Show cover of Word In Your Ear

Word In Your Ear

Mark Ellen and David Hepworth have been talking about and writing about music together and individually for a collective eighty years in magazines like Smash Hits, Mojo and The Word and on radio and TV programmes like "Rock On", "Whistle Test" and VH-1.Over thirteen years ago, when working on the late magazine The Word, they began producing podcasts. Some listeners have been kind enough to say these have been very special to them. When the magazine folded in 2012 they kept the spirit of those podcasts alive in regular Word In Your Ear evenings in which they spoke to musicians and authors in front of an audience. Over these years they've produced hundreds of hours of material. As of the Current Unpleasantness of 2020, they've produced yet hundreds of hours more with a little help from guests kind enough to digitally show them around their attics such as Danny Baker, Andy Partridge, Sir Tim Rice and Mark Lewisohn. For the full span of the Word In Your Ear world, visit Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.


Best album sleeves, what’s ruined singing and pop as ‘empowerment porn’
Once again the ping-pong ball of conversation is batted across the rock and roll net and these are the scores on the doors …  … how to wreck the national anthem. … cover versions that are better than the original. … the genius of Bob Newhart - "nutty Walt", Abraham Lincoln and that gag about country music. … virtue signalling in rock magazines. … why we connect with pop stars on the slide. … how Tainted Love went from the Northern Clubs to the top of the American charts via a cloakroom in Leeds. … Ingrid Andress and the curse of ‘cursive singing’. … the comedy album that saved Warners Brothers Records. … parenthood and Bruce Springsteen: “the world of love and the world of fear – and they’re the same world”. … who’d rather Elvis Costello played (whisper it) other people’s songs? … have there been any great album sleeves since the arrival of CDs? … why Don Rickles and Bob Newhart’s friendship proves all showbiz is just an act. ... musicians, athletes, comedians, politicians and the addiction of adrenaline. Rolling Stone’s 100 best album covers: out more about how to help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
42:19 21/07/2024
Who is Lawrence and why did Will Hodgkinson write a whole book about him?
There’s something romantic about glorious failure and Will nails it perfectly in ‘Street Level Superstar: A Year With Lawrence’. Over 40 years plagued by bad luck and self-sabotage with Felt, Denim and Mozart Estate, Lawrence has pursued fame and success while refusing to do what’s required to achieve them. Will spent 12 months wandering the streets of London with him to paint a fond, touching and extremely entertaining portrait of the worst-equipped pop star attempting a comeback, a man on a holy, monastic mission in a book about “sacrifice and the price of a dream”. Among many highlights here, we talk about … … where Lawrence fits in the pantheon of great underachievers like Syd Barrett, Nick Drake and Arthur Lee. … and his similarity to Kevin Shields and Kevin Rowland. … the wisdom of a former girlfriend: “stop trying to be the pop star you don’t want to be and you might get somewhere”. … is lack of success the central dream of the indie world?   … why Denim were Britpop before Britpop happened and why EMI melted down all copies of their last single. … his rules before the book began - “No anecdotes, no interviews with former members of Felt …” … what his stalker planned to get his attention. … fantasy girlfriends and “a fear of cheese”. … why he didn’t go to his mother’s funeral. … and why Truman Capote’s portrait of Marlon Brando, the Duke and His Domain, was a touchstone for this book. Order ‘Street Level Superstar: A Year With Lawrence’ here: out more about how to help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
38:42 18/07/2024
Backstage at Live Aid, the first Knebworth and bands that don’t get on
Employing controversial VAR technology, we re-examine various events on the rock and roll pitch and suggest a new perspective. Those key moments include …  … the “bucolic frolic” at Knebworth 50 years ago as seen from 100 yards away just past the burger van and featuring Tim Buckley, Alex Harvey, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Van Morrison, the Doobie Brothers and the Allman Brothers Band. And a stark naked Jesus. … when did the Age of Spectacle begin? … how Two-Way Family Favourites helped start Live Aid. … Waters v Gilmour, a feud way beyond candour and honesty.   … the moment Van Morrison first became ‘Captain Letdown’. … memories of Wembley Stadium on July 13 1985 – Status Quo, U2, the non-appearance of Cat Stevens, the planned link with Ian Botham at Trent Bridge and swapping Tony Hancock lines with a man on Concorde. ... the three stages of rock and roll. … life before mobile phones. … The Revenant and Zone Of Interest, films that feel like the past without trying to make the past look cool. … “the older I get, the older I wanna get”. … Joni Mitchell and why we love an old curmudgeon. … and birthday guest Andrew Stocks wonders why some bands can’t bury the hatchet.Find out more about how to help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
52:54 15/07/2024
How Joni Mitchell joined the boys’ club and why we don’t need a comeback – by Ann Powers
