The Word Podcast live on August 19th

In response to public demand we’re putting on a recording of the Word Podcast live on August 19th. It’ll be at the Islington. Mark Ellen, David Hepworth and Fraser Lewry will all be there plus further guests to be announced.

Banter, hoary old rock anecdotes, audience participation, your presence urgently required. Tickets here.



Our first Manchester Word In Your Ear – with Stuart Maconie and Mark Ellen

P1000322There’s nothing like speech. It’s amazing how many subjects you can touch on, buttons you can press, situations you can recall and pictures you can paint in the course of the kind of free-ranging conversation I had with Stuart Maconie and Mark Ellen at Tuesday night’s Word In Your Ear in Manchester at the very excellent and most welcoming Deaf Institute.

These included: the use of fertiliser bags as makeshift sleeping accommodation during the early years of rock festivals, the very specific sex appeal of the young Vera Lynn, the strange popularity of Wishbone Ash among school boys in the early 70s, the chances of hitting a 12” copy of a Phil Collins single in-flight with an air gun, the links between British heavy metal and British heavy industry, the curious British genius for pop music and Van Morrison’s uncanny resemblance to a mini-cab driver.

Stuart was talking about his book The People’s Songs and Mark about his memoir Rock Stars Stole My Life.

Thanks very much to them for taking part and for everyone who came and made it feel like such a success. I don’t think there will have been a night of higher quality banter anywhere this week. (Unless you count the things we said in the pub afterwards.)


Keep May 19th free and stay tuned for a details of a second Mark Ellen show

WIYE-March-28The show with Mark Ellen at the Slaughtered Lamb on May 12th has sold out but we’ll be announcing another one to take place a week later so stay tuned and make sure you’re signed up to our mailing list and you’ll get full details. Sign up to the list on the right.

And don’t forget our March 28th show with Ben Watt talking to me about his book Romany and Tom, My Darling Clementine playing selections from their album The Reconciliation and Vinny Peculiar presenting songs from his new LP Root Mull Affect.

This all takes place in the womb-like comfort of the downstairs lounge at the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. The nearest tube stations are Farringdon and Barbican. Because it’s a Friday show we’ll be starting early and finishing by ten o’clock, therefore you’ll be able to fit in an evening’s clubbing afterwards.


Revision notes for Sunday’s WIYE at the Lexington

Here’s Rhodri Marsden’s piercing analysis of the umbilical connection between the words “waiting” and “aniticipating”

This is “Build A House Of Love”, an Andy Gregory-arranged tune which is on the iTunes version of the last Pugwash album.

This is a Guardian extract from Daniel Rachel’s book “Isle Of Noises”.

This is Jake Morley singing “The Everything Goes Back To Normal Button” .

Tickets here.


Did anyone take any decent pictures of last night’s show?

I was somewhat preoccupied so I didn’t. Which is a shame because it seemed to go very well. Can’t tell you how much simpler it is when you have a solo act rather than a band. Mr B turned up at six and did a sound check that took all of four minutes. He told me that the first time he did a gig with the backing tracks on his iPhone his wife rang to see what time he was coming home. Morgan Howell hauled in a couple of his giant Supersize Art 45s which seemed to excite a lot of people. Bob Stanley was understandably disappointed that his publisher failed to organise some books for him to sign, which was a shame. Mark Lewisohn said he didn’t know exactly when his third Beatles book would go up to and signed a load of the lightweight’s back pocket version of volume one. Everybody seemed to enjoy it. All we lack are pictures. If you’ve got any could you send them to wiye.london@gmail.com. Ta.

Got this from Trevor Dann. Ta, Trevor.


A night playing records and talking with Richard Williams and Kate Mossman

Kate M. and Richard W. 2-1Last night Richard Williams and Kate Mossman were  guinea pigs for our experimental evening in the small upstairs room to the Betsey Trotwood. In my dreams we were going to have two huge armchairs for our guests and would find a massive vintage-looking record player on which the guest would play their records. In the end we settled for a bunch of stools on the  tiny stage and the tunes were played in from CD. No matter. I think everyone – we were sold out, for which many thanks – got the idea.

