Johnnie Walker's Long Players

Episodes

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02Paul Simon - Graceland2012060420131207

In a special edition of 'Johnnie Walker's Long Players', Johnnie talks to his friend and musical hero Paul Simon about the 25th anniversary of a true landmark.

In 1986 Paul Simon travelled to South Africa to record new songs with local artists. He has said the resulting album 'Graceland' is his greatest work and that the title track is his favourite composition. The album sold 14 million copies worldwide and spawned the classics 'You Can Call Me Al', 'Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes' and 'Under African Skies'.

Paul will be discussing the making of the album, his collaboration with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and many others, the unprecedented (at the time) double win at the 1987 Grammys, the iconic Chevy Chase video and the five year Graceland Tour.

Most importantly Paul will talk about his time in the political crossfire, as his decision to create an African-American fusion of world music led to him being accused of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa, designed to end the Apartheid regime.

0101David Bowie's Hunky Dory And Aladdin Sane2012020220131130

Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane, recorded before Bowie's surprise comeback this year.

Another chance to hear the first programme in the Long Players series, recorded before David Bowie's surprise comeback this year.

Johnnie Walker looks at some favourite classic albums. This week it's David Bowie's Hunky Dory and the follow up to Ziggy Stardust - 'Aladdin Sane'.

Both produced by Ken Scott (with help from Bowie as the 'actor' on 'Hunky Dory' and arrangements by Mick Ronson on 'Aladdin Sane') at the legendary Trident Studios during 1971 and 1972, 'Hunky Dory' was the first album to feature the subsequent Spiders From Mars line up and 'Aladdin Sane' followed the breakthrough 'Ziggy Stardust' album and fitted between legs of the famous tour.

Very much a fan favourite, the first album combines the huge hits 'Changes' and 'Life On Mars' with cult classics like 'Kooks' and 'The Bewlay Brothers' and pays sideways tribute to heroes like Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground.

'Aladdin Sane' is a tougher sound with 'Drive In Saturday', 'Panic in Detroit', a cover of 'Let's Spend The Night Together' and 'The Jean Genie' being the stand out tracks.

The programme features highlights of the albums, with comment and cultural history from Johnnie and broadcaster and critic David Hepworth alongside archive interviews with many of the key players.

0102Paul Simon - Graceland2012060420131207
0103Lou Reed And Paul Simon2012021620131207

Johnnie Walker looks at his favourite classic albums. This week it's Lou Reed's Transformer from 1972 and Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years from 1975. The show was recorded in February 2012 before Lou's sad death.

'Transformer' was produced by Mick Ronson and David Bowie (both of whom were influenced by the Velvet Underground) and contains some of Reed's best work - 'Walk on the Wild Side', 'Perfect Day' and 'Satellite of Love', some written in the VU days. Novices could be forgiven for thinking it was Lou Reed's 'Greatest Hits'.

'Still Crazy' was Paul Simon's fourth solo studio album, winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1976. It also reunited him with his former partner Art Garfunkel (on the track 'My Little Town') for the first time since 1970.

Simon also recruited a veritable 'Who's Who' of english speaking (and Belgian) world class players and singers (including Patti Austin, Toots Thielemans, Valerie Simpson, Tony Levin, Ralph McDonald, Phoebe Snow, David Sanborn, Hugh McCracken, Bob James and Michael Brecker) for the tracks which included '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover' and 'Gone At Last'.

The programme features highlights from the albums with comment and cultural history from Johnnie and broadcaster and critic David Hepworth alongside archive interviews with many of the key players.

0201Peter Gabriel's So2012100220131221

Another chance to hear the special edition of Long Players, recorded in 2012, in which Peter Gabriel discusses So, his 1986 landmark album. It changed his life, transforming him from prog. rock cult artist into an MTV generation worldwide superstar, pioneer of World Music and hugely respected cultural and political figure.

So combined huge hits (backed up by ground breaking videos and concepts) with extraordinarily personal, experimental, haunting and memorable pieces such as In Your Eyes, Red Rain and Mercy Street. Peter talks about the unexpected recording history behind Sledgehammer and the endurance test that was the video shoot, with the talented team who went on to make Wallace and Gromit.

Peter describes the creation of the songs and the change to his previous thoughts, techniques and style. It was the first of his solo recordings to have a title (albeit it just one simple word) and an unadulterated portrait on the cover. He was also delighted to bring world music and artists such as Youssou N'Dour to a much wider audience.

Johnnie and Peter talk about the Otis Redding gig, which they both attended in Brixton in the 1960s and which made such a huge impression on everyone in the room, as well as the influence that the Stax sound had on some of the songs on the album.

Peter also plays some of the early demo versions and tracks that didn't make it onto the final release, discusses his live stage work and highlights the freedom that the success of So gave him.

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0202Bruce Springsteen's Born In The Usa And Don Henley's The End Of The Innocence2012100920131214

Bruce Springsteen's seventh album from 1984 Born In The USA was a million miles away from its dark predecessor Nebraska, in terms of sound, if not politics and themes. It changed his reputation forever and encouraged him to embrace video promotion and a larger stadium performance ethic.

Another chance to hear the programme, originally recorded in October 2012, featuring highlights from the album, with interview clips, comment and cultural history from Johnnie and broadcaster and critic David Hepworth, both of whom have spent time with the Boss and the E Street Band.

