24th December 2001
Seasons greetings and a happy Christmas to all visitors
to the Virginia Astley Website 🙂
8th December 2001
documentary Astley’s Way provided an
intriguing insight into the work of composer Edwin Astley. Presenter
Jools Holland helped to put a face to the name behind the theme
tunes to such classic TV shows as Robin Hood,
Dangerman, Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased), The Saint and
Department S .
Virginia was interviewed and features throughout the programme with her thoughts on the way her father worked. Jon Astley (Virginia’s brother), Hazel Astley (Virginia’s mother) and Pete Townshend also featured.
7th December 2001
Just a reminder that the Edwin Astley documentary Astley’s
Way will be shown on BBC2 tonight at 11.35pm.
5th December 2001
Virginia was interviewed for Friday’s broadcast of Astley’s
Way – the documentary on her father Edwin Astley’s career.
Although we’ve no details about whether Virginia’s interview will
be included in the final edit of the programme, there’s a good chance
that Virginia’s segment will be featured.
Updates to the Linkssection include details of some Japanese websites.
24th November 2001
The long rumoured Edwin Astley documentary
finally gets a broadcast date. Trevor Ellis writes in to say that Astley’s Way is
due for broadcast here in the UK next month. Trevor also adds details
of what the programme will feature:
Jools Holland embarks on a voyage of discovery as he explores the life and
work of composer Edwin Astley, who died in 1998 at the age of 76.
The programme features Pete Townshend, who was Astley’s son-in-law and for
whom the composer wrote a number of pieces, Astley’s son Jon and Kate Moss,
who appears throughout in a series of vignettes designed to show how music
affects the way people react to a scene. Jools also plays some of the music
that made Astley, at one time, Britain’s most-performed composer.
Although his is not a well-known name, Astley was the man behind the themes
of the classic TV series Robin Hood, The Saint, Danger Man, Randall &
Hopkirk (Deceased), Department S, Civilisation and many, many more. He also
worked on over 30 films, among them, The Mouse That Roared, The Phantom Of
The Opera and Digby, The Biggest Dog In The World.
Born in 1922, Astley served as a young man in the Royal Army Service Corps
and, while posted in Italy and Germany during the Second World War, he
performed for the troops. He played saxophone and clarinet with Percy Pease
Band and, during this time, wrote the hit song I Never Could Tell for Dame
Vera Lynn and Richard Tauber.
The musician later formed his own band, The Ted Astley Orchestra, performing
mainly in the north of England, before moving to London, where he began
writing songs for the likes of Dame Vera Lynn and Ann Shelton.
Astley’s Way will be broadcast on
BBC2 on Friday 7th December at 11.35pm. Thanks to Trevor for the
15th November 2001
Gallerysection of the
website has been updated with a new photo.
This rare pic of Virginia has never previously been seen in the music press and dates from a 1983 session to promote From Gardens Where We Feel Secure .
13th November 2001
A new website called www.radiovista.nethas just been launched designed, in the words of its founder Peter
Krahn, to be “obsessively devoted to finding
great new music and sharing it” .
Peter has added some of Virginia’s music to the website which are sufficiently
small enough files for people with slower modems. “It’s
not exactly quite mp3 quality” adds Peter, “but
hopefully good enough for visitors to appreciate the songs” .
The site features an eclectic mix of other artists as well. Peter says that “the response so far has been nothing short of excellent, so maybe this can become a decent source for collectors of innovative and beautiful music” .
Check the website out by clicking here: www.radiovista.net
1st November 2001
More on Jocelyn Pook who has scored two French films: Comment Jai Tue Mon Pere and L’Emploi du Temps . More info on the former can be found here: http://www.tf1.fr/cinema/affiche/0,,801352,00.html. The soundtrack to the latter is released on 13th November in France.
Jocelyn (alongside video artist Dragon Aleksic) has also secured funding for a
UK tour of Speaking in Tunes which is scheduled for May 2002. Speaking in Tunes utilises found sounds, such as fragments of voices, woven into the music of a string quartet and enhanced visually by Dragon
Aleksic’s video installation work.
