Friday 12th December 2014
As I speak I'm coasting along
the M5. This is our last column before Christmas
and I am, as ever, speaking to Rob who is my left-hand
Spoti-person and my conduit to the Spoti-followers.
We have our last show with Joss tonight and Rumer
will be joining us tomorrow and we've also had
the band's Christmas party where we sing carols
that's always a treat so there's
been a lot of laughter and tears and bursting
into song recently, often all three together...
As for the Hootenanny, Ed Sheeran will be joining
us and he attributes everything that's
ever happened to him to Spotify he'll be
playing with the orchestra. Paloma Faith will
be there and Joss Stone, too. She'll be singing
the song we were writing together when I started
this column and this NYE we'll be doing it on
the television, that has a great shape to it,
Paul Whitehouse has promised to show up, as has
Dawn French. She's actually convinced that Paolo
Nutini is using her as his muse. So, on air, I
intend to find out. Boz Scaggs will be there doing
we've got Hayseed Dixie and Ronnie Spector will
be there too. Phil Spector built the Wall of Sound,
married Ronnie, then imprisoned her within it
and she had to make her own escape. She'll do
I Love You
which is a wonderful song.
Jess Glynne is coming, as is Ellie Goulding who
I would love to have a go at 'Blame It On The
Boogie', into which I will attempt to inject a
little boogie-woogie. I wonder if that song is
somehow related to Chas 'N' Dave's Poor
Old Mr. Woogie
It'll be great to see Wilko
who has made such an amazing recovery
this year. I hope everyone can reflect on what
that must be like to be given such a short time
to live then find you've recovered.
My mother saw Judy
at the London Palladium in 1956
and apparently she was wearing a sequnned dress
that, when the lights hit it, sent twinkling stars
all over the Palladium. I want Joss Stone to do
the same on Hootenanny. I'm not a person known
for my knowledge of ladies' haute couture, but
I do hope we manage to make it that a reality.
Tune in and find out!
This week I would like to send the Spotify listeners
to my own World
Of His Own
LP and a track called Architectural
; it's been sampled by dance people
once or twice which I don't mind at all. I think
of that as quite Christmassy even though there
are precisely no sleigh bells on it, but do have
a listen to that. My actual favourite old Christmas
song is 'What Christmas Means To Me' by Stevie
Wonder and I'd also have Eartha Kitt singing 'Ain't
Misbehavin'' from the Sirens Of Song
album that's a very family friendly Christmas
song right there.
I also wanted to say how much I've enjoyed putting
my toes in the water of social media in 2014,
but if anyone wants to e-mail me they still can't.
Anyway, as Tiny Tim might have said, "I hope everyone
has a wonderful Christmas, God bless us everyone!".
See you in 2015.
Friday 5th December 2014
The main event for last week
was playing the Royal Albert Hall we were
there for two nights. That was the 20th time we
had played there we didn't celebrate too
much, but we certainly had a frenzied show. We
had Joss along with us, who was marvellous. She
did 'Letting Me Down' and Bei
Mir Bist Du Schon
, but she also did 'Nothing
Takes The Place of You', which is a previous Spotify
pick of mine. It's an old Toussaint
song and I only discovered that
she had recorded her own version via Spotify.
Which is why Spotify's amazing. I didn't tell
her that's the only way I knew she'd recorded
it, obviousy, I just pretended I knew! Another
So we also had Marc Almond, Ruby, and Mabel
all there too who were all wonderful.
And another highlight were some of the guests
we had backstage. One was Dynamo, this great magician
who has walked across the Thames, levitated off
a bus and all sorts. He's a keen boogiest too
and he came backstage to ask if we'd like to see
some tricks. The whole Big Band were in the dressing
room and while we said he was on a night off and
didn't need to perform, he insisted on doing some
things for us that were just astonishing.
My tour manager was outside the room and he says
all he could hear were gasps of amazement, woohs
of exclamation and actual sighs of disbelief as
Dynamo threw cards at us, threw them on the floor
then they would spring magically back into his
hands. He does an incredible boogie dance
he's a fantastic dancer and a lot of people probably
don't know that. I think that proves there's a
link between boogie and magic; it weaves a spell
upon the listener.
The next morning we got up early and did 'The
Andrew Marr Show' we were on with George
Osborne and Ed Balls. It was interesting how both
were united in shutting up when Joss started to
sing. Afterwards they came to say hello to Joss
and I thought I suspect they were more
interested in Joss then they got in a lift
together like great old friends. That seems like
one of the great things about music, right there.
We then went straight to a radio station where
Mabel sang 'Sweet Bitter Love' and I'd recommend
that too this week. It's an old Van McCoy song
and it's a strange and wonderful thing.
I had Boz Boorer on the radio show last week,
he has great rockabilly connections I've
played with him in the past and has worked
with Morrissey for many years now. I played Roy
Time I Hear That Mellow Saxophone
is a great New Orleans piece. It'll perk you up
and get your boogie muscles twitching.
I was so pleased to see Ed Sheeran had won so
many Spotify-related awards this week. I congratulate
him and I can reveal he will be on my Hootenanny
show this year. I like to point people towards
the lesser known pieces of great art, so my final
recommendation this week is Every
Day Will Be a Holiday
by William Bell.
Keith Richards once told me it's one of his most
favourite songs, it really one of the sweetest
soul classics of all time and I'll be performing
that with William on the show this year
so I'm rehearsing it now!
