Out Now!
airtime out now

Today's date

( Click a heading to expand/collapse an entry. Click the banner above to toggle list of articles. Click here for the > ARCHIVES)


31.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Forgetting All My Troubles

forgetting all my troubles

30.05.20   >   Artists4NHS - Scarborough Fair

Katie has recorded a performance of “Scarborough Fair” in support of Artists4NHS. And it is just one of the most magical ways to spend a few minutes that I could ever conceive of.

Remember that feeling as a child of your Mum singing you a lullaby and everything being okay with the world? That’s the same feeling that Katie gives you as a grownup. I know I sound like a broken record, forever banging on about Katie and her guitar being all you need but it is a point I will never tire of making. Whilst I don’t dislike a single track she’s ever done, Secret Symphony is my least favourite album and I suspect that may be because of the orchestral backing—there’s too much going on vying for your attention. It’s a bit like a teacher asking a question and hoping her pet student will answer but a sea of hands go up with a chorus of “Miss, Miss!” Katie has the ability to convey all kinds of subtle nuance and emotion with her passionate and studied interpretations but some of that can get lost when she’s surrounded by backing musicians. Of course, she may love playing with other musicians, which is perfectly understandable, I’m merely pointing out that from a listener’s perspective they can sometimes take away more than they add. But if you ever wanted to hear proof of what I’m saying then this rendition of Scarborough Fair will do the job nicely. Let her voice envelop you like a comfort blanket as she takes you back in time to a simpler world that seems so attractive to us compared to the manic one we are in. Her picking, as always, is beautifully done and the perfect gentle accompaniment to the effortless ability her voice has to make you feel better about the world.

artists for NHS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFMh3RbM708&feature=youtu.be

29.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Cry Baby Cry

cry baby cry

28.05.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 3

I'm liking these. Some are going to be easy. Some are going to be fiendishly hard.

Seven second challenge: intro 3


27.05.20   >   Wonderful Life Original Mix

wonderful life

Right, here’s one for the completists among you. There’s a “mix” of “Wonderful Life” available on iTunes. Okay, I’ll try not to get grumpy. Now, I don’t dance. I don’t mean I’m uncompromising—I mean I actually don’t dance. I’m not a Dad but if I did dance I’d Dad dance. I’d look like C3-P0 having a seizure. I don’t even know if the music they play in clubs is called “dance” any more; for all I now it may now be referred to as “garage bungalow trip kitchen hop” or something. But the point of all this is that someone has seen fit to nail an 80s drum machine all over Katie’s beautiful cover so that instead of old music lovers enjoying it for themselves now young things can jiggle their bodies inappropriately in front of each other, possibly with the hope of it ending with a bit of a frolic behind the bins out back. It certainly is a wonderful life when you’re not young any more. Look, I know I’m an old fart and all, but seriously, Katie’s version of “Wonderful Life” is divine, better than the original, and this kind of thing is of little use to me. And frankly, I’m not sure young clubby people are going to find Katie “cool” enough to dance to. (They’ll “discover” her later in life when they mature and start to appreciate proper music). So I think it’s fair to say oddities like this are a bit niche. Fair play to whoever “Mentol” is for appreciating Katie’s music enough to work with it (and by work I mean massacre it) but I’ll just go and feed the tomatoes and wait for Katie’s new album instead. Each to their own, eh?

26.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Bridge Over Troubled Water

bridge over troubled water

25.05.20   >   Track Notes 94: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Album:  

Writer

John Lennon

Length:

3:46

Notes:

Katie Beatles covers are like buses, you know, two coming along at once and all that. So, hot on the heels of "Cry Baby Cry" we have "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". There are two versions to tickle your fancy: on "B-Sides" there is a live version and on the bonus edition of "Piece By Piece" there is an acoustic version. I can't decide which is best so I let them fight.

