WIN A SIGNED MIKE RUTHERFORD AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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Fancy winning a signed copy of Mike Rutherford’s brand new autobiography The Living Years? Of course you do! The musician’s memoirs promise insightful anecdotes and memoirs from his time as part of both Genesis and Mike & The Mechanics and have already received favourable praise from the likes of Mojo magazine, describing the retrospective as ‘warm, charming [and] funny’.

We’ve got two signed copies of the book to give away, and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning one is send an email with ‘Mike Rutherford autobiography’ in the subject line to competitions-music@blinkbox.com along with your full name, postal address and a contact number. 

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.

Plus, don’t forget to listen to our exclusive Hosted By station from Mike himself, where he introduces a selection of his favourite songs and influences, both old and new. Just follow the link below to listen in!

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LISA STANSFIELD: HOSTED BY

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She scored a global hit with 1989’s aptly named All Around The World, following it up with a string of Top 40 successes across the late 80s and on into the 90s. It could of course only ever be Lisa Stansfield.

With two Grammy nominations, an Ivor Novello award and a duo of BRITs under her belt, the singer has always epitomised a distinctly British take on pop, rounded off by classy production and soulful vocals.

Leading on from a number of acting roles including an appearance in Agatha Christie’s Marple, Stansfield’s latest album Seven serves as her first studio effort in a decade – earning plaudits from the likes of Q, who awarded the record a rousing four-out-of-five stars and praised its deftly-orchestrated resurrection of 70s disco tropes.

With the new album hitting shelves on February 10th, Lisa dropped by for a quick chat to run us through some of the key influences and artists behind the new record and career as a whole; just tune in to our exclusive Hosted By station below to hear all her picks!

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MIKE RUTHERFORD: HOSTED BY

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As a member of both Genesis and Mike & The Mechanics, it’s fair to say that Mike Rutherford can speak with some authority when it comes to great music. With both a new Mechanics retrospective and Rutherford’s own autobiography The Living Years (named after the band’s famous hit from 1988) out last week, we reckoned what better opportunity for a sit down with the man himself to catch his musings on classics both old and new.

Be sure to tune in below to Mike’s selection of favourite songs, and read along below for his thoughts on each one - PLUS, don’t miss out on our brilliant competition to win a signed copy of Mike’s new book, just follow this link for full details on how to enter for a chance to win.

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Mike & The Mechanics – The Living Years

The song is twenty-five years old this year, which is a pretty amazing thought, even at my age! I think the reasoning behind recording the new version of the song was because we’ve got Andrew Roachford singing the song on stage these days. He brings something to it and more importantly we managed to record a version that’s very different, with an African choir. It starts over an a-flat ‘ahhh’ hum by the choir. You can’t try and complete with the original, which is a wonderful song, with a wonderful vocal, but I think this new version with Andrew really brings something fresh to the song.

Elbow – One Day Like This

I hadn’t really heard much about Elbow before this, but then I heard this song on the radio and that great line where Guy Garvey goes ‘one day like this a year would see me right’ and I thought what a wonderful – what a Northern – way to put it.

It’s an incredible song, a wonderful arrangement, a great lyric and the use of strings alongside a band with drums and guitars was a great marriage. They’ve got a new album coming out which I’m looking forward to - I actually met Guy the other day up in Manchester and he said he used to enjoy our music, so it was nice to hear that!

Steely Dan – Do It Again 

It’s really hard to choose a favourite Steely Dan track as they’ve done so many great songs, but in the 80s they were really on American radio when I was touring there; month after month, all the time. They’ve always had the most wonderful grooves, the best session players, great lyrics - and there’s just something about their tracks that always attracts you.

When Steve Hackett left Genesis, I went to America to audition for a new guitarist, because the playing over there is such a high level of technical playing. The English have always been original, ballsy, but not technical; that’s their charm. So I went to New York and one of the first guys to come in was Elliott Randall, one of the main players on a lot of Steely Dan’s songs, and he was fantastic. The only thing was he was playing our track Squonk, and he said: how do you want it? Do you want it country… do you want it rock… do you want it reggae? And it sort of made me realise there’s really only one way you can play that song. But he was a wonderful player.

Naughty Boy ft. Emeli Sande - Wonder

This song has a really wonderful uplifting mixture of lyrics. The way Naughty Boy and Emeli work together; he seems to find a rhythm track and a groove which acts as a big setting for Emeli’s voice without being too over the top. 

The Isley Brothers – This Old Heart Of Mine

People often say to us ‘what were the main influences on Genesis’ and obviously we’re all different people - with myself, Phil, Tony and Peter Gabriel - but one of the two common threads along with Beatles songs is Tamla Motown. I know it’s hard to hear when you listen to our songs but actually it’s a big part of our influence; the rhythms, the grooves, and some wonderful chord sequences. I could choose twenty Motown songs without even trying.

