Salut! Commentary

Johnny Hallyday: allumez le feu/ light the fire

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This has just appeared at another of my sites, Salut!. It is the promised Robb Johnson follow-up to his 2007 epic on Johnny Hallyday, reproduced here after news broke of Johnny's death at 74.

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fRoots: saving graces

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Here's a confession. Yesterday, I received a slightly unexpected £50 payment for advertising at the site I run for supporters of, mention the name sparingly, Sunderland AFC. It was one of those necessary evils, a dropped link to a betting site. Helps pay the bills - the site server thumped me for a £200 renewal only the other week - and also enables me, in the absence of a sponsor, to offer prizes in the regular Guess the Score competition.

But the £50 didn't on this occasion go towards the upkeep or the site or a mug/print/book for a winning entrant (which usually means someone who first thinks of the score by which Sunderland go on to lose).

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fRoots at crossroads: as Ian Anderson bows out, opportunity knocks for a 'philanthropic millionaire'


I have met Ian Anderson**, the editor of fRoots, on only a handful of occasions but spoken to or corresponded with him on many more. When I wrote about folk music for The Daily Telegraph, he called my work "right column, wrong newspaper", a handle I greatly appreciated. When all that came to end, he continued to be a willing interviewee on a couple of occasions when I needed someone like him to comment for pieces I was writing for other publications - and even published a little piece I offered him.

"Someone like him" indeed. Ian is a one-off and no one I can think of could have kept that magazine going so outstandingly and for so long. Unlike one or two of those commenting on his wish to retire, I do not have every copy of the magazine (not a great excuse but living abroad much of the time has got in the way of better intentions). I do, however, have piles of back issues on my shelves in France and remain a loyal if, in recent years, more intermittent admirer of the magazine and its work.

Now that Ian has decided it is time to move on, I shall let him explain, shamelessly lifting his Facebook announcement but not without repeating, along with a few other short tributes, what I said there: "A glowing example to all of us who have ever tried to use media to raise awareness of very special music. A huge collective thank you is due, Ian."

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Dipping into the Past: the Irish Troubles and music

October 2017 update (a further update appears below as a footnote) ...: I believe Salut! Live's archive deserves a wider audience, not for any merit in the writing but because it brings great music to those who stray into these pages.
That is why I occasionally reproduce items from the past, as now with some reflections from 2007 on musical by-products of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Brexit, and continuing problems that arise when two political parties with utterly opposing philosophies share power (power-sharing is currently suspended and there is a risk of direct rule from Westminster being imposed), may not lead to a return to violence on the scale of the Troubles.
But they leave some of us less optimistic than when this article first appeared 10 years ago. Otherwise, I stand by all that I wrote then - and you'll find I have added clips of the songs mentioned ...

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French music doesn't travel? Try Jain, Imany, Cats on Trees and even Indochine

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It's a perceived wisdom and I have been known to swallow it. French music, and especially pop/rock, may suit a domestic audience but does not easily appeal to the ears of Anglo-Saxons (as the French like to call us). Indeed, there are plenty of French people who would sooner listen to American or British pop and rock.

But recent developments have prompted me to rethink the theory. It may have a little to do with my neighbour Jean-Louis, who plays guitar in a way I'd love to emulate but never will; I could gaze at his lead guitar runs all night. Come to think of it, I already have gazed at them for much of the night. It has more to do with a relatively new phenomenon, French artists making a point of singing in English.

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Salut! Live is on holiday. But catch up on a massive folk and folk-rock archive

"What I love about working with you," The Daily Telegraph arts desk sub-editor said when I wrote about folk music for her section of the paper, "is that when I have query, you just ring up the artist and they answer it."

It was true, and remains so to some extent. I may have been a mere hack but I had the phone numbers of most of the people I wrote about, or at least those of people close to them.

Sometimes, they'd call me.

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