Broadcaster and music writer Ann Powers lives in Nashville and grew up listening to Kate Bush and Blondie. The siren call of Blue sparked a life-long and deep-rooted devotion and her new book Travelling: On The Path Of Joni Mitchell takes a different tack from the standard biographies, mapping the context of the songs, the forces that drove her, the steel will it took to succeed and the love affairs that shaped her and her music. All discussed here. As is this ... … the scale of your ambition when your heroes are Nietzsche, Beethoven and Picasso. … how she got her revenge for not being allowed to go to Woodstock. … “she had to learn to walk three times”. … the psychological impact of her “dynamic father and homemaker mother”.… the love affairs with Leonard Cohen, David Crosby and Graham Nash. … her capacity to turn disaster into triumph. … the influence of Laurel Canyon neighbour Derek Taylor and the Beatles. … the many reasons she declared the music business “a corrupt cesspool”. … the tone of Rolling Stone’s ‘70s coverage and the letters she wrote to Mo Austin about the way she was marketed. … David Crosby’s regret about not involving her in Crosby Stills & Nash. … her reaction to the continued success of Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel and Don Henley in a world where mid-career women are “put out to pasture”. … why the current renaissance seems “all legend, no bite”.  … and Laura Nyro, Tom Rush, Judy Collins, Patti Smith, Aretha Franklin, Maggie Roach, Stevie Wonder, Thomas Dolby. Order Travelling: On the Path Of Joni Mitchell here: out more about how to help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
46:21 12/07/2024
Twist And Shout? Spiral Scratch? Corey duBrowa celebrates the best and rarest EPs ever made
The first EPs appeared in the late ‘40s and ‘50s (Frank Sinatra, Elvis) hitting a magical sweet spot between the album and the single and they’ve cast a spell ever since, an exotic reminder that record labels are part of the packaged goods business. Music writer Corey duBrowa stumbled across one by Oingo Boingo in the original Licorice Pizza store in Long Beach, California, when he was 13 and began a lifelong collection that eventually led to ‘An Ideal For Living: a Celebration of the EP’, a book full of fabulous sleeve art and seven decades of 3- and 4-track classics. He talks here about every aspect of EP World and flags up some favourites, among them ones by the Goons, the Beatles, Donovan, Alice In Chains, Buzzcocks, the Clash, the Stones, Ice Cube, ‘A Factory Sample’, the Pogues, the EP that topped the album chart and a Joy Division disc worth $7,000. Order ‘An Ideal For Living’ here: out more about how to help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
38:51 08/07/2024
What songs should be longer or shorter?
The rock and roll ballot-box is stuffed with votes and the exit polls suggest how this week’s debate might play out. Along these lines … … is there still such a thing as British music? … John Lennon as a lavatory attendant. … Pink Floyd’s miming lessons. .. how Neil Finn cheered up the All Blacks. … the staggering difference in the UK album charts in the weeks the last two Labour Prime Ministers were elected (1997 and 2024) - male British bands v international female solo acts. … ‘Starman’ on Top Of The Pops and the tricks it plays on the memory. … “current chart acts are either in the spotlight or don’t seem to exist at all.” … the wit and wisdom of James Blunt. .. the Herd’s guest spot in the Tom Courtenay caper Otley. … the Phil Collins syndrome: “when people are tired of duffing up pop stars, they tend to re-embrace them”. … plus birthday guest Richard Lewis and songs that should be longer – eg Dancing the Night Away by the Motors, I Can Fly by the Herd (cue military bugle and church bell and choir).Find out more about how to help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
45:26 07/07/2024
Dylan Jones – Clegg’s women, Hague’s pints and “the wiring behind celebrity culture”
We’ve known Dylan since the days he was editing i-D, Arena and GQ and he’s been a regular on our podcasts talking about his books on Live Aid, the ‘80s, David Bowie and Wichita Lineman. And he’s finally written his memoir, These Foolish Things, full of insights and stories about glam rock, punk, the Blitz, four decades of the magazine world and the people he interviewed and shepherded into awards shows. You’ll hear the delightful clang of the odd dropped name here, along with … … Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine and the power of fame when it was harder to achieve. … seeing Leigh Bowery in daylight.  … the real story of Kylie’s “bare bum” tennis shoot. … does every good memoir involve a degree of treachery? … why Hollywood’s still obsessed with print. … William Hague’s 14 pints, Nick Clegg’s 30 women and other self-selling GQ scoops. … Piers Morgan and Alastair Campbell (“the rottweilers”) and other interrogators who’d always come back with a cover line, usually involving a number. … how politicians make great interviews as they’re used to aggression. … “not now, I’m filming!”: life in the Arena office. … i-D, the Face, nightclubs and “intoxicating” London in the early ‘80s. … magazine covers and the fine art of horse-trading. Order These Foolish Things here: out more about how to help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
37:34 03/07/2024
Happy accidents, whooping at gigs and why the album review star system doesn’t work anymore
