heard on the wire

Ain’t got no soul

Soul music has dominated my early seventies choices for song-from-each-year-of-my life.

Steve Wonder in 1971 was followed Mel and Tim in ’72, who had to fight off strong competition from Gladys Knight and her Pips. The trend could have continued into 1973, which gave us Al Green’s simply beautiful Simply Beautiful and Here I am Again by Ollie Nightingale, not to mention the best record ever about baseball, Blast Furnace and the Grapevine Singers’ Hammering Hank.

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No, not Mel and Kim

To find brothers and/or sisters in the same band isn’t unusual, but a cousin combo is rare indeed. And when those cousins make one of the all-time greatest records of all time, it’s rarer still.

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No Schengen for iTunes

You’d think that moving an iTunes account from one country to another, as I’ve had to do three times, would be straightforward. But unlike international travel in much of Europe, it’s not.

Due largely to media companies’ archaic licensing regimes, Apple is forced to maintain a separate store for each country in which it operates, and restrict shoppers to the country of their credit card’s billing address. So of you physically move country, that means scrolling to the bottom of the store window in iTunes to make the corresponding virtual relocation.

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If you only ever download one Stevie Wonder song…

…make it this one. My favourite song from 1971, though Bowie’s Changes runs it close.

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A simple summer salad

Being an expat/economic migrant/immigrant has spoilt me. I can no longer bring myself to buy fruit and vegetables of international origin in a supermarket, when I know that nearby will be a market where I can buy fresher and cheaper local produce. Local markets are also by their nature seasonal (even if I did see some Kenyan beans this week), which at the moment means white asparagus, broad beans and fresh peas. Tossed with some bacon, olive oil, mint, basil and lemon juice and topped with fresh goat’s cheese they made a delicious salad.

Summer salad

Don’t forget what your good book said

1970 is the first year from which I take a clear and solitary memory, standing in a frosty back garden on my fourth birthday. I wasn’t aware of Brazil’s masterclass as they beat Italy 4-1 to win the World Cup for the third time; nor do I recall the Conservative election victory that ultimately led to the rise of Thatcher. But if there’s one event in 1970 I wish I had been witness to, it was the launch of Doonesbury, the greatest comic strip ever drawn.

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On a cold and grey Chicago morn’

In the Ghetto is Elvis Presley’s most remarkable record, a song about ingrained, generational poverty that both chimed with the revolutionary spirit of the time and, in hindsight, reflected the feeling that, by 1969, that spirit was already ebbing.

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I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping

I think it’s fair to assume that The Beatles’ later work is considered their best. Starting with 1965’s Rubber Soul, the Fab Four evolved from loveable mop tops to produce a series of LPs that cemented the band’s reputation and status as “the best group of all-time”.

Those LPs — Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, aka the White Album, and Abbey Road — appear with unerring certainty in critics’, musicians’ and music buyers’ lists of the all-time greatest albums of all-time.

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The day that Brussels burned

On May 22, 1967, fire engulfed L’Innovation department store in Brussels, killing 322 people and sparking cold war controversy. It was a tragedy in a year of tragedies that included the escalation of the Vietnam war — or American War as the Vietnamese call it, the start of the horrendous and doomed fight for Biafran independence in Nigeria, flooding that killed 462 people in Lisbon and the Stockport Air Disaster. And The Doors released their first LP.

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Some people are on the pitch…

…they think it’s all over. And it was, but the 30-day song challenge was such fun and so incredibly popular (OK, I may have made that up) that I had to find another excuse to show how catholic and cool I am (that too).

So beginning at the beginning, the next cough mutter days will each bring you a record from each year of my life. Starting, you’ll be astonished to read, in 1966, the year that a Fulham player won the World Cup, Harold Wilson devalued the pound and the Americans dropped three nuclear bombs on Spain — yes, really.

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