seconds that made Phil Manzanera a fortune

    36:40
    The all-seeing telescope of truth scanned this week’s rock and roll heavens and noticed a few patterns emerge, among them … … the real story of the writing of Layla and who nicked what from where. And who didn’t get paid. … why Sally Grossman was on the cover of Bringing It All Back Home.   … album sleeves with overflowing ashtrays that screamed ‘welcome to my bohemian world!’ – Soft Machine’s Third, Man’s Rhinos, Winos + Lunatics, Back Street Crawler …   … album sleeves that said “meet my girlfriend!” – McDonald And Giles, the Madcap Laughs, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Love Chronicles, the Paul Simon Handbook …   … album sleeves suggesting the powerful aphrodisiac of music and the allure of ‘the bachelor pad’ … .. our night out at a Leo Sidran show and what we’ll expect – indeed insist upon - at all gigs in the future. … when rock stars read 12th Century Persian poetry. …the time Lucinda Williams toured with Dylan and Van Morrison and never met either of them. … the glorious squalor of ‘70s flats. … “comedy is tragedy at a different speed”. … mentioned in despatches: Sharleen Spiteri, John Mellencamp, James Burton, Bobby Whitlock, Daniel Kramer.   The Everly Brothers’ Walking The Dog. Is that the original Layla riff at 2.20? …https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=072OpLw-l_sSubscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content: https://www.patreon.com/wordinyourear