The Only Way Is Nub

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Tonight sees the launch of Nub TV, an hour long show “aimed at the 40 plus audience who are being starved of the music they love”. Hosted by TV veteran Steve Blacknell, it airs at 10pm on Sky 212, Freesat 161, Freeview 254 and globally online at Showcase TV. Joining Steve in the Millbank studios over the next few weeks will be an array of familiar faces from the Seventies and Eighties, including Joan Armatrading,  Leee John, Rick Buckler and the first show’s special guests John Otway and John Altman. Add to that the lovably eccentric house band The Pocket Gods, a selection of the latest video releases and a small but perfectly formed studio audience, and you have the ideal way to round off your weekend’s television viewing.

I was invited to appear as a guest on the programme, alongside Eighties’ favourites Owen Paul and Junior Giscombe. Our show, which airs on 27th November, was fantastic fun to record as you can see from the photos below. Knowing the music, chat and laughs that are in our show, I can’t wait to see tonight’s debut broadcast.

Photos: cjansenphotography.com

 

 

 

 

Launch Time

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A London launch party at the Vinyl Bar, hosted by TV presenter Steve Blacknell, celebrated the release of The 80’s Annual on 1st November. Guests including Jona Lewie, John Otway, Owen Paul, Modern Romance’s Andy Kyriacou and Department S joined me in an evening of nostalgia, as features from the annual were shared against a backdrop of some of the decade’s best music videos.

Huge thanks to everyone who came to the event and made it such a success.

 

Buy your copy of The 80’s Annual from the Book Depository, Amazon, Waterstones and independent book stores.

Festival Life’s A Beach

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Back in the summer, I spent  a week in Looe, Cornwall and I fell in love with the place. We didn’t have the best of weather. The average temperature was ten degrees lower than my native Kent I’d left behind, and we had rain and fog on ctcmdjcxgaa7qjga couple of days. Yet, offering the friendliest of welcomes and boasting picture postcard views, not to mention a bountiful supply of crab, pasties and cream teas, this beautiful Cornish town won me over. I could not wait to return at the end of September, to cover the Looe Music Festival.

I did consider the possibility that, with thousands of music lovers descending upon Looe, the town I remembered may not be the one I would be greeted with a couple of months later. However, that fear was soon allayed on Friday morning as I watched the final preparations being made for the first night of the festival. In addition to the main stage, which is situated on the town’s golden, sandy beach, there are a number of venues located throughout the town, hosting the 90 acts playing over the three days. Experience combined with necessity means the festival management and its team run as a finely honed machine, to ensure events run smoothly, on time and, most importantly, enjoyably.

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Interviewing Neville Staple

With so much to choose from, it was inevitable that some clashes arose, as was the case on Friday night. The following day, a number of people told me how good Ferocious Dog had been when they performed  on the main stage. However, I hadn’t made it down to the beach until the evening’s headliner, Wilko Johnson, made his appearance. He far exceeded any expectations I had, and seeing his live performance of  “Roxette” is a memory I will cherish.

The reason I had not made it to the main stage until the former Dr. Feelgood guitarist was giving it his all was due to my penchant for 80’s music and ska. The NeDSC00672.JPGville Staple Band were performing in the Champion Marquee, so it was obvious where I was going to be. Add to that the opportunity to interview the Original Rude Boy himself, and it was a complete no-brainer.

The band’s performance, despite a few technical hitches, went down a storm with the crowd. A real highlight for me was dancing (I hesitate to call the moves I made skanking!) to Concrete Jungle, just feet away from the band. I should also mention that the backing vocals from keyboard player Joe Atkinson, on Ghost Town, need to heard to be believed.  As close to the original recording as you could ever hope to hear.

On Saturday, I was determined to experience as many of the variety of acts as possible, and immerse myself in the musical diversity on offer. I made a good start when I went to watch Bideford Pies and Drams at Portbyhan Hotel in West Looe. They began with songs traditionally associated with the bagpipes, such as Amazing Grace, and I thought they were joking when they asked if anyone had any requests. The next thing I knew, I was listening to a somewhat different, but splendid, version of Queen’s We Will Rock You. It perfectly set the tone for the most brilliantly eclectic day of music I could ever imagine.

