The name of 17th-century violin maker Antonio Stradivari - or Stradivarius as he is usually known - is one that sends shivers down the spine of music lovers the world over. During his lifetime Stradivari made over 1,000 instruments, about 650 of which still survive. Their sound is legendary and for any violinist the opportunity to play one is a great privilege. Clemency Burton-Hill indulges in her lifelong passion for the instrument as she explores the mysterious life and lasting influence of Stradivari - through four special violins on display at this summer's Stradivarius exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. She is joined by 2002 Young Musician of the Year winner Jennifer Pike to put some of the violins in the exhibition through their paces.
The 80s was the decade of the 12 inch. In the UK, all previous instalments of this series sold extremely well and received widespread critical acclaim. The Guardian called the series a "genuine act of music archaeology". From the pop dance genius of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax and Donna Summer's I Feel Love through to the more alternative Lullaby by The Cure, and onto classics such as Teardrops by Womack & Womack… This 3CD compilation has it all, in its full 12" glory.
British singer/songwriter Howard Jones was a glinting jewel caught in the avalanche of synthesized music that overwhelmed the pop scene in the '80s. Jones had a true gift for crafting gleaming melodic hooks that make his hits some of the most memorable of the era. He used synthesizers not because they were "in," but because he could use them to create a delicious soundscape that couldn't be created without them. (Later in his career, he proved that he didn't need the electronics to write compelling pop music.) This 12" Album was released in support of his 1984 effort Humans Lib. It includes remixes of four of the hits from that record, including a previously unreleased extended mix of "Pearl in the Shell" and a "new version" of the now-classic "New Song," which features a reworked bass run and a new piano solo. The 12" Album also introduced the catchy "Always Asking Questions." The enclosed "international mix" of "Like to Get to Know You Well" (which was to appear on his next album, Dreams Into Action) is given an appealing reggae-flavored steel band backing.