As part of our Summer of Love: Revisited season, we’re coming together with Classical Album Sundays to present four special events celebrating the music of this pivotal moment of cultural history, featuring Laura Mvula, Billy Bragg, Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B and The Zombies. In recent years, Classic Album Sundays (CAS) has been making waves for its unique listening experience, allowing audiences to connect with records on a deeper level and hear the intriguing stories behind them.
In the build up to this exciting series, we chatted to CAS founder and host Colleen Murphy about the ego of the DJ, the beginnings of these events and her choice of desert island disc:
Can you summarise Classic Album Sundays for those that don’t know what you guys do.
Classic Album Sundays is the world’s most popular album listening experience and allows the listener to hear music contextually, communally, uninterrupted, and in great sonic detail. At our worldwide listening sessions, music fans are able to immerse themselves into music that has helped shape our culture and in some cases, our lives. We relay the artist and album’s unique story and provide a musical context that gives the listening experience deeper meaning. And of course we bring in our own audiophile hi-fi so that listeners can hear details in the music they may have never heard before. We remind people why they love music in the first place and deliver an experience that brings them closer.
What’s your favourite thing about running such an acclaimed series of audiophile listening events?
I leave every CAS session ‘on a high’. For nearly my entire life I have been a musical curator, starting with the mixtapes I made from the age of 12, through to my first radio show when I was 14, and my job at a record shop at the age of 16. I love turning people onto music, especially when they can listen to it properly!
David Mancuso’s Loft parties were a big inspiration on your musical journey and CAS, especially in terms appreciating music on an audiophile system. How do you carry the energy of that New York scene forward in the Classic Album Sundays events?
David was all about taking the ego out of DJ-ing and letting the music play in the way that the artist intended. Therefore he didn’t mix tracks but instead played songs from beginning to end on an audiophile sound system. I guess you could say I took it one step further by playing the entire album. Its all about getting closer to the music and doing so communally. Another similarity between The Loft and Classic Album Sundays is there is no door policy – we welcome people from all backgrounds irrespective of race, gender, age, sexuality or class. We have people from all walks of life at our events.
You often talk about the importance of immersing listeners in records that have great cultural and socio-political significance. The forthcoming Summer of Love: Revisited shows are very much at the core of this. Could you tell us a bit more about why you think this is important?
In school, we are taught that certain books and authors have influenced culture beyond the literary sphere. There have been many books that were life-changers for me. It’s the same thing with albums – maybe even more so. Since the advent of the turntable, and especially the portable turntable when teenagers finally had control of what they could play, popular music has had an immense effect upon art, film, fashion, photography and even politics. The year of 1967 was a game-changer in terms of records of all different styles from rock and pop to jazz and soul. There was definitely something in the air (or in some cases the Kool-Aid).
50 years on from the height of the counterculture movement, what do we owe to the music of the 60s?
Popular culture was built upon the musical foundations of the late 50’s and through to the 60’s. In the late 50’s there were incredible advancements in jazz and in the mid to late 60’s there were great leaps in terms of production of pop and rock music and the album format became more important than the single format which enabled artists to express themselves more fully. The decade also witnessed more performers writing their own material. In socio-political terms, the civil rights movement and the protest movement went hand in hand with music. We’ll be taking a look at that during our run of events.
What would be your desert island disc?
Love ‘Forever Changes’. I always hear something new when I listen to it and it is one of my favourite albums of all time.
If you could interview one person, from any time period, as part of CAS, who would you choose?
Miles Davis. But it probably best that won’t happen as its not always a great idea to meet your idols.
CLASSIC ALBUM SUNDAYS AT SUMMER OF LOVE: REVISITED
As part of Summer of Love: Revisited, Colleen Murphy brings four Classic Album Sundays immersive listening sessions to the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room.
LAURA MVULA PRESENTS THE WOMEN OF 60S SOUL
MONDAY 8 MAY
SOUL II SOUL’S JAZZIE B ON REVOLUTIONARY SOUL AND SKA
TUESDAY 16 MAY
BILLY BRAGG ON SKIFFLE AND PROTEST MUSIC
TUESDAY 6 JUNE
THE ZOMBIES PRESENT ODESSEY AND ORACLE
MONDAY 12 JUNE