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En route to the main stage, we encountered a number of talented street musicians, some of them playing by the Busk Stops scattered throughout the town. You will be pleased to learn that I refrained from inflicting my own vocal talents on passers by, when I found a vacant stop!

Billed as having not “only ‘white hot’metal blood running through their veins [but] a passion of the most intense kind in never ending abundance,” local band King Creature had me intrigued before they had even set foot on the stage.

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Dave Kellaway and Matt Karl Vincent

After powering their way through ‘Dead Inside’ the Cornish rockers, comprising of lead singer/bass player Dave Kellaway, drummer Jack Bassett and guitarists Matt Karl Vincent and Dave Evans, had me hooked.  Pure, unadulterated rock played loud, raw and fast, with the obligatory power ballad ‘Can You Forgive Me?’ the jewel in King Creature’s crown, their set was not only high-octane and dynamic but irresistibly seductive. Needless to say, they have a new fan in me.dsc00726

In stark contrast, the next act to take to the beach-side stage was Scottish singer and song writer Eddi Reader. The former lead singer with Fairground Attraction appeared almost ethereal as the breeze blew in off the sea,  and sang “The Patience of Angels” – a truly heavenly experience. Delighting us with little anecdotes in between favourites such as ‘Perfect’and ‘Find My Love’, the flame-haired songstress was as entertaining as she was talented. A totally feel good performance.

A divergence in musical styles again, Hersham boys Sham 69 were next to play. I loved the incongruity of me sipping Prosecco as I sang along to tracks like “If The Kids Are United” and “Hurry Up Harry”. Although I wasn’t quite so enamoured with the decline in weather, as the band came to the end of their performance. Taking refuge in the nearby Boscarn pub as the rain came shooting down, I only heard snippets of Seth Lakeman’s set on the few occasions when I stucimg_20160924_225222k my head out to check if the weather had improved.

It was still bucketing it down five minutes before Bryan Ferry was due on stage at 9pm. However, determined to see the former Roxy Music frontman perform on the eve of his 71st birthday, we made our way onto the sodden sands. By the time he emerged, 40 minutes later than scheduled, I thought I had reached saturation point. I was wrong. After only three songs, two of which were 80’s hits ‘Slave To Love’ and ‘Don’t Stop The Dance’, we became part of a mass exodus from the beach, as torrential rain flooded the streets of Looe and put paid to any notions I had of watching that night’s performance until the end.

Waking up on Sunday morning, a pile of soggy clothes and hair like Robert Smith’s were the only reminders I had of the previous night’s drenching, as the sun shone brightly in the cloudless, blue sky. Arriving back at the main stage around lunchtime, shortly after Alex Hart had begun singing, I sat down with a little beach picnic of freshly made Looe crab sandwich and a glass of Prosecco (there’s a bit of a theme going here!), as the autumn sun beat down on my face. This was my kind of festival.dsc00776

The day got even better when 80’s psychobilly band King Kurt took to the stage later that afternoon. Slightly tamer than their gigs of three decades ago – thankfully, there were no cat entrails to dodge or haircuts given to the crowd mid-set – it was still one of my favourite performances of the weekend. I found myself grinning from ear to ear as they brought us tracks like ‘Zulu Beat’, ‘Do The Rat’ as well as their 1983 Top 40 single ‘Destination Zululand’, and was not alone in singing “Ooh wallah wallah” for a considerable time afterwards.

I returned to the main stage for Sunday’s headline act, Fun Lovin’ Criminals. Fronted by the incredibly cool Huey Morgan, they did not disappoint as they delivered UK Top 30 hits ‘Scooby Snacks’, ‘King of New York’ and ‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’. However, my day was made by an earlyDSC00796.JPG evening performance in the Champion Marquee.