See you next week.
Thursday 20th November 2014
Right now we're on tour in
the UK and we're just outside Bradford
we're playing St. George's Hall which always has
one of the best atmospheres that you will find
at any venue in the country. Everyone has played
there and it's a fantastic building.
I was on the One Show yesterday with Katherine
. She needed a note to start singing
and she asked me to provide it for her. Not many
people are able to say they've given Kathrine
an E live on air, but I can and that was
lovely. We played on the show too with Melanie
C which was great fun. The next day I was on Chris
Evans' show very early. Lee Evans was on too and
on the way out I got hollered at to give someone
a tune on the piano and it turned out that person
. I had no idea he’d even know who
I was so, of course, I gave him a tune.
I'm doing all this telly and radio because the
is finally out and I think this
will be a great place to talk about a new song
each week. I feel like we're having fireside chats
here, so let's start at the beginning. Ruby Turner
opens the album with 'Jumping In The Morning'
this is pure boogie-woogie from 1952, the
time before before rock and roll, when that was
just the coming thing. This is a Ray
song, but rare because he wrote
it rather than just sang it and, as ever, made
it his own.
I had Chrissie
on my Radio 2 show this week. I
would draw people's attention to the Randy Newman
record we played; it's a newish one about a man
who's about to drop dead and is thinking about
his life. I'd recommend Jimmy Witherspoon's track
too it's related to the Ruby Turner track
in style. During the show Chrissie told me she'd
love to come on tour with us sometime and
really I hope she will.
So, the big thing coming up is we're all set to
play the Royal Albert Hall and that's very, very
exciting. But I'll tell you all about that next
Friday 31st October 2014
Last week I was in Stuttgart
with Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters who play
in the A,
B, C & D of Boogie Woogie
with Dave Green
and Charlie Watts. I was doing some solo piano
work alongside them which was great and Axel told
me they have had Albert
' grand-daughter singing in the
band. Now, I love Albert Ammons, I'd recommend
his track 'Suitacase Blues' to all the Spotify
users. During the trip I also saw Rembrandt's
Self-Portrait With A Beret which I was about to
take a photo of, before a rather gruff man shouted
"Nein!" at me. So I put my camera way immediately.
was particularly brilliant on Later...
this week. He's a true seeker of excitements,
he's always reinventing himself and what he does
and he told me the key to that is keep open and
keep discovering new things. All of which Depths
Plumbers are able to do with Spotify, of course.
My orchestra is gathered to rehearse and, as I
mentioned last week, we’ve been working on the
with Dr. John. Lisa the sax player
listened to the lyrics and said, "Are these words
medieval?" Now, I'm a keen medievalist, so it
was my job to tell her these were from the modern
world the late 18th century in fact.
"When the meat world's laughing the spirit
world's crying and when the spirit world's laughing,
the meat world's crying..."
We didn't use that lyric in the end, but it's
still a good one, I think.
Liz Fraser was a fantastic guest on the radio
show this week. She's been in so
many incredible films
, and was friends
with people like Tony Hancock and Peter Sellers.
She's an absolutely charming person too
she told me she plays dominoes with June Whitfield
and whenever the phone goes it's always someone
offering June work. That made me laugh.
We were talking about Rick Wakeman last week and
on my show he requested the 1961 single 'I Still
Love You All' by Kenny Ball. I'd never heard it,
but it was such a wonderful record, so I'd add
that to my playlist too. And while we're there
let's add Howlin' Wolf's 'Last Affair', you can
never go wrong with a bit of Howlin'
See you next week!
Friday 24th October 2014
When we last spoke we were
about to play in Dublin. Well, they were two of
the best shows I think we've ever done there
packed crowds both nights. On the first night,
very generously and graciously, we received a
package addressed to the band which had 6 bottles
of champagne and a crate of bottled Guinness.
The card inside revealed it was from U2
So that was very nice of them, but my band said,
"They're on the show next week you possibly
can't accept that gift. The BBC will think it
looks like a bribe!" My point was, but they're
already booked! However, the band would have none
of it and promptly drunk the lot.
In that mood of kindness, I felt like I ought
to repay U2 when they came on the show this week,
so I gave them a bottle, just the one, of Shepherd
Neame ale to share. And they thanked me kindly
for that that's a great international success,
They were absolutely dazzling and sensational
on the show Bono's voice has never been
better. They don't do very much TV at all and
was their first time on Later... and they were
such great guests. I also discovered that their
drummer Larry has always been a huge fan of Gilson
whose been my drummer since we were in Squeeze
together. We gigged with U2 in Belfast years ago
and after one show one of the hid in the boot
of a car and followed our car. An army checkpoint
saw this person hiding in the boot and, of course,
pulled them over. Being found in the boot of a
car was, in all honesty, not a great idea in late
1970's Northern Ireland. Of course, Squeeze being
the kind chaps we were, just drove off and left
them to it. So Larry reminded me of that, which
was good of him.
I've been concentrating on my own music as we're
away on tour from next week. We've been playing
this song I write with Dr.
called 'Dead Host's Welcome'. I've
been getting the band to learn that, so that's
my choice for this week. But I must just say how
much I enjoyed Dave and Phil Alvin The
Blasters on Later... this week. I always
loved their song 'Marie, Marie'. Those are my
tips for this week.
