The Unpublished Writings of Dr. Mike Brocken: Blues and Gospel Train

Back in, I think, 2009 I was asked by Reader in Popular Music Studies at the University of Northumbria Professor Ian Inglis to contribute a chapter to a volume entitled Popular Music and Television in Britain, to be published by Ashgate the following year. Ian had recently commenced his four-year stint as my External Examiner for the MA 'The Beatles, Popular Music & Society' and via his examining became fully aware of my interests in media representations of popular music.

I decided not to select research from the many Beatles-related media representations I was then currently discussing in MA lectures and seminars, nor to attempt to unpick those abundant and rather totalising BBC programmes on air at that time concerning 'Rock, Pop, Blues Britannia, etc.' or the elitist 'rock album as art' concepts presented by their 'Classic Albums' series. Instead, I elected to return to the mid-1960s to consider how the popularity of R&B in 1960s Britain was far more authentically presented by the commercial ITV - in particular Granada Television and their famed producer Johnny Hamp.

I can still recall witnessing that seminal 1964 Granada programme The Blues and Gospel Train broadcast by Granada from the defunct Wilbraham Road Station in Manchester and how, for me, it resonated both strangeness and authenticity. I can't remember whether I was on my way to Cubs in Moscow Drive, Stoneycroft or to choir practice at St James Church, West Derby when it stopped me in my tracks – either way, I never made it, for the entire programme (not simply the music) completely blew me away. In fact, I was so utterly taken aback by the whole thing that ever since that evening (I was then only ten years of age) my life developed a meaning surrounding popular music cultures. Furthermore, in those early days of not having a record player, or the money to purchase records, radio and television came to aurally and visually address my personal needs surrounding musical authenticities.

So …

In the commissioned Ashgate chapter I celebrated the work of Granada producer Johnny Hamp and the Granada Television Company, for both the individual and the company helped develop my youthful taste cultures (far more than the rather staid offerings from the BBC at this time). I also attempted in the chapter to express my profound personal excitement drawn from the audio and visual tropes abounding within The Blues and Gospel Train programme.

The chapter was duly published in this (excellent: pick it up if you can find it) volume in 2010, although as needs must, it was very heavily edited (I had written far too much!). I therefore present my original final draft, for I think it helps to capture, far more successfully than the published work, the multiple meanings that were decoded by myself as a boy in 1964. I will be forever grateful to Mr Hamp and Granada TV (the latter now a shadow of its former creative self) for helping release important identity-giving tropes to a young, painfully shy working-class Liverpudlian youth, many of which remain with me to this very day.

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This research is made available for public access and peer review, but Dr Mike Brocken retains full ownership of any and all intellectual property, media resources and text, and should be formally accredited for any references to, or use of, these materials.

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