2021 has been a difficult year for so many people myself included. However, as the year creeks and groans like an old galleon towards its demise, I care to reflect on the more positive things that got me through perhaps one of the most difficult years I’ve had personally in recent times. I have also had many realisations over the past few months and regressed to my childhood years livening in a tiny little street house and the memories I had of those character-building years. Having recently watches a TV documentary about autism featuring comedian/presenter Paddy McGuinness I started to think of my early years and wonder if I was perhaps autistic as I did seem to have some of the traits. My dad worked on the coke ovens in a local steelwork and my mum part time in a bakery. As a consequence, we were never short of a decent fire or a misshapen cream cake. The one thing we did have in abundance was music. My dad loved Mantovani and country and Western, though the radiogram was always playing pop and interesting things like the Walker Brothers, the Rolling Stones and of course The Beatles. My indifference to the Beatles began around this time probably around 1966 due to the fact that when my sister Janice used to play their records over and over again usually on a Sunday at a time when all the shops where closed all day and the only thing activity was the ice cream van. To this day whilst I appreciate their brilliance it reminds me of those boring stuffy Sundays.
It was about the age of eight or nine I started to get up early on a morning and listening to my sisters Beach Boy’s, Franky Vallie and the four seasons and Monkee’s records much to my parent’s dismay at 5am. I had my arse smacked and marched back to my bed every time. Fast forwards 55 years or so and guess what? I am still getting up at stupid O’clock and listening to music. This time I have my trusty headphones to prevent my untimely return to my bed. And just like the sixties when I suffered a fair bit of anxiety, the music of 2021 got me through and I was gobsmacked given the dystopia at just how high the quality of every release was. Albums by Lifesigns, Tillison, Reingold Tiranti, Glacier and a few others set the bar very high and managed to alleviate the humdrum of the pandemic and misery reported over and over again on the daily news.
As the summer began in earnest myself and Helen decided to visit Andy Tillison and his lovely lady Sally deep in the heart of the Yorkshire moors. This was a one of those rare days that leave its mark. Never realising in the past that we simply love so many of the same records we ha a ball revisiting some rather good funk and fusion music whilst putting the world to right over dinner. Great craic and much needed catch up. As the summer rolled on, I managed to catch up with me old mates Tony Patterson and Doug Melbourne too. I was very fortunate to have been given access to the album that they have been working on called Darke Before Dawn. Never being the one to miss an opportunity I secured an interview with them and played some of the forthcoming tracks. Its always an honour to be allowed access to music in the creative stages.
As 2021 rolled on I received a visit from fellow Progzilla radio presenter Alan Krazlow who spent a couple of days at Progmeister towers on his way home to California. We had a great time and connected from the off. It was a pleasure to have Alan for a sleep over and share some great tunes and stories. Also bringing joy in 21 was the arrival of two new grandchildren Vinnie and Josie which all contributed to a more positive conclusion to a year that began a one from hell. My last show of 2021 went out on 12th December to some positive feedback which spurs me on a tad and despite losing some musical soldiers this year, I remain positive about 2022. So goodbye and a massive thankyou to John Lodge, John Goodsall, David Longdon, John Miles and Mike Nesmith to name but a few. I would also like to thank all those who write into me and/or send music for review or airplay, Alan Clark of Alchris Audio for The Progmeister special loudspeakers, my fellow presenters and of course Helen Jane who has the patience of a saint with my eccentricities. My fellow presenters for all their support and Jim Blair of Altamira Lux for my theme music. And Johnny Blakey too for his Prog or not Prog tracks all year. 2022, see you down there? Indeedy doodly.