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They were so much older then, they're younger than that now: Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns reel in the years and riff on all that's new this week in the world's biggest library of music journalism – definitive interviews with legends of the last 60 years by the pop press' greatest writers ... and…

Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns, Jasper Murison-Bowie

    • Nov 20, 2023 LATEST EPISODE
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    Latest episodes from Rock's Backpages

    E165: Michel Faber on music & sound + Nick Cave + Captain Beefheart

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 20, 2023 75:02

    In this episode we welcome acclaimed novelist Michel Faber to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him about his new book ... as well as about a 1979 interview he did with the young Nick Cave. Barney gets the ball rolling by asking the author of Under the Skin and The Crimson Petal and the White what he set out to do with Listen: On Music, Sound and Us. Viewing music through a variety of prisms — from nostalgia and snobbery to racial bias and auditory biology — was the book at least partly an exercise in demystification? A stimulating conversation unfolds as Michel answers questions about "MOJO-fication", vinyl fetishisation, and live performance. A tangent on tinnitus takes us to his memories of seeing (and hearing) one of the Birthday Party's last shows... and waking up temporarily deaf the next morning. Which in turn leads to discussion of the interview our guest did as a student at Melbourne University with the pre-Birthday Party Boys Next Door, and then to clips from a 1995 audio interview in which Nick Cave answers Andy Gill's questions about Murder Ballads and Kylie Minogue. Finally the "panel" considers the week's featured artist (and a key influence on the early Birthday Party): the archetypal "MOJO-fied" cult hero who traded musically under the moniker Captain Beefheart — and whose exceptional paintings as Don Van Vliet feature in a new exhibition at Mayfair's Michael Werner Gallery. After Mark quotes from recently-added library pieces on Little Walter, Sylvester, Ornette Coleman and Björk, Jasper wraps up the episode with his thoughts on articles about the aforementioned Kylie Minogue, Goodie Mob and The Face. Many thanks to special guest Michel Faber. Listen: On Music, Sound and Us is published by Canongate and available now from all good bookshops Pieces discussed: 'Revolution 9', David Byrne's How Music Works, Nick Cave: A Boy Next Door, Nick Cave audio, People talk about BEEFHEART!, Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet, Little Walter, Joni Mitchell, Iggy & the Stooges, Ornette Coleman, Björk, Phil Everly, Sylvester, McAlmont & Butler, Kylie Minogue, Goodie Mob and The Face.

    E164: Kate Simon on Bob Marley + Sounds + Joni Mitchell

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 6, 2023 72:28

    In this episode we welcome the great Kate Simon, who Zooms in from New York City to answer our questions about her stellar career and the new edition of Rebel Music, her book of classic reggae portraits. Kate talks about the formative moments that made her a music photographer, plus the 1972 move to London that brought her into the pages of Disc & Music Echo and Sounds. Her hosts quiz her about her timeless shots of David Bowie, Rod Stewart and the Clash before we hear of her first trip to Jamaica in 1976 and the start of her long association with Bob Marley and his fellow Wailers. We also learn more about Kate's friendships with Sounds colleagues such as Jonh Ingham, Vivien Goldman and art director Dave Fudger. After hearing about Kate's return to her native soil and her '80s work for The Face – as well as her personal preferences as a photographer — we switch coasts to California in order to mark the imminent 80th birthday of Joni Mitchell. Clips from Dave Zimmer's 1983 audio with the First Lady of Laurel Canyon – with her wry observations about Messrs. Crosby, Stills and Nash – prompt more general thoughts on her peerless music from Blue to Hejira to Night Ride Home. With Mark sipping the last of the summer wine in his beloved Crete, Jasper concludes matters with quotes from — and reflections on — newly-added library pieces about Miles Davis, Rod Stewart and Steve Reich... not to mention a priceless Billy Eckstine reminiscence of gigging with John Coltrane. Many thanks to special guest Kate Simon. The new edition of Rebel Music: Bob Marley and Roots Reggae is published by Genesis Publications. Pieces discussed: Kate Simon interviewed by Paul Gorman, Reggae: Black punks on 'erb, Richard Hell, David Bowie, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell audio, The Seeds, Miles Davis, Rod Stewart, Billy Eckstine, Steve Reich, Queen Latifah and Michael Kiwanuka.