Don Henley linked up with his friends JD Souther, Sheryl Crow, Edie Brickell, Jim Keltner, Patty Smyth and Bruce Hornsby for his third solo album The End Of The Innocence in 1989 and it became his biggest seller outside The Eagles. Listen out for Don's archive interview with the late Roger Scott for BBC Radio, recorded soon after the album's release.

0305Face Value And Hounds Of Love2013041120131221

Both artists tonight forged new sounds on tracks like In The Air Tonight and Running Up That Hill. They also enjoyed producing, writing and performing on their own terms.

Another chance to hear Johnnie and David on The Hounds Of Love, Kate Bush's most successful album to date, last heard memorably at the Olympic Stadium last summer and the first solo effort from the Genesis drummer Phil Collins, hugely successful but performed with his heart on his sleeve.

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0401A Deacon Blue Special With Ricky Ross2014010920150430 (R2)

In a special programme heralding the new series of Long Players Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross joins Johnnie to discuss their first two albums Raintown and When The World Knows Your Name.

Ricky talks about his early life in Dundee, moving to Glasgow and getting a publishing deal before he forms Deacon Blue.

He also remembers recording the album Raintown at London's Air Studios, near the BBC, in Oxford Circus and hearing the album played on the radio for the first time - by Johnnie on Radio 1 on a Saturday afternoon.

Ricky talks about the band members, who remain good friends and the difficulty of contacting Lorraine to record her vocals, as she lived in a flat without a phone as well as the huge success of their second album.

0402Talking Book And Thriller2014011620150507 (R2)

David Hepworth joins Johnnie to discuss Stevie Wonder's Talking Book from 1972 and Michael Jackson's 1982 record breaker Thriller.

The programme includes archive interview clips from Stevie Wonder, his co-producers (and their amazing work with very early computers and synthesisers as Tonto's Expanding Head Band), Rod Temperton (the man behind Heatwave and the title track for Thriller) and Bruce Sweden.

0403Amy Winehouse And Aretha Franklin2014012320150514 (R2)

David Hepworth joins Johnnie to discuss Amy Winehouse's hugely successful and multi award winning second album (and sadly the last to be released in her lifetime) Back To Black from 2006. They hear archive interview clips from Amy talking about her influences, the production techniques on the record and the unashamedly confessional nature of her songs and performances.

They also listen to Aretha Franklin's Lady Soul from 1968. Johnnie remembers the time he spent with Aretha and her record company colleagues when he left Radio Caroline in the late 60s. The programme makes use of extensive archive BBC interviews with Aretha, Bobby Womack (who played on the album alongside King Curtis, Joe South, Eric Clapton, Spooner Oldham and The Sweet Inspirations) and the extraordinary studio team led by Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin.

0404John Martyn And Nick Drake2014013020150521 (R2)

Tonight Johnnie and David listen to two releases from the 1970s, with reputations that have grown with each new generation that discovers them.

Recorded in 1972, John Martyn's Solid Air was released in February 1973 and received tremendous reviews and acclaim. At the Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2008 Eric Clapton sent a message to John, who was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award, saying he was so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable.

Solid Air crossed over many genres - folk, jazz, blues, soul and rock. May You Never became a staple of John's live set for the rest of his life and the title track was dedicated to his great friend Nick Drake, who died eighteen months after it was released.

Nick provides the second album featured tonight - 1970's Bryter Layter. As producer Joe Boyd says in the archive interview clips featured in the programme, he rarely meets anybody who doesn't fall in love with the album after the first hearing.

The second of Nick's three albums features beautiful arrangements from his friend and fellow Cambridge University student , the late Robert Kirby, plus contributions from John Cale (of The Velvet Underground), Doris Troy and Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg, Dave Mattacks and Richard Thompson.

0405Live Albums Can Be Brilliant2014020620150528 (R2)

In a change to the usual format, Johnnie and David set out to prove live albums can be just as powerful and influential as their studio equivalents.

Amazing performances come from Procul Harum (with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra), Frank Sinatra (at The Sands), The Who (at Leeds University), Sam Cooke (in Harlem), Otis Redding (on The Stax Tour of Britain in March 1967), The Rolling Stones (in America in 1969), The Allman Brothers (at the Fillmore East), Delaney and Bonnie (on tour with Eric Clapton) and Simon and Garfunkel (breaking attendance records in Central Park). Johnnie and David also reveal their favourite concerts and tours, with David nominating Bob Marley at The Lyceum in London.

0406New Wave With Blondie And Elvis Costello2014021320150604 (R2)

Johnnie and David Hepworth look at two new wave artists at the height of their notoriety, from the UK and from the US, who still enjoy success on both sides of the Atlantic.

With the help of archive BBC interview clips from Blondie's Deborah Harry, Chris Stein, producer Mike Chapman, Elvis Costello, Attractions Bruce Thomas and Pete Thomas and producer Nick Lowe, they discuss Parallel Lines and This Year's Model from 1978.

David remembers his early job driving Elvis Costello around radio stations and fast moving gigs and hanging around the extraordinary team who ran Stiff and the early new wave record labels.

0407Masterclasses From Steely Dan And Toto2014022020150611 (R2)

Two intricate albums tonight, both made by perfectionists, but one more loved by critics than the other.

Johnnie and David examine Steely Dan's jazz influenced and intriguing third album Pretzel Logic from 1974 and the 'go-to' studio musicians Toto and their collection of massively radio friendly songs on Toto IV from 1982.