On the radio this week I had Rick
, literally one of the giants of
the keyboard and it was a great privilge to have
him on the show. He's an amazing musician and
we played a wonderful duet together which was
a joy. More news about that next week see
Friday 17th October 2014
This week we've been in Ireland
it's been hammering with rain. I brought
my big raincoat with me and on the way over everyone
laughed. Well, they're not laughing now. We had
a great crowd in Killarney, we did a version of
The Road Apiece
, but now it gets spooky.
Afterwards a man called Ted Carroll who owned
Chiswick Records came and had a drink with us.
I had no idea he'd been in the crowd, but Ted
was the first person to ever pay me in cash
£17 for a session playing on Down
The Road Apiece
in 1977. We'd never played
it before but that's a bit odd, isn't it.
Freddie Slack also does a marvellous version.
I'll choose that to go into the playlist this
On Later... this week we had Sinead
she's always great, always
so inventive she was wonderfully dressed
as a vicar this time. Labrinth
came to see the show when he was about 12 to see
his brother who's a drummer, so that was quite
sweet. I noticed that as a pianist he uses his
middle finger in the incorrect way a concert
pianist would be horrified but me and the
boogiers play like that, so he has the boogie
sounded so glamorous it was amazing it
was like being in a 1960's whirlwind of dimmer
switches and Aston Martins. Then there was Ibeyi
just brilliant. They're the twin daughters
of the late Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz, and
they were spectacular, they have that extreme
blood harmony thing going on which is stunning
to hear. This was their first TV appearance ever,
so that was very exciting.
We had Adam
, the great Rival
too. When Holly's old band Frankie
Goes To Hollywood
burst onto the scene
with their wonderful Rome-before-it-fell image
it was all on The Tube, of course. It's so good
to see him I was very pleased to have him
On the Radio 2 show this week I've got Olivia
Harrison, she is the embodiment of charm, modesty,
humility and knowledge. There's a box set of George
Harrison's work coming on Apple and that
label is great story in itself, so ahead of its
time, as was George. He was making experimental
electronic music, bringing Indian music to the
western world, he was having huge success with
his own music, he was feeding the world. He was
so ahead of the game and producing other
artists too. He was very close to Billy Preston;
it was George who got Billy to come in at the
end of The Beatles and make everyone more polite
to each other. I made 'Horse To Water' with George
near to the end of his life and he was such a
joy to work with.
So we're getting the tour properly underway now
and it's Dublin next. We always have a good time
in Dublin we have a very favourite pub,
a very old-fashioned, proper pub, that's encased
all the chrome beer pumps in a wooden box. And
they lock us in I'm quite looking forward
Friday 10th October 2014
This afternoon I'm going into
the studio with Louise Marshall. She'll be finishing
her vocal on 'A Vow' written by Wendy Cope,
who wrote the words to that wonderful love poem,
'On Waterloo Bridge'. We're finishing the record
right now, so I'm packing my handkerchiefs and
ironing my socks I like to travel light.
I'm playing with the Orchestra in Ireland next
week Kilarney and Dublin then we'll
be touring around the UK.
On Later... this week we had Manic
and they were just great.
They had the German actress and singer Nina
with them and they brought an excellent
European flavour. I've known a lot of musicians
who are involved in the visual arts and the outside
of the Manics, Nicky Wire does amazing landscape
pieces with Polaroids which he paints. He's like
David Hockney, only very much his own thing. Nicky
gave me one of his artworks before the show and
that made me very happy.
is the greatest pedal-steel player
on earth all the Spotifiers should check
him out. He can actually make his instrument speak,
a remarkable talent. He's a great instrumentalist
he plays in a unique way too, in R&B rather
than country. I thought Benjamin
had a brilliant energy about him
it made me very happy. What he plays is
not strictly boogie-woogie, but it has elements
of that world and I loved it. He inspired me to
go back to two old records, Moon
, a Western Swing figure from
the 40s and 50s who sang 'Seven Days to Rock'
's 'Howlin' Wolf Boogie'. Whenever
I hear Howlin' Wolf's voice it makes me happy
and I think that might be true for any red-blooded
was very good, Gary Kemp and Steve
Norman from Spandau were great, as was Melanie
. Jessie Ware was brilliant
she, rather like the Manics, just gets better
and better. I love it when people do that
but if someone comes and and they've got worse
I'll hush it up.
Over on the Radio 2 show I had Ali Campbell and
he talks a lot about his childhood and the early
days of the reggae scene in the Midlands
that was such a big deal at the time. Ali, of
course, comes from a very musical family and he
talks a lot about that very interestingly. We
did 'Kingston Town' together and that was lovely
as we both really enjoy that era of Jamaican music.
led a whole group of artists and bands in making
a UK version of Jamaican music, just like Led
Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart did with
the blues before them...
See you next week.
Friday 3rd October 2014
So, it's been a fantastically
busy week again. Nice to see Ali
as he was recently on on my radio
show too anyone who wants to find out more
about him can tune into that. It's really interesting
what his musical infleunces are his father
was the folk singer Ian
and what effect Birmingham
had him as he was growing up. Have a listen to
my Radio 2 show for that.