John Mayer – Good Love Is On The Way

I’m a big fan of John Mayer. And recently I’ve started listening to more and more live recordings – I don’t quite know why as I’m more of a studio man, more of a songwriter. But some of the live recordings, maybe they just feel a little more genuine? I can picture the moment. And the John Mayer trio make a wonderful sound - I just love hearing them; and those shows are recorded really well.

I saw a DVD of them when I was walking past a shop and it just looked amazing. This little trio outfit, it’s just a wonderful sound they make. John’s a great singer, a great guitarist.

Ed Sheeran – Small Bump 

It’s nice the way good music comes through, and the Ed Sheeran story is a great example of that. He started playing live, very much on his own - one man shows playing night after night, round America and England. And I think his album is incredible; it’s a mixture of folk and little cool grooves - he’s not trying too hard.

I had the pleasure of playing with him at the Olympics closing ceremony, doing a Pink Floyd song. He sounded fantastic, and he’s the nicest guy too. With Ed, what’s nice is he’s young, he’s writing lyrics that are quite serious and quite grown up – and I think that’s even more important. He’ll be here for a long time. A very genuine person, I was impressed.

Starsailor – Silence Is Easy

James Walsh from Starsailor has become a friend, and I’ve done a few shows with him over the years and he’s got a great voice. I’m not quite sure what happened, Starsailor had a great start and then sort of went missing. And he hasn’t really done an album until just now –it’s a record produced by my son Harry Rutherford, which sounds fantastic, and James has co-written a couple of songs with Harry’s writing partner Luke Juby.

I started getting a bit involved with James Walsh and his manager John Giddings, helping him choose tracks – but there’s a song called The Better Part of Me which I can’t play yet as it’s not released, which is just so special.

Mike & The Mechanics – When My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground

I suddenly realised at the end of last year that this new Mike & The Mechanics singles collection had no new tracks on it, and I thought this is crazy, why aren’t I doing a track? We were departing to doing some shows in Cape Town in the middle of August. We had three days to go in a studio, write a song, record it and mix it - and we did it! Like the old days. 

What’s nice for me with the Mechanics is that we kind of restarted three years ago, having lost Paul Young many years ago, and when he went we lost a bit of the vibe I think. But I write songs all the time, and I wrote these songs three years ago that sounded like Mechanics songs so I got Andrew Roachford involved and Tim Howar and over the last few years we’ve done quite a few shows. And what I’m finding which is nice is that we’ve become a band again. The Mechanics never did many live shows because there’d only ever be a small window to do them.

Black Eyed Peas – Where Is The Love?

The whole kind of rap / hip-hop thing is for me - when it works - fantastic, and when it doesn’t, it bothers me, because there’s often no real song in there. The best example actually is the Black Eyed Peas – they capture an atmosphere, they’re saying something. And I have a bit of trouble sometimes, all this R&B stuff is all bling and champagne and Moet and popping corks, and it doesn’t really work for me.

It works in America more, if you do it in England it just feels kind of wrong. Other English artists like The Streets do it much better. Where Is The Love is one of the first rap songs I really heard where the mixture of melody, words that say something, a great video and a great performance really married together really specially. And it deserved to.

Jacob Banks – Something Beautiful

It’s nice to be able to play artists who are just emerging. In this case it’s Jacob Banks, I think he’s Nigerian, he’s got a wonderful voice. I’m a bit biased again because my son Harry, and Luke - his writing partner – are on three or four of his songs. I think he’s a really special artist if they take him the right way, he’s got a great voice and they shouldn’t try too hard. This song really shows off his voice and what he can do.

Cliff Richard – Move It

This is going back a bit, but the first album I ever bought was by Cliff Richard – who at the time was so cool. The opening song was Move It, which is still a great sounding song. But what happened was I had to borrow my sister’s record player, and the needle was very old, and for the first track and a half, it erased it. So I had to buy another one!

The Kinks – You Really Got Me

To this day, when I hear the Kinks version of You Really Got Me, I’m suddenly back in my bedroom, miming with a guitar, looking in the mirror – as we all did! But that riff, when I first heard it, really blew my mind. And to this day when I hear it, I’m back there. And it still sounds fantastic!

The Beatles – Love Me Do

My main inspiration for music was actually The Beatles. The influence The Beatles had on all the other artists at the time was amazing. You can’t imagine that time in the 60s when The Beatles came out, just what was going on musically. It was so ground moving and so exciting, and seeing three guitars on stage, that was it. Who wants to have keyboards?

Michael Jackson - Thriller

As Genesis, we had an album called We Can’t Dance, it was a fun title – and there for a reason too. None of us really can. Actually Phil can on a good day, with a couple of glasses of wine. But I never could dance. But actually a song like Michael Jackson’s Thriller – I mean, when you watch the way he moves and the way he dances, I wish I could do a hint of that.

Marvin Gaye – Heard It Through The Grapevine

Looking back over the last forty-five years, the one song I think I really wish I had written is Marvin Gaye – Heard It Through The Grapevine. It kind of epitomises those wonderful Motown compositions, with the chord changes, and that groove that just sits so right. I hear it to this day and it still moves me.

