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What's All About Katie All About?

Welcome to All About Katie. This site is an appreciation of Katie Melua - the beautiful and talented singer-songwriter with the caramel eyes and sublime voice, and the finest interpreter of a song I have ever heard.

It is also a repository of information about her music, DVDs, videos, tour dates, images, and anything else of interest to her fans. I have put my heart and soul into this project. Katie has given me so much and this is my way of saying thank-you. I hope Ketefans all over the world will find something interesting here about our favourite artist. Enjoy!
Any opinions expressed here are mine, not Katie's!!






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Eva Cassidy Fan Club

If you are a fan of Katie, why not check out this great site for Eva Cassidy?

Eva Cassidy Fan Club

22.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 19

Other than filing a tax return online, walking out to the end of the suspension platform over the Okatse Canyon is the scariest thing you can do. The sign advises no more than ten people at a time, so when there are nine of you gingerly standing there, trying to act nonchalant, and you see Fatty Arbuckle waddling towards you, you have nine very nervous individuals weighing up if it's time to leg it.

okatse canyon

The Prometheus Cave is the biggest underground cave system in Georgia. Only a tenth is open to the public but there's still about a mile of it to explore, including a section that requires a boat trip (warning: being a midget is advisable). It is all lit up with spectacular LED coloured lighting which, like the stalactites and stalagmites, has naturally evolved over millions of years.

prometheus cave

martvili gorge

A boat trip along the Martvili Gorge is another large thing to do, though they do make you paddle the buggers yourself (given the echo of outboard motors might cause millions of tons of rock to land on your head, probably a small price to pay). The three things mentioned today can all be done in a single day trip from Kutaisi (as well as seeing an impressive waterfall), a trip that blows Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole well out of the water.

21.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 18

As I entered into Borjomi park I spotted this chap taking my photo. So I reciprocated. Mind you, I didn't have a top hat with a bird on it, so he wins.

borjomi park statue

A stunning waterfall being guarded by a bronze bloke with his modesty protected. Just. I think there are more statues in Georgia than actual people.

waterfall and statue

great tit

Tits in Borjomi are very friendly. This is because they are Georgian, naturally. Who doesn't like a friendly tit?

20.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 17

My new favourite place in the whole world, the spa town of Borjomi. It is like a cross between Coniston, Buxton and Portmeirion (minus the big white balloons). It is just the most magical place with trees everywhere and mountains all around. Some people might want to retire to a hot place with a sandy beach. I'd rather retire here. A true paradise town.

borjomi

The Love Bridge. A bit like The Love Boat, but cheaper. Instead of getting lucky for the price of an ocean cruise you can get lucky for the price of a padlock.

love bridge

spring water

The natural spring water here is freely available at this pump station. As you can see, some people even bring buckets. It comes out of the ground naturally warm and, like any warm water, is a bit gross. The water is said to have great healing properties. This, of course, is largely bollocks, but at least it is pure and hasn't been through a tramp and recycled twelve times. The true healing in Borjomi comes from the location itself, which is like a comfort blanket for the soul.

19.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 16

The cave city of Vardzia is a must see. It is without doubt the most incredible place I have ever been. It is awe-inspiring to think how much work went into making these caves and they are so much more complex than you would ever imagine. One of the wonders of the world. You can truly feel a connection to your ancient ancestors and it is humbling to visualise the city when it was thriving and teeming with life. The caves are numbered. I put a deposit down on 89 and I hope to move in before winter. Put Vardzia on your bucket list. Now.

vardzia

Cow chaos is an everyday experience in Georgia. In fact, it is an every minute experience. Scenes like this are normal. If you wondered why there are so many kittens in Georgia it is because British tourists have them whilst travelling on Georgian roads. The sheer anarchy of it all is terrifying to foreigners. Georgians don't bat an eyelid.
Whilst on the subject of cows, it is worth noting that in Georgian villages everyone owns a cow. You would be considered a lunatic if you didn't have one. And maybe a pig, goat and a few chickens too. Each house is a micro-farm. People don't want their cows munching their way through their own gardens so they turf them out on the roadside to eat the grass verges. Seems sensible enough, though you would think a little basic road safety training wouldn't go amiss.

cow chaos

athaltsikhe castle

It's not all about the churches and cathedrals. There are some fine castles to be found in Georgia too. Like this massive complex at Athaltsikhe Castle. Like Vardzia, you could spend an entire day exploring this impressive place. Georgians don't do things by halves.

18.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 15

Gelati Monastery near Kutaisi. This is a stunning place, still undergoing a lot of renovation but well worth a visit. The glazed roof tiles are stunning, though I wouldn't want to be the one having to replace them.

Gelati Monastery

Sweet Memories Hotel in Kutaisi. Small, but perfectly formed. This is a typically Georgian property, utterly delightful, and the owners always go the extra mile for you and make sure you do, indeed, leave with Sweet Memories.

sweet memories hotel

lizard

More evidence of dinosaurs thriving in Georgia. Okay, this guy may have shrunk down to three inches over time but if he was three metres long you'd be thinking twice about getting close enough for a selfie.

17.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 14

The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. The churches, monasteries and cathedrals of Georgia are beautiful and iconic. And there are many of them. In fact, I think Georgians have one each.

holy trinity cathedral

Georgians are never short of good advice...

call the wife

blue box3 blue boxes

You're just what it says on the tin!

16.09.19   >   Happy Birthday Katie!

happy birthday

16.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 13

From most places in Tbilisi you can see either the radio tower or the iconic Mother Of Georgia statue. The latter may not light up in all manner of funky colours at night but in daylight it is a wondrous monument. Like all mothers, she is holding a bowl of porridge and a sword. She stands guard over her children, ready to give them breakfast and then go out into battle. Like all mothers. You may be thinking she appears to have turned her back on the people but, like any other statue, you can view it from behind and this is one of the many stunning glimpses of her you can get in the Tbilisi Botanical Gardens.

mother of georgia

The Botanical Gardens are a gorgeous place to while away a day. In September the weather can be just right even if the fauna isn't quite at its best. It is for this reason that I'm not showing you some rare species of dog-eating carniverous, or indeed canineverous, plant. Instead, here is an owl made out of bits of wire.

owl

grasshopper

There are still dinosaurs in Georgia. No, not people without a smartphone but actual monsters that see you as dinner. This nightmare beast has a row of teeth along its stomach and stripey eyes. I mean, come on, who the hell has stripey eyes? How does a creature evolve with built-in Venetian blinds?

15.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 12

It is hard to walk very far in Tbilisi without having to put some effort in since it was built on the side of a hill. Quite how the first settlers here failed to notice this is uncertain. There is a plus side of course in the stunning views afforded and a walk up to Erti Kava coffee room means you have officially earned the right to one of their lovely cakes without feeling guilty about it. It also means there are some spectacular roads of the kind that deserve a really good bike race. Tour De Georgia?? Georgians are kind and thoughtful people and you can usually find somewhere to sit and have a rest. Below you can see some nice benches cleverly built in to the handrails. If you are the kind of person that enjoys sitting with your backside overhanging a cliff then these are for you.

cliff seat

I've taken a thousand photos in Georgia already. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe—attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion... well, maybe not that, but a ton of jaw-dropping scenery. But I'm not showing you that. Oh no, I'm showing you the underneath of a funicular railway. You have to admit, of all the things you might see every day, such as your other half or a bill on the doormat, this would not be one of them.

under the funicular

graffiti

Ancient cave art half way up Mtatsminda. Nobody knows how old this is, but experts have suggested it could be thousands of hours. Is it a dog? Or a moose? Or a mouse with unusually long legs? You decide. Just gaze in wonder and feel the connection with your ancestors.

