Is It Rolling Bob?

I’m not given to reading many rock ‘n’ roll biographies. Often I realise I’ve loved people’s music for a lifetime knowing almost nothing about their own private stories. When I have decided to learn more (I admit I’ve made notable exceptions for Bruce and Bob) I realise I’ve often found the whole thing less than interesting. What does draw me in though are the real tales of what happened in the studio. There’s something about that sacred space – where strangers are seldom invited – that arouses my curiosity.

I suppose all of us would love to have been in Memphis the day Elvis met Sam Phillips to record that waxing for his Mom. (Or then again in Abbey Road on that first Beatle audition with George Martin or standing beside Kris Kristofferson in Nashville as he watched  Dylan and Bob Johnston piece together Blonde on Blonde. Then there is that day when Johnny Cash came to visit on Nashville Skyline and on that record too the famous question asked by Dylan of Mr Johnston, (his producer) ‘Is it rolling Bob?’

I’d like to know where the microphones were placed and how they were listening and how they heard the roughs if they took them away. I’d like to know how long they took and how they tuned up. Dam it, I’d love to have seen and heard all of it.

I thought of all of this while listening to this week’s special guests, ‘The Strange Blue Dreams.’ They have made an album that sounds in parts like it could have been recorded any time over the last 60 years. There are beautiful warm analogue sounds, gorgeous freedom of styling and a depth and space to the music that belies their youth. How it was all done is one of my first questions for them when they assemble in our legendary Studio One to perform our first AC session of the year.

Later on we’re going to touch base with some familiar names including Allison Moorer & Shelby Lynne, Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones and hear new music from First Aid Kit, The Deslondes and Ireland’s own The Lost Brothers. I’ll also introduce you to the music of this young woman.

I suspect the name Sunny War will become a little familiar to you over the next year or so. We’re going to play you a song that will explain all of that.

There is so much we need to get in and there’s only two hours. We kick off at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland FM. Join me if you can.

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