Friday, 28 April 2017

Radio Review: 28 April

Reflecting on a nostalgic Easter weekend

Written by Louis Barfe
Horses for courses. While Sir Tim Rice made for a terrible stand-in on sounds of The Sixties, he was just right for Radio 2’s Easter Monday tribute to the late Peter Skellern Louis-Barfe-colour-176(available on BBC iPlayer).

Rice and Skellern were friends, and Sir Tim got mutual chums like Sir Richard Stilgoe and Ken Bruce to talk about the man they knew and loved. 

Skellern was a musician of great skill who wore it very lightly. Best of all, he sang in his own soft Lancashire accent. He also seems to have been a delightful human being. His only hint of grandeur was insisting on a certain model of Steinway at every show, but even this was a simple matter of having the right tools.

Talking about Skellern’s breakthrough hit, You’re A Lady, his manager Johnny Stirling said that he worried about persuading Decca to let Skellern have the brass band and choir he wanted. After all, it was 1972, the height of glam rock. In fact, Decca executive Hugh Mendl said yes instantly and gleefully. I knew Hugh, a thoroughly lovely man and an inspired handler of talent, so to hear him being remembered was a joy.

Radio 2 followed the tribute the next day with a superb edition of listen To The Band, in which Frank Renton, inspired by Skellern, chose unusual brass- band cover versions, including one of a piece by us jazz guitarist pat metheny and another of What Time Is Love? by the KIF.

In passing, I must mention the hilarious Easter Sunday edition of Broadcasting House (Radio 4, Sundays, 9am), where Paddy O’Connell had to mediate between listeners sharpening their blades over the accuracy of a lawnmower sound effect. One sent in a recording of his Qualcast Super Panther. Another disputed the make and model. I’d like to meet both.

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: 

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