Elsewhere on the show Future
' singer Samuel did some truly
amazing dancing. Now, Spotify is fantastic for
listening to all sorts of music, but you'll need
to tune into Later... to get the full glory of
this. It's really quite something, but I'll leave
it up to the viewers to make their minds up about
the whole thing.
was on too and he was great I
also wanted to draw attention to his drummer,
Victoria Smith, who used to play with The
, she was very, very good indeed.
As were Gorgon City I loved their singers.
I have to mention another guest, Beverley Knight,
who's in a new musical called Memphis that's opening
in London soon. She was superb, we played at the
piano together. She had wanted to do 'Up Above
My Ahead' originally done by Sister
back in 1949 and
I found this version by Rod Stewart and Long John
Baldry. On the cover Rod looks about 12
but he's excellent on this. That's a classic Spotify
find, I never knew they'd done that song. I once
wrote a song with Beverley called 'Where In The
World' and I’d recommend that too it got
lost along the way a little, but I rather like
that song. Now, I know we talked about Mary J.
Blige last week, but I wanted to mention that
the Sam Smith song we did together impressed me
so much that I actually rang Sam in LA to congratulate
him on such a wonderful composition.
On the radio show this week we had Liz Fraser
who worked on the Carry Ons, Tony
and Up The Junction. She is the
first person I've ever met in my life who performs
with a singing dog. Nobody does that anymore,
but she trained the dog herself. Very impressive.
Dawn French is on next week and she's very, very
entertaining. She told me she'd always wanted
to be an opera singer and she also talks about
the first song she ever snogged to. I'd love to
know what the Spotify people first snogged to
do let me know. I just hope it's a happy
memory for both of you...
See you next week!
Saturday 13th September 2014
My usual drummer Gilson is
sick this week, so I've been playing with the
great Neal Wilkinson and he's been telling me
about this book by the legendary drummer, Earl
Palmer. Now, Palmer is someone who played on a
huge amount of amazing records and has a very
broad range. Back in the early 50s he was playing
, then, in September 1955, Palmer
and the rest of Fats' backing band played on Little
Richard's Tutti Frutti. So, basically, he invented
rock and roll drumming. Palmer would go on to
play with Sam Cooke and Professor
, he played on the original Batman
theme, Andy Williams' 'Can't Get Used To Losing
You', the soundtracks to Bullitt
, even Predator. This is a musician
who helped invent the whole idea of pop music
everyone has heard his drumming even if
they don't know his name. So we celebrated him
on the show and played a few things he was on.
An amazing chap.
As for guests, we had the always amazing Dawn
French who told me she'd always wanted to be an
opera singer. I'd like to think we could help
her realise that dream. We also had the novelist
Mark Billingham, the wonderful Rick Wakeman and
the guitarist and song-writer Boz Boorer who was
and has, for some time, been
Morrissey's co-writer and musical director.
We played a special show this week at the Barrow
Hill Roundhouse in Chesterfield. It's a truly
wonderful venue and it was there we said goodbye
for a while to Melanie C who's been such a big
part of the band recently. We had a proper farewell
knees-up after the show she will be missed.
Winter is for preparation, while summer is for
And that's been this last week. Next week, the
TV show returns...
Monday 8th September 2014
Hello! Since we last spoke
I've recorded two episodes of my Radio 2 show,
one with the wonderful Ali
formerly of UB40
and one with Andy
from Erasure. They were both great
guests, but it was Andy who tipped me off about
the mysterious Steve
, an English singer from the 1940s
who I must confesss I'd never heard of. I went
straight to my Spotify and there he was
I couldn't find it anywhere else, by the way
and I'd love to share this with everyone. Andy
told me that Conway had been a porter at Billingsgate
fish market for a while, but was a big star by
the late 40s. He was a crooner, Britain's answer
to Bing Crosby and he does have the most remarkable
voice. He died of a heart condition in the early
1950s. It's a sad story, but do have a listen.
I ran into Chrissie
this week and she told me she'd
love to come on tour with us next summer. I told
her about the scent of BBQ in the air at many
of the shows, but she promised not to shout at
any one she saw cooking...
We had Kirk Brandon in too this week. He has a
very strong new record out soon his intensity
hasn't changed a bit from his earliest records,
that's a real tribute to him. We talked about
his band, Spear
, and how I once went to Vienna
to see the real Spear of Destiny and verify it
was the real one. The Nazi's ended up with it
in Berlin, and the rumour conspiracy theory
really is that after WWII the Allies took
the real one and replaced it with an exact replica.
I wanted to check with my own trained eye
but it was shut for refurbishment when I got there.
On a brighter note, I accompanied Van Morrison
to the GQ Awards. He was on great form, but I
was so eager to get inside I went arse-over-tit
on the way in. We met Paolo Nutini there
who told us he'd just written a song that sounded
just like Wynonie
. I rather like that idea...
See you next week!
