Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The happy sound just got a little sadder.

When I was growing up in the sixties and seventies, an ever present in my life was Radio 1. I'd get up, go downstairs and Radio 1 would be playing while I ate my breakfast. My mum would listen to it as she did the housework, my brothers would listen to it in the bathroom, the family would listen to it at meal times.

Back then, the "happy, happy sound" of Radio 1 was an eclectic mix of music. You'd be listening to a show and hear - one after the other - things like Jimmy Cliff singing "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" followed by "Black Knight" by Deep Purple, "Dream Baby" by Roy Orbison and "Tracks of My Tears" from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

When you get such a mix of music played in the space of 10 minutes, it's bound to have an effect. I'm sure I owe my broad taste in music today to Radio 1's output back then. The great thing with Radio 1 in those early days was that the play list was designed to reflect the musical taste of the listeners rather than the DJ's and producers. Radio 1 had a broad audience and the music reflected that. That's not the case today. Instead the play list is dominated by what the DJ's and producers want you to hear - what they consider to be "cool" and "trendy". In other words, the play list is designed to improve the image of the DJ within the industry - and yet ....

The vast majority of Radio 1 DJ's today are anonymous clones. They talk with the same monotonous drone and spout the same drivel in their pursuit of street cred. The ones who try to be different do so by being coarse, vulgar and rude. When it comes to Radio 1 you're either bored or offended. It's no longer a "happy sound" - just a "crappy sound" banging out tuneless dirges that all sound very much alike; devoid of melody, structure and subtlety.

Which brings me to Alan Freeman who passed away today at the age of 79. Fluff was one of those DJ's who I grew up listening to during that golden age of Radio 1. They were people who not only had a passion for music, but also a passion for entertainment - people who understood that Radio 1 wasn't just a vehicle for their musical taste or a "shop window" to showcase their talent - but a friend that we "invited" into our homes everyday. He used to come into our homes, wouldn't swear, was never rude, always polite and would happily play what we wanted to hear.

You wouldn't hear Fluff telling us that he won't play something we wanted to hear because it's "crap". Fluff was one of those happy band of DJ's who realised that if he wants to continue to be invited into our homes every day, he had to give us what we asked for - whether it be Jimmy Cliff or Cliff Richard, Frankie Avalon or Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The important thing for Fluff was to entertain the audience - not "educate" them into liking a particular sort of music.

RIP Fluff.

1 comment:

xoggoth said...

You must be nearly as old as me. Not heard he was dead. Shame. Like all DJs he was extremely irritating, but that was part of their attraction.