The digital age
Roddy Hart writes about this week's show
In this rather slick and advanced digital age we find ourselves inhabiting - one that provides instant access to an embarrassment of musical riches - it can be easy to forget the simple thrill of walking into a record store and actually buying an album. No hovering a mouse over a little "play" button. No clicking to hear a short excerpt of a track. And no downloading the fruits of an artist's labour in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea (unless you're still struggling with a dial-up internet connection, granddad). And so it was a thrill I rediscovered last week when I visited a certain record shop on Glasgow's Byres Road and clapped eyes on Bill Fay's "Life Is People".
Given the fairly democratised platform that most artists can enjoy these days via the internet, there can be a certain amount of over-exposure that befalls those albums deemed worthy of physical distribution in record stores. In other words, you already know exactly what you're getting before you've even picked the CD or 12" off the rack. And yet, I knew nothing about the album I saw featuring the picture of a slightly disheveled elderly gentleman sitting at a piano, adorned with glowing quotes from Nick Cave and Jeff Tweedy. Something about it just looked right. So, feeling daring and brave, I decided to take a punt and purchase the album without having heard a note. And I'm glad to report I have not been disappointed. Turns out Bill Fay is a quietly influential English songwriter, covered by artists like Wilco and John Howard, who has returned with his first new studio LP in over 40 years. It's a kind of dark gothic folk music, highly enchanting (including a stunning version of Wilco's "Jesus Etc"), and my Record Of Note this week.
Also on the show, we'll be hearing Part II of my interview with the great Mike Scott (covering the post-Fisherman's Blues years, including his journey through an uncertain 90s and what he's up to next), and we'll be dipping into the work of Basher himself - Nick Lowe - for our Undercover Writer feature. A fine listener suggestion (you lot have taste), Nick is an often overlooked songwriter - famed as much for his production work with Elvis Costello as he is for writing songs as accomplished as "(I Love The Sound of) Breaking Glass" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding"
- and so we'll be putting that right with some excellent covers of his work. We'll also hear tracks from Frightened Rabbit, The War On Drugs, Bon Iver, Paul Buchanan, The National and many more. And it's all happening this Thursday from 10.05pm on BBC Radio Scotland. Oh, and that's analogue and digital.