Saturday, June 28, 2014

Andrew Collins - Circles of Life

OK - some years ago I started listening to the Collings and Herrin podcast. I can't remember how I got to it, but I had heard of neither of them. Richard Herring is a comedian, was famous in the UK in a double act with Stewart Lee (Fist of Fun, which I hadn't heard of either as I doubt it or the subsequent TMWR&J made it out here). Andrew Collins was 'writer, broadcaster, author' and played the straighter man.

They reviewed the weeks news (aside: I listened to the first few recently as I had started probably at about 30 I think, and they were talking about Madelaine McCann - and it is still in the news!), had running jokes, did live shows and basically had a good time - though often wandering into the land of bad taste.

It ran from 2008 to 2011, overlapping with a stint that they did on radio (it was interesting to see the constrictions of live radio on them). The break up could have been acrimonious - it is hard to tell.

Richard has gone on to become something of a podcast pioneer: he has had a number of topical shows: As it occurs to me (AIOTM) which featured an Andrew Collins Character (who always undercut what he said with an 'aside' negating the statement (which could be a reflection of the animosity) and more recently Richard Herring's Meaning of Life (also a video), the hypnotic Me1 v Me2 snooker and chat shows Richard Herrings Leicester Square and Edinburgh Fringe Podcasts (the first more mainstream, the Fringe one more the sound of a man exhausting himself over 2 weeks).

But this post is about Andrew Collins!

Gradually the straight man filled out a personality. Andrew had written some sitcoms which I hadn't heard of, had written for Eastenders (which I had), had started through art school to design to writing and editing on magazines that I definitely had heard of - NME, Vox, Q, Select - , had written autobiographies of his happy uneventful childhood, a biography of Billy Bragg. (I won't mention the Mitford's). Had travelled with some of the bands on tours. Now does a weekly video TV review for the Guardian, had a small hit radio comedy Mr Blue Sky and is writing more.

And often was funnier than Richard - and closer to the edge (listen to the audience reaction on some of the live shows).

Richard is the bloggers blogger (Warming Up has been going for years and produced a few books), Andrew is a more restrained, doing blogs when he feels like it: Never Knowingly Underwhelmed

Similarly on Twitter Andrew is restrained - some political posts, some of his baking, cat calendars, minor updates.

OK - to cut to the chase 

Last year Andrew decided to do a blokey thing with the songs he had on iTunes that he used to create a player playlist. He would choose his favourite tracks and create a list of the best songs in the world. He set rules: well one rule really
though this was malleable - if the worked in other groups, solos, collaborations, other names. And started work.

He thought it would be 50, but he kept going and after the first pass came to a stop at 143. Which became the magic number arbitrarily (though it is 13x11). Now the playlist can be no longer than that.

The list too has some flexibility - the favourite David Bowie track can change, under one circumstance.

Andrew decided to blog the list. So at irregular intervals (about weekly but sometimes the posts are like busses...) he writes up the story of a song - why he chose it, what it means to him (often an important aspect of our favourites; where how with who we heard a song). Once the song is blogged, though, it can't change. So Be My Wife is THE Bowie song.

Andrew's background in music journalism and broadcasting (and as a 65 baby) means that the range is a hoot - as I tweeted to him 'that's what is so great about the 143 - from Hiphop to the Eagles in one step!'. There is no logic to the order so always a surprise.

And as with any list (especially one as personal and constrained as this) there is lots to disagree with (I doubt anyone could agree on the best Beatles or Bowie or Stones or...), there is stuff to discover (Andrew has listened in areas I haven't), and as we get closer to the 143 we will start to wonder where our favourites are (will there be a John Foxx [or Ultravox], Steve Harley [or Cockney Rebel], Ian Anderson, Robert Fripp [or King Crimson], Jethro Tull, Brian Eno to name some of my known favourites. 

I would, not surprisingly choose others for the ones he has done - 10CC would have to be One night in Paris; New Order might be Temptation but the again... But he got Pink Floyd and Talking Heads (semi Eno) right!

That's the fun.

Debate is welcome on the forum.

Click on the image at the top and dive in: we're halfway there so there is plenty of new fun to be had.

(PS I know the freelance life is hard, but there is a lot of Andrew's life I would have liked for me!)
(PPS I think that it should come out as a book at the end of it all - selfpublish or persih)