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👉🏻 07.08.20 UPDATE > 2020 Tour Cancellations


10.08.20   >   Lyric Card: What A Wonderful World

What A Wonderful World

09.08.20   >   "A Love Like That" Chrome Theme

I was perusing Google Chrome themes in search of a new look, as you do, though maybe you don't—it's probably just me, and nothing was quite tickling my fancy. And I'd rather set my heart on having my fancy tickled. So I decided to do what I normally do in these situations and tickle my own fancy (stop making your own jokes). I thought it would be bordering on spiffing to have a browser themed to match the new look of AAK. Not entirely surprisingly, no one else in the whole world had had the same idea and created one so I had to make it myself. Well, it's more fun that way in any case. Here's what it looks like then, though you've probably looked before even reading a syllable of my inane blurb:

chrome theme

If you want it, and I'll be crushed if you don't, then you can get it from A Love Like That Theme. Installing it requires a bit of settings tinkering but assuming that holds no fear for you then there's full instructions here.

08.08.20   >   Katie Bite: No Better Magic

No Better Magic

07.08.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 11

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 11


06.08.20   >   Katie's 2020

Well, what a year this has beeen, and it's only August...

Katie's 2020'

05.08.20   >   Track Notes 102: When You Taught Me How To Dance

Album:  

Writers:

Mike Batt, Nigel Westlake, Richard Maltby

Length:

3:23

Notes:

Oh my, Mike Batt worked a little magic on this number that Nigel Westlake had floating around for the soundtrack of the movie "Miss Potter". Nigel had the bones of the song but was struggling to flesh it out so he called in Mike and Katie. With virtually only a few hours to work with, Mike tweaked the song and wrote fresh lyrics along with Richard Maltby. Katie arrived and recorded the thing pretty much instantly and the movie had a classic song under its belt. No one would suspect it was a last minute rush job listening to it. Mike's beautiful lyrics and Katie's timeless performance combine yet again to give the world something simply divine. One of my favourite Katie tracks.

YouTube:

Well now, if you are a fan of a certain Harold Potter and Hermione Granger then this is going to make you melt...Harry and Hermione
but if you are not then here's Katie just giving it her usual effortless sprinkling of stardust...When You Taught Me How To Dance

Lyrics:

When You Taught Me How To Dance 

04.08.20   >   Why Album No 8 Is Important

Album No 8 is just over ten weeks away now after what seems like an eternal wait. But all good things…

Whilst it would be premature to start reviewing it, even though I’m convinced it is going to be astonishing, I think it is worth reflecting on why it is such an important album. Let’s start by noting that most artists never even make it to an eighth album, but of those that do does it stick in the memory? For The Beatles, for example, it was “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” but would you have known that was their eighth? Okay, I know there will be a clever-clogs out there that did know that, but would you have known Dylan’s was “John Wesley Harding”? (If that’s a yes too then I want you on my pub quiz team).

The point is, album number eight is usually unremarkable. Not in musical terms, necessarily, I hasten to add—after all, at the time of release every artist will canoodle their creation like a new baby and time might even reveal it to be a classic—but the fact that it was number 8 will generally be forgotten.

In Katie’s case, things may be very different. For a start, no one is ever going to forget that it was her eighth album. But it is important because it is in some ways her second album, and we all know how difficult they are rumoured to be. Of course, I’m not writing her first six studio albums out of the history books. They are all wonderful and any artist would be proud of them. Now, I need to be careful here because the last thing I would ever want to do is offend Katie, but I think she will understand what I mean when I say that in a sense all she had to do with the Dramatico albums is turn up and sing. Obviously, she played a much larger part than that, getting involved with the writing and arranging and production and what not, especially on “The House”, but had she not been quite so eager to learn everything she could have, quite literally, just turned up to sing and let Mike Batt and Dramatico worry about all the mixing and engineering stuff. Once she parted with Dramatico she effectively became her own record label and it was up to her to think of and handle everything. (BMG distributes her music but in a sense they work for her rather than the other way round—a bit like me writing and producing my own books then getting Amazon to sell them).

You could therefore look at “In Winter” as something of a franchise reboot and therefore the first album for “new Katie”. Yet in some ways it was a bit of a free hit. She was still carrying the momentum from the Dramatico years and most people would have seen “In Winter” as a new Katie Melua album without even being aware of her split from Dramatico. It was also less of a gamble because of the ‘Winter’ theme—although that was a distinction from a ‘Christmas’ album it is still often perceived as such. That is a double-edged sword: some people may consider it to not be a ‘proper’ album but ‘just a Christmas album’ and hence not take it as seriously or give it the credit it is due but by the same token anyone that wasn’t that impressed with “In Winter” can write it off as a Christmas album and not count it against Katie in the grand scheme of things.

Album No 8 is different. This time, there is nowhere to hide. This is a full-blown, proper album, written and produced by Katie. If it is well-received, she can take the credit and bask in the glory whereas if it flops she has nobody else to blame. I’m not a fan of spoiler alerts, so I’ll just blurt it out right now—she has nothing to worry about. Nothing, that is, except how to stay afloat in a raging sea of compliments. The songs we’ve heard so far are enough to tell us that she is going to deliver a classy, polished album of intelligent, highly crafted songs that will enhance her reputation within the industry and, hopefully, among the public too. It is an important album because it is one she needed to get right, and I have a feeling she’s nailed it. Naturally, as a loyal fan I am going to support whatever she does but I really do think she's going to win a lot of new admirers with this material.


03.08.20   >   Katie Bite: A Love Like That

A Love Like That

02.08.20   >   AYMHM 3: Tomorrow's Harvest

Last time out on Albums You May Have Missed I mentioned I had a penchant for instrumental music. That was deliberately phrased to stop me looking *too* weird, but I cannot in all conscience continue to disguise the fact that I'm heartily obsessed with ambient electronica. Of course, you only have to look at the web site you are on to realise that whenever I need comfort or inspiration then Katie's voice is the first port of call. For most of the remaining time though you'll find me lost in a world of atmospheric noises that allow me to travel to other worlds in my mind. When I'm writing, especially, I don't want the distraction of lyrics but I find it hard to work in silence. Ambient electronica is just the ticket—it gets the creative juices flowing without taking over your brain entirely. Perhaps you could write a love sonnet whilst listening to heavy metal but I know I couldn't. A man's gotta know his limitations.

tomorrows harvest

Tomorrow's Harvest

Boards Of Canada

So, where do I begin? It's a tricky one. There are a ton of candidates and I've already changed my mind a couple of times. I could probably run another web site along the lines of "All About Ambient", but you know, I can't be arsed. These things are a lot of work even if they are a labour of love and AAK is a big enough drain on my batteries so I'll just resort to sneak tactics like this to get the odd bit of ambient mention in and cross my fingers that Katie doesn't get cross with Craggie for lowering the tone of what is ostensibly her site.

I decided upon Tomorrow's Harvest by Boards Of Canada. This band isn't really a band, nor are they Canadian. They are a pair of elusive and reclusive Edinburgh-based brothers that spend most of their time making music and very little of it performing or releasing said music. But their sound is quite unique. It has an ethereal sense of vague nostalgia about it, almost as though it was made in the 60s or something. As it turns out, this evocative past-longing vibe is something BoC deliberately try to create and they are rather good at it. They use a wide range of techniques to get that distinctive blend, including knackered old analogue tape machines that can give a wobbly pitch-variance, distorted samples from 70s television documentaries and probably even their mum's best set of pans if they could get away with it.

Whenever you mention the word "ambient" people's eyes glaze over and they are immediately picturing scented candles and tacky health spa "wellness being" music with tinkling pianos and fluttering flutes. Get that nonsense out of your head right now. Ambient is about painting a picture in your mind with music, a panoramic soundscape. You should be able to close your eyes and drift away to improbable worlds where your brain can make anything it desires a reality. So do yourself a favour: get yourself alone, mute your phone, don your favourite pair of cans, close your eyes and just see where Tomorrow's Harvest takes you. (If the answer is "nowhere" then soz about that, it don't work for everyone!)

Play on:

spotify

01.08.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 10

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 10


31.07.20   >   Airtime (Acoustic)

If the previous entry has made you as morose as a badger on crutches then Katie has just the tonic for you, naturally. We've all swooned and melted into a puddle watching the official video for 'Airtime' with its sensuous and classy production but I would have been quite happy to pop along to Speaker's Corner and inform anyone who'd listen (pigeons, mostly) that Katie could still kill the pants off you performing it alone acoustically. Thankfully, the pigeons may go about their business undisturbed because Katie has kindly made a video of exactly what my passioned oration would have described. She really does seem to be oblivious to how dingo-bewilderingly good she is. Click the pic below to check it out.

airtime

31.07.20   >   Covid-19 Latest

Further easing of restrictions have been temporarily cancelled today. This was due to include theatres. Although Katie's UK Tour dates are still some 90 days away some notice would need to be given and therefore it seems cancellation is looking more likely than ever thanks to the selfish muppets that have decided they are above isolation and lockdown. It ain't over till it's over, as they say, whoever they are, but we should be prepared to accept that we may not get to see our beloved Katie until next year at the earliest. Given that socially-distanced concerts are not really viable we may have to wait until a vaccine is approved and widely available.

30.07.20   >   Track Notes 101: What A Wonderful World

Album:  

Writers:

Bob Thiele & George David Weiss

Length:

4:19

Notes:

Oh Satchmo! What a wonderful song! Written for the irrepressible Louis Armstrong in 1967, though it feels like a Great American Songbook tune from the 30s, this classic was not an initial success in the US but motored to number 1 in the UK in 1968 and went on to become the biggest selling UK single that year. It has since been recorded a ton of times as well as being used in advertising, television and films.

Katie's version is, of course, a duet with the amazing Eva Cassidy. It takes something special to cover this song after the exuberant original but it doesn't get more special than putting Eva and Katie together. Although Eva died in 1996, technology allows such trickery to be accomplished fairly seamlessly; obviously, Eva's recording is set in stone but Katie could record her bits as often as she liked until she and Mike Batt were happy with the blend. The CD single was released on December 3, 2007 and gave both artists their first, and only, UK number 1 singles. The "B-side" (in quotes because we are talking about a CD) was "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", the subject of the previous track notes (you see—I don't just throw this stuff together you know!)

YouTube:

A few versions of this knocking about, including one where she is accompanied by pianist Lang Lang. But here is a lovely example for Radio m80, accompanied by guitarist Luke Patashnik (who was involved with Katie's latest single, "Airtime". You see, I don't just...)

What A Wonderful World live

Lyrics:

What A Wonderful World 

29.07.20   >   Katie Bite: Airtime

Airtime

28.07.20   >   The Beauty Of Symmetry?

Following on nicely from yesterday's piece on mirrors, there was quite an interesting item on Q.I. (which is, I guess, how it got it's name) regarding facial symmetry, mirror images and so on. The general consensus was that the myth of a perfectly symmetrical face being more beautiful is exactly that: a myth. Now, you know me—well actually you don't but no matter—I don't believe I've seen many faces more beautiful than Katie's so I was curious to find out if symmetry could indeed make her even more pulchritudinous. Are you ready for this? (Warning: it may mess with your head!)

katie pic

Katie, as we know her...

