Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I've got soul but I'm not a soldier...

Sam Cooke recording in the studio.Image via Wikipedia

I Twittered this morning about accidentally tuning in to Terry Wogan on Radio 2 at breakfast time, the dial having stayed where it was since last night's Radcliffe and Maconie show.

Wogan's show and its listeners are all over the web so there's little point in me commenting here, other than to say that the music was fairly awful. The Lighthouse Family for goodness sakes. El Tel did, however, redeem himself - or rather the Radio 2 playlist team did, with a blast of Sam Cooke and "Another Saturday Night". Awesome - what a voice.

This brilliance, however, presented me with a bit of a problem. I was overcome with the sudden urge to strangle both Mark Lamarr and Stuart Maconie. Don't get me wrong - I think they're both great and they'd certainly both be on the list of people you'd want to be making you a compilation tape but, and here's the thing, they've both stolen my job!

How wonderful must it be to be able to write, talk about and play such fantastic music on national radio? The public-glare equivalent of showing off your record collection to your pals. As a former hospital radio presenter, working in radio is still my dream job and to have the chance to play classic soul, R&B, Northern and Southern soul like Stuart and Mark (Lamarr) would just be incredible.

Writing about it, though, I can do. So I will. A thought or two occurred listening to Sam today. He'd been sneaking about in my subconscious anyway since he came up in Rod Stewart's "Did I Say That?" column in the Observer at the weekend. Cooke is Rod's hero and indeed the tartan clad one (that'll be Rod then) does a fantastic version of "Twistin' the night away" on his "Never a dull moment" album.

Cooke, for me, is a genius - his voice is so pure and 'clean' if that makes any sense. A very un-Stax sound, no rough edges in the way that say Otis Redding or Chris Farlowe have. This no doubt endears him to some and puts others off, in the same way that Farlowe and Redding and Sam n' Dave's "rougher" sound might affect others. I can happily listen to either style, and often do.

Stax RecordsImage via Wikipedia

I mentioned Sam not being very Stax because, even with my limited knowledge, I reckoned that he just sounds, vocally, a bit clean cut for the legendary Memphis label. I thought I'd better check whether he'd ever laid down any tracks at the home of Booker T and co. He didn't. I was going to say more's the pity but it matters not - he's left behind a staggering body of work which will outlast virtually anything "gracing" the charts today.

Billy Connolly once said, "Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy doesn't try it on." Something similar could be applied, I reckon, to those whose toes don't at the very least tap along to "Wonderful World."

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