6 time BBC award-winning singer songwriter Karine Polwart releases her eighth album this coming August. ‘Scottish Songbook’ does what it says on the tin, with Karine re-interpreting various pieces of Scottish pop spanning the last six decades. Fans will experience her putting her own stamp on classics by Deacon Blue and The Waterboys, as well as revisiting Strawberry Switchblades huge 1985 hit ‘Since Yesterday’.
You can find out more in the press release below, which contains a link to the new single, a cover of Ivor Cutler’s ‘Women of The World’.
Billy Bragg has never been shy of voicing a political opinion. However, the collection of songs that makes up the 2017 EP ‘Bridges Not Walls’ might just find the singer-songwriter at his most consistently outspoken since 1988’s ‘Worker’s Playtime’. His overtly political stance isn’t without good reason, of course; following his album and tour with US folk musician Joe Henry, the world took a huge turn for the worse. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum on our position within the European Union. With the result favouring those who wanted to leave, the outcome seemed to be the ultimate gesture in cutting off the country’s nose to save face. A few months later, America voted in a new President – a man with absolutely no prior political experience – and the country slowly and painfully began to disintegrate. Both of these subjects colour these five songs to a great extent, and with Billy – often the voice of a questioning contempt – it’s a very interesting listen.
In 2013, Billy Bragg’s debut release ‘Life’s a Riot With Spy vs. Spy’ celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. Due to the lo-fi nature of the recording – one man, an electric guitar, no overdubs – it could have been recorded at any point during that time. With the younger Bragg possessing an angry voice, a barrage of social commentary and a knack for a lyric, there was always a feeling that he represented every one of us with a left leaning political voice, just one of many reasons why its seven tracks continue to endure.
A few years ago, a couple of pensioners from Bournemouth – home of the mighty prog band Big Big Train – embarked on an unusual hobby. They began to write to musicians, questioning their song lyrics. It all began in 2008, when Wilf Turnbull and Derek Philpott decided to write to Simon Le Bon, stating that other animals besides wolves experienced hunger and it was perhaps wrong for Duran Duran to single out our lupine chums.
The whole thing snowballed. Soon, their project became a fully functioning website, with replies from Gary Numan, Toyah Willcox, Steve Dawson (ex-Saxon), Billy Bragg and many, many others.
Legendary keyboard player Ian ‘Mac’ McLagan passed away on 3rd December 2014 following a stroke. He was 69 years old.
Mac was a well loved musician throughout a career spanning several decades. He first came to prominence as a member of Small Faces, before becoming an integral member of the Rod Stewart fronted Faces. Later work saw Mac performing with The Bump Band, with Faces bandmate Ron Wood in The New Barbarians and as a full-time member of Billy Bragg’s backing band The Blokes.
Mac also lent his talents to many sessions including recordings by Frank Black and Izzy Stradlin.