In which we hoof a few balls round the rock and roll pitch and try to stick some in the net. Extracts from the live match commentary include …. … “Whipping Post!” “Paint it black, you devil!”: when did the audience become part of the show? … the special, unrepeatable thing about Bill Evans At The Village Vanguard. … GambleGate and the most we’ve ever bet on anything. … why young musicians today are so good. And why most Americans could outplay the British. … ‘60s Jamaican ska, 2-Tone and other imperfect imitations of the original.  … does the mainstream exist anymore? … did the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun invent folk-rock? … the voice of Word In Your Ear, Kerry Shale: who is that masked man? … the new Al Murray promotional tactic. … and does anyone else remember Alice’s Restaurant? Plus Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles playing Motown, Emily Roberts of the Last Dinner Party playing Gershwin and birthday guest Blaine Allan.Find out more about how to help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
49:32 30/06/2024
Pop football chants, Reg ‘Reg’ Snipton sings Joni Mitchell & the tale of John Lennon’s watch
The two-man tandem of curiosity wobbles its way down the rock and roll cyclepath pausing here to admire the view … … “We’re captive on the carousel of TIME-AH!!”: tuneless Northern club singer Reg “Reg” Snipton performs Ver Greats. … is going to gigs alone becoming a thing? ... why Phil Oakey was a better musician than any of ELP. … Seven Nation Army in football stadiums - and does Jack White make any money from it? … what rock stars spend their fortunes on. … people who are ‘jewellery-blind’ (eg D Hepworth). … the scariest intention a musician can announce.   … Dutch fans dancing. … the poignancy of all John Lennon’s possessions. … how to wreck the Great American Songbook (may involve xylophone solo). … from the Euros to a trip on the tube: how selfies have invaded our space. … the strange, unfinished story of John Lennon’s Patek, “the El Dorado of lost watches”. … you’re never alone with an iPhone. … and does virtuoso musicianship ruin pop music, asks birthday guest Guy Constant? (Answer: yes).Find out more about how you can help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
51:39 24/06/2024
Only Clare Grogan knows how it feels to burst onstage from a giant birthday cake
Clare Grogan, a regular on our podcasts and rarely off the cover when we were at Smash Hits, is on tour again with Altered Images and playing festivals in the summer – indeed her fabulous description of the bus ferrying her, Midge Ure, Nik Kershaw, Kim Wilde and Living in A Box to the stage at Rewind sounds like an old Smash Hits cartoon come to life. As she points out, “the ‘80s revival has gone on longer than the decade itself.” We don’t know anyone who enjoys and appreciates being a pop star more and talk here about the first gigs she ever went to and played herself, which involves … … what she wore (aged 13) to see the Bay City Rollers at the Glasgow Apollo (includes “cork platform clogs”). … winning the Alternative school beauty pageant dressed as Debbie Harry in a bin bag. … her sister Margaret’s re-enactments of David Bowie, Leo Sayer and Roxy Music. … why the furniture at the Middlesbrough Rock Garden was screwed to the floor. … memories of 2-Tone, the Banshees, Madness, the Stranglers and the Blockheads. … the riot at a Scottish festival when they ran out of alcohol. … violence at early ‘80s gigs when your only security was “Ginge the Roadie”. … Echo & the Bunnymen and the Psychedelic Furs at the Bungalow Bar in Paisley. … do you focus on the people in the crowd who are enjoying it or the ones that need winning over? … horizontal rain when wearing a ballet dress and playing to “a sea of cagoules”. … the best way to tell the audience you’re about to play a new song. … David Hepworth’s Altered Images album review in Smash Hits: ouch! … and her daughter watching old Altered Images clips on YouTube.  ---------------- Altered Images autumn tour dates and tickets here: out more about how you can help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
38:36 21/06/2024
The wit and charisma of Kate Bush by Graeme Thomson: going too far makes you what you are
Graeme is an old friend of the podcast. We’ve talked to him in the past about his books on Phil Lynott and John Martyn. ‘Under The Ivy: the Life And Music of Kate Bush’ first appeared in 2010, and was revised in 2015 after her Before the Dawn concerts and it’s now been updated again as, despite no new music or public appearances, her worldwide reputation has rocketed through the roof. We look back here at various key points in the story including ...   … why the way she made records was ahead of its time. … the ‘70s footage and recordings that were “supressed”. … the “reclusive” decade and how the press filled the vacuum. … divinely daft and humorous TV appearances eg with Delia Smith: “Waldorf Salad – that’s got waldorfs in it!” … her bohemian childhood and the powerful influence of male counterparts, particularly eldest brother and erotic poet John Carder Bush. … the unconventional Smash Hits interview of 1981. … the ‘Before the Dawn’ concerts and the reason she staged them. … her seven-year stand-off with Top Of The Pops. … her ‘70s rock group – the KT Bush Band (still going!) – and the songs they played eg The Stealer by Free, Brooklyn by Steely Dan, Shame Shame Shame by Johnny Winter. … Danny Baker’s NME review – “nothing she writes about matters”. … Pamela Stephenson’s vicious pastiche and Alan Partridge’s part in her comeback. ... Talk Talk, Blackadder, Monty Python, Powell & Pressburger, Oscar Wilde, Celtic folk, the Pre-Raphaelites and other early influences. … and the advantage of never being cool. Order 'Under The Ivy' here … out more about how you can help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