    E163: Evelyn McDonnell on Joan Didion + The Motels + Carla Bley R.I.P.

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 23, 2023 62:02

    In this episode we welcome acclaimed critic, author and professor Evelyn McDonnell and invite her to discuss her new Joan Didion book, along with the Motels, Britney Spears and California's pop history in general. Evelyn talks about her early L.A. memories and childhood move to Wisconsin before we hear how she progressed from her college paper in Providence, RI, to becoming the pop critic for the Miami Herald. We also note books such as her Runaways biography Queens of Noise, a suitable jumping-off point for a long conversation about her fellow Californian, Didion. Mark and Martin reminisce about the impact of Didion's extraordinary essay collections Slouching towards Bethlehem and The White Album, after which we follow her career through to the bestselling Year of Magical Thinking. The L.A. theme continues as we hear two clips from Steve Roeser's 2001 audio interview with Motels singer Martha Davis, putting that band into historical context with discussion of the pre-punk D.I.Y. "Radio Free Hollywood" shows in 1976. From there we fast-forward to the very different "L.A. Woman" that was and is Britney Spears, which in turn prompts our guest to give her very pertinent take on the [Jann] "Wennergate" debacle of the past month. At a significant remove from all this Hollywood Babylonia was avant-jazz giant Carla Bley, whose death we mark in a conversation about 1971's extraordinary Escalator Over The Hill. Finally, Mark mentions pieces he's recently added to the RBP library, including interviews with Laurie Anderson and the Byrds' Roger McGuinn, and Jasper rounds the episode off with remarks on pieces about Herbie Hancock and Steve Goodman's Hyperdub label.  Many thanks to special guest Evelyn McDonnell. The World According to Joan Didion is published by HarperOne and available now. Pieces discussed: Hollywood Swinging: Joan Didion in '60s L.A., The Runaways, The Motels' Martha Davis audio, Britney Spears at Staples Centre, Britney Spears interviewed by Steven Daly, Carla Bley interviewed by Brian Case, Carla Bley at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Dwight Twilley Band, Dwight Twilley: Magical Mystery Man, Queen Latifah/DJ Mark the 45 King, The Byrds, Laurie Anderson, Steve Goodman & Hyperdub and Herbie Hancock.

    E162: Billy Bragg on forty roaring years + Skiffle + Woody Guthrie

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 9, 2023 78:35

    In this episode we welcome the left's very own "national treasure" Billy Bragg – beamed in from his adopted Dorset – and ask him about the long and remarkable career that's enshrined in forthcoming box set The Roaring Forty. Billy revisits his Barking boyhood and early pop and folk influences, culminating in the 1977 formation of Clash-inspired punks Riff Raff. After a brief 1981 detour via the British Army, he explains how he settled on his unique solo style and delivery – and how he wound up on the cover of the NME in January 1984. Inevitably the conversation turns to politics and the way Billy has managed to retain his charm, humour and compassion in the face of hatred and extremism. An audio clip of Spectator editor Boris Johnson haranguing him at Glastonbury in 2000 is followed by discussion of left-wing patriotism, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party and our present-day hyperpolarisation. Martin recalls the day Billy came to tea to ask about the RBP co-founder's father Bill and uncle Ken – and the catalytic impact Ken Colyer's Jazzmen had on the music Billy chronicled so impressively in his 2017 book Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World. From the Colyers and Lonnie Donegan we cross the big pond to talk about Woody Guthrie, the agit-folk bard whose lyrics Billy and Wilco turned into 1998's Mermaid Avenue album. Clips from Chris Smith's 1999 audio interview with Woody's daughter (and archivist) Nora Guthrie prompt conversation about the Okie icon's mighty legacy. After Mark quotes from recently-added articles about the Stooges, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Dr. Dre, Jasper wraps matters up with remarks on Truth Hurts and FKA Twigs. Many thanks to special guest Billy Bragg. For more about The Roaring Forty, as well as Roots, Radicals and Rockers, visit his website at Pieces discussed: Billy Bragg on the cover of the NME, Who the hell does Billy Bragg think he is?, Billy Bragg comes to tea, Nora Guthrie audio, Billy Bragg's Mermaid Avenue, The Stooges, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dr. Dre, Truth Hurts and FKA Twigs.

