Friday, 15 April 2016

Radio Review: 15 April

A pleasingly varied playlist and a rock ’n’ roll legend

Written by Louis Barfe
Louis-Barfe-colour-176Making Sunday lunch, I found myself listening to the 6 Music Playlist compiled by Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper of US group Mercury Rev. It was one of those unexpected pleasures you chance upon when you leave a radio on the same station for hours. Running the gamut from Bold O’Donahue by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem to Walkin’ With Jesus by Spacemen 3, it took me most agreeably into unfamiliar territory. In an era of heavily formatted radio, such eclecticism is welcome.

Two pieces stood out in particular. One was pioneering black American entertainer Bert Williams’s 1919 recording of When The Moon Shines On The Moonshine, a satirical song about the introduction of Prohibition. The other was the closer, Miss Understanding by saxophonist Kamasi Washington, of whom I was, rather shamefully, unaware. Spacemen 3 and what a record shop I frequented used to call ‘difficult jazz’ aside, Mercury Rev would doubtless get on famously with Desmond Carrington.

Thanks to 6 Music’s Little Richard In His Own Words (last Sunday, 1pm), I now know that there really was a Long Tall Sally ducking back in the alley with Uncle John to avoid Aunt Mary, who was on the warpath. According to the rock ’n’ roll great, this scene was one he had remembered from his childhood, little realising it would become so useful many years later.

This delve into archive interviews and truly thrilling, hair-raising music reminded the listener that ‘Little’ Richard Penniman is not a man unduly troubled by modesty. ‘I am the leader in music,’ he claimed at one point, ‘a living legend in a household world… I know that I’m great. The greatest.’ Still, when you’re Little Richard, with The Beatles looking up to you, you have no need to be modest.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email:

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