43:46 18/06/2024
For the love of Françoise Hardy, Ben Sidran and the TV comedy Twenty Twelve
Among the logs tossed on the conversational bonfire this week to combat mid-June’s British winter you’ll find …… ‘I Managed Van Morrison’ and other films screaming to be made. … how it feels to watch someone play from the best seat in the house.… Françoise Hardy, her unsmiling photos and legions of besotted male admirers (ie us and everyone else). … the time she met Dylan and Nick Drake. … Juliette Greco, Edith Piaf and the handful of French stars who made it across the Channel.… the joy of small venues: “the bigger the gig, the smaller a component of the experience the actual performance is”. … Elvis Costello’s photographic memory. … Maria Muldaur with Earl Palmer and Amos Garrett. … why Twenty Twelve says more about British life than any other TV show. ... the terrible jokes of Ronnie Scott.… “Kate Bush grew up in a world without sarcasm.” … Siobhan Sharpe, Bertie Wooster, the Artful Dodger, Basil Fawlty, Edina & Patsy and other deathless British fictional stereotypes. … plus birthday guest Paul Thompson and books tracking down people who’ve played with Dexys and Dylan. And who should be next – Hawkwind, Van Morrison?Find out more about how to help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
41:18 17/06/2024
Stewart Lee knows the rigours of ‘animal costume work’ and why great comedy is about shock
Stewart Lee – beloved writer, columnist and stand-up - was on the podcast in 2022 talking about the first records he bought, immensely funny and fascinating, and we’ve been praying for an excuse to get him back since. And it’s here! - he’s on tour again and his ‘Basic Lee’ show is on Sky/Now TV on July 20. This covers his first memories of live entertainment - in the audience and as a performer – and the people who influenced him and stops off at the following stations … … why the Wombles were just like Crass. … how he writes and tests new material. … why Ted Chippington inspired his stand-up career. … television comedy is now “two-screen TV” as the viewer’s always watching something else at the same time. … how Lockdown made audiences forget how to behave. … “Comedian In Bum Phone Fury”: how he stopped people filming his gigs. … deliberately using negative reaction shots in his TV edits.   … improvisation in music and comedy and why every night should be unique. … the tense protocol of comedians at other comedians’ gigs. … Mark E Smith doing things “out of necessity irrespective of how they were received” and his reaction to seeing Stewart in his audience. … why festival crowds are a challenge. … the Drifters, the Applejacks and Napalm Death and how they are related. … the music playing when his son was born. … arriving in full early Dexys rig - donkey jacket, woolly hat - to find they were now the “raggle-taggle gypsies”. … the sole performance of Peter Richardson’s Mexican bandit act. … Daniel Kitson, “the world’s greatest living stand-up”. … plus the Nightingales, Chris Spedding, Clem Cattini, Kirk Brandon, the Bevis Frond, Geddy Lee, Throbbing Gristle and Brighton Psych Fest’s Secluded Bronte – “is it music or are they just moving furniture around?”------------ All information about Stewart Lee tour dates here … ‘Basic Lee’ is on Sky/Now TV on July 20.Find out more about how to help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
48:50 15/06/2024
How Springsteen went “six deep”, fictional rock hacks and who’s more conservative than Liam Gallagher?
You’ll always find us in the kitchen at parties, near the hoppy summer ale and sausage rolls and, and this week discussing … … he hasn't changed his look or sound for 30 years: is there a more conservative concept than Liam Gallagher? And how he became the one-man Oasis. … the eye-watering sum Kevin Hart made from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. … Loudermilk, Rob Gordon in High Fidelity and other Rock Snob stereotypes in fiction - “I’m a Rock Snob? It comes with the territory being right!” And how rock critics are always cast as cynical, joyless curmudgeons.  … why Courteney Cox was chosen for the Dancing In The Dark video and how Springsteen turned live performance into spectacle. … the diplomatic skills of A&R men in pursuit of hit singles. … why Born In The USA was a masterclass in branding. … the Word in Your Ear podcast and Taylor Swift, both up and running since 2006! … plus Abba, Peter ‘King Mod’ Meaden, Jon Savage’s book on LGBTQ pop culture, Liam Gallagher’s hair and Springsteen’s dancing lessons. Great clip of Steve Harley on Australian TV sent by listener Brian Nankervis … out how to help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
46:24 11/06/2024
Jon Savage - Dusty’s wig, Bowie’s bombshell and how gay pop culture changed music
“I thought Dave Davies of the Kinks was a girl. When I discovered he was a boy, that’s when I got interested.” Jon’s an old friend of the podcast and the author of some highly regarded and influential books about pop and its repercussions, ‘England’s Dreaming’ and ‘1966: the Year The Decade Exploded’ among them. His latest is ‘The Secret Public: How LGBTQ Performers Shaped Popular Culture 1955-1979’ which looks at five particular moments and the pivotal people in the mix at the time. We couldn’t recommend it more highly and cover seven decades in this conversation, stopping off at … … how “homosexuality was a career-killer” until Bowie’s spectacular Melody Maker interview in 1972. … new male identities - Valentino, Nureyev, Sinatra and the “subversive” stage act of Johnnie Ray. … does pop drive change or reflect it? … Andrew Loog Oldham, Kit Lambert, Simon Napier-Bell and the supposed “gay managers mafia” and how Oldham used camp as a weapon. … Dusty Springfield and the Gateway Club. … how Brian Epstein invented a new type of manager. ... Andy Warhol at the Factory, pop art, the launch of the Velvet Underground and his jukebox time-capsule of ‘60s gay pop taste. … was Tom Robinson the first out gay British pop star? … Mary Whitehouse v the Gay Times. … the Clash (“hurt, vulnerable boys”), Siouxsie, Poly Styrene, the Slits, Vic Godard and punk’s other new stage identities. Order ‘the Secret Public’ here … … and Jon’s 2-CD soundtrack here … out more about how you can help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
