Sunday, September 23, 2007

Radio One More Time: The Beatles A to Z

Every DJ likes to have a big, regular feature which defines their show. They cheerfully assume that people count the minutes down to the slot's appearance, just awaiting the jingle announcing it.

Normally, though, they're just not very good. Who can forget - without assistance from a fully qualified doctor - Bruno Brookes' "Misheard Lyrics". This shared the idea behind the Weekend Guardian's Come Again column, and, of inviting people to share lyrics they'd not heard properly. Trouble was, what Brookes lacked in subtlety he made up for in a willingness to bludgeon his audience repeatedly over the head by playing the snatch of song again, and again, and again. If you didn't think it sounded like Simon Mayo's name appeared in La Bamba on first play, by the sixteenth time in a row it didn't sound like anything at all other than a noise, like when you say the word "cymbal" over and over until it stops having any meaning at all.

Then there was Paul Burnett's Soundalikes. This was based - he would tell us every week - on a computer prediction that all possible permutations of music would run out by 2000, leaving us facing a world full of soundalikes. He never said exactly what computer this was - and, clearly, it failed to take in pisspoor remakes by the likes of Atomic Kitten into account when doing its number crunching - but he still managed to spin a write-in "I think this song sounds like this one" feature out of it for months.

The most audacious long-running feature, though, has to be Mike Smith's Beatles A to Z. When he first appeared on the network, doing weekend mornings, he kicked off this trawl through the Lennon and McCartney songbook, doing nothing more than taking every song the Beatles ever recorded, and working through them, two in a show, in alphabetical order. The Beatles, of course, recorded hundreds of bloody songs, and he was still working his way through the catalogue when he shifted to a daily programme. Bravely, he ploughed on, like a party host still desperately trying to keep guests interested in a game of Trivial Pursuit in the face of general indifference.

Finally, he made it to You've Got To Hide Your Love Away. Just as the nation was breathing again, he then announced what we'd been fearing: A Rolling Stones A to Z. We suspect this one was allowed to drop quietly by the wayside.

[Part of Radio One More Time]