The Christmas bonus edition

Singles Bar 26When RALPH McTELL wrote ‘Streets Of London’ it was a song of its time. Everyone, but everyone, sang it. In the intervening decades it became a song that we heard but didn’t really listen to and, of course, Ralph had to sing it everywhere he went. The thing is, nothing has improved in the last fifty years and Ralph has returned to the song with a new version featuring ANNIE LENNOX and THE CRISIS CHOIR released as a single for the benefit of the homeless charity Crisis. If that doesn’t convince you to spend 99p on it, there’s Richard Thompson on guitar, too. Download from:

‘A White Cliffs Christmas’ is the new single by folk collective 51:13. It was written by Nick Esson who says that “my hope was to ameliorate the vibe of the 1970s Christmas song with the contemporary experience of being a parent and grandparent at this time of the year”. You might expect a measure of cynicism but no, this a genuinely joyful song even though “the turkey’s frozen and I don’t like greens”. It’s really uplifting and half the profits will go to the Dover Soup Kitchen. Buy from:

If you’re looking for cynicism look no further than PROSECCO SOCIALIST, a new trio featuring a gravely Dave Rotheray, Eleanor McEvoy at her hard-bitten best and Hull’s “living legend”, Mike Greaves. ‘This Dog’s Just For Christmas (Not For Life)’ attempts to answer John Lennon’s famous question: “And so this is Christmas, and what have we done?” and Dave’s list involves seventeen Guinness extra-cold and a Jaegerbomb, not to mention a jaffa cake vodka shot. It’s a great song with the witty, acid lyrics you expect from Eleanor and it really is our sort of Christmas!

JARROD DICKENSON is mellow and nostalgic on ‘Christmas Time In The City’. It’s a country song topped off with steel guitar and packed full of Bing Crosby, coloured lights, freshly fallen snow and couples in love. American audiences will love it but it’s only just on the right side of parody. The bluesy, piano driven, ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’, written by Charles Brown more than fifty years ago is more like our idea of nostalgia.

ALEX HEDLEY’s new single is ‘Let It Roll On’ and it has nothing to do with Christmas. Alex is the frontman of Dorset band Saturday Sun and the single comes as a taster for his solo EP, This Life, released next month. The single is built on acoustic guitar and harmonica and you might label it Americana except that it has a decidedly British feel of existential misery. Alex has been likened to many other artists but you might be hard put to find the common ground – he really is an original.


Proper Records have recently announced a partnership with Weapons of Mass Entertainment and Surfdog Records for the release of an exciting new album project from Artist/ Producer/ Director and Eurythmics co-founder, Dave Stewart.  His new album, The Blackbird Diaries is set to be released in Britain on Monday, June 27th 2011.  Recently completed in Nashville, the album was produced by Dave Stewart and Mike Bradford and was recorded and mixed by John McBride at his famed Blackbird Studio.   The Blackbird Diaries is set to feature all new material including a co-write with Bob Dylan as well as duets with Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and features The Secret Sisters. Dave is backed throughout the album by a stellar assortment of musicians on the album including guitarist Tom Bukovac, drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist Michael Rhodes, steel guitarist Dan Dugmore and Mike Rojas on piano.  As an integral part of Stevie Nicks new album, ‘In Your Dreams’, (he was co-producer, co-writer, photographer, performer and movie director) Dave was invited by Stevie as her special guest to perform at Webster Hall in New York City on May 4th.

“This was my favorite time ever in the studio, I wrote most of the songs on the spot and recorded all of them in one incredible session lasting 5 days and nights!,”  explains Dave Stewart.  I made an unusual film of the process that not only features all the musicians and performers but also gives away some of my writing secrets which involves both a well known fortune teller and hypnotist who allowed themselves to be filmed in session with me.”

Dave Stewart’s The Blackbird Diaries is unlike anything he has embarked on during his illustrious 30 year music career both with Eurythmics and as a solo artist. With an American flare and rooted in rock, country, and blues, the album is in the vein of recent releases by Bob Dylan and Neil Young – masterful recordings mixed with rich and detailed lyrics.  The Blackbird Diaries showcases a very different type of songwriting for Stewart with more story-driven autobiographical lyrics, which is a departure from the pop/rock sounds which have made him one of the most successful and revered songwriters/collaborators of all time. Tales of loves conquered and loves lost, Dave gets intimate, personal with words while he allows his music to rock free on an album that might just prove to be this artist’s second, and perhaps finest, act.

A multi-media entrepreneur, Dave Stewart is recognized as one of the most respected and accomplished talents in the entertainment industry today.  His career spans more than 30 years and more than 100 million album sales, plus a Lifetime Achievement Award with Eurythmics partner Annie Lennox. With Lennox, Stewart delivered ingenious pop/rock hits such as ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’, ‘Would I Lie To You’, ‘Missionary Man’, and ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’.  One of the most sought-after writers and music producers, Dave has crafted songs for and collaborated with the likes of Mick Jagger, Bono, Tom Petty, and Gwen Stefani (to name a few) and has shared the stage with everybody from BB King, U2, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. Stewart has won Best British Producer four times and Best British Songwriter five times, as well as numerous Grammy, MTV, and European awards.  A highly-regarded artist and filmmaker, Stewart has scored and penned the title songs for many hit movies throughout the years, including the Mick Jagger collaboration for the film Alfie, which won the pair a Golden Globe. He produced the award-winning documentary Deep Blues, and his feature directorial debut Honest premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. Stewart and songwriter/producer Glen Ballard recently wrote a musical adaptation of the 1990 Jerry Zucker film Ghost, which opens in London’s West End in June this year. This Year Stewart also co-wrote and co-produced Joss Stone’s new album as well as Stevie Nicks’ new album ‘In Your Dreams’ which marks the first occasion Nicks has ever collaborated on a solo album.

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