34:04 09/06/2024
“Abba’s success is more about us than them”: Giles Smith looks back at a 50-year love affair
Giles was 12 when he watched Abba win Eurovision in 1974 and was instantly besotted – and thus required to spend the next 20 years wrestling with The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name. His thunderingly funny, fond and illuminating book – My My!: Abba Through The Years – traces their story, looks at the snobbery and critical mauling they endured and figures out how they made records so universally popular and which still move him to tears 50 years later. It’s also the best example of any book we’ve read that can explain the mechanics of music to a non-musician. It’s highly recommended, as is this podcast which alights upon … … a 50 year-old story – “for 42 of which they haven’t existed”. .. the vicious early press reaction - “calculatingly commercial”, “dispassionate” … … the divine clunkiness of their early TV appearances. … the sense of the melancholy we’ve attached to their music - and why. ... the immense value of splitting up early and never reforming or publicly falling out.   … the immaculate construction of Dancing Queen (which opens with the second half of the chorus) and why “there are two types of wedding disco – ones that start with Dancing Queen and terrible ones.” … the maturity of Abba’s lyrics – about marriages, relationships, children and other subjects pop music rarely tackles. … why Abba Voyage is so affecting that he’s seen it three times. … and Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and other key factors in The Comeback. Order Giles Smith’s My My!: Abba Through The Ages here … us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
37:38 08/06/2024
the Architect of Mod: how Peter Meaden restyled and launched the Who - by Steve Turner
Peter Meaden was a key figure in the Mod movement. He changed the world view of Andrew Loog Oldham, which shaped the early Stones, and he managed the Who, remodelling their look and sound, writing their first single and turning them into Mod figureheads. Steve Turner interviewed him in 1975, an exchange that's now the centrepiece of his new book 'King Mod: the Story of Peter Meaden, the Who and the Birth of a British Subculture', and the NME's published extract in 1978 paved the way for the Mod Revival. It's an extraordinary story that would make a movie, discussed here with Steve and including ... ... the Scene Club in Windmill Street "when a band was a way of life".... Angus McGill and the first press mention of 'the Modernists'.… the tale of Sandra Blackstone, the DJ who vanished into thin air.... the lifelong values of Mod culture for teenagers like Eric Clapton, Marc Bolan and David Bowie.  ... the single Meaden wrote for the Who - Zoot Suit/I'm The Face - and where he stole the music from. ... police raids in Soho. ... doing press for Bob Dylan at the time of Madhouse on Castle Street.  ... the Flamingo Club's dress policy, French and Italian film and fashion, boxing boots, cycle jackets and the origins of Mod style.  ... Chuck Berry in suburban Edmonton! ... Meaden's disastrous attempt to bring Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band to London. ... and a typical weekend in 1964, a sleepless, Drinamyl-powered 48 hours from the Ready Steady Go! green room to the Scene Club via Carnaby Street. £5 off copies of ‘King Mod’ here. Just type in the discount code which is:-Podcast offer out more about how you can help us to keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
39:49 06/06/2024
Great album trilogies, suing Madonna and "the pantheon of psychedelic heaviosity"
This week the conversational Super-Trouper of Enquiry lights up the following …... why care when "rock critics get it wrong"? ... the dreadful death of the Allman brothers' dad. ... is there any other branch of entertainment where you can be two hours late onstage?... has any show got worse reviews than Eddie Izzard's one-woman Hamlet?... the unlikely tale of how Iron Butterfly changed the course of Atlantic Records. ... three, the magic number: the accidental album trilogies of Scott Walker, Steely Dan, Blur, the Beatles, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Nick Lowe ...... the Deadhead who saw them 1,000 times.... U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, the Kings of Leon ... bands who've never changed their line-up.... Yes, Thin Lizzy, the Hollies ... bands with no original members. ... why it's less demanding seeing bands than solo acts. ... and Madonna being sued for lateness, lip-syncing and a "pornographic stage-act that was emotionally triggering".Find out more about how you can keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
47:11 03/06/2024
The spectacular Dead & Co, songs performed backwards & happy birthday Diamond Dogs!