Monday 1st September 2014
Hello! After a great summer
break this last week has been particularly hectic
and busy. For one thing, my Radio 2 show is back
from today Monday with an appearance
from the very briliant British classical violinist,
. She was marvellous, an impeccable
speaker and player perfect for radio
whose story is all the more remarkable for having
grown up in an unmusical family. We perform a
version of 'Summertime' and the way Nicola plays
will make you love the piece in aways you'd never
On next week's show we've got The
who are great young new country
duo from Bedfordshire who have such great harmonies
listen out for them, and Moon Mullican's
1953 hit, 'Rocket To The Moon', which I play on
the show. We're making the show at the BBC's Maida
Vale studios. You know they keep an entire symphony
orchestra in the cellar there? I love walking
in past the original Radiophonic
studios what an inspiring
So, I've been recording with Emeli Sandé, Imelda
May, and Joss Stone over the summer and I've just
been in the studio with Kylie. She really is the
most incredible person, she's like sunshine, she
lights up the whole place. I was going through
my Spotify playlists before we met and I thought
she'd be great on a new version of The Clash's
'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?'. We gave it a
New Orleans' nuance, a bit of The Clash's Junco
and a bit of the mighty Neville
. Am I giving away too many secrets
Anyway, we played in Greenwich last week, right
in the middle of the old Naval College. My mother
and grandmother both lived in Greenwich, in houses
that were bombed during WWII, so it was a quite
odd being on stage and looking out over this place.
We were right by the Observatory, on the Meridian
Line, which was a wonderful place to play.
Now, I mentioned Imelda May earlier and
I'm happy to say she's now the new me in Ireland.
She has her own TV show there that features new
and old artists mainly Irish playing
with her and her excellent band who are rockabilly
and boogie experts. The whole thing's made me
very happy I can't think of anyone I'd
rather be me!
Until next week...
Monday 28th July 2014
One thing I forgot to mention
when I talked about the band playing at Edinburgh
Jazz Festival last week, we had the Prince of
Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge in the audience
that shows quite how far jazz has come.
Also, the crowds there and in Liverpool were crazed!
Melanie C joined us on stage in the latter
of course, that's a hometown show for her
and I had mentioned to her earlier how my great-great
grandfather was from Liverpool. She announced
during the show how "Jools has a lot of Scouse
in him..." which went down well, as you can imagine.
This week I've been recording with Emeli Sande
which was a real joy. She really is a fantastic
person, a huge talent also terribly glamorous
she arrived in a soft-top Jaguar sports
car. So we recorded a version of the Walter Donaldson
and Gus Kahn song, 'Love Me Or Leave Me', made
most famous by Nina Simone in the late 50s. Emeli
nailed it in two takes, her voice is brilliant
and the band just loved her. The song will appear
on my new album which has the working title, 'Sirens
of Song' Imelda May, my scouse-friend Melanie
C, Laura Mvula, and Joss Stone are all involved
There's such a wealth of female talent at the
heralded a new dawn there's so many more
opportunites for female artists than there were
20 years ago. Music isn't limited by gender or
sex anymore and it never should have been
as talent is free from all such distinctions.
Emeli and I were both very inspired by Nina
she could be a frightening,
no-nonsense character, but she took songs and
made them her own creations. Her tribute to Martin
Luther KIng, '(Why?) The King Of Love Is Dead',
released on the 'Nuff Said LP six months after
his death in 1968, is a remarkable piece, recommended
to all Depths Plumbers.
Finally, I was visiting a friend last week and
they had a copy of Randy
's 'Harps and Angels' lying on a
sofa. Now, I love Randy, but this one had passed
me by. So as soon as I got home I fired it up
and it sounds wonderful, he's
such a unique songwriter. The title track is really
As I leave you, I want to say thank you to the
7000 people who came to Kew Gardens to see us
last week. It was great to see them trampling
all over the grass and flowers!
See you next week...
Monday 21st July 2014
Last week we played at the
Edinburgh Jazz Festival and at Kew Gardens' Kew
The Music event, but really it's all been about
rest and preparation. I saw the brilliant Stephanie
performing in Edinburgh and she
played a version of Princeton-born, jazz stride
's own take on Richard Wagner's
'Pilgrim's Chorus'. Now, Lambert was a pianist
beyond mere pianists, and that track is a formidable
finger-buster, so it's all praise to Stephanie
This week I'm recording with the wonderful Emeli
, so I will report back and let you
all know how that went. As for now, it's so been
so hot and such a giddy heat that
I've been forced to walk around in my underpants.
Frankly, I expect to be put in the cells any time
If I'm not I'll see you all next week...
Monday 14th July 2014
This week we've been at the
Sands Centre and the Wigan
International Jazz Festival. They were both great
shows and it was a joy to be in Wigan, birthplace
of the great George
, who George Harrison himself told
me as the first British pop star. Now I hear that
Johnny Depp is set to play George in an upcoming
film of his life. Seems perfectly sensible to
So, touring has taken up a lot of time over the
last few days, but two pieces of music have stuck
in my mind this week. I worked with the late,
great Bobby Womack and he was a wonderful songwriter
and artist. He started his career early in the
history of soul music and did a lot of work, he
showed the way forward more than once. He came
into do a New Year's Eve later the year before
last and did 'Looking For A Love' with Damon Albarn.
That was a single for him back in 1974 and I remember
buying it then Bobby was a truly great
figure and he'll be missed.
On a happier note, I got a package in the post
this week from Paul O'Grady. In it there was a
1940's film, a box and a letter which read, "I
want you to have this, Jools". In it there was
a tie-pin that used to belong to Fats
. There had been a cuff-links too,
but Paul, being the kind chap he is, had felt
it necessary to give those to Lady Gaga. I honestly
think this might be the best gift I've ever been
given. The pin is gold with ruby eyes it
looks amazing. Obviously it means I'll have to
play with her Ladyship at one point, if only so
the items can be reunited. So, in tribute to Paul,
Lady Gaga and, of course, Mr Waller himself, I'd
like to put 'Handful of Keys' in the playlist
it's a real finger-buster...