Now I've talked about this song in the past but I feel I need to repeat myself here since these are the track notes after all. Many people considered this song to be about being on drugs, taking the letters L, S and D from the title as a massive clue. John Lennon always denied this. Paul McCartney, whilst not confirming it, seems happy to be ambiguous and maintain the air of mystique about the song. Lennon said he wrote it after seeing a painting his son Julian brought home from school, which he'd called "Lucy, in the sky, with diamonds", after a girl in his class called, funnily enough, Lucy. He added that the trippy hippy lyrics were inspired by Lewis Carroll and all that Alice in Wonderland giant rabbit stuff. You know, the kind of weirdness you might see if you were on drugs. If you ask me (and I'm pretty sure you haven't) it's about all of the above. A mind like Lennon's would have picked out the LSD from Julian's words straight away. After all, it was a drug not unknown to the Beatles. He would have seen it as a perfect opportunity to write a song about drugs and pass it off as a child's wild imaginings. So that's what he did. And he got away with it. All he had to do was deny the drugs reference and nobody could prove otherwise. Clever lad.

Elton John had a massive hit with his version in the early seventies, no doubt equally tickled to get away with covering a song about drugs. But of course, we are casting no such aspersions on our Katie—her version is purely to celebrate those wonderful Lennon lyrics.

YouTube:

Ooh, we actually have some choice of YouTube vids with this one. How about a tv appearance introduced by Sharon Osbourne?
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (live).
This one is my favourite though...
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [acoustic].

Lyrics:

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds 

24.05.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 2

Here's another seven second challenge for you (hope you're still not stuck on the first one!) — click the button when you are ready to confirm you know which Katie song this intro is from. If you get it wrong feel free to slink off and self-flagellate in the woods.

Seven second challenge: intro 2


23.05.20   >   Rough And Rowdy Ways

Whilst you patiently wait

for Katie number eight

something you may find fine

is Dylan number thirty-nine...

rough and rowdy ways

That's right, the astonishing human being that is Bob Dylan (if he'd been English he'd be Sir Bob Dylan) is about to release another album of new material now he's in his seventies. Studio album 39, aka "Rough And Rowdy Ways" will be with us in June and will definitely help pass the time until Katie's eighth album arrives. To put that in perspective, even after her new album is out, Katie will be 31 behind His Royal Bobness. "In Winter" was four years ago—if she released a new album every four years it would take 124 years to catch up Bob, by which time she'd be in her 150's. Even the most optimistic fan might not expect that to happen. And that's assuming Bob is done, which is certainly not an assumption I'm about to make. Most artists will tell you for every song they release they have a hatful that don't see the light of the day. Springsteen once said he wrote a song every day so even when he was releasing an album every two years we were only getting 10 tracks out of around 730! I can only dream about the size of Bob's pile of discards. And I do dream about what Katie has stashed away. The thing is, these artists have integrity and won't release songs they deem not to be good enough. Whilst that is undoubtedly a noble attitude it is completely at odds with the insatiable appetite of fans, who will take anything. For example, if Katie announced an album of her singing various takeaway menus I'd be pre-ordering the limited edition pizza-image vinyl instantly. Now, I know I may be a spectacular idiot but I don't think I'd be alone in that.

Anyway, "Rough And Rowdy Ways" currently has three tracks available to download on iTunes and probably other streamy sites too: "I Contain Multitudes, "False Prophet" and the 17-minute masterpiece "Murder Most Foul". That's almost half an hour of music you can listen to right now. If you're not a fan of Bob then my commiserations, otherwise be gone from here and fill yer boots.

22.05.20   >   Katie Bite: What I Miss About You

what I miss about you

21.05.20   >   New Album a WIP...

Patience everyone! A few fans on social media have been baying for news of Katie’s much-anticipated new album but now is not the time to put pressure on her. According to BMG president Alistair Norbury she has finished recording and is mixing it remotely for release later in the year. Let’s leave her to do her job—she’ll announce it when it is ready to be announced.

It is worth reminding you that her tour begins late September (or at least we hope it does 🤞) and she’d probably like to have shiny new CDs on the merchandise stand so a mid-September release could be on the cards. However, this has been a mad year and many carefully laid plans have had to be redrawn so you shouldn’t be too surprised if the album launch gets pushed back a bit. Even if the recording is done there is still plenty left to do before you can hold it in your mitts. As for the exact release date, well BMG will want a say in that—no doubt they will determine a “window of opportunity”, which is to say if Madonna and Kate Bush suddenly put out new albums at the same time they won’t want Katie’s to slip under the media radar by coming out amidst that battle; they’d rather wait for a lull in releases so that Katie can get the full attention of the music press. It’s a business folks. But however it all pans out we’re not going to have to wait too much longer so, like I said, patience everyone!