The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble will be performing at Fabrik in Hamburg,
Germany supported by The British Council on Sunday 2nd December
2001 as part of their 30th anniversary festival.
Thanks to Graham at www.Jocelynpook.co.uk. More info on these items can also be found directly from his website.
29th October 2001
Jocelyn Pook has been rumoured to be one
of the British composers to take part in a special edition of the
Proms next Summer to celebrate the Queen’s Golden
Jubilee . The project is being put forward by Poet Laureate
Andrew Motion and the theme is a 21st Century equivalent of The
Triumphs Of Oriana – a set of madrigals composed during the
reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Updates for the Discography: A new version of If You Can’t Please Your Self, You Can’t Please Your Soul – containing the excellent Waiting To Fall – has been unearthed. There’s also been updates for A Bao A Qu, Darkness Has Reached It’s End, Promise Nothing, Hope In A Darkened Heart and All Shall Be Well .
24th October 2001
The Gallerysection of the website has been updated with a rare and early promo pic of Virginia.
22nd October 2001
The latest news from Rough Trade on the reissue of From Gardens Where We Feel Secure is that the album is due for release early next year.
Anne Stephenson is a violin player who formed
part of Virginia’s band during the 80’s. Since then, she’s performed and arranged
strings for a wide variety of different artists including The Manic Street Preachers,
Roxy Music and Billy Cowie.
One of the projects Anne has worked on is a special benefit CD for the Tourette
Syndrome Association (one of Anne’s own children is a sufferer). The CD
EP Dance With Me? Christmas Tree features Anne singing
on the title track – a wonderful pop song that does indeed conjure up a Christmas
feel to it.
If you would like to buy a copy of the CD – and help the Tourette’s Syndrome Association at the same time, then it can be ordered for �5.50 (inc P+P) with Cheques/PO’s payable to
Tourette Syndrome (UK) Association
and sent to:
Tourette Syndrome (UK) Association
PO BOX 26149
All proceeds from the sales of the CD are in aid of the TSA.
You can also visit the Tourette Syndrome Association website at www.tsa.org.uk
17th October 2001
As promised, the website now has a Surveysection over on the Features page. We’ll post up new surveys over time, but for
now, the survey asks: which Virginia Astley album do you think was the best? Cast
your vote in the Surveynow, or take
a look at the results so far.
15th October 2001
Jon Astley (Virginia’s brother) keeps busy with some mastering work on the
new Tori Amos album Strange Little Girls . Jon also worked on Catatonia’s new
album Paper Scissors Stone and before that George Harrison’s reissued All Things
Must Pass .
Jon is probably best known to fans of Virginia for production work on material such as Love’s
A Lonely Place To Be and Promise Nothing , but also did some solo work in the 1980’s with albums such as
The Compleat Angler . Jon has also worked in a production role on albums by a wide variety of artists including Abba, The Who, Slade, Eric Clapton,Hugh Cornwall and Led Zeppelin.
A new interactive feature for the Virginia Astley website is in production. The new feature is a Virginia Astley Survey allowing visitors to the website to vote on a wide range of topics. More details soon.
13th October 2001
No update as yet regarding the forthcoming reissue of From Gardens Where We Feel Secure . As soon as any news breaks, we’ll post up details.
Meanwhile, some snippets on two musicians who have worked with Virginia in
the past: Ex-Ravishing Beauty Nicky Holland is probably
pleasantly surprised at the recent release of The Teardrop Explodes compilation
album The Greatest Hit . The album features the song
Suffocate – complete with string arrangements and
harpsichord by Nicky herself. Known in fan circles as the ‘Baroque version’, this
is the first time the song has appeared on CD and is a brilliant juxtaposition
between the Teardrops’ pop sensibility and a strings arrangement.
If you’re missing any new albums by Virginia herself, you may want to check
out an album by Billy Cowie called La Chanson Bien Douce on the Divas label.
