Stuart Maconie’s Freaky Tracks to hear before you die.


I like Stuart Maconie.  I really do.

His weekly radio show on 6 Music is called Stuart Maconie’s Freak Zone.  It’s a ridiculously eclectic celebration of music that is often far from freaky just down right beautiful.  Take a look at the 59 songs he has published on his Freak Zone playlist that you can access via Deezer, Spotify and Youtube. (Here’s the Spotify link seeing as it’s my music sharing platform of choice.)

In it you’ll find music that is thrillingly beautiful like Hana by Asa-Chang &Junray, 1969 by Boards of Canada, Final Day by Young Marble Giants, O Superman by Laurie Anderson and Jesus’ Blood Never failed me Yet by Gavin Bryars but it is sat beside songs that most might call ‘challenging’ like the outstanding Nag, Nag, Nag by Cabaret Voltaire or My Pagan Ass by Brain Donor or N/Jz?Bm by derek Bailey.

Frank Zappa adds yet another dimension, as does William Shatner.

It’s this very contrast that sets Maconie up as a custodian and curator of music based only on its artistic merit.  It’s this that makes Maconie the very distillation of not only 6 Music but of British radio itself.  He has the rare distinction of contributing at various tines to Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 as well as NME and Q.  Both, in their time, his time, the vanguards of music publishing in the UK.  Sadly both have now fallen on fallow fields; most notably the NME.

But in The Freak Zone we have a musical treasure trove to protect, cherish and celebrate.

Bravo Mr Maconie.  Keep up the great work.

The passing of the world’s greatest event maker


I’ve only read one book on boxing.  “The Fight” by Norman Mailer.

I’ve only been to the cinema to see one Boxing Documentary “When We were Kings” by Leon Gast.

There’s a reason for both of these.

Muhammad Ali.

When Muhammad Ali stepped into a boxing ring it was an Event.  With a capital E.  The nation was transfixed.

There was only one world heavyweight Champion in those days.  Or so it seemed.

And although Scotland claimed a World Champion on the night of my Brother in Law’s stag not many years later in the form of Jim Watt, and even though Scotland’s Ken Buchanan, another Scottish World Champion, ran a hotel barely 200 yards from my house neither came close to the greatness of the greatest.

Why is that?

Because Muhammad Ali was much more than a boxer.

He was a poet, of sorts.  He was a politician.  He was a comedian, an athlete, an entertainer, a human rights activist.

He was the real deal.

A man who refused to fight in Vietnam because “No Vietcong ever called me a nigger.”

A man who electrified the British public in Michael Parkinson interviews, time and again.

And a man who turned pugilism into theatre.

“If you want entertainment go to the theatre” once said a shit Hibs manager, Bobby Williamson (Mr Bobby).

Ali was’t just theatre.

He was Broadway.

We loved you Ali, Bumaye!


When National Socialism got found out.

After the Nazi’s had put 1,000 people, mostly Jews, into living quarters this size.  And there are over 90 of them at Birkenau. And worked tens of thousands of them to death…


In living conditions like this. (6 – 8 people would have shared each of those ‘beds’  in three levels of ‘bunk’)…


Or gassed them by the million in places like this…


They didn’t even have the courage of their convictions to face up to it.  They were shamed into doing this to the gas chambers of Birkenau…


In one fell swoop they essentially admitted that everything they did and believed in was a lie – not a cleansing of the earth for the promulgation of a pure bred race, but evil and cold blooded murder of over 6 million innocent human beings.