Firstly, a HUGE thanks to our friends Neil and John for making that promotional video and allowing their heads to float around in a jukebox like that.
Now on to the serious business.
What on earth is Ruth and Martin Album's Album Club when it's at home?
Let me explain.
In December 2014, Ruth and I took our dogs for a walk and she came up with an idea.
It was really simple – we would make people listen to a great album they’ve never heard before, at least 3 times, and then ask them to review it.
That was it.
It was the best idea Ruth ever had and, because she's not stupid, she then decided I was going to do all the work whilst she mostly drank gin and listened to Bruce Springsteen.
So I went home and, about 23 minutes later, we had an online blog which we imaginatively called Ruth and Martin's Album Club. We then started to get some guests, and the requisite social media accounts you need these days, and the whole thing became quite popular. Adam Buxton, Tracey Thorn, Ian Rankin, Martin Carr, Stewart Lee, Bonnie Greer, and Nigel Blackwell from Half Man Half Biscuit were just some of the people that allowed us to force albums on them.
Each edition follows the same format -
1) An introduction to the album written by yours truly.
2) The guest's explanation of why they've never bothered with the album.
3) The guest's review after we made them listen to it 3 times.
The book version of this thing will be a compilation of some of our greatest hits (we haven't decided which ones yet) and a few exclusive new ones that have never appeared anywhere before.
Finally, here's some nice things that we made people say about us -
“I grew bored of music criticism a long time ago because the writer has been taken out of it and most read like glorified artist biogs. Ruth and Martin's Album Club works on a more personal, human level and has become my favourite music website" - Martin Carr, Pop Star.
"I love Ruth and Martin's Album Club. Classic albums (and oddities) given a fresh hearing, and Martin's capsule reviews remain the best in the business. The man knows his stuff - heck, he even found an album *I'd* never heard" - Ian Rankin, Author
“Have you discovered Ruth and Martin’s Album Club yet? It’s just brilliantly written, now want to listen to all the great music" - Dara O’Briain, Comedian.
"Ruth and Martin's Album Club is like a much better, reverse version of the Britannia Music Club - just one person gets the album against their will, but it's everyone who ends up buying it. Persuasive and essential." - Liz Buckley, Record Company Big Wig.
"Music geek paradise. Like the chat you have in the pub after the gig, with the shamanistic roadie who has seen it all. But, unlike that guy, these guys care what YOU think, and don't nick all your fags." - Hugo Rifkind, Journalist.
"If it hadn't been for Ruth and Martin's Album Club, I'd never have known quite how much I dislike the music of Joni Mitchell." - Euan McColm, Journalist and previous guest
Guest listener - Martin Carr
Who’s Martin Carr when he’s at home?
Daydreamer. Writes songs but has still to write a really good one, tick tock tick tock.
Martin’s Top 3 albums ever?
Gza - Liquid Swords
The Aggrovators - Johnny In The Echo Chamber
The Violent Femmes - The Violent Femmes
What great album has he never heard before?
Ram by Paul McCartney
Released in May 1971
Before we get to Martin, here’s what Martin of Ruth and Martin’s Album Club thinks of Ram
It’s September 1969 and McCartney tries to cajole them into one last hurrah.
He suggests a tour of small clubs, their first live dates since 1966, in the hope they’ll rediscover their confidence and reignite their spark. He even floats the idea of a pseudonym, that they could turn up unannounced and play under the worst name ever - Rikki and The Redstreaks.
It’s unclear who was down to play the part of Rikki.
Lennon looks at him like he’s mad.
“I think you’re daft”, he says, “I’m leaving the group. I want a divorce"
And that was that - the beginning of the end for The Beatles.
They’d played over 800 hours in Hamburg, 292 times at the Cavern, and recorded 13 albums in 7 years - the majority of which took place in just one room. One room that saw virtually everything from Please Please Me to Abbey Road - with barely a pause in between.
But now it was over. Lennon had his own Plastic Ono Band to get on with and McCartney had been spat out of the whirlwind. Remarkably, he was only 27 when it happened - The Beatles done and dusted and he’s not even technically in his late twenties yet.
It’s worth noting that for all the documentation and analysis of this part of McCartney’s life, that his perspective is entirely different - completely unique. He was the other side of the lens, living the life that was being captured and all the bits in between that weren’t. By all accounts his memory of these years is sketchy, his knowledge lacking compared to the fans that have pored over the record since - his own recollection different to the snapshots or lost in the living.
I once read an interview with him where he was asked about meeting Muhammad Ali and the famous photo where Ali appears to knock out The Beatles. McCartney couldn’t even remember it and the interviewer had to show him the photo as evidence that it happened.
As I said, a whirlwind life up to this point - so much so that he kind of forgot the time he had a bit of a laugh with Muhammad Ali.
You should all have recieved a copy of our book by now - some of you may have even read it.
So firstly, a huge thanks to all 934 of you that pledged to make it happen. You're welcome to come round anytime and have a cup of tea on me, just not all at once - I don't have that much room, or milk.
Organise it amongst yourselves, elect a leader or something, someone's who's good…
You might remember pledging to support a book about people listening to albums for the first time. It would have been some time after the Normans invaded us, but when we were still a part of Europe and America hadn't elected a man who talks like Jimmy Two Times from Goodfellas.
Anyway that book, the one you pledged for ages ago, is due to be released this September.
Hope you've had a good summer and won lots of medals.
Just a quick note from us to let you know we've just done a podcast with the comedian Michael Legge. We discussed how the album club was formed, what album inspired it,and what, if anything, we were trying to achieve with the whole enterprise.
If that isn't enough for you (it is) we also talked about Marillion for a bit.
So, you're probably all wondering where that book is that you pledged for some months ago.
Well, now that our weekly editions are over, I can announce that books should (hopefully) be with you around October 2017.
I can also announce that each chapter will be illustrated and, from what I've seen so far, I can safely say these will be the best thing in the book.
I can further announce there…
Apparently, it isn't a real shed.
I know, I'm gutted too because I thought I was getting some free garden equipment out of this.
No, instead it's virtual. You're supposed to imagine me writing in the shed and occasionally updating you on this book project - something I will attempt to do in the upcoming weeks and months.
Still wish it was an actual shed to be honest.
These people are helping to fund Ruth and Martin's Album Club.