David reveals some interesting facts about Barrytown, the most perfect pause in pop and Toto's collective cv.

0408Bestsellers From The Police And Dire Straits2014022720150618 (R2)

Johnnie and David highlight two best selling albums from the decade where CDs and big concerts were enjoyed en masse.

Both bands had worked hard for their worldwide success, finding it hard to break through in the late 1970s, but enjoyed enormous wealth and success in the era of Live Aid and MTV (with which they were both linked).

Their lead singers had both enjoyed careers outside music, in education and journalism respectively, and are very articulate in the BBC archive interviews featured.

Synchronicity was the fifth and final album from The Police. It was recorded at Air Studios on the island of Montserrat and in Quebec. As David says the album is "shot through with shades of the Library" - it is a thinking person's album with many references to Carl Jung and psychology. Above all it contains some very successful songs including Every Breath You Take, which, in royalty payment terms, is more lucrative than the entire Police catalogue combined. Johnnie and David discuss its brilliance and the fact that Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland initially thought it was too simplistic to go on the album.

The second album featured on the programme really launched a new digital format, the Compact Disc in 1985, and took six months to record, again in Montserrat. Dire Strait's Brothers In Arms followed their live album Alchemy and 1982 studio album Love Over Gold and was a huge success. In its first year of release the entire worldwide manufacturing capacity was overwhelmed by the demand for it; other record companies had to fight to get their CDs made.

0409Nilsson Schmilsson And Barbra Streisand's Stoney End2014030620150625 (R2)

Two albums from vocal maestros tonight, both produced by Richard Perry and both released in 1971.

Named the American Beatle by the fab four, Harry Nilsson wrote beautiful and intriguing songs and achieved his biggest success with the cover of a song from the Apple Records band Badfinger. That track, the Grammy award winning Without You, features alongside Coconut and Jump Into The Fire on Nilsson Schmilsson.

Richard Perry also worked his magic on Barbra Streisand for Stoney End, with musical support from Randy Newman (who also worked on and was the subject of 1970's Nilsson Sings Newman), Larry Carlton and Eddie Kendricks. The album was an interesting collection of covers from the likes of Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Carole King and Gerry Goffin and Newman and Nilsson.

0409Nilsson Schmilsson, Plus Barbra Streisand's Stoney End2014030620150625 (R2)

Two albums from vocal maestros tonight, both produced by Richard Perry and both released in 1971.

Named the American Beatle by the fab four, Harry Nilsson wrote beautiful and intriguing songs and achieved his biggest success with the cover of a song from the Apple Records band Badfinger. That track, the Grammy award winning Without You, features alongside Coconut and Jump Into The Fire on Nilsson Schmilsson.

Richard Perry also worked his magic on Barbra Streisand for Stoney End, with musical support from Randy Newman (who also worked on and was the subject of 1970's Nilsson Sings Newman), Larry Carlton and Eddie Kendricks. The album was an interesting collection of covers from the likes of Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Carole King and Gerry Goffin and Newman and Nilsson.

0410Now That's What I Call Greatest Hits2014031320150702 (R2)

From The Rock Machine Turns You On, High Tide And Green Grass and Oldies But Goldies through Motown Chartbusters and the Beserkley label to Joni Mitchell's Hits Collection and Bob Marley's Legend in one hour.

In the last of the present series of Long Players, Johnnie Walker and David Hepworth guide you through a loose history of their favourite compilation albums, samplers and Greatest Hits.

0410 LASTNow That's What I Call Greatest Hits2014031320150702 (R2)

From The Rock Machine Turns You On, High Tide And Green Grass and Oldies But Goldies through Motown Chartbusters and the Beserkley label to Joni Mitchell's Hits Collection and Bob Marley's Legend in one hour.

In the last of the present series of Long Players, Johnnie Walker and David Hepworth guide you through a loose history of their favourite compilation albums, samplers and Greatest Hits.

0501Let It Bleed And Led Zeppelin Iv20150204

Johnnie Walker and broadcaster and critic David Hepworth return with a new series and listen to Let It Bleed from The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album, from 1969 and 1971 respectively.

Both albums contain classic tracks, much loved by the bands and fans and have iconic artwork and sleeves, one involving a cake made by Delia Smith, who was just starting her career on the Daily Mirror.

The Stones ended the decade saying a tragic farewell to Brian Jones (who plays congas and autoharp on Let It Bleed) and welcoming Mick Taylor to the fold.

Led Zeppelin achieved an extraordinary sound in the Hampshire Victorian mansion Headley Grange and created one of the most popular tracks in radio history with Stairway To Heaven.

Archive contributions come from Mick Jagger (talking to David for Whistle Test), Keith Richards, his friend the late Bobby Keys and engineer Glyn Johns alongside Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant.

0502Wrecking Ball And Car Wheels On A Gravel Road20150211

This week Johnnie and David Hepworth look at two great successes from America's finest female singer songwriters.

David describes Lucinda Williams as a "remarkable and unique performer... who made her masterpiece when she was 45". It took her eighteen years to make four albums and 1998's Car Wheels on A Gravel Road was her fifth. The Grammy winning album had production input from Roy Bittan (from The E Street Band), Ray Kennedy and Steve Earle.

As well as key tracks, Lucinda herself features, in an archive interview with Johnnie, recorded at the time of the album's release; she talks about her late father - the rebellious poet and academic Miller Williams - and her childhood, spent moving around different areas of the United States.

