Tuesday 24 April 2018

Loaded: Mourning the loss of the walkman

John Meagher

John Meagher

Its demise was inevitable, but I can't be alone in mourning the end of the Walkman. Introduced to the Japanese market by Sony in 1979, it transformed the way we listen to music. Once considered the very height of cool, it gave us our own private soundtrack on the move.

My parents bought me my first Walkman for Christmas 1991 and U2's just-released Achtung Baby immediately sounded a whole lot better than it had done on the wonky tape machine.

Over the years, I went through my fair share of these portable cassette players -- some were manufactured by other companies, but they were given the generic name, Walkman -- before graduating on to the Discman (which is still in production) and iPod.

So dependent am I on music on the go that I can't even contemplate a walk in the park without headphones -- and it's all thanks to Sony's former head, Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during his frequent trans-Pacific plane trips.

Incidentally, the Walkman was initially marketed here and in the UK under the brandname Stowaway. Doesn't quite have the same ring about it, does it?

  • The last time he played Croke Park he was so below par that he promised he would come back and play for free. Robbie Williams didn't keep his word about that 2006 show, but fans will still get to see him in the same venue on Saturday, June 18, next year, now as part of the reformed Take That. 2011's world tour will be the first time the band have performed live together as a quintet since 1995.

Take That announced the show during a press conference on Monday in London and Williams bristled at the suggestion from one reporter that he had rejoined the band because his solo career was on the wane: "The last album [In And Out of Consciousness -- the Greatest Hits] hit No 1 in 14 countries. It sold more than The Circus [Take That's last album], and, at the risk of sounding like a sourpuss, fuck off." What he conveniently failed to mention was the far-from-stellar performance of his last studio album, 2009's Reality Killed the Video Star. Tickets (€70.70-€99.50) go on sale at 8am this morning and demand is expected to be brisk. Incidentally, the band's third post-reformation album, Progress -- which features Williams -- will be released on November 19.

  • Michael Jackson has been named this year's top-earning dead celebrity by Forbes magazine. With $275m in licensing and sales revenue, the late singer's estate earned, according to the journal, "more than Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay-Z combined".

"Jackson's spot atop our top-earning dead celebrities list should come as no surprise given the renewed fan interest in the music, videos and all things Michael Jackson," according to Forbes writer Lacey Rose.

Much of his estate's earnings come from a deal signed with Sony in March, worth an estimated €200m over the next seven years. With an album of unreleased music due next month, Jackson's next 12 months could be just as big.

  • Some years ago, I interviewed REM bassist Mike Mills and he was adamant that his band would not release live albums. "I've never seen the point," he said. "You know what, if you weren't at the gig you missed it -- plain and simple."

Well, he's certainly changed his tune since then, with REM releasing more live documents than just about any other band.

As well as the double-disc album from their 2007 Working Rehearsal shows at Dublin's Olympia, there have been live albums cobbled onto the remastered, re-released versions of their first three albums, Murmur, Reckoning and Fables of the Reconstruction.

Today, the band release the Live from Austin, TX DVD, which captures their 2008 performance on the acclaimed Austin City Limits television series.

And this is no ordinary TV performance -- Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mills are in incendiary form as they race through numbers from their then latest album, Accelerate.

Meanwhile, the band have promised a new studio album in the spring. Tentatively called Collapse Into Now, it sees them reunite once more with Dublin producer Garret 'Jacknife' Lee.

Irish Independent

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment