Tag Archives: music

Do You Remember Perms, White Stilettos and Frankie Says Relax T-shirts? Pop Stars In my Pantry will have you dancing on the ceiling.

a memoir of pop mags and clubbing in the 80's

Since I first heard about  Pop Stars in My Pantry – A Memoir of Pop Mags and Clubbing in the 1980’s, I have been eagerly awaiting its release. When I was a child, my dad and his friends would play 60’s music and talk about what they were doing when particular records came out. He used to say “One day you’ll talk about 80’s music like this’, but I could never see how ‘my’ music could ever be thought of nostalgically.

In the early 80’s, when Paul Simper was embarking on his career as a music journalist, I was still at Primary School. Even at the tender age of 10, every Tuesday, I would race home for lunch, grab my pocket radio and run back to school. Our group of friends would huddle around the radio listening to the lunchtime announcement of the top 40 on Radio 1, hoping that the bell would be late so we could make it to number 1 before we were called to line up.

80's teen
Me at 14
By 1983, I was approaching my teens and had fallen madly in love with Wham, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. I read Smash Hits every week, memorising lyrics from my favourite songs and plastering pull out posters over my bedroom wall. Like most of my friends, I would record the top 40 onto cassette tape, pausing after every song to cut out the talky bit in between. Sometimes, I’d even tape music shows on television with my little cassette recorder (possibly before we had a video recorder).  My husband challenges me sometimes, to see how many 80’s songs I can recognise from playing the intro. He loves how many I know from just the first few notes.

It won’t come as a surprise then, that I  expected Pop Stars in My Pantry to be an indulgent treat for an 80’s music fan like myself.  What I didn’t anticipate however, was sitting on my hands in a coffee shop, to suppress the urge to jump up and down flapping my arms, like my teenage daughter, when she got tickets to see her favourite band. The cause of such uncharacteristic, emotive demonstration? Simper’s account of his interview with Kate Bush; almost as exciting as meeting her in the flesh. This was one of many similar moments, as stories of my teen idols revealed themselves.

Pop Stars in my Pantry is much more than an account of interviews with the stars. It is an immersive chronicle of the 80’s music and club scene. It’s about a time when young journalists and music stars moved in the same circles, danced together, drank together and were friends with one another. For me, it demystified many of my teenage heroes like George Michael, and made me admire them more. I loved hearing about big events like the Wham farewell concert, Prince’s after show parties and a New York trip to interview Sade, but the smaller everyday moments, paint a perfect picture of the era and transported me to my youth.

80's style, Laura Ashley dresses and doc martins
My 17th birthday, the Laura Ashley dress and Doc Martins phase.
It took me back to a time when music and fashion were everything. To digress slightly,  Paul Simper is married to an old school friend of mine, who as a 16 -year -old, I idolised. She introduced me to some of my all time favourite music – the Cocteau Twins and David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. She showed me cool, independent clothes shops. We memorised the whole of a Lloyd Cole album together and poured over magazines with brooding black and white photos of beautiful people. We were inseparable, until I found my first boyfriend and sadly (and with hindsight regrettably)  the intensity of first love, left little room for such an earnest friendship, and we soon followed our own paths. I’m not surprised at all that she ended up with someone with so many great stories to tell.

Pop Stars in my Pantry is funny, honest, revealing and tremendously exciting.  It is the absolutely perfect book for anyone who grew up in the 80’s and I can’t wait to share it with all my friends.If you didn’t grow up in the 80’s, read it anyway, as it will give you a wonderful taste of life back then.  I was excited before I read it, I’m even more enthusiastic after.

Pop Stars in My Pantry is currently available in the UK  (this link and all links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links meaning if you purchase a product using this link I will receive a small commission)

If you’ve read the book and are craving more, check out these audio clips from Paul Simper’s interviews with the Stars. I challenge you to wipe the grin from your face.

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The Land of Song – A Guest Post for St. David’s Day

 

Today we have a St. David’s Day guest post from Penni Carr.  I met Penni during my  musical theatre days (sorry Penni for the old photo).  She went on to become a professional actress and since becoming a mum, has founded Babi Bach a bilingual music class for babies and toddlers. Penni writes about the connection the Welsh have with singing and how the Welsh language is an integral part of that. Are Welsh people good singers? Why do we love singing so much?  Read on the find out more…

Penni and Rachel
Welsh people often get asked if they are born being able to sing? As if it is some magical power that Celtic people posses from birth. Now, some people may believe this is true but I believe something slightly different. I believe that Welsh people are born into a heritage rich in tradition and passion and one way that we pass this on is through song.
Children will be taught nursery rhymes and songs in Welsh and English, even if English is the only language spoken at home (which Welsh people here have ever sung “Mi Welais Jac y Do” or “Calon Lan” without learning any other welsh?!) I think that, from birth, singing is something that we usually hear every day and so it becomes something very natural for children to do; to sing along and join in with the song – to pass on the history, the tradition and the language.

