Music

Cara Dillon, Ian Anderson, John Spiers and the tragic lockdown tale that cries out for an uplifting new chapter

Two small slices of social media grabbed my attention today. Someone posted at a neighbourhood group to which I belong in Ealing, west London that a motor-cycle had been nicked from outside an address at the other end of the avenue from my street. Crikey, I thought mischievously, our wretched Government has even let down the pilfering classes, ensuring that in bleak times even for them - burglaries must surely be down if everyone's been stuck inside - criminal lowlife must find its own ways to survive.
 
Then I saw Cara Dillon's tweet shown above. And I have to confess to feeling a great deal sorrier and angrier about the plight of musicians, entertainers generally and the venues in which they used to perform before Covid-19 than I do about any grievances thieves may harbour.
 
I have wondered at different stages of the crisis whether there might be anything this tiny site could do to help. Would Salut! Live's small but sometimes influential readership make some sort of crowd-funding appeal work? This tweet from John Spiers - think Bellowhead but much more, including a stream of spot-on tweets as @squeezyjohn - sums up how performers feel about the appalling lack of support they and their industry have received ...
 
 
 

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Johnny Hallyday est mort: an essential essay on a French rock legend

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Click this caption to buy this and other Johnny Hallyday publications at Salut! Live's Amazon link


The French Elvis? Not quite. A French Cliff? Surely not. But when I awoke to news of the death at 74 of Johnny Hallyday, I was instantly aware that another important figure of contemporary music was no more. Massively important to some, hardly worth a thought to others, a choice guided by nationality and/or place of residence, Johnny was adored in France and much of the wider francophone world where his passing is being treated more as Elvis or Lennon than, say Roy Orbison or Freddie Mercury.

L'idole des jeunes, for the French of a certain generation in search of their answer to Anglo-Saxon pop and rock dominance; "poor Johnny remains the most famous rock star most people have never heard of" as a sceptical journalistic consoeur put it. I cannot say I warmed especially to his music but acknowledge he had a terrific voice and some style, though I could cheerfully have strangled the builder we once had in France who not only played Johnny incessantly on his ghetto-blaster as he worked but sang along.

Ten years ago, Robb Johnson - a very leftwing British songwriter wrote at length about his own, superficially strange love affair with Johnny's music. Robb may well be adding his response to the news (not unexpected; Johnny had been suffering from lung cancer and, clearly knowing his time was up, discharged himself from hospital against medical advice to spend his last days at home). His immediate reaction? 'Merde.' I have pulled together the three-part essay Robb composed for these pages ...

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Rachel Unthank, Flossie Malavialle, Kathryn Roberts head top 10 female singers, alternative option

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UPDATE: the list has undergone a change; in comes Linda Thompson - a terrible oversight in the previous lists - and out, with regret, must go Dolores Keane ...


If I remain convinced
that lists of this kind are fun, but no more, I admit to reading as avidly as anyone what others consider their best, five best, 10 best albums, types of tree, car models, authors and so on. It doesn't mean they are, just that someone thinks that way and may even think it inconceivable that this or that CD, tree, car, dog, lawnmower, author or whatever was included or excluded by another.

Read the entertaining comments at the originating Facebook page, and as followed up here (including a link to Facebook).

Having relented a couple of times in the ensuing discussion, I thought I'd offer an off-the-wall second selection. I called in my non-mainstream list at Facebook although it is hardly less mainstream than the first one. But I did exclude anyone I had previously included or later added as substitutes.

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Heading the 10 best female singers. Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight - Sandy Denny?

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Buy Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits album at Salut! Live's Amazon record shelf by clicking on this caption

UPDATE: scroll down the article or check Comment No 24 for a revised Top 10 ...

Of Nick Hornby's books - and I've read a few - High Fidelity is comfortably my favourite. If you've read it, too, you'll remember the lists.

He went for Top Fives or Five This/Five That. At a Facebook group called Greatest Albums of All Time and Great Music!! (yes, two exclamation marks), Damian Mitchell doubled it to give his choice of the best 10 female singers.

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