Tuning into this week's rock and roll soundwave to filter signal from noise, we cranked up the volume on the following ...... 'Zuma Nester Rock' and the eternal curse of rock stars' kids' names. ... Bowie's spat with Robbie Williams at Netaid. ... celebrating awkward sods like Kevin Rowland.... why Paul Carrack has seen it all.... 'Lewis' Armstrong, 'Hoosker Doo' and others we've been pronouncing wrong. ... AI does David Hepworth and Mark Ellen!... the Underground/Overground albums/singles divide of 1974: the Wombles and Paper Lace v Tubular Bells and Journey To The Centre of The Earth.... Guy Chambers - a string quartet aged 11! - and other early achievers.... the Stones' and Bowie's race to have a Guy Peeleart record cover and the 50th anniversary of Diamond Dogs. ... how the Dead & Co turned a stage show into a movie experience and bands - Radiohead, Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys? - who should play the Las Vegas Sphere. ... and "the wally with the brolly" and other fresh political PR catastrophes.Find out how you can support Word In Your Ear and help us keep the conversation going: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
43:29 26/05/2024
Why They Might Be Giants now perform an entire song backwards
They Might Be Giants – old school fiends John Flansburgh and John Linnell – have been making elliptical, funny and adventurous records for over 40 years and writing music for children, advertising and TV comedies. We talk to John Linnell here about songwriting, early shows in art spaces, the way you saw the world when a "wiseacrey teenager" and what you can expect from their autumn tour. Which, incidentally, will include the "pointlessy difficult exercise" of performing Sapphire Bullets Of Love every night in reverse which they'll film and run backwards and then send the clip to audience members so they can gauge its accuracy ("like watching people sing for whom English is a second language"). Some illuminating moments here ...... the rich vein of '50s music outside of rock and roll. ... communicating by posting cassettes and how they built a following with an ansaphone.... working in a record store in Massachussetts. ... playing on the same bill as Steve Buscemi at New York performance venues in the '80s and gigs involving papier mache hands and masks. ... why children are "a tough crowd" and the unsettling news that their albums for kids were outselling their usual records. ... the fine art of survival after a 1990 worldwide hit.... and Yoko Ono, Pere Ubu, Elvis Costello and the disturbing effect of Frank Zappa's Weasels Ripped My Flesh. They Might Be Giants tickets here … us on Patreon to see how you can help us continue the conversation: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
27:04 22/05/2024
Guy Chambers - writing with Robbie, a tangle with Bowie & half a bagel with Paul McCartney
Guy Chambers was a teenager in Liverpool and at John Lennon’s old school - "same headmaster, Mister Pobjoy". He remembers the Beatles, Queen, Abba and Jesus Christ Superstar sparking his interest in the "perfect song package" and went on to work with Tina Turner, Rufus Wainwright, Kylie, Diana Ross and scores of others. He talks here about early shows he saw, records bought and his own tour in the autumn, "An Evening With Guy Chambers", stopping off at various points on the way, among them ...... how YOU can write a song with him. ... Bowie's reaction on discovering he was third on the bill below George Michael and Robbie Williams at Netaid. ... seeing XTC and Generation X at the teen shows at Eric's. ... Benny Hill's Ernie, the Scaffold's Lily the Pink and other singles bought at Probe Records.  ... "the great harmony bands" like the Eagles, Byrds and the Mamas & the Papas...."A Is For Banana", his song about dyslexia.  ... writing a string quartet aged 11 and the magic of hearing four people bring his sheet music to life. ... "the wastage": composers who write 50 songs and throw 40 away. .. the cinematic internal worlds of the Cocteau Twins and Lana Del Ray. ... the "subversive harmonies" on Strawberry Fields Forever and what makes Eleanor Rigby so perfect.... everything that now needs to be in place to get a hit record. ... mass song-writing teams and how he can't operate with more than three people in the room. ... and what you can expect from his upcoming tour. Tickets for An Evening With Guy Chambers here …'ve been podcasting since 2006 and every bit of support we receive helps us keep the conversation going. Find out more about how you can support Word In Your Ear into the future here: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
36:35 21/05/2024
Alan Edwards, pop PR – ‘Bowie was like King Arthur and the Spice Girls like the Pistols’
We’ve known Alan Edwards since the days when we’d ring him for a quote from Blondie or the Stranglers in the late ‘70s and he’s still one of the key figures in music PR. He’s looked after the Stones, Prince, Michael Jackson, Blondie, Amy Winehouse, the Beckhams and many others. No-one is better positioned to see how that world has changed, from the pre-Google days when you could invent a story and the press would happily buy it to a 21st century where his flat was burgled in pursuit of lucrative celebrity leads. PRs, he believes, "are not messengers but storytellers” and his memoir ‘I Was There: Dispatches From A Life In Rock And Roll’ is full of them. He looks back here at … … striking a £1m photo deal for the Beckhams’ wedding. … Midge Ure, Gen X and other prime examples of fake news. … hotel workers, waiters and airline pilots who sold stories to the press. … the days when a battery-operated portable phone gave you the edge.  … why he was hired by Blondie. … the chilly, manipulative and inscrutable Lou Reed. … Bowie’s disappearance in Berlin in the ‘70s and other things that would be impossible in the age of social media. … Keith Moon in mid-air. … and how it feels to be hacked. Order Alan’s book here … The Outside Organisation … to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
