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Showing posts from March, 2010

In Memoriam: Charlie Gillett

Charlie Gillett, a great musicologist, DJ and evangelist for grown-up popular music has died at the age of 68 of a rare auto-immune disorder. I knew Charlie briefly in the early 1970s when we both wrote for Bob Houston's short-lived but excellent music magazine Cream - we shared a taste for obscure rockabilly, free jazz and US soul music of the "golden age" (before the accursed Philly Sound).  His book on rhythm and blues, The Sound of The City is still the definitive explanation of the roots of the post-war revolution in popular music. 
But Charlie meant more still to me for his radio show "Honky Tonk" which ran every Sunday from 1972 through 1978 on  BBC Radio London. I looked forward to that show throughout the week, and the sheer quality and originality of his choices helped to keep me sane during the depressing and disillusioned days of the early '70s. I first heard Elvis Costello and Ian Dury thanks to Charlie, whose role as a pre-punk prophet has yet …

Photo Shopping

By chance I caught a BBC Radio 4 programme that I'd never heard of called "You and Yours" yesterday (listen here) and it covered the most extraordinary story. The seaside town of Whitley Bay, Northumbria, has a blighted town-centre typical of the area in which 49 shops are currently derelict. However an enterprising estate agent there had the brilliant idea of pasting a life-sized photograph of a luxury delicatessen over one of the shop windows, and it's been so well received that others will soon follow. People say it makes the place less depressing, and it may even slow the crumbling of property prices.

You could hardly make this story up - the "Society of the Spectacle" reveals its actuality, and completely without embarassment. Perhaps we should carry on further down this road, pasting photographs of palaces and hospitals onto derelict warehouse, and all of us going around in smiling Johnny Depp masks. Modern digital photo technologies should keep such …