The album is a wonderful collection of songs with a French theme featuring two
singers called Lucie and Cathryn Robson with a strings and piano backing. The
album also features the violin talents of Anne Stephenson – former violinist in Virginia’s live band. We can’t recommend this album highly
enough except to say you won’t be disappointed. More details from www.divas.org.uk.
18th August 2001
Kate St John joins the Mercury Prize panel to vote on the contenders for last year (which includes Radiohead, Goldfrapp, Gorriaz and PJ Harvey).
Sadder news is the death of John Walters – radio
presenter and previously producer for John Peel. John Walters was something of
a champion for Virginia’s music, in particular back in 1982 when he conducted
an interview with The Ravishing Beauties , along with
a live session.
15th August 2001
Plans for the re-issue of From Gardens Where
We Feel Secure continue. Following the remastering of the album, Rough Trade are now waiting on the artwork from Virginia. More news as we get it.
12th August 2001
Anyone interested in knowing more about Jocelyn Pook might be interested to know that a new website has gone live at www.jocelynpook.co.uk.
15th July 2001
News from Virginia on the forthcoming re-issue of From Gardens Where
We Feel Secure : Virginia has just finished remastering the album, which is good news for those who were just expecting a straight reissue. There’s still no set release date as yet but we’ll post up more details as soon as we get it.
12th July 2001
The Discography has been updated with a new section looking at Virginia Astley songs featured on compilation albums.
The entire website has also been tweaked slightly. Hopefully, the text should appear smaller and a bit neater on all the pages. If anything looks odd or you have problems viewing the site, then please email the website and let us know.
11th July 2001
Re-issue update: Rough Trade are scheduling a series of mid-price “classic”
Rough Trade re-issues beginning with From Gardens Where
We Feel Secure which they’re looking at getting out by the end of the year.
2nd July 2001
The new Virginia
Astley Forumis now open. Feel free to pay a visit, register and post up your
comments, questions and thoughts. There are also 2 separate Forums for discussing
The Ravishing Beauties and also for posting up your
For Sale/Wants lists.
Click hereto visit the new Forum or simply follow the link in the menu bar below.
25th June 2001
Martin Stephenson’s website has been given a facelift. Check it out at: www.martin-stephenson.co.uk
A new feature to the Virginia Astley website is on the way with the addition of a Forum . This will allow threaded debates and discussions on the website and, alongside the Guestbook, will add a more interactive element to the site as a whole. Hopefully, this will be online within the next week.
31st May 2001
A few changes to the Discography section, notably
the addition of the second Les Disques Du Crépuscule sleeve of Promise
26th April 2001
Rough Trade are looking at plans to reissue Virginia Astley’s 1983 debut album From Gardens Where We Feel Secure . Although details are sketchy at this point, we’ll post up more news as we get it.
Many thanks to all those people who have emailed us regarding the Virginia Astley website. We’ll try and respond to as many as possible and hopefully answer some of your queries here on the website.
12th April 2001
Caroline Lavelle has a new solo album released in May. Entitled, Brilliant Midnight it should be released first in the USA, Canada, Japan, Brazil and Mexico on the Atlantic Records label. The European release should follow during the summer. More info is available from Caroline’s official website at www.carolinelavelle.co.uk.
Our thanks to Caroline’s management for this info.
15th March 2001
The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble arrived in London last
night as part of their UK tour for a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Jocelyn’s
music has its own distinctive style, which manages to weave in strings, electronic
sounds and a diverse range of vocal styles to produce a mesmerising ethereal atmosphere.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the performance was the effort put into the visual side of the concert (courtesy of visual artist Dragan Aleksic ). As well as projected film, the musicians spent the early part of the performance back-lit behind a screen, or encased in lit opaque columns on the stage.
Jocelyn has certainly gone from strength to strength since her days performing with Virginia. Perhaps best known for contributing the music to an Orange mobile phone TV ad, Jocelyn has also made her name as the composer of film soundtracks, including the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut . A lot of the material performed for the concert was taken from her new album Untold Things, with a few nods to her earlier music from the albums Deluge and Flood .