42:16 20/05/2024
Rock’s image-makers, men on dancefloors and why bands can’t act like bands anymore
This week’s items slapped on the rock and roll barbecue and lightly grilled include … … why Eurovision will never avoid political controversy. … when AI does David Hepworth! … what’s the secret of NTS radio? … “there are two types of wedding disco, ones that start with Abba's Dancing Queen and terrible ones.” … Tony Hall’s prophetic preview of Revolver in May '66 – “they shatter convention and may well have a far-reaching effect on the whole future of music”. … when listening to the radio was a group activity. … Daniel Kramer, Dezo Hoffman, Robert Freeman, Anton Corbijn and other photographers who shaped the way music looked. ... the rogue punctuation of "Paint It, Black". … songs that start with the chorus.  … Elvis’s unrepeatable train journey from New York to Memphis in 1956. … “there’s glass in the back of my head and my toenails don’t fit properly” – Dylan’s ’66 London press conference. …. and hurry hurry hurry to Lot 71 in Danny Baker’s record auction, a snip at only £70! Danny Baker’s record auction … to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
55:09 19/05/2024
Paul Carrack has seen it all – beat, soul, prog, pub rock, pop & the perfect ‘slow burn’ career.
We’ve followed Paul Carrack for 50 years, a big hit single – How Long – when he was with Ace, 19 albums, countless sessions (the Smiths, Eagles and Pretenders among them) and a touring band member with Squeeze, Roxy Music, Roger Waters and Nick Lowe. He once put out an album called ‘I Know That Name’ as for so many people he’s still under the radar. His newsagent assumes he’s called “Mike” as he was the singer in Mike & the Mechanics. He's touring the UK in the autumn and looks back here at … … seeing the Beatles, Chuck Berry, the Stones, Dylan and the Shadows at Sheffield Town Hall. And Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band at Mojos promoted by Pete Stringfellow. … playing Cologne, Frankfurt and Hamburg clubs in the early ‘70s. … his time with earnest prog adventurers Warm Dust – “please don’t look them up”. … the value of having your own label in the world of streaming. … when Elvis Costello got him to sing the vocal on Tempted by Squeeze. … supporting Fleetwood Mac and Free. … playing Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Sinatra tunes with a big band. … how it feels to be “dropped like a stone” by Radio Two when you no longer fit the demographic. … the real meaning of the song How Long and what he has in common with Troy McClure of the Simpsons. Paul Carrack tour dates here … to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
37:30 16/05/2024
Nige Tassell was so obsessed with Dexys he’s tracked down all 24 ex-members
Nige Tassell used to go to school in full donkey-jacket-and-woolly-hat ensemble to express his boundless devotion to Dexys Midnight Runners. Forty years later he set out to find and interview everyone who’d ever been a member. For some, their time in the ranks was a joyful, career-launching delight. Others felt it was like a slightly chilly and controlling cult. They all took a while to recover and they all had extraordinary stories to tell in his latest book ‘Searching For Dexys Midnight Runners’. Here’s a flavour of what gets discussed … … ‘No drugs or alcohol! No smiling! No eye contact with the audience!’ and other unsettling Dexys mantras. … examples of Kevin Rowland ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’. … the many ways the band made themselves deliberately different’. … the event supporting Bowie that got their power cut onstage in Paris and had them thrown off the tour. ... the heavy-handed recruitment of Helen O’Hara. … Geno Washington and other strands of the Dexys DNA. … the ad they took in the NME that soured their relationship with the music press. … and how Rowland’s approach today remains resolutely unchanged.   Order Nige’s book here: to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
35:19 15/05/2024
Why Nick Mason’s “cottage industry” band plays just early Pink Floyd
Missing being on tour and exasperated by internal disputes, Nick Mason set out to tour small-scale venues with his band Saucerful Of Secrets in 2018. They’re mid-way through another world tour (Gary Kemp’s the main singer and one of the guitarists). He doesn’t miss the stadium circuit where “you need a golf cart to get from one side of the stage to the other” and they play only the early psychedelic Floyd material, from their first singles up to (but not including) the Dark Side of the Moon, which audiences are less inclined to want to be note-perfect versions of the records. And he talks mid-set about the origins of the songs and his memories of Syd Barrett and life at the time. This podcast looks back at the first live shows he saw and played himself and how Saucerful of Secrets came about. Which includes … … Tommy Steele at the Hackney Empire – “I came straight from school in short trousers with my satchel”. … seeing the Rolling Stones on a ‘63 package tour.   … performing Beatles songs at parties in Cuban heels and Oliver Goldsmith shades. … playing the International Times launch party at the Roundhouse in ‘66 on the back of a cart. …. early gigs at the Countdown Club, Regent Street Poly and the Albert Hall (with Alan Price and Peter & Gordon). … the difference between Saucerful of Secrets and the stadium circuit – and the time Roger Waters played with them in New York. … and the ‘60s demos of unreleased Floyd songs they’re hoping to add to the set. Saucerful of Secrets tour dates here …  Buy tickets here … Nick’s re-released solo albums here … to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
