In the age of TikTok miniaturization, the full-length video -one that lasts minutes rather than seconds and actually has some semblance of a story rather than a series of circus act images – may seem passé. Yet record companies still see the format, which didn’t quite kill the radio star, as an important source of promotion, while artists welcome its myriad creative possibilities. Theo Croker is a notable case in point. “I’d been wanting to do videos for a while, but my ideas were so grand that I couldn’t do them,” he states. “The first video I did wasUnderstand Yourself with Chronixx; we filmed that in the Redwood Forest, California. I guess I caught the bug after that.”
Bob Marley is the gift that keeps on giving – to his record company, the Marley Estate and above all, to music lovers worldwide. Just as we’ve been poised to dismiss whatever latest projects have come to exploit his legacy, they’ve turned out to be rather good after all. The Marley musical Get Up, Stand Up! has been a tremendous success, and now an album of orchestrated Bob Marley classics by The Chineke! Orchestra is set to confound doubters with magisterial arrangements of songs written by a man from Kingston, Jamaica, who grew up in poverty and struggled to get his music played on local radio. At one point in my interview with Chineke! founder Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE, she asks, “Can you imagine if this had gone to the London Symphony Orchestra or the Royal Philharmonic? Elvis Presley, The Beatles and other superstar musicians have had orchestral arrangements made of their music by orchestras like those, but Island Records said, ‘No, this album has to go The Chineke! Orchestra’… “
Hollie Cook was “born on a beat,” as our friend Ossie Thomas would say. Her father is Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and her mother sang backing vocals for Culture Club [which is how Boy George became her godfather]. Added to which, her first foray into the world of professional music was in a later incarnation of infamous, all-female punk band The Slits, led by the irrepressible force of nature that was Ari Up. Such pedigree stood her in good stead – but only up to a point. The hard work in carving out a niche for herself as a singer of undoubted talent and originality couldn’t be handed down, and only came about in response to her own efforts and those of Prince Fatty, who produced her breakthrough single Milk And Honey and first two albums.
“The making of UNIFY was a direct result of the time we were able to spend in our little bedroom studios due to the pandemic. I know I had zero intention of getting Covid 19, so I stayed in and turned on Pro Tools, dimmed the lights and wrote a song every three days. Out of that batch, the guys chose a few that they felt were absolutely ready to record and play every night. They had some killer tunes and counter melodies to what I had written as well. The actual recording of the album was a joyous reunion of old friends with a common purpose to bring the songs to LIFE in six days… ”