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April 2009 Archives

Michelle Shocked is an American singer-songwriter whose stage name (it's supposed to sound like "Miss Shell-Shocked") was the identity she gave to police after being arrested at a political demonstration. That sort of thing seemed terribly impressive to me in 1988.

Shocked came to prominence in 1986 when folk journalist and record company boss Pete Lawrence, who recorded her busking on his Walkman and released it as the album The Texas Campfire Tapes.

Anchorage comes from her major label debut Short Sharp Shocked (which had Shocked in a neckhold by police at the aforementioned demo as its sleeve art.)

I saw The Flaming Lips at the City Hall in Newcastle a couple of years ago and learned two things: (1) that Wayne Coyne can't really sing and (2) that it doesn't matter.

The many talent shows that clog up our TV screens - and subsequently the charts - these days can throw up loads of young singers who have wonderful voices but none of them has half the imagaination of Wayne and The Flaming Lips.

That is why they get to release one album that is made up mostly of cover versions while the Lips have produced a string of albums - The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and At War With The Mystics - that are chock full of great, life affirming pop music. On stage they get members of the audience to join them in animal costumes which might sound rubbish, but is really brilliant!

The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song is just one of those great tunes. According to the Lips website, it is "one of those songs that points the finger at the pettiness of those in power but also points the finger back at ourselves - what would YOU do?"

Owen Marriott reviews Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood's new comedy

MIRED IN the misery of the current season North East football fans could easily forget that they once boasted the best team in the world.

In this play, we are reminded how, almost 100 years ago to the day, one of the region's lesser known clubs - West Auckland FC - became the first team to win the World Cup.

Loosely based on the true story, it follows the team of ordinary mining men, in their journey from the pits of County Durham to glorious victory in an international competition in Italy.

Thomas Hall's reviews of the first of many collaborative concerts between the National Youth Orchestra and The Sage Gateshead

The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain looked perfectly at home in its new venue as 161 young musicians, aged 13 to19, gave the first concert of a recently formed five-year partnership with The Sage Gateshead.

The orchestra prepared its dance-themed programme with two weeks of intensive rehearsals at Durham University - a luxury time-scale professional players can only dream of.

But given the demands of the music and the standard achieved, you can see where the time went.

Imogen Cooper, The Sage Gateshead

By Reviews on Apr 16, 09 09:33 PM

Thomas Hall takes in an evening with a pianist always welcome in the North East

A regular visitor to the North-East, Imogen Cooper was here to play one of the pianos she helped select for The Sage Gateshead in a generously long all-Schubert recital, prefaced by a spoken programme note.

She told of how Schubert was perpetually poor, unlucky in love, frequently moved house in search of the peace and quiet he needed to write his music and broke up the hours of solitary work in drinking sessions with friends.

Folk music, eh? All people singing about 18th century milkmaids, sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "hey nonny nonny".

Except for Kate Rusby, that is, who is very much the acceptable face of folk music as far as I'm concerned. She might even have a song about 18th century milkmaids but if she does, it will be ace.

Little Jack Frost is from her 2005 album The Girl Who Couldn't Fly and is very lovely. (This Youtube clip has someone setting the song to some simple but very nice animation).

Miranda Prynne takes in Al Jolson & Co to see if it lives up to its namesake.

Al Jolson was often heralded as the world's greatest performer.

At his funeral in 1950 George Jessel, a fellow entertainer, proclaimed: "The King is dead. Long live the King!"

And live on he does in Jolson and Co.

If the only version of I Fought The Law you know is the one by the Clash, check out this belter by the Bobby Fuller Four, complete with a fantastic jailcell go-go dancer.

Originally written and recorded by Sonny Curtis and the Crickets in 1959, Bobby Fuller made it a hit six years later.

But not long after it became a Top 10 hit, Fuller was found dead in his car, which had been parked near his Los Angeles home.

There lots of criticisms you could level against Later With Jools Holland, not least the cringeworthy interviews and his insistence on playing boogie-woogie piano over many tunes.

But now in its 18th year, and having racked up more than 200 episodes, it has become a pretty reliable showcase for that most difficult of things, live music on the telly.

Most episodes will feature something good, either a new band you haven't heard before or (more often) an old favourite, or something you haven't heard in ages.

Long before he was an unlikely film star (or an even more unlikely Mr Julia Roberts), Lyle Lovett released his first album, and it was great.

Q Magazine once memorably described If I Had A Boat as a song which piles on metaphors one on top of each other until they become almost as ridiculous as the Lovett's distinctive quiff.

That's a good description and also, I think, a compliment for what is a belting little tune.

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