Sixties’ actress and singer Anita Harris treated us to a variety of songs, including ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, ‘Memory’ and ‘All That Jazz’, plus a number of tales from her long showbiz career. For me, the highlight of the evening came when Anita told us how Dusty Springfield gifted her a song written by the late singer’s brother, Tom. That song was ‘Just Loving You’, a track I know word-for-word thanks to listening to my parents’ vinyl collection from a young age. I never thought I would one day get to see it performed live, so it was a very special moment for me, and one which proves how the diverse mix of music on offer at Looe Music Festival ensures there is more than something for everyone. I can’t wait to return next year.

 

 

 

Memory Chips

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One of the things I looked forward to at primary school was when the latest Chip Book Club magazine was given out. I loved browsing through the pages, seeing the latest titles on offer, then eagerly awaiting the arrival of my book of choice. Although the Puffin book club brought me delights such as Meg’s Eggs, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Owl Who Was Afraid of The Dark, and Mrs Pepperpot’s Outing, it was the offerings from Chip which I preferred. None more so than the Chip Club Diary.

A few weeks ago, I found my diaries from 1980 and 1981. Although I hadn’t written much in them on a daily basis, I had completed the information pages in the front of the books, which I thought I’d share with you. Remember, I was only 9 years old in 1980!

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As much as I would like to believe that I’ve evolved since I was in single figures, gypsy tart is still one of my favourite foods, I still support Liverpool (although I’m no longer confused by having blue and white as my favourite colours), and my favourite animal is still a cat. I’d probably still have a chuckle at The Benny Hill Show too if I’m honest!

My tastes had not really changed much the following year, although Elvis had replaced John Travolta as my favourite film star. I think that may have been due to his films being played throughout the summer holidays. Also, Mum is a huge fan of The King so my sub-conscience was probably being influenced by overexposure to his music.

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One of the entries I find interesting is my favourite film. Cactus Jack was a short film starring Kirk Douglas as a cowboy. In the days when going to the pictures involved seeing such a film before the main screening, I had watched it on a family trip to the cinema. I can’t remember what main film we had gone to see, but this spoof Western remains firmly ingrained in my memory.

The 1981 Chip Club Diary contained an additional section I had completed. Now, although my shoe size hasn’t changed since I was 10 years old, I think I may have a modicum of modesty more than I did at that age (see Special Features and Good Points/Bad Points).

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I think my artistic talents may have developed a tad more too!

 

Treasures & Trash

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The last couple of months have seen me undertake a much needed major declutter. Having trawled through over forty years of paraphernalia and memories, I am left with an empty loft, a garage that can now accommodate my car, and a house that, unburdened from the weight of unnecessary possessions, must have risen at least six inches from the ground. The process has been cathartic, emotional and intriguing, as I uncovered long forgotten keepsakes and boxes unopened017 for over two decades.

From ticket stubs, programmes and letters to old diaries, drawings and school books, there is a well-documented record of every aspect of my life; the result of inheriting the hoarding gene from my dad. Whilst documentation forms a large part of this squirrelling behaviour, such tendencies are not limited to paperwork, as proven by these embroidered coasters I made in primary school. Set in rural Kent, and with enrolment never exceeding 70 pupils, the school boasted a broad education, including ‘handwork’ lessons on a Friday afternoon. When the weather permitted, we took these lessons outside, and I can clearly remember sewing these whilst sat under a tree, on a warm, sunny day. Idyllic.

While I have uncovered plenty of reminders of wonderful memories, there have been some tinged with sadness, such as birthday cards from those no longer with us. Then, there were items that made me question why I had kept them for so long. Some, like the theatre programmes for shows of which I have no recollection, had followed me through four house moves, yet meant nothing to me at all. Others were just downright weird, such as the plaster cast from when I broke my wrist in 1990. Needless to say, anything falling into these two categories went straight into the bin.

