Johnnie Walker's Long Players

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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

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.

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.

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.

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 End20140306

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.

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.