Posts tagged theoretical girl

Posted 2 years ago

THEORETICAL GIRL – ‘DIVIDED’

Not a new album, but there’s always scope to revisit earlier works, particularly when they are so well-crafted and good as this. Amy Turnidge may record using the assumed name of ‘Theoretical Girl’ but there is nothing theoretical about the sheer beauty of the talent that exudes from this album.

Whilst many musicians of varying talents may well have a desire to earn a living by being full-time professionals, that reality is something that only comes true for a relative few. The practicalities of keeping a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food on the table means that many aspiring musicians get caught up in their day jobs and aren’t always able to find the necessary vigour to continue to pursue their musical career as they might wish. Theoretical Girl manages to balance her demanding job as a professional working in healthcare with her determination to progress her musical career, and since the release of ‘Divided’ in 2009 she has taken every opportunity to work on a follow-up. I imagine that playing and writing after work will be an excellent therapeutic way to put the demands of the job into perspective.

There are many attractions to commend this album to prospective listeners, principal amongst these are her exquisite voice and intelligent, inciteful lyrics.

The album opens with the upbeat track ‘Rivals’; it’s lyrics set the scene for a selection of songs that explore the complexity of human relationships. Whilst the common thread of interpersonal relationships and feelings remains a constant throughout, the variety of musical presentation ensure that interest is maintained. Although the overall tone tends towards a soft, at times twee, pop sensitivity, an ‘edge’ is included that helps to underscore her idiosyncratic attitude. ‘The Boy I Left Behind’ is a wistful reminiscence of what might have been; other gentle songs are ‘I Should Have Loved You More’ and ‘Never Good Enough’. A darker side is exhibited by songs such as ‘Dancehall Deceit, ‘Red Mist’ and ‘The Hypocrite. She is an extremely skilled songsmith and in addition to being an accomplished multi-instrumentalist is expertly accompanied at times by a few musicians who help add breadth and depth with strings, brass and drums.

One year on from the initial release, Scottish label Soft Power released a limited edition 12” vinyl complete with a wonderful range of inserts including cut-out ‘mini Theoretical Girl’ sheets, and lyric postcards – not something that is easily attached to a digital download. Thanks to the marvels of internet and social networking I have been kept informed about progress towards the production of a follow-up album and eagerly anticipate the time when it reaches completion.

1/ Rivals

2/ The Boy I Left Behind

3/ Dancehall Deceit

4/ I Should have Loved You More

5/ A Future Apart

6/ Divided

7/ Red Mist

8/ Never Good Enough

9/ Good Timing

10/ The Biggest Mistake

11/ Seeing You Again

12/ The Hypocrite

13/ Another Fight (2009 Version)

All vocals and instruments by Amy Turnidge except:

Chris Hutchings – drums

Frances Redding – trumpet/flugelhorn

Ben Lee – violin

Jo Silverston - cello

Posted 2 years ago

FORMAT SHIFTING

Until the 1800s few would ever have dreamt of capturing the sounds of their environment, particularly music. Then, many attempted it but no one succeeded until Thomas Alva Edison discovered a method of recording and playing back sound. What had started out as an apparatus intended as part of an improved telephone led to the development of an instrument which would change the world, making it a happier, even a better, place to live.

We have moved on massively from the latter part of the 19thcentury; from wax cylinders– via wind-up 78 rpm gramophones, vinyl discs, cassette tapes, eight track cartridges and CDs - to electronic files.

A few months back I had the pleasure of discussing this progression with Generate Radio Director, Kyle Wilson, during a programme where we considered the changing habits and attitudes to purchasing and listening to music.

I have often pondered the way in which music affects us as individuals; so many things have a bearing on how we perceive it. Our mood, environment and many other factors will come into play to determine just how we react when hearing a particular piece of music. As an example I will consider Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’; a young person today could hear this for the first time accidentally with no pre-knowledge about the band or the album’s heritage, whilst others might come to it with the knowledge that time has viewed the album favourably and that many millions around the world consider it to be a masterpiece – will they hear it differently, regardless of where and when they happen to hear it?

