Mastertapes

Mastertapes

United Kingdom

John Wilson talks with musicians about a career-defining album, and a live audience also puts questions. Featuring exclusive live performances

Episodes

Nigel Kennedy (the B-Side)  

The final programme in the fifth series of Mastertapes, in which John Wilson talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 12 (B-side): Having discussed the recording of Antonio Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 25th January and available online), Nigel Kennedy responds to questions from the audience and performs exclusive excerpts from his classical and jazz repertoire. Producers: Paul Kobrak and John Goudie.

Nigel Kennedy (the A-Side)  

John Wilson concludes the current series of the programme where he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 11. Antonio Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' with Nigel Kennedy. Having trained at both the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music and the Juilliard School in New York, Nigel Kennedy has developed into one of the most popular classical musicians of his generation. This in no small part is due to the phenomenal success of his recording of The Four Seasons in 1989. At the time he explained that he set out to use "every kind of technique I know" to communicate his feeling for the music to his listeners. Kennedy's passion for non-classical music has seen him play alongside The Who and Kate Bush, record violin-based versions of songs by The Doors and Jimi Hendrix, and release an album for the jazz label Blue Note Sessions. However, The Four Seasons retains a special place in his repertoire, and in 2015 he released a completely fresh take on Vivaldi's violin concertos. In front of an audience at the BBC Studios in Maida Vale, Nigel Kennedy talks about the album that earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling classical work of all time, and performs exclusive excerpts from the concertos that helped make him famous. Producers: Paul Kobrak.

Bellowhead (the B-side)  

John Wilson continues with his fifth series of Mastertapes, in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 10 (B-side): Having discussed the making of 'Hedonism' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 18th January and available online), Bellowhead respond to questions from the audience and performs exclusive live acoustic versions of some to the key tracks from the album. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Bellowhead (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 9. 'Hedonism' by Bellowhead, released in 2010 and still the best selling independent folk album of all time. The idea for Bellowhead came to John Spiers and Jon Boden when they were caught in a traffic jam on tour. The longer they were stuck in the car, the more names of friends they came up with of whom to invite - initially settling on a 'modest' line-up of 10 which then grew to an even sillier 11-piece after the recording of their first EP. In June 2015, they announced that the band would be calling it a day on May 1st 2016, and exactly two weeks after the twelfth anniversary of their first ever gig in Oxford Town Hall they will finish their farewell tour with an intimate final show in the very same venue. The tickets for this gig sold out in two minutes. Their most commercially successful album, Hedonism was recorded in Abbey Road Studios and released in October 2010. Produced by John Leckie, it served up a further mix of shanties, folk songs and dance tunes, arranged in an eclectic mix of musical styles and influences. The album includes rousing versions of 'Cold Blow The Wind', 'New York Girls' and the Jacques Brel song 'Amsterdam' The B-side of the programme, where it's the turn of the audience to ask the questions, can be heard on Tuesday 19th January 2016 at 3.30pm. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Donovan (the B-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his fifth series of Mastertapes, in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 6 (B-side): Having discussed the making of 'Sunshine Superman' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 11th January and available online), Donovan responds to questions from the audience and performs exclusive live acoustic versions of some of the key tracks from the album. Producer:.

Donovan (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with the fifth series of Mastertapes, the programme in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 7. DONOVAN talks to John Wilson about 'Sunshine Superman', which according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "ignited the psychedelic revolution virtually single-handedly" when it was released in the summer of 1966. 'Sunshine Superman' is Donovan's breakthrough third album and a radical departure from his previous work. Born in Glasgow, Donovan Phillips Leitch grew up listening to his father reading him poetry and his family singing Scots Irish folk music. He began playing guitar when he was 14 and was 18 when he had his first hit, 'Catch the Wind'. A year later he began work on the album that first introduced meditation, Celtic mythology and Flower Power to the world. Creating a unique fusion of classical, jazz, folk, pop, Celtic, Latin and Indian music, the album veered from the LA-influenced 'The Trip' and 'The Fat Angel' (written for Mama Cass) to the medieval tinged 'Guinevere' and 'Legend of a Girl Child Linda' (written for Brian Jones' ex-girlfriend Linda Lawrence who became Donovan's life-long muse and wife). Linda is also the Sunshine Super-Girl of the song 'Sunshine Superman' which topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and featured a young Jimmy Page on lead guitar. The B-side of the programme, where it's the turn of the audience to ask the questions, can be heard on Tuesday 12th January at 3.30pm. Producer: Clare Walker.

