Radio 4 on Music

Radio 4 on Music

From Armstrong to Zappa - music documentaries from the Radio 4 archive bringing you a brand new episode each week.

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Recent episodes (10)

  • My Wizard

    Wed, 23 Jul 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    John Aizlewood examines the oft derided genre of Progressive Rock, a catch all term for a variety of bands from Pink Floyd to Yes to Hawkwind to Jethro Tull. He talks to Floyd's David Gilmour, Rick Wakeman of Yes and Keith Emerson, and ponders the subtle difference between 'Prog' and 'Progressive', before asking the difficult question - was any of it any good?

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Billy Preston: That's The Way God Planned It

    Wed, 16 Jul 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    Rick Wakeman tells the story of Billy Preston, a bona fide child prodigy who began his career accompanying Nat King Cole at the age of 11 and went on to become a semi-permanent fixture with The Rolling Stones and most famously, The Beatles. We hear about Preston's highly individual keyboard skills from some famous fans including Bill Wyman and Pete Townshend and discover the secret that plagued his life till his untimely death in 2006.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T - The Art of Backing Vocals

    Wed, 9 Jul 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Broadcaster and musician Nick Barraclough pays tribute to the oft neglected job of the backing vocalist. Tracing the evolution of vocal harmony, Barraclough draws a straight line from Tudor song through to fifties doo-wop with the help of arrangers, musicologists and the singers themselves. From The Shangri-Las to Steely Dan to Gladys Knight and The Pips, you'll never listen to the oohs,aahs and shooby doos in quite the same way after hearing this.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Ziggy Stardust Came from Isleworth

    Wed, 2 Jul 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    Martin Day tells the story of Vince Taylor, one of the many Elvis Presley soundalikes making a living on the Soho coffee bar scene in the late 1950s. Taylor claimed to be an American but was actually born in Twickenham. Though he achieved some fame in France, an encounter with LSD led to a spectacular fall from grace in the mid 1960s, and Taylor ended up living on the streets in London. It was there that he met David Bowie and unwittingly provided some of the inspiration for Bowie's Ziggy Stardust character. This programme pieces together Taylor's tragic story with the help of his old bandmates and archive interviews.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • The Dream Time of Jazz

    Wed, 25 Jun 14

    Duration:
    59 mins

    In 1938, pianist and jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton was running a bar in New York, unable to get anyone to play his music and having failed to make much money out of his compositions. It was there that broadcaster Alistair Cooke came across him and persuaded folklorist Alan Lomax to record Morton at the piano, singing and reminiscing about his days in New Orleans. The resulting tapes form the basis for this programme. Historian Marybeth Hamilton examines the recordings, which lay untouched for years because of their explicitly violent and misogynistic content, but nevertheless paint a vivid portrait of the early days of jazz. The programme contains some strong language which may offend.

    Download 27MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Follow-Up Albums: Dexys Midnight Runners: Don't Stand Me Down

    Wed, 18 Jun 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    This programme tells the story of Dexys Midnight Runners' attempt to follow up their globally successful second album 'Too-Rye-Ay'. It's a tale of political awakening, record company pressure versus artistic freedom, and disintegrating personal relationships. Though reappraised as a classic, at the time of its release 'Don't Stand Me Down' was regarded as a critical and commercial failure. Pete Paphides talks to Dexys frontman Kevin Rowland about the making of the record in a rare and revealing interview.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Between Rock And A Good Cause

    Wed, 11 Jun 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    Bill Graham's story was a remarkable one. Escaping Nazi Germany as a child, he made it to the US and carved out a career as one of the first big rock music promoters on the West Coast in the boom years of the late 1960s. A colourful character, Graham was not averse to fistfights with recalcitrant band managers, but also organised tours for Amnesty International and was responsible for the U.S. portion of Live Aid. John Wilson tells his remarkable story with the help of Harvey Goldmsith, Ron Wood, Bob Geldof and others.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • When the Levee Breaks

    Wed, 4 Jun 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    This programme tells the murky story of Memphis Minnie, a larger than life singer and guitarist whose 1929 song 'When The Levee Breaks' (famously covered by Led Zeppelin) told the story of the Mississipi floods of 1927. Mark Lamarr traces Minnie's colourful life and musical career, which reflected the change in the blues as it transformed from an acoustic, countrified music to a harder, electrified, urban sound in its new home, Chicago.

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  • The Song Doctor

    Wed, 28 May 14

    Duration:
    30 mins

    Stephen Evans tells the story of the unlikely collaboration between country music legend Johnny Cash and producer Rick Rubin which began in the early 1990s. At the time Rubin was best known for his work with Run DMC and the Beastie Boys, while Cash's recording career was faltering. Together the duo made a series of albums known as 'The American Recordings' which rank amongst Cash's best (and certainly most personal) work.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Southern Journeys

    Wed, 21 May 14

    Duration:
    59 mins

    It's not an exaggeration to say that without the work of Alan Lomax, American music might have sounded very different. Lomax's field recordings of the music of the poor and disposessed, made in fields, churches and prisons, made a big impression on the likes of Bob Dylan and paved the way for the 1960s Blues revival. In this programme British folk singer Shirley Collins (who was both Lomax's lover and assistant) tells the story of his trips to the Southern States and in particular one made in 1959. where the pair discovered the great bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. This programme contains language which may offend.

    Download 27MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

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