I clearly remember the first time that I heard it. I had already been aware of the band, had seen them live and had appreciated their earlier work – but, despite my bias, before it’s release, Pink Floyd could not really be described as a major ‘supergroup’ with worldwide influence. It was late one mid-week morning in Bruce’s Record Shop, Stirling, when the EMI Rep arrived with a ‘white label’ copy of the album ahead of it’s release the following week.

Although we were generally quite excited to hear it, we had no real idea what to expect and probably considered that it would still be of restricted appeal. Luckily we had few customers that morning and so were able to listen pretty much uninterrupted on the shop’s excellent sound system, being blown away by the sublime genius of what time has proven to be an absolutely classic album, and with over fifty million sales to date it is now often claimed to be among the best albums of all time. How does a newcomer to this album feel when hearing it for the first time, knowing about its remarkable pedigree, compared to my first hearing? Perhaps this is a pointless question, but I still wonder, and feel so privileged to have been able to hear it when I did – before it was released for public sale.

Back then, in my youth, things were fairly clear cut. If you were very lucky a white label vinyl pressing would become available possibly a week or two before release but that was a very rare event and only really an option if you had close connections in the music business.

Generally the first time a new record could be heard was once it had been released and was available to buy in record shops, even radio stations rarely played white label copies (as far as I can remember).

I was lucky enough to have access to a reel-to-reel tape recorder that my mother, a primary teacher, had for use in her class room. I would regularly use the microphone to record songs from the radio; eventually I got hold of a lead and began to record without outside interference, although it wasn’t possible to hear anything during the recording process which meant that I would press record and then watch the clock, to stop recording once the show was finished.

As time went by cassette tapes became available; there were some pre-recorded sales but in many cases people would simply use blank cassettes to record albums and mix-tapes by recording from borrowed vinyl. One big innovation was the Sony ‘WalkMan’, ‘personal stereo’; built in 1978 and first marketed in 1979, it offered a real freedom to listen to music on the move more selectively than was possible with transistor radios.

For a brief period eight-track cartridges were produced, but they were particularly aimed at car drivers. One of the selling points was that they started to play automatically when the cartridge was pushed home into the player, but other than that they were fairly bulky and impractical; few people had players and even fewer had machines that could also record. We had a recording machine in the Stirling shop, but I’ll best say no more about that! Eight-tracks just didn’t take off and went the same way as BetaMax video tapes did later on.

The next big revolution was the introduction of the shiny and allegedly indestructible compact disc; I remember when radio DJs would specifically mention that a particular track was being played from a CD. The ‘WalkMan’ was usurped by the Sony ‘DiscMan’ in 1984.

Up until then music purchase was still fairly much controlled by corporate major labels, although the punk era did spawn a multitude of independent record labels that made it easier for new artists to get their music out for sale without having to be signed by a major label. The introduction of electronic files (mp3s etc.) changed things radically; although initially people still had to be pretty much computer ‘geeks’ / ‘tech savvy’, if they were to be able to get hold of new music; especially if they aimed to get it free or illegally. Filesharing sites like Napster did a lot to change the way in which people got hold of their music. It is now extremely simple to download or stream in order to listen on the move, and in a similar way it is relatively easy for people to record their own work to distribute directly themselves in digital formats. The latter situation has pros and cons; it does mean that artists can remain truer to their own creative integrity without having to modify things to satisfy the opinions of record company executives who control the purse strings, on the other hand it does mean that there is much more to trawl through in order to find the ‘diamonds in the dirt’!

We even have a specific term to consider, ‘format shifting’; with the advent of multiple listening platforms there is a need to ensure that people who are prepared to pay for legal copies of their music acquisitions can freely utilise digital technology to enable them to routinely convert formats as required for their own personal convenience.

Whilst most of my new music reaches me and is played electronically nowadays I still have a ‘soft spot’ for physical copies and will occasionally buy physical copies even if I have the electronic version. There is something magical about being able to pick up and ‘feel’ a 12” vinyl and savour the graphic design wonders of gate-fold sleeves, printed liners and other assorted inserts. In years to come I can’t really imagine anybody looking longingly at a file name in a list on a computer screen and reminiscing about the first mp3 track that they downloaded!

I mentioned a radio show where I discussed these issues with Kyle; during that programme I enlisted the ‘help’ of Southend-on-Sea’s Theoretical Girl to provide the music. Much as I love Theoretical Girl’s music, there was a very particular reason for selecting her music as the soundtrack for the programme.

