Ricky Wilson

All posts tagged Ricky Wilson

Tis the season for Christmas music (oh yes it is) so today I’ve teamed up with Angry Baby Music to bring you some old and new favourite Christmas songs. Christmas albums don’t usually lend themselves to new music, perhaps because tradition is everything at this time of year and nostalgia reigns. However, we took a look through our version of the Christmas present cupboard and chosen a few tracks from a few artists, some of which may be familiar.

If you like traditional carols, then Michael Boe and Sean Ashmore’s take on O Holy Night will be to your liking; the combination of French and English makes it stand out from other, more familiar versions and the simplicity of Sean’s arrangement enhances the pure vocals from Michael. Beth Ford’s Silent Night has the same traditional yuletide sound. Beth’s voice, which is always described as ‘hauntingly beautiful’ and ‘mesmerising’ brings a whole new expression to this traditional carol.  Angry Baby and Beth are giving away a free download of Silent Night so click here to subscribe and get yours. Meanwhile, Gareth Malone’s own composition, A Child Is Born, Malone’s very first composition, with its traditional arrangement makes an excellent addition to the already full band of Christmas carols.

If you want a traditional song updated, then take a look at what Rachael Sage does with her cover of the classic Joy To The World. Weaving together her proven sounds of folk, pop, and jazz, Rachael brings new life to such a joyful song. As this time of year is also the time to celebrate Hannukkah and Rachael’s song, Hanukkah in the Village, a favourite with Rachael’s many fans is also beautiful.

Classical-crossover artist Mary-Jess last year released an album of Christmas songs that encompasses all types of Christmas music. I Fell In Love With A Snowman provides a theme-song for falling in love whilst Mary-Jess’s duet with Rhydian on The Sound Of Christmas maintains a refreshingly natural range and pitch within the mix. Prayer To A Snowflake , the title track of the album, brings something fresh to the seasonal catalogue. Easily the stand-out piece of a stand-out album, Mary-Jess’s juxtaposition of Chinese musicality and classical European vocals creates an addictively melodic offering.

Earlier we touched on Gareth Malone’s 2016 Christmas album and we return to it with a look at a song written by Malone and Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson. Paradise Street isn’t actually very festive but fits in perfectly to a Christmas album as it instantly calls to mind the magnificent Fairy Tale of New York that has been a Christmas staple since Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues took it to number one. Wilson is of course an extremely talented wordsmith and his bittersweet lyrics combine effortlessly with the melody to take the listener on a musical journey.

Continuing the theme of not especially Christmassy festive offerings, Robb Murphy‘s North Star conjures an atmosphere of lives shared through the simple things. Contrasting a lilting beat with Robb’s laid-back vocal style, you’re invited to hum – or whistle – along. Glisteningly wintery, warm and fuzzy, the song holds an entire landscape in the simplest of arrangements.

We’ll end as we began with a Boe brother – Alfie. Alfie hasn’t recorded many Christmas songs (although he’s sung a fair few in live performances) but one that isn’t much heard these days is Home for Christmas, from his appearance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2012. Beautiful.

If you’re still contemplating Christmas shopping and are unsure what to get the music fan in your life, then Angry Baby have the solution! They have teamed up with Robb Murphy and Beth Ford to produce a couple of bundles of music that they love and know you will too. Click here for Robb and here for Beth.

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It’s December and for what seems like weeks now all the shops have been playing Christmas music – by this time, you’re either totally fed up or thoroughly enjoying every shopping trip.  Either way, odds are that at some point, you’ll find yourself singing along with the majority of songs you hear, from familiarity if nothing else.  Let’s face it, Christmas is a time of year when we look back and reminisce and for most of us, Christmas songs play a huge part in our festive memories.  Interestingly, despite the numbers of Christmas albums released each year, it’s the much loved songs of yesteryear that still mean the most.  Nostalgia plays a big part in this but might it also be a national reluctance to move away from the sounds we know and love?  If the latter is the case, then the new Christmas album from Gareth Malone might well reverse the trend and become a future Christmas classic.

Choirmaster extraordinaire Malone is releasing his first Christmas album on 2 December which aims to bring an essential British sound to the festive music scene.  The album, A Great British Christmas, is a mix of traditional and new which concentrates, unsurprisingly, on voices. Along with a number of community and school choirs, Malone’s own professional choir features on almost all tracks, with the exception of Only You – this features just the voice of Malone himself, albeit layered to form a one man choir.  Although as a nation we have listened to Malone teaching countless people to sing, we haven’t really heard his own voice before, something that is remedied on two songs, the other being an original composition, Restless.