14.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 11

Don't ask. I have no idea. I was expecting to see one of those little information boards explaining everything but nope, nothing. This would have building inspectors in the UK snorting their Chardonnay out of their nostrils. Clearly, Georgians see the world differently.

wonky building

The funicular is the easy way to get up the ridiculously steep mountain that overlooks Tbilisi, though it's a sardine special and there are better places to be on a hot day. Going down, it is far better to take the million or so steps (probably an inaccurate figure since I didn't even try to count them, but there are a lot) which have been beautifully constructed from red bricks and cobbles in a wonderfully twisty-turny adventure leading you back down the mountain. You do pass the odd lunatic trudging up them. It is best to avoid eye contact so they don't detect the pity and disbelief you feel for them.
The theme park on Mtatsminda wasn't really designed with grumpy Englishmen in mind but I can imagine it is something of a wonderland for kids. On the face of it, it is still a lovely place to just sit and chill but in reality the endless repetition of the slightly sinister music from the rides quickly begins to bore into your brain and turn you into a zombie. You have been warned. But there is little doubt that Mtatsminda is worth the effort of getting to simply for the jaw-dropping views of Tbilisi in all its glory. Tbilisi is the sprawling, throbbing engine of Georgia. You can see the twin exhausts in the middle of the picture.

tbilisi

wedding hall

Couples get married on the mountain at Mtatsminda. I imagine all the guests riding up on the funicular might be a dainty sight. For a moment, I got my hopes up when I saw this place but they'd just sold their last bride that morning and won't be getting any new stock until I've left for Kutaisi.

13.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 10

Seems even giants can hire a bike in Tbilisi.

big bike

Georgian cuisine is wide, varied and unique. You may not find everything to your taste but there will almost certainly be things you do like. It's hard to see how anyone couldn't like khachapuri, for example. There is also a delicious sweet called churchkhela (that's just its name, nothing to do with an actual church) that is made by threading loads of nuts on a piece of string and then dipping them repeatedly into a mixture of flour-thickened grape juice. They dry into firm, chewy, knobbly energy bars. No artificial flavourings or preservatives. You'll see tons of them hanging up on roadside stalls, though these are probably best avoided unless you like a good coating of carbon monoxide from traffic fumes, and are available in a wide range of colours due to different grape varieties though I don't really understand why this doesn't just mean green or purple.
Anyway, even if the food doesn't float your boat you won't starve in the major Georgian cities since you'll see the likes of McDonald's, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts and the mighty KFC. Old Colonel Sanders was one of the first to dip a chicken's toe into Georgian waters and you'll see that famous red and white logo on advertising screens and posters all over. This one is telling you about an ice cream for 1 lari, which is about 27 pence. You couldn't get an empty cone for that in the UK. Food is cheap here for most visitors.

kfc

wine

The best thing ever made in Georgia is Katie Melua but, as far as I know, there is only one—I've checked in nearly all the gift shops without luck. But the next best thing is wine, and this is everywhere. And I mean everywhere—if you venture into the woods you'll probably come across a black bear trying to sell you his homemade wine. There are plenty of high-class wine shops, tastefully lit and suitably shiny, trying to sell you all manner of wondrous liquids. Wine was invented in Georgia and they do it really well, so even a ropey backstreet Spar will be well-stocked with good stuff. You can get a bottle of Kindzmarauli for 11 laris (around £3) that will taste so much better than any pretentious plonk that will set you back £20 in Tesco's (other supermarkets with pretentious plonk are available).

12.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 9

Ah, those Love Bridge sculptures. Here we have a lovesick lad leaping over to end it all as a couple of passers-by rush to stop him. Such drama, frozen in time for us all to ponder over.

bridge sculptures

The massive radio tower on Mtatsminda, მთაწსმინდა, can be seen from just about anywhere in Tbilisi. You will often catch a glimpse of it between buildings and streets, following you around like some kind of iron stalker. In many countries it might be regarded as a bit of an eyesore but I love it. One Christmas they adorned it in colour-changing lights and it looked so good they left them on and it has been lit every night since.

radio tower

pay booth

In Georgia there are orange touchscreen pay booths on just about every street, even the dodgier-looking ones. It seems they are used for everything from paying your gas bill to telling your fortune. They aren't cashpoints but seem to have a hundred other options and people use them all the time like some sort of dystopian high-tech necessity of life. Wandering around Tbilisi at night is actually the closest you can get to being in Blade Runner.
Oh, and they have graffiti in Georgia too.

11.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 8

Tbilisi is the city of sculptures. There's even one of me. I don't recall sitting for it but no matter, the likeness is uncanny.

fat man sculpture

More sculpture genius. A man lighting the gas lamp. Or changing the LED bulb. Depends how old it is I guess.

lamplighter sculpture

alleyway

In Tbilisi, even the view up a back passage can be surprising, though thankfully in a good way.

10.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 7

Another day in Tbilisi, another bridge. This one is known as the Love Bridge, which admittedly rolls off the tongue rather more easily than the official name of the Nikoloz Baratashvili Bridge. It features some lovely sculptures, such as this elegant lady, whom I admired for quite some time before realising she might be being a bit rude about my personal endowment.

love bridge

It is a little known fact that Jules Verne once had a premonition about an underground passageway deep below the streets of Tbilisi (or 'Tiflis' in his time). It inspired him to write "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth". Okay, I might have made that up, but really, the escalator ride takes so long you expect to re-surface in New Zealand. I'm surprised Katie hasn't held a concert down there and got Guinness World Records involved again.

tbilisi underground

clock tower

This is Georgia's answer to the leaning tower of Pisa. A quirky, wonky clock tower at a marionette theatre. It is arguably more interesting than Pisa because at 7pm a puppet appears in the upper window and whacks a bell seven times. Then, in the lower window, various other marionettes parade by in a little show set to chimed music. A bit like a cuckoo clock on steroids. Dafter than a bucket of brushes, as Georgian as it gets, and utterly wonderful.

09.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 6

The Peace Bridge in Tbilisi. This city looks lovely during the day but at night it is magical. The red lights in this photo aren't random, they are lighting the bridge as the Georgian flag. (Some wags have suggested the bridge was sponsored by Bodyform but we'll gloss over that.)

peace bridge

Cats in Georgia don't speak English at all. I was being very complimentary to this little fella but he just looked at me as though I'm the village idiot. I bet he's already told his mates about it. And by the way, those are the finest set of whiskers I've ever seen on any creature. I should add that there's a marked difference between cats and dogs in Tbilisi. Cats seem wary of everything, as though they've stumbled upon the set of "Blade Runner". The dogs can't be arsed and just play dead.

cat

tardis

It has long irked me that Doctor Who encounters most of the alien baddies turning their evil eyes on England. Why not China? Or Argentina? Or indeed, Georgia. But she does at least holiday in Tbilisi. She first visited Georgia thousands of years ago when it was the only place on earth she could get wine. And she keeps coming back for that Kindzmarauli...

08.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 5

Animals own all the roads in Georgia. They kindly allow humans to use them too. This is one of the many patrol cows that wander up and down the highway and enforce random brake tests by crossing in front of you. Lorry drivers in particular are very nervous of failing. Patrol pigs also carry out the checks in some areas, whilst spy dogs operate pretty much everywhere.

cows

Stacey Dooley has yet to make a film about the Goat Gangs of Georgia but the world needs to know. These laid back thugs intimidate motorists even on the major highways, as you can see from this pic snapped from the Metro Bus to Tbilisi. The police are too scared to take them on so the wave of terror continues unabated.

goats

party

Georgians know how to party, even in a thunder storm. The band played modern Georgian folk music with the addition of some rolling thunder and a lightning light show. Some people were dancing in the rain. I was bang in the middle of the food tent sipping Saperavi and sampling the wonderful cuisine. All research, you understand.

07.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 4

Something new to discover around every corner. This photo is ironic because Batumi is not too dear at all. Mind you, they are not always this tasteful—I'm hastily glossing over the sculpture called "flip flops on eggs", which is one of many *wtf* installations.

2 deer

Japanese Garden in Batumi Boulevard. Perfect for a Zen moment to restore your inner calm after crossing any street in Batumi. Drivers in Georgia don't worry too much about pedestrians since they are quite soft and unlikely to do much damage to their cars.

japanese garden

cable car

The cable car provides spectacular views of Batumi. It is a serene ten-minute ride up to the viewing platform but the views are amazing all the way. (I say serene but you might not want to pick a windy day and it goes without saying that you'll need a solid head for heights.)

06.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 3

The statue of Medea With The Golden Fleece in Europe Square. Placed here in 2007 as a symbol of close ties between Europe and Georgia. Which makes it unnecessary in my view since I consider Georgia to be in Europe. End of story.

statue of medea

There are nine million fountains in Batumi
That's a fact
Or it may just be a lie....

There are quite a lot anyway. And they look especially amazing at night. Pick a balmy night and go on a fountain crawl. There was a saying "See Naples and die" (which is why I've stayed away from Naples). I prefer "see Batumi and live".

fountains

batumi

Cormorants in Georgia are deeply religious.

