Episodes
The dazzling super trouper of gentle enquiry is trained this week upon:-   Our recent encounter with John Lydon – his high viz shirt, his smoking habit and his usefully commercial righteous indignation about the upcoming Danny Boyle-directed ‘Pistol’ TV series.   Why Spinal Tap was a blessing and a curse for their real-life drummer Ric Parnell (RIP).   The magnificent bucolic frolic held in the memory of the Old Grey Whistle Test producer Mike Appleton.   The sad fate of Jackie Wilson.   The...
Published 05/12/22
Published 05/12/22
Folk deity, songwriter and festival figurehead, Kate Rusby was raised on Planxty and De Dannan but staged a rebellion with Smash Hits and “storytelling songs” by A-ha. High in the mix in this splendid pod are “people who sing like a bird”, Nanci Griffith, Nic Jones’ Penguin Eggs, being on Top Of The Pops with Ronan Keating, “2p bus rides anywhere in Yorkshire”, Lyle Lovett, stage fright in Hyde Park, winning a folk competition aged 15, Dan Tyminski as George Clooney and why she’s evangelical...
Published 05/11/22
… which may or may not feature Noel Coward, Slade, the KLF and the Spice Girls.   Other key items in pursuit of entertainment this week include:-   When did British pop turn female?   The glorious notion that boyfriends who don’t work out are “Near Mrs”.   The best band this decade! (clue: it’s Wet Leg).   The endlessly rewatchable qualities of Moneyball and The Big Short.   Cary Grant: “All men want to be Cary Grant? I want to be Cary Grant!”   The singular magic of the Hot Club of...
Published 05/03/22
White-hot topics examined this week include:-   The sweeping return of Britpop (Shed Seven, Reverend and the Makers, how did they get so huge?)   Has Nick Mason won Pink Floyd? Has Liam Gallagher won Oasis?   Record shops that shaped our lives like the Record Bar in Wakefield.   The amazing Nick Cave merchandise range (now encompassing tea-sets, crockery, tiles, wallpaper, jewellery and “the Warren Ellis Pure Exploitation Egg Cup”).   What Frank Sinatra claimed was a “filthy Communist...
Published 04/26/22
Among the key questions being booted round the block this week in hot pursuit of entertainment:-   Why is the billing of the Rolling Stones as just “Stones” on the current tour posters a monstrous affront to human decency?   Why are Mozart and PG Wodehouse “like two peas in a pod”?   Is there a better literary simile than “the drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded like GK Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin”?   Would pub rock, punk and the ‘80s club boom have ever...
Published 04/22/22
Among the delights this week:-   Pink Floyd’s single for Ukraine (the best peace anthem ever?) and the song Bruce Springsteen played the night Saddam Hussein’s statue came down in Baghdad.   A man who has 227 Kiss albums.   Warners’ talent scout Andy Wickham (RIP), the house hippy who opened the door for Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Gram Parsons and a-ha (a movie waiting to happen).     The members of Big In Japan (a book and documentary waiting to happen).   The snack bar Brimful...
Published 04/13/22
Will Smith did something at the Academy Awards which showed what he cared about most - did you notice it too? Our blow-by-blow account of the moment everyone missed.  * Plus … a man who has 25 Big Country albums (and other unlikey acts whose records we obsessively collect). * Is there any band still going after 50 years with more original members than Roxy Music? * The enduring joy of Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp! and Night And Day. * And the kind of thing they let you put on an album cover 50...
Published 04/04/22
In which we salute the charismatic Taylor Hawkins – and the magnetic appeal of brothers in arms (Taylor & Dave, Pete and Carl, Bruce and Clarence, John and Paul) - invent some rock and roll retirement homes (Itchycoo Park, Barrytown, In The Land Of Grey And Pink), stage an album sleeve style-off and wonder if ‘80s hair will ever make a comeback. Other things mentioned in despatches include Cruising With Ruben & the Jets, the Wailing Wailers, Broadcast News, Working Girl and whether...