20.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Pictures On A Video Screen

Pictures On A Video Screen

19.05.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 1

Here's something new for you to chew. How well do you know your Katie Melua songs then? Let's put it to the test with my seven second challenge. Click the play icon below to hear the first seven seconds of a Katie track. All you gotta do is name it! There's no time limit and definitely no prizes so don't bother cheating—you are only testing yourself. If you give up, or merely want to confirm your brilliance, click the "Show Me The Answer" button to reveal the mystery song.

Seven second challenge: intro 1


18.05.20   >   Pay It Forward

If Katie has been helping you through the lockdown, in particular with her fabulous sofa sessions, then perhaps you might wish to pay it forward a little and donate to one of the charities that she has supported in recent times:

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy:

nordoff-robbins.org.uk/donate/

Hope And Homes For Children:

donate.hopeandhomes.org/give/?content=appeal

17.05.20   >   Track Notes 93: Cry Baby Cry

Album:  

Writer

John Lennon

Length:

2:22

Notes:

A little gem by John Lennon that was tucked away somewhere in the depths of The Beatles "White Album". In the context of a classic Beatles album it's a song that tends to slip under the radar and not get much attention. But nobody can polish a precious stone like Katie and she makes this one sparkle with a little of her Hermione magic. Tunicus sparkolorum!

The lyrics were in part inspired by an old English nursery rhyme called "Sing A Song Of Sixpence". Katie's version was part of the 2006 maxi-single of "Spider's Web".

YouTube:

Audio only again I'm afraid. Look, there's not much I can do about it, at least you get to hear this gorgeous cover.
Cry Baby Cry.

Lyrics:

Cry Baby Cry 

16.05.20   >   Sketch Effect

sketch

15.05.20   >   Five Fabulous Females

Who are your favourite singers? It’s not an easy question to answer is it. If you could only pick one it might be easier, at least it would be in my case—that much should be obvious. But if you had to name, say five, then it gets much tougher. Who to include, who to leave out? Of course, it is a fairly pointless exercise because (a) it always changes over time and (b) no one else cares. But in these long days of lockdown it is a way to waste away a few more minutes.

When I started to think about this my first thought was what is it that makes a particular singer a favourite? How many of their albums I have? How long I’ve been a fan? How many times I’ve seen them live? No, for me, none of the above. I decided to base it on what their songs meant to me. This is a different thing than saying who I think have the best voices, which is why I have had to leave out my favourite voice of all time, Karen Carpenter. The Carpenters made some lovely music but it didn’t change my life. By the time of her tragic death, Karen had started on a solo career and I often wonder what treasures we might otherwise have had. Her cover of “Solitaire” shows what she could do with a good song and I can imagine she’d have smashed standards like “Stardust” and “Summertime”. But every now and then a singer has come along that has had a profound impact on me in some way and changed the way I thought about music. As you may have got from the title, they are all women. If I’d made this a top ten it would probably still be all women. I don’t know why, women’s voices just connect with me on a deeper level than men’s. Go figure. It is what it is.

5. Suzanne Vega

I wrote about Suzanne just the other day. I discovered her whilst I was at Uni and she changed everything. For the first time, I began to really listen to lyrics and let them form stories in my mind. Before, it had always been about the melody and/or guitar solos. Songs such as “Marlene On The Wall”, “Luka”, and “The Queen And The Soldier” opened my eyes to a new world. It was storytelling set to music.

4. Enya

I was already a fan of Clannad when Enya, youngest of the clan, left to go solo and become a superstar. She was often classified as ’New Age’ but that was lazy and simply inaccurate. She was a genre all of her own. Her albums would contain a few instrumental tracks as well as songs sung in English, Irish, Latin or even the made up language ‘Loxian’. Her music is calming and soothing, perfect for keeping your blood pressure down whilst driving in traffic. She doesn’t take risks—she found a formula that works and has stuck to it ever since. If you like her music that’s great, otherwise move along because she isn’t going to change now. Luckily, I loved her music.