Lucinda also wrote a song for and appeared on the eighteenth studio album from Emmylou Harris - Wrecking Ball - recorded in atmospheric New Orleans by rock producer Daniel Lanois (famed for his work with Peter Gabriel, U2 and Robbie Robertson). The album was released in 1995 and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Recording in 1996.

David recalls meeting her in the queue for the buffet at the Q Awards and being utterly charmed and also says that although she has made scores of albums and some are better than others, there are no bad ones - "not a single turkey."

Johnnie has found more archive interviews he conducted with Emmylou around the release of the album, commenting on her childhood, guests on the album (who included Neil Young, Steve Earle and Larry Mullen Jnr), and the criticism she received for breaking the mould.

0503Parklife And Definitely Maybe20150218

Johnnie Walker is joined by David Hepworth to revisit 1994's battle of Britpop and pit Blur's Parklife against Oasis's Definitely Maybe.

0504Tumbleweed Connection And The Stranger20150225

Classic early albums from 1970 and 1977 from superstars Elton John and Billy Joel. Archive clips come from Elton and Billy, Sting, Bernie Taupin and Billy's producer the late Phil Ramone.

Phil remembers auditioning for The Stranger, not knowing that he was being considered alongside Sir George Martin, and saying he wanted to harness Billy's stage energy and just have fun in the studio.

Billy remembers the characters in Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, his muse on She's Always A Woman and his initial negative feelings about Just The Way You Are.

Tumbleweed Connection was written at the same time as the eponymous Elton John album and Elton talks about deciding where tracks would go with producer Gus Dudgeon. He thinks people preferred Tumbleweed because it was looser. As David Hepworth points out it's probably the finest Wild West concept album, written by two cowboys, from Pinner and Sleaford, who had, at the time, yet to even visit the United States.

Johnnie and David also discuss Elton's career changing performance at Hollywood venue The Troubadour and the subsequent newspaper review, with comments from the Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn and Troubadour owner Doug Weston.

0504 LASTTumbleweed Connection And The Stranger20150225

Classic early albums from 1970 and 1977 from superstars Elton John and Billy Joel. Archive clips come from Elton and Billy, Sting, Bernie Taupin and Billy's producer the late Phil Ramone.

Phil remembers auditioning for The Stranger, not knowing that he was being considered alongside Sir George Martin, and saying he wanted to harness Billy's stage energy and just have fun in the studio.

Billy remembers the characters in Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, his muse on She's Always A Woman and his initial negative feelings about Just The Way You Are.

Tumbleweed Connection was written at the same time as the eponymous Elton John album and Elton talks about deciding where tracks would go with producer Gus Dudgeon. He thinks people preferred Tumbleweed because it was looser. As David Hepworth points out it's probably the finest Wild West concept album, written by two cowboys, from Pinner and Sleaford, who had, at the time, yet to even visit the United States.

Johnnie and David also discuss Elton's career changing performance at Hollywood venue The Troubadour and the subsequent newspaper review, with comments from the Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn and Troubadour owner Doug Weston.

0601Simple Minds Special20160803

In a special for the start of a new series, Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr from Simple Minds talk Johnnie through their fifth album, from 1982, which marked a turning point for the band, their fans and the critics - New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84).

The album includes the tracks Someone Somewhere in Summertime, Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize, Hunter And The Hunted and The Big Sleep. It featured three different drummers, including Mel Gaynor, who was to join the band permanently once recording was finished. Herbie Hancock played keyboards on one track and it is said to have been a huge influence on U2.

Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr of Simple Minds talk about New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84).

0602The Beatles And The Byrds20160810

This week Johnnie and David Hepworth enjoy A Hard Day's Night from The Beatles and Mr Tambourine Man from The Byrds, part of a transatlantic two way where each band were influencing each other.

We hear great memories from David sitting in his local cinema in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, sitting through multiple screenings of the film so he could see what the fab four were doing and exactly how they played. Johnnie talks about an early date at this time, where he lost his girlfriend when she ran to the front of the stage of the Plaza Ballroom in Handsworth in the West Midlands to see the Beatles play for the second time that evening.

David goes as far as saying it's probably the best record The Beatles made, and so the best album ever made, especially when you consider it was made to order for a film. He also says that although we all reach for the masterpieces Strawberry Fields Forever and A Day In The Life, the songs on A Hard Day's Night were actually the ones that caused the re-invention of pop music, influencing The Byrds amongst many others.

We learn, from Roger McGuinn himself, that John Lennon said the Byrds were their favourite band and George Harrison sent musical tributes across the atlantic with their press officer Derek Taylor. He also talks about meeting and working with Bob Dylan and the fact they bought a Rickenbacker 12 string straight after seeing the Beatles on film.

Other contributors include producer George Martin, film director Richard Lester, music publisher Dick James, broadcaster David Jacobs (who flew back into Liverpool with the band for the film's premiere there), Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, David Crosby and Stephen Stills. Some are taken from archive interviews with Johnnie, Nicky Campbell and Andy Batten Foster on Radio 1.

0603Fleetwood Mac And Eagles20160817

Johnnie and David Hepworth listen to two 1970s West Coast blockbusters - Hotel California and Fleetwood Mac.

Both changed the fortunes of the bands, ultimately causing The Eagles heartache, which would lead to their break up, over a money making follow up.