05.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 2

One of the many impressive skyscrapers in Batumi. And yes, those of you with eagle eyes, there are three men in the picture, working whilst dangling on the end of ropes. Amazing views as long as you've got amazing gonads.

batumi

Georgian humour. Sign at the Kolkheti National Park Visitor Centre. Mars Base 51 (bit of a dig at Area 51, Nevada) only 46 million km away. Just when you think you can't love Georgians any more...

kolkheti visitor centre

batumi

Batumi, the gift that keeps on giving.

04.09.19   >   Postcards from Georgia 1

Greetings from Georgia! გამარჯობა საქართველოდან!
I'm in beautiful Batumi by the Black Sea and it is wonderful. It is a curious mix of old and modern, vibrant and exciting, with something to marvel at on every street and there are miles of tree-lined Boulevard to wander, every inch spotlessly clean. A feast for the senses and a massage for the soul. I had to make a beeline for the Ali & Nino monument, which I've been dying to see. It is a both a stunning sculpture and a marvel of engineering. Once a day, the two lovers come together, pass through each other and then part in silence. Magnificent.

ali and nino statue

The amazing Alphabet Tower is a must-do. Batumi's answer to Blackpool Tower is adorned with the graceful letters of the Georgian alphabet. The lift whisks you up 300ft into the glass dome where you can dine in a lovely restaurant which slowly revolves through 360 degrees giving you a constant panoramic view. If you time this for sunset it is spectacular. A truly unforgettable experience.

alphabettower

P1010032

Sunset over the Black Sea from the Alphabet Tower

03.09.19   >   Track Notes 65: Love Is A Silent Thief

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua, Toby Jepson

Length:

3:00

Notes:

The first of two songs on the album Katie co-wrote with Toby Jepson. Who he? Well, a hard rocker for one thing, so how he came to get involved with Katie is unclear, though the timeline suggests new hubby James Toseland might have had something to do with it and we know she has the witchy ability to bring out the soft side of metal heads, such as her brother Zurab and drummer Joe Yoshida—both of whom had toured with Toseland. (Worth pointing out that Katie was there first though—Yoshida worked with her as far back as 2012 when he was regularly used by Dramatico and he was even involved as a session drummer on Ketevan, and of course with Zurab she goes back all the way!) To be fair, you could imagine this song being ramped up to a hard rock version quite easily, unlike their other collaboration "Chase Me", which is hyper-girly and sounds like it could have been co-written by John Inman rather than Toby Jepson.

YouTube:

Katie released a video for the song where it is set to scenes from a 1969 Armenian movie, "The Colour of Pomegranates". It begins with a dedication to director Sergey Parajanov, citing him as inspiration for the song. It's fair to say the most common reaction to it will be along the lines of "wtf", but it is worth remembering Katie's Georgian background. You can tell from the church towers that some scenes were shot in Georgia and it is probably more culturally important to Georgians than to the rest of us, though worldwide critical acclaim was generally good and the film has appeared in some lists of the world's greatest films. If this video piques your interest it is worth noting the original movie has now been restored and released on Bluray.
Love Is A Silent Thief

Lyrics:

Love Is A Silent Thief 

02.09.19   >   Lyric Card: Sailing Ships From Heaven

sailing ships from heaven

01.09.19   >   Happy Anniversary Katie & James!

happy anniversary

31.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Aachen

And so the summer tour comes to an end in Aachen, Germany. I'm sure it's a very lovely place even if it does sound like a German sneeze.

Ah, Google Translate is doing what it does best again. Apparently, Katie will be performing "the Biggest Hits in the Luggage", though I'm not sure this means she'll be taking her vinyl collection and DJ-ing. Then there's "an essence-reduced version of the James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever". How can I forget seeing old Jimbo crooning that in a seedy Moroccan bar after one dry martini too many. Shirley Bassey was there that night—I saw her on the phone to her agent.

This aerial shot was harder to get. In the end I had to use a homing pigeon wearing a dash cam. That's why the dropped pin isn't 100% accurate—I'm pretty sure Katie won't be performing on the clay tennis court. But the Eurogress Conference & Cultural Events Center is next to it so if you see a queue in that vicinity just tag on the end and you'll be fine.

Aachen aerial shot

30.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Bochum

Penultimate day of the summer tour at the Heveney Leisure Complex, Bochum, Germany. On the shore of the Kemnadersee, it's yet another passable location. Check out the photo below, which I obtained by hacking into MI6 and taking control of a spy satellite that was tracking Angela Merkel on her way to pilates class.

Bochum aerial shot

29.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Schwerin

Katie is back in Germany to wrap up the summer tour with a three-night flourish starting tonight at Freilichtbühne, Schwerin. An open-air theatre in a park surrounded by lakes. Yep, another dump ;-) How does this come about? Well, I imagine the conversation goes something like this...

Katie: Find me some places to perform around Europe.
Manager: (opens dog-eared copy of Collin's Guide to the Performing Venues Of Europe) Er... how about this place?
Katie: Is the surrounding area so pretty it makes your eyes bleed?
Manager: Well, I wouldn't go so far as....
Katie: Nope. Next.

I can't see her playing Peterborough Cresset any time soon. Mind you, Belinda Carlisle once did so you never know. Anyway, I persuaded James Bond to obtain this aerial photo for me (though I suspect he just uses Google Earth).

Schwerin aerial shot

28.08.19   >   Katie Bite: Red Balloons

red balloons

27.08.19   >   Lyric Card: Never Felt Less Like Dancing

never felt less like dancing

26.08.19   >   Mind Your Language

I love languages even though I’m a bit rubbish at learning them. They are so difficult to learn from a book. Nowadays, apps help a lot but there’s no doubt the best way to learn is to immerse yourself amongst native speakers, though that is not always easy to do, especially if you want to learn Latin. Over the years I’ve tried to learn Gaelic, Japanese, Gujarati, Italian, Elvish (don’t ask) and now Georgian. Which is easiest? There’s only one way to find out… (cue Harry Hill).

Actually, I doubt there is such a thing as an easy language to learn. Usually, those that use the roman alphabet appear to have an advantage but in truth every language has some aspect that will mangle your mind—perhaps the vocabulary is easy but the verb formations appear to defy all logic. But a roman alphabet is no promise of easy pronunciation. Take Irish, for example. One of the best-known Irish names is “Siobhan”, which a fair number of people now know is pronounced “shuh-vawn” rather than “see-ub-hun”. The surname “Sullivan” in Irish is “Suilleabhain”. Why use three vowels when you can have six? Clearly, the best way to approximate Irish is to let your cat walk across the keyboard.

The Chinese don’t have an alphabet but use little pictographs instead, a form of hieroglyphics I guess. It is reckoned the average young adult needs to know around 1200 of them. How on earth they send texts on a smartphone is beyond me. The Japanese borrowed some of the Chinese pictographs and call them Kanji but they also have an alphabet (kana) that is straightforward in being phonetic-based. If Japanese were just kana it might be a good language to learn but they like to mix up their kanji and kana and hence it is an utter pig to learn.

Georgian has a beautiful cursive alphabet that looks unlike any other but again it is phonetic. If you learn how to pronounce the 33 characters then you can read Georgian even if you don’t understand it. Some of the letters are difficult for English speakers to pronounce though, and some sound similar to English ears, such as ტ and თ which both sound like “tuh” until you understand how they are formed with subtly different tongue positions and you can tune in to that difference. So spelling is very logical in Georgian. Like with most languages though, it is the wretched verb formations that kill you. Katie, of course, speaks Georgian, as well as English and Russian. She has also sung in German, though as fas as I know she doesn’t speak the language. (That is a common trick with singers—Russell Watson may well have had a few Italian songs on his album Amore Musica but you don’t really think he speaks Italian, do you? Matt Monro tried it with “On Days Like These”—he sings about half a line of Italian before forgetting it and ending the sentence with “la la la”’s before giving up and reverting to English.)