Gosh, isn't that weird? And fun. Those are three beautiful girls, but I'll take the middle one all day long (and indeed, into the early hours of tomorrow) thank you very much. That's hypothetical of course, since they are all a million miles out of my league, and two of them don't exist, but you know what I mean.


27.07.20   >   Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

Who is the fairest of them all? Katie is, of course. Obvs. But I want to say a bit about mirror images. During lockdown, Katie has been gracious enough to devote a lot of her time engaging with fans online. This is because behind the mask of a sublime singer and accomplished musician there lies a beautiful human being. For this we should all be thankful and grateful and feel lucky to spend our brief moment of time on this planet in parallel with someone like her.

Having said all that, I’ve noticed that during many of her recent live appearances a lot of people have been chuntering away in the comments that she appears to be in ‘mirror image’. The biggest giveaway of this is if there is any writing in the image, such as a poster on the wall behind her. (There are a couple of other small things to look out for if you’re observant enough, but I’m not telling.) What I’m struggling to get my head around is why this mirroring is upsetting so many people, and some do bang on about it repeatedly. For heaven’s sake, this amazing multi-million selling artist is speaking to you live from home and you’re bothered that she’s mirrored? Deal with it! If she was upside down it might be a justifiable gripe, though even then I’d probably just hang upside down from the chandelier to watch her.

So what is going on with all this anyway? Well, please allow me to explain. Katie does not have a BBC Outside Broadcast Unit on speed dial to come and film her. She uses the same tech as us—most likely an iPhone or iPad. Now, as many of you will be aware, these technological wonders have both front and rear cameras that can film video in surprisingly good high definition, so there actually isn’t much need for expensive and cumbersome video recording equipment if you just want to say ‘hi’ from your living room. But although both cameras are capable, they do work slightly differently in how the software processes the images. The rear camera is designed to be used like, well, a camera. You point and shoot. Simples. The front camera though, had the boffins at Apple scratching their beards. This is because the Psychology Department told them that humans are used to seeing themselves in a mirror and since the front camera was intended for taking ‘selfies’ the display should act like an actual mirror so that people don’t get all confused and panicky thinking that their mole has slithered across to the other side of their face during the night.

Flipping the image isn’t a problem but when you come to print it out you don’t want that clever slogan on your t-shirt to be back to front. So, whilst the rear camera just takes straightforward as-you-see-it images, the front camera *shows* you a mirrored image but secretly saves it unmirrored. You can test this: go to take a selfie on your iPhone and note that it looks like you are mirrored on the screen. Take the pic, then look at it and you will see it is suddenly the right way around! Magic! (Not really, just simple software, but hey, I’m a programmer—to some it really is magic.)

Now then, here’s where it gets funky: this ‘flipping’ of the image back to ‘normal’ occurs in post-production. For a still photo this effectively means instantly. But for *video* it means that during recording the image will appear mirrored and it is only when recording has finished that the entire video will be ‘flipped’. SO, if Katie pre-recorded a little performance she would appear the ‘right way’ round when playing it back. But since she is using the camera live, in real time, for social media then the camera feed is the mirrored image instead. Is there a solution? Of course, if you really consider it to be a problem, which most level-headed people don’t. She could turn the phone around and film with the rear camera. But then she wouldn’t be able to monitor herself, would she? So people would be griping that we can only see her chin or something. With some people you just can’t win whatever you do. Katie doesn’t need my advice, which in any case would simply be to keep doing what she’s doing because the majority of her fans are loving it. (Although I might add that she should try to be as close as possible, preferably in the same room, as her wifi router to minimise signal degradation during live streaming.) Well, I hope that has cleared the matter up once and for all. So next time you see comments about mirror images during Katie’s live interactions you’ll know they are people that haven’t read this blog and you have full permission to look disdainfully down your noses at them and make a noise somewhat approximating "phnufph".

26.07.20   >   Crossword No. 2

A brand new song deserves nothing less than a brand new crossword puzzle to celebrate it! If you hate crossword puzzles then by all means toddle off and celebrate "Airtime" any which way you want—race snails, grout tiles, whatever. Knock yourself out. But if you are tickety-boo with a crossword then do enjoy, though I should warn you that if you know nothing at all about Katie Melua then (a) you'll find it a tad difficult, and (b) what the hell are you doing at this site anyway?

If you want to print it out to fill in just click on the puzzle to open it in a separate window and hit CMD-P (Mac) or CTRL-P (Windows).

crossword puzzle 2

Across

2. Me, when trying to compile a crossword!
3. A song fit for a Queen
6. Left hood?
14. Katie speaks English, Georgian and ...
15. A song that deserves plenty of itself
19. She used to eat roses
20. Lend wife flour
21. An album that reveals Katie's inner wit
22. Halt, Katie love!


Down

1. Mostly unforgettable girl
4. City where Katie was awarded the Georgian Medal of Honour
5. Like you find on a washing machine
7. A little reggae living amongst the spirits
8. God on the drums...
9. An album with hidden orchestration?
10. A permanent type of carbon
11. Which one would you save?
12. Katie's first record label
13. Perhaps I had a vision while I was sleeping
16. Inner thigh, get it?
17. Bobbie Gentry cover as sweet as French fondant
18. I ate UK male!


25.07.20   >   Album No 8 - The Story So Far

We’ve heard 30% of the new album now following the release of “A Love Like That” and “Airtime” (we’ve known about “Maybe I Dreamt It” for some time already). It is still a bit premature to try to judge the whole album but I think we are beginning to get a flavour of it, and it’s a taste very much to my liking.

I’m going to resist the urge to award marks out of ten for the three tracks on the grounds that you all know what they’d be and I don’t wish to be seen as a sycophantic and obsequious toe-licker when it comes to Katie but rather an informed, thoughtful and educated follower of intelligent music. (In truth, I am, of course, the former, but let’s just keep that between you and me right? No need for anyone else to know.) You are perfectly entitled, naturally, to award your own scores to these tracks if you deem that to be an in any way useful exercise, which it isn’t.

airtime

Maybe I Dreamt It

We first heard this track back in the winter of 2018 so although it was the first taste of Album No 8 it almost feels like an old song already. We haven’t heard the studio version yet but when you listen to the live version now in context of “A Love Like That” and “Airtime” you can feel a thread linking the three songs together even though they are all different. “Maybe I Dreamt It” is one of those blockbusters that starts slowly and lulls you into a sense of calm before building to an almighty crescendo. You can imagine someone like Shirley Bassey throwing both tonsils at it back in the day. During the live performances it gave The Gori Women’s Choir chance to unleash their full power and they were mind-blowing—it’ll be interesting to see how the studio recording compares—but the fact that Katie had to wait patiently for thirty seconds for a standing ovation before she could deliver the final line was the first indication that Album No 8 (which at the time was only known tentatively as the eighth album) might turn out to be really rather good.

A Love Like That

It’s less than a month since Katie blew us away with this sublime track, and most of us haven’t yet recovered. It only took a few bars for you to be thinking ‘Bond theme’ and that’s exactly what social media and then the actual media latched on to. I have no idea if Katie finds the comparison a massive compliment or whether she was aiming for something altogether different and was a bit miffed we didn’t get it—either way, the simple fact is that it is a gorgeous song and had it been a Bond theme it would have been hailed as one of the best in decades. If you can get Daniel Craig out of your head for a moment—which I can—and look at the song from another perspective you see a slick, sophisticated, cinematic take on adult love—the kind we all dream of: you know, beautiful people saying everything with looks and glances, expensive clothes, posh cars, beautiful scenery, dreamy sunsets and so on. (Contrast that with the love most of us actually know, which involves sharing a soggy bag of chips at a wet bus stop in Wigan.)

Airtime

Katie unleashed this one on us in a surprise sneak attack when all our defences were down and we were ill-prepared for such a blinding new song. I said a while back we were going to need sunglasses because Katie was threatening to go supernova but I had little idea how true that was. This song is more reflective than “A Love Like That”. The former was asking the question how do you make a love like that last, whereas “Airtime” seems to be saying perhaps you can’t. The video is cinematic and achingly beautiful, following on from “A Love Like That” like the second act of a movie. And it is a movie that I have no doubt the fans would love to see a two-hour cut of. I don’t know how many more ‘episodes’ there are to come, if any, but it would be nice to see them all spliced together at some point into a mini-movie—perhaps even a Director’s cut that could be released as a DVD of the album. When you look at the track listings for Album No 8 you see that “A Love Like That” is the first and “Airtime” the ninth, with only “Remind Me To Forget” after it, so it does hint at telling a story across the album and scanning through the song titles seems to reinforce that impression. We’ll have to wait until October 16th to find out but one thing I am already convinced of is this: Album No 8 is going to be something truly special, perhaps even a work of art.


24.07.20   >   Airtime

New song alert!

Katie has a new song out as of RIGHT NOW! 😎 😍 called "Airtime". It is sumptuously decadent, classy and simply breathtaking. My god, she is on fire with this album. If A Love Like That is like a sophisticated Bond theme then Airtime is more like Cleopatra bathing in full cream milk whilst sucking on a Cadbury's Flake, surrounded by a thousand scented tea-lights. This is the work of an accomplished songwriter that knows exactly what they're doing and is really getting into their stride. Katie has spent years honing her craft and now it is paying off; she is producing works of art that will stand the test of time. We've had to wait for Album No 8 but boy is it going to be worth it.

The official video premieres on YouTube at 5.00pm UK BST. Click on the pic below to visit the page.

airtime

23.07.20   >   Update on Asteroid Katiemelua

I just thought I’d update the astronomy geeks among you (which may be just me) about the current location of Katiemelua. She is currently around 1.3 AU from Earth. No, our favourite singer hasn’t been abducted by aliens, I’m talking about the asteroid named after her. If data gets your blood pumping then head off to Katiemelua’s page at the JPL Small-Body Browser. (Apologies if you spend most of your day there anyway—and why wouldn’t you spend your day browsing small bodies?)

Fact of the Day: The asteroid Katiemelua was discovered in 1998, some 5 years before the singer Katie Melua was discovered. Whoever names these things is clearly clairvoyant.

asteroid katiemelua

22.07.20   >   Album No 8 Goodies! Support Georgian Red Cross!

