Linernotes by Andy Kershaw London September 1998
In the thirteen years of my Radio One programme I have still not got used to the idea, the reality, of my personal heroes coming on to the show to perform live, or recording a studio session just for us. Loudon Wainwright is a chief among these heroes. The boyish thrill of watching and hearing Loudon perform in the same room is undiminished after numerous live appearances and, as I'm sure I've remarked on the air during all of those sessions, he could come on the programme every week if it were left entirely to me. Just a few of those moments are gathered on this CD (not enough, in my opinion) including, 'It's Love And I Hate It', a song not available elsewhere and sung by Loudon live on my programme the day after he'd written it. Listening through, I am, not for the first time, forced to ask myself why is this man not a household name? And why does he have to move record labels as frequently as Saddam Hussein shifts palaces?
When I scan the CD shelves in my executively-appointed den at the top of the house, I occasionally play a little game: which of the thousands of CDs, I ask myself, would I grab first if a chip pan were to erupt three floors below or some of my DIY wiring were to are across a floorspace full of fluff? Well, Loudon's albums (just to the left of Doc Watson) would be among the first t b e scooped to safety. He wins on humanity alone, in all its triumphs and failings. (He is, of course, particularly strong on the latter).
It's hard for me to imagine a life without Loudon Wainwright. My own has been mapped out by his records. From the blaspheming booted blue-jean baby boy of 'Schooldays' to 'Being A Dad', Loudon's songs have always been around to capture the moment. (In between there was, for a one man guy, a mountain of cardboard boxes, a modest quota of fame & wealth, the odd career move, one particularly well-tipped waitress and, in August '97, a screaming issue). Now I'm in my 'A Father & A Son' period. Pretty soon it'll be a case of 'Me & All The Other Mothers'. And should a mid-life crisis come stalking, Ol' Loudon, I know, will be right there, shoulder to shoulder in song, with a therapeutic mix of reassurance and anxiety. As long as it's not 'Your Mother & I'...
Loudon has, since 1971, recorded so many Peel and Kershaw sessions that even the BBC seems to have lost count. This CD has been compiled by Loudon himself from all the tapes that could still be traced. It must have been a rotten task. Had it been left to me you would now be holding th 10 CD presentation box-set, 'Loudon Wainwright - The BBC Years'.
So let's look upon this collection as just volume one. With future sessions (and they are now a fixgture) it will build over the years, like those TV advertised encyclopædias, into a lovingly-crafted, much-treasured and timeless collector's item. A bit like the man himself.