Wednesday 13 December 2017

If Fun Lovin' Criminal Huey was any cooler, he'd be frozen

Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Where do rock stars go when it's time to step off the stage for good? Chemical abuse, rehab, embarrassing attempts at a comeback.

Huey Morgan has found another way. The Irish-Puerto Rican New Yorker (really) found fame with band Fun Lovin' Criminals in the 1990s. He's still playing music, but the Criminals' day is essentially done. However, Huey has reinvented himself as a radio broadcaster, and an excellent one at that.

The Huey Show (BBC Radio 6 Music) is a relaxed melange of eclectic records and engaging interviews, bound by Morgan's smooth delivery and laid-back personality. Honestly, if the guy was any cooler, he'd be frozen. He's also charming, funny and clever – and clearly a huge music fan.

The records range from off-beat to mainstream to wilfully obscure – Huey describes it as music to help with a Sunday hangover – but he never comes across as a music nerd flaunting encyclopaedic knowledge, just someone who appreciates good music and wants to share that.

Meanwhile, the interviews are fascinating: recently, he spoke with Death, an all-black 1970s Detroit punk band. No joke, I never knew there was such a thing as a black punk band, and back in the day at that, decades before these cross-cultural times.

They came across as cool guys – although nobody is cooler than Huey.

Irish Noir is an interesting, in-depth look at the history of crime fiction on this island. Produced by Sinead Egan, it began way back, with prototype crime fiction by the likes of Sheridan Le Fanu, continuing through the birth of procedurals, political upheavals here and abroad, why it took so long to really flourish here, 20th-Century noir, novels inspired by the Troubles and much more . . . and we're still only halfway through four episodes.

It's quite high-minded, with contributions from academics as well as novelists, but wears that learning lightly. Even if you're not into crime, there's enough tangential information to satisfy the casual listener.

The only thing I didn't really like was John Kelly as presenter. Nothing specifically to do with him, he's fine; but I do feel he's over-used, spread too thinly across arts broadcasting on radio and TV.

Still, that's just a quibble and shouldn't detract from this fine programme.

Irish Independent

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