We are now 61 days into lockdown, which, for context is still less than how long a series of Big Brother lasts.
Life feels a bit like Big Brother, mind you, except you can’t be evicted and go outside, unless you’re an advisor to the government when you can do whatever you like. And all anyone is doing with wine bottles is drinking them dry.
High streets are deserted, the health service is under-resourced, and people are worried about their safety and the future. But not everything in 2020 has stayed the same as it was in 2019.
Sure, Gary Barlow is every bit as wonderful as he ever was. His multiple celebrity duets with the likes of Ronan Keating and Cliff Richard – known as “The Crooner Sessions” – will surely be treasured and kept forever, albeit mostly by the military who will be assessing their potential as a controversial form of torture against prisoners of war, albeit even the army will worry such tactics risk breaching the Geneva Convention.
The Crooner Sessions will doubtless go into folklore alongside other famous Sessions, such as John.
But although we may scoff at the likes of Barlow et al, (and scoff we must in the face of such provocation: we are a nation of scoffers, schooled in the art of scoffing), musicians are undoubtedly facing challenging times. With streaming services paying less to most musicians than Jacob Rees Mogg pays his pool cleaner, musicians have increasingly been turning to live performances to put food on the table. But Coronavirus has put paid to live music for the foreseeable future. After all, social distancing in a festival mosh pit will now be as tricky as avoiding dysentery in a festival toilet on a Sunday night.
It may take a year before we can even dream of such things, so in the meantime…
The venue that looks the most fun for a lockdown “session” is perhaps Sophie Ellis Bextor’s kitchen, which is stuffed full of dancing kids, glitter balls and good vibes. A tonic for the times. Check out Sophie’s Instagram for such things.
But if such fluffy frivolity is not in keeping with your mood, and, God forbid, you are tired of posting album covers into your social media channels, some enjoyable music is being made by The Spirit of Talk Talk, a band featuring Simon Brenner, a founding member of Talk Talk, and several of the touring members of Talk Talk.
The Spirit of Talk Talk were due to tour this year, but instead of moping around feeling sorry for themselves, they have decided to record three well known Talk Talk songs in lockdown, featuring Sophie Barker from Zero 7 and Tim Elsenburg from Sweet Billy Pilgrim on vocals, among many others in aid of front line health services, and a video has been created for each.
The result is The Spirit of Talk Talk – The Lockdown Charity Recordings. Ex Talk Talk synth legend Ian Curnow has mixed the three tracks.
‘It’s My Life’, from It’s My Life, with vocals by Sophie Barker ( Zero 7 ) was the first video to be released. This is no Gary Barlow hacking out some half-baked nonsense a busker would be ashamed to put their name to. This is beautifully put together, and is worthy of the Talk Talk name…
The fundraising for frontline health services is taking place at:
The Spirit of Talk Talk band will also be releasing a cover of ‘Talk Talk.’ from The Party’s Over with vocalist Andy Cooper.
The second video is a lovely version of ‘I Don’t Believe in You’, from The Colour of Spring with vocals by Tim Elsenburg ( Sweet Billy Pilgrim)
Once again, this is that rare thing under lockdown – something beautiful, put together with love, that will still sound good when we are all jumping up and down together in mosh pits, some time in, oh, 2053…
All musicians are working for free, in isolation, so there was some improvisation on instrumentation and recording.
As Ian Curnow says about the project,
‘Having spent all of my professional life making music for a living, it’s great to have the chance to make some music for such a worthy and essential cause. A big thank you to all the NHS staff and all support workers, so often overlooked in the past. That simply must change now. Thank you. Please donate generously.’