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Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

I heard a lovely new version of “I Know Him So Well” recently, but the definitive performers will always be Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson for me. Their version was a UK Number One in 1985 and remains a favourite song for many almost 40 years later.

The new version (linked below) is by Amanda Holden and Sheridan Smith. Neither are top of my favourite artists list, if I’m honest, but they do a lovely job together and the end result is a credit to them both.

Of course it helps when you’re starting off with great material.

Written by…


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There’s no question of you sitting around on your sofa when “You Can’t Stop The Beat” comes on. From the moment those sparky horns fire up for the intro, you want to be on your feet.

“You Can’t Stop The Beat” sets the standard by which all other songs labelled “infectious” needs to be measured.

Mostly that description is used for songs that want you make to snap your fingers or tap your toes. …


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Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

Let’s face it, the first time you heard “Marrakesh Express” you probably thought it was about drugs.

Not that I could blame anyone for coming to that conclusion. There was a lot of that about in the late 1960s. People were jetting off to exotic lands so they could discover themselves”…which, as near as I can figure out, meant experimenting with various narcotic substances of varying potency and impact.

However I’m sorry to disappoint you. “Marrakesh Express” literally was written about a train journey. …


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Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

Confession: I’ve never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show on film or on stage and I’ve only got the vaguest idea of the storyline.

I may not know much about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I do know a great tune when I hear one. And “Time Warp” is one of those wonderful songs that never fails to lift my mood whenever it comes on the radio.

There’s an instantly recognisable riff which for 1975, when “Time Warp” came out, sounds pretty conventional. …


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Photo by Kelly McCrimmon on Unsplash

Back in the 1980s synth-driven pop was often looked down on. It seemed so temporary, so disposable, so fleeting.

A couple of blokes with synthesizers just didn’t seem like serious competition for the swaggering guitar players with shaggy perms and spandex suits who strutted their stuff on the stage and played “proper music”…with guitars.

At first, we didn’t imagine this new technological approach to music-making would last to the end of the decade, never mind still be going strong over 30 years later.

How wrong we were.

The Pet Shop Boys, and their synth-driven brethren, were at the forefront of…


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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” has to be the coolest, most detached Scandinavian take possible on having your heart broken.

Its appearance on the soundtrack at one of most poignant moments in the classic movie “Pretty Woman” propelled “It Must Have Been Love” to the top of the charts around the world in 1990, including a spell at the Number One spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Written by Roxette’s Per Gessle, “It Must Have Been Love” started off as a Christmas song, of all things, back in 1987, with the subtitle “Christmas For The Broken Hearted”. In some…


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Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good/Please don’t let me be misunderstood” is the sort of PR-scripted, law firm vetted, apology you hear from politicians and business leaders caught with their hands in the till or, indeed, in a variety of other places their hands shouldn’t have been.

“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was written for Nina Simone by Bennie Benjamin, Horace Ott and Sol Marcus. …


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Photo by Eric Froehling on Unsplash

Growing up, I loved the Philadelphia sound. Their brand of smooth, sophisticated soul was everywhere in the 1970s, bridging a gap between the rawer 1960s-style soul and the disco revolution, which would soon dominate our airwaves, record shops and cinema screens.

Philadelphia International Records, to use the label’s proper name, was founded in 1971 by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, along with Thom Bell.

Gamble and Huff had become friendly while working as session musicians in the Philadelphia area. …


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Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

“La La Land” is one of the most beautiful films in recent memory. Sure it has some great songs too, “Another Day Of Sun” among them, but as a piece of visual art, “La La Land” is nothing short of extraordinary.

The whole movie is clever, achingly beautiful, poignant and heartfelt from start to finish, with large chunks shot in long, continuous takes which I can only imagine must have been a nightmare for actors, dancers and directors alike.

But I’m glad they persevered. The end product is certainly worth it.

The first time I saw the opening sequence, performed…


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Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

“The Candy Man” is one of those songs which never fails to lift your mood, no matter what’s going on in the world.

Many of us remember it fondly from watching the movie “Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” as children…and perhaps again with our own children and grandchildren. It brings back memories of happy times and safe spaces, being surrounded by love, and smiles on children’s faces.

The “Willie Wonka” movie was adapted from Roald Dahl’s book “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” (good family quiz night question there — the movie and the book had two slightly different titles).

No Words, No Song

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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