But of all the languages I’ve encountered, the one I’m glad I don’t have to learn is English. It must be so confusing to learn as a second language because of our baffling spelling and pronunciation. Think about “a” in cat, car or day. Think about “their”, “there” and “they’re”. It must seem like we make it up as we go along. And you have to be cautious speaking English to someone for whom it is a second language. For example, “I’d like a nice bath” is likely to be heard as “I’d like an ice bath”. You may not get quite what you were expecting…

25.08.19   >   Track Notes 64: Sailing Ships From Heaven

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

5:01

Notes:

This is another lovely song from the bubbling brain of Batt. It appeared on Mike's 1998 album Songs Of Love & War. As ever, Katie takes it to a new level entirely. Unfortunately though, her version is let down in the engineering process. On anything other than top quality audio equipment it can sound distorted due to the clipping—the recording levels are too high. Dramatico steadfastly refused to acknowledge this despite several complaints on forums in the months following release of the album Ketevan. But you only have to look at the waveform analysis when the song ramps up at 2:27 to see the problem. It is such a shame for Katie, whose vocals are sumptuous as always.
ssfh_aud

YouTube:

Here's a clever fan video put together with some pretty stills using the Burns Effect to bring them to life.
Sailing Ships From Heaven

Lyrics:

Sailing Ships From Heaven 

24.08.19   >   Any type-readers out there?

laptop

23.08.19   >   Sparks of genius

Sparks are a phenomenon. Formed in 1972 by brothers Ron and Russell Mael, they have just announced they are working on another new album as their 50th anniversary approaches. Their style has been described as “glam rock”, “art rock” and “baroque pop” amongst other things but in truth they defy description. Their songs can be quirky, funny, clever, poignant and often ear-worm catchy.

Both brothers are something of an enigma but the elder Ron in particular has always been a mystery figure, often appearing to be a kind of animatronic Charlie Chaplin during performances which split the audience on whether he was hilarious or disturbing. But as the writer of most of Sparks’ songs, music and lyrics, there can be no doubt that beneath that weird exterior lies a musical genius.

In 2010, Katie released “A Happy Place” as a single—a song she co-wrote with Guy Chambers. It sounds like a Sparks song and it was not really surprising that they should contribute one of the remixes of the song. “A Happy Place” would not have sounded out of place on a mid-seventies Sparks album such as Propaganda.

Talking of Propaganda, this gem from 1974 is a fabulous album that contains one of the funniest song fades ever on “Achoo” and also a gorgeous song that was years ahead of its time in warning of impending climate change—“Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth”. How I would love to hear Katie cover that one. It would make a poignant charity single, that’s for sure. She may be better off leaving “Achoo” alone though.

propaganda

22.08.19   >   Katie Bite: Never Felt Less Like Dancing

never felt less like dancing

21.08.19   >   Track Notes 63: Never Felt Less Like Dancing

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

4:12

Notes:

Many artists when getting to the final album of a multi-album contract feel jaded with their record company and they can't wait to be free and have a change, which usually results in a sub-standard offering of songs they found down the back of the sofa or cobbled together from the cutting-room floor. Not so with Katie. Ketevan is a triumph—arguably her best album for Dramatico. Whilst it is let down a bit by engineering quality (at times it can sound muffled and distorted on anything but the best audio equipment) the songs themselves are of the highest quality and Katie does them nothing but real justice.
The opening track, "Never Felt Less Like Dancing", is one of the finest songs Mike Batt has ever written, which is saying something. It should be a pleasant listen to just about anyone in possession of a functional blood-pumping organ but if you identify with the lyrics at all then this track will likely become one of your go-to songs for the rest of your life. If you likened an album to a cricket team (which, okay, you wouldn't) then this track would be like your opening batsman scoring a century—the songs that follow are able to relax and enjoy themselves on the back of a solid foundation. Sublime.

YouTube:

Here's an amateur video (hence the forced adjustments as some muppet keeps shoving his head in the way) of a lovely rare live performance of the song at London's Roundhouse in 2013.
Never Felt Less Like Dancing

If you're one of those aliens amongst us that is blessed with the ability to read music (mere humans could not possibly do that) then here is a great vid for ivory-tinklers which displays the sheet music in time with the track being played.
Never Felt Less Like Dancing

Lyrics:

Never Felt Less Like Dancing 

20.08.19   >   Lyric Card: Secret Symphony

secret symphony

19.09.19   >   Birdfair 2019

I had a great time at Birdfair 2019, Rutland Water. The 3-day event is known as the Birdwatcher’s Glastonbury (it was easy to see why on Friday when an inch of rain turned the place into a mud bath). I was beyond chuffed to find some Georgians who had made the trip just to have a stand at the event—they were from The Georgian Center for Conservation of Wildlife. Not only did they show me some great places to see birds in Georgia (feathered variety, obvs) but, more importantly, they gave me my first ever taste of Georgian Sulguni cheese. It was a cold cube, like a saltier version of mozzarella. Next time I taste it, in Kutaisi in a couple of weeks, it’ll be hot and oozing out of a khachapuri. I’m putting on weight just thinking about it.

I also had a serendipitous meeting with Dr Rob Sheldon of OSME, The Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It turns out that Rob is heading to Georgia himself in early September for the Batumi Birdwatching Festival. I didn’t know the BBF was even a thing so it is rather fortuitous that I’ll happen to be in Batumi for most of the week it is on. The Batumi Raptor Count is a nature conservation NGO that keeps tabs on the million+ birds of prey that migrate every autumn through the so-called “Batumi Bottleneck”. Katie's parents are from the area so they are probably familiar with the spectacle. That said, birdwatching isn't much of a thing amongst Georgians even though it is one of the best countries in the world for diversity of species, though the large amount of tourist twitchers are beginning to inspire more locals to discover the joys of it. A million migrating raptors has got to be a sight worth seeing, especially if your picnic contains Kindzmarauli and khachapuri. You may well have to put up with pictures in the coming weeks (of the raptors, not the Kindzmarauli and khachapuri—what am I talking about, of course there’ll be pictures of khachapuri.) Anyway, I feel a song coming on...

There are nigh-on a million raptors in Batumi
That's a fact; it's a thing you can't deny
Like the fact that hawks and buzzards can't half fly...

(Yes, I know that contradicts my rant last week about changing lyrics but I have absolutely zero intention of recording and releasing a bird themed version of Nine Million Bicycles. Katie is more than welcome to do so...)

18.08.19   >   Because She's Worth It?

wotw10

17.08.19   >   Playlist: Songs From The Batt Cave

If you are a big fan of Mike Batt then this is the playlist for you. Here's a bunch of his songs shown in the best possible light by you know who. This list only has songs that are credited solely to Mike, and even then it isn't definitive but there are enough to get you to the shops and back with a stop-off for a latte and croissant in between. Note that this list is in alphabetical order. Some people cannot stand playing lists of songs ordered thus (i.e. me) so all I will say is hallelujah to the shuffle button.

Songs From The Batt Cave

  1. Better Than A Dream
  2. Blame It On The Moon
  3. Blue Shoes
  4. Call Off The Search
  5. I Will Be There
  6. Idiot School
  7. If The Lights Go Out
  8. If You Were A Sailboat
  9. Mad, Mad Men
  10. Market Day In Guernica
  11. Mary Pickford
  12. Mockingbird Song
  13. My Aphrodisiac Is You
  14. Never Felt Less Like Dancing
  15. Nine Million Bicycles
  16. Sailing Ships From Heaven
  17. Scary Films
  18. Secret Symphony
  19. Shy Boy
  20. Straight To DVD
  21. Thank You, Stars
  22. The Bit That I Don't Get
  23. The Closest Thing To Crazy
  24. The Walls Of The World
  25. Tiger In The Night
  26. What It Says On The Tin

16.08.19   >   Beatles Songs

You could say that Katie’s Beatles song covers are like buses—you wait for ages and then two come along at once… Actually, those who bought the bonus edition of Piece By Piece were rewarded with an acoustic version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” which I consider to be the best version of the song I’ve heard. But it was on the digital-only (god knows why) album B-Sides: The Tracks That Got Away where we were treated to “Cry Baby Cry” from the Beatles White Album and followed the very next track by a live version of “Lucy In The Sky”.

Now, there’s little to add to the phenomenon that were The Beatles that you don’t already know. Pioneers, innovators, inspirers, etc. Yes, they were a boy band, but one that contained three of the greatest singer-songwriters you could Imagine (see what I did there :-) Lennon and McCartney were hailed as the dream team but when you step back and look at their careers it is clear that George Harrison was their equal. It was an incredible talent pool. I think also it is worth noting that Lennon and McCartney primarily wrote songs alone and it is only back in the studio where they would tweak and polish each other’s efforts. That is why I don’t consider them the best songwriting duo ever—for me, that would be Benny and Bjorn of Abba, who always shut themselves in a room together to write. However, unlike the two B’s, the three Beatles musketeers were able to effortlessly carry their talents into solo careers. Between them they have created a rich vein of songs that other artists will continue to mine for years to come.

As for Katie, well it’s been a while since she’s dabbled with the Fab Four. I for one would like to hear her sing “Norwegian Wood”, which I think is made for her voice and picking style. Everyone has covered “Yesterday”, even my window cleaner I reckon, but I’m convinced Katie could freshen it up with a new take. As a nod to George, perhaps she could tackle “Something” or how about “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” where she could let her brother Zurab off the leash with his electric guitar? I’m in less of a hurry to hear her sing “I Am The Walrus”.

15.08.19   >   Katie Bite: Anniversary Song

anniversary song

14.08.19   >   What is written stays written

Is it ever okay to change the lyrics of an established song? Well, you cannot undo what has been done but if you are the copyright owner then you can write modified or even new lyrics if you want to. Remember Elton John changing Candle In The Wind to make it about Princess Diana instead of Marilyn Monroe? It was his song, so it was his prerogative to do that—but the new version had to live alongside the original, it could not replace it. Many artists tweak lyrics during live performances—sometimes for the sake of the audience, such as replacing the name of a city with the one they are currently in, or sometimes just because they don’t quite remember the lyrics correctly. It’s all fine, really. The issues come when you start changing lyrics that aren’t your own.

Last Christmas there was a sudden furore over the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” after a radio station banned it. If you want to know more about it then Google it, but the thing is we are talking about a song written 75 years ago. Those were more innocent times and you can’t apply 21st century values to it. There are a million things that people have done in the past that we find shocking today but they cannot be undone. What irked me was that someone wrote new lyrics for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and recorded it. To me, that’s just a breach of copyright. If the song offends you then don’t listen to it. Some artists such as Lady Gaga and Zooey Deschanel have turned the song on its head by singing the male lines whilst their partner takes the female ones. But really, just watch Katie’s gorgeous version with Nick Schilder (it’s on YouTube, link on the YouTube page of this site) and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

A similar fuss was made about “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” when anyone with half a brain understands that song is referring to Daddy in a Santa costume. As for Katie, she gets regular tweets pointing out that the facts in “Nine Million Bicycles” are wrong. When challenged about “12 million light years from the edge” she famously knocked it back by delivering a more accurate but lyrically ludicrous version. At the time the song was written there were 6 billion people in the world and 9 million bicycles in Beijing. And Mike Batt wrote the song anyway, not Katie. A song, like any piece of art, is a snapshot from a moment in time. If you want to do a new version then that will become something different, created at a different point in time, but the original will always be locked down into history like a bug in amber. I wonder how long it will be before the crooner’s classic “Music To Watch Girls By” comes under attack as being creepy and stalky. If I was managing a boy band I’d have them release a cover of it but I’d quietly slip an extra “u” into the title—“Music To Watch Girls Buy”.

If someone painted a nose ring and a tattoo on the Mona Lisa it would be declared vandalism and I feel the same way about modifying someone else’s lyrics. What is written stays written.

13.08.19   >   Track Notes 62: Secret Symphony

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

3:51

Trivia:

Another typically Batty offering, effortlessly beautiful, to close out this short album (a little over 37 minutes, though the bonus version has four extra tracks.)

YouTube:

There isn't a really good video for this track on YouTube so here is a mini documentary about the making of the album. It was made to help promote the album so it is a bit on the promotey side but still interesting and worth a watch. Katie is just ridiculously photogenic, bordering on mesmeric, but my favourite scene shows her browsing through old albums in a record store and at one point thumbing Bob Dylan (careful). I noticed though that she didn't bloody buy anything...
Secret Symphony - Sneak Preview

Lyrics:

Secret Symphony 

12.08.19   >   Jabs for Georgia

Sounds like a charity concert but don’t get excited, it’s just me announcing that I’ve had my requisite jabs for my upcoming visit to Georgia. I needed three. I’m hoping one of them was an anti-hangover for surviving a supra—a never-ending toast-driven feast (toast as in “raise your glass”, not crispy bread), should I be lucky enough to be invited to a supra. Since merely looking at a Georgian is generally enough to be dragged into a supra, my hopes are reasonably high.

I hope to continue with regular updates whilst I’m there but I’m expecting shenanigans and large moments in the midst of such wonderful people so who knows how things will pan out. If there are no updates to the blog for a few days in September then just talk amongst yourselves, defrost the freezer, clean the oven, make flapjacks, tickle the cat, whatever—normal service will not be far away. If you’re lucky I’ll post some pics from Georgia. If you’re less lucky they may be selfies.

11.08.19   >   Lyric Card: The Walls Of The World

walls of the world

10.08.19   >   Fact Of The Day

To date I can only find one song that both Katie and Bob Dylan have recorded: “Stardust”. But Katie has performed Bob’s “Blowin’ In The Wind”, and she has recorded “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” — Bob hasn’t, but he did once sing it during an audition!

09.08.19   >   Katie Bite: Sailing Ships From Heaven

sailing ships from heaven

08.08.19   >   Nebraska

In 1982 Bruce Springsteen bought a 4-track tape recorder and laid it down on his bed. Then he sat down, picked up his guitar and began to record some songs that would eventually become Nebraska. That makes it sound like he was intending to record a stripped-back lo-fi album but that wasn’t in his mind. The Tascam Portastudio was no kids toy—it was state of the art technology at the time—but was generally used for creating demo tapes. However, when Bruce took his demo tapes into the studio and set about recording them professionally with the E. Street Band he found the songs had lost all their power. Polished, sanitised and with backing musicians, the songs he’d sung in his bedroom had somehow been neutered. In the end Bruce took the bold decision to release an album from his 4-track cassette recordings. And it is widely regarded as one of his finest. If you listen to Born To Run, with its Spector-esque production, and then listen to Nebraska the contrast is staggering. Whilst Born To Run is a high-octane, energetic rock and roll extravaganza, Nebraska is the mother of all reality checks. It is the real world exposed—grim, dark, depressing and racked with pain. Nebraska is not an album to play at birthday parties. It is to be listened to alone. If you are feeling a bit down, so much the better. That way it feels like you are sitting down on the bed next to Bruce watching him play these songs and realising that you are not alone. If an American superstar can share these feelings with you then countless people around the world must do too. They are songs about ordinary people who have made mistakes and paid for them or who have simply never caught a break and just struggled to survive any way they can. There are so many lines on this album that I can identify with but I’ll just give you one example, from “Used Cars”—

"Now my ma she fingers her wedding band
and watches the salesman stare at my old man's hands
He's tellin' us all 'bout the break he'd give us if he could but he just can't"

I could write an entire book based on the information given in those three lines. It paints a picture of three distinct characters by telling you virtually nothing about any of them. I can see the scene in my mind, the expressions on their faces, what they are thinking and feeling and even how they have come to be the people they are—all from those three simple lines. If you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth then you’ll have no idea what I am, or indeed Bruce is, talking about. But if you grew up knowing the excitement of a “brand new used car” then I suspect there is much of Nebraska that you will get. That said, if you can’t generally handle a melancholic forty minutes or so then this is probably not the album for you. (Nebraska is the only album Springsteen did not promote with a tour. His concerts have always been about giving people a good time and there was never any way that was going to happen with these songs, though there would probably have been a bunch of Goths at the front wallowing in the misery and having a great time.)

My hope is that one day Katie will pick up her guitar and make an album like Nebraska, perhaps drawing on her early childhood in Georgia. If she does I’m calling it now—it’ll be her masterpiece.

07.08.19   >   Lyric Card: Heartstrings

heartstrings

06.08.19   >   Summer Tour recess

The first part of Katie's Summer Tour has wrapped. There are now just three gigs left in Germany at the end of August. As of 30 seconds ago there were still tickets remaining at all three venues—Schwerin, Bochum and Aachen (sounds like a firm of German solicitors). You'll find links for tickets on the On Tour page so if you want tickets for when Katie's on I suggest you'd better get your skaties on.

