Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A regular series delving into my musical archives to look back at tracks which are at least 20 years old.

Didn’t she almost have it all?

It was with sadness but no great surprise that I woke up this morning to discover that Whitney Houston had been found dead in her hotel room in Los Angeles on the eve of the Grammy Awards. The daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, cousin of Dionne Warwick and goddaughter of Aretha Franklin, she was just 48.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A regular series delving into my musical archives to look back at tracks which are at least 20 years old.

The three Gibb brothers (Barry, Robin and Maurice) from the Isle of Man were prolific recording artists in their own right, racking up five UK number one singles spanning 20 years – from Massachusetts in 1967 to You Win Again in 1987 – among a total of 18 top ten hits, including the definitive soundtrack album of the 1970s, Saturday Night Fever. But they have also written a host of major hits for a wide variety of other artists, ranging from Celine Dion to Tina Turner, and from Conway Twitty to, er, One True Voice. (Remember them? I thought not. They were the boy-band formed opposite Girls Aloud in the one-off Popstars: The Rivals.)

In celebration of one of British music’s most successful global exports, here are five songs which have the Bee Gees’ familiar lyrical and melodic stamp on them, but were made famous by other artists.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A regular series delving into my musical archives to look back at tracks which are at least 20 years old.

To kick off my Nostalgia Jukebox series, which explores various connections linking classic tracks in my music collection, let’s start with a topical theme: Christmas number ones. 2012 will mark the crowning of the 60th seasonal singles chart topper. After two days’ sales, it already looks certain that the Military Wives Choir’s Wherever You Are will topple X Factor winners Little Mix’s cover of Damien Rice’s Cannonball on Christmas Day.

Hard as it may be to believe there was a time when the machinations of Simon Cowell did not determine the identity of the UK’s Christmas number one. For five of the past six years, the winner of Cowell’s X Factor contest has topped the charts at Christmas. Only Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name broke that sequence, after a successful online campaign to prevent 2009 winner Joe McElderry’s The Climb ascending to the coveted top spot. (It still made number one the following week, though.)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Regular readers will know that music has always been an important part of both my and my sons’ lives. Although I make an effort to keep up with current releases, the ability to listen to anything in my collection with a couple of presses and swipes on my iPod means I increasingly find myself digging back into the archives for something to listen to when I am in the car or when I am chained to my desk at the office.

Have I become some old fuddy-duddy stuck in the past? Undoubtedly there is an element of that. But the music of my adolescent and young adult years is more than just a comfort blanket to cling to. Great music is all about triggering emotions and personal associations. Familiar songs are bookmarks to memories and events of my past, as I have occasionally explored through my Classic Albums series.

This short series of posts takes a personal trip down memory lane looking back at my experiences with analogue audio. You can read parts one and two here and here.

In the previous two posts, I have taken a fond look back at three analogue audio formats – vinyl records, reel-to-reel and 8-track – which formed an indelible part of my childhood, around which a significant chunk of my relationship with my father was nurtured and developed. In the third and final part of this series, let’s take a look at the role of the humble cassette tape, which provided the soundtrack to my teenage years and beyond.

This short series of posts takes a personal trip down memory lane looking back at my experiences with analogue audio. You can read part one here

Reel-to-reel tape

Reel-to-reel tape recorder (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

This magnetic tape system was the predecessor of the cassette, and essentially worked by spooling tape from one seven-inch reel to another.

I can trace my love of gadgetry back to the age of four or five when my dad used to entertain me by explaining the inner workings of a reel-to-reel system, which had the beauty of being both large and open enough to satisfy my young prying eyes and hands. Many a rainy afternoon was spent with dad demonstrating how the tape was brought into contact with the playing heads, how to clean the heads and threading a fresh tape from one reel on to another so we could start playing/recording on it.

I stumbled across this poster recently and – aside from the fact that you probably have to be of a certain age to understand why cassette tapes and pencils went together – it got me thinking about the various audio storage and playback formats which I have come across in my lifetime.