Things were better for Fleetwood Mac - making the new American members (of the previously mostly British Blues group) grateful that they could give up their day jobs forever (without playing a single note at an audition) and paved the way, after much hard work, for success beyond their wildest dreams.

They hear archive from Glenn Frey, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks.

David mentions he simply had to both leave and check out of the Beverley Hills Hotel, where the Eagles sneakily captured a cover photo and discovers the true inspiration for Rhiannon and how Fleetwood Mac, with their ninth line up in eight years, got a second chance, in a business which rarely gives you any hope.

0604The Small Faces And The Kinks20160824

Johnnie and David enjoy two classic British albums from 1968 - Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake and The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, with the latter in mono.

Find out why they think Ogdens' is the perfect combination of psychedelia and British comic tradition, how Professor Stanley Unwin got Spike Milligan's job and what happened when the Small Faces tried to navigate the river Thames.

There's also praise for Ray Davies as the creator of fourteen consecutive Top Twenty hit songs, despite The Kinks having a lot of bad luck at this time, plus how a move from a small suburban north London home to a rambling Borehamwood mansion helped save strawberry jam and all the different varieties.

0605Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers And The Steve Miller Band20160831

Johnnie Walker and guests revisit classic albums by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and The Steve Miller Band.

0606Tears For Fears And Queen20160907

Johnnie and David enjoy two classic albums from the era of MTV and Live Aid - Queen's A Kind Of Magic from 1986 and Songs From The Big Chair from Tears For Fears in 1985.

Queen were asked to supply songs for Duran Duran video director Russell Mulcahy's film Highlander (starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery) and these (including the title track and Brian May's Who Wants To Live Forever) feature on the album alongside One Vision, inspired by Martin Luther King and the optimism of Live Aid. David Hepworth, who was part of the BBC presentation team on the day at Wembley, talks about Queen stealing the show and changing the appeal of stadium rock forever.

Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith met as teenagers in Bath and released their first recordings (as part of the band Graduate) in 1980. Four years later, as Tears For Fears, they recorded large parts of their follow up to The Hurting in the same city, at the home studio of their keyboard player (and co-writer of Shout) Ian Stanley. Songs From The Big Chair became part of the second British invasion of the American pop charts in the mid eighties, selling more than five million copies there, with success spreading across Europe and the rest of the world.

0606 LASTTears For Fears And Queen20160907

Johnnie and David enjoy two classic albums from the era of MTV and Live Aid - Queen's A Kind Of Magic from 1986 and Songs From The Big Chair from Tears For Fears in 1985.

Queen were asked to supply songs for Duran Duran video director Russell Mulcahy's film Highlander (starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery) and these (including the title track and Brian May's Who Wants To Live Forever) feature on the album alongside One Vision, inspired by Martin Luther King and the optimism of Live Aid. David Hepworth, who was part of the BBC presentation team on the day at Wembley, talks about Queen stealing the show and changing the appeal of stadium rock forever.

Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith met as teenagers in Bath and released their first recordings (as part of the band Graduate) in 1980. Four years later, as Tears For Fears, they recorded large parts of their follow up to The Hurting in the same city, at the home studio of their keyboard player (and co-writer of Shout) Ian Stanley. Songs From The Big Chair became part of the second British invasion of the American pop charts in the mid eighties, selling more than five million copies there, with success spreading across Europe and the rest of the world.

0701Simply Red & The Verve20170213

If you attended a dinner party in the 1990s the chances are the host or hostess would probably have chosen two of the biggest sellers of the decade to play on their CD player at the start and then final part of the evening. One bright, soulful and bubbly and one more moody and atmospheric.

Johnnie is joined by journalist and broadcaster David Hepworth to look at these albums - Stars, the 1991 fourth album by Simply Red (not really a group in David's opinion, just a vehicle for a brilliant singer who didn't always like being in the solo spotlight) and 1997's Urban Hymns by The Verve (who were a group, although legal problems with their key song, as outlined by David, led to their disintegration).

With the help of BBC archive interviews from Mick Hucknall and Richard Ashcroft, Johnnie and David play key tracks and discuss the fact that the manufacturers couldn't produce the CDs fast enough in this era, as well as the sounds produced on Stars by American producer Stewart Levine (who had previously worked with Randy Crawford, Minnie Riperton and The Crusaders) and then the huge efforts that finally paid off for Wigan's finest with a run of hits including Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Drugs Don't Work and Lucky Man.

0702Elo & Traveling Wilburys20170220

This week Johnnie and David Hepworth pay tribute to the huge composing, playing and production talents of Jeff Lynne. With the help of archive BBC interviews and key tracks they tell the story of his 1976 album A New World Record, which crucially gave him hit singles and kudos on both sides of the Atlantic for the first time. He talks about his earlier work with Roy Wood, his last minute lyric writing process and the thinking behind putting orchestral instruments into an electric pop music band for the first time.

They also enjoy the extraordinary get together in Bob Dylan's garage for a B side, that became 1988's Traveling Wilburys Vol 1. Each member was a huge fan of another and they all adored the modest, but blessed Roy Orbison. As David points out even though George Harrison was desperate to be back in a group, who would pass up the chance to record with a Beatle and Bob Dylan.

0703Abc & Frankie Goes To Hollywood20170227

Tonight Johnnie and broadcaster and journalist David Hepworth, who was editor of Smash Hits at the time of release of these albums, look at two hit single filled recordings (and their shared producer), which set the tone for the whole of the 1980s and beyond.