I chose Theoretical Girl specifically as I have a number of different versions of her album ‘Divided’, and I thought the order in which I had bought them was rather appropriate for the show.

1 – I downloaded the album from i-tunes and burned the tracks to a CD so that I could listen in the car as I drove to see her play live in Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh. The venue had been a regular pub haunt for me back in the mid 1970s but this was to be my first visit in over thirty years.

2 – I subsequently sourced an official release CD.

3 – My next purchase was a pre-release DJ copy of the CD bought from e-bay.

4 – To mark the first anniversary of the release of the album, a limited edition 12” vinyl edition was released by Soft Power Records, a small Scottish label – having gone this far I simply had to get a copy!

5 – Following the Japanese earthquake / tsunami / nuclear accident, a white label test pressing was put up for auction to help raise money to go towards the disaster relief fund; well, it was obvious that I was going to put in a bid – I was lucky enough to get it.

Hence, with the exclusion of cassettes and eight-tracks, my purchases of the album pretty much represented a reverse of the development of music formats over the years.

Bottom line: I don’t really care too much what the format is as long as the music is good I will be happy to listen and will do whatever I can to include deserving artists in my radio shows.

Posted 2 years ago

RECORD STORE DAY 2012

I have a big soft spot for the philosophy of ‘Record Store Day’, it triggers many happy memories of music discovered, and time spent in Bruce’s in Stirling and Edinburgh, in the 1970s.

I was very happy when the subject of the excellent ‘Sound It Out Documentary’ was selected as last year’s ‘official record store day’ shop – so good to see truly independent stores getting recognition. A visit to ‘Sound It Out Records’ in Stockton-On-Tees is high on my ‘to do list’ for this summer.

On Saturday 21st April 2012 I decided to do my bit to support the special day by visiting ‘Media Mania’ in Berwick-upon-Tweed, no live appearances had been planned, and I wasn’t on the lookout for any ‘RSD’ special releases, I simply wished to support a local business whilst also adding to my music collection.

A while back I included a feature in my show where I chatted with Kyle about the way in which people’s music buying habits had changed throughout my life. As an anchor I used Theoretical Girl’s ‘Divided’ album. My reason for this choice was that I had come to own this in a kind of reverse order; I first got an electronic download version, then saw her play many of the tracks live, later on I got a CD copy, followed by a pre-release DJ version of the CD, and finally I bought one of the limited edition 12” vinyl copy that was released to mark the first anniversary of the initial release. Certainly there was no real need for me to get anything other than the download, but I really do appreciate the way that physical copies can enhance my appreciation of a product, into which the artists have invested so much of themselves. The fact that I will probably never actually play the vinyl is irrelevant. I recall Willie, who I worked alongside in ‘Bruce’s’ Rose Street shop; he was passionate about Jimi Hendrix and bought two copies of every release, even if it was an imported version of a UK release that he already owned. In these days our imports tended to come shrink wrapped, and he wouldn’t even open the wrapping on one copy of his purchases; his reason for getting two copies was to enable him to keep virgin unplayed copies, whilst also being able to listen to the other. In addition to the records, he was an avid collector of any memorabilia – if he maintained and still has this collection, it must be worth an absolute fortune!

So on ‘Record Store Day 2012’ I arrived at ‘Media Mania’ to be welcomed by Roger and Gillian. After coffee and a chat I had a look through the selection of vinyl and CDs. I came away with a pleasing selection; The Who ‘Tommy’ (12” vinyl double album), The Tube (12” compilation album of acts that had appeared on the classic Tyne Tees TV show), Juicy Lucy ‘Who Do You Love’/’Walking Down The Highway’ (7” single on Vertigo with the lovely ‘vertigo inducing’ centre logo), and Blondie ‘Live’ (CD). I was particularly pleased to find ‘Tommy’ as I had a plan. A while back I heard an interview on Radio Scotland with somebody who had started an ‘album club’; run along similar lines to a ‘book club’, people would come along to listen in silence to a vinyl album in its entirety from start to finish and then discuss it. They aimed to experience the totality of the production as it had been sweated over by the artists. In my youth, it was very common for us to listen to entire albums from side 1 track 1 to the end, although not necessarily in complete silence! Given that I rarely seem to listen to music in this way any longer, I thought that I would revisit this at some point. ‘Tommy’ seemed an ideal choice.

