Classic Album Sundays

Times they are a changing, and with the unlimited access we now have to music online, there appears to be a quiet (but perfectly amplified) revolution happening in cities all over the world, where people are taking the time to just sit and listen to an album in its entirety on a super high quality sound system. Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy started Classic Album Sundays a few years ago when she realised just how much her friends enjoyed going to her house to listen to music on the audiophile sound system that she and her husband had started to acquire. They made this audio experience public by organising a monthly album listening session in a local London pub.


So far this communal and audiophile experience has covered The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”, Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” and De La Soul’s “3 Feet High and Rising”. In the next couple of months, we have David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars” , Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions” Soft Machine’s “Soft Machine”, Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of Holy”, My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”…


Sowing the Seeds of CAS

Colleen Murphy has been a successful international DJ and radio DJ for many years, working her way up through record shops and music industry jobs. This background naturally requires and nurtures musical obsession but also leads to the acquisition of a mammoth record collection. It’s the ex-DJ’s dilemma, what to do with this natural talent for musical curation and this vast collection of vinyl? Murphy’s knowledge of music across many genres and her passion for high-fidelity audio equipment has been the the seed to a perfect partnership. They noticed the way we listen to music has fundamentally changed, with music compressed to fit on electronic devices, bought as tracks rather than albums via iTunes and our habits of jumping from track to track encouraged by platforms such as Spotify, we simply don’t take time out to sit back and listen to a record, and few of us even own a proper hi-fi system. If people can be encouraged to take an hour out to unplug themselves and plug into the music it’s amazing what they might discover! CAS came from the desire to share a personal discovery of an amazing listening experience with others.

The Plot

On the first Sunday of the Month, CAS takes over the function room at the Hanbury Arms in Islington, the sound system is set up and a playlist of music that inspired the chosen album is played while people settle down. A short presentation of the album is given, and then phones are switched off and listening begins.
Once the album is chosen for the following month, Cosmo curates a playlist on the CAS  YouTube channel in the weeks leading up to the event to create the musical context for the album.


The key inspiration for Cosmo as a DJ but also undoubtedly the deep set roots behind Classic Album Sunday’s can be found with Colleen’s mentor and inspiration David Mancuso of the famous ‘Loft’ parties in New York. These were invite only parties where no alcohol was on sale, records were played in their entirety rather than mixed and music was played through a state of the art audiophile quality sound system. Her involvement both as a guest and as a ‘musical host’ at these Loft parties created the foundations of how she believes music should be played and heard.
For more information about The Loft and David Mancuso as an Audiophile take a look at this video

The next inspiration is more direct turning a private album listening experience into a shared experience. Colleen’s friend Greg Wilson started something called ‘Living to Music’ inspired by the listening sessions Colleen was doing at her house. Through ‘Living to Music’, Greg encouraged people to sit down with friends and listen to a selected album on the first Sunday of every month following some guidelines. This ignited Colleen to make these types of listening session’s public and Classic Album Sundays was born.


Still growing strong at the Hanbury Arms new shoots of these listening sessions are popping up all over the world with a monthly in Boston, New York and Glasgow as well as a bi-monthly in Edinburgh, and a quarterly Tokyo with more to come! Listening sessions have also been integrated in festivals such as Bestival.
The recent launch of Classic Album Sundays – Jazz, Classical and World in Primrose Hill (Princess of Wales Pub) hosted by Philip Bergman.

Off Shoots

Red Bull Music Academy have asked Classic Album Sundays to curate a David Bowie special where The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars, Heroes and Let’s Dance will be commented on my the album producers Ken Scott, Tony Visconti and Nile Rodgers in New York.

Useful Stuff

Hanbury Arms London


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