As David says they were hyper-real, pin sharp and bigger than anything you had ever heard before, what's more despite the fact that new technology made everything sound completely fresh, they haven't dated. Johnnie describes one track as perhaps the most perfect pop single ever.

ABC had gold lame suits and an almost cinematic widescreen quality on 1982's The Lexicon Of Love and Frankie Goes To Hollywood mixed controversy with videos, marketing and production that would have given Cecil B DeMille a run for his money, on their 1984 double album Welcome To The Pleasuredome.

0704Suzanne Vega & Joni Mitchell20170306

Tonight Johnnie and broadcaster and journalist David Hepworth look at the 1985 breakthrough debut of New York new-waif singer songwriter Suzanne Vega and Joni Mitchell's classic third album Ladies of the Canyon from 1970.

For the first time in the series, rather than hearing archive interview clips from Suzanne, the programme recorded her memories recently, which also means she can look back, with the benefit of hindsight, at the subject of some of the songs then, who is now her partner in real life.

Suzanne still features many of the songs from her eponymous album in her stage set and as Suzanne mentions, like so many great hit singles, the track Marlene On The Wall nearly ended up in her waste paper basket.

Joni's album contains several of her most loved songs, such as Big Yellow Taxi, Woodstock and The Circle Game. Johnnie and David discuss the fact that often in Joni's records, when sounding her most confessional it may be song writing artifice, but conversely she can smuggle in the most personal secrets without any of us realising.

08011967 Special - Nick Mason Of Pink Floyd20170918

Piper at the Gates of Dawn, with Aubrey Powell and Pink Floyd founding drummer Nick Mason.

In the first of a special series of Johnnie Walker's Long Players, to celebrate Radio 2's 50th Birthday, we feature a key album and the singles that surrounded it in 1967.

It's an innovative, exciting and acclaimed debut from one of the greatest bands in the world. This was the start of a road which took them to sales of more than 200 million (and still counting today) across the world.

The friends, who came together just across the road from BBC Broadcasting House at the Regent Street Poly, took full advantage of the thriving Underground movement and experimental clubs like UFO in 1967 to demonstrate the unique lyrics, astounding music, ground breaking special effects, breath taking sound experimentation, visual imagery and social commentary which was both ahead of its time in the sixties and still unparalleled in huge arenas, playing to millions, decades later.

Taking its title from the seventh chapter of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, the long player is Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Johnnie is joined by former architecture student and founding drummer with the band - Nick Mason and his friend Aubrey 'Po' Powell, who grew up in Cambridge with the original band's sensitive genius and founding song writer, the late Syd Barrett and David Gilmour (who joined in 1968) and is artistic director of the band, co-founder of Hipgnosis (who designed most of their album sleeves and photography) and curator 'Their Mortal Remains', which chronicles Pink Floyd's entire history at London's V&A Museum.

08021967 Special - Justin Hayward Of The Moody Blues20170920

Johnnie finds out how a signature song and an orchestral concept album changed everything.

This is the second of our special 1967 themed edition of Johnnie Walker's Long Players.

Johnnie talks to the legendary Justin Hayward about an album, and some of the singles and BBC sessions around it, which changed everything for a band he had recently joined in 1967 - The Moody Blues, plus a composition which could be one of the most recognisable and best loved signature songs in the world.

Johnnie hears about lots of BBC sessions, a new instrument, the Mellotron, a change in direction, the advent of stereo sound and a record company demonstration disc - all of all which led to a collaboration with an orchestra and the resulting concept album Days Of Future Passed.

08031967 Special - The Beatles And The Beach Boys20170925

Johnnie is joined by David Hepworth for two revolutionary LPs which weren't really albums.

Johnnie Walker is joined by David Hepworth to enjoy two revolutionary albums which weren't really albums.

The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour was originally a double E.P. in the UK and an album in the US (and became a CD album much later here) and Smiley Smile was a compromise taken from Brian Wilson's totally unique but incomplete magnum opus Smile. Both bands released two albums in 1967 and The Beach Boys Wild Honey is also mentioned.

They hear archive clips from The Beatles, Kenny Everett, film director Richard Lester, session musician extraordinaire Carol Kaye, Van Dyke Parks, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, Brian Wilson and his first wife Marilyn.

Difficult times are mentioned in the year of the Summer Of Love as Brian Wilson stayed in the studio with The Wrecking Crew and the touring Beach Boys returned to be asked to just provide vocals. Things weren't much better on this side of the pond as the Fab Four found the huge acclaim for Sgt Pepper somewhat diminished by the response to the BBC black and white television Christmas screening of their very colourful and unscripted film about adventures on a bus trip. As ever the compositions shine through - Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villains, Darlin, Fool On The Hill, I Am The Walrus, Baby You're A Rich Man and All You Need Is Love are all featured.

08041967 Special - The Who And Jimi Hendrix20170927

Johnnie and David finish their look at some of the groundbreaking albums from 1967.

Johnnie and David Hepworth finish their look at a handful of the groundbreaking album releases from 1967 with Jimi Hendrix and The Who.

The show begins with Chas Chandler who left The Animals (with the idea of becoming a manager and producer) and sold his bass guitars to fly an unknown guitarist over from America. He had discovered Jimi, who had been touring with people like Little Richard and relocated to Greenwich Village to play songs like Hey Joe and thought that the UK was the perfect market for him. David bought Are You Experienced in 1967 and couldn't believe just how good he was (as backed up by a recent meeting with engineer Eddie Kramer) and Johnnie saw an early Jimi live performance at a Radio Caroline Night Out he was hosting in Chislehurst with Admiral Robbie Dale.