Katie is donating the profits from her 2020 store merchandise to The Georgian Red Cross. Which is another very good reason to pop over to her online store and order everything (the first reason being that it’s all stuff you know you want—I mean, plantable pencils for heaven’s sake: the writing says “how do you make a love like that last?”, and the answer is you plant it and let it grow into a forget-me-not. Genius.) Okay, it’s only pre-order at the moment but if you do it now you’ll forget about it and have a lovely surprise when the goodies eventually land on your doormat in October.

album no 8 merch

21.07.20   >   AYMHM 2: The Songs Of Distant Earth

The second in my occasional series of Albums You May Have Missed reflects my penchant for instrumental music. If you utter the name "Mike Oldfield" you'll normally get one of two responses: "never heard of him" or "oh yes, Tubular Bells". Like Katie, Oldfield recorded his first album, Tubular Bells, at 19. It was a bit of a punt for Richard Branson's new Virgin Label to have an instrumental epic by an unknown teenager as your launch album. But after a slow start it gradually turned into a phenomenon, aided when the movie sensation of 1973, "The Exorcist", used part of it as a soundtrack. The trouble is, the more sensational your first album is, the more difficult the "difficult" second album becomes. Few could name Hergest Ridge as Oldfield's second album, though bizarrely it actually hit number one in the album charts before Tubular Bells. The Public move in mysterious ways.

the songs of distant earth

The Songs Of Distant Earth

Mike Oldfield

He may have drifted into the background after the initial storm of Tubular Bells, but Oldfield has been active ever since and has 26 studio albums to his name. The better ones include Incantations, Amarok, Tubular Bells II & III and Return To Ommadawn. But if I had to pick one for recommendation it would be 1994's The Songs Of Distant Earth.

The Songs Of Distant Earth was inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke novel of the same name. It isn't considered one of his better novels, though it's not bad, but the title always resonated with me. When you're far away from home and longing to be back there, thinking about the things you miss, it is always poignant—but I wondered how that might feel for future generations of space explorers searching the galaxy for a new home, perhaps having been born in space and never even having set foot on Earth. Much of their impression of The Blue Marble would be formed from listening to the music in the ship's data banks. Imagine exploring a place in your mind just through the music of that place. That's pretty much what I did with Georgia before I got to visit that beautiful country. Is there life out in space? I feel certain there must be. But do they have music? That's a trickier one. Music is such a very special human thing and the deep way in which it connects with our emotions suggests we are genetically wired to respond to it at a primal level. Perhaps alien cultures will have some form of music but we might not recognise it as such—it could be one note with constantly changing amplitude, or even at a pitch beyond human hearing—who knows?

For me, The Songs Of Distant Earth captures the feeling of travelling through space with optimism and excitement tinged with a sense of lament and longing for a past long lost, never to be returned to. I love this album to bits. Mike himself has described it as "very ambient", though I think he's selling himself a bit short there; there's too much energy and diversity for it to be classed as ambient. I prefer to think of it as "futuristic classical". You may consider it to be a "pile of pants", but you won't know until you listen.

Play on:

spotify

20.07.20   >   Track Notes 100: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Album:  

Writers

Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane

Length:

2:23

Notes:

Look, don't give me a hard time, I know it's the middle of July and this is a song with the C-word. I feel like an absolute bonzo for even mentioning it but the thing is I've been working through these track notes in a methodical manner and this little pot of Yuletide treacle just happens to be welded on to the end of B-Sides so we all just have to deal with it. Actually, if anyone can get away with a Christmas song in July, Katie can. Her voice is just too irresistible for you to care.

As Christmas songs go, this one is rather charming and has a more warm, reflective sentiment than many others of the ilk, such as White Christmas, that can sound a little twee in twenty-twentee. The song was written in 1943 for Judy Garland to sing in the film "Meet Me In St. Louis". In its original form it was deemed a little too depressing for sensitive American audiences so the lyrics were tweaked to be a bit more positive for the movie. Even so, the mighty Frank Sinatra deemed them to require even further jollification for his "A Jolly Christmas" album, and since no one dared argue with ol' blue eyes, twas done. And it is Frank's version that Katie delivers here. It is a matter for you alone to decide if you prefer "hang a shining star upon the highest bough" to "until then we'll have to muddle through somehow". The latter resonates more with my vapid existence but I must grumpily admit that the former is a lovelier Christmas line.

YouTube:

You're not gonna believe this—there's actual video footage of Katie performing the song. Not only that, but she is introduced by none other than the legendary Two Ronnies. Shut up. I know. Yes, it's ancient and hence embarrassingly low-res but Katie looks and sounds stunning, even if you do suspect she had to wrestle with a hedge on the way to the studio.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas on The Two Ronnies.

Lyrics:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 

19.07.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 9

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 9


18.07.20   >  Subliminal Messages

t-shirt front t-shirt back

So look, I was just sitting at the computer minding my own business when I suddenly sat bolt upright, eyes fixed into space. Then a woman’s voice was speaking softly in my head. I got the feeling it was originating somewhere in North London. She quietly commanded

		❝ Thou shalt design a shirt of appropriate message and colour.
		Thou shalt have said shirt made and hastened to your abode. 
		Thou shalt don said shirt and go out into the world and,
		mindful of social distancing, be sure that all do see the shirt 
		and all inquire of its meaning and all are made to 
		understand its importance. ❞

I came to my senses and realised I had somehow lost fifteen minutes. Then I got a confirmation email from a T-shirt company for an order I have no memory of making. I tried to warn you all. I knew something like this would happen. If one song can do this then the whole album will be deadly…
Still, there are worse fates than being a Ketezombie I suppose.


17.07.20   >   Lyric Card: Looking For Clues

Looking For Clues

16.07.20   >   Dedication. That's What You Need!

Today’s title is a line sung by Roy Castle in the opening titles of “Record Breakers”. (Yes, I know that's going back a bit.) But it applies to anything in life, not just Guinness World Records (though, as I’m sure you’ll know, Katie has one of those too). In this reality-tv age where young people believe they are owed success handed to them on a plate in fifteen minutes I thought I would say a bit about what it really takes to reach the top in the music industry, and stay there.

Even as I was thinking about this, Roy Castle’s catchy jingo was running through my head. It sums it up rather nicely though: dedication. Decide what you really want to do in life and then dedicate yourself to being the best at it you possibly can be. Which is exactly what Katie has done. She has spent half her life in the album charts; before that all began she’d already spent more than half her life learning to play violin, piano and guitar (the singing ability came pre-installed). So as she rightly gets plaudits for her latest song, “A Love Like That”, young wannabes should realise that it has been around three decades in the making. That’s dedication. Katie is the perfect role model for girls who dream of following in her footsteps. Don’t be showy and full of yourself, just wonder at what you see around you, ask questions, be interested, keep learning and striving to explore new pathways. Love what you do and work hard to keep doing it to the best of your ability. Doesn’t sound particularly easy, does it? It isn’t supposed to be. Why would it be? We’re talking about being the best you can be—of course it’s a challenge.

We've had to wait four years for Album No 8. It seems quite a while, but actually it isn’t unprecedented for gaps between albums to grow as an artist gets older. I want to now add some perspective on Katie’s career by comparing it with two other female icons of the UK Album Charts—Kate Bush and Enya.

Have a peruse of the following table. When Katie releases Album No 8 in October it will be her… hang on a sec, I just need to work this out… eighth studio album. That’s level with Enya and just two behind Kate Bush. (Personally, I have Katie on 9 because I consider “B-Sides” a studio album even if those whose opinions matter don’t). But look at the years each artist has been active—Katie has plenty of time to add to her total. Katie reached seven albums even quicker than Kate, and much faster than Enya. And look at that average time per album!


  Katie Melua Kate Bush  Enya 
Studio albums 8 10 8
Years active 17 42 33
First 7 albums 13 yrs 15 yrs 21 yrs
Av. per album 2.13 yrs 4.2 yrs 4.1 yrs

Katie is still young and loving what she does so there’s every reason to expect that at some point she will become the UK’s most successful female artist ever. How she hasn’t been given more credit for what she has already achieved mystifies me.

There’s one other *very* noticeable difference between Katie, Kate and Enya. Kate rarely tours or performs live, Enya almost never, whereas Katie seems to love performing live more than anything. The fact that she does that and yet is still more prolific in the recording studio is testament to how hard she works. My mum once said to me “a beautiful garden isn’t made by saying ‘how lovely’ and sitting in the shade”. Those impressive stats underline Katie’s dedication. I don’t actually know if she wants to be the best, better than the rest, but the way she’s going it’s hard to see how she can avoid it.


15.07.20   >   Playlist: Katie's Going Places

If "A Love Like That" is anything to go by then Katie is certainly going places. (As if she hasn't been to enough places already!) But here are fifteen songs in which she refers to particular places so why not flop in your armchair and let her take you on a journey around the world, imagining being in the places she sings about. What a wonderful way to spend a damp July day. Oh, and I'm not telling you the places, you'll have to listen out for them (and some songs have more than one!).

Spotify: I'm not a big fan of the streaming giant simply because they do not pay the artist a fair price for their track plays. But I know many of you live out half your lives in it so I'm adding a playlist link for you but my hope is that if you like the music on playlists you'll do the right thing by the artist and buy their albums. (If you haven't already bought all of Katie's albums then utter dog-faced shame on you!)

Katie's Going Places

  1. Crawling Up A Hill
  2. My Aphrodisiac Is You
  3. Belfast
  4. Nine Million Bicycles
  5. Halfway Up The Hindu Kush
  6. Blues In The Night
  7. Market Day In Guernica
  8. Fancy
  9. A Happy Place
  10. Heartstrings
  11. Too Long At The Fair
  12. Where Does The Ocean Go?
  13. Sailing Ships From Heaven
  14. Mad, Mad Men
  15. Plane Song


Play on:

spotify

14.07.20   >   Katie Bite: A Love Like That

A Love Like That

13.07.20   >   Track Notes 99: Looking For Clues

Album:  

Writer:

Robert Palmer

Length:

4:31

Notes:

We're getting towards the end of B-Sides now but the quality remains top drawer. I can't tell you how much I love this album. Actually, I can, and I have many times, but you know what I mean. It has everything. It's like a box of chocolates where you like every single one. What do we want? Gatefold double album on vinyl. When do we want it? Like, now. A lot of Katie's fans are pensioners and don't do 'downloads'; they need a good old-fashioned way to hear this gem of an album.

Anyway, Looking For Clues. This track is a perfect example of how Katie takes a song, makes it her own and improves it beyond recognition. It was a single for Robert Palmer back in 1980, with a typically cheesy video from the Brown Age of Videos. You can find it on YouTube, but I wouldn't bother. Now, I liked Robert Palmer, and songs like 'Addicted To Love' were great, but the original of this song is pretty insipid, especially when you compare it to Katie's dynamic and catchy version. In fact, I'm surprised it ever got on the radar. I suspect it must have been because of the title—the track was recorded as part of the soundtrack for the 2007 movie "Nancy Drew" about the famous teenage detective. Well, whoever came up with the idea of Katie resurrecting the song was a genius because, not surprisingly, she smashes it out of the park.

YouTube:

No video for this, but you can listen to it on YouTube. Or you could watch the movie "Nancy Drew" and listen out for it.
Looking For Clues

Lyrics:

Looking For Clues 

12.07.20   >   Call Off The Word Search!

