First of all, I do hope this blog finds you safe and well in amongst these extraordinary circumstances we’re all experiencing.
At present, there’s not a lot of work on for football commentator types, and the lockdown made me think that it was time to revisit the past and do something I’ve been threatening to do for well over a decade - namely, bring my old BRMB & Heart FM comedy shows back to life.
Of course I’m not alone in creating a brand new podcast at this time and bringing it to the marketplace, so it’s all a bit crowded. However I do think my content is fairly unique and did (at one time) have quite a fan base!
Every sketch and song we ever did on the BRMB “Barmy Brummies” (4-7pm Mon-Fri) & Heart FM “Sunday Carve Up” (Sun 12-3pm) shows are kept on well over 100 minidiscs that I’ve had with me in the loft since back in the day. Now, they’ve all been retrieved, they still work and The ‘Barmy Old Podcast’ has been launched, not only to pay tribute to what I did on those former shows, but also to write new material to augment what we produced before.
“We” means me plus Sean Percival and Andy Robinson, who were my writing cohorts on the Barmy Brummies show and it was then just Sean and me by the time Heart FM rolled around in 2004. I’ve stayed in touch with Sean over the intervening years (we also share very similar music tastes) and I’ve always wanted to start a podcast but somehow the time and place never presented itself - until now.
By the time we were doing the Sunday Carve Up show on Heart, I was much better in terms of keeping written records in my desk diary of what we’d recorded for each weeks show. I wasn’t so organised in BRMB times as everything became such a rush on a daily basis, which means a bit more work than should be necessary to locate certain sketches and songs during that 2 year period from 2000-2002. Every item is properly titled on the minidisc display but I just don’t have a written record to cross reference them against.
Any scribbled notes I did make from
those daily BRMB shows for ‘best of’ programmes do thankfully pinpoint certain things that I knew were worthy of referring back to as I’m doing now, but one thing I’m having to do at present is go back through each of the 70 minidiscs full of info to log everything down properly. Painstaking work, but I’ll get there...maybe.
I’ve also been working when I can at home in recent times on my 3rd solo album. The drums and bass guitars were all recorded in Monmouth last summer (there’s a blog about that session on here). As a result I’ve been using my laptop to record my guitar parts at home, which has meant I’ve learned how to use the studio software I have on the old MacBook.
That knowledge has made it slightly easier to put this podcast together, although I am still a bit of a Luddite really, and probably take longer to perform certain tasks than I should. But my editing skills are improving with each episode that goes out.
As well as that, writing new material brings different recording and editing challenges from simply transferring minidisc information onto my computer. That said, I ended up getting quite proficient using Pro Tools software at Heart FM, so once you discover the shortcuts that work for you on an editing software program, you learn how to save time and be effective.
Sean is a terrific writer, as was Andy, and we all learned early on in our time together that brevity was the important thing with any sketch or song we wrote. That’s especially relevant when it comes to parody songs. I get frustrated when I hear some parody songs from others because people feel the need to record lyrics for the entire song concerned, which normally takes the song to 3 or 4 minutes in length.
That for me potentially kills the effectiveness of the joke. Unless the new lyrics are consistently brilliant over the entire tune, which is hard to find. For me, Bob Rivers’ “Twisted Tunes” provide the best examples of how to put a full song together and be consistently funny.
We found for our purposes that 2 minutes maximum gets the gag(s) across effectively in a tune - as with a sketch too. So it became a kind of unwritten rule that we’d never get beyond 2 verses and choruses to get the joke across. Sometime one verse and chorus was enough frankly. I suppose that brevity also came from needing to fit all our stuff into a music radio format like BRMB where we had to also get 10 or 11 songs away per hour along with adverts travel and news bulletins. Word economy and all that.
Even though those restrictions are no longer relevant on a podcast, old habits die hard and our new parody song on Episode 4 featuring talkSPORT mid-morning host Jim White singing The Proclaimers came in at under 2 minutes and had clearly proved very very popular with listeners.
The show will continue I’m sure throughout lockdown and hopefully beyond that - it’s been quite eye opening for me listening back to some of our stuff and thinking ‘Well, if you did that on the wireless now you’d be out on your arse!’ It really was a different time on Radio at the start of the century, although regulations were tightening, you could see it!!
Anyway, enjoy the memories if you were there with us at the time in Brum (and on the Century stations in Nottingham Manchester and Newcastle that also took our sketches for a time in 2002!) or if your just discovering our silliness for the first time!! Please spread the word about Ian Danter’s Barmy Old Podcast!!