So, what might be in the pipeline now? Well, after manically flitting around Europe like a hyperactive butterfly for the past few weeks, perhaps Katie will want to sip tea and dead-head the flowers in her garden for a day or two. But with only four publicly announced events in the pipeline over the next two or three months I suggest we all keep our fingers (and anything else crossable) crossed that she might creep into a studio and cut some wax, or whatever the digital equivalent of that might be (burn some bytes?).

05.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Starlite Festival

On to Marbella for tonight's gig at the Starlite Festival, another ridiculous location. Katie will then get a three-week break, and she'll need it after slumming it around some of Europe's ghastliest dumps ( 😉 ). Actually, big congrats to Starlite for the following blurb about Katie. No awkward translations here, just the truth.

katie at starlite

What? Oh, you want to know where it is, don't you. In a quarry. Maybe Katie will play some rock music. Look, stop groaning, I'm trying okay. Very trying at times.

starlite marbella

04.08.19   >   Katie Bite: The Walls Of The World

the walls of the world

03.08.19   >   Katiewatch: Cap Roig Festival

Spain's turn to get spoilt. Tonight, Katie performs at the Cap Roig Festival in Girona. The ticket site describes it as "The thrilling elegance and sensitivity of a whole career's greatest hits". Mmm...well, for 'whole career' you should add 'so far.' I'm not sure what thrilling elegance is either but it sounds good so I'll go with it. It's another stunning location—seems Katie doesn't play dives.

caproig aerial shot

02.08.19   >   Track Notes 61: The Walls Of The World

Album:  

Writer(s)

Mike Batt

Length:

3:25

Trivia:

The penultimate single from Secret Symphony. By this point in time the UK Singles Chart had changed forever. "The Flood" had made the Top 40 in May 2010 but none of the 6 singles from Secret Symphony troubled the Top 100. She would scrape in at 99 for a week with "I Will Be There" in 2013, on the back of a performance for The Queen, but since then only the covers of "Wonderful Life" (73 in 2015) and "Fields Of Gold" (29 in 2017) have charted. Thankfully, and more importantly, all 7 of her studio albums to date have made the Top 10 cementing her position as one of the most successful female artists in the UK of all time. Given her passion for music and young age it is surely only a matter of time before she becomes the most successful.

Mike wrote this song for his 1977 album Schizophonia. With respect, he's a far better writer than singer and Katie's version is light years ahead even though Mike kept pretty much the same arrangement, which is another nod to Katie's stunning skill of interpretation.

YouTube:

One of Katie's loveliest videos, showing her performing and going all Julie Andrews in the stunning hills around Tromsø in northern Norway. I could watch this non-stop for the rest of my life so if you don't hear from me for a while it's the first thing to check.
The Walls Of The World

Lyrics:

The Walls Of The World 

01.08.19   >   Lyric Card: The Cry Of The Lone Wolf

cry of the lone wolf

31.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Leipzig

Part One of the Germany Concerts comes to a close tonight at Clara Zetkin Park in Leipzig. She has a couple of festival appearances in Spain in a few days and then a three-week break until ending the summer tour with three more concerts in Germany at the end of August. If you describe fans as being "blown away" then it is fair to say Katie is leaving a trail of destruction in that country. No funnies from Google Translate today, which has been working hard on its German, though most of today's gig info is copied from Dresden's, so marks lost for cheating. But it does get one bit bang on: "Katie Melua is in her element on stage. With her incomparable charisma, she knows how to inspire crowds of fans." I couldn't have put it better myself.

leipzig aerial shot

30.07.19   >   Entry 666

.gnola evoM .ereh ees ot gnihtoN .lla s'taht ,666 rebmun yrtne golb si sihT

30.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Dresden

And so on to Dresden. Today, Google Translate tells us that "Katie does not put herself in any drawer." Except when she's playing hide and seek, maybe. Also, "In her songs she combines blues, jazz, pop, rock and chanson." I hasten to point out, not all of those in every song. I'm intrigued to see "chanson" in that list. Chanson is French for "song". So she puts song into her songs. Always helpful.
Anyway, a lovely open air amphitheatre venue for this concert (fingers crossed for the weather) in a big park next to Dresden Zoo, which means some people may turn up not expecting to see Katie but The Animals. Okay, okay, hand me my hat, I'm outta here...

dresden aerial shot

29.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Berlin

Another week, another trio of shows in Germany. Tonight, the Stage Theater in Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Obligatory aerial shot below.

Once again, Google Translate is nailing the blurb on the German ticket site. I would have thought it had German down pat but it is clearly a pretty complex language. So, "The basis of the nine shows in band occupation is a 2018 published retrospective of the Georgians living in London with the crystal clear voice. " Erm... okay. Then, "the 34-year-old reveals himself again in the seasonally appropriate mode with the cozy, warm timbre". Seems Katie can swap gender at will. But I'm glad to see he, sorry she, reveals himself, sorry herself, in seasonally appropriate mode. I can't be doing with seasonally inappropriate revelations. Finally, "Essence-reduced version of the James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever." I tend to use the term "stripped back" but I think GT has hit on something here. I may well be tempted to describe Katie as "essence-reduced" myself in future writings...

berlin aerial shot

28.07.19   >   One Track Minds event

A day off for Katie in Berlin today after three consecutive nights of wonderful gigs, with three more to come early next week. So just time to tell you about an event she will be involved with in London on September 15th. It is called One Track Minds and is part of the Beautiful Word Campaign. It isn't a concert; Katie will be one of six guests that will talk about a song that has inspired them and changed their life. Tickets are from £20 to £125, so you may want to make sure you are a fan of some of the other participants before deciding to go. I'll be in Georgia on that date otherwise I'd have been interested. I hope someone that does go will be good enough to spill the beans on Katie's choice of song!

Further details can be found here

27.07.19   >   Katiewatch: Trier

Katie is playing in Trier tonight. Should be popular—everyone loves a Trier. If anyone reading this is going then you need to see this message from Katie. She is apologizing but believe me she will blow you away wherever you see her perform.

trier tweet

I know, I've been spoiling you. Now you want to see an aerial shot of tonight's venue too. Oh go on then, here you are. (I'm assuming the gig is still in Trier, and not Fort Worth, Texas.)

trier aerial shot

Actually, the new venue is out of shot. Let's try that again.

trier aerial shot

26.07.19   >   Katiewatch: SchlossKapfenburg

Tonight, Katie is playing at SchlossKapfenburg in Lauchheim, Germany. It's another castle venue, leading me to wonder if she has a thing about castles. Has she told her agent to only book her gigs at castles? Anyway, I know you are dying to see an aerial shot so here you go.

schlosskapfenburg

Can't help but wonder where everyone is going to park. The car park only seems to hold about 20 cars. Oh well, it's Germany, they'll have something efficient sorted out.

26.07.19   >   Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat

If You Were A Sailboat

25.07.19   >   A Week in Germany

Katie gets stuck into the heart of her summer tour tonight in the Leiderhalle, Stuttgart. It is the first of six nights in a week in Germany. Lucky Germany. (That luck might have something to do with Katie now having the German company BMG Rights Management as her record label. I did tell the LMG, Lincolnshire Music Group, to grab her while they could...)

24.07.19   >   Katie: Bringer Of Mars

Catherine Tate's Nan might say "She did what? What you talkin about?" Bet you didn't know Katie has dipped a toe in the murky waters of children's educational programs did you? Well, she has. Proving once again what a natural she is in front of a camera, here she is presenting a little film about Mars, Bringer Of War from Holst's Planet Suite. She manages to convey just the right level of enthusiasm for kids—i.e. too much for adults. Could've been a Blue Peter presenter...

katie

23.07.19   >   Track Notes 60: Heartstrings

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua, Mike Batt

Length:

2:53

Trivia:

Yet another jolly little number written by Katie and Mike, or, given the modern trend for name merging, Mitie Katt.