I'm just spoiling you now. Well, it's still the weekend, why not? Here's a word search puzzle for you. Somewhere in this jumbled grid of letters all 12 tracks from "Call Off The Search" are hiding. Your job, should you choose to be bothered, is to find them all. They could be across, down or even diagonally down. I've called it "Call Off The Word Search". See what I did there? I'm not just a hideous face you know.
If you can't remember all twelve tracks from the album then shame on you, but hit the "clues" button to show them. No one will know you had to do it. But you will, and guilt is a powerful emotion ;-). If you need putting out of your misery then click 'reveal all' to expose those sneaky tracks.
If you want to print it out to play just click on the puzzle to open it in a separate window and hit CMD-P (Mac) or CTRL-P (Windows).

word search

11.07.20   >   More Site Tweaks

Right now I'm like a terrier with its teeth in a rats backside, which is to say I'm still trawling through the site looking for ways to enhance and improve the experience for all you lovely people. No need to applaud. Oh, you weren't. Anyway, there's now a new menu option "Puzzles" for things like, well, puzzles. (There are more in the pipeline so watch this space.)
There's also a new page where you can keep tabs on Katie's Twitter and Instagram messages in case you don't have accounts for them. You can take a look at Katie's Social Media by clicking the pic in the panel on the right.
Talking of the panel on the right, I've added my own Instagram feed, just to annoy you, but the panel was beginning to get a bit cluttered so I've taken out the "Wisdom of Bob" and "Song Title Generator" widgets. I'm not sure anyone uses them, apart from me, even though they are genius, if I do say so myself. If you were a closet fan then fear not—they can still be found on the "Miscellany" page.
Finally, the left and right info panels are now consistent where they appear across the site. That's something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I'm still leaving the right panel off certain pages, like lyrics, for the time being at least. That's for aesthetic reasons, but I may decide to change them at a later date. If you now loathe the site please do tell me and I'll try my best to ignore you. Thx C.

11.07.20   >   Can-Do Attitude

As part of The Drum's Can-Do Festival, Katie collaborated with with a band of musicians from the marketing industry. Click the pic to watch (Katie's performance begins at 8:25).
What can we learn from it? Well, it's a bit of an in-house thing not really meant for us mere mortals but the one thing that does come across is that Katie certainly "can do" anything. She could walk into any band in the world and instantly improve it. Thankfully, she chooses to do her own thing and lavish her full spectrum of talents upon us but this is a nice little reminder of just how versatile she is.

Can Do Festival

10.07.20   >   Never A Crossed Word!

Do you love crossword puzzles? If so, I have a real treat for you for the weekend! I say weekend, but I expect you to blaze through this in five minutes. I'm a kind chap so I've provided a 'solve' button but if you need it you'll have to don a dunce's hat and spend the weekend swotting up on Katie. (That's how I spend most of my weekends anyway; it isn't much of a punishment tbh.) If you want to print it out to fill in just click on the puzzle to open it in a separate window and hit CMD-P (Mac) or CTRL-P (Windows).

crossword puzzle

Across

9. How do you make it last?
11. Penguins and cats?
13. There’s no better magic than this city
16. Critter found living in Katie’s ear!
17. Katie’s proper name
18. All over the walls of the…
20. Beautiful country that gave the world wine and Katie Melua
21. Bicycles in Beijing?


Down

1. Singer that inspired Faraway Voice
2. Painted by a third album
3. Children needed this song
4. Katie and Polly let them go
5. Now that I’ve found you I’ll buy the first album
6. Kid brother plays a mean guitar
7. How I’ll let go of you
8. Katie singing is just like a Cure
10. DJ that got Katie under way!
12. Album No. 7
14. I have become…
15. City where Katie was born
19. Alien size?
20. Women’s Choir

09.07.20   >   It's In The Handwriting?

handwriting

Any graphologists out there care to expose some of Katie’s dark secrets for us? Does her handwriting smack of a desire for witchy world domination? Does it scream a deep mistrust of seafood and an incessant yearning for log fires? Is she a neat and orderly goody two-shoes or a scatterbrained daydreamer? Does she fidget with her fingernails? 😉

The fact that nothing is corrected or crossed out suggests to me that this was written once the lyrics were finalised. As do the dots showing this was done on June 30th. (Look, I notice things. Smack me.) Can we have a pic of the bin in the corner full of and surrounded by bits of scrunched up paper? 😂

08.07.20   >   Search Me!

I've finally got around to implementing a feature that none of you have been requesting for a long time: a site search. Be still your beating hearts!

Some of you may be asking "why?". Why not? It won't do you any harm will it? The thing is, some of you may come here and be vexed by all my incessant waffle and just want to see the lyrics for "A Love Like That". Well, now you can just click in the search box, top right, and type "A Love Like That", click "search", and you'll be shown a list of all the places where I've waffled on about "A Love Like That", (including right here), but on that list will be the lyrics page and you can tap the link and go straight to it. Simples! Or you might remember that once, many moons ago, I mentioned flatulent gibbons (I didn't, until now: that's just by way of example) and you'd like to check who I was referring to.

Tips and Caveats

07.07.20   >   Part 1, Behind the Scenes: Making Album No. 8

This is simply splendid. A lovely insight into the J.K. Rowling of music making her magic happen.

(NB: Due to YouTube copyright policy the video won't play right here—clicking the pic above will take you to the YouTube site to watch it.)

07.07.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 8

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 8


07.07.20   >   Refreshing The Site

Right then, I've made some cosmetic changes to the site over the last few days. This may have caused it to look a complete mess in your browser. I appreciate that you are not all tech whizzes so here is a brief explanation of what is going on:

Browsers use something called a "cache" to store everything on a web page. This is because it can take an age to fetch images and stuff over the internet. It is much quicker if they are already on your computer! So, when you revisit a site the browser only needs to fetch the new stuff; anything that hasn't changed can be grabbed from the cache instead. This is well and dandy but sometimes the browser doesn't realise some supporting file has changed, like a stylesheet for example, and just uses the cached version instead of the new one. And it is stylesheets that govern the appearance of the page. Doh!

Some of you may know that you can force a page to reload by holding down the shift key while you press the little reload icon in your browser. But I've decided to make it even easier. There is now a button in the panel on the left below the "light" and "dark" buttons that will refresh the page for you! So, if something doesn't look right with the page then click the button to reload it and it should fetch all the latest files. You don't want to do this too often because it can take a while to download all the whizzy images of Katie on this page! If reloading the page doesn't fix the mess then the problem is most likely that I've cocked something up and put something in the wrong place. If that happens there's nothing you can do until I spot it and fix it, other than label me an utter world-class pigeon-faced buffoon of the first order.

06.07.20   >   Lyric Card: This Year's Love

This Year's Love

05.07.20   >   How DO You Make A Love Like THAT Last?

This is the rather non-trivial question Katie has posed us. Who has an answer then? Well, I can’t hear any of you and I’ve had my hand up for long enough now so I’ll just jump in.

The thing is, being in love is an artificial state. It *feels* real but it is an illusion. Your body is drugged up by chemicals and hormones triggered by some deep, subconscious programming in our DNA. It is all part of the primal urge to reproduce and continue the species. When we find a suitable partner, the programming is triggered, the cocktail of chemicals is released and suddenly our emotions and feelings get taken over completely. We are no longer rational, logical beings but rather driven by love and desire. We are no longer really in control of our emotions. Our brains have switched to auto-pilot. This is meant to get us to the point where offspring are on the way. Then the self-drugging stops so that we can return to being rational and productive in order to be effective parents.

The thing is, we have evolved into such intelligent creatures that we can often override this programming if we are motivated enough so that we stop being ‘in love’ before the offspring stage has succeeded. When that happens we may find ourselves loving someone but no longer being ‘in love’, and it is that ‘downgrading’ of intensity that can often begin to reveal the cracks and flaws in people to which they had previously been oblivious. Habits and foibles that previously went unnoticed or were even considered charming suddenly become annoying and grating. It is the gradual returning to harsh reality from the fantasy bubble of being in love that causes the breakdown of so many relationships. That’s often when people meet someone else, find themselves attracted and begin to crave another fix of the ‘love drug’.

To answer the question “how do you make a love like that last?” I think the answer lies in being able to see the bigger picture. To understand that the fairytale whirlwind at the beginning cannot last and that you will have to accept a gradual reduction in intensity over the months and years. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people don’t want to settle for a lifetime of diminishing returns, full of arguments and compromises. It will usually end up with the thought “you’re not the person I married”. But this is true of almost everyone. If you get married when you are young and in love then you will definitely be different people ten years down the line, both of you. We are not finished products at 20—we keep evolving and changing until we die. Making love last is about realising your partner has changed, and that you have, and deciding you can live with that. For some people it is enough, for many it isn’t. The (probably disappointing) answer to “how do you make a love *like that* last?” then is that you can’t. It would involve tricking your body into continuing to produce those magic chemicals to intoxicate your brain. Even if that could be done, would you *really* want to live your life permanently in that state? No doubt you might be saying “yes”, but seriously think about it—we’d become a planet of lovestruck zombies moping around gazing into each other’s eyes and sighing. How would anything ever get done? Who would produce the food? Keep services running? A “planet of love” might sound like Utopia but it could never function. In fact, this was pretty much what H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine was about. All we can do in reality is hope that “a love like that”is something we experience at least once or twice in our lives and when it is over retain the memory of what it felt like. And then perhaps write a song about it. 😉

I never thought I’d be quoting Tennyson to anyone, but hey, you know, it seems relevant to this mighty question so here goes:

"'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"

05.07.20   >   I've Been Decorating...

The more observant among you may have noticed I've made a few visual tweaks to this page. Most are subtle, apart from the first ever change of header along with a shiny new matching menu—resplendent in its blood red new "A Love Like That" video theme. Personally, I love it and think it is even clearer than the old menu. If you hate it then please feel free to write a letter of complaint to your local M.P. about it. It won't do much good but it might make you feel better. I won't bore you with the other changes but they are designed to streamline the page, just in case you happen to view it in strong winds.

Note: If the menu doesn't look any different you may need to flush your cache. It isn't as painful as it sounds! Just hold down the shift key while you refresh the browser page and it will force the new pics to load.

04.07.20   >   Yabba Dabba Duh Dud Duh Do Do...

Katie likes to keep her fans hungry so that when she throws them a fish they swallow it whole. It is a decent strategy—if they were too well-fed they might give a new morsel a half-hearted lick and then go back to sleep. But she's thrown us a real whopper this time. Unfortunately, I have a problem with “A Love Like That”. It's this. I can’t stop listening to it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop hearing it in my head. Katie has released a ravenous earworm into my brain that I’m pretty sure is eating me alive and won’t stop until I’m a gibbering wreck. If you’ve ever read Mark Twain’s short story “Punch, Brothers, Punch” you’ll understand what I mean when I say “A Love Like That” is turning into my own living nightmare.

