❉ Chart Music rams its hand into the lucky bag that is a random episode of Top Of The Pops.
We’re big fans of podcasts here at We Are Cult, and we’re always looking for new shows to subscribe to. So if you’re looking for ear candy, we’re here to help!
This week: Al Needham tells us all about Chart Music.
What is your podcast about?
Al: On the surface, one random episode of Top Of The Pops pulled to bits and talked about by a panel of music writers (but hosted by someone who isn’t). In actual fact, a fortnightly reminder as to why pop music is the defining art form of our lives.
If you had to describe your show in 10 words or less, what would you say?
Al: Examinations of the droppings left behind by the Hit Parade.
Which episode would you recommend for a first-time listener? Do you have a favourite episode?
Al: My favourite is always the most recent episode, but I have a soft spot for the ’70s ones, because there was so little pop on the telly at the time that you feel the bands and artists are fighting a little bit harder to get over and make an impression, and sometimes failing badly. The most popular episode so far has been Ken, Ken, Ken, Ken and Donny, set in 1973: come for the revelation about Alvin Stardust having to wear those leather gloves because he’d got black hair dye on his hands the night before, stay for the dilemma over whether to risk playing Rock n’ Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter in a club in 2017 or not.
What inspired you to create this podcast?
Al: I’ve collected a ton of TOTP episodes from torrent sites, and always play them to mates when they come round. And, more than any other TV programme, it never fails to draw out so many stories about people’s formative years: sometimes they can actually remember where they were when the episode was on, what disparaging remark their dad said about someone’s trousers, and what they talked about in the playground the next day. More importantly, for me, it’s an excuse to sit down for a few hours and have a chat with people who I really like, who I don’t see enough of.
Who would be your dream guest?
Al: The ‘guests’ – although I feel they own Chart Music as much as I do – all know their shit backwards, as they all worked at Melody Maker in the Nineties and are amongst my favourite writers. The pool consists of Sarah Bee, Neil Kulkarni, Taylor Parkes, Simon Price and David Stubbs. Not really looking to add to that, but I would like to mix Chris Needham in there for an appearance at some point, as he inspired the show title, he made the greatest music documentary ever, and I know him now. We’ve done karaoke together and everything.
Which equipment do you use for your podcast set-up?
Al: We’re based all over the country now, so putting an episode together is like shitting a Toblerone. We link up on Skype, record our own bits on whatever equipment we have, and I patch everything together. It’s not the most professional-sounding podcast out there, but sod it, it’s free.
What would you say is the best length of time for a podcast episode?
Al: For us, anything under two hours. You can’t just go; “Oh, this song’s great/crap”: you have to paint the picture of how it’s being presented and set it into context, so if you’re talking about, say, Drive by The Cars, you’ve got to talk about Live Aid – and if that means you veer off into a conversation about the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia, so be it. We haven’t done an episode hosted by Jimmy Savile yet: I don’t even want to think about how long the that’s going to have to be.
Which podcasts (other than yours) would you recommend we listen to?
Al: I’m a sucker for old-school wrestling podcasts, so The Jim Cornette Experience and the 6:05 Superpodcast is always on at my house. And The New Generation Project – where three lads from Leicester go through all the pay-per-view events of the Nineties – was a huge influence on the format of Chart Music.
Where is your podcast available to listen to?
What is the future of podcasting as a creative medium?
Al: As long as some people have mouths, others have ears, and others are doing things that are worth talking about and listening to, there’ll be podcasts.
❉ Chart Music can be found here: https://chartmusiccouk.wordpress.com/
❉ The latest Tweets from Chart Music: https://twitter.com/ChartMusicTOTP
❉ Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of Chart Music on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/chart-music/id1225229780?mt=2#
❉ Have you got a podcast? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like it to be featured.