Best Of The Week

Back Then

Episode: “1904” | Podcast: Centuries of Sound | 60m37s

Hour-long portrait of a year told via a sound collage created from archive audio. This one contains songs, dialogue and instrumentals from 1904, with an emphasis on close harmony singing, banjo jangling and witty music hall repartee. It’s a delightful and immersive mix, complete with the atmospheric crackle of early microphones and record-playing technology. The piece is exquisitely paced too, moving gradually from mood to mood and from frenetic jazz to sublime classical performances. Listening feels like riding a traditional carousel at an old-fashioned fair, swinging around faster and faster (60m37s)


Playing Ball

Episode: “Deadline Day” | Podcast: The Offensive | 21m38s

Warning for swears from the start of this fast talking mockumentary about the behind the scenes travails of a fictional football team, Ashwood City. The hugely unpopular new owners have instituted a five-year plan for modernisation and improvements they call “the offensive”, which develops in this instalment via a highly anticipated and lucrative sale of a key player to a Chinese club. But then an emissary from a rival club turns up in the car park to “mediate”, and the management’s carefully laid plans unravel in a comic fashion reminiscent of the British TV comedy The Office (21m38s)


Sleeps Tonight

Episode: “The Greatest Hits of the World - Part 2” | Podcast: The Documentary | 18m31s

Troubling history of the song known as “Wimoweh”, or “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. Originally recorded in Zulu in 1939 by the South African musician and composer Solomon Linda, it has been covered and adapted by many artists in subsequent decades, topping the US chart in 1961 in an English version by the doo-wop group The Tokens. According to a critic, Linda’s improvised refrain for the song is “a skein of eleven notes that went on to become the most famous melody ever to emerge from Africa”. Yet Linda never wrote it down, and therefore never received formal royalties for his global megahit (18m31s)


Down South

Episode: “Big Lurch: Hip Hop Cannibal” | Podcast: Disgraceland | 31m35s

Gory and somewhat explicitly-worded look at the story of the Texas rapper Big Lurch, who smoked formaldehyde and sang about murderers. The tone of the show is sardonic and despairing, but the storytelling is well handled despite the grim subject matter. Lurch’s musical career came to an abrupt end in 2003, when he was arrested and convicted of the cannibalistic murder of his former roommate while under the influence of drugs. His record label still released his debut album after his incarceration, but changed the title — accurately yet opportunistically — to It’s All Bad (31m35s)


Bite Me

Episode: “Real Vampires” | Podcast: Fangs | 10m27s

Academic who studies vampires in pop culture recounts his experiences meeting real life human vampires — people who identify as such and consume blood for “energy”. He expected to find neo-gothic teenagers indulging in Bram Stoker orTwilight fandom, but instead was introduced to a diverse group with surprisingly little awareness of the vampire myth, many of whom had started drinking blood for medical or spiritual reasons. And where do they get the blood? It varies: a friend might donate it, a butcher might provide it, or they might just pick fights with strangers in order to get it flowing (10m27s)