3. Moya Brennan

Sometimes described as ‘The Voice of Clannad’, which is accurate but sells short her wonderful solo career a bit. Enya’s older sister, Moya has a similar ethereal quality to her voice but while Enya’s is crystal clear, Moya’s is huskier and more mystical. It is that haunting, otherworldly sound that so defined Clannad and gave them a hit album with “Legend”, music they created for the television series “Robin of Sherwood”. Although distinctly Irish it was music that fitted the Robin Hood legend like a glove. The marketing machine was quick to pounce on all this and Moya is often portrayed, for Clannad at least, strolling through misty landscapes in a black robe looking like she doesn’t know what planet she’s on. (That may just have been because she was known to partake of the odd dodgy substance). But I’ve always been a fan of mist and the mystical and Moya’s voice has enchanted me for more than three decades.

2. Eva Cassidy

Like Karen, you wonder what treasures we were denied when Eva was also taken from us in her thirties. Even so, she left behind treasure beyond compare. It is Eva that made me appreciate that a song is about more than just music and lyrics, it is about interpretation. I stumbled upon her whilst watching an episode of teen Superman nonsense “Smallville”. Her version of “Time After Time” raised the show to a new level, not to mention the song itself. Before Eva I’d always grumpily stuck to the adage that the original is best. Eva changed all that, and kindly passed on the baton to her natural successor. Talking of which...

1. Katie Melua

Obviously. Imagine someone that could encapsulate all the best bits of the names I’ve mentioned so far. Personally, I don’t need to imagine. I just play one of her albums.


14.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Crawling Up A Hill

crawling up a hill

13.05.20   >   Track Notes 92: Pictures On A Video Screen

Album:  

Writer

Mike Batt

Length:

4:13

Notes:

Mike Batt has probably written more great songs that no one has heard of than most artists would have on their "Best of" albums. This is another little gem found amongst the cobwebs and dusted off for "B-Sides". The combination of Mike's great writing and Katie's flawless interpretation never fails and this is another example. If this were an Ed Sheeran song everyone would be raving about. I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles. Anyway, I love it. I wish "B-Sides" had been released on CD but I'll be forever grateful it was released at all because it is packed with gold nuggets and I love it to bits.

YouTube:

No video or live performance of this unfortunately, nor even a slideshow, just an audio only offering, but that's better than nothing if you haven't downloaded "B-Sides", though frankly, if you haven't downloaded "B-Sides" then you and I need to talk.
Pictures On A Video Screen.

Lyrics:

Pictures On A Video Screen 

12.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Market Day In Guernica

market day in guernica

11.05.20   >   Suzanne Vega

or How I Learned To Love Singer-Songwriters

It seems hard to imagine nowadays but there was actually life before Katie! I find it useful to go by the universally unused Ketevan calendar, which began in 2003 with the release of Call Off The Search. We are now in the year 18AD (album debut) but I want to take you back to the year 18BK (before Katie), 1985.

The significance of that year is that it is when I had a musical epiphany that paved the way for me to appreciate Katie so much all those years later. In short, I discovered that a woman could write songs just as good if not better than men. I should just say that I was already aware that women wrote songs—I was a huge Kate Bush fan by that time—but basically I was brought up on rock. Zeppelin, Queen, Floyd, Deep Purple, Springsteen, Dire Straits, and my hero Nils Lofgren. To me lyrics were just words; it was all about guitars and drums. But in 1985 a young lady from California came along with her acoustic guitar and clear folky voice and changed everything. Suzanne Vega put singer-songwriters on my radar. Suddenly songs were all about the lyrics. Suzanne sang poems and stories, she created images in my mind, she painted pictures, she made movies. All set to gentle, melodic guitar accompaniment. Of course, she wasn’t the first to do that—I’d loved Don McLean singing “Vincent” in the early 70s and Dylan had been doing it since before I was born—but Vega was the one that flicked the switch in my brain that made me realise I needed this kind of music in my life. She opened the secret door to the pathway that ultimately led me to Katie.

Weirdly, Vega has been labelled “The Mother of MP3”. This came about because a 1990 remix of her song “Tom’s Diner” was used as a test track during the development of the MP3 format. Who knew. She can write a catchy tune all right—such as her hits “Luka” and “Marlene On The Wall”—but it has always been her lyrics that have blown me away. And perhaps my favourite example is “The Queen And The Soldier”.