The first few songs also incorporated samples taken from Jocelyn’s answerphone(!)
which managed to project a haunting, wistful atmosphere. Singers Melanie
Pappenheim and Parvin Cox demonstrated extraordinary
vocal skills, but Jocelyn also stepped forward to sing on one particular song,
revealing a surprising delicate singing style.
This concert managed to demonstrate Jocelyn’s strength as a musician and performer
and provided a thoroughly surprising and enjoyable evenings entertainment.
4th February 2001
Martin Stephenson has a CD out called The Church And The MiniDisc . This album was recorded at 3 churches in the Scottish Highlands last year. There were no producers or sound engineers, purely a MiniDisc recorder capturing an acoustic set by Martin.
The interesting point is that Martin performs a cover version of Virginia’s song A Long TIme Ago – a song that Martin has been considering for inclusion on a studio album for some time. This is probably the only example of an artist covering Virginia Astley’s material so it’s worth checking out – even if Martin can’t quite match Virginia’s particularly high vocal range 😉
The CD is £12 (inc P+P) and is available via Martin’s website at www.martin-stephenson.co.ukand also by post from PO Box 5957, Invergordon.
Jools Holland has been working on a TV documentary on the career of Virginia’s father Edwin Astley. The programme, due to be shown on BBC2, is called Jools Meets The Saint . Although we have no further details at present, we’ll post up broadcast dates and information when we get them.
A slight error on the dates for the current Jocelyn Pook tour – the concert for this coming Tuesday 6th February is actually University Of Kent At Canterbury, not Cambridge.
For anyone unsure of who Jocelyn Pook and Anne Stephenson are, they formed part of Virginia’s band during the 1980’s, both for recordings and live performances. See the FAQ for more details.
The Discography entry for Le Song was looking a bit odd due to a page format problem. It’s now been fixed and should look OK.
28th January 2001
The Promo Ads gallery has been updated with an
ad for Hope In A Darkened Heart . The Discography
entry has also been updated to refect this.
Jocelyn Pook has two tours scheduled for this
year. The first is entitled Speaking In Tunes and
features a string quartet consisting of Anne Stephenson, Anne Wood, Kate Short
and Jocelyn Pook performing with a visual installation by Dragan Aleksic.
|Stamford Arts Centre
|Colchester Arts Centre
|The Gulbenkian Theatre
|University Of Kent At Canterbury
|Old Town Hall
The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble will also be playing various
venues from March 9th and a new album titled Untold Things is scheduled for release
in February. Details of the dates and venues are below. You can also get more
details from CMN Tours by calling 020 7973 6493 or by visiting their website at
|Cambridge Corn Exchange
|Warwick Arts Centre
|024 7652 4524
|Gardner Arts Centre
|Turner Sims Concert Hall
|023 8059 5151
|Queen Elizabeth Hall
|020 7960 4242
|Brewery Arts Centre
20th January 2001
Welcome to the Virginia Astley Website!
Thank you for bearing with us while the website was undergoing redevelopment and we hope you like the new look and features of the site.
Most of the sections are self-explanatory so feel free to browse. Some sections are still in development and will be expanded at a later date.
Virginia’s career is mainly split between her UK releases and Japanese releases
and the Discography reflects this. As well as release dates, notes, trivia and
track listing, each entry features a variety of sleeve and label shots. Some entries
also have links to other sections such as Songwords.
You can also listen to some of the songs in Real Audio format where indicated.
This section is still in development and further entries for compilations and
collaborations will be added at a later date.
A selection of photographs covering Virginia’s career from The Ravishing Beauties onwards.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
History, record releases and personnel are covered in this section.
Lyrics to some of Virginia’s most popular songs. This section will be expanded in the near future and suggestions are welcomed.
A concise background to Virginia’s musical history and solo career.
An opportunity for you to leave your comments.
We hope you enjoy the website and please feel free to pass on comments and
suggestions by emailing the Virginia Astley Website at