Last night's CG show had to be one of the most pointless and uninspiring in living memory - the radio equivalent of a tribute band down the pub. I've listened to CG irregularly for years, but mostly in the past decade or so to have my curiosity piqued by good new sounds from around the world. I can only assume Charlie was actually away on holiday and it was recorded as a stop-gap: very little excuse otherwise. There's too much good new music constantly around to indulge in that kind of laziness. Please Charlie don't assume that just because this message board is populated by the same few long-winded, opinionated old-timers talking to each other about the good old days, it's actually representative of your listenership.
An interesting note - you've raised a number of questions.
You say that you listen to Charlie's show to have your curiosity piqued by good new sounds. I must say that I'm bored by this idea that sounds have to be new to be good. Would that be "new" as in new to your ears, or "new" as in produced just yesterday? Years of listening to music has taught me that, whenever I discover something new, it is very rarely the case that I'm the first one to pick up on it. It is inevitable that someone has got there first. This leads me to conclude that it doesn't really matter whether something is new or not, nor whether I discovered it first or not. What matters to me is that I enjoy it; when I am with friends my instinct is to share enjoyable experiences, so I tend to tell people about music that I enjoy. This pretty much accounts for my participation on this forum.
And are sounds (surely we're talking about music?) really only good if they are new? Have you considered what this means to the millions of people who purchase recordings of music so that they may enjoy them over and again at their leisure? Over and above the pleasure of listening to a piece of music for the sheer pleasure of listening to it again, I find that there is usually the additional bonus of discovering some previously unnoticed nuance or insight.
Personally, I wouldn't describe last night's show as "retro" any more than any number of shows that Charlie has broadcast - take a look through the set lists on the site and you'll find a healthy (in my opinion) mix of old, not so old, and new. The key difference was that Charlie chose to base the playlist this week on suggestions from contributors to this forum. Is your argument with the quality of the music broadcast, or with the way it was selected?
Overall, I think that the single most significant aspect of Charlie's show is that it does exactly what it now says on the tin: "The Sound of the World" covers just about anything and everything, old and new, sourced from near or far. And long may it remain so.
Over the years I have usually had to timeshift Charlie's show, as my partner would find Saturday evening in front of the radio a bit dull. The amount of times my finger hits the f/f button then is a good indicator of what I thought of a show. As someone who rarely misses a show I'll admit that Sat's show was a little short for me & that was for a reason I think you indicated, repetition of old favs. Despite the dissapointment of a short show though, I have to console myself with the thought that the show isn't just broadcasting to a narrow little group of 'old timers who have heard it all before & probably got it too. (hopefully) new people are joining the show all the time which, clearly is the only way that the show is going to carry on & the occasional evening of 'greatest hits' is surely justified for this reason alone.
As for the message board I agree that it is populated by the same old faces but I think people like Rob(Hi Rob), a man that seems to have more careless hours in the day (& more money in his pocket) to listen to music, than I do, serves to highlight music that Charlie either didn't get a chance to listen to or perhaps doesn't like but (when I have found them) for me have had a similar ratio of hits & misses to Charlies show.
I can only echo Robs point about whats old ,whats new. Chavela Vargas who got a first airing on the show in the last six months was a totally new name to me despite the fact that when I got hold of a CD, it's a cheesy old 'Grandes Exitos Originales' with a como lo vio en TV sticker on it & a five quid price tag . Do you remember her from first time round or should her music be deleted anyway, because shes yesterday news?
Thank you for your provocative posting, now tell me about the music you have found away from the Charlie Gillet Show & this forum that I have got to hear!
Oh dear! Pietre, on re-reading of your message I realise that I have rather gone off on one & I think perhaps your point was simply that the cover versions chosen on Sat didn't hold a candle to the originals. If I have finally cracked it, then in a couple of instances I agree with you, but what do you think of cover versions/reinterprtations in general? While I think at one end of the spectrum Rod Stewarts cover(s?) of Tom Waits (which thankfully nobody suggested) is sheer bloody laziness, some covers are such radical reworkings that they surely stand as 'new music'.