The categories I gave them were as follows:

Something from my teenage years 

Richard went first with Love Her by The Walker Brothers, one of the many reasons he regards 1965 as the annus mirabilis of the single, and talked about hearing it for the first time on Ready Steady Go as he prepared to go out to see Bob Dylan. Kate, on the other hand, painted a vivid picture of what it was like to grow up in an era when the parade had apparently already gone by, and chose Princes Of The Universe by Queen, the tune she used to listen to again and again while walking the family dog up and down the same field in the wilds of Norfolk.  

Something you used to like but don’t anymore

Richard said there wasn’t really anything that he used to like that he doesn’t like anymore but he recalled the heyday of progressive rock when his admiration of the skills of the musicians didn’t automatically translate into affection for their music. He chose Cat Food by King Crimson, the would-be hit single that got them on to Top Of The Pops, guest pianist Keith Tippett and all. When we played it we decided that we quite liked it after all. Kate chose I Never Met A Nice South African because it was the B-side of The Chicken Song, the first record she bought at the age of four, and marvelled at the power of Spitting Image in those days to make current affairs come alive. When we played it we decided that it’s based on Cool For Cats by Squeeze.  

The “I Was There” round

Reaching into his bag, Richard produced the original reel-to-reel demo tape that Bryan Ferry sent him in 1971 and talked about how Roxy Music were perceived in those far-off days. We then listened to the Bryan Ferry Orchestra’s recent recording of Back To Black from the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby. Kate talked about Glen Campbell who she has seen many times, mainly in his 70s, and how his failing powers may be evident in his on-stage patter but are not an issue when it comes to singing the songs. We then listened to a recent live recording of Rhinestone Cowboy.  

The most impressive musical figure you’ve met For Richard it was Curtis Mayfield who came back from his terrible accident to make one last record New Word Order. We listened to the title track. For Kate is was that most driven of contemporary pop stars Janelle Monae who does every interview in character. We listened to Tightrope.

And finally both chose the one track they would pick to get a party started. For Richard it was Saturday by Norma Jean, an early Chic production. For Kate it was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama for the simple reason that it bypasses the normal defences and simply works in terms of getting people on the dance floor. Thanks again to everybody who came. We’d like to do it again in the future.

You can follow Richard’s music writing on his blog here. Kate writes for The New Statesman.

The next Word In Your Ear is at the Old Queen’s Head on October 9th and features top Beatles authority Mark Lewisohn, musician, films producer and journalist Bob Stanley plus the hilarious chap hop stylings of Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. More details here.

Thanks to Steve Hurrell for the picture.


We few, we happy few, will be talking about those Duckworth Lewis shows for weeks

IMG_3197Alex and I have just got back from Nottingham, having seen the Duckworth Lewis Method royally entertain the Playhouse Theatre with a slightly longer set than they could manage to fit in on either of their Monday night shows at Lord’s.

They were ably accompanied by cricket writer and broadcaster Simon Hughes talking about his new book The Ashes: Cricket’s Greatest Rivalry and Left With Pictures, one of the six different musical aggregations that Alex lends his talents.

Thanks very much to everyone who came to both shows and made them such successes. Neil, Thomas and the band were all delighted with the reception they got, although Tosh was slightly puzzled by the bloke who stood directly in front of him during one Lord’s show furiously taking notes all the way through.

Thanks to all the people at Lord’s and Nottingham Playhouse, who both acted as if they did this kind of thing every day of the week.

Thanks to The Cricketer, our partner in these shows, and their Publisher Andy Afford (and his wife Lynn) who very kindly put me and Alex up for the night in Nottingham.

Word In Your Ear will be off the air for the next few weeks but rest assured that we are hatching some very concrete plans for September and we’d be interested in hearing any ideas you’ve got for artists, venues or formats.


Handful of new tickets for Duckworth Lewis at Lord’s on Monday!

Because of public demand and media interest, Duckworth Lewis will now be playing two shows at Lord’s on Monday night and therefore we have issued a few extra tickets for both.

The first will start around seven (doors open at 6:15) while the second will begin around nine (doors 8:30). If you already hold a ticket you will have received an email offering you the chance to select your show. (If you haven’t and would like to, get in touch via wiye.london@gmail.com.) The second will begin with a Q&A session with Thomas and Neil conducted by me.

Tickets are on sale here. Hurry.