Tuesday 8th July 2014
This week kicked off with a
signiifcant birthday not mine, but the
who was celebrating turning 70. I
have to admit I found the whole thing a bit bizarre
as he doesn't look a day over 12. Jeff really
is an absolute marvel, without doubt Britain's
greatest ever guitarist.
We've recorded together before, Jeff joined me
on a version of Drown
In My Own Tears
from my More
album. He played a particularly
brilliant version of 'Brush With The Blues' that
night too, that was a real treat to hear.
Elsewhere this week I was reminded of the first
ever record I played on. It was Wayne
County & The Electric Chairs
'Fuck Off', put out by Safari Records in 1978.
I was thrilled to find it on Spotify and also
thrilled to discover it sounds as fresh and vibrant
I think I was paid about £18 for the session itself,
but the much more important thing was when I was
sent a copy of this thing we'd made. When I'd
gone into the studio the song was more or less
an instrumental blues, there were no lyrics. Imagine
my surprise then when I sat my mother and aunt
down and, aged just 19, played it for them that
very afternoon. In fact, I'd like all Spotifiers
to try and project themsleves into that moment
as it really was quite something.
So, coming up we have Cornbury Festival. I hope
Russell Brand might pop along as his girlfriend
lives nearby. I've also been in the studio with
the wonderful Imelda
I'll tell you about all that
Friday 4th July 2014
This has been a very busy week
with a particularly busy Thursday. I've
been in the studio with Rumer
and we recorded versions of Percy Mayfield's 1951
song, 'Lost Mind' and Billie Holiday's 'God Bless
The Child'. The great jazz singer and pianist
did a brilliant version of 'Lost
Mind', but I'd recommend all Depths Plumbers to
begin with his version of Parchman Farm
dip your toe in there first. So, that was a quite
abstract way to reach out from Rumer, but we got
Later that same day I played at Bella Freud's
Hoping Foundation gala, accompanying Elton
on a version of 'Unchained Melody'.
Of course, it's well known what a brilliant pianist
he is, but he has the most wonderful voice. Listen
to 'Border Song' and you can hear all his Gospel
was also there and he was very, very
good too. Russell Brand was hosting and he mentioned
how Mr Naughty had a "nice face", and he really
does. You can go a long way with a nice face in
One of the people whose taste I really trust in
music is Richard
and this week he turned me onto
Toussaint McCall's 1967 hit, 'Nothing Takes The
Place Of You'. This is a wonderful record
my exhibition winner for this week!
Friday 13th June 2014
On The Road:
We've just done two nights at Hampton Court which
is a wonderful place to play. We were given a
tour of the palace before the first night and
were shown this great painting of Henry VIII and
his jester. The guide was brilliant and he told
us this original Tudor joke.
What is the cleanliest leaf in the forest?
It is indeed the holly, for no man dare wipeth
his arse upon it!
The old ones, as they say, are the best ones.
Later that day I saw a white figure at an upstairs
window. I mentioned it to someone and they told
me that part of the palace is completely closed
off so that was a bit odd. An American
fan gave me a book on Lightnin' Hopkins last night.
Like a lot of blues musicians has a huge
, but y ou Depths Plumbers would
do well to start with 'Let's Move', that always
makes me dance. In fact, I've seen people of all
ages just leap up and start dancing as soon as
they hear it.
On The Radio:
My Radio 2 show has finished for the summer, but
I was on Sean Rafferty's Radio 3 show last week.
I thought the DJs would be all dinner jackets
and tweeds, but they're just like you and me.
I played a version of Ramsey Lewis' 'Consider
The Source' Radio 3 really is such an incredible
In The Studio:
I've been writing with Joss Stone she has
the most amazing voice. I can't tell you everything
about it now but there is a new song. If
you want to plumb some depths, have a listen to
Joss and I doing Bei
Mir Bist Du Schön
from my 'Golden Age
Of Song' album. We'll be on tour together later
in the year. I'd also like to say how sad it was
to hear of my friend Rik Mayall's death this week.
I love this
, of Rik, Bill Wyman and I playing
Friday 30th May 2014
On The Radio:
I had Ade Edmonson on this week and he's always
a marvellous guest. He plays English
these days with his band, The
. I recommend all Depth Plumbers
check them out. It was great to get the chance
to play B.B. King's 'Days Of Old' on the show
too, that's a record that has made me happy for
years and years. Whenever I'm plumbing the depths
that's where I head. I'll be on Paul O'Grady's
show this week with will.i.am
Little known fact: Paul is an expert on British
cinema and has a serious, specialist subject style
knowledge of music hall.
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had Kwabs who was very,
very good indeed. Arcade Fire were introduced
by Jonathan Ross, which I'm sure confused a lot
of people. Imelda May was on and it was a great
pleasure to talk to her and her husband and producer
Darrel Haigham who, like Jeff Beck and Bruce Springsteen,
is a huge fan of another of this week's guests,
, in particular the music he made
between the late 50s and the early 60s. Darrel's
huge love for that era meant he could ask Hank
a string really searching and detailed questions.
My TV highlight of this week was Harry Enfield
and Paul Whitehouse's take on Later... during
their tribute to BBC 2 evening. Paul's version
of me was dazzlingly brilliant. Took a picture
of the screen and I plan on using it for my publicity
photo from now on.