Steel Pulse (the B-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his fifth series of Mastertapes, in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 6 (B-side): Having discussed the making of 'Handsworth Revolution' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 4th January and available online), David Hind and Selwyn Brown respond to questions from the audience and perform exclusive live acoustic versions of some of the key tracks from the album. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Steel Pulse (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with the fifth series of Mastertapes, the programme in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 5. Steel Pulse's 'Handsworth Revolution' with David Hinds and Selwyn Brown. Originally formed at Handsworth Wood Boys School in 1975, Steel Pulse were initially refused live dates in Birmingham's Caribbean venues because of their Rastafarian ideals. Instead they aligned themselves With Rock Against Racism and appeared alongside the likes of the Clash, XTC, the Stranglers, Tom Robinson and X-Ray Specs. It was Burning Spear who brought the group to the attention of Island Records who in February 1978 first released Ku Klux Klan as a single - a full five months before the album itself, which also included Prodigal Son, Prediction and the title track, Handsworth Revolution. Here David Hinds and Selwyn Brown talk about the album that is widely regarded a milestone in the development of British Reggae, but also perform exclusive acoustic versions of some of the key tracks. The B-side of the programme, where it's the turn of the audience to ask the questions, can be heard on Tuesday 29th December at 3.30pm. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Squeeze (the B-Side)  

John Wilson continues with the fifth series of Mastertapes, the programme in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 4 (B-side): Having discussed the making of 'East Side Story' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 28th December and available online), Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook respond to questions from the audience and perform exclusive live versions of some of the tracks from the album. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Squeeze (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 3. Squeeze's 'East Side Story' with Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. Originally intended as a four-sided double LP with each side using a different producer (Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello), East Side Story was released in 1981 as a single LP with 14 songs. With it Squeeze moved away from their traditional 'new wave' sound to a more varied mix of genres that took in rockabilly, R&B, blue-eyed soul, Merseybeat, and psychedelia. With tracks like Tempted, Is That Love, Messed Around and Labelled with Love (which was only on the album because eventual producer Elvis Costello persuaded Glenn Tilbrook it should be included) the album is packed with keen, precise, funny and sad lyrics about lovers, drunks, deadbeats and lonely working girls - or as Chris Difford describes them: 'suburban short stories'. Complete versions of the songs performed in the programme (as well as some that weren't) can be heard on the 'Mastertapes' pages on the Radio 4 website. The B-side of the programme, where it's the turn of the audience to ask the questions, can be heard on Tuesday 29th December at 3.30pm. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Georgie Fame (the B-Side)  

John Wilson returns with a new series of Mastertapes, in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Future programmes in the series include Donovan discussing 'Sunshine Superman', Steel Pulse returning to 'Handsworth Revolution' and Squeeze talking about 'East Side Story' Programme 2 (B-side): Having discussed the making of 'Rhythm & Blues at the Flamingo' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 21st December and available online), Georgie Fame responds to questions from the audience and performs exclusive live versions of some of the tracks from the album (accompanied by his sons James and Tristan Powell, as well as a few of the original Blue Flames). Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Georgie Fame (the A-Side)  

John Wilson returns with a new series of Mastertapes, in which he talks to leading artists about the album that made them or changed them. Future programmes in the series include Donovan discussing 'Sunshine Superman', Steel Pulse returning to 'Handsworth Revolution' and Squeeze talking about 'East Side Story' Series 5, Programme 1, A-side. 'Rhythm & Blues At The Flamingo' with Georgie Fame At the age of 16, former apprentice cotton weaver, Clive Powell, successfully auditioned for pop impresario Larry Parnes who then forced him to change his name to Georgie Fame. After touring alongside Marty Wilde, Joe Brown, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, Georgie played the piano in Billy Fury's backing band, the Blue Flames. By March 1962 it was Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames who began a three year residency at the Flamingo Club in London's Soho. Including tracks like 'Night Train', 'Work Song', 'Baby, Please Don't Go' and 'Do The Dog', 'Rhythm And Blues at the Flamingo' captured the vibrancy and excitement of the famous and notorious club which played a significant part in the breakdown of racial prejudice in post-war British society. Here Georgie Fame talks candidly with John Wilson about the album that started it all and, together with some of the original Blue Flames (including guitarist Colin Green, saxophonist Mick Eve and trumpeter Eddie 'Tan Tan' Thornton) as well as his two sons Tristan and James Powell, play exclusive versions of some of the key tracks. The B-side of the programme, where it's the turn of the audience to ask the questions, can be heard on Tuesday 22nd December at 3.30pm. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Sinead O'Connor (the B-Side)  

Programme 10: B-side 'Theology' by Sinéad O'Connor John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Each edition includes two episodes, with John initially quizzing the artist about the album in question, and then, in the B-side, the audience puts the questions. Both editions feature exclusive live performances. Programme 10, the B-side. Having discussed the making of "Theology", her 2007 album (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 15th December and available online), Sinéad O'Connor responds to questions from the audience and performs acoustic live versions of some of the tracks from the album which she considers her most personal body of work. Producer Neil McCarthy.

Noel Gallagher (the B-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Each edition includes two episodes, with John initially quizzing the artist about the album in question, and then, in the B-side, the audience puts the questions. Both editions feature exclusive live performances. Programme 10, the B-side. Having discussed the making of 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds', his first studio album since leaving Oasis (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 8th December and available online), Noel Gallagher responds to questions from the audience, performs acoustic live versions of some of the tracks from the album and looks forward to his next musical project "Chasing Yesterday" due out in 2015. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Noel Gallagher (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with the latest series of Mastertapes, in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Each edition includes two episodes, with John initially quizzing the artist about the album in question, and then, in the B-side, the audience puts the questions. Both editions feature exclusive live performances. Programme 9, A-side. 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' with Noel Gallagher In 2009 Noel Gallagher left Oasis - one of the seminal bands of the Britpop era with seven multi-platinum albums including: 'Definitely Maybe', '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?' and 'Be Here Now' - which became the fastest selling album in UK chart history. Two years later Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds also went to Number 1 in the UK with tracks like "Everybody's On the Run", "AKA... What A Life!" and "The Death of You and Me". Praised for its psychedelic tinges and eternal themes of love, loss and hope, it's been described as the best collection of songs "since his Morning Glory days". With tracks inspired by New Orleans ragtime rhythms and Ennio Morricone-like strings, it put paid to rumours that its creator entered into a state of inertia after the end of Oasis. Noel Gallagher said of the album: "I won't criticize anything about Oasis because I loved being in that band and I was in charge of it, but there was always the feeling: how will this go down in Wembley, with 70,000 people braying for good times? This time I didn't have to think about that. I've got a guy playing wine glasses on one song, a saw on another. This is not Oasis." Producer: Paul Kobrak.

The Boomtown Rats (the B-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Each edition includes two episodes, with John initially quizzing the artist about the album in question, and then, in the B-side, the audience puts the questions. Both editions feature exclusive live performances. Programme 8, the B-side. Having discussed the making of "A Tonic For The Troops", their 1978 hit album (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 1st December and available online), Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats respond to questions from the audience and performs acoustic live versions of some of the tracks from the album which brought them their first Number 1 single with 'Rat Trap'. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

The Boomtown Rats (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with the series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Each edition includes two episodes, with John initially quizzing the artist about the album in question, and then, in the B-side, the audience puts the questions. Both editions feature exclusive live performances. Programme 7, A-side. 'A Tonic For The Troops' Named after a gang in Woody Guthrie's autobiography, The Boomtown Rats had a series of hits between 1977 and 1985. Signed by Mercury records the same year that punk rock exploded in Britain, it was their second album 'A Tonic for the Troops', with tracks like "She's So Modern", "Like Clockwork" and "Me and Howard Hughes", that brought them their first Number 1 hit with "Rat Trap". It's an album that treats dark themes like suicide and euthanasia in an often upbeat, pop-punk style - one critic described the track "Eva Braun" as "the happiest, cheeriest, best upbeat song about Hitler ever written." And another said "Vintage superstars who look like eyesores and sound like dinosaurs should carefully study this album." The band broke-up in 1986, but reformed in 2013 to tour the UK. This will be a unique opportunity not only to hear them talk about their album but also to see them perform exclusive versions of key tracks. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Angelique Kidjo (the B-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Each edition includes two episodes, with John initially quizzing the artist about the album in question, and then, in the B-side, the audience puts the questions. Both editions feature exclusive live performances. Programme 6, the B-side. Having discussed the making of her breakthrough album 'Ayé' (in the A-side of the programme, broadcast on Monday 24th November and available online), Angélique Kidjo responds to questions from the audience and performs acoustic live versions of some of the tracks from the album which was released twenty years ago. Producer: Clare Walker.

Angelique Kidjo (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 5. 'Ayé' with Angélique Kidjo John Wilson talks to the Grammy nominated singer-songwriter and activist from Benin about her breakthrough album Ayé released in 1994 and hears her perform exclusive versions of key tracks. With songs including "Agolo," "Adouma" and "Djan-Djan", the album has been described as "a spellbinding one-world statement" where "Kidjo treats her voice like it's a percussion instrument". One of ten children, Angélique Kidjo grew up in Benin in West Africa. But in the 1980s she moved to Paris to escape the communist regime and began synthesising the music of her native country with rock, funk, electronica and Euro-pop. Kidjo has collaborated with artists as diverse as Alicia Keys, Philip Glass, the Kronos Quartet and Peter Gabriel and been declared as the "the undisputed Queen of African Music." Her albums regularly top the World Albums Charts and her gift is said to be "to pour what could so easily be anger and frustration into songs that uplift and inspire us." Complete versions of the songs performed in the programme (as well as some that weren't) can be heard on the 'Mastertapes' pages on the Radio 4 website. Producer: Clare Walker.

Manic Street Preachers (the A-Side)  

John Wilson continues with his new series in which he talks to leading performers and songwriters about the album that made them or changed them. Recorded in front of a live audience at the BBC's iconic Maida Vale Studios. Programme 3. Manic Street Preachers' 'THe Holy Bible' with Sean Moore, James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire. Released a mere five months before the disappearance of main lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards, The Holy Bible reflects his fragile mental state. On its release, Q said "even a cursory glance at the titles will confirm that this is not the new Gloria Estefan album". And with tracks like "Yes", "Of Walking Abortion", "Mausoleum" and "4st 7lb", the lyrics deal with everything from prostitution and serial killers to the Holocaust and self-starvation. With Manic Street Preachers about to take this career defining album back on Tour in December, when they played some of the songs from it for this special edition of Mastertapes, it was the first time in two decades that Nicky, James and Sean played some of them in front of an audience. Complete versions of the songs performed in the programme (as well as some that weren't) can be heard on the 'Mastertapes' pages on the Radio 4 website. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

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