The Queen And The Soldier

This stunning song is one of my favourite lyrics ever. In under five minutes Suzanne reads me an entire novel. I see the whole story in my mind, I identify with both characters and sympathise with both of them and it breaks my heart every single time. Quite simply, “The Queen and the Soldier” is a masterpiece. If you don’t know it then check out this live performance.

suzanne vega on youtube

I’ve written to Santa asking for a Katie Melua cover of this but I think it may be out of his hands and I’ll probably have to settle for another tub of Quality Street instead. Anyway, thank you Suzanne for showing me the wonder of singer-songwriters—a young lady from Georgia may have stolen your glittering crown but you will always be the Queen of Words.

10.05.20   >   Katie Bite: A Moment Of Madness

a moment of madness

09.05.20   >   Katie performs live for The Takeover Festival

Another Friday night, another live lockdown set from Katie and Zurab. Last night they "headlined" The Takeover Festival by Bose for the Nordoff Robbins music therapy charity, performing live on the @RightChordMusic Facebook page.

Facebook Live is always a worry for technical quality but it managed to hold it together on this occasion and though the image quality wasn't quite as good as YouTube it was at least free of glitches and the audio was decent enough. Katie is too much of a pro to let any shoddiness creep in at her end so the image framing and sound levels were spot on—none of the robot-in-a-water-butt effects we're used to with the press questions on the daily Downing Street updates. Of course, she's done this a few times now so it's a well-oiled process.

katie and zurab

I've wisely learned to stop predicting her set lists and this was another time where I'd have lost my deposit, though the basic formula was similar to the LCKDWN gig—starting from "In Winter", dipping into her back catalogue, throwing in a classic cover and then winding up with new stuff. It's a good balance and makes for a pleasing mini-gig.

This time she opened with “Dreams On Fire” and then one of the fan favourites from "Ketevan", "Where Does The Ocean Go?", the kind of song that sounds like it was actually meant to be performed at home on the sofa with the occasional wistful glance out of the window. Naturally, it was immaculately delivered. Look, it's probably easier if you just take it as read that Katie's performances are always amazing and that way I can save some typing and spare Katie's blushes into the bargain. If ever she's rubbish I'll tell you, but I wouldn't let your coffee go cold (and in any case, I'm not sure I really would tell you).

Next up was "Piece Of My Heart", made famous by Janis Joplin but originally recorded by Erma Franklin, Aretha's older sister. Katie's version? I refer you to the previous paragraph regarding her performances. And for the final two songs, Katie threw her guitar aside (I may be exaggerating a little) and let Zurab do the string work while she treated us to the current material "No Better Magic" and "Maybe I Dreamt It". These two songs have already shown that the album "Ultimate Collection" will continue to be increasingly inaccurately named.

I have to say, Facebook felt unusually muted. The comment stream was far more subdued than it was for the YouTube gig a couple of weeks ago, which was rather surprising since FB is usually so manic in that respect. I wonder if there are a combination of reasons why that might be. Timing may be one—9pm GMT makes it a little late for much of Europe yet mid-afternoon for the Americas, though in lockdown of course people are neither working nor clubbing so that shouldn't be an excuse. Another reason might be that a lot of Katie's fans are elderly and hence would have been likely to be attracted to the BBC's offerings celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day. If that's the case then fair play to them. But when Katie sang "there's no better magic than this" I found myself nodding in agreement. As Gandalf said, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us...

All too soon it was over. But it's always a good sign when it passes so quickly, it means ya had a real good time. Gotta say, I'm loving these K & Z sibling sofa sessions.

08.05.20   >   VE Day 75th Anniversary

Today marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. Obviously, with the current situation, many of the planned celebrations are now not possible. But we can at least look back fifteen years to the 60th Anniversary concert in Trafalgar Square during which a fresh-faced young Katie went all Dame Very Lynn and performed “The White Cliffs Of Dover” as well as my favourite, “Stardust”. It's strange to think of a 20-year-old Katie performing in front of a sardine-packed Trafalgar Square when tonight, so many years later, she'll be performing from her living room and Trafalgar Square will be deserted. But that's life. It is weird and wonderful and highly unpredictable and all we can do is just get on with it. The 75th Anniversary of VE Day was always going to be a special day but even though gatherings are cancelled the event itself carries more poignancy and feeling than ever before because a nation trapped in lockdown can now identify with how their counterparts 75 years ago must have felt being released from the terrible grip of war. Of course, we won't get the same blanket release from our "war" as we'll be eased out of lockdown in stages and therefore there won't be any particular date that we can celebrate our victory over coronavirus on but I feel certain that VE Day will remain in our hearts for some time and perhaps it will be a day when we think about our own triumph over adversity. Our battle is not won yet but today serves as a great reminder that even the darkest of hours eventually tick away and the sun is always there waiting to shine on us when we scramble out of our gloom. Keep going everyone, we're nearly there. And enjoy this beautiful performance from Katie. It still staggers me how composed and professional she was at that tender age. The shoes of Dame Vera Lynn were pretty big ones to fill but I can think of no one who could have done it better.

