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
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, I think.
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 Baby, 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 Johnson
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 Garland
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
; 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
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 great trick.
So we also had Marc Almond, Ruby, and
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 Montrell's
Every 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
. 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 was
. 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 new album
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
song, but rare because he wrote
it rather than just sang it and, as ever, made it his own.
I had Chrissie Hynde
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 week...
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
' 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.
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
song I wrote
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' Wolf
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, I think.
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
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 Wakeman
, 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 you then!
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
Down 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
The Count Bishops
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 week.
On Later... this week we had
she's always great,
always so inventive she was wonderfully dressed as a vicar this time.
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 finger.
sounded so glamorous
it was amazing it was like being in a 1960's whirlwind of dimmer switches and Aston Martins. Then there was
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.
, the great
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 there.
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 to that...
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 Street Preachers
they were just great. They had the German actress and singer
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.
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 Booker
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,
, a Western Swing figure
from the 40s and 50s who sang 'Seven Days to Rock' and
'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 Spotify follower.
was very good, Gary Kemp and
Steve Norman from Spandau were great, as was
Melanie De Biasio
. 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
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
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 Islands
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 Big Pink
, 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 Rosetta Tharpe
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,
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 with
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
played on the original Batman theme, Andy Williams' 'Can't Get Used To Losing You', the soundtracks to
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 in
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 display.
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
of UB40 and one with Andy Bell
Erasure. They were both great guests, but it was Andy who tipped me off about the mysterious
, 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 Hynde
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 Of Destiny
, 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
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 known before.
On next week's show we've got The Shires
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 Workshop
studios what an inspiring place...
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
bit of the mighty Neville Brothers
Am I giving away too many secrets here?
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 moment, Adele
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
Emeli and I were both very inspired by Nina Simone
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 Newman
'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 on Spotify
and it sounds wonderful, he's such a unique songwriter. The title track is really good.
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 Trick
performing in Edinburgh and she played a version of Princeton-born, jazz stride pianist's
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 there.
This week I'm recording with the wonderful Emeli Sandé
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 soon.
If I'm not I'll see you all next week...
Monday 14th July 2014
This week we've been at the Carlisle
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 Formby
, 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
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 Waller
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 legendary Jeff Beck
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
my More Friends
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 as ever.
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 May
tell you about all that next week!
Friday 4th July 2014
This has been a very busy week with a particularly busy Thursday. I've been in the studio with
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
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 there!
Later that same day I played at Bella Freud's Hoping Foundation gala, accompanying
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 roots.
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 this business.
One of the people whose taste I really trust in music is
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 catalogue
, 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 station.
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
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 clip
, of Rik, Bill Wyman and I playing together...
Friday 30th May 2014
On The Radio:
I had Ade Edmonson on this week and he's always
a marvellous guest. He plays
English folk music
these days with his band,
The Bad Shepherds
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
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 find
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.
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 Jackson
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 friend
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 food!
Kelis: What's not to like about pies?
I was very happy to find we were in complete agreement on everything.
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 help?
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,
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 record.
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had
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 so different...
Monday 12th May 2014
On The Radio:
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 Afghan Whigs
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 York.
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 Wynona Carr
's 'See His Blessed
Face' she has a voice like you would not believe. Just astonishing.
On The TV:
This week on the TV show we have Germany's greatest jazz singer,
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 version.
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
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
It was written in 1932 by the great Gospel composer
Thomas A. Dorsey
after his wife
died in childbirth he also wrote
Peace In The Valley
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 know yet!
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 Keys.
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
On The TV:
This week has been all about Paolo Nutini for me. In the same way that
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 was Golden Earrings
wonderfully strange late-40s hit for Peggy Lee
. There was a huge guy at the bar who
was almost crying, it had such strong memories for him. Last week I had Eddi Reader
on my show,
her new record Vagabond
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 Herbert Grönemeyer
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
favourite son he's just recorded an album of duets and, within that, a new version of
, which I've now learnt! I've been
talking to Guy Garvey, too we've done a version of Everything Happens to Me
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
, 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 versions
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 version
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 C
this week recording two songs, one that I wrote with Sam Brown and Chrissie Hynde called
Out Of This World
Wonder's I Wish
too. I spent some time this week having a proper Spotify rummage,
looking up Confessin' The Blues
and I found Wynonie Harris
doing his version
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 Harris
! But let's talk about that more next week...