On The Road:
We're really properly warmed up now and played
great shows in Perth, Scarborough, Middlesborough
and Wolverhampton this week to some fantastic
crowds. While we were in Wolverhampton my trumpet
player Chris saw a sign in a taxi that read, "There
is a £40 charge for soiling this taxi". So, obviously,
we paid upfront and enjoyed ourselves. I've also
been listening to myself on Spotify while on the
road. At home I live in tunnel of old newspapers
and LPs, so Spotify is the easiest way for me
to find anything. I was pleasantly surprised to
, a track I'd recorded in Spain for
a charity record, on there. I'd forgotten I'd
even done that...
Friday 23rd May 2014
On The Radio:
I played Lee Dorsey's 'Do Re Mi' this week, that's
a superb track. You can hear the beginnings of
hip-hop in Dorsey and Allen Toussaint records
like 'Get Out Of My Life, Woman'. One particular
favourite of mine I played this week is Winnifred
Atwell's 'Big Ben Boogie' a record I was
given by my friend Paul Roberson who is that famous
bell's caretaker. Those chimes are so wonderful
they are the true music of London. Marc
was my guest this week. He's been
appearing with my band and we've been performing
a version of Dinah Washington's 1963 hit, 'A Stranger
on Earth', a song we're great fans of. As a child
Dinah was taken to see the great Blues singer
and the Gospel legend Mahalia
. A generation later, Aretha Franklin
was taken to see Dinah Washington so they're
all linked together.
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had Ed Sheeran who I
think is a great songwriter. He has become a serious
international phenomenom and he sings and
plays so well. I was delighted to have my old
on too, she's always a fantastic
guest. Did you know Kelis is a fully-trained Cordon
Bleu chef? Her new album is completely focused
on food and our conversation went like this:
Me: Square plates or round plates?
Kelis: Always round.
Kelis: Never, it's like someone's sneezed on your
Kelis: What's not to like about pies?
I was very happy to find we were in complete agreement
On The Road:
My band have been playing across the North of
England this week and I've been playing duets
with my brother which has been great fun. When
people who are related sing together they're said
to have 'Blood Harmonies' so perhaps our
piano improvisations are an example of 'Bloody
Fists'? We know precisely where the other one
is going without saying a word we're really
thinking as one. But maybe we need a better phrase
than 'Bloody Fists' could the Depths Plumbers
Monday 19th May 2014
On The Radio:
My guest this week was Suzanne Vega, she was a
great guest and we played 'A Walk on the Wildside'
as a tribute to our old friend, Lou
. When Lou was on my TV show I asked
him what his idea of a 'Perfect Day' was and he
told me he wouldn't know a perfect day was if
it came along and bit him on the arse. I loved
getting a chance to play Amos Milburn's 'Chicken
Shack Boogie', that's one of the great records
of of the late 1940s. From the world of jazz I
played the top pianist Earl Hines performing 'Deep
Forest' and I absolutely love that Skatalites
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had Brian
who is a very interesting musician.
He has a huge amout of material on Spotify. I
recommend a good dig through his catalougue
there's a lot of pleasure to be had.
On The Road:
My band have been rehearsing a ska version of
's 'Ain't Misbehavin''. All Depths
Plumbers need to hear how he plays with the tempo
it's a great joy to me every time I hear
it. He wrote that song in 1929, so it's almost
90 years old, but it's still so fresh. Playing
it in a ska version is really exciting as it's
Monday 12th May 2014
On The Radio:
was on the radio show this week
and she was fascinating on wanting to form a punk
group in Los Angeles even though, as she admitted,
there really wasn't much to be unhappy about there,
unlike in London. But that's what was so great
about punk. We played a lot of music, of course
I really was plumbing the depths of my
collection but I particularly loved Hal
Paige's 'Drive It Home', what a great, early RnB
track. But BB King's 1954 single 'You Upset Me
Baby' is just great too the original B-side
was 'Whole Lotta Love', which turned out to be
fairly influential, didn't it? If you want to
plumb the depths of me, you won't get lower down
than hearing something like that...
On The TV:
We had Roger Cicero and The
on this week both
of who were fantastic. On Friday's show I'll be
at the piano with Aloe Blacc. We sang together,
which interpolates Elton John's 'Your Song', but
he told me people often mistake it for Leon Russell's
'Song For You'. I asked him what version he most
likes I love Leon's version but
Aloe's favourite is the Donny Hathaway version,
which is very, very good. So, all plumbers, check
out Donny, now!
On The Road:
We had a wonderful show this week with Gregory
Porter at the Cheltenham Jazz Show; he's one of
the greatest new Jazz singers in the world. It's
quite a boast, but I believe it to be true. We
wrote a song together called 'Sweet Country Love
Song' it's unusual as it refers to the
countryside rather than country music. We were
on tour together when we wrote this song and he
was enjoying the English countryside not
something he'd experienced much back home in New
Monday 5th May 2014
On The Radio:
I've been playing Eddie Reader's 'Snowflakes In
The Sun' this week that's a great song,
so I wanted to bring people's attention to that.
I've also loved Smiley Lewis' 'Mama Don't Like
It' which is a list of music styles that
mothers and fathers don't like.
If you're lucky enough to have your mother she
might not appreciate you spending all this time
on listening to jump music, pop music and blues
music on Spotify instead of doing what mama wants
you to do, which is your chores. So think on.
