Thursday, September 28, 2023

Three years of Music Therapy

Music Therapy started out as a bid to be better mates with Neil Summers.

Me and Neil have always got on well and we bonded over the untimely death and musical life of Mark Hollis, the driving force behind the band Talk Talk.

I came up with the initial idea, Andy Hoyle at Tameside Radio gave us the green light, and Neil came up with the genius name.

Music is therapy isn’t it? 

Our show started during the second lockdown, on a Sunday night, with both of us at the time mildly dreading elements of our working lives.

We were convinced there are plenty of other people out there in the same boat, for whom Sunday night held an uncomfortable dread.

Music Therapy was always for them, something different, not too taxing, but ultimately uplifting.

Our first hour was usually full of nostalgic disco, Europop and a genre of music I never even knew had a name - sophisti pop.

I just thought it was the things I liked - bands like the Style Council, Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera, early Simple Minds, Roxy Music and lots of Talk Talk. 

The second hour we quickly christened bean bag blowpipe hour, typified by proper chilled out tunes you might imagine yourself listening to as you drifted off in Ibiza with your toes in the evening sea listening to the music of the iconic Cafe del Mar.

I’ve got plenty out of doing the show for the last three years, mainly a deepening of our friendship, but also an appreciation of whole new types of music and artists I never knew existed, from all over the world.

Neil also introduced me to mates of his like Blossoms, DJ s like Luke Unabomber and Justin Robertson and opened my ears to the magic of Colleen Cosmo Murphy, Leo Zero and Jason Boardman, who have in turn continued to curate incredibly inspiring sets of music that touched our souls.

I’ve taken a deeper interest in new music and had my eyes and ears opened to creative geniuses from the past who may well have passed me by had I not made such an effort with the show.

We are far from musical snobs though. 

Early on, Neil said our show had to have no such thing as a guilty pleasure. There must be no artist who was off limits. 

I wasn’t sure he meant that until the second week when he added Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits and something by Phil Collins. 

Trust me, in my snooty musical upbringing there is nothing as uncool as those two, and yet I had always secretly loved Romeo and Juliet. Lifting that cloak of snootiness, and appreciating a beautiful song for what it is, was a game changer for me.

Since then we’ve found a golden thread of glorious music from unlikely sources. AD/DC, ELO, Status Quo, Queen, we even did a Gothic special and dropped over 100 versions of True Love Will Find You In The End, which became our mental health anthem.

We’ve also been resolutely proud of being from Manchester, but without resorting to the increasingly tiresome nostalgia fest of banging on about what went on in a certain former yachting showroom on Whitworth Street, even though both of us were regulars at different stages of our lives. 

Along the way we’ve shared these with our loyal band of listeners all across Tameside and beyond. The power of technology and the internet means we have been able to prescribe our regular musical fix to Middle East, North America, Italy, France, Australia and Mexico.

So that’s it now. We’ve done three years at Tameside Radio and have called time on the regular Sunday slot. Alex Cann and John Dash have happily left the door open for us to come back and do other things in the future, but while we’re both up for doing other things together, we’ve also got to concentrate on some of our other creative projects for the time being.

It’s been amazing, thanks for listening, look after each other out there.

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