I thank A, whose love of podcasts is rapidly eclipsing mine, for subtly introducing me to my latest favourite, the Classic Albums production. This is a defiantly lo-fi, under-produced half hour which remains utterly charming and fascinating thanks to the giddy enthusiasm conjured up by the genial hosts Gary and Stephen. These two fellows, hailing possibly from Manchester (but we’re never told) have devised a beautifully simple format. Effectively at the end of each show they swap long playing records that are personal favourites and that they want to introduce or reacquaint their affable cohort to. These recordings are taken away, diligently played to death (usually on the hosts’ much-loved iPods) and then discussed earnestly on the next occasion the podcast is recorded. I’m pleased to report that the pair’s taste in music is similar to mine and it is marvellous (and mightily reassuring) to hear my favourites (Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Ryan Adams etc.) being eulogised with such warmth and vigour. Gary and Stephen also spend five minutes or so at the start checking up what else each other has been listening to since the last podcast and there’s a neat little interlude between the discussions of the swapped LPs when they exchange, nerdily and ebulliently, themed Top Fives that were also decided upon in the previous episode. This is simple broadcasting but all the better for it. Like all the best podcasts (Word, Sound Opinions), the sense of eavesdropping on an enthralling conversation is evident; Gary and Stephen remind me a little of myself in that they are not backward in coming forward when proclaiming the worth, wonder and wonderfulness of a particular long playing record although I wish I could conjure up a tenth of their articulacy and ability to sum up a record’s essence with real clarity and astuteness. My dilemma at the moment is choosing which of the 40-odd episodes to select next. Thus far I’ve been mainly choosing those which feature albums I already know and love but I am very keen to be alerted to newer sounds so will be seeking out those shows that highlight stuff by artists (Willard Grant Conspiracy, David Kitt, The Auteurs) that have ne’er appeared on this radar. I really admire Stephen and Gary for producing such a treat; Classic Albums is obviously a true labour of love with its do-it-yourself quirkiness and the sense of homespun enjoyment it conjures up. This is cracking stuff and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Thanks, fellows.