A record I've loved this week is Sister
's 'See His Blessed Face'
she has a voice like you would not believe. Just
On The TV:
This week on the TV show we have Germany's greatest
jazz singer, Roger
who's a huge, huge star in Germany.
He's an extraordinary talent we recorded
a version of Stevie Wonder's 'I Love Every Little
Thing About You' together once and he'll
be singing Prince's 'How Come You Don't Call Me
Anymore'. I found a lot of versions of that song
on Spotify, but it was Alicia Keys' version that
I really liked. In fact, her version was so good
it made me listen to to her cover of Gladys Knight's
'If I Was Your Woman', which is another excellent
On The Road:
This week we played some great shows and have
been working on some great new songs. We've had
Gregory Porter sitting in with us, which has been
fantastic and we're on tour all week. Some
big shows coming up...
Monday 28th April 2014
On The Radio:
Music serves a lot of purposes. It can help with
feelings of loss and grief, it can help with the
shock you feel. In selecing music for a funeral
this week I chose a very special piece called
Lord, Take My Hand
. It was written in
1932 by the great Gospel composer Thomas
after his wife died in childbirth
he also wrote Peace
In The Valley
and they were both
made famous by Mahalia Jackson, but my favourite
version is by Ruby Turner. Before his conversion,
Dorsey recorded as Georgia Tom his 1928
record with Tampa Red, 'Tight Like That', sold
around seven million copies. A truly remarkable
number, really. My guest on the show this week
will be Rosanne Cash, what will we do? I don't
On The TV:
This week we have Damon Albarn and he, like me,
is a very big fan of Music Hall. We're both very
keen on Leslie Sarony's 1932 classic, 'Ain't It
Grand To Be Bloomin' Well Dead'. You'd have to
be very hard of heart to not love a song with
a title as catchy as that. Right at the other
end of the spectrum, there's Alfred Brendel playing
Schubert's 'Opus 90 Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat',
which is a very uncatchy title of a surprisingly
catchy tune. Look out also this week for Coldplay,
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and The Black
On The Road:
We're out on the road doing shows right now. Melanie
C and Marc Almond are special guests on the tour
and they're fitting in so well it's like they're
part of the family already. We've been rehearsing
old songs and creating brand new things
like a ska version of 'Ain't Misbehavin''. Listen
out for that...
Tuesday 22nd April 2014
On The Radio:
One conversation drove everything this week, and
that began with us talking about Ray Charles'
1953 hit, 'Mess Around' and how much it was inspired
by Big Maceo's 1948 hit on Victor called 'Chicago
Breakdown'. That is the hand that touched the
hand... I also had the brilliant Herbert Grönemeyer
in and he played his song 'Will I Ever Learn'
which he recorded alongside Antony
On The TV:
This week has been all about Paolo Nutini for
me. In the same way that Alfred
is widely considered to be the
greatest living intepreter of Beethoven's work,
I believe that Paolo holds that role with Wynonie
Harris. Paolo has studied Wynonie like Brendel
has studied Beethoven and so they both
understand the other artist. All you need to do
is listen to his version of Wynonie's 1952 hit,
'Lovin' Machine'. That's on the show this week...
On The Road:
The big thing this week has been rehearsing our
own song 'Love Made Them Do That' with Ruby Turner.
We have a load of gigs in May we're on
tour from next week so it's been a busy
time with the band. Next week I'll be in touch
from The Road...
Monday 14th April 2014
On The Radio:
I was in this little pub in Deptford a few nights
ago and they had my radio show playing over the
speakers. Among all the blues tracks I had played
, a wonderfully strange late-40s
hit for Peggy
. There was a huge guy at the bar who
was almost crying, it had such strong memories
for him. Last week I had Eddi
on my show, her new record Vagabond
is well worth a listen, she has a wonderful voice
you might hear an echo of Peggy Lee, she
has a voice a bit like that. Next week I have
in; he's a little like Germany's
Peter Gabriel, and he's great. He did a duet with
Antony Hegarty from Antony
& The Johnsons
On The TV:
A big thing for Later... is when people come on
and do a new version of a song. This week I have
son he's just recorded an album of duets
and, within that, a new version of Release
, which I've now learnt! I've been talking
to Guy Garvey, too we've done a version
Happens to Me
. I know a lot of songs and
I know a lot of music, but I don't know everything
and I didn't know this. That's what's great about
music, you never can possibly know everything.
Guy loves Chet Baker's version
but the chords in that take are very ambiguous,
and this is where Spotify really comes into its
own. You can listen to the other
and pick through the arrangement
and changes and see how the song took shape. I
mean, I have a very large record collection, but
without Spotify I would have been hopeless at
finding out about that song. I might have had
one version, but 10? Not a chance!
Julie London did a great
That's right! All this great music has been made
by men and women, these are real, human artefacts,
and they need to be heard.
We're working with Melanie
this week recording two songs, one that
I wrote with Sam Brown and Chrissie Hynde called
Of This World
and Stevie Wonder's I
too. I spent some time this week
having a proper Spotify rummage, looking up Confessin'
and I found Wynonie Harris doing
and it made me so happy as I have
Paolo Nutini on Later... next week and he is the
greatest living interpreter of Wynonie Harris'
style of vocals. He is Wynonie
! But let's talk about that more