Published 03/28/22
Entertaining things subjected to wry and rigorous scrutiny this week include:-   * The most bizarre and tenuous rock autobiographies – eg the tell-all revelations of Elvis Presley’s nurse, Primal Scream’s tambourine player, Sinatra’s valet and the girl who made John Lennon a cheese sandwich. * How Roger Daltrey wound up living in a van. * Aimee Mann v Steely Dan and the curious world of support acts. * Would you rather see a “legend” or the next big thing?   * The noble tradition of song...
Published 03/24/22
Have you ever heard a band but couldn’t work out where their sound came from? We’re saying: only once. What connects the Sweet’s Blockbuster! to Willie Dixon’s Hoochie Coochie Man? How can Noel Gallagher complain that musicians can’t afford instruments when instruments have never been cheaper? Why is songwriting now like VAR? Has anyone had more preposterous names than the offspring of Grimes and Elon Musk? How did Nile Rodgers transform Let’s Dance? … plus literary theft, smoking in films,...
Published 03/14/22
There’s “pop star good looks” - as opposed to “film star good looks” - and there’s “indie good looks” ... but which acts were a hundred per cent hot? Plus … is there any such thing as an original pop song? How did the Linn Drum make us accept the mechanical? What’s the source of a lot of canned laughter? What was Springsteen’s great act of betrayal? And we explore the benefits of Nord VPN by way of South Korea’s favourite comedy and Peter Sellers and Bernard Cribbins in Two-Way Stretch. And...
Published 03/07/22
In which we skip the light fandango through live recordings full of extraneous noise – hecklers on a Lou Reed track, barking dogs on a Joe Henry album, the audience chatter on Bill Evans at the Village Vanguard – remember why Gary Brooker’s voice was so affecting and applaud PJ O’Rourke’s wisdom about the art of childrearing. And turn cartwheels in the direction of a guesthouse run by a member of Horslips, an early sighting of “Little” Stevie Winwood, the Queen track not to play at funerals...
Published 02/28/22
Piping hot topics fondly booted round the park this week include … are any actors ever convincing when playing a famous rock star? Does it matter if movies “based on a true story” are largely fiction? Why David’s never got on with Love’s Forever Changes. Did Entertainment Weekly exist just to provide a pleasant lifestyle for the people who worked on it? Plus … the connection between Captain Beefheart and blue cheese, Eddie Izzard’s drilling cats, memorable art theft, tambourine players in...
Published 02/21/22
Among the items for your distraction and entertainment this week … Do people still form bands? The tangled story of the Aqualung artwork. The skull-cracking number of albums released every day. Instructions on record sleeves – “Horslips: “file under reasonably popular”. The Atom Heart Mother cow. The Wagatha Christie legal costs. Art critics’ lofty pronouncements about the fate of “the average band”. The link between the 12-inch sleeve and the shield of the native American warrior. And the...
Published 02/14/22
In the crosshairs this week … how Mike Campbell’s masterpiece was almost eaten by machinery, who made five great albums in five years?, “a mix is never finished it’s merely abandoned”, Robert Plant at Kidderminster Harriers, hand-written notes from Half Man Half Biscuit, god bless Alex Harvey, the expulsion of the vax-free Woody Woodmansey and birthday guest Keith Adsley explains the Temple of Seitan.   Mike Campbell talks about the Boys Of Summer...
Published 02/08/22
Who invented the rock spectacle? Has Adele got a touch of Imposter Syndrome? What was Barry Cryer’s gag about the Pretenders? Which bands devised their own mottos? Who’s Floating Points? How did they mic up the bagpipes on the Jeff Beck’s Truth? What the juggins is “paralinguistics”? Where did the Velvet Underground reunion go wrong? Plus a birthday visit from patreon supporter Kevin Rose, aka the manager of Athenlay Park U12. Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon and receive every future...