I’m joking, of course. I love the song to bits. But I really am worried I’m going to hear it to death. With over a hundred days before Album No. 8 is unleashed, I’m going to have to get it out of my system soon. You know that thing when you go to a party and you only know one person there and spend the entire evening talking to them? Oh, that’s just me then. Well, imagine it. When the new album does arrive I want to be able to hear it as a whole, a collection of ten new songs as opposed to one good old friend and nine complete strangers (eight actually, since “Maybe I Dreamt It” and I have already been introduced.) Whilst there is never the remotest scintilla of danger I could ever tire of hearing any of Katie’s songs I don’t want over-familiarity with one to colour my feeling for the flow of the album overall and how the songs fit together. So for the next week or two I will allow “A Love Like That” to consume me like a raging bush fire and wait for it to burn itself out before trying to drive it to the back of my mind by hammering Katie’s back-catalogue again until Album No. 8 finally swaggers into town like John Wick on a mission. But if that plan fails and the song shows no sign of dying down after a couple of weeks I may have to resort to walking around singing “yabba dabba duh dud duh do do” until I hear someone else starting to hum it, at which point I will finally be released from the spell and able to function normally once more. I don’t know—Hermione Melua and her Musical Book of Intricate Incantations. Will I ever escape her sorcerous talons? (Let’s hope not.)

03.07.20   >   Ketevan, The Dragonslayer

I’m forever saying that Katie doesn’t need bells and whistles in the form of backing bands and orchestras. She could walk into your kitchen, mesmerise the merry hell out of you with her voice, pinch a Dairylea triangle from your fridge and leave you standing wide-eyed and rooted to the spot in wonder. But when I say she doesn’t *need* them, that’s not the same as saying she’s no good with them and that is demonstrated perfectly by “A Love Like That”, with its decadent arena-filling wall-of-sound curtain of symphony completely enveloping you like a vermillion velvet blanket. Yet if you wanted proof that I’m right then the Deluxe Edition CD will contain an acoustic version of the track 😉

It slightly worries me how good “A Love Like That” is. Why? Well, it hints that Album No. 8 is going to be something truly special. That isn’t a bad thing, obviously, but when normally quiet, unassuming people start doing special things then giant slumbering dragons begin to open an interested eye. And that does spell trouble, for dragons are bad news. The likes of Dylan and Springsteen barely escaped with their lives before returning to their respective “Shires” to recover. Many others have been lost, consumed by dragon flames. However, let us not hang our heads in despair just yet. Katie has fought dragons before and come back stronger. She is no gibbering Gollum; she is Arwen Undómiel, Evenstar, The Lady of Rivendell, Queen of the Reunited Kingdom and no dragon would underestimate her. With an army of loyal Ketefans (an ancient Georgian word for “Hobbit”) behind her she could march into the very jaws of Mordor and lay waste to it with her magnificence. Okay, that’s enough of that nonsense. But you get my drift—after Album No. 8 is unleashed Katie may not be returning to the sleepy Shire for some time.

I suspect there’ll be a lot of people hailing Album No. 8 as Katie’s masterpiece. I’m sure it will be, *for now*. But that’s a retrospective judgement and she is only in the middle of her career. Katie’s laurels don’t get squashed. She is always learning, questioning, experimenting, improving and above all, maturing. And like a good wine, her voice just gets better with age. Call Off The Search was very good, extraordinary in fact, for a teenager, but if she recorded those songs today you would hear the difference. (I’m quietly hoping something along those lines might happen to mark the 20th anniversary of her debut album in 2023). All of which means that Album No. 9 will be amazing, and Album No. 10 will be amazing, and Album No. 11… you get the idea. (Actually, Album No. 11 might stink a bit—11th albums generally do.)

Let me just wrap this all up with a bow by returning to the talk of dragons. The most legendary slayer of dragons was, of course, Saint George. The very same Saint George, indeed, who happens to be the patron saint of both Georgia and England, as symbolised by the red George’s cross on the flags of both countries. If only I could think of someone else who links those two great countries together…

02.07.20   >   Katie Bite: A Love Like That

A Love Like That

01.07.20   >   A Love Like That

a love like that

(Click the pic to go to the video!)

Class is permanent. And Katie is class. Pure class. Her latest single, “A Love Like That”, aired yesterday morning on BBC Radio 2 and it is sumptuous, seeping song-writing pedigree from every pore. After just ten seconds I thought it sounded like a Bond theme (which was echoed by many during the video premiere), and a good one at that, and absolutely shows Katie could write one of those if asked. [May I refer you to what I wrote on March 4th 2020!] We’d been afforded a glimpse of what the next album might look like as far back as the winter tour of 2018 when she performed “Maybe I Dreamt It”. If that song gave us assurance that we could be in for something special then “A Love Like That” is really going to ramp up the excitement.

After parting ways with long-time mentor and collaborator Mike Batt following the album “Ketevan”, Katie demonstrated with “In Winter” that she knew what she was doing. Her apprenticeship was well and truly over and she had clearly become a skilled and professional singer-songwriter. But since it was a themed album it didn’t reveal any particular direction that Katie’s music was taking. It was something of a one-off. The new album, Album No. 8, (no, that’s not a working title, that’s what it’s called—I guess she was so busy writing the songs she didn’t leave time to come up with a title 😉 ) should give us more of a sense of where she is at. Her live performances from home during the lockdown have been well-received but of necessity have been intimate and acoustic and not necessarily indicative of the direction her career is heading. The video for “A Love Like That” gives us a glimpse of the the kind of music the new album will bring, and it is hard to see any fan being disappointed. It is beautifully crafted, which should come as no surprise, and immaculately performed, which we have come to expect. Is it going to be a massive hit? It deserves to be, of course, but recent years have shown the demographic of Katie’s fans as not being particularly big singles buyers. What it should do is get decent radio exposure and return Katie to people’s consciousness once more. When the new album does arrive in October I don’t have any doubt it will be a strong performer in the album charts. I’m wary of going over the top before I’ve heard the whole thing but I have a good feeling about it and I think it could well become an instant classic. Those of us that have followed Katie from the beginning have observed how she has gradually grown in confidence as a songwriter. As a performer, she was world class from day one, but now she can stand shoulder to shoulder with any songwriter. It is joyous to witness her become the incredible artist many of us suspected she would and this album will enhance her reputation even further. In spite of all the upheaval and weirdness of 2020, it is going to prove a very special year for an extremely class act and, of course, her doting fans.

30.06.20   >   Album No. 8

album no 8

Here's the news we've all been waiting for! "Album No. 8" will be released on 16th October. There will be a deluxe version released at the same time, with 5 extra tracks, and a beautiful vinyl version too. Head on over to katiemelua.com to pre-order. I'm calling it now: this album is going to be very highly regarded, so why not go for a signed copy...

Track listing

  1. A Love Like That
  2. English Manner
  3. Leaving The Mountain
  4. Joy
  5. Voices In The Night
  6. Maybe I Dreamt It
  7. Heading Home
  8. Your Longing Is Gone
  9. Airtime
  10. Remind Me To Forget

(Deluxe Edition CD extra tracks)

  1. A Love Like That (Radio Edit)
  2. Maybe I Dreamt It (Acoustic Version)
  3. Your Longing Is Gone (Acoustic Version)
  4. A Love Like That (Acoustic Version)
  5. Forever (By Randy Newman)

30.06.20   >   Happy New Katie Song Day!

happy new katie song day

I hope you are all excited! Today's a day we've all been waiting for. At long last a new song to lavish upon our lugholes. Tune in to Ken Bruce at 11am on BBC Radio 2 to catch the first airplay of "A Love Like That". Then it's over to YouTube at 5pm to watch the video premiere. Party time for Ketefans! I've already dusted off me maracas (not a euphemism).

29.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 7

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 7


28.06.20   >   Concert for Red Cross Georgia

concert for red cross georgia

I just wanted to say a few words about Katie's live stream gig last night. It isn't really a review—what's to review? It's Katie. She was wonderful. End of. The idea behind it was to aid Red Cross Georgia (and please do donate if you haven't already). I hope it was successful. The performance earned it, but with just over 14k views as of this morning, and with only around 1600 watching live, you can't see it raising a fortune. It deserved to be watched by millions. But every lari helps and it is about more than simply money—it raises awareness of the work of Red Cross Georgia and it also lifts the spirits of all Georgians to see their world-famous daughter doing something to help her country. (It was shown on big screens in Georgian cities.) I can only imagine the pride Georgians feel when they see her perform. Hell, I'm proud of her and my only connection is being the same species.

So what of the concert itself? We're getting accustomed to these lockdown performances of Katie with her brother Zurab accompanying her. And it's perfect. I've said umpteen times that Katie plus guitar is all you need and these little shows are proving it. Zurab's playing is beautifully judged. He adds just the right amount of finesse and intricacy without show-stealing or distracting you from Katie's blissful vocals and her own delicate picking. They work so well together, I guess helped by sibling understanding. When Katie put her guitar aside and just sang they reminded me a bit of the Carpenters. Of course, when concerts return to some kind of normality the band will return but I'd certainly have no complaints if "The Meluas" became the new norm.

I should quickly just mention the image above. Eagle-eyed fans quickly spotted that Katie and Zurab appeared to be playing left-handed, which of course they were not. This suggests that it was being filmed on an iPhone front camera, which displays a mirror image. It is a deliberate feature designed so that you can use a phone as a pocket mirror (the rear camera doesn't reverse the image.) Well done to all those that spotted it but for those that were griping about it... really?

Here's the set list then...

  1. Wonderful Life
  2. Just Like Heaven
  3. No Fear Of Heights
  4. Here Comes The Sun
  5. Plane Song
  6. Tu Ase Turpa Ikavi
  7. All Over The World
  8. The Closest Thing To Crazy
  9. Nine Million Bicycles
  10. The One I Love Is Gone

The great thing about having a large back catalogue is you can always pull a few surprises out of the bag, and that set list would have been impossible to predict, other than 8 and 9, which are always in demand with Katie's casual fans. But it was nice to see some rare treasures in there for the dedicated fans, such as "All Over The World" and "The One I Love Is Gone". Naturally, with well over a hundred songs to choose from I'm sure we all have favourites that we'd have liked included, but Katie would have been performing all night (we wouldn't mind, but let's give the lass a break!) For example, Pictures didn't get a look in but maybe one day I will get to see "What I Miss About You" live.

I thought they'd lost count when they disappeared off screen after track nine. There was a pause and then Katie returned alone to play track ten. This "virtual encore" was genius and I hope it becomes a thing with these streamed concerts, though she should perhaps have popped a little sign on the chair saying "Please applaud now". If you haven't seen the concert you can click on the photo above to go to it. Massive thanks to Katie and Zurab for warming hearts around the globe and all for a good cause too.

27.06.20   >   A Love Like That

New song alert!

Katie has a new song coming out next Tuesday, 30th June. Called "A Love Like That", the official video premieres on YouTube at 5.00pm UK BST. Click on the pic below to visit the page and set a reminder. Be there or 🐝 🟪

a love like that

26.06.20   >   Walking Music

I already had this piece planned when Katie posted about a playlist of walking songs on Instagram a few days ago. Her Spotify playlist, For Leaves And Fields, was specifically for walking in a park or a nature walk. I wanted to talk about walking music more generally.