Johnnie and David hear archive from Jimi himself, Chas Chandler, Noel Redding, Eric Clapton, publicist Keith Altham, Trevor Burton of The Move, Kathy Etchingham and Brian May. They also find out how The Wind Cries Mary was created and who came up with the idea to steal the headlines with some lighter fuel and a wooden guitar.

The second album featured is The Who Sell Out with its spoof Pirate Radio Jingles and commercials alongside tracks like Tattoo and I Can See For Miles. As David says the album is weird and wonderful and shows what extraordinary strides they took in just one year, going from the BBC's Saturday Club to the Monterey Pop Festival, the All You Need Is Love worldwide TV broadcast and having the seeds planted for the rock opera Tommy.

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Johnnie and David focus on the power of music in the darkness of your local cinema.

To start the new series of Long Players Johnnie Walker and David Hepworth open the show with one of the most famous fanfares in the world, composed by Randy's Uncle Alfred Newman (also father of modern soundtrack composer Thomas Newman) in 1933 and somewhat neglected, until a young director called George Lucas asked 20th Century Fox to put it on the front of his new science fiction film Star Wars.

In this Soundtracks special focusing on the power of sound and music in the darkness of your local cinema, they also showcase Strauss and Also Sprach Zarathustra - from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 - for many their first exposure to classical music.

Other memorable artists and films featured, often with BBC archive interview clips, include Burt Bacharach's compositions for Butch Cassidy and Hal David talking about their first collaboration on the original spoof Bond caper Casino Royale (with Dusty Springfield), Isaac Hayes remembers recording the drum and guitar sound on Shaft, Bruce Springsteen on Philadelphia being the first film he ever wrote and sang a song himself for, Marvin Gaye announces that Trouble Man is one of his finest works, Harry Nilsson describes how his songs were rejected and so he covered Fred Neil's song Everybody's Talkin' for Midnight Cowboy, Quentin Tarantino, Gerry Rafferty and film music supervisor Karyn Rachtman talk about K-Billy's Super Sounds Of The Seventies and the use of Stealers Wheel in Reservoir Dogs, journalist Nik Cohn, critic Mark Kermode and the Bee Gees on the chartbusting success of the Saturday Night Fever film and soundtrack and Paul Simon explains how The Graduate was made to fit with his songs.

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Johnnie and David go back to the mid 1950s for two absolute classic long players from Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee - linked through their friendship and the fact that Black Coffee and In The Wee Small Hours were both early concept albums.

Peggy and Frank had worked with famous band leaders and this was the era when songs were becoming more popular than dance tunes. Both these albums brought singers to the fore and made people (and the music industry) take them more seriously. There was also a different attitude towards female and male torch songs.

As David says Peggy had the pulse of the blues through her work and became known to most people because of her work on Fever and the Walt Disney classic Lady And The Tramp.

They enjoy great BBC archive from Peggy, her biographer Peter Richmond, granddaughter Holly Foster Wells and also Frank, Buddy Greco, Tony Bennett, Nelson Riddle and Paul Williams.

David talks about Frank's amazing ear and professionalism during live performances and studio recordings and tracks his moves in music and film to more adult, serious material.

Johnnie and David go back to the mid 1950s for two absolute classic long players.

Johnnie and David go back to the mid 1950s for two absolute classic long players from Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee - linked through their friendship and the fact that Black Coffee and In The Wee Small Hours were both early concept albums.

Peggy and Frank had worked with famous band leaders and this was the era when songs were becoming more popular than dance tunes. Both these albums brought singers to the fore and made people (and the music industry) take them more seriously. There was also a different attitude towards female and male torch songs.

As David says Peggy had the pulse of the blues through her work and became known to most people because of her work on Fever and the Walt Disney classic Lady And The Tramp.

They enjoy great BBC archive from Peggy, her biographer Peter Richmond, granddaughter Holly Foster Wells and also Frank, Buddy Greco, Tony Bennett, Nelson Riddle and Paul Williams.

David talks about Frank's amazing ear and professionalism during live performances and studio recordings and tracks his moves in music and film to more adult, serious material.

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Neil Finn OBE and Tim Finn OBE of Split Enz, Crowded House and solo success talk about performing together as they were growing up and having an unspoken understanding and a unique fraternal sound, as well as the occasional bust ups and tensions, that only brothers and sisters can understand and forgive.

In a new interview Neil (speaking from New Zealand especially for the programme) looks in depth at the second of their Finn Brothers releases - Everyone Is Here, with some archive BBC interview comments from Tim.

The album was recorded in 2004 in New York state with celebrated producer Tony Visconti, then completely reworked in Los Angeles with Mitchell Froom.

David Hepworth talks about the times he spent with them in London, Sydney and New Zealand and makes a statement about one track on the album being better than anything that Neil or Tim ever released in their long and distinguished careers.

In another new interview, recorded in his home studio, World Party's Karl Wallinger talks about leaving the Waterboys, his love of other artists and joyous music through history (and the accusations of creating reinventions). Karl also talks about always looking to the future and his message of saving the planet in 1990's Goodbye Jumbo.

