A Career in Ten Songs: Colin Somerville, lecturer, writer and broadcaster

COLIN Somerville has recently stepped down, due to ill health, from lecturing – in creative industries at Fife College – and is perhaps better known known as a freelance music writer and broadcaster. He reviewed albums for Scotland on Sunday for 15 years and is a former programmer and and presenter at Radio Forth, before working at the BBC, presenting arts magazines and other shows.

This is his career in ten songs…

1. Jackie Leven – Classic Northern Diversions – Bleak deserted train stations. First interviewed the big chap on the phone, from the temporary offices of then radio station, Scot FM, in a gate house at Leith Docks when his magnificently flawed record, Forbidden Songs of the Dying West, appeared. We became friends all the way to his untimely death, which left unfinished business in terms of the big man’s even bigger talent.

2. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy – Tickets were sluggish, shifting for Prince’s show at Meadowbank in Edinburgh in 1993. And I was sent to his Paisley Park studio complex to provide coverage in Scotland on Sunday newspaper and on Radio Forth, along with my tabloid chum, Russell Blackstock. It was a hoot, but seeing him playing to an exclusive audience of less than a 100 people at 3am will live on with this jaded cynic for a very long time.

3. The Clash – Complete Control – The best rock band ever. Saw them at Aberdeen University Student Union in 1977. Met Joe Strummer years later when he was DJ-ing back stage at T in the Park, when it was still at Strathclyde Park. Invited me back to the campsite for a party. Didn’t go, a regret ever since.

4. Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody – Can’t dance but that never stopped me trying whenever this was fired up in a club in the early Eighties. Always liked Rufus, feeling very urban and sophisticated hearing the likes of Tell Me Something Good more than a decade before.

5. The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Framed – The old Listen shop in Glasgow had aircraft seats and headphones for the pleasure of hearing new music. With SAHB, it was the perfect place to get lost in their beautiful barbaric Rock’n Roll.

6. Yello –  She’s Got A Gun – To my mind, the first ‘noir’ pop single by the eccentric Swiss duo. I was to later interview the charismatic Dieter Meier for the keynote at Glasgow’s short-lived annual music conference, MusicWorks. Charming man.

7. Captain Beefheart – I’m Gonna Booglarise You Baby – Hugely influential, Don Van Vliet can be traced in Scotland’s Fire Engines and, to a lesser extent, Franz Ferdinand. The Magic Band’s recent Scottish shows were a near cathartic experience despite the lack of ‘the Captain’.

8. Lorraine Ellison – Stay With Me Baby – Bought on 7” single in Bruce’s Records in Perth. A tour de force that never degenerates into X Factor mewling and has lost none of the raw emotion from the first listen. Power, not posturing.

9. Allman Brothers – Whipping Post – The soundtrack to my teens, the most tragic band in the history of Southern Rock, who were the epitome of blue eyed-soul. Berry Oakley and Duane Allman died crashing their bikes on the same road, a year apart.

10. The Faces – Stay With Me – What Mods do when they don’t grow up. Even seeing Rod’s Edinburgh Castle concerts does not fully dim that flame.

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