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  • Philip Bryer


Way back in the last century, when I was a callow youth in flared Levi’s and a cheesecloth shirt, the same set of words often drifted upstairs. They started as something of a parental bellow, but by the time they had arrived at my bedroom door they had been killed stone dead by something with which they could not compete. “Will you turn that racket down?” you see, was no match for the racket itself.

In common with many teenage boys I liked it fast and loud. Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath et al. Proper groups with long hair, squealing vocals, and 20-minute guitar solos. The idea that someone could enjoy the acoustic, unplugged sound of anything never permeated my tumbling blond curls. Loud was exciting. Quiet was dull. Simple as that, and I knew I would never change my mind.

What do I listen to 40 years on? I love women singing country music, Mozart, Sinatra, and Linda Ronstadt, and I have come to realise that the 3-minute pop record is a form that’s never been improved upon.

On a sultry summer’s evening there is nothing I like better than sitting down with a glass of wine and Linda Ronstadt’s gorgeous version of Blue Bayou. It’s taken me a while to realise it, but this is much more relaxing than Fireball or War Pigs. I like to sit in my home-office of an evening listening to Spotify on shuffle, and if Mozart’s Lacrimosa Requiem comes on it’s essential that I turn out the light and let it wash over me. While trying not to think about all the people on TV who’ve been murdered to the sound of that very tune.

Linda Ronstadt

The Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute is a stunning piece of singing. Even though when I first played it, Mrs Bryer called up from downstairs in enquiry about my health. She had confused the diva’s amazing vocal performance with me protesting at having accidentally shut my nuts in the office drawer.

I’ll have to refer to Mozart again, because he’s the one I know best. The overture to The Marriage of Figaro is as thrilling as anything that rock and roll has come up with.

I heard Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop the other day, turned it right up, and it is still the most delightful racket. However, it’s rare these days that I could manage a whole one

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