What’s happened to the Danny Baker podcasts?

Danny Baker (click to visit original BBC source)

It promised so much, but ended up a right mess. Danny Baker and friends’ All Day Breakfast Show podcast and the fantastic Baker and Kelly football show, revived this autumn as a podcast, appear to have been killed off. The concept was where many people believed podcasting has been heading from the outset: it could have transformed radio, and indeed, I believe it still will – if not Danny, someone else will start to make this thing work widely.
Producing a radio programme needn’t be an expensive business, and if you have a big enough audience paying a few pennies each per show, in theory you should be able to make a lot more money from selling your own podcast direct than any broadcaster is likely to pay you (unless you’re Jonathan Ross, with your mystifying hold over the BBC). But it would seem that’s still just theory.
Anyway, Danny tried it, but he ran into all sorts of problems. There was an unexplained one soon after the All Day Breakfast Show finished its free promotional run – the host Wippit certainly had a lot of problems delivering the downloads and was roundly slated by many subscribers online, but there was never a real explanation given as to why many people who paid fifty quid for the year then didn’t get any product for many weeks. The show came back in October, with three shows a week (rather than the hoped-for five) and all seemed well. But it turned out that behind the scenes the presenter and the host company had different views as to how this whole deal was going to work out, and what they’d actually agreed to. And in the end, this week, Danny announced that he wasn’t going to continue.
The All Day Breakfast Show group on Facebook has 273 members and represents the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of fans signed up as the show’s Elite Premium Guard (including me, somewhere in there as the tricky left winger). I think the Baker and Kelly football podcast had potentially even wider appeal, believe it or not: the show was being discussed widely on football websites and had inspired merchandise and all sorts of fun. Somebody is going to make paid-for podcasting work, just as many more musicians are going to earn a living selling direct online. It will happen. In the meantime, I just hope there’s another blog entry coming up here soon saying that Danny Baker is trying again, because these were great shows and we’ll miss them. Particularly as they’d tantalisingly promised us the return of Joanne this week on Baker and Kelly. I am gutted. Perhaps we ought to have a whip-round here and see if we can come up with enough cash between us to pay for the lads to do one more show. I’d be the first to put my hand in my pocket. If the web can buy Ebbsfleet for life, I’m sure it can buy the two Dannys for one more hour.
There’s a better essay than this about the Danny Baker situation here.

Brooooooooce at the O2: Magic.

Backstreets.com

The man’s still got it. More importantly, the band have still got it. And best of all, after the sonic disaster of the night before, it turns out that the O2 Arena’s acoustics are actually pretty good – the sound started off reasonably and got steadily better. Sectioned-off areas in the building (due to construction works or the temporary ice rink, I’m not sure) meant that massive queues to get in formed, which were a masterpiece of confusion and irritation. They snaked round the building in loops and crossed each other at least once. A friend who left us in the queue, in order to visit the gents, couldn’t find us again afterwards, so he joined the queue at the back. Guess what? He was in the Arena ten minutes before us. Go figure. So most of the standing audience greeted Bruce as much with relief (that they hadn’t missed the start) as with any other sort of appreciation.
We were treated to one of the longest sets on the tour – all the fixtures which have been played at every gig, and in the slots where the songs vary from night to night, perhaps the three songs I’d have requested at my Fantasy Bruce Gig: Because The Night, Racing In The Street and Jungleland. Perfect. The three songs most played on this tour so far which we didn’t get were Thundercrack, Darlington County and Town Called Heartbreak. With all disrespect to those songs (as Danny Baker would say), no contest.
Several of the new songs make a lot more sense live than they do on record, but twas ever thus with Bruce – in particular Radio Nowhere and Devil’s Arcade, a brilliant song which I really hadn’t clocked in its recorded version. Five-star reviews in the newspapers this morning are well deserved.
(Pic from Backstreets.com)

10 Things About The Spice Girls’ London Gig

Spice Girls with children on stage

  • They brought all their kiddies on stage at the end. Well, Mel C didn’t, obviously, because she doesn’t have any. Although she does have a Lexus RX400h because she was on the telly with Vicki B-H. And Geri didn’t have her kids either, I think. But Emma and Mel B had tiny ones with big green ear defenders. And Mel B had a larger one too. And Victoria had three famous ones, in “Posh” T-shirts. The smallest one cried.
  • That Mel B, blimey, she’s been working out. How do they get to look that fit after just having had a baby?
  • The sound at the O2 is absolutely terrible. I’ve never been to a gig where there’s audibly so much electronic wizardry working on the sound, but even that couldn’t compensate. If you didn’t know the songs so well, it would have been awful.
  • That Emma, blimey, she doesn’t get any less cute, does she?
  • They might all be at each others’ throats, in a competitive way, but they still have a good sense of humour. Whereas the four who’ve made a go at solo musical careers all got a solo number from their solo back catalogue, Victoria just did a walk down the catwalk in big sunglasses. Amusingly.
  • That Mel C, blimey, she looked from all the pre-gig publicity photos like she’s easily scrubbed up the best of the lot of ’em, didn’t she?. But no matter if Roberto Cavalli’s designed them, a tracksuit’s a tracksuit, and you looked a bit chavvy on the night, love. Sorry.
  • Fantastic staging and production throughout the gig. The Award for Best Use Of Hydraulic Lifting Gear goes to whoever designed it all (no, not to Victoria’s bra manufacturer)
  • That Geri, blimey, she’s still got it, eh? Never been much of a Ginger Spice man, meself, but talk about a late surge up the table. Gawdblessyermaam, and no mistake.
  • Mel C could always sing the best, and carried the whole band. Nothing’s changed there, except Mel B’s shouting has become a lot more tuneful and it’s now a two-girl show. Emma can’t compete in a group format, but does some nice stuff on her own. If Geri ever had it, she’s lost it now. And Victoria never could sing, and still can’t, but they know that, and hardly give her a chance. Although whenever she opened her mouth, the entire venue erupted in screaming (the adoring type, not the horror type) which was kind of creepy. Why?
  • That Victoria, blimey, she’s a strange looking creation, isn’t she? Like two lollipops sellotaped together with a head on top. Not attractive at all, yet strangely you can’t take your eyes off her.