David was on the editorial management team when World Party's second Grammy nominated release was made album of the year with a five star review by Q Magazine.

Goodbye Jumbo and Everyone Is Here with new interviews from Neil Finn and Karl Wallinger.

0904K.d. Lang And Nanci Griffith20180226

Johnnie Walker and David Hepworth enjoy Ingenue by k.d. lang from 1992 and 1988's Storms by Nanci Griffith. As they comment - both albums are a beautiful listen, haven't dated at all and can be played all the way through, something which is now quite rare.

They pose a puzzler about albums that keep the big hit single until the very end of the record and look at Canadian Katherine Dawn Lang's musical history (and ancestry) in different genres, her incredible voice, duets with Roy Orbison and Tony Bennett and her many award nominations.

Nanci's father was a Welsh tenor in a Barbershop Quartet and her mother loved jazz, so she was singing from an early age and started playing the guitar at the age of 6 and writing from the age of 12. She dreamed of places featured in Storms and other albums, like Africa and Europe, while looking at the vast plains of Texas.

Like k.d., Nanci often mixed genres and worked with legendary British rock producer Glyn Johns on this album. She also didn't like the way that, in American Country music at the time, female singers often became victims with their song writing (with the exception of her heroines, friends and collaborators like Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton).

You'll also hear BBC archive interviews with KD and Nanci - often conducted by Johnnie himself.

Johnnie and David enjoy k.d. lang's Ingenue from 1992 and 1988's Storms by Nanci Griffith.

Johnnie Walker and David Hepworth enjoy Ingenue by k.d. lang from 1992 and 1988's Storms by Nanci Griffith. As they comment - both albums are a beautiful listen, haven't dated at all and can be played all the way through, something which is now quite rare.

They pose a puzzler about albums that keep the big hit single until the very end of the record and look at Canadian Katherine Dawn Lang's musical history (and ancestry) in different genres, her incredible voice, duets with Roy Orbison and Tony Bennett and her many award nominations.

Nanci's father was a Welsh tenor in a Barbershop Quartet and her mother loved jazz, so she was singing from an early age and started playing the guitar at the age of 6 and writing from the age of 12. She dreamed of places featured in Storms and other albums, like Africa and Europe, while looking at the vast plains of Texas.

Like k.d., Nanci often mixed genres and worked with legendary British rock producer Glyn Johns on this album. She also didn't like the way that, in American Country music at the time, female singers often became victims with their song writing (with the exception of her heroines, friends and collaborators like Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton).

You'll also hear BBC archive interviews with KD and Nanci - often conducted by Johnnie himself.

0905Bee Gees And Gerry Rafferty20180305

Johnnie and David listen to two classic albums - the one that gave us Baker Street and the one that followed Saturday Night Fever - Gerry Rafferty's City To City from 1978 and the Bee Gees Spirits Having Flown one year later.

Barry, Robin and Maurice had enjoyed record breaking success with their contribution to the John Travolta film and then there was a disco backlash, but the first three tracks on their fifteenth album were all big hit singles. As Robin says in an archive interview nobody wants to sell 70 million records and be played everywhere on every television and radio programme.

Gerry Rafferty (and indeed the Bee Gees) featured in the opening Soundtrack special from this series, when his group Stealers Wheel contributed to the emerging success of Quentin Tarantino and after some legal difficulties splitting from that group, he finally released his second solo album City To City. In fact the title was inspired by his trips back and forth between lawyers in London and Scotland over six years. Archive interviews feature Billy Connolly, sleeve artist, playwright and Tutti Frutti creator John Byrne, co-producer Hugh Murphy and Gerry himself.

We also discover that record companies sometimes do (and sometimes don't) suggest the best tracks for singles, that Gerry had an amazing ability to double track his vocals and that a saxophone solo, with a session fee of £35 and played millions of times all over world still generates urban myths about the late Bob Holness.

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Gerry Rafferty's City To City from 1978 and the Bee Gees' 1979 album Spirits Having Flown.

Johnnie Walker looks at classic albums

0905Bee Gees and Gerry Rafferty20180305

Gerry Rafferty's City To City from 1978 and the Bee Gees' 1979 album Spirits Having Flown.

Johnnie Walker looks at classic albums

Johnnie and David listen to two classic albums - the one that gave us Baker Street and the one that followed Saturday Night Fever - Gerry Rafferty's City To City from 1978 and the Bee Gees Spirits Having Flown one year later.

Barry, Robin and Maurice had enjoyed record breaking success with their contribution to the John Travolta film and then there was a disco backlash, but the first three tracks on their fifteenth album were all big hit singles. As Robin says in an archive interview nobody wants to sell 70 million records and be played everywhere on every television and radio programme.

Gerry Rafferty (and indeed the Bee Gees) featured in the opening Soundtrack special from this series, when his group Stealers Wheel contributed to the emerging success of Quentin Tarantino and after some legal difficulties splitting from that group, he finally released his second solo album City To City. In fact the title was inspired by his trips back and forth between lawyers in London and Scotland over six years. Archive interviews feature Billy Connolly, sleeve artist, playwright and Tutti Frutti creator John Byrne, co-producer Hugh Murphy and Gerry himself.

We also discover that record companies sometimes do (and sometimes don't) suggest the best tracks for singles, that Gerry had an amazing ability to double track his vocals and that a saxophone solo, with a session fee of £35 and played millions of times all over world still generates urban myths about the late Bob Holness.