James Dean Bradfield takes the mic on Radio Wales
James Dean Bradfield
The show's producer, Darren Broome, agreed to write a few paragraphs for us about getting the Manic Street Preachers frontman in:
My history with Manic Street Preachers goes back to very nearly the beginning. I started here as a reporter on Rave, along with Alan Thompson and Rob Brydon, back in 1990. Rave was a late night 'youth show' on then BBC Radio 5.
One of the very first interviews I did was with Richey Edwards in the Marina Nite-spot in Swansea - just about when the band were releasing their Motown Junk single in January 1992. I've been lucky and seemed to pop up and interview them as their profile increased and I've ended up sort of befriending them along the way.
Every couple of years on from that I'd end up interviewing the band - Nicky and his brother Patrick a couple of times in 1996 and 1999, then I made a Radio 2 doc - A Design For Life - about the band in 2002 which included long interviews with James, Nicky and Sean.
I've also worked on a couple of music related projects outside of work as a musician and got to know James quite well. We're pretty much the same age and both grew up in the Valleys - I'm from Aberdare, he's Blackwood of course, so we've got a lot of the same or indeed shared cultural and social reference points.
It was an absolute honour and joy to spend time with James in the studio listening to the music that we both grew up adoring and being influenced by. It was great fun to hear so many rock and roll stories!
James took the role of presenter with total dedication. His love of classic rock comes over so strongly in both programmes, as does the fact he's really knowledgeable with the state of the current music scene. He's a natural presenter, passionate and engaging, and a real treat for anyone who's a fan of music.
If you hear the shows you'll get a wonderful insight into the mind of a brilliant songwriter: listening to James' choices of tracks, you can just about start to imagine how he puts together a track, the sounds that trigger his thought processes.
It's a diverse, eclectic and really rocking playlist for both shows. James picked west Wales band Trwbador, playing a track in each of this two shows, and also chose a session from Abergavenny art punks Saturday's Kids. To have James stamp his approval on any new Welsh band is something that is bands can only dream of, but for quite a few new Welsh acts the dream has come true.
James said to me: "To be able to make a programme where you can play Rush and Orange Juice in the same show is such a privilege." Many of the tracks were chosen to pinpoint a particular time in James' early life in and around Blackwood, Newport and Cardiff.
Also keeping it very homegrown, James chose an album each week in the feature 'Albums to Hear before you pop your clogs'. In the first programme he picked Empires And Dance by Simple Minds which was recorded at Rockfield studios in Monmouth.
In the second programme (31 March) he chose The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat, a record that has a special memory for him as he remembers listing to the track, The Gift - and hearing a Welsh voice narrate the track, whom he later discovered was John Cale. James describes that as his 'Jim'll Fix It moment' - from that moment on he realised that anything was possible.