Christmas albums don’t usually lend themselves to new music, perhaps because as alluded to earlier, tradition is everything at this time of year and nostalgia reigns.  However, A Great British Christmas features, in addition to Restless, a new song written by Malone and Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson.  Paradise Street isn’t actually very festive but fits in perfectly to a Christmas album as it instantly calls to mind the magnificent Fairy Tale of New York that has been a Christmas staple since Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues took it to number one.  Wilson is of course an extremely talented wordsmith and his bittersweet lyrics combine effortlessly with the melody to take the listener on a musical journey; for me, Paradise Street is the stand out track.

A Great British Christmas features several traditional carols, of which O Come All Ye Faithful is the (appropriately enough) most faithful interpretation; Silent Night is the carol I favour most, not only because it has a beautiful arrangement but it’s still my favourite Christmas carol of all time.  As a regular member of a congregation with a large number of children in attendance, I’m quite used to hearing new carols and one such has been included on this album.  In fact, A Child Is Born was Malone’s very first composition and with its traditional arrangement makes an excellent addition to the already full band of Christmas carols.

Of the remainder of the tracks, Keeping The Dream Alive is the best, not least because it had me up dancing along although A Spaceman Came Travelling is also great.  I wasn’t taken with the Frozen song but then again I think I’m the only parent who’s never seen the film.  Overall, Malone’s first Christmas album is a delight with something for everyone – Christmas albums can usually be divided into two camps: those that have a Christian feel and those that don’t.  It seems entirely fitting that an album celebrating a British take on Christmas should firmly plant itself in the middle of those two camps and successfully embrace them both.  At the end of a turbulent year, this album is just what we need for Christmas.

A Great British Christmas is available here:

british-christmas

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Yesterday I heard (in full, for the first time) the Kaiser Chiefs’ new single, Parachute from their long awaited sixth album, Stay Together which is due out in October.  I’d seen YouTube clips of Parachute over the weekend so I had an idea of what the song would sound like but I was blown away by the dance style sound of the single.  Blown away as in not expecting it but really loved it.  Judge for yourselves:

[August 2016] The second new song, Hole In My Soul, has just been released and I love this one too.  Fab video – apart from anything else, how cool is Whitey?

How often is it that you get a fab dance track that works just as well when played live by a guitar based indie band?  It’s genius – catchy, great lyrics, had me dancing about at first listen, what more could you want? And the answer to that last question, at least when scrolling through tweets on the subject, was that a number of fans just wanted a record that sounded the same as the previous five albums.  Actually, I don’t think that any of the previous albums are similar enough to warrant that statement (I have followed the band since their first album, didn’t listen for a while, around the times of the third and fourth albums, but came back to the music via front man Ricky Wilson’s stint on The Voice) so I suppose what disgruntled fans mean is that they want something that offers a recognisable Kaiser Chiefs indie band sound.

So, (Ricky once said on his Radio X show that you shouldn’t start a sentence with so but I do it quite a lot) I suppose the question is whether Kaiser Chiefs are trying to reach a new audience with this single or they’ve just written something that they wanted to?  Who knows – maybe I’ll get the chance to ask them one day – but I do know that it’s their choice.  Personally, I love it when a band goes in a new direction (and as I’ve not heard the rest of the album I don’t know if the rest of it is the same); life’s an adventure and just doing the same old thing dulls creativity or at least it does for me.

Having said all that, I think it’s not surprising that some fans are not all that enamoured of the sound.  Writing about Alfie Boe’s music for almost three years now has shown me that although a lot of fans say they would listen to anything and everything an artist puts out, that’s not actually true for a sizable percentage of the audience.  Alfie is renowned for endlessly changing the style of his music and not all his fans have stayed the course throughout his career (on a personal note, I could happily live without the musical theatre albums) despite originally and repeatedly saying that they would listen to him sing anything, “even the phone book”.  Balanced against those fans are the ones who have come to him following one of his many changes in direction proving only that there is never just one audience for an artist or their music.  Change is good – embrace it and you might find a whole new world out there but that’s another song entirely.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if your favourite band, and Kaiser Chiefs are my most listened to artist after Alfie, wants to try a new sound, go with it, you might find that like me, you love their new song.  On the basis of Parachute I can’t wait to hear the album.  Roll on October.

