Christmas for stowaways


Merry Christmas. Or “Happy Holidays” if you think that somehow wishing non-Christians a merry Christmas is supposed to be offensive.

I won’t share anything completely new here, but why not take a spin through the Christmas countdown from last year?

You might also enjoy Erasure‘s Gaudete, which I shared a couple of weeks ago, or the review of their Crackers International EP from last week. Or Saint Etienne‘s lovely Through the Winter from a few days ago, or even Proper Chrimbo, which we revisited a day or two ago.

Ray Dolby

It seemed to go largely unreported at the time, but last month saw the sad death of Ray Dolby, the audio pioneer who invented Dolby Noise Reduction (which over a quarter of a century would evolve into Dolby A, B, FM, C, SR, S, and HX Pro) for cassettes and film. His company, Dolby Laboratories, would go on to develop various surround sound systems; the AAC audio format used by iTunes; and various other ridiculously clever acoustic techniques.

In memory of the man who will go down in history as having reduced hiss, there’s really only one thing I can share with you – from his album The Dolby Decades, this is John Shuttleworth with the brilliant I Can’t Go Back to Savoury Now:

Now, if Dolby ever get round to developing a VST plug-in of their original noise reduction technologies, we’ll all be happy.

Live – January 2013

Here are some highlights of the live gigs coming up in the next few weeks:


After stealing Sparks‘s idea and debuting their The Catalogue series of concerts in New York a couple of years ago, they’ve just done it in their native Düsseldorf, and in early February they will do it for the third time at the Tate Modern in London.

Long since sold out.

The Presets

Now touring their third album Pacifica across their native Australia.

List of dates at Songkick.


Back with their second album and a full European tour, although it’s a little short on UK dates. Starts soon and runs through to April.

List of dates at Songkick.

John Shuttleworth

A long time favourite of mine, halfway through his Out of Our Sheds tour, mainly across Scotland and Northern England through till April.

List of dates at

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Another tour out of the eighties, all over the UK in April and May.

List of dates at Songkick.


If there are artists you want to see covered here, please comment below.

A Christmas Countdown – John Shuttleworth

Christmas songs are, as we all know, timeless. It doesn’t matter whether they were released this year, or twenty years ago. Christmas is about tradition, and traditions must go on.

So this is Music for stowaways‘s Christmas countdown. Every day for the next ten days I’ll share a Christmas track with you, and we’ll work our way up to the top spot on Christmas Day. At number 10, it’s everyone’s favourite South Yorkshire-based comic John Shuttleworth.

If you don’t know much about him, then you’re in good company. But I love his particularly gentle form of comedy, and his character is from my neck of the woods so I know a lot of the places he references – particularly in Dandelion and Burdock, in which he sings “At the Crich Tram Museum / I was with a friend called Ian.” Not a reference that many non-midlanders will get, that one.

Anyway, John Shuttleworth kicks off our Christmas countdown at number 10. Here’s The Christmas Orphan: