Driving time

By Louis Barfe

The other day I was in a café having lunch. As with many cafés, the radio was on in the background, in this case, tuned to BBC Radio 1. As the staff were all in their 40s or older, and I, at 45, was the youngest patron by a considerable margin, I wondered who exactly it was for. None of us seemed like avid followers of the top 40. 

Slowly, however, I began to realise the wisdom of the choice. Firstly the alternatives were woeful. At that time of day, it was Jeremy Vine (no, never, not even with a bargepole) or any one of a number of commercial stations, all of which would have invasive adverts every few minutes coming in a few decibels louder than the music. 

Secondly, rebellion and atonality are in short supply in modern pop, so very few people will actively mind the sort of music Radio 1 plays in daytime. It’s questionable whether anyone actively likes it or even notices it, but in this case, that’s a plus. 

Over at Radio 2, meanwhile, the new schedule seems to be far from just a Cox and Ball story, although both are bedding in well. What is taken with one hand – Clare Teal’s Sunday show being halved in length – is more than given back with the other. In particular, I approve of Trevor Nelson’s Rhythm Nation being bumped up from one night a week to four (Monday-Thursday, 10pm).

I often find myself in the car at that time of night, lumbering a drum kit around the Bristol ring road, and to this funk soul brother, the show is the perfect travel accompaniment. It’s never unwelcome to hear I Thought It Was You by Herbie Hancock, although if I do have a criticism, it’s that Nelson went with the 7” version rather than the 12”. Less is not always more.