YOU ME AT SIX: HOSTED BY

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For Brit-rockers You Me At Six, their fourth studio album Cavalier Youth stands as something of a coming of age. Building on the Top 5 success of both its predecessors, favourable reviews and the band’s ever burgeoning fanbase suggest the five-piece’s latest effort could very well hit the top spot itself and see the band claim their rightful crown as one of Britain’s most exciting young rock groups.

With last year’s anthemic Lived A Lie becoming the band’s highest charting single to date, the new album sees them expanding on the widescreen scale of 2011’s triumphant Sinners Never Sleep to pair razor sharp choruses with the kind of agile, meaty guitar riffs that have always been You Me At Six’s calling card.

With Cavalier Youth hitting shelves this week, we caught up with Josh and Dan from the band to quiz them on the few of the tracks they’ve been loving recently and to get a bit more backstory to the recording process behind the new album – just tune in to our exclusive Hosted By station below to hear their picks!

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SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR: HOSTED BY

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After wowing the British public on last year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s stock has never been higher, and with her fifth studio album Wanderlust hitting shelves this week, what better way to celebrate over a decade in pop for the star!

Yes, it really has been 12 years since Sophie first released the iconic Murder on the Dancefloor, bringing a much-needed gentility and swish of culture to the charts; and over the course of her career she’s continued to impress with her unique brand of synth-dusted pop.

With her new album seeing her broadening her musical palette and dabbling in more orchestral, analogue sounds, we caught up with Sophie to quiz her on some of her favourite inspirations and collaborators from the through the years. Just tune in to our exclusive Hosted By station!

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We also sat down for a quickfire round of questions, see what Sophie had to say in our Q&A below:

If you could outlaw any dance move, which one would you choose?

We’ve all seen some horrific dancing but ultimately it sometimes takes quite a bit of guts to get up on the dancefloor, so I think if you’ve got a move and that’s your thing, just go for it! 

The only move I’d be tempted to get rid of - which doesn’t really happen to me now - but I remember when I was a teenager, if you were dancing in a little line, with your girlfriends, some bloke would always come up and tentatively put his hands on your hips – he’d systematically go along the line, trying his luck – so maybe I’d get rid of that!

Your husband Richard is a member of The Feeling; has he ever serenaded you with one of their songs?

He hasn’t directly, that would be slightly cringey, I think! It’s probably for the best I married a bass player rather than a singer; the idea of us both crooning at each other would be too much for me to handle.

If you could share a festival tent with anyone, who would you pick?

I think it’d be good to share it with someone who’s tidy, especially as I’m quite messy – and it’d probably be quite good to share it with a girl so all the essential items that I would have undoubtedly forgotten would be there and I could share with them.

Someone who’d be good at helping me out with my hair and makeup, so maybe one of the girls from Girls Aloud – I bet they’d be armed with a full selection of false eyelashes, hairspray and probably some nice clothes and sparkly bits, so maybe Kimberley or Cheryl - they look like they’d be quite fun!

If you could go to a fancy dress party as any musician, who would you go as?

I’ve gone as Madonna - probably more than once - as I was such a big fan when I was little. And it’s funny because when I first started watching Madonna it was in the 80s and she had a very strong look; lace gloves, little denim jackets, crucifixes around her neck, heavy eye make up, 80s hair.

I remember I started wearing this crucifix necklace quite a lot until my stepdad’s mum, Grandma Betty, said “Have you started going to church then?” I had to take off the crucifix - It was a homage to Madonna, but if that’s lost on the older generation then clearly I have to stop, because it’s sending out the wrong message!

The last time I went as Julie Andrews in her role as Mary Poppins and no one confused that with finding religion, so that was good!

LATEST RELEASES - OUR PICKS

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This year’s release schedule is really starting to hot up now, and with both the BBC’s Sound of 2014 and the BRITs nominations announced this week, all eyes have been on the music industry. So if you’re looking for something new to spin this week, why not try one of the below in our brilliant Latest Releases station:

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Clean Bandit – Rather Be

Tipped by many tastemakers as the first genuine smash hit of 2014, this fizzy number strides a fine line between absolute pop gem and bonafide club smash and excels in both camps chiefly due to a brilliant vocal line from singer Jess Glynne.

The Vamps – Wild Heart

Another year, another contender to One Direction’s throne as the kings of all things ‘boy-band’. But where so many have failed, The Vamps made an impressive start to their chart career with cheeky debut Can We Dance. Expect another dollop of catchy pop primed to set teenage girls’ hearts fluttering on Wild Heart.

Neon Jungle – Braveheart

The second single from Sony-signed girl-group Neon Jungle, this sassy slice of dance-pop matches the band’s fierce sense of style, with club ready choruses and a sprinkling of Japanese thrown in for good measure.

James Blunt – Heart To Heart

According to pretty much everyone with an opinion, James Blunt ‘won’ Twitter last year with his witty ripostes to haters on the popular social media site. Warming public opinion to him with his sense of humour, his new material isn’t bad too, with latest effort Heart To Heart showing a newly matured songwriting talent.