The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
It's hard being a teenage pop star but Tanita Tikaram has weathered the process better than most. Famous at 19 with the international hit single Good Tradition, she's since gone on to release seven albums.
She may have shed many of her fans over the years - this rescheduled date is less than half full - but she does finally seem to have grown into her voice.
Opening with her breakthrough track, her husky, port-soaked alto now sits comfortably with lyrics that were arguably old before their years.
In acknowledgement of this the arrangements have been gently reworked for her three-piece backing band, with Martin Winning's saxophone lending it some Celtic soul.
If Tikaram resents being best known for material written 25 years ago then she has the grace to acknowledge that this is what most of the audience wants to hear and she remains a genial host throughout, introducing each track with a preamble. They invariably centre on the vagaries of love - there's Valentine Heart, the track she wrote before she'd been in love, One Kiss, a duet with her guitarist about long-term relationships, and a cover of John Paul Young's Love Is In The Air. "We do a ropy version of it," she admits modestly but truthfully of the set closer.
These new tracks and updated old favourites demonstrate how much her songwriting has matured and, if she was initially known for her love of Leonard Cohen, her recent material has more in common with Laura Nyro's coffee table jazz on Make The Day and Americana on Can't Go Back. On All Things To You there are even hints at boogie-woogie.
It's all undeniably unchallenging and comfortable listening but, as the strains of My Love evoke Paris-lite jazz cafes, there seem worse places to visit for an hour.