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Rebellious Jukebox: an alternative 1979 playlist

September 4, 2022

In 1979 I was just starting to listen regularly to the chart show. I was totally green. I wasn’t going to gigs, I’d yet to discover NME and fanzines and the John Peel show, so I didn’t know who any of these bands were or where they’d come from. Gradually over the next few years I built up my knowledge. Never again though would British music be so exciting as it was in 1979. Punk and New Wave were in their heyday. 2 Tone was just breaking, and I fell in love with it immediately. A band from my corner of the Wirral, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released a magical first single which would help to kick off a revolution in electronic music. Great music seemed to be around everywhere: there were more vinyl singles sold that year than in any year before or since, and so many of the bands starting out that year went on to have stellar careers.

In 1979 the charts meant something, and I don’t think it was just because I was young and naive. It wasn’t like it is today where record companies dictate our listening habits: alternative music thrived, and a chance appearance on Top of the Pops could propel a song up the chart. Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Buggles, and Tubeway Army, were among the more unlikely number ones that year. The rise of punk had been a catalyst for a lot of working class people to start making and recording their own music. It wasn’t just bands that were starting out: 1979 was pretty much Year Zero for many independent record labels – Factory, Rough Trade, Mute, Postcard, 4AD.

This week’s playlist is a bumper two hours instead of the usual one hour, as there’s so much that I wanted to include. I’ve focused on the various alternative scenes in the UK. As usual, there’s a mixture here of singles and album tracks.

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Punky Party

August 23, 2022

I love the fact that punk music has never been fashionable. It was always yesterday’s thing, even when it was today’s thing. Music critics never got it. And it was at its best when it was its least commercial, when it wasn’t hidebound by rules or comventions, when artists just played for the love of it.

Forget the big festivals and the headline acts. This is real music with punch, energy and attitude. There are 24 songs here packed into 60 minutes, most of them releases from the last 12 months. If they want to believe that punk music is dead, let ’em believe it. These songs tell a different story.

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North of the Border

August 8, 2022

No one does indie music better than the Scots, so I make no apologies whatsoever for bringing you an hour of banging sounds from north of the border, mostly stuff released in the last couple of years.

Tamzene, who closes the show, is from the Black Isle (not an island !), just north of Inverness. A former busker, this year she realised a dream of hers by supporting Adele at Hyde Park. “It means the world to me,” she said. “I feel like it’s a moment to share with everyone who’s helped me along the way. The outpour of messages has been overwhelming, nobody gets anywhere alone, so it makes me feel like it’s really worth pursuing what you love. I’m most excited to sing for fans of Adele, because she really is an artist who influenced me.”

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Dig that rhythm

July 25, 2022

This week’s playlist has a distinctly retro feel, though the music’s very much of the 21st century, in fact a lot of it is from the last 12 months. It’s feelgood music, but don’t expect any nostalgia fest – this is also music that’s never less than razor sharp. The playlist weaves between old time soul, funky rhythms, blues rock and country rock.

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Tramlines taster

July 18, 2022

Next weekend it’s the Tramlines festival in Hillsborough Park in Sheffield. Heroes from the past like Madness, James, and The Coral; superstars of the presnt like Sam Fender and Becky Hill; great indie rock and post-punk from Working Men’s Club, Yard Act and Just Mustard; and a good scattering of young up-and-coming artists.

It’s been fun checking out all the bands and putting together a festival taster playlist. I may just do a couple more of these before the festival season ends.

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Hip hop from the Underground

July 11, 2022

This has ended up as basically an alternative UK hip hop and grime playlist. I’m not sure that Hollie’s poem counts as hip hop, but I reckon you’ll like it, and the American Nappy Nina is in there too just because she’s fab.

Once again the standout track is at the end, so give yourself time to listen to the full seven minutes of Lowkey’s Letter to the 1%.

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Underground sounds from Ireland

July 4, 2022

An Irish alternative rock playlist (with a little bit of hip hop thrown in). It’s only when you actually put these things together that you realise just how much exciting new music is coming from the other side of the Irish Sea. It’s a virtually unknown artist though who steals the show – don’t log out until you’ve heard Lauren Ann’s killer version of Teenage Kicks.

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Female music of recovery, healing and renewal

June 27, 2022

This week the US Supreme Court struck a devastating blow against abortion rights. My heart is weeping for all the women who will suffer, and the women who will die, as a result of this cruellest of judgements.

My playlist this week is for anyone recovering from hard times and trauma. Let these songs by women help you to find peace and strength.

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Rumbles from the Underground

June 19, 2022

Rumbles from the Underground is my new weekly playlist.

Expect a variety of themes, and an emphasis on new music.

For my first list, the music is all new and fresh … and also dark, edgy and dangerous.

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New tunes

March 27, 2022

It’s my last day in isolation following a mild dose of Covid 19, so I thought how about a quick playlist. These are songs released in the first three months of 2022. You’ll have heard of a few of them, but this hasn’t been a big year so far for the big hitters. It’s when you burrow down in the underground that a lot of the really exciting stuff is happening.