YouTube:

Here is Katie performing the song with a bunch of musicians I've never seen before (or since) on the breakfast show "Lorraine". Except it wasn't Lorraine, but Myleene Klass. No matter. Effortless performance as ever from Katie.
Heartstrings

Lyrics:

Heartstrings 

22.07.19   >   Blue Balls Festival

Another day, another plane trip... Tonight Katie performs at the Blue Balls Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. And she can get a good night's sleep afterwards because she is playing there tomorrow night too. I'm assuming the two-night thing is due to the fact she is considered a superstar in Switzerland rather than just being down to an admin cock-up. Still, it's an extra day without traipsing around an airport, which should be a relief to Joe Yoshida, who has a ruddy drum kit to cart around in addition to his suitcase and hat.

blue balls festival

Now, I know what you're all thinking. (Actually, I haven't a clue—could be about the gestation period of an aardvark or the price of a pencil in Somalia.) Some of you, at least, will be wondering why this festival is so named. Well, it seems no one has a clue but I doubt it has anything to do with temperature. My theory is that it was inspired by this picture of Katie. (Okay, technically that should have made it the Blue Octagons Festival but it doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

katie live

21.07.19   >   Invisible wine glass

its all in my head

"So, you can add the wine glass digitally afterwards with CGI?"
"Yep, no problem."

20.07.19   >   Katie Bite: It's All In My Head

its all in my head

19.07.19   >   Katie in Estonia

From one castle to another for Katie. After the stunning Trakai yesterday tonight she is 500km north in Estonia, no doubt leaving the inhabitants of Latvia, sandwiched between Lithuania and Estonia, wondering what the hell they did wrong to get ignored and merely flown over. Anyway, Haapsalu it is. And so to the gift that keeps on giving, Google Translate. So, in Estonian, Chris De Burgh is Chris De Burgh and Katie Melua is Every Black. Can't wait for the next Every Black album. I may have to change this site to All About Every.


haapsalu artists

This is what the Rock In Haapsalu web site has to say about Katie (according to Google Translate). I have to agree—I have always considered Katie to be one of the most demanding concert magnets in her field.

haapsalu concert description

18.07.19   >   Katie in Lithuania

Tonight Katie will perform in the dramatic setting of Trakai Castle in Lithuania. If you don't believe me when I say "dramatic" then take a look at this aerial shot:
trakai castle aerial view

Google Translate is fast becoming one of my favourite things ever. Below is GT's manful attempt at the Lithuanian description of Katie's gig. I'm glad to see she was the romantic star of the British scene on July 18th. I'm also excited that her performance tonight pretends to become the most romantic concert of next year.

trakai concert description

17.07.19   >   The Demise Of Dramatico

Katie's former record label Dramatico has quietly slipped into the abyss. It was on the verge of being dissolved in 2017 but has been kept technically alive though dormant, with Julianne Batt being the only named director. Mike Batt formed the company in 2002, ostensibly because he had been unable to get Katie a record contract elsewhere. By 2005, Dramatico had become one of the UK's top indie labels but that was pretty much down to Katie's stunning success, and though other artists were signed up none of them had the same kind of impact. When Katie decided to move on in 2014 after six studio albums, I think the writing was clearly on the wall. Personally, I believe Katie was absolutely right to go her own way after twelve years—In Winter is proof of that—but it is a stark reminder that nothing lasts forever. Life changes, people change, the world keeps turning. I've said it before: music is a business, and a particularly tough one at that. There is little room for sentiment. But I will forever be grateful to Dramatico for launching my favourite artist into the stratosphere.

If Dramatico is dead in the water it does raise questions regarding Katie's music though. What becomes of the rights to her Dramatico recordings? Who now owns them? It is a thorny issue for many musicians. Nils Lofgren, for example, owns none of his own music from the first thirty years or so of his career, and he is far from alone in finding himself in such a situation. Some of his early albums are out of print and he can do nothing about it. I don't know for sure, but Katie is smart and I have the impression she has been able to keep control of at least some of her music and I'm really hoping she has got the rights to her Dramatico back catalogue. Ultimate Collection gave me hope in this respect since it was put together in just a few weeks, which suggests rights hadn't been an obstacle. Some people may think "what does it matter?" It matters.

16.07.19   >   Wish List updates

If you read this blog regularly then God help you you’ll know that I have a wish list of songs I’d like to hear Katie sing, preferably before I die—so I guess it’s a bucket wish list. There are two problems with this list: almost every day I think of another song I’d like to hear Katie sing so it is now a *very* long list; also, Katie is her own woman and she will sing what she wants, not what Lincolnshire’s answer to Homer Simpson opines. You might wonder why I even bother mentioning these songs but, well, you never know, squeaky wheel gets the oil and all of that nonsense.
Anyway, here are a few tunes I’ve had stuck in my brain recently:

If You Could Read My Mind. This timeless classic from 1970 is by Gordon Lightfoot, sometimes thought of as the Canadian Dylan, though Leonard Cohen fans may snort at the mere suggestion. Dylan has though called Lightfoot one of his favourite songwriters, and praise doesn’t come much higher than that. This song has been covered by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Petula Clark, Liza Minelli, Don McLean, Olivia Newton-John, Glen Campbell and even Neil Young. That should tell you it’s a decent number, even if your ears don’t. But I know Katie could put a new twist on it and it would be pretty special.

Solitaire. I’ve mentioned this song before. It is by Neil Sedaka, though his version is a bit too cruise ship. Karen Carpenter took it to a new dimension, as she did with every song, and hers is the definitive interpretation. Stunning Norwegian soprano Sissel (that would have read even better had she been Swedish) also recorded a cracking version but since I’m more of a bass head than a treble junkie I have to give the 12 points to KC. Karen weighed around 7 stone when she recorded the song but she was like a Bang & Olufsen speaker—you looked at her and wondered where on earth that rich tone came from. Again though, Katie, with her delicate guitar picking, would give it a fresh angle.

This Girl’s In Love With You. If you want to know how to write a classic song then you need to study the work of the Godfather of Easy, Burt Bacharach. This dreamy number was written as “This Guy’s…” but there was no way the girls were gonna let the guys have this song to themselves and it soon got adapted and recorded by the likes of Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and even the Queen herself, (no, not her madge, don’t be daft) Ella Fitzgerald. More recently, there has been a lovely cover by She & Him, the musical vehicle for quirky cute movie starlet Zooey Deschanel, who turns out to have a gorgeous singing voice—who knew? Well, me. Surely Katie has to cover Bacharach at some point… oh wait, actually she has. She did record Alfie as a bonus track for The Love I’m Frightened Of and a tv special about Cilla Black. But that only proves she ain’t scared of the great man. This Girl’s In Love With You is a better song though, and I’d love to see what Katie could do with it.

Fast Car. What. A. Song. There have been many covers of it over the years but mostly by people you’ve never heard of (Sam Smith perhaps the most notable—he had a crack at it for Radio 1’s Live Lounge in 2014). But Tracy Chapman’s original is nigh on perfect. Katie’s old guitar coach Justin Sandercoe has a video on his site about how to play the hypnotic guitar accompaniment (though clearly he can’t teach you how to sing it, as evidenced by some unexplained woman doing the singing for him, and from 11:30 in the video you understand why). He makes it look fairly easy but my horse fingers have yet to master it. But it’d be fascinating to hear Katie work her magic on it.

15.07.19   >   Hungarian Update

How would you like an in-depth review and analysis of Katie's gig in Hungary on Saturday? Yeah, well that makes two of us. I'm sure somebody somewhere must have written something about it but I can't find it. Maybe it will appear in Well Hung, the monthly journal of the Hungarian One-Legged Morris Dancers Society. Failing that I can just copy and paste from my standard summary of all Katie's concerts—it was bloody amazing. Anyway, Katie herself posted these images from Hungary on Instagram. Now I know that sunflowers don't give much information about the actual concert but come on, who in their right mind would share pictures of themselves with sunflowers unless their show had been a success? That would just be perverse.

anniversary song

14.07.19   >   Katie Bite: If You Were A Sailboat

If You Were A Sailboat

13.07.19   >   Hungary For More Music

No time for Katie to frolic across Austrian hillsides singing like a nun (shame, but I'll keep that fantasy to myself) for she has hopped across the border into Hungary and made the 300km trip to Veszprem for tonight's concert at the VeszpremFest "Premium Music Festival" (last night it was UB40, so you decide). I'm assuming the weather there isn't great since the venue has already been changed from the History Garden to the Veszprem Arena almost twelve hours before Katie is due on stage.

The image below is from the festival web site, helpfully translated from the utterly baffling Hungarian by Google. Note the breathtaking AI algorithms straining their sinews to decide that Melua in Hungarian must be Melu in English. And I'm sure Joe Yoshida must be proud to be considered part of an orchestra! I'm assuming the 11,900 Ft - 15,900 Ft thing is something to do with ticket prices and not the elevation Katie will be performing at. Sounds like you need a mortgage but I understand we're talking about thirty-odd quid. (That's Pounds Sterling for non-Brits).

veszprem

12.07.19   >   Summer Tour Gets Under Way!

