2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life

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Little Richard………comes to Manchester in 1963

I played in a support band at one of his shows.Management pulled us off as the Teddy Boys in the audience, jiving with each other, didn’t appreciate our Motown covers. Not quite as bad as The Blues Brothers being bottled but you get the idea!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

In 1963 I was fifteen years old and just getting into my stride with pop music. There was little opportunity to listen to pop music as the BBC rigidly controlled the airwaves and looked down on popular music with considerable distaste. The best we could aspire to in those days was “Family Favourites” on the radio (on Sunday dinner time, thats midday for those who live in the south), which would very occasionally play something “new”. Most of the time it was music requested by families (many in the forces) and was of the 30s, 40,s and occasionally 50s eras.

In 1963 the Beatles had begun to make waives and not long after the “beat boom” exploded with bands pouring out of many major cities, but particularly Liverpool.

Many of the British bands had been influenced by American R&B, country blues and gospel music (It was Bonnie Raitt who said…

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David Bowie in Manchester 2003

SCAN0156It was in Manchester in November 2003 at the Manchester Arena. The whole family went. He was promoting his Reality album which I don’t think was his greatest but he was a great performer.

The show got a 4 star review in the Guardian at the time praising him for his voice range (he apparently hadn’t sung the high notes in “China Girl” since he’d recorded it until this tour) and appearance.

After previously saying he wouldn’t be playing his old hits as he was retiring his back catalogue he obviously changed his mind as he performed songs such as “Rebel Rebel” “The Man who sold the World” “Life on Mars” “Changes” “Ashes to Ashes” and even “Under Pressure“.

The reviewer also conceded that there was no evidence of his being a psychologically disturbed cocaine addict or occult-crazed madman!

He did however – on the eve of President Bush’s visit – sing “I’m afraid of Americans“. The reviewer Dave Simpson summed it up as “predictable but glorious entertainment”. 

Fair enough but time to move on.

We’ve just lost Glenn Frey after all. Let me think, I saw him at Huddersfield with the Eagles on the Hell Freezes Over tour…


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Britain’s top 10 catchiest tunes

Britain’s catchiest tune is a Spice Girls’ song!

Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry developed an on-line experiment in the form of an interactive game called “Hooked on Music” in which people were asked if they recognised a song which was randomly selected from 1,000 clips dating from the 1940s to the present day.

The Spice Girls’ debut single “Wannabe” , which spent 7 weeks at No 1 in 1996, was the one most quickly recognised by participants – in an average of 2.29 seconds.

Second was Lou Bega’s “Mambo” identified in 2.48 seconds, followed by Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” which took participants an average of 2.62 seconds to recognise.

Overall it took people an average of 5 seconds to recognise a clip from a UK best-selling record.

Originally designed by a computational musicologist from the University of Amsterdam the experiment had a serious purpose; to try and understand what makes a piece of music so memorable that we can instantly recognise years after we first heard it and how the memory retains certain pieces of music. For example do all the more memorable pieces share the same characteristics?

The Manchester museum is revealing the results at this week’s Science Festival. Although the Science Festival Director says this experiment attracted a large diverse group of participants, 12,000, I can see it appealing mainly to people who like playing on-line games so it may not be representative of the population as a whole.

The remaining top 10 catchiest tunes were:

4 Lady GaGa “Just Dance


6 Roy Orbison “Pretty Woman”

7 Michael Jackson “Beat It

8 Whitney Houston “I will always love you

9 The Human League “Don’t you want me

10 Aerosmith “I don’t want to miss a thing”

The game will be on-line until the end of 2014 so if you want to play the game yourself and contribute to science just click here.

If you’ve never heard the song (and you’re not missing much) or want a reminder here it is