2023

I wasn’t planning to watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny on New Year’s Eve. And when I did switch over after the fireworks I certainly didn’t expect to witness an exciting new talent.

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Here’s my last playlist of the year, for December 2023. It’s a vibrant mix of ’70s hard rock and ’80s kitsch’n’disco, vintage funk and soul and ambient house, old-skool blues and nu-soul, plus a bit of dub reggae and some festive themed numbers for Christmas recently past.

Books – Best Of 2023

29th December 2023 · 2020s, 2023, Film, Books

Obviously these are just the ones I have read, and I am a slow reader. But I enjoy a good novel, with good characters, and I try to alternate my novel-reading with the occasional non-fiction book.

Looking at the list, it’s only now I notice that while the first (The Bee Sting) is very much an Irish book about an Irish family, the next five all have themes of race.

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Vivian Stanshall was one of those great British eccentrics. I came across him in my teens on John Peel’s radio show, where he regularly narrated extracts from his satirical saga Sir Henry At Rawlinson End.

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I’m notoriously bad at remembering TV shows and when they came out but here’s a selection of ones I’m pretty sure I enjoyed during the past year.
 

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There’s a compelling argument that we’ve had enough Christmas songs to last a lifetime and don’t need any more. But this one has that same seasonal sense of sadness and nostalgia as Fairytale Of New York.

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Candi Staton – 1963

21st December 2023 · 2020s, 2023, Music, Soul

This is utterly heartbreaking. Once heard, never forgotten: Candi Staton’s first-hand memory of one of the worst racist terror incidents in US history, in which four little girls lost their lives.

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Cinema – Best Of 2023

20th December 2023 · 2020s, 2023, Film, Books

Lots of good films this year, and a massive revival in cinema receipts thanks largely to an old-fashioned head-to-head with Barbenheimer over the summer. And I’ve just noticed that five of my top ten have female directors, which must mean #MeToo has had some sort of impact in cinema.

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Gotta confess it took me a long while to take Olivia Rodrigo seriously. First there was her background as a Disney princess in High School Musical. Then there was her phenomenal pop success.

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Brian Auger is a name that rings a distant bell to me but ought to ring a lot louder. He’s a bit of a zelig, turning up with his Hammond organ in the unlikeliest places ever since the ’60s. Not just his organ either.

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