Katie kicks off (no, not like that) in Austria tonight at the "Classic At The Dom" event. She's too much of a pro to need luck but let's all wish it to her anyway. With actors, they say "break a leg", so what do they say to singer/songwriters? Break a string, perhaps? Why not. Break a string, Katie!

Disclaimer: If Katie actually does break a string and decides to come after me with murderous intent I should declare that I am a master of disguise—my Turkish taxi driver could go unrumbled for weeks.

klassik am dom 2019

11.07.19   >   Playlist: Quaint And Quirky

Katie has never shied away from trying different things and most of her albums have had one or two songs I'd describe as eyebrow-raisers. Some elicit the response "interesting", and are therefore Spock's eyebrow-raisers. Others are double-eyebrow raisers, which generally accompany a "W.T.A.F." We should be clear on one thing—they are all good songs. They wouldn't make it on to an album otherwise. But they also have something a bit different about them, whether it be the subject matter, lyrics, arrangement or some musical magic that I can't explain. For example, in "Tiny Alien" the line "who are you my tiny alien" always reminds me of those famous five notes in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. I would also add that whilst some of these songs are clearly a little tongue-in-cheek, most are not and it is probably only my warped mind that would include them on a list such as this but I find this a fun playlist to listen to.

Quaint And Quirky

  1. Tiny Alien
  2. A Moment Of Madness
  3. God On The Drums, Devil On The Bass
  4. Idiot School
  5. Jack’s Room
  6. Twisted
  7. Straight To DVD
  8. Shiver And Shake
  9. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
  10. Looking For Clues
  11. A Happy Place (Sparks vs. Katie Melua remix)

10.07.19   >   Lyrics: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

nobody knows you

09.07.19   >   Track Notes 59: The Cry Of The Lone Wolf

Album:  

Writer(s)

Katie Melua, Mike Batt

Length:

3:59

Trivia:

This little beauty has slipped under the radar somewhat. It wasn't released as a single, nor was it included on Ultimate Collection. Yet it is a gem of a song written by Katie and Mike, though you could easily mistake it for another fish they'd caught from the sea that is the Great American Song Book. It has that feel about it.

YouTube:

Check out this sumptuous performance of the song. It is labelled as "acoustic". Ignore the bloke on the electric guitar sat next to Katie and yes, it is.
The Cry Of The Lone Wolf

Lyrics:

The Cry Of The Lone Wolf 

08.07.19   >   Katie Bite: The Bit That I Don't Get

the bit that I dont get

07.07.19   >   Katie's Summer Tour

Good luck and safe travels to Katie as she embarks on her summer tour this week, beginning in Austria on Friday. No need to tell her to dust off the passport since her passport gathers less dust than a broken vacuum cleaner. She will be performing in Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Germany (again). Those lucky Germans are getting spoilt rotten whilst we parched Brits will be forced to lick our vinyl to quench our Katie thirst. So ist das leben.
I don't know about ticket availability but if you go to the On Tour section there are links to the appropriate places for you to find out for yourself.

Itinn Itinery Itina List of Dates

12/07/19 — Klassik Am Dom, Linz, Austria
13/07/19 — VeszprémFest, Veszprém, Hungary
18/07/19 — Trakai Castle, Trakai, Lithuania
19/07/19 — Rock In Haapsalu, Haapsalu, Estonia
22/07/19 — Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland
23/07/19 — Blue Balls Festival, Lucerne, Switzerland
25/07/19 — Leiderhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
26/07/19 — Schloss Kapfenburg, Lauchheim, Germany
27/07/19 — Amphitheater, Trier, Germany
29/07/19 — Stage Theater, Berlin, Germany
30/07/19 — Junge Garde, Dresden, Germany
31/07/19 — Parkbühne, Leipzig, Germany
03/08/19 — Cap Roig Festival, Calella de Palafrugell, Spain
05/08/19 — Starlite Festival, Marbella, Spain
29/08/19 — Freilichtbühne, Schwerin, Germany
30/08/19 — Kemnader See, Witten, Germany
31/08/19 — Kurpark Classix, Aachen, Germany

06.07.19   >   Katie's Web Site Woes

Sadly, Katie’s web site is still not getting the tlc she deserves. I should stress that this isn’t Katie’s fault—the upkeep of the site is farmed out to a web development company by her agent. But her agent could do with switching the account to a company that actually cares about how their client is perceived. I won’t delve into my ongoing list of problems with the site but just highlight the latest issue. When you first go to katiemelua.com you are greeted with a full page image of Ultimate Collection with the invitation to “Listen Now”. If you click that link you are given a list of options such as Amazon and iTunes. However, the first option is a link to Katie’s online store. This is just as it should be—music is a business after all—the trouble is the link takes you to tmstores.com, a third-party music store that no longer handles Katie’s merchandise. If you enter her site and go to the store you will see her merch is now handled by kontrabandstores.com. They will happily sell you Ultimate Collection. But the link to Katie’s store on the landing page of her website will merely whisk you off to buy albums from the likes of Emma Bunton and Stormzy. It is obvious that whoever is maintaining Katie’s website couldn’t give a monkey’s pilates DVD about it. A world class recording artist deserves so much better, which is one of the reasons I created AAK. It is not an official site but I do care about making it as good as it can be. I’ve said it before—an artist’s web site is the first port of call for potential new fans. It matters to get it right. If you want an example of how it can be done take a look at neilyoung.com It is an extraordinary site and even offers archives to everything he has recorded. That is a site that has been made with real love. (Just like AAK.)

05.07.19   >   Kid In A Sweetshop?

sweetshop

04.07.19   >   Playlist: Katie At The Movies

Now, as a resource for film-makers I consider Katie to be seriously underused. Her material is an absolute gold mine, not just for romcoms but all kinds of genres, including sci-fi (don't forget Peter Skellern's "One More Kiss Dear" made it into Blade Runner). "Tiny Alien" is the obvious candidate, but it all depends on what is required and fits the context at a particular point of the movie. And of course, it doesn't have to be a song from Katie's back catalogue—it can be written specifically for the movie with Katie in mind to sing, as was the case for "When You Taught Me How To Dance". But the following (criminally short) playlist is for the songs that have made it into movies and I duly doff my cap to the enlightened directors for their wisdom. The Tourist sees a lovely montage of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in Venice, set to "No Fear Of Heights", and who could forget Miss Potter, with Renee Zellwegger and Ewen McGregor grinning idiotically to the sound of "When You Taught Me How To Dance".

Katie At The Movies

  1. Just Like Heaven (Just Like Heaven)
  2. Call Off The Search (Mia Sarah)
  3. Tiger In The Night (Mia Sarah)
  4. When You Taught Me How To Dance (Miss Potter)
  5. Looking For Clues (Nancy Drew)
  6. Toy Collection (Faintheart)
  7. No Fear Of Heights (The Tourist, 5 Days Of War)

03.07.19   >   Katie Bite: Anniversary Song

anniversary song

02.07.19   >   Dylan Cover Challenge

Okay, so who’s up for setting Katie a Dylan Cover Challenge? Oh, come on, I can’t be the only muppet with my hand in the air. No, actually, I probably am. Anyway, the thing is Katie did a cracking live cover of Blowin' In The Wind. (That video has had over 2 million hits by the way, despite having the resolution of an 80s video game.)

So the challenge is simply to get Katie to sing another Bob song. There's a few to choose from for sure, but I think a nice easy option would be "If Not For You". This little gem was recorded by Dylan in 1970. George Harrison polished it a bit and released his version a month later, but it wasn't until cutesy seventies starlet Olivia Newton-John released a version (based on Harrison's arrangement) in 1971 that the general public pricked up its ears and ONJ reached number 7 in the UK charts. The song was later covered by the likes of Rod Stewart and Bryan Ferry. If you want to check out the song on YouTube here are Olivia's sweet version, George Harrison's version and George and Bob performing live together.
If anyone fancies a bash at it here are the guitar chords and lyrics.

I did say that was an easy option. A more interesting challenge might be Subterranean Homesick Blues - at least Bob kindly provides lyric prompts for it 😂

01.07.19   >   Lyric Card: All Over The World

all over the world



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