katie on you tube

07.05.20   >   Katie Bite: Bridge Over Troubled Water

bridge over troubled water

06.05.20   >   Vibrato

Vibrato is the effect whereby the pitch of a note “wobbles” rapidly either side of where it should be. This sounds like it might be a bad thing but it can sound pleasant to the human ear and so has been used extensively by singers down the years to add embellishment to their vocal performances. Ella Fitzgerald was a great vibrato singer, as are the likes of Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. Before the 1950s it was widely used by jazz singers but nowadays much less so. Folk singers use it sparingly. Pop singers still use it, notable examples being Leona Lewis and Whitney Houston.

But what about Katie? The interesting thing is that she often used vibrato during the Dramatico years but hardly uses it all nowadays. Is that a deliberate decision or just how it is? Was it Mike Batt’s preference for her to use it? Does the quieter singing of In Winter not suit vibrato? I can’t answer the first two questions but I think the third is probably a yes. Singing clean, or without vibrato, definitely suits the style of In Winter. The crisp, clear notes match the wintry feel perfectly. It may just be that vibrato is harder to achieve when singing quietly. I wouldn’t know—I have a voice like a duck with sinus problems so I can’t test the theory. I’m not saying vibrato is a bad thing—I was a big fan of Belinda Carlisle in the 80s. I love Katie’s voice whether or not she uses it but if I had a preference I would lean towards clean singing. I prefer her voice today than to when she started; I’m not sure if that’s down to less vibrato or her voice getting deeper or what exactly. I think I’ve said before that when she has to go loud to avoid being swamped by a backing band it isn’t really her strength but it needn’t matter. Look at her version of “Diamonds Are Forever” for example—she was never going to out-Bassey the Bassey so she smartly played it to her own strengths and for my money created a much better version. All I know is that nowadays whenever she sings it is always sublime.

You might think it is technically more difficult to sing with vibrato but actually the reverse is true. Many singers find it comes naturally to them and even if it doesn’t it can be learned. But clean singing demands that you are constantly in tune. With vibrato, the note you are singing only needs to be in the pitch ballpark and the up and down variation gives you the wriggle room to get away with it but without it there is nowhere to hide—you are either in tune or you’re not and most human ears can soon tell if you’re not. (An interesting aside is that vibrato is the kind of thing that Autotune software will try to correct in its tireless quest for pitch perfection. I can’t help feeling that if Ella Fitzgerald had been around today she’d have told sound engineers exactly where they could stick Autotune.) With a complex melody you need to be a good singer to nail every note. In Katie’s case she is concentrating on playing guitar at the same time so it’s a doubly difficult ask. Yet when you listen to In Winter you get the feeling she could do it in her sleep. It’ll be interesting to hear the new album and see if the vibrato is still used sparingly. I know I’ll love it either way—what’s important is to accept the music the way the artist intended it and that’s exactly what I’ll do.

05.05.20   >   Lyric Card: Stardust

stardust

04.05.20   >   The Shadows

As album covers go, I’ll admit, it’s a bit rubbish. But I still love it because I know the vinyl disc within will transport me to a special place. I’ve loved this album for as long as I can remember. Great. But why am I mentioning it here? After all, an instrumental band from the 60s can’t have any connection with Katie at all. Go on, challenge me to name three…

Well, since you so kindly ask, it would be rude not to try. For a start, both Katie and The Shadows have had a popular song beginning with “Wonderful L” (Land and Life). Okay, that’s weak. How about this—Hank Marvin has recorded a version of "Nine Million Bicycles"! Ha! Didn’t see that one coming did ya? That’s probably as good as it gets so I’m back to weak links again. Queen guitarist Brian May has cited Marvin as one of his earliest musical influences, and he has actually managed to play with him. And Katie has played with Brian May. Boom! To be fair, that's a pretty decent link imho. (If any of you are struggling to accept that Katie has been an honorary member of Queen and are accusing me of fan-fantasy then deal with it—it happened in George, South Africa, on 19th March 2005; she has had an extraordinary life. She has done things you people would not believe—she’s seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion… no, hang on that really is fan-fantasy I’m afraid). So there you go then. You should believe in the interconnectedness of all things, for in one way or another all things truly are connected.

