March/April Answers, Part IV
5/16/2008 (updated 5/16/2008)

Who would be selected for your all-time England test cricket team ? Stephen Jeffreys

All-time is difficult – very hard to make real comparisons between the classic and the modern eras. How would Dr. Grace hold up against Malcolm Marshall? Would Viv Richards figure out Sidney Barnes? So reluctant as I am to lose the likes of Barnes, Larwood and Hobbs, I’ll start post WW2:

That’s 12 – one spinner or seamer to be dropped according to conditions. That’s three openers, but Compton occasionally batted at 3, and how can you leave him out? Gooch preferably a bit older, and Botham young and pre-back troubles. I’m slightly preferring Barrington to Pieterson, because Ken could be cavalier and drop anchor when required. A fully fit Freddie Flintoff would pose a threat to Botham’s place. Even this illustrious side would have a hard time against the all-time West Indian XI, who could probably beat any team from any era, and the all-time Australian and South African Xis.

1. How much input do you have into the cover art for your records? Do you specify exactly what you want, or does someone just give you a selection of ideas based on the title and you pick the one you like?

From very little input in the 60s to quite a lot nowadays. I try to have a concept that will reflect the music before I go to the designers, sometimes one idea, sometimes several. Occasionally I have the thing fully formed, and sometimes I have no ideas, and rely on the artists to pull something from the music or the title.

2. On your last six visits to London, you've played a different venue every time (Shepherd's Bush Empire, Sadler's Wells, Hackney Empire, Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, The Barbican and The Roundhouse), an you'll be playing in the Festival Hall next month. Is there any reason behind this? Richard Mackey, Beckenham

London is a big city with a lot of choices, and probably if you played the same venue all the time, you might miss a chunk of your demographic. Some like to stand, some like to sit, some hate the Barbican, some hate the Festival Hall, etc. Better to move around.

When is Richard going to tour Australasia? Lynley Jones

Hopefully soon, hopefully with a band, but nothing on the books yet.

Will RT be incorporating ‘Wind of Change’ in ‘1000 years of popular music pt2’ as an homage to his recent Mexican unpleasantness?


Or am I just being a smartass? Bob Battersby


In a late ‘70’s music paper you said that you “currently enjoyed listening to Fleetwood Mac”. Are you a fan of the band? Jamie Taylor

Did I really say that? Did I also say that I had sex with sheep? I was a fan of the old Mac, with Peter Green. The newer incarnation I find a little pre-digested – I like Christine’s and Stevie’s voices, and some of the guitar-playing, but overall for me it’s all a bit calculated.

I guess that ‘Mother Knows Best’ from Rumour and Sigh is about Maggie Thatcher and ‘Sneaky Boy’ from Sweet Warrior is about Tony Blair. Did you ever write a song about John Major or was he too bland / ineffectual to make a decent target? Do you think that Gordon Brown will be worth an audio portrait? Sam Wilson

I song about John Major might be just the thing for getting teething babies to sleep. Gordon Brown may find himself out on his ear very soon, and a mere footnote of political history, and barely warranting a semiquaver.

It BUGS me that you haven't told the world ( as far as i know), what you think of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. My two all time faves are: (not necessarily in order): Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Richard Thompson (any incarnation). Hope your numbness subsides, may your hallucinations remain... John Novak

Saw them at the Cannes Festival in 1967, and was blown away. Very important band in the history of western music. On record, I can take about one track at a time. John French arranged all the music for the band, and deserves a co-bill.

I don't mean to tax you, but I have a several questions:
I greatly admire your willingness to try new things (1000 Years of Music, Bones of All Men, etc.). I don't see how you can stay fresh and do the same thing for forty years. Do you have any master plan to staying fresh? Are there any new things that you're going to do (or would like to do) in the near future off the beaten track? Any new collaborations? One person who is similar to you in this regard is Yo-Yo Ma - have you any plans to record with him?

For new projects, see question 1. Yo-Yo Ma? Well, who knows?

I have two young sons who love music. Any advice for introducing them to playing guitar or other instruments? Richard Berndt, Seattle

This is tricky. You can sit one kid down at a piano at age 3, and he turns into a concert pianist. Another kid gets turned off music for life. I’m reluctant to push parents’ musical agendas on children, and I believe the first spark should come from the child. After that it needs monitoring on a regular basis, to ensure that the enthusiasm is there to keep the student pushing through the discipline. Let your kids choose their instruments, and change instruments if necessary. Make sure the teacher and the pupil are well matched, and change if and when necessary. Get them playing in bands and orchestras ASAP.