The first thing I want to say is that more often than not I don’t listen to music when I’m walking. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, if I’m walking along a road or I’m in a busy town or city, I don’t want to be cut off from my environment. Actually, I do, but more to the point I don’t feel safe doing it. I can’t really relax unless I can hear what is going on around me. If I’m out on my own in the hills or the woods then there aren’t really many dangers you need to listen out for but then the second reason comes into play: I like to listen to nature itself. The gentle tinkling of a stream, the primal roar of a waterfall, the delicate rustling of leaves in the wind, and the endless joy that is birdsong. Katie’s playlist is interesting, and I enjoyed listening to it, but for me I’d listen to something like that snuggled up on the sofa on a cold, wet evening. I’d close my eyes and let the music paint pictures of nature in my mind’s eye. When I’m out in nature I want to connect with it directly, with all my senses, and not be distracted by music, no matter how good it is. Of course, it depends on your mood too—there are times when I need to be lost in music, but generally the sound of nature is all I need. Another issue is how to listen to music. I hate the feel of wires dangling and catching on clothing, my Apple wireless buds sound good but they won’t stay in properly when I’m moving and my gorgeous Sony over-ears sound amazing but make me look like a Cyberman. First world problems, eh?

When I do listen to music whilst walking it is almost always instrumental. That is because I tend to get lost in my own thoughts and lyrics would distract me from that. The music I listen to whilst writing is instrumental for the same reason, normally ambient. Currently, my writing playlist runs to over 100 hours and I just play it on shuffle. My favourite artists for this kind of music are Carbon Based Lifeforms, Marconi Union and Solar Fields, but I have an absolute ton of it since I’ve been searching it out for over twenty years. Those three create some gorgeous music but for a slightly darker edge I’d recommend The Future Sound Of London too.

You might be forgiven for wondering how Katie fits into all this. After all, I can’t walk to her and I can’t work to her. (Actually, in winter I can, and do, walk to In Winter. She just nails the mood of the season so much.) The simple answer is I devote time to her music. She works so hard to make the best music she can that I believe she earns my full attention. When she sings, I listen. Every word, every subtle little nuance. She is an artisan of her craft; her work is meticulous and sublime and deserves to be appreciated properly. I don’t listen to her whilst gardening or doing housework—she is the reward for those things. I do like to listen to her whilst driving though since it helps keep me calm and happy.

At the end of the day we are all different. Some people like to try everything and spend a lot of their time listening to new music. I’ve got to the point where I’ve collected so much music that I love that new stuff finds it hard to get a look in. A few artists—Katie of course, Dylan, Springsteen and a handful of others—have gained my trust and I’ll always pre-order their albums, but new artists have to be pretty special to get my attention. But then, I’m from a different era—a pre-streaming dinosaur from a time when vinyl albums were a thing of beauty and wonder, to be handled reverently and listened to from the first second to the last, with just a brief time-out to turn the record over. I simply don’t get these music apps that offer me my own “radio stations”. I tried a Katie Melua radio station on one of them—it played one of her songs and then went on to play all kinds of other, supposedly similar, artists that simply left me cold and rather baffled. If I want my own Katie Melua radio station I just make a playlist of all her music and hit shuffle… I guess I just don’t like to be told what I like!

25.06.20   >   Track Notes 98: This Year's Love

Album:  

Writer:

David Gray

Length:

3:47

Notes:

A good voice can make a bad song sound good but a good song can't make a bad voice sound good. When you get a good song and a good voice it's a wonderful thing, though merely par for the course for Katie. All of which is to say, I can't be doing with David Gray's voice. I'd rather listen to fingernails on a blackboard. But he can write a good song, and this is one of them. It's little surprise that Katie pounced on it—if good songs are voles then Katie is a kestrel hovering above and getting ready to grab lunch. And her voice turns good songs into great ones. This is simply a sumptuous cover.

YouTube:

You know what's coming. Yep. Another photo montage video. But hey, at least you get to hear this wonderful version if you can't get your mitts on B-Sides. And anyway, Katie is the most photogenic person ever so montages are never a chore.
This Year's Love

Lyrics:

This Year's Love 

24.06.20   >   Albums You May Have Missed...

I’ve been doing a bit of tidying of my music collection and one thing that has struck me is that I’ve got a lot of wonderful albums that never seem to get talked about. This is either because they are old or obscure, or both (like me), but it struck me that a good many people of a somewhat younger vintage may never have happened upon them. So I’ve decided to begin a new feature: Albums You May Have Missed. Those of you that really know your music may not find much new but I think over time I should be able to surprise just about everyone.

I should point out that they will all be albums I love but that’s not to say you will too, it’s just that if you haven’t heard them I recommend giving them a chance and you never know—you might just discover something you find wonderful. And if you hate the first few I throw at you don’t be put off by the idea. They will all be different and if you think the first nine are rubbish the tenth might be right up your street. You never know. Anyway, here’s the first offering…

the zen kiss

The Zen Kiss

Sheila Chandra

If you’ve heard of Sheila Chandra at all, chances are it is either from her only top 20 hit “Ever So Lonely”, back in 1982 with the band Monsoon, or even earlier as an actress in “Grange Hill”. If that’s the case, or if you haven’t heard of her at all, you need to experience her amazing vocal talents.

In 2009, Sheila was diagnosed with something called burning mouth syndrome, leaving her effectively mute without experiencing severe pain, and ending her music career. This cruel tragedy is hard to imagine for someone whose gift is their voice. But she does have around ten albums that are there for all time to show what a voice she had.

I’ve picked “The Zen Kiss” as a good all round showcase of her extraordinary talent. Many of the tracks are unaccompanied. Her voice doesn’t need accompanying. These tracks will not just move you, some will amaze you—she does things with her voice that are baffling and mesmerising in equal measures. It may not be your cup of tea but you might as well taste before deciding. You may well find her a revelation.

23.06.20   >   Lyric Card: Straight To DVD

Straight To DVD

22.06.20   >   Katie In A Car Park?

“It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.”

What a strange year this has been, but will things ever return to “normal” or will we be faced with a new normal? Katie’s autumn tour is less than a hundred days away now and still—as things stand—going ahead. Of course, a so-called “second wave” could change all that. But it is by no means certain that concerts will get the green light any time soon even though pubs and restaurants look set to get back in the game early next month.

The sticking point will be social distancing. If it is reduced to 1m then pubs and restaurants can accommodate that but what about theatres? You’d have to keep every other seat and every other row empty. Which would mean only a quarter of the normal audience could attend. Is that viable? And how would it be done, considering most of the tickets have already been sold? It would be frustrating for those that couldn’t get in but a massive financial hit for the organisers and performers. Would everyone have to wear masks? Not very comfortable at a concert. (Presumably the performing artist would be exempt, or we might get treated to “The Clothetht Think To Crathee”.)

Outdoor gatherings may be easier to control, in theory at least though probably not in practice. In summer, concerts could be held open air in showgrounds but by November it would be too wet, dark and cold for that. Which brings me, finally, to the point of this piece. There is some talk now about “drive-in” concerts. I saw “2001” at a drive-in cinema in Canada. It was magical. They were popular over there. For some reason, perhaps weather, they never took off in the UK. Light would be another reason—it doesn’t get dark until 10.30 in a UK summer, and cinema needs darkness. But musicians don’t, apart from maybe Ozzy Osborne, so that wouldn’t matter. People would just drive in and park in allocated spaces facing the stage. Back in the 60s you had to wind your window down and balance a crappy speaker on it. Nowadays you would probably be asked to tune your radio to a specific frequency, or there might be some other fancy tech solution, but the quality should be decent. In good weather the normal gig speaker set up might be enough anyway.

In terms of social distancing, drive-in concerts tick the box for sure. But will they really take off? I find it unlikely. Obviously, there would be environmental concerns—how carbon-neutral would they be? Not very. Especially in cool weather if people had their engines on so the heater worked. Then there’s the performer’s perspective. How weird would it feel just staring out at a car park? After each song, people might applaud in their cars but you wouldn’t see or hear it, you’d just see a static car park. I imagine some conventions would quickly arise, like tooting horns and flashing hazard lights. Frankly, it is all sounding a but surreal. I would think it could be difficult for a performer to engage with a crowd of cars. There’s no intimacy, you can’t see the faces, gauge the feel of the crowd.

But this is no fantasy idea—some drive-in concerts have already taken place and others are happening soon. Personally, I can’t see it being much more than a passing novelty idea, a desperate solution for desperate times. Eventually, public pressure will demand that theatres and cinemas be allowed to have full houses again. The question for us is whether that can happen in time for Katie’s tour. All we can do is keep a nervous eye on how things unfold over the coming weeks. And it does rather rely on the general public being sensible and staying safe, which is kind of scary given that the general public aren’t generally very reliable. So lets just see what happens and who knows, perhaps one day Katie might be coming to a car park near you.

21.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 6

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 6


20.06.20   >   The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Weekend Music Night

Katie was comfortably the standout performer (who would have guessed) of the night singing “Scarborough Fair” and “Perfect World”. She sings "Scarborough Fair" better than anyone I've ever heard and if it doesn't appear on the new album I'm going to stand outside in the rain and throw soggy chips at magpies until I get over it (or get pneumonia). I suspect she may be trying to get into the Guinness Book Of Records (again), this time for the highest positioning of a capo on a fretboard. It looks like she's playing the balalaika again—just scroll down to that pic of her aged 2 a couple of days ago and you'll see what I mean. Told you she hadn't changed.
It was also nice to see another wonderful singer-songwriter Katie, KT Tunstall, performing her lovely “White Bird”. Anyway, if you’re in a hurry, Katie appears around 37 minutes in. Click the pic to watch the event.

Katie performing Scarborough Fair

20.06.20   >   Katie Bite: The Closest Thing To Crazy

The Closest Thing To Crazy

19.06.20   >   1000th Post!

1000posts

Call me the postman! No, actually, don’t, scrub that. I can’t really believe I’ve managed to find a thousand ways to bother you all. Where does time go? Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to explain a bit more about this site and how it came to exist.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, or as it is more generally referred to, London, I was a programmer in a multimedia software company. I was mostly working on touch screen information kiosks (which were a pretty new thing at the time) and we developed a fair number of these including medical information systems in kiosks installed in hospitals such as St. Thomas’ and Moorfields Eye Hospitals, a home furnishings system for M & S, interactive car selector for Daewoo and so on. I also worked a lot on web sites, and it is this that I really loved. An empty web page is like a blank canvas for an artist. You can make it display whatever you can imagine. Back in the day it took a lot of imagination and clever trickery to achieve pleasing effects—single pixel spacers and sliced up images, that sort of thing—but over the past couple of decades HTML and CSS have been refined to within an inch of their lives. These two are the “languages” that tell a web browser what to display and how to display it. The third big language in web-world is called Javascript. This is a proper programming language and is what really makes the fun and magic happen. For example, when you click on the “Craggie’s Blog” banner all the posts immediately collapse to form a list of headings. Click again and the posts are back! It’s not magic—it’s Javascript. I started programming when I got an Atari 800 in the 80s and I’ve been hooked ever since.