Those mementoes that have survived the cull (and believe me, I was ruthless) are now neatly packed away in three medium-sized boxes, which, for me, is nothing short of a miracle. However, one of the advantages of having stockpiled a lifetime is finding hidden gems amongst the detritus, some of which I will be sharing here over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll share some of your treasures from the past too.

 

Present Company Exceptional

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10931387_1606116766284382_2832285792610681723_nMy Nan would always tell me that “you’re judged by the company you keep”. If that is the case, I’m quite happy for you to don your wig and gown. Having joined New Haven Publishing this week, for a two book deal, I am in very good company.

Specialising in music and entertainment industry publications, New Haven, boasts Ginger Coyote’s “The Best of Punk Globe Magazine”, Greg Healey’s “Decade of Discontent, The 1970s – Now And Then” and Nick Welsh’s “The Life & Times of A Ska Man” amongst its titles. My fellow authors also include actor Gary Shail (who may be best known for his role in Quadrophenia, but will always be Steve from Metal Mickey to me!) and ‘Punk Poet’ and ex-Stone Roses manager, Garry Johnson. In addition to his memoir, “Punk Rock Stories And Tabloid Tales”, Garry has also collaborated with Swedish singer/songwriter Sören ‘Sulo’ Karlsson, on a CD of the same name. Due for release on 26th February, the album showcases both talents, with Sulo’s distinctSuloive vocals delivering Garry’s lyrical poetry. I have been fortunate enough to have a sneak preview of a couple of the tracks. The beautifully regretful “The One That Got Away” was all it took before I found myself pre-ordering the CD.

At the helm of New Haven Publishing is Norwegian born Teddie Dahlin. An author and music journalist, Teddie was the interpreter for The Sex Pistols when their 1977 tour reached Norway. Her first book, “A Vicious Love Story: Remembering The Real Sid Vicious” is an account of that time. With an aim to “strive to grow steadily, making our name  synonymous with good quality reading”, Teddie leads by example, one which I will enjoy following when writing my next two books on Eighties’ pop culture. After all, I don’t want to be Bad Company – that’s so Seventies!

 

 

Hello To A Mad Affair

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As I popped the CD into the player, I wasn’t sure what to expect. ‘Mad Affair’ is the first solo album by Bob Bradbury, former frontman of Glam Rock band Hello, whose hits “Tell Him” and “New York Groove” graced the UK Top 10 during the mid-Seventies. I hit the Play button on my stereo, and sat down to write. Some chance of writing!

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L-R: Vic Faulkner, Bob Bradbury, Keith Marshall & Jeff Allen

 

From the very outset, as ‘Coloured Me Censored’ belts you straight between the ears, this album demands your full attention. Mr. Bradbury doesn’t make background music, and despite him being very much a face of the Seventies, his music has a fresh fearlessness that sounds as if it’s straight out of the Eighties. Regular readers to my blog will know that I am a fan of Matthew Rudd’s Forgotten 80s radio show on Absolute 80s. Well, this whole album is like an Eighties’ gem, long forgotten or even undiscovered until now, embodying everything that was good about the music of the Eighties and very late Seventies.

There are touches of Ian Dury, The Members, and even a hint of the B52s (on ‘She Got A’), along with heavier rock tracks like ‘Something Out There’ and ‘Climb On’, all offering a reassuring familiarity that makes you think this really could be a misplaced album from your existing collection. Yet, Bob’s distinctive vocals and track arrangements ensure a very definite originality, perfectly exemplified by the title track.

Opening with a sunshine style reminiscent of The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’, it’s not long until ‘Mad Affair’ plunders into some power rock, before finishing with an exquisite guitar solo. Then, there is my favourite track, ‘Every Week’. A drum-loaded salute to the transition of Seventies into Eighties, Punk to New Wave, which ends with the spoken lines:

“Oi guv, got any spare change?”

“F**k off – buy your own lottery ticket!”

But there’s no need to take my word for it. The following video offers a few snippets of the album, which can be ordered from Bob Bradbury’s website.

