Friday, April 02, 2010

The Return

I've not been able to blog in some time now. My life is taking all sorts of interesting twists and turns at the moment, involving plenty of uncertainty but also, I hope, some new opportunities. I hope, slowly but surely, to ease back into regular writing again.

Whilst I've been busy working and planning for the future, plenty seems to have happened in the world of music, not least the sad loss of two figures personally significant for me (and many others). Along with John Peel, Charlie Gillett was surely one of the two most important voices in British broadcasting. He treated his listeners with respect, trusting them to have the same keen and adventurous ears that he had. His style was totally and refreshingly unshowy and unpretentious, allowing the music to speak for itself whilst also communicating his enthusiasm and passion for it in a naturalistic, almost effortless manner. He was a broadcaster of real integrity - compromising his own tastes and interests in the service of his career would have been unthinkable. Compare this with the excitable preaching of Zane Lowe and it's easy to see what has been lost to the tradition of radio with Charlie's passing. He can't be replaced - but I do hope the World Service continues to devote a small part of its schedule to sharing music from around the world.

Alex Chilton was a more tricksy character but, at his best, undeniably one of the great pop songwriters. Big Star were a band that sounded like they ought to have had hit after hit but, in the end, they remained a cult concern. It's worth remembering that, over time, cult interest bands have considerable impact on a wide range of people - and the many tributes to Alex on Twitter are testament to the fact that conventional, commercial measures of popularity often serve to marginalise immensely significant players. 'The Ballad of El Goodo', 'September Gurls', 'Thirteen', 'Thank You Friends', 'Kanga Roo' rank among some of the finest songs I know. As a solo artist, Chilton was wayward and unpredictable - although there are those for whom the ragged charm of 'Like Flies on Sherbert' holds more interest than the more polished sound of the first two Big Star albums. There's definitely a sense that, middling quality of the recent Big Star album notwithstanding, Chilton had more to offer.

I now have a large task on my hands attempting to catch up on everything I've been enjoying recently. Blogging will probably remain intermittent as I start a month of new work on Tuesday and I really hope to get the best out of a short amount of time.

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