27:29 14/05/2024
Let It Be revisited, the wisdom of Steve Albini and a woeful tale about Steve Marriott
We were at the Curzon Mayfair on May 7 for the premier of the rebooted Let It Be in all its burnished finery and came away with a ton of things to unravel, among them … … what we never knew when the film came out 54 years ago. .. seeing it in the shadow of Peter Jackson’s Get Back. … how the edit was overtaken by events and the tangled reasons it turned out the way it did. … why Lindsay-Hogg’s amphitheatre concept would never have worked. … the divine symbolism of the Beatles v the police. … why it’s a perfect social document of late-’60s London. … the band’s three-film film contract. … was the world really as distraught about their break-up as the 21st Century assumes? … herringbone coats, red plastic macs, hairy black jackets: why someone should open a Beatles ‘69 clothes emporium. Plus … the noble philosophies of the late Steve Albini expressed in a letter to Nirvana in November 1992. … and what happens when rock stars don’t leave wills: Exhibit A - Steve Marriott. Read Steve Albini’s letter to Nirvana here: to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
53:26 12/05/2024
The genius of Little Feat, the Man with the Twang & pop’s greatest scandal in the making
We stuck a few coins in this week’s Wurlitzer and these were the tunes that got played … … when records became all about sound not songs. … Fonzworth Bentley, Puff Daddy’s butler, the man who held an umbrella over him on the beach at Cannes. … what Henry Kissinger, Martha Stewart and Leonardo DiCaprio kept very quiet about. … Manchester’s Co-Op, a tale of unprecedented hopelessness. … what’s the definition of a song? And can you steal a record? … the magical skill of Aston Barrett on I Shot The Sheriff and James Jamerson on You Can’t Hurry Love. … ‘Duane Eddy Does Bob Dylan’ and its ingenious sleeve. … does anybody still want pop posters? … “I'd watch Jeremy Clarkson boil an egg.” … Moneybagg Yo & DaBaby, Cigarettes After Sex and other acts playing the O2 and Wembley Arena we’ve ever heard of.   … the ultimate autograph. … and New Whirl Odor, Road To Rouen, Sax And Violins, Lead Me Not Into Penn Station and other tortuous album titles.Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
46:14 05/05/2024
Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks remembers the day “a terrible beauty was born”
Steve Diggle met Pete Shelley when the Pistols played Manchester in 1976 and the Diggle-fronted Buzzcocks are now on a world tour that began in Mexico and takes in North and South America, Europe and Australasia before winding up at the 100 Club where they played the Punk Festival 48 years ago – “we’ve come full circle”. He looks back here at the first shows he saw and played himself and talks about Silverhead, Status Quo, Leo Sayer dressed as a clown, George Best, the Groundhogs, The History of Mr Polly by HG Wells, the Buzzcocks as “Lennon and McCartney in a blender”, “Led Zeppelin for Comprehensive schoolkids, Deep Purple for Grammar schoolkids” and a great story about Patrick Moraz of Yes with a bank of keyboards like a telephone exchange and an alpine horn. Buzzcocks world tour dates here: to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
30:18 03/05/2024
Rock snobbery, the seven wives of Gregg Allman & the greatest solo on a pop record
This week’s theories, rants, ruminations, recollections, weak gags and free and frank exchanges of view alight upon the following …    … is pop music now all about identity? …. the recording of the Animals’ House of the Rising Sun and other apocryphal tales. … has any act been as ubiquitous since Frankie Goes to Hollywood in 1984? … or has anyone inspired a greater level of personal devotion than Taylor Swift? … Peter Green, a shotgun and his accountant. … books bought but never read. .. re-reading Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and the changing benchmarks for good and bad musical taste. … intriguing parallels between the book and record industries. … and Neil Tennant braves the digital lynch-mob. Plus Adam Clayton’s garden, Konstantin Chernenko, Richard Burton, Rebel Wilson, Dark Academia, creepy weepies and birthday guest John Montagna looks at singles by the same act that are ‘descendants’ – ie pretty much identical – eg the Monkees’ Teardrop City and Last Train To Clarksville, the Kinks’ You Really Got Me and All Day And All of the Night and Mark Knopfler’s Cannibals and Walk Of Life. Or just try the first few seconds of these four by the Inkspots – Maybe, I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire, If I Didn’t Care and Whispering Grass.Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon for early - and ad-free - access to all of our content, plus a whole load more!: Get bonus content on Patreon Hosted on Acast. See for more information.
63:52 29/04/2024

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