Welsh lady
Music is one of the only things that engages the WHOLE brain and, as such, is an incredibly useful teaching aid. I bet you can remember songs that you sang at school when you were five far more easily than you can remember the periodic table! Unless you can sing that too like the fabulous Tom Lehrer!

I founded Babi Bach in September 2013. We are a bilingual baby music class suitable for little ones from birth to three and we use music and songs to help little ones learn languages. We believe that music and language help children develop communication skills, social skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, community links and, most importantly, it’s FUN! So pass on your song and watch your little ones flourish. All together now…

Mi welais Jac Y Do         ( Me well-ice Jack err Door)

 Yn eistedd ar ben tô      ( Un ‘A’ steth arr ben tor)

Het wen ar ei ben            (Het when arr ‘A’ ben)

A dwy goes bren              ( a doi gois bren)

Ho ho ho ho ho ho!         ( Hor hor hor hor hor hor)

 

Thanks Penni x

A Musical Family Christmas with Jingle Bells Music Book

mfk100089My idea of the perfect family Christmas is a little clichéd but involves mince pies, mulled wine, a roaring fire and singing around the piano. This is becoming a reality in our house.  With an array of instruments including piano, guitar, clarinet and saxophone and a whole family who enjoy singing and music, we are loving making and recording music together. When I was asked if I would like to review Jingle Bells, from music-for-kids, I thought it would be a good chance to add Christmas songs to our repertoire.

The Jingle Bells book and CD features 18 well-known Christmas carols and songs. The book is nicely presented with each song displaying the notes of the melody plus chords written along the top.  There is also a handy chord chart at the back of  the book for both guitar and ukulele. Being a beginner, I photocopied the chord sheet to make it easier to reference while I was playing guitar. With my basic guitar skill, I found that there were a few too many chord changes to play many of the tunes with confidence but with most songs you could leave some of the chords out.

The piano music is basic (right hand melody and chords) and was great for my 8-year-old to practice sight-reading and play a simple tune . The chords could be added by a more experienced pianist to play accompaniment, I even managed to sing along to my own rudimentary playing during silent night.

The CD contains all the songs in the song book and is a nicely sung collection of Christmas carols. Younger children may find the keys too high.

mfk100089_lb02_iMy little ones enjoyed filling out the sticker pages and singing along to Jingle Bells while their sister played the recorder.  I was disappointed that there weren’t more songs for the little ones like ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’, ‘When Santa got Stuck up the Chimney’ or ‘Away in a Manger’.  They joined in with Jingle bells and We Wish you a Merry Christmas and there are a few other simple melodies that they could learn but I would have liked to have seen more simple songs that weren’t carols.

If you are looking for a simple book and CD of traditional Christmas Carols, at £7.95 this is excellent value. The book is available from musicroom.com

For further information about music for kids visit https://www.facebook.com/musicforkidsuk

No payment was a received for this review, a copy of  the material was received for review purposes.

The Land of Sometimes – Review and Competition

The first thing that struck me when this cd arrived was the beautiful packaging.   The Land of Sometimes moves away from  standard cd casing, instead presenting it as a book  with captivating illustrations. Each song has an illustrated page in the storybook encouraging the children to follow the story. I had high hopes that the songs would also reflect the magical quality of the artwork.

The Land of Sometimes is an audio storybook and the characters are brought to life by original music. The story follows Alfie and Elise in their journey through the seasons.  They meet a number of colourful characters, and each one is brought to life with a song. The narration is simple and clear and the quality of singing and musical production superb.  I’d love to sing on the follow up if there is one. My 3 year old is a big musical theatre fan and she loved the songs dancing around her bedroom and attempting to sing along.

I generally find children’s song cd’s a bit irritating.  I have been playing The Land of Sometimes in the background while I write this post and it is surprisingly relaxing. The songs are well written and very catchy and move away from the simplicity of some children’s songs by introducing them to a number of musical genre including reggae, folk and jazz.

Put this one in your car and I’m sure you will be singing along in no time.

The Land of Sometimes website is also worth a visit. Children can find out more about the characters and places in the story, colour in some of the beautiful illustrations and download lyrics for the songs.

A beautiful gift for any child with a fondness for stories or music and something that can be treasured for a long time.

The Land of Sometimes is released on February 6th at a retail price of  £9.90 from Amazon.

One lucky reader can win a copy of The Land of Sometimes.

Simply post a comment telling me why you would like to win.

A Bonus entry is available if you follow my Facebook page using the link on the right hand side.

Winners will be drawn at random on 6th February.

Congratulations to the winner Sue Willshee

Terms and Conditions

This competition is only open to residents of the UK and Republic of Ireland

Only one entry per person

Winners will be notified by email and  will be posted on this site.

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