I enjoyed it. (Photos)

The Best Singles Ever.

All time top tens are something which really get under your skin: once you’ve started thinking about it, you have to follow it through. So when someone at work asked us all to come up with our top tens, I had to do it, of course. After a couple of weeks of leaving it on the back burner, here’s a selection which I can guarantee nobody else in the world would come up with. Naturally it’ll be different by the time you read this. These things always are.

10. RACING IN THE STREET – Bruce Springsteen
Definitely the live version which Broooce played at Crystal Palace a few years back and which I was privileged to see played. Given over to the most magnificent piano solo for the second half of the song. Yes, my ticket for Bruce at the O2 next week is here and firmly pinned to my “don’t lose it” board.

9. FREDERICK – Patti Smith
She played at The Junction here in Cambridge last month – a rock legend performing just up the road from me – and I foolishly chose to go the football instead. Fortunately (for me) she didn’t play this gorgeous ode to her late husband, guitar legend Fred “Sonic” Smith of MC5.

8. “HEROES” – David Bowie
For some reason the version of this I always remember the most was the one at Live Aid with keyboard wizard Thomas Dolby providing gunshot sound effects to the “bullets flew above our heads” line.

7. WHEN LOVE BREAKS DOWN – Prefab Sprout
Possibly my favourite band of all time, and hard to pick just one song, so let’s just go for the one which never lets you down. Recently covered by Lisa Stansfield, noteworthy because Paddy wrote an extra verse for her (quite reasonable) version, apparently. And of course the man himself has done a terrific acoustic version this year as well.

6. DOCTOR WU – Steely Dan
A narrowly-beaten contender for the “favourite band” crown, and again, a hard act to choose a masterpiece from. As with most of the band’s material, I’ve no idea what it’s all about, but oh, that piano line in the middle sends shivers down my spine.

5. AFTERGLOW – Genesis
The one where, during the live shows, they used to turn on all the searchlights halfway through, so the audience roar drowns out the song. That sort of thing used to be impressive, kids. Four minutes fourteen seconds which summarise everything good about Genesis and make the rest of the band’s catalogue redundant. I challenge you not to air-drum along with this.

4. BLADE RUNNER – END TITLES – Vangelis
Just because it completely recalls the Best Film Of All Time whenever I hear it. Great home-made YouTube video too.

3. TO WIN JUST ONCE – The Saw Doctors
Best Live Band in the World. Ever. And this is the one which brings a lump to my throat whenever I hear it:
To win just once against the odds
And once be smiled on by the Gods
To race with speed along the track
To break the tape and not look back
To never have considered losing
As if to win is by your choosing
Bare your soul for all to find
An honest heart and an open mind.
Ah, you probably have to be there. And I have. About ten times now. Woo!
Mobile phone video, but I picked this because it gives you a good idea of how the audience do this song for them.

2. MOMENTS IN LOVE – The Art Of Noise
Played at Madonna’s first wedding, used in movie soundtracks, a number of advertisements, and remixed, covered, and sampled by other artists for years. And still utterly extraordinary. Live performance video has Trevor Horn on bass! Paul Morley prancing around! Fan-blinkin-tastic.

1. HAVE YOU EVER HAD IT BLUE? – The Style Council
One of those songs which you have to restrict the number of times which you play it, in case it should ever lose anything by repetition. Originally a political song about the YTS, Weller gave it a new set of (somewhat slushier) lyrics and, more importantly, jazz producer/arranger Gil Evans added a startlingly brilliant brass-led arrangement for the otherwise unremarkable movie “Absolute Beginners”. The result is an absolute masterpiece of pop music.

Spice Girls asking for trouble

spicegirls.jpg

So my tickets for The Spice Girls arrived today (yeah yeah, I’ve heard it all). Now, I realise that the postal system works largely on trust – we really do have to trust that the vast quantity of mail is delivered as expected, by honest people and all that. But as I understand it, tickets for The Spice Girls have been in some demand. So WTF are the promoters doing sending out the tickets in window envelopes with all those mugs showing through to the outside world? At Christmas time too, when the Royal Mail is presumably full of seasonal workers who can get up to no end of mischief and then disappear back into obscurity. Presumably to start selling the tickets on eBay which they, er, found at work.