Going Ga Ga For Radio

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Well, the snow held off for my birthday, and I’ve had the most fantastic weekend celebrating it. Saturday was spent being thoroughly spoilt by my kids, then an evening of karaoke – my birthday rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was indeed a treat for everyone present! Yesterday (or my Birthday Boxing Day, as we call it in our family) was a somewhat surreal experience, as the radio of my teenage years became real life.

Arriving in Camden for the Great British Radio Reunion at The Jazz Cafe, I was twenty minutes early so popped into a nearby coffee shop to keep warm and check I looked presentable. As I stood in the small queue for the single, unisex toilet that served the cafe, I noticed a group of gentleman sat inches away from me. I don’t know what you call a collection of radio DJs. A broadcast? A transmission? Whatever it is, I had stumbled upon one of the best – Paul Burnett, Mike Read, Ian Damon  and Tim Jibson. Paul invited me to join them, and as I sat down with the group, Showaddywaddy’s Dave Bertram turned up! Like I said, surreal.

We arrived at the venue at the same time as a number of other DJs, including Andy Peebles and Roger Day, who tried to convince the doormen I was his wife, in a futile attempt to get me indoors more quickly. The guest list hadn’t arrived at the door, and without a BBC pass to flash at security, I was amongst those having to wait a minute until we were given the go ahead. Still, I was in good company, and for the rest of the day, I was Roger’s pseudo wife!

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Clockwise from top left: Roger Day, Johnnie Walker, Adrian ‘Ade The Shades’ John, Adrian Juste, Mike Read, Paul Burnett and David ‘Kid’ Jensen

As more and more guests arrived, I soon found myself surrounded by voices of the airwaves – Kid Jensen, Graham Dene, Tony Prince, and Shaun Tilley, who always seemed to be on hand whenever I needed someone to take a photo – thanks Shaun! I also managed to grab conversations with the two Adrians, Juste and John, both an integral part of my Radio 1 listening during the Eighties. Then, there was the man who everyone wanted to meet, Johnnie Walker. Magnetically charismatic, he seemed to have the ability to attract people from across the room, regardless of who they were. I won’t name names, but I wasn’t the only guest to have a big grin on my face when they met him. And what an eclectic bunch, the guests were.

Representing the 80’s music contingent were Brother Beyond’s Nathan Moore, Dr. & The Medics’ Clive Jackson, Martin Fry, Phil Fearon, Owen Paul, David Van Day, and Eddie Lundon of China Crisis, with the 70’s and earlier being represented by Tina Charles, Linda Lewis, Jimmy Helms, Hello’s Bob Bradbury, The Foundations’ Clem Curtis, The Searchers’ Frank Allen, and Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry, to name but a few.

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Clockwise from top left: Nathan Moore, Clive Jackson, Eddie Lundon, Adrian Juste, Owen Paul, Dave Bartram, Jona Lewie, Tina Charles, Graham Fenton, Jimmy Helms, David Van Day,  and Linda Lewis.

Amongst an onstage celebrity Pop Quiz, which saw Jona Lewie, Eddie Lundon and Sally Geeson take on Dave Bartram, Stephanie de Sykes and Beverley Craven,  a tribute to Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, and numerous performances by a plethora of singers and musicians, there were two personal favourites for me. First was Graham Fenton of Matchbox singing Rockabilly Rebel and When You Ask About Love, which immediately transported me back to a time when I was at primary school, and still in single figures. The second was Angie Brown performing Bizarre Inc’s 1992 hit I’m Gonna Get You, a track synonymous with my clubbing days. Although, I never dreamt that I would be watching Angie performing it live, whilst dancing away between The Reverend Doctor and Sixties’ songstress Billie Davis. What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon – I can’t wait ’til next year!

Click here to see the full list of presenters and performers at this year’s Great British Radio Reunion.

 

Stay Gold TSP

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The reality of what I am writing has yet to sink in. Emotions of disbelief and sadness are overwhelming as I type what I have been unable to voice. On Friday 22nd May 2015, actor, artist, and the loveliest man anyone could ever hope to meet, Terry Sue-Patt was found dead at his home is East London.