I can remember the excitement back in 1969 when The Who’s ‘rock opera’ was released, back then it all seemed so edgy and ambitious. I have to admit that listening now, it all seems rather tame, naïve and at times contrived. Listening to the lyrics of the closing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, I found it hard to feel any real passion, yet at the time of release it had felt so inspirational! I don’t regret taking time to listen to the album again, but it did confirm my preference for fresh new music. Some of the old classics will forever remain great to listen to when I’m in the right mood, others are possibly best left in their original time and kept as happy memories.

Posted 2 years ago

'DRIVE TIME' 23rd August 2011 (including 'Format Shifting')

'DRIVE TIME' - The Fores / Let Go!: LCMDF / Take Me To The Mountains: Misty In Roots / Economical Slavery: Keith Ferreira / Only Fools And Horses: Inkubus Sukkubus / Vampyre Erotica: Willis Word Up: Blur / Country House: LunariaN / Fire: Kenelis / Sick: Elvis Presley / Speedway: The Suburbians / Six In The Morning

'FORMAT SHIFTING' - Honor Blackman & Peter Sellers / Kinky Boots: Theoretical Girl / I Am Theoretical Girl: Theoretical Girl / Dancehall Deceipt: Theoretical Girl / Divided: Theoretical Girl / The Hypocrite: Theoretical Girl / Red Mist: Theoretical Girl / Rivals (sepb remix): Theoretical Girl / Another Fight: Theoretical Girl / The Boy I Left Behind: Theoretical Girl / Eternal Flame

Links for ‘What’s On’:

Business Gateway – 0844 875 0171

Recycled Crafts – www.ecozee.etsy.com / 01750 22204

Symphony of Flowers – 01573 229153

History of Scottish Ceramics – 01620 822080

'The Hot Seats', Tower Mill, Hawick – 01450 360688

Archie Fisher, St. Boswells – 01835 822692

The Maltings, Theatre & Arts Centre - 01289 330999

St. Andrew’s Church, Kelso – 01573 228346

Monumental Inscriptions, Lilliesleaf – Ronald Morrison, 01361 882166

Broomlands PS Summer Fair – 01573 226252

Chirnside Flower Show – pbaxter613@mail.com

Rainbow Kilts - https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Rainbow-Kilts/244214835612808

St. Boswells Car Boot Sale – 07979 321 774

Berwick Farmers’ Market – 01289 330999

Fire, Willow, Whistles & Spoons – www.wooplaw.org.uk

Floors Castle Massed Pipe Bands Day – 01750 725480

Borders Animal Welfare Association Open Day – www.bawa.org.uk / bawacentre@tiscali.co.uk

Glendale Show – 0845 230 5177

Links

Great Ormond Street Hospital / New York Marathon Fundraiser

https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=238381452870628

Theoretical Girl / Nerina Pallot – ‘Life On Mars’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8o8IrwtoRA

Theoretical Girl Dressing Doll World Tour photos

http://www.flickr.com/groups/theoreticalgirlworldtour/

Dimbleby & Capper – Remix Competition submissions

http://www.amazingtunes.com/users/amazingbeats

interested in shooting 5 seconds of video for LunariaN video? Contact dstrachan@btinternet.com

Posted 3 years ago

First real exercise of 2011 - a walk around Greenlawdean with Theoretical Girl on i-pod.  Excellent way to ‘blow away the cobwebs’!

Posted 3 years ago

In 2009 I experienced a great gig when I returned to one of my old student haunts in Edinburgh.  ‘Sneaky Pete’s’ in The Cowgate (‘Nips Of Brandy’ in the 70’s) hosted the wonderfully talented Theoretical Girl.

Almost a year later, following the release of a special edition Vinyl version of her first album ‘Divided’, I escorted a ‘mini Theoretical Girl’ on a short tour of Berwickshire.  One of the places visited was the studio of Generate Radio which was being set up in preparation for its launch in September.  For the full tour, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/53286847@N03/sets/72157624799624888/