An A-Z of Great Tracks continues to air each Wednesday evening 8-9pm (repeated Saturdays 10-11am) on 8Radio.com from Dublin.
I’ve waited a week to publish the two most recent playlists together (episode 7, 12th Feb 2014 and episode 8, 19th Feb) as viewed together they show some of the range of different styles and themes that come up as the weeks unfold.
Episode 7 certainly had gaze firmly set further in the past, with Leadbelly and Fats Domino representing the styles of music which inspired many of the later 60s and 70s rock artists. More of a Soul and folk rock feel, while episode 8 had more rock and indie. Quite often this mix is achieved within individual hours, but sometimes, the way the alphabet brings the tracks around, you will get bigger segments in the past, or present.
Arlo Guthrie‘s epic Alice’s Restaurant Massacree took up almost a third of one episode, but is one of those tracks that no self-respecting A-Z could possibly do without, managing to be both a great and entertaining record at the same time as being not only an important example of the protest song, but also an impromptu history lesson into the whole late 60s counterculture and military draft for Vietnam issue/era.
This week’s show was less weighty, but no less fun, with a chance to tease the Alisons of the world by first serenading them with Elvis Costello, before bringing them back down to earth as Steeleye Span describe Alison “the ugliest witch in the north country”.
As always, presenting live, I am open to change based on what feels right at the time, and somewhere during episode 8 a track was dropped less than a minute before it was due to be played as no longer felt right, and another one added later.
I’m lucky to be working on a station where I’m totally free to make whatever changes I like, not to mention being allowed to devise and run this entire mammoth series entirely myself, with no restrictions or input on what music I include in the A-Z.
Here is the tracklisting for episode 6 of An A-Z of Great Tracks, broadcast February 5th on 8Radio.com and due for repeat on Saturday 8th February 2014 from 10-11am.
This week, as well as the wonderful Leonard Cohen making his third appearance, we had forgotten album tracks from Patti Smith and Whitesnake, a nice slice of Nina Simone, and recent tracks from Prarie Dawgs (Irish) and The Phenomenal Handclap Band (International) whose 2012 “Form & Control” was the finest album of the year in my opinion.
The word “Ain’t” seems to draw forth some fine atmospheric contributions, and we continue with this word, and beyond next week in episode 7, when you will also be offered the chance to get anything you want . . .
Here is the tracklisting for episode 5 of An A-Z of Great Tracks, broadcast January 29th on 8Radio.com and due for repeat on Saturday 1st February 2014 from 10-11am.
Week 5 of the show, and I continue to rediscover gems, great and small, that I had all but forgotten.
This week’s surprise for me in my own library was “Adult Education” from Hall & Oates, a track much played on Caroline back in the mid-80s, but which I would swear I have never heard on the radio since. I’ve never been able to quite decide if the lyrics of this little piece represent wordplay of the best kind, or simple frat boy humour: “teachers don’t know how to deal with the student body” but either way, this is a slice of pure 80s, a throwback to a more innocent age, and a gem at that.
JJ Cale “After Midnight” another little piece of audio bliss for me too.
Next week, we come to a word that takes us into rich musical territory.
Here is the tracklisting for episode 4 of An A-Z of Great Tracks, live broadcast January 15th on 8Radio.com and due for repeat on Saturday 18th January 2014 from 10-11am.
Four weeks in, we’re now crossing over from the tracks beginning with the simple word “A” by itself, and into full words beginning with A – and Abacab has the honour of being the first proper A-word track to be played.
Between the two there is a little oddity in the form of A-Punk from Vampire Weekend. I wondered whether I should have moved this up and treated it as if there was a space rather than a hyphen, but in the end a bit of research showed me that the hyphenated version of the title seems to be pretty universal.
That’s one thing about compiling this show – it’s helping me do a top to bottom tidy of my music library, correcting any titles that are misplaced, mis-spaced or otherwise out of sync with reality. An example would be “A Whiter Shade of Pale” which closed off last weeks show – I wondered why I couldn’t find it in the As as I knew I had it, before finding that it had been mistitled as simply “Whiter Shade of Pale” when I copied it from my physical library a number of years ago.
And so, the As proper begin – and continue until around the end of April, by my calculations!
January 1st 2014 marked the start of a major new project for me in association with 8Radio.com,
The A-Z of Great Tracks, a trawl through the music I have played and collected over my nearly 30 years on radio, will be deeper and broader than a simple quick flick through greatest hits, and includes album tracks and unreleased material from artists as diverse in style and time as Leadbelly and Greenday, as well as unreleased or unsigned music I’ve played on the radio in the past.
Neither is it a simple alphabetical regurgitation of everything in my library – I’m selecting on average about one in six of the tracks I possess, based on how good I feel they are, their musical and emotional impact, notability, and their contribution to the overall feel of each episode and the series as a whole.
Above is the tracklist for the first episode, which broadcast on 1st January 2014 – it represents, in my mind, a nice mix of styles, decades, and levels of recognition.
The A-Z of Great Tracks is on 8Radio.com every Wednesday evening from 8-9pm. I will usually be presenting live in studio, with occasional pre-records when I have conflicting commitments.
And speaking of commitments, this is a big one. So far I have selected all the “A” tracks due to be played, and it will take 16 hours (thus 16 weeks) to get through the first letter of the alphabet alone. My rough estimate for the series duration is 5 years – and a lot can happen in that time!
New artists / albums are featured as well as old, so the size of the library I am selecting from will continue to grow as the months pass by.
Join me next Wednesday for episode 2.