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JUDEE SILL IN THE U.K. (1971–1973)

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Search up the American singer-songwriter Judee Sill on YouTube and the first two hits will probably be her appearance on BBC2's Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973. It was her second time on the show and Judee is singing two songs from her second (and, as it turned out, last) album, Heart Food: The Kiss and The Pearl, introduced by 'Whispering' Bob Harris. Here they are. I love these clips. It reminds me what an important show Whistle Test was, back in the days when there was so little decent music on television beyond the pop charts. But also because this is pretty much the only surviving footage of Judee performing. Anywhere. Yes, there is some grainy black and white film of her playing somewhere in America. But this is in the studio and in colour. And it was in London. So who was Judee Sill? Her story is breathtaking and tragic. Read it here or better still go see the movie documentary Lost Angel if you can.  "Judee is probably this year's reigning queen of the non-s

That Ribbon Cracks Like This One: SCOTT WALKER'S TILT (1995)

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When it first appeared, in 1995, Scott Walker’s album  Tilt was difficult to fathom – even Climate of Hunter , his previous release, a whole decade earlier, suddenly sounded by comparison pretty commercial. Tilt ’s abrasive, brooding arrangements, operatic tropes and lyrical ambiguity seemingly conspired to confound.  Thirty years on and in the context of his 21st-century releases like The Drift and Bish Bosch , Tilt feels like less of a hard listen and I turn to it more and more. In fact, I think it might just be the legendary singer’s magnum opus. Ok, there’s Scotts 1 to 4. Every Walker aficionado loves those – especially Scott 4 . And of course Climate of Hunter has its fans. But Tilt is out there. It really was, and remains, an extraordinary record. Walker emerged in the middle of the 1990s from an extended period of seclusion which included a brief sojourn at a London art school – Byam Shaw, which in 1990 moved to new premises at the top of Holloway Road, near Archway. An artist

Classic Album Covers: SCOTT 3 (1969)

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Released in March 1969, SCOTT 3 is I think my favourite album by the late great Scott Walker.  I have often wondered whose heavily mascaraed eye it is on the front cover, the dilated pupil reflecting a pensive Scott in a clever Photoshop-before-Photoshop effect. I did interview Scott myself once – but the question of whose eye it was staring out at us from the cover of his third solo LP was low down in my list of priorities and of course was never asked. Scott Walker photographed on 21 March 1969, just as Scott 3 was released Scott “more or less” designed the sleeve himself, according to an interview he gave the NME in March 1969, to promote the album. Although the sleeve notes credit it to Linda Glover, Philips’ in-house design director. Either way it is certainly a female eye: presumably the model who allowed the camera to peer at the window to her soul was someone known to Scott? One might conjecture that it was his then girlfriend, Mette Teglbjaerg, whom he later married and lived

A TALENT FOR LOVING: THE BEATLES COWBOY MOVIE THAT NEVER WAS

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In 2009, a script for A Talent for Loving was auctioned at Bonhams . It was a treatment for a movie and was signed by all four Beatles. It apparently sold for a little under £8,000. I hadn’t heard of this movie before and was curious. What was it and why was it signed by the Beatles? It turns out that the Beatles’ involvement with A Talent for Loving goes back to early 1965, some months before their second feature film Help! was released. It was adapted for the screen by Evelyn and Richard Condon, from Richard Condon’s 1961 offbeat novel of the same name.  According to Wikipedia,  A Talent for Loving  tells the tale of a sixteenth-century Aztec priest who cut off his own hand and used the bloody stump to lay a curse upon a blasphemous Spanish conquistador and all his direct descendants. Three centuries on, in 1871, the beautiful young virginal daughter of a fabulously wealthy Texas rancher and gambler is its latest victim. The action centres around a cowboy race, run to decide wh

A VICTORIAN BEATLES FAN

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We all know the song… When I get older losing my hair Many years from now Will you still be sending me a Valentine Birthday greetings bottle of wine Will you still need me, will you still feed me, w hen I'm sixty-four? But how about when I get to 108? I love reading contemporary journalism about the Beatles, so trawling through the newspaper archives recently, this one caught my eye in the Daily Mail , from 16 June 1964. The headline itself is unusual but is made all the more so when you think that this is 1964 and John Turner was born in 1856. The Beatles were a by-word for the modern age. How was it possible someone born the year the Crimean War ended was still alive, let alone could appreciate Beatlemania?  Even in 1964, 1856 was an absurdly long time ago, well before the advent of recorded sound or even the general use of electricity, and certainly long before anything resembling popular youth culture as we knew it in the twentieth century. Yet John Turne