It is a truth universally acknowledged that, in this country at least, the cultural tastes of top sportspersons are irredeemably bland and lowbrow. Our native footballers, for example, when asked to name their favourite books, will invariably mention Harry Potter or Andy McNab, if, that is, they have ever read any books at all. (This is not the case with foreign footballers, particularly the French, who are intellectual titans by comparison.) Similarly, the default music choice for sporting champs seems to be smooth jazz, or jazz funk, or, in the world o’ rock, U2, Coldplay, and Phil Collins.
The great exception to this has always been snookerist Steve Davis. The carefully-crafted public image of a man who, away from a snooker table, is a boring mediocrity disguises the truth that Mr Davis is a fanatical and knowledgeable enthusiast of prog and related musics. Indeed, I seem to recall that some years ago he used his wealth to persuade Teutonic nutcases Magma to reform for a series of concerts, and has expressed a desire to do the same with Henry Cow, so far in vain.
So I am extremely grateful to reader Alasdair Dickson for drawing my attention to PhoenixFM, Brentwood and Billericay’s community radio station, where Mr Davis has a regular show called The Interesting Alternative. Look at those playlists! As Mr Dickson says, there is a fair amount of witless prog noodling, but also early Soft Machine, the 5UU’s, Camberwell Now, Univers Zero, and many other Recommended or Recommendedish records.
I know that Hooting Yard readers never listen to any other radio station than ResonanceFM, but until the powers-that-be at Borough High Street snap up Steve Davis, you will all be forgiven for tuning in online to PhoenixFM for his show, wherever you are in the world.