Published 01/31/22
A candlelit episode boldly addressing the burning issues du jour, among which you’ll find … Is old music killing new music?; actors that should play rock stars (Keeley Hawes IS Kirsty MacColl, Martin Freeman IS Noel Gallagher); legendary Procol Harum roadie and whistle-blower Kelloggs; a riot at a Dutch Stones gig in '64; fast songs done as ballads; a roll-call of Smash Hits’ pop nicknames; Magic Alex in a strip club in High Wycombe (cue the old gag “my mother doesn’t know I’m in advertising,...
Published 01/24/22
What’s the difference between “chin music and beard music”? What’s the most you’d pay for a ticket? What happened when the Pope went record shopping? Will the Beatles’ Get Back be used in management instruction videos? What 45s sound good at 33? Who’s the classic Dad Rock band? ... these and other burning issues are addressed in this episode along with Fleetwood Mac: The Rugby Shirt Years, Brian Epstein’s A Cellarful Of Noise and the powerful romantic fantasies of the Ronettes’ first...
Published 01/17/22
In which we choose a new National Anthem, tell the story of Hamish Grimes and the Clapton graffito, salute the best moments in Frasier and feel the powerful effect of the 'You Can All Join In' sampler on male fashion. Plus … swearing, albums to test your hi-fi and David Hepworth’s fantasy rock band in 1963.   Our Spotify playlist of new National Anthems … https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5ZGUB014llDjmDyH1nPK7K?si=ox2lqc5IRW6-c-efaZdKaQ Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon and receive...
Published 01/10/22
In which we look at Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, the Staple Singers and Gladys Knight in the fabulous Harlem concert film from 1969. And think what possessions we might bother to keep in a house fire. And wonder if Stop Making Sense is the greatest live performance ever filmed. And talk to someone – birthday patron Andrew Slattery, no less! – who listened to 1,000 albums in 2021. Plus ... Coldplay's recording retirement and the short list of acts who still make good records after 25...
Published 01/03/22
In which we salute the comic genius of Ronnie “Fletcher” Barker and Fulton “Mackay” Mackay, fantasise about autobiographies still to come (Neil Tennant, Pet Clark, John Paul Jones, Noel Gallagher), are mildly appalled by the new My Sweet Lord video and play two bracing rounds of Spot the Genuine Christmas single (Beck’s Little Drum-Machine Boy? Half Man Half Biscuit’s Deck The Halls With Buddy Holly?). Gary Chrimble to all, and a gear New Year! Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon and...
Published 12/19/21
In which we remember the lightness of touch and winning gallows humour of Mike Nesmith and the interesting ways he made and spent his fortunes. And it’s 50 years since There’s A Riot Goin’ On, the most radical record to ever top the US charts, and 40 years since the girls transformed the Human League. Plus Hepworth’s “confessions of an amateur weed smoker”, the less you pay for records the better they are, and the gloriously daft reason ELO’s first album was called “No Answer” in the States....
Published 12/13/21
In which we remember the “Smoke On The Water” fire at Montreux Casino, the soft melancholy of some underrated Christmas records, wonder which documentaries could get a Get Back remake and address the burning issues of the day: eg worst perms in rock, Ed Sheeran & Elton John, vegan bands in waiting, legendary pop recluses and what our ‘most played’ Spotify tracklist says about us. Subscribe to Word In Your Ear on Patreon and receive every Word Podcast before the rest of the world!:...
Published 12/07/21
Peter’s been on the pod before talking about the Beatles and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and he’s just published a fascinating account of the ‘60s sexual revolution, a time when a new and unimaginable freedom collided spectacularly with the hand-wringing Victorian values of the media. We talked to him at the West Hampstead Arts Club about Mick Jagger v Mary Whitehouse, the Avengers, Jenny Fabian’s Groupie, Bond movies, Germaine Greer, the Killing of Sister George, Dirk Bogarde, Cliff...
Published 12/04/21