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Charlie's Angle

"I continue to get the greatest enjoyment from setting two or three records alongside each other which have no generic relationship yet feel as if they enhance each other - they may come from different times and places but share a sound, an emotion, a detail. While some of these are records I discover as I pick my way amongst the packets that come through the door in a daily avalanche, and others are remembered from records filed away on my shelves, some are introduced by my guests who bring their different points-of-view on a regular (more or less bi-weekly) basis."
With Rita Ray
Charlie with Rita Ray at the Awards for World Music 2003

"Momo Wandel Soumah is a very good example. One place I have in the system of things is to be like a stage in a relay. Lucy Duran brought it on to my show and that was the first time I heard it. It came on at about seven minutes to the hour, and the track is 7 minutes 40 long, and I thought 'Alright, I'll play about three or four minutes of this and then fit in three minutes of another record', but there was no way to stop that record playing all the way out. I had to have a copy of that myself, and it turned out that Lucy herself had been introduced to it by Katharina Lobeck. Katharina gave me a copy that I was then able to play again, and the reaction really came in the second time I played it. And that is sometimes the case, that the audience doesn't necessarily get it as fast as I do. So then on and on it goes. It's not six weeks in a row, it's six times in a period of four months, which is in some ways even more effective. When I played roké, that song which starts with a ticking clock, that was similar. Every time I played it."

"I'm also aware that even though this audience has proved to be remarkably open-minded towards the unknown, each of us can only take in so much unfamiliar material before it all begins to blur. So in addition to going back to 'oldies' as a comfortable reference I also use the repeat plays of newer releases as a place where people can in effect recover their breath from all the new stuff."

"When we first got interested in the '80s, we coincidentally had the benefit of the emergence of Youssou N'Dour and Salif Keita in particular, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. There were a number of very, very charismatic genre leaders who - having in effect been discovered by us, as it were - did actually mean something outside that. Johnny Walker played Salif Keita on Radio 1 at the time. The world music scene is missing a newer generation of these type of people. Is this a responsibility for the people like myself and Andy and Lucy, now she's there on Radio 3, to somehow... can you do it as a conspiracy, 'these are the people to go for'? I don't think so. It's a more natural process than that. But until then the people who are outside this circle are just left with confusion. There are too many different names."

This feature first appeared in fRoots 218-219, Aug/Sep 2001


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