03.05.20   >   Don McLean Guitar Masterclass

If you have half a century of experience playing acoustic guitars then what a lovely thing it is to share a few tips and insights with beginners looking to move to the next level. That is exactly what the legend Don McLean does in this lovely video. He packs a lot in but in a clear and simple manner and though not everything may suit the way you want to play what it really does is open your mind to the idea of just how many subtle ways there are to give your playing added dimensions. It also shows that there is always something new you can learn. There’s a nice moment where he struggles with a technique himself and rather than cut it from the video it has been left in to show you that even in your 70s you still need to practice!

02.05.20   >   Track Notes 91: Market Day In Guernica

Album:  

Writer

Mike Batt

Length:

4:02

Notes:

For a bloke best known for songs about Wombles, Mike certainly knew how to tug at the old heartstrings. "Bright Eyes", "Caravan Song" and "I Will Be There" to name but three examples of his something-in-my-eye songs. "Market Day In Guernica" is right up there with his best. The Spanish town of Guernica was the site of an early bombing raid by the Nazis on April 26, 1937. The day was deliberately chosen as market day to maximise casualties, and 1654 civilians were killed in an unthinkable act of callous brutality. Mike's beautiful song captures the event poignantly simply through the eyes of a single family that lost a loved one in the tragedy. It is devastatingly effective and if it doesn't make you rage against every violent human being that ever lived then you and I might struggle to get on. It saddens me that this gorgeous, important song got tucked away on "B-Sides" and hence remains unheard by the majority of the general public. This is one track that should never have been allowed to get away. I hope maybe one day Katie might re-record the song and put it on an acoustic album for all the world to hear though the chances of that are slim to none. But it is one of several reasons why every Ketefan should have "B-Sides" in their download collection.

YouTube:

No video or live performance of this that I can find so another one of those photo-slideshow type efforts. Better than nothing, and some nice shots in there. Market Day In Guernica.

Lyrics:

Market Day In Guernica 

01.05.20   >   Melua Marathon Playlist

There's been lots of talk recently of people doing marathon-equivalent things at home during lockdown. Now let's get one thing straight: I have exactly zero intention of running around my garden 4736 times. But if I did try running 26 miles these days I reckon it would take me the best part of 5 hours (either that or I'd drop dead). So I'd need a pretty long playlist for my earbuds and it would need to be someone whose voice would spur me on every inch of the way. Any ideas? Doh! Who'dya think!

Now it just so happens that Katie's studio albums to date consist of 80 songs that add up to 4 hours 50 minutes of listening time. Perfect! So, at the starting gun I'd press play and get "Call Off The Search" playing and let Katie sing to me from 2003 to 2016 and see if I could cross the finish line before she got to the end of "O Holy Night". I have tried this playlist out to make sure it is fit for purpose and I have to say that if anything could get me to run a marathon it would be Katie's voice in my head. (I have run a half marathon but that was a million years ago.) I should add that there wasn't much running involved during the trial, and by much I do of course mean none whatsoever. But I did listen to every second of the 4 hours and 50 minutes. And unlike running, it was clear I could never tire of listening to Katie's voice.

The studio albums:

Call Off The Search
Piece By Piece
Pictures
The House
Secret Symphony
Ketevan
In Winter

studio albums



2020

April 2020 archive

March 2020 archive

February 2020 archive

January 2020 archive


2019

December 2019 archive

November 2019 archive

October 2019 archive

September 2019 archive

August 2019 archive

July 2019 archive

June 2019 archive

May 2019 archive

April 2019 archive

March 2019 archive

February 2019 archive

January 2019 archive


2018

December 2018 archive

November 2018 archive

October 2018 archive

September 2018 archive

August 2018 archive

July 2018 archive

June 2018 archive

May 2018 archive

April 2018 archive

March 2018 archive

February 2018 archive

January 2018 archive


2017

December 2017 archive

November 2017 archive

October 2017 archive



Back to the future