Stay Together is available for pre-order here:

kaiser chiefs

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So, the promotion for Classic Quadrophenia has started…we saw Alfie on a scooter in Brighton a couple of weeks ago and now he’s been back in London buying a parka!

Alfie parka

Since Alfie’s been teasing us with Quadrophenia, I thought it was time we found out a bit more about the original – this is for fans for are not entirely familiar with The Who’s music which includes me, although I know a whole lot more than I did a week ago!  I have watched the movie, watched a live performance on youtube and listened to the original album a few times by now…and like most of the stuff Alfie has introduced me too, I like it!

Quadrophenia is the 6th studio album from The Who, composed entirely by Pete Townshend and was released in 1973 – a second rock opera, following Tommy.  A UK / US tour followed the release but was widely considered to be disastrous, being besieged by technical problems.  The non musical movie of Quadrophenia (the music formed the soundtrack only) was released in 1979 and featured Phil Daniels as Jimmy – he is to appear as Jimmy’s father in the Classic performance.  Other notable cast members included Sting, Toyah Willcox, Ray Winstone and Leslie Ash.

The album was re-mastered and re-released a couple of times after the initial release and the album as a live performance was revived in 1996 for an initial one off show in Hyde Park, London.  This was more a rock opera performance with cast members including Phil Daniels, Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Fry and (showing how times change) Gary Glitter.  The line up also included Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) as the drummer; he has toured with them ever since.  This format was successful and a UK / US tour followed.

The surviving members of The Who, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, again resurrected Quadrophenia as a live performance in 2010 for a series of concerts for the Teenage Cancer Trust.  In this instance, they were joined by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Kasabian’s Tom Meighan.  Phil Daniels featured in a TCT concert last November, here he is singing Bell Boy; the video also features Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs:

Alfie and Sarah attended this concert too!

The most recent incarnation of Quadrophenia as a performance was the 2012/13 tour which had the feeling of a concert rather than a performance of a rock opera to it.  Keith Moon and Jon Entwistle both featured on video (Bell Boy and 5.15).  There are some youtube videos of this but they are of varying quality and not complete, probably due to copyright reasons.  I must admit that I was unaware of this recent touring history until this week and having now immersed myself in this music, I am even more keen to see the production of Classic Quadrophenia on 5 July.  It will be interesting to see and hear the orchestrated version featuring those sublime vocals – here is Alfie on his recent UK tour:

Thanks to Linda W for sharing.  Aside from Alfie as Jimmy, I’m also really interested to see Phil Daniels play the role of Jimmy’s father – nice to see some continuity in casting.  Twitter also mentioned that Alfie’s appearance on Sunday Night at the Palladium (ITV, 3 May) will feature Quadrophenia.

The album, from Deutsche Grammophon, will be released on 22 June so we’ll have plenty of time to familiarise ourselves with it before the concert!  I’m hoping for a DVD too!  The album is available to pre-order here:

classic quad

 

There are lots of videos of Alfie singing I’m One and Love Reign O’er Me from his recent UK tour – check out the thoughtsofjustafan Alfie Boe youtube page (there are some other artists featured on the Quadrophenia playlist too).

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Have beards had their day?  According to a new study by the University of New South Wales, Darwinian selection has a say in the ebbs and flows of beard fashion – the more beards there are, the less attractive they become, thereby handing advantage to clean shaven men.  When this happens, the pendulum swings away from a lot of beards to less beards.  The rarer a beard is, the more attractive it is; conversely, in a bearded world, clean shaven is the more attractive option.

Anyway, this is all very well, but what does this mean to Alfie fans?  Do we think Alfie will shave his beard or keep with it, after all, he’s had for quite a while now.  Do we even prefer him with a beard or without?

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alfie carfest

Personally, I love the beard despite not being a fan of beards before I became a fan.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that beards positively turned me off before.  Not any more, beards are often the thing I notice first! And now, thanks to this study, I can say it’s evolution, nothing to do with me at all!

Just to prove it, here are a few photos of my favourite beards – and there’s a new beard in town! But I kind of think I would like Ricky Wilson clean shaven too  x

ricky wilson

And another beard we like (although, again, a clean shaven Toby Stephens is also delightful) – this shows Toby as Captain Flint in the engrossing pirate series Black Sails:

toby stephens

 

The lovely Ben Affleck:
ben affleck beard
george clooney beard Gorgeous George Clooney
JOJ beard
The lovely John Owen Jones