Also,what about the fine line you sometimes hear between sampling of a piece of music & when most of a piece of music seems to have been grafted on to make a new piece?
You're all reading too much into what I was saying - simply that it was a dull programme, whoever chose the music, mostly of over-familiar and well-trodden tracks or styles. Whether the covers were "better" or not than the originals was down to arbitrary personal taste. What we lost was a week's show in which we might - on a more normal week - have had our tastes, experiences and joys widened. Given how little of the sort of music Charlie plays is on the radio, I think that's a shame - just like when he plays the same track off an album for the umpteenth time rather than giving us the chance to hear something else. It wouldn't matter if there were more such shows available on the radio and more DJs with Charlie's tastes and access to releases we might never otherwise hear.
Well funnily enough - even though I knocked over the first domino that resulted in this nostalgia potpourri - I too most look forward to the shows where Charlie's flying solo and there's a good backlog of new releases for him to cherry pick from.
They don't call me Mixed Metaphor Man for nothing!
OK, OK - I take your point Pietre. "Of course" that did sound a bit opinionated - this is beginning to feel like a court of law - so I will say in my defence that when a prefaced my comments with that ostensibly arrogant, all inclusive "of course" - it was actually only directed at readers of this feedback section.
I was simply suggesting, on the basis of the play lists of the two Radio 3 shows, that "of course" it was more likely that CG listeners would prefer Andy's selection of up and earthy tunes to Verity of Fiona's more soporific selections.
As Charlie's show (like Andy's) caters for a wide-awake Weekend slot rather than half asleep late-night workday slot, I think my "of course" - though still a generalisation, was a 'considered generalisation' and therefore as accurate as generalisations can be - your Honour.
<I>just like when he plays the same track off an album for the umpteenth time rather than giving us the chance to hear something else.</I>
I suppose a balance needs to be struck there between boring your regular listeners, trying to find the best hook for more sporadic listeners and building familiarity for those listeners who don’t quite ‘get’ a song on the first couple of listens.
Simon Diaz is a case in point for me. That track on World 2004 had to be played about 4 times before the penny dropped for me, and I’m not sure that playing 4 different tracks would have had the same effect. If I had a criticism (although it’s really just an observation), the problem is that by the time Charlie has (say) played one particular track three times over a six week period things have moved on and many new great releases have come out, so quite often it appears as if all we get is that one track.
On the other hand, on other occasions certain CDs seem to suffer from not even having that all-important “catchy” track. It may just be my imagination, but it seems that Kassy Mady Diabate’s wonderful Kassi Kasse was ill-served by the lack of immediate tracks. It’s a tremendous (if a tad over-long) CD that not only bears up to repeated plays, but actually <I>requires</I> those repeated plays to tease out the beauty of the tracks. If I were a DJ I’d be tempted to play the track <I>Jon Kunandi</I> about six weeks in succession in the hope that I could persuade others that that is the case.
My comments above Cons in this section are not evidence that I've finally lost my mind. Their total incongruity to the subject under discussion is due to the fact they should have been posted under the 'Stylus Magazine' topic. They now have.
And I agree with you Con.
Many of us probably recall when Charlie played that track from the Tom Waits sounding Momo Wandel Soumah for about six weeks on the trot.
This is a show with few rules where it's presenter can indulge such whims. One of my other problems with for example Late Junction, is that the regular presenters tend to be such cool customers that we never really get a sense of which tracks they are passionate about.
This makes for very dull radio regardless of the merits of the music played.
Charlie usually gets the balance right and when he doesn't, as in the case of Momo, it could be argued, it's actually more entertaining because the guy is saying - "Damn it - it's my show and if I want to play this track six weeks in a row I will!"
So at the risk of sounding like DJ's pet, I would say that Mr Gillett generally has the balance right with the mix of brand new, slightly familiar and old.