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Colin Irwin

Colin Irwin

From beginnings as a sports reporter on the long defunct Slough Evening Mail (where one of his colleagues was Greg Dyke), Colin Irwin joined Melody Maker in the mid-1970s. He was to spend over 12 years there, writing the folk pages throughout that time, but also graduating to become Features Editor and Assistant Editor.

His notable interviewees during that tenure include Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, Tammy Wynette, Suicide, Joan Baez Human League, The Fall, Sandy Denny, Kate Bush, George Michael and, er, Bay City Rollers. He survived punk rock and the new romantics but left to become editor of weekly pop magazine Number One in the hazy, crazy era of Kylie, Jason, Wet Wet Wet and A-ha. He then disappeared into the bowels of the BBC to do something unmentionable in ‘Special Projects’, eventually emerging to play cameo roles in a succession of best-forgotten magazines, including Rock World and The Radio One Story.

He also presented five series of Acoustic Roots for BBC Radio 2 and fronted two series of the BBC’s TV coverage of the Cambridge Folk Festival, was music editor at Teletext and a Mercury Music Prize judge (his crowning glory beating a desk as he argued for Antony & the Johnsons to win).

Now settled into an uncertain world as an impoverished freelance writer, he contributes to fROOTS, Mojo, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Observer Music Monthly. He’s also written several books. In Search of the Craic details a long love affair with Irish music and pubs; In Search of the Albion is a trawl through English traditions; Sing When You’re Winning looks at soccer terrace songs; and Highway 61 Revisited examines Dylan’s seminal album. There was also an Abba biography but he never talks about that.

List of articles in the library by artist

Bachman Turner Overdrive

Profile and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, February 1974

AMERICANS tend to pronounce the word "boogie" with one "u" and a couple of "g's". It comes out sounding "buggie" and it's heard a lot ...

The Be Good Tanyas: Be Good Tanyas: Chinatown

Review by Colin Irwin, MOJO, March 2003

Second album by the Canadian trio who seduced us with their disarmingly unassuming old-timey debut Blue Horse. ...

Bert Jansch: On The Road So Long

Obituary by Colin Irwin, MOJO, December 2011

A virtuoso guitarist who knew no boundaries and inspired Jimmy Page and Neil Young, Bert Jansch died on October 5. Colin Irwin says farewell ...

Jackson Browne These Days…

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, December 1976

The American singer/songwriter – currently touring Britain – who has made his name by writing constantly demanding, complex and mysterious songs, talks to COLIN IRWIN ...

Kate Bush: The Dreaming

Review by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, September 1982

UNDER THE premise that the Great British Public instinctively turns its nose up at anything that's a little unexpected, or which doesn't meet its carefully ...

Kate Bush: Who's That Girl?

Profile and Interview by Colin Irwin, Rock World, October 1993

KATE BUSH is back with a sensational new album The Red Shoes, her first of this decade. She's been a major figure for 17 years ...

Kate Bush: Paranoia and Passion of the Kate Inside

Report and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, October 1980

Kate Bush talks to Colin Irwin in Munich... ...

Terence Trent D'Arby: The Great Contender

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, August 1987

TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY isn't modest. But, as he's quick to point out, he has very little to be modest about. Two hit singles, a number ...

Sandy Denny Pregnant

Report and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, July 1977

SANDY DENNY looked radiant. Yes, one is always supposed to say that about ladies when they're pregnant, but in this case it was true. She ...

Sandy Denny: Sandy Fights Back

Report and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, November 1977

"IF I HAVE TO SING 'Matty Groves' one more time, I'll throw myself out of a window... I'll be doing a lot of stuff from ...

Dexys Midnight Runners: Dexy's Midnight Runners: Don't Stand Me Down

Review by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, September 1985

COMPROMISE, as Kevin Rowland so sharply observes on the opening verse of this remarkable album, is the devil talking. ...

Tymon Dogg: Fiddling Around

Profile and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, September 1980

Tymon Dogg has nothing against success, but he wants it on his own terms, he tells COLIN IRWIN ...

Tymon Dogg: Tymon Time Again

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, January 1983

Colin Irwin visits the strange world of TYMON DOGG, former Paul McCartney protégé, Clash sidekick, and enemy of Safeway People ...

Nick Drake: Robert Kirby, 1948-2009

Obituary by Colin Irwin, Guardian, The, October 2009

IN HIS FIRST YEAR as a music student at Cambridge University, Robert Kirby sought to join Footlights, the undergraduates' fabled arts and drama club. He ...

Nick Drake: The Enigma's Variations: Darker Than The Deepest Sea: The Search For Nick by Trevor Dann ***

Book Review by Colin Irwin, MOJO, March 2006

A bold attempt to unravel the tragic secrets of an enduring, but still elusive, cult hero, says Colin Irwin ...

The Eagles: Hotel California (Asylum)

Review by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, December 1976

Don Henley (drums, vocals), Glenn Frey (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Don Felder (guitar, slide guitar, vocals), Joe Walsh (guitar, keyboards, vocals). Randy Meisner (bass, vocals). Produced ...

The Fall: Hex Enduction Hour (Kamera)

Review by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, March 1982

OF COURSE, YOU don't actually review a Fall LP. You hover in the shadow of the aura and attempt to catch some of the sparks ...

Peter Frampton: Rock Victim

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, October 1974

THE MAN once dubbed the "Face Of '68" sat in the cafe, quietly reflecting on his home country. He was once the most screamed at ...

Fred Neil

Obituary by Colin Irwin, Guardian, The, July 2001

HE WROTE ONE of the most famous songs of the late 20th century, but Fred Neil, who has died aged 64 of cancer, remains one ...