Remembered by a generation as Benny Green, the first Grange Hill pupil to eve58680_10201586065125056_37009664_nr grace our television screens, Terry was also an incredibly talented artist, working under the name TSP Hoodie. The photo shows the pair of us holding one of his pieces which, I am proud to say, has hung in my hallway for the last couple of years. It is the last thing I see at night, as I close my bedroom door, and the first thing I notice as I make my way, bleary eyed, downstairs each morning. Guaranteed to always put a smile on my face, the painting continues to do what Terry always did.

Ask anyone who ever met Terry what he was like, and the words “beautiful”, “fun” and “cheeky” are repeated time and time again. His fellow Grange Hill cast member and close friend, Erkan Mustafa commented yesterday “he loved everybody that he met”. As his many friends and family all know, everybody he met also loved him. Whether you had known him for years or hours, Terry’s warmth and generosity of spirit became a part of your life that you never forgot. Paul McCarthy, who played Tommy Watson alongside Terry in Grange Hill, captures his nature perfectly: “He was a very special man, with no malice or agenda, just a kind soul.”

Despite his early TV appearances and exposure to public scrutiny, like many former pupils of Anna Scher, Terry remained with his feet firmly on the ground, untainted by the superficiality of the entertainment industry. He was even susceptible to moments of being almost starstruck himself. About six months ago, an old episode of Pointless, in which my daughter and I had appeared as contestants, was repeated. The first I knew of it was a text from Terry asking “Is that you on the telly? If it’s not, you’ve got a double!” When I confirmed that it was me, Terry managed to turn what should have been my fifteen minutes of fame into “Hollywood Star” treatment, thanks to his now infamous Facebook “shout outs”. By the time my second episode aired the following day, I felt like I had most of Walthamstow behind us, willing us to win. Unfortunately, the outcome was still that we went out in the second round, due to my incorrect answer to a football question, something my staunch Spurs supporter friend found both unbelievable and hilarious!

We may have differed in our football knowledge, but we shared a love for S.E. Hinton’s book, “The Outsiders”. I had first read the book as an impressionable teenager, and have lost count of how many times I have read it since. Discovering the book later in life, Terry not only enjoyed this tale of true friendship, but found the characters engaging in a way that helped him with his own struggles. Knowing how much I love the book, Terry sent me his copy a few weeks ago, along with a note saying that he would have sent it sooner, but “it was so good I read it twice.”

One of the most poignant moments in the book centres around a poem by Robert Frost. I can think of no better way of saying goodbye to a friend who was taken from us too soon, than with the words he loved to read. Terry, you will forever stay gold.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty's in Brick Lane, Terry's favourite bar.

One of the tributes painted yesterday by Tee Wat. This one is at Monty’s in Brick Lane, Terry’s favourite bar.

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Sunny’s Sad Story

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Many songs in the Eighties carried a message or told a story, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious or fitting to the music. Nik Kershaw’s “I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was about the threat of nuclear war, although you could be forgiven for not making a connection between the subject matter and its synth pop accompaniment. In some cases, the meaning of a song’s lyrics has only become apparent years later. As I was only 9 years old when The Vapors released “Turning Japanese” in 1980, it was at least a decade before I came to realise the alleged story behind the song!

The Seventies saw a lyrical dearth, which only ended with the advent of Punk, but the Sixties set the bar for storytelling lyrics. That is one of the reasons I love listening to Radio 2’s “Sounds of the Sixties” show, on a Saturday morning.

Last week, as Brian Matthew introduced the track “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, he relayed the sad tale of how the song had come to be written. Harold “Hal” Hebb, Bobby’s older brother by six years, had been murdered in a mugging 48 hours prior to writing it, the song being an outpouring of Bobby’s grief.

Listening to the song, knowing the circumstances in which it had been created, was like hearing a brand new song, both in the lyrics and in the emotion of the vocal. What do you think?