It was just about the only good thing to come out of the Covid lockdown – and now Tim Burgess is releasing the first official compilation album celebrating his now-legendary Listening Parties.
The Charlatans frontman started the online events on Twitter (now known as X) in March 2020 in response to the U.K.’s first national coronavirus lockdown, during which the public was told they could only leave their homes for “essential purposes.”
During the parties, listeners were invited to play a predetermined new or classic album at a synchronized time, and then tweet their thoughts, opinions and insights along with it. As the parties grew, they increasingly attracted big-name guest contributors, often including the artists themselves.
Over the course of three years, no fewer than 1,278 Listening Parties took place, spanning an eclectic mix of genres and eras, with albums from artists as diverse as John Lennon, The Chemical Brothers, Sparks, the Breeders, The Lovely Eggs, John Grant, and Joan As Police Woman all featuring. The first Listening Party was for The Charlatans’ Some Friendly on March 23, 2020; the last, on July 18, 2023, was for the Wham! compilation The Singles: Echoes from the Edge of Heaven, which had only been released a few weeks earlier.
The new album aims to reflect that same eclecticism and is available as a 62 track 4 CD collection in deluxe packaging and as a 24 track double LP in translucent green vinyl. Both formats include an interview conducted by DJ Danielle Perry with Tim Burgess, detailing the cultural importance of the Listening Party during lockdown.
Speaking about the compilation, Burgess says: “I’d done some Charlatans and solo album listening parties, and as the Twitter followers grew I’d repeat it and do it again and again. It was maybe about a week before being told that we were going to go into a lockdown before we actually did something. I saw all the TV stuff, all the kind of crazy things that were happening and thought if we're going to have to stay at home there must be a way that we can share times together.”
In September 2023, after more than three years in which the online community had grown into a genuine cultural phenomenon, sparking a podcast on Absolute Radio and two books by Burgess, the singer finally called time on the Listening Parties. Posting on the same social media channel that had hosted the parties, he wrote: “From Some Friendly to Wham! The Singles. 1,366 albums that we heard together, over 1,213 days from March 23rd 2020. The Twitter @LlSTENlNG_PARTY was a beautiful thing. Thanks to everyone who joined us x x.”
In response, many musicians paid tribute to the singer, with Sir Paul McCartney tweeting: “Hey Twitter, let's all say a big thanks to Tim for these brilliant events this year! We really needed them. So much great music being talked about.”
Billy Bragg paid his own tribute, writing: “In years to come, when everyone says Twitter was a hell hole of bellicose belligerence, those who enjoyed being part of the @LlSTENlNG_PARTY will be able to testify that there were some moments of greatness too. Thanks for bringing us together @Tim_Burgess.”
Tim’s Listening Party is set for release via Demon Music on March 15th. You can pre order here.