But all good things come to an end and circumstances conspired to send me off into the middle of nowhere to do things I didn’t really want to be doing. That’s just life. I won’t bore you with details but things got progressively more difficult. I’d been a fan of Katie’s since the beginning—I was still in London when she arrived on the scene—but it is only around the middle of the last decade, when I was having the toughest time, that she really became significant. Music has aways been the release from the trials of life for me but of all the hundreds of CDs and LPs (aka vinyl) I have from countless artists, for some reason it was only Katie’s voice that really got through to me during the toughest times. It seemed whenever I was floundering in deep water she’d be there throwing me a lifesaver (for American readers I’m referring to buoyancy rings and not small pieces of candy). When I was in darkness she would lead me to the light.

So, anyway, life changed again, as it has a habit of doing, and I found I had time for myself once more. I wanted to freshen and update my programming skills but there’s a lot of work involved in web sites and it needed to be a project I was passionate about to invest the effort. I’d seen a few fan sites for Katie and I wasn’t too impressed. The better ones seemed to be in places like France and Poland. I was mystified at the lack of a decent one here in the UK. But I found all of them quite frustrating because of the amount of ads and popups littered throughout them. Yes, web sites cost something to maintain but if you are a fan that is a hit you should take—it seemed to me some of these “fan sites” were so laden with clickbait they were little more than a revenue stream, a way of making money out of Katie’s name. I decided that if I was to do one it would have to be all about Katie rather than ads for sneakers and vacuum cleaners. And that’s how I got the name for the site.

Initially though, it was never intended for the general public. It was just my own little private project to combine two of my passions and it remained that way for some time. The site was pretty much as you see it now—except there was no blog. It was all more static—information about albums, videos, lyrics etc. Once I’d got it all how I wanted it there wasn’t much to do from day to day. But when I stood back to admire my work I remembered the lack of a UK fan site and I decided I really owed it to Katie to be sharing this with her fans. If I was to go live though it would need to be more dynamic. My first idea was to add a “News” section. It soon became apparent though that well-behaved artists like Katie aren’t deemed particularly newsworthy in the media, especially between albums, so it would be really difficult to find much to report on in any kind of regular fashion. Blogging, however, was becoming such a big thing. It seemed like everyone was at it. I’d struggle to blog about myself since I’m inherently dull but I could bang on about Katie until the cows came home (as opposed to banging on about cows until Katie came home). So I thought, right, I’ll stick a blog right on the front page of the site. Hardly anyone would read it anyway so what would it matter? And so this journey began and here we are a thousand entries later. I’ve always tried to stay true to the name and keep it all about Katie, or at least relevant to her in some way. Very occasionally it may not seem to be, but there is usually some connection, however tenuous, with every post. At the very least, I try to make it something that might be of interest to a Ketefan. It is a constant challenge to keep making regular posts. I try not to repeat myself but from time to time I do revisit old ground though hopefully with a fresh perspective. After all, life is ever changing and if you ask me to name my favourite 5 Katie songs every year then I doubt you’d get the same list twice. But I have to be quite creative at times, which is why there is a fair sprinkling of stuff and nonsense in here, but it keeps me on my toes and I hope some of it at least comes across as informative or entertaining. My aim is always that every time you visit the site there is something new to see. I can’t be doing with these sites where you click on “News” and the last entry was in 2016.

Sorry for such a verbal outpouring. I think it is safe to assume we’ll get the next thousand entries off to a simple start with a Katie bite tomorrow, perhaps one from where it all began.

Anyway, in the mean time I think it’s party time and that can only mean…

18.06.20   >   TBT: Katie, aged 2

katieat2

I find this pic of Katie utterly astonishing. Because…

a) she hasn’t changed. Well, she has, obviously, but you know what I mean. You can tell it is her. (At that age I looked like Tintin).

b) look at the pose—the same calm, assured posture she has now, and the same no-nonsense focus in her eyes.

c) look how she is holding that balalaika. She is fingering a ruddy chord for heaven’s sake. She is TWO.

Never in my life have I seen more compelling photographic evidence that some people are absolutely born to do what they do. (I still have no idea what I was born to do.) This is pretty much the Katie we saw performing for us from her living room last month. Imagine taking this photo of a little girl in Soviet Georgia and not for one second imagining that two decades later she would be the top selling female artist in the UK. Anything is possible. Consider my gob well and truly smacked.

17.06.20   >   Track Notes 97: Straight To DVD

Album:  

Writers:

Katie Melua & Mike Batt

Length:

2:57

Notes:

B-Sides is relentless. There are better songs on here than some artists write in their whole careers. "Straight to DVD " is a wonderful pop song—a great premise beautifully executed. It is funny, poignant, brutal and catchy as merry hell. I love the pre-shrunk pants off this track. That hardly anyone knows about it is criminal.

YouTube:

Nicely made photo montage video of this. It's low res cos it was made in 2007 but still good and only 13k views in 13 years tells you how under the radar this song has flown.
Straight To DVD

Lyrics:

Straight To DVD 

16.06.20   >   Katie's Playlist: For Leaves & Fields

A special playlist today—one curated by Katie herself! Here is her Instagram post...

Screenshot

And here is the link to load it in Spotify > For Leaves & Fields

It's an interesting list. If you are on Instagram you've probably already seen the post but I do urge you to let Katie know what you think of it. My favourites bookended the list—Sketches and In Doubt. That's because I'm an ambient instrumental junkie. I actually liked all the tracks but for me lyrics get in the way of my own thoughts when I'm walking. I don’t often even listen to Katie when I’m walking (more on that in an upcoming post), with the notable exception of listening to “In Winter”, when I’m walking in winter, because it absolutely nails the mood so much. I don’t mind the odd word or two though, when used for effect, such as in Photosynthesis by Carbon Based Lifeforms. Another piece I like walking to is We Travel by Marconi Union. I didn't know Sketches, but Daniel Lanois has collaborated with one of my favourites, the godfather of ambient himself, Brian Eno, on a few albums like "Apollo Atmospheres And Soundtracks" and "Thursday Afternoon" (rare, but an hour of ambient bliss, if you can find it anywhere).

Personally, this playlist would work better for me at home in an armchair on a dismal day, where I could close my eyes and lose myself in the music. When I'm walking in nature I usually don't listen to music at all because it disconnects you from the actual sound of your environment. I love to hear the rustling of the wind through the trees, the tinkling of running water and the magic of bird song—last week I heard my first cuckoo call for a long time and it made my heart sing—but if there were lots of people about, such as in a London park, then I'd be more inclined to use a playlist like this to drown out screeching kids and yapping dogs! I think what this list does show is what an amazing mind Katie has, talking of hearing the sound of ancient wood in guitars for example. That's thinking on a level most of us never dive to.

15.06.20   >   A Word on Mobile Friendliness

I'm aware that Google doesn't think this site is mobile-friendly. I just wanted to say something about that.

I understand that many people view web sites on their phones these days. It is something I rarely do unless I absolutely need some information and I have no other device available at the time. A site such as All About Katie is what I would call 'leisure browsing', or in other words a site you might only look at when you have some time to spare. I would expect most people to do leisure browsing on laptops or iPads whilst at home but nowadays many of you busy bees squeeze it in on your phones whilst on the train or in a café. That is your choice but the site was not designed for tiny screens. I have looked at the site on an iPhone, Samsung S8, iPad Mini, iPad and various Android tablets. I found the site fully usable on all tablet devices in both landscape and portrait orientations. On the smartphones a lot of the text was too small to read in portrait mode but I did find it readable in landscape mode on both phones. I also found that it is pretty easy to pinch-zoom on phone screens and navigating around with finger-flicking is also quick and intuitive. My conclusion was that if an old donkey like me can cope then younger people, who seem to have phone gestures embedded in their DNA now, will not have any problem navigating the site.

AAK is a one-man operation and redesigning the site to look a little bit friendlier on mobiles would be a monumental task which is why it ain't gonna happen. If you only look at the site on your phone and find it a frustrating experience then I do apologise but I've never had a complaint about it and I couldn't really give a gorilla's hair curlers if Google thinks I'm unfriendly. So, for the best experience use a computer or tablet and if you do browse on a phone then please try using it in landscape mode. And thank you for even visiting the site at all!

14.06.20   >   Lyric Card: Junk Mail

Junk Mail

13.06.20   >   Live Stream Concert for Red Cross Georgia

Those of you that are not on social media, I salute you! I also feel I should keep you informed of happenings in Katieworld. She has announced a live stream concert on YouTube on Saturday 27th June at 19:00. It is free to watch but the hope is that if you want to show your appreciation to Katie you will make a donation to the Red Cross Georgia. It is, of course, the country where Katie was born and the people are just the loveliest you will find anywhere so please consider going to Red Cross Georgia and regard making a donation as effectively buying a virtual ticket to see Katie on the 27th.

katie in concert

12.06.20   >   Katie Bite: The House

The House

11.06.20   >   Future Albums?

We know that a new studio album is coming our way fairly soon, but what is the outlook like after that for the next few years? Is it bleak? Will we have to wait until 2024? Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. Whilst Ultimate Collection and Live In Concert have used up the live album and ‘best of’ cards for a while there are still a few possibilities to keep hungry fans quiet until studio album 9. Here are some possibilities:

Katie Sings The Songbook, Vol. 1

An album of covers would be like taking candy from a baby for Katie. She could book a studio for a day and knock out a dozen standards with time to spare, though of course she would take as much time as it needed to get everything as good as it can be because that’s just who she is. But the material is all out there just waiting to be given her divine treatment: Always, As Time Goes By, September Song, Summertime, Blue Skies, Perfidia, Moon River and so on. The Great American Songbook is a very deep well. And you only have to listen to Katie’s versions of songs such as Stardust, Deep Purple, Blues In The Night and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out to imagine how she’d apply her class to these classics. This would be a relatively easy way to get an album out in the autumn of 2021.

Rediscovered Treasure: Tracks from the Back of the Sofa

A collection of unused material could be packaged up for release in 2022, a decade after B-Sides. (Hopefully, this time, on CD and vinyl too.) That album was so packed full of gems that I have no doubt Katie is still sitting on a hatful of precious stones that have been gathering dust. I would certainly expect there to be a few songs that could have been candidates for In Winter but were considered to not quite fit the theme. I mean, does any artist just write ten songs and say “right, we’ve got an album, let’s go”?

Call Off The Search 20th Anniversary Edition

Surely this has to be a candidate for 2023? A re-mastered special edition of her debut album two decades on, or perhaps all new recordings, stripped back acoustic re-imaginings or backed by the GWC. Plenty of possibilities but a special landmark for any artist and it would be criminal to let it pass by unnoticed. It wouldn’t surprise me if Katie had plans already.

… And DVDs?

It’s been a while since we had a DVD release from Katie, and how we could have done with one or two more during lockdown. The two obvious candidates here are an In Winter Live DVD, with bonus docs on the making of In Winter, and also a collection of all her official videos to date.

