I know I got on about this but there is still something magical about the album. A good friend of mine has been trying to think of ways to sell music in a new way. Something which finally excites and permeates as strongly as the album did back in the seventies,eighties and even, I suspect until the last glowing embers of the last century. Sadly, for young people, and I surveyed a couple of them round my kitchen table yesterday, that magic has disappeared. It’s nothing to do with their love or loathing of music and it’s nothing to do how important or unimportant they deem it to be. It’s just that the idea of sacrificing almost everything else so you can buy a new release doesn’t really make sense to them any more.
You have to say they have a point. The music business so miscalculated their public that they feared everything for two decades then took 180º turn and said effectively, ‘help yourselves folks.’ It has meant that the magic of the album has gone. No more the longing for release date, the saving-up, the bus trip to town, the purchase and the reading of the credits all the way home until you reached the turntable where nothing – nothing I say – got in the way until both sides had been absorbed. I’m glad I went through that time. It means I never pick up anyone’s record without knowing that love, passion and care went into making it. I relate to my fellow recording artists in the strongest way possible. Making records and playing records on the radio are two of the greatest things I’ve ever been allowed to do. Nowadays the thrill comes in discovering lots of recordings I suspect are unknown to many of you listening. It’s my pleasure to flag them up and enjoy seeing the posts and emails about how much you are digging different different things. It never fails to surprise me how people pick up on some of the more understated new records we play.
This Friday there will be no interviews, no sessions just me and a pile of records – many of them so far unheard on the radio – which I will enjoy sharing with you. here are some things to look out for.
The new Sturgill Simpson album. It’s called ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ and Sturgill is playing on Joolz this Friday too. He is reinventing country music in a great way. One of the most honest session guests we’ve had on the show he promised a new album within months of that interview in Janusary. He kept the promise and has delivered one of the best records of the year so far. We play a deeper cut – as the FM stations used to say – this Friday. Similarly – and coming calling to the AC very soon – Holly Williams– has made a very fine record indeed. You will know that Holly is the grand-daughter of Hank and there is a reference to that amazing musical family within the lyrics of this new album.
We have spoken with Craig Finn before about the influence of Minneapolis rock music. We’ll hear the new single from Husker Du’s Bob Mould as well as significant new recordings from X’s John Doe and the new kid from New Orleans Benjamin Booker – soon to be opening for Jack White.
We’ll celebrate these guys….
Johnny and Jack knew that some things sound better on vinyl. To prove the point we’ll play something brilliant from another Hank on the new dedicated AC turntable. Now that it’s in the studio we’ve locked it down.
Join me if you can. Friday from five past eight, BBC Radio Scotland.
“longing for release date, the saving-up, the bus trip to town, the purchase and the reading of the credits all the way home until you reached the turntable where nothing – nothing I say – got in the way until both sides had been absorbed. ”
Bang on, happy days.
Maybe it’s a sign of my age as much as anything else, but I’ve never let go of my love for the album as a medium—right from the heady days of picking up and exploring my first vinyl albums to a steady-ish stream of new CDs I still treat myself to today. Occasionally I will be moved to pick up some individual song or other digitally if it gets under my skin (mostly in the realms of pop music), but more often I am moved to explore an artist further, to understand what makes them tick and to hear what they have to say in a broader context. That’s certainly the case with most of the music that features on The AC, whose tastes I think veer towards a certain level of artistry in the acts you feature, who have that “love, passion and care” that shows both in the music itself and in your commentary upon it.
So perhaps I represent the converted (or the aged, or both), but I am a very happy recipient of the music you get to play, of hearing something new that clicks with me such that I am driven to go away and explore further. I certainly still retain a sense of anticipation and ceremony in the first listen of a new album from start to finish, too, and I don’t think I’ll ever lose that. I do know friends of the same age, as well as youngsters, who have done, but still others who haven’t. Above all else, and without wishing to sound pompous or self-aggrandising, I think it comes down to aesthetics. I have the same attitude towards television drama, for example—if I deem something to be of interest and to have a depth to it beyond the superficial, I am driven to explore a series in its entirety as opposed to diving in for an episode here, an episode there. It can make me appear fannish and a bit obsessive, but I’d have it no other way. (And my book, CD and DVD shelves all testify to that point!)
Also, that Sturgill Simpson album title and cover are something else.