Marvin Gaye 1939-1984

Obituary by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, April 1984

With the death of MARVIN GAYE, black music lost one of its most eloquent voices. Colin Irwin documents a brilliant but tempestuous career. ...

The Gun Club: Gun Fun: The Gun Club: Fire Of Love (Beggars Banquet)

Review by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, June 1982

THE GUN CLUB are direct descendants of a ferociously-subversive rock 'n' roll tradition fired by the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and most successfully embodied ...

Claire Hamill

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, February 1975

SHE CAME down to London from fields afar, a cute little northern lass who was gonna be Britain's new first lady of rock. They all ...

Tim Hardin: The Legend of Tim Hardin

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, January 1974

A CHUNKY, muscular figure. Penetrating eyes. Wispy black hair ever so slightly receding. What the hell is a legend supposed to look like anyway? "The ...

Dorris Henderson: US Folk Singer Who Settled In London

Obituary by Colin Irwin, Independent, The, March 2005

DORRIS HENDERSON cut an unforgettable figure on the emergent British folk-music scene of the mid-1960s. ...

Hot Chocolate: Choc's Away

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, July 1975

A CLUTCH of nubile girls are usefully spending their school holidays hanging around outside the Bell Record Company offices in the hope of a glimpse ...

Jackson C. Frank

Obituary by Colin Irwin, MOJO, May 1999

JACKSON WAS ONCE DESCRIBED AS "the most famous folk singer no-one ever heard of and that was about right. He met Elvis, was Sandy Denny's ...

John Lennon, Julian Lennon, Yoko Ono: Julian Lennon: The Lennon Legacy

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, October 1984

Four years after a madman took out his father, JULIAN LENNON launches his own career in music. In his first major interview he tells Colin ...

Queen: Rainbow Theatre, London

Live Review by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, April 1974

FREDDIE MERCURY glares thunderously from beneath the beam of the spotlight. Anger and hostility ooze from his mouth. He pumps his right fist vigorously skywards ...

Sade: The Jewel In The Crown

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, December 1984

An unlikely star and a reluctant one, but SADE ADU is the most successful female artist of the year. The life and times of a ...

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Retrospective and Interview by Colin Irwin, Guardian, The, July 2009

ALL GUSHING JET-black hair, radiant smiles and shining eyes, Buffy Sainte-Marie looks fabulous. "Do I? Why thank you..." ...

Saxon Dregs 'N' Rock 'N' Roll

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, June 1982

From the pits of Yorkshire to the industrial might of Seattle, SAXON have taken tea to the world. Colin Irwin earnestly believes it's the new ...

Seals and Crofts: Two's Company

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, May 1975

JIMMY SEALS is wearing an extremely smart tweedy outfit like he's an advert for Hardy Amies. He's got those granny spectacles and he leans back ...

Slade: Your Public Is Your Judge

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, October 1974

THEY CAME out of Wolverhampton. Failed skinheads who became the loudest, most aggressive stomping band in the land. A year ago nobody questioned it – ...

Smokie: Smokey: No Smokey Without Fire…

Profile and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, August 1975

THE NEWS that Chinn and Chapman had signed a new band was predictably greeted by the music business with one big yawn. What would this ...

Steeleye Span: Family of Span

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, December 1976

"HAVE WE ever come close to splitting? My God, HAVE we! It's very incestuous, our band, y'see. We're all interdependent and to work out your ...

Steeleye Span: How a Goon Came To Play Ukelele

Report and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, October 1974

IT WAS like the coming of a new Messiah. Everyone sat around nervously awaiting the arrival of HIM, the man who was gonna make this ...

The Stylistics: Sing, Baby, Sing!

Profile and Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, August 1975

ABUSE COMES too easily. The Stylistics are the masters of sweet soul, the kings of lush sentiment, and the lords of overstated romance. Even their ...

Richard Thompson: The Guitar Hero as Mystic Recluse

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, October 1978

Richard Thompson is one of the world's finest guitarists, but a few years ago he "got cheesed off" and packed it all in. Now he's ...

Toto: Losing The Studio Tan

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, March 1979

DAVID PAICH has the grizzly, rough-hewn features of a particularly underhand heavyweight wrestler. The image is blown by a hugely infectious grin that recurs frequently, ...

U2: Glory Days

Interview by Colin Irwin, Spin, June 1987

With a platinum-bound LP and sell-out tour, U2 have finally conquered America. But first they had to conquer the problem of being a political band ...

Tom Waits: Guess You're Waits

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, April 1978

FORGIVE the blasphemy, but I reckon God must have been way out of his little box when he deposited Tom Waits among us. Mr. Waits ...

Scott Walker, The Walker Brothers: Scott Walker: No Regrets

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, February 1976

IT'S ONLY mid-afternoon, but the curtains are drawn and the lights are out. The room is in darkness and at first it looks empty. "Hi, ...

Joe Walsh: Lonely Leader

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, August 1975

IT'S A BIT disconcerting when you're having a perfectly innocent conversation and the guy you're talking to suddenly brandishes a knife beneath your nose. Not ...

We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, November 1986

They sing! They dance! They make jokes! They play with bar-bells! They dye their hair! They talk in Brummy accents! They've got a new single ...

Tammy Wynette: Stand By Your Record Producer

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, September 1978

Tammy Wynette, over here for a short tour, lectures COLIN IRWIN on how to be an Average Superstar... ...

List of genre pieces

Garry Bushell: The Most Evil Man In Pop

Interview by Colin Irwin, Melody Maker, May 1986

Scourge of the Looney Left, creator of Oi and prime exponent of the dreaded 'Sunspeak', GARRY BUSHELL makes a clean breast of it to Prof ...

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