So, has that got you drooling or what? I wouldn’t get too excited though since I’m rubbish at predictions and probably none of this will come to pass. Que sera, sera.

10.06.20   >   Track Notes 96: Junk Mail

Album:  

Writer:

Mike Batt

Length:

4:09

Notes:

Yet another lovely song about failed love from the seemingly bottomless songwriting pit of Mr Batt. It's beautifully observed—often when relationships end people expect to just move on but it's far more complicated than that and receiving junk mail for your ex is something you could be putting up with for years unless you move house yourself! As always, Katie puts so much feeling into her performance that you believe every word, even when she sings about lighting cigarettes (as hard as it is to imagine her having a drag of a fag). I ruddy love B-Sides...

YouTube:

Someone made a video for this by mashing up other bits of Katie video. It kind of works too. The picture quality isn't great but the sound is.
Junk Mail

Lyrics:

Junk Mail 

09.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 5

Press the play button and guess the song. Click "Show Me The Answer" when you think you know it or if you're stumped.

Seven second challenge: intro 5


08.06.20   >   That blinking clock!

Some of you probably haven’t even noticed the little Katie clock in the left panel. Notice how she glances at the time every second? Am I the only one that thinks it is cool? […time passes silently…] So, that’s a yes then. Oh well, anyway, if you’re of the mind it would be splendid to have such a lovely timepiece feature more prominently on your virtual desktop then guess who’s gone and turned that dream into reality? That’s right. Just click on that blinking Katie pic and you’ll get a little pop-up window with a larger version of the Katie clock all on its own. Ain’t computers brilliant? Except, that is, if you have some kind of pop-up blocker enabled to spoil the party. But fear not, I have the paranoid among you covered too—if you click on the time itself it will load bigger Katie clock in a new browser tab instead. Much less useful but hey, that’s what you get for not living on the edge.

07.06.20   >   Lyric Card: Fancy

Fancy

06.06.20   >   Let Go!

You know that thing when you’re in lockdown and you’re a bit bored and the weather outside is rubbish and you’re still waiting for new music from Katie and you decide to hell with it that you’re going to make your own Katie Melua track? Yeah, that thing. I’m sure everyone can identify with that, can’t they?

So, here is a mash called “Let Go”. It is 97 seconds of mindfulness music so close your eyes, relax, and let Katie’s gentle picking let you float away to an inner oasis of tranquillity (I know, I should get a job writing ads for bath foam). And for those of you thinking that Craggie has finally lost it I’d like to point out that I don’t think I ever had it in the first place and if I want to listen to “Let Go” on repeat for a couple of hours then that is more or less exactly my business.

Oh, and I’m changing my name to “Obese Lad Thin”. Yeah, I know, I’m a nugget.

Let Go!

05.06.20   >   What's All This Then?

Now then, what’s our lovely lass up to now? Katie posted these images on Instagram the other day. Seems she’s been shooting a video but for what exactly? Guess we’ll have to wait until she stops teasing and starts telling. I’m not about to make a monkey of myself again by hazarding a wild guess but you’d think it is probably new-album related wouldn’t you? Then again, looking at those cross-hairs on her nose maybe it is an ad for Clearasil and they’re going to digitally add a massive zit in post-production. Fingers crossed for the former, eh?

katie on instagram 1
katie on instagram 2

"Heathcliff, it’s me, Katie…" perhaps a cover of Wuthering Heights?

katie on instagram 3

I could do with one of those stickers. I’m forever prodding my MacBook display after spending time on the iPad. How can Apple make the best tablets in the world yet not give their laptops touchscreens? (Spoiler: they could, easily, but they want mugs like me to buy both).

04.06.20   >   Ella Fitzgerald

I’d been wanting to write a piece about Ella for some time but in light of the current racial tensions in America I decided the time would never be better. Ella Fitzgerald, “the First Lady of Song”, was my mother’s favourite singer. Many consider her the greatest singer of all time. Oh, and she was black.

The current trending of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter shows just how far away human beings still are from being a ‘civilisation’. All lives matter. Equally. But black people in particular have borne the brunt of shocking and despicable behaviour because of their skin colour. Yet their contribution to music as we know it is incalculable. At a time when white America was giggling and jiggling to fluffy tunes with pointless lyrics—you know, “let’s sip champagne from a teacup, we’ll all have a jolly good time” type of thing—black America was singing the blues, giving heartfelt performances of music that stirred the soul and lyrics that meant something. It was the birth of real music. Some might argue that classical music is the real music but it depends on how you define ‘real’—I love classical music but it is somewhat artificial in that it is precisely crafted and constructed in a calculated manner rather than coming straight out of the heart and of course it doesn’t have lyrics (don’t you dare mention opera!). I grew up listening to the likes of Nat King Cole and Sammy Davis Jr, and I spent most of the 80s besotted with Tina Turner. Then, when Bruce came along, so did his loyal sidekick Clarence Clemons. The Big Man, built like a tree but with the heart of an orchid, whose saxophone could make the kind of sweet sounds that no inanimate object made from a lump of brass had any right to. Black lives have always mattered.

I recently named my five favourite artists and there was no place for Ella Fitzgerald despite her incredible voice. As I explained at the time, that list was based on what an artist’s songs had personally meant to me rather than being judged purely on vocal ability, which is why I had to reluctantly omit Karen Carpenter—and of course, Ella. For me, nothing beats the rich tone of Karen’s lower register, which has the warmth and character of an old valve radio (if you’ve never heard a valve amplifier I pity you), but it is hard to argue against Ella having the best voice all round. She could hit crystal clear highs with exquisite vibrato, she could wobble your woofers when she needed to, and she could do something extraordinary—she could turn her voice into a musical instrument. For a while, bop and scat were her thing, and she was setting the world on fire. She could match a trumpet improvisation note for note; indeed, in a battle she’d have won every time. Unusually for a woman, she would sweat profusely whilst performing—a clear indication of how her brain was working overtime orchestrating her vocal cords in a way no one had seen before. She was simply amazing.

But for many, Ella truly hit her stride when she was persuaded to shine her talents on the Great American Songbook. Basically, she ripped it up and redefined it. She recorded eight albums of Song Book sets, each focussing on the work of particular composers and lyricists. However, Ella didn’t just sing them, she interpreted them. At the end of the day, words can be just words. It is how you say them that gives them life. And Ella breathed precious life into every song she performed. Who knows where such ability comes from. Are you born with it? Is it shaped by your experience of life in your formative years? Perhaps a bit of both. Certainly, Ella had a troubled childhood. Her father took off before she knew him, her mother died after a car accident when Ella was fifteen, and not long after that she went to live with her aunt. There was speculation that her stepfather had been abusing her. She spent time in an orphan asylum and may even have lived rough on the streets of Harlem for a time. Until she got her break, Ella had definitely found life hard. And in singing she used every drop of that experience to tell you her story. Don’t ever think her singing was effortless—it was quite the opposite, she put everything she had in to every song.

Her love life played second fiddle to her singing. She had two short-lived marriages, and some accounts talk of a third secret marriage to a Norwegian fan that was also short-lived when the chap in question was put away for theft. But it wasn’t that she was unlucky in love, just that she loved her music and it always came first. Even into her 70s she was touring for up to 45 weeks a year.

It is also worth noting that her celebrity status offered little protection against racial discrimination. Even at the height of her fame she was being requested to use rear entrances and turned away from certain establishments. She was only allowed to perform at the Mocambo night club in Hollywood after Marilyn Monroe famously threatened to ruin the place, and there was also an incident where she was refused a flight to Australia and was stranded in Honolulu for three days (without her luggage, which had already boarded the plane). Ella won a civil lawsuit against Pan-Am Airlines for racial discrimination and received a “nice settlement” but it staggers belief it ever happened just as in 2020 it staggers belief that so little has changed. We live in hope that some day it will, but for now I simply raise a toast to Lady Ella, Queen of Jazz, First Lady of Song.

03.06.20   >   Seven Second Challenge 4

I just want to say, if you're getting any of these right then well done you! They are harder then they look. I mean sound.

Seven second challenge: intro 4


02.06.20   >   #blackouttuesday

It’s hard to find words. It’s 2020. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. And still racism continues to be a thing. It has been a thing all my life. A thing that I have never, ever understood. I simply cannot get my brain around why anyone would have a problem with skin colour. It is simply ludicrous. I remember seeing the first interracial kiss on television between Kirk and Uhuru on Star Trek. It was controversial and caused a big hoo-ha, though thankfully there was no social media in those days—I can only imagine what might have happened today. I couldn’t see what the fuss was about at all. Uhuru was stunning, I mean, who wouldn’t want to kiss her? I’ve had black friends. I’ve had Indian friends. I’ve had Chinese friends. I’ve had a Japanese girlfriend. They were all wonderful people and it would never have occurred to me to question any of their characters based on their skin colour. In fact, Aki, my Japanese girlfriend, had pretty much the same skin tone to me but racists wouldn’t have seen it that way. It is unfathomable. I don’t know if it is born of fear, of ignorance, of sheer stupidity or what. All I know is I long for the day when it is no longer a thing. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime but I truly hope so. Today feels like something of a watershed with the widespread social media campaign using the hashtags #blackouttuesday and #theshowmustbepaused. I don’t know how much difference they will make because at the end of the day the kind of people that post, like and retweet these hashtags are the kind of decent, normal human beings that are not a part of the problem. Getting through to the racists is no trivial matter. It is so deeply ingrained in these people that social media campaigns are unlikely to change them. To be honest, I don’t really believe people of that mindset can be changed—perhaps the odd one here and there could be with a lot of effort but in general I think those people are lost. Where the battle can really be won is in schools. Education is the way forward. Make sure children understand that racism is unacceptable and create a generation that simply will not tolerate it. Just as children are now leading the way with the fight against climate change, they are the future. I hope we are at the dawn of a wondrous era when people finally start to accept each other for who they are and live in peace and harmony. I’ll believe it when I see it but I believe one day I’ll see it.

01.06.20   >   Track Notes 95: Fancy

Album:  

Writer

Bobbie Gentry

Length:

5:08

Notes:

Bobbie Gentry's 1969 feminist statement is a lyrical tour-de-force and gives Katie a good vocal dexterity workout in her live version (there isn't a studio recording as far as we know). The song was an even bigger hit for Reba McEntire in 1990. It would have been interesting to see how it fared had Katie released a single of it. No matter. What we have here is yet another treasure from the sparkling cave of B-Sides. One line that tickles me is the one about Fancy owning a "Georgian mansion" — this could have meant either the Georgian period or the state of Georgia but naturally, with it being Katie, I imagine a grand house in Tbilisi!

YouTube:

Nice little vid from the North Sea Jazz Festival back whenever complete with legendary drummer Henry Spinetti and Katie's guitar tutor Justin Sandercoe (adding some dubious falsetto backing vocals). By 'eck, Katie had some swagger about her in them days; she's rather more demure now 😄
Fancy (live).
Here's a slightly better quality one from an AVO Session
Fancy (live AVO Session).

Lyrics:

Fancy 



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