    E161: Mick Gold on Let It Rock + Pub Rock + Bruce Springsteen + Jann Wenner

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 25, 2023 71:58

    In this episode we welcome music writer/photographer turned award-winning TV director Mick Gold and ask him to return to the mid-'70s to discuss pub rock, Bruce Springsteen and the wonderful Let It Rock magazine. Mick explains how he fell in with Let It Rock's "hard-up left-wing intellectuals" after penning a 5,000-word Beatles thesis at Sussex University. We then hear about the magazine and its eclectic agenda, along with our guest's parallel career as a photographer and his 1976 photo-essay book Rock on the Road. This in turn leads to a conversation about the "pub rock" scene that mushroomed in London during Let It Rock's 1972-75 lifespan. Along with Mick's 1975 Dr. Feelgood interview, Mark, Martin and Barney share their memories of gigs by Kilburn & the High Roads and Chili Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. The gradual transition from Pub to Punk is recalled and analysed with passing reference to Mick's 1976 Street Life interview with Patti Smith. The mid-'70s theme takes us into clips from a 2016 audio interview in which Bruce Springsteen talks to Vanity Fair's David Kamp about 1975's breakthrough classic 'Born to Run' — and then to a further discussion of the Boss' inclusion in Jann Wenner's controversial new book The Masters. After Mark quotes from interviews with Dizzy Gillespie, James Brown, Todd Rundgren, Chic and Wham!, Jasper talks us out with his notes on pieces about Nona Hendryx and Rammellzee. Pieces discussed: The Band, Rock on the Road introduction, Bob Dylan at 60, Brinsley Schwarz, Dr. Feelgood, Pub Rock Proms, Bruce Springsteen on 'Born to Run', Dizzy Gillespie, Ike & Tina Turner, James Brown, Todd Rundgren, Chic, Wham!, Bruce Springsteen, Nona Hendryx and Rammellzee.

    E160: Richard Grabel on Hip Hop + Kool Lady Blue + Beastie Boys

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 11, 2023 66:03

    In this episode we invite Richard Grabel to reminisce about his long career as a journalist and music-biz lawyer. We hear how Richard had his mind blown by an early CBGB double-bill of Television and the three-piece Talking Heads — and about his first reviewing efforts as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He describes how he got his foot in the door at New York Rocker – reviewing one of Lowell George's last shows for editor Andy Schwartz — and then at the NME on a 1978 visit to London. Richard's classic reports on NYC's early rap scene provide a perfect opportunity for us to ask him about his visits to the South Bronx and his interviews with Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash. He's also namechecked in a clip from Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton's 1998 audio interview with Brit rap promoter Kool Lady Blue, whose legendary nights at the Roxy club in Chelsea he discusses with his hosts. After reflecting on the rise of the Beastie Boys and the story of how rap's "flash-in-the-pan" novelty status led to the genre's global domination, Richard explains how he became a high-profile lawyer for such alt-rock bands as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. After Mark quotes from interviews with Betty Davis, Jackson Browne and George Michael, Jasper concludes the episode with remarks about pieces on Smash Mouth, *NYSNC and the 16-year-old Lorde. Many thanks to special guest Richard Grabel. Pieces discussed: Kurtis Blow, The Funky Four + 1, Grandmaster Flash, Kool Lady Blue, Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, Beastier Boys, Beastiest Boys, Jackson Browne, Ray Parker Jr., Betty Davis, George Michael, Smash Mouth, Blue-eyed soul and Lorde.

    E159: Vernon Gibbs on Marvin Gaye + Talking Heads + A&R at Arista

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 29, 2023 75:42

    In this episode we're delighted to invite Vernon Gibbs to look back on his career as a pioneering soul scribe and A&R man. Vernon begins by describing his early years as a scholarship student who took the G train from Brooklyn to school on Manhattan's Upper East Side — and his formative years at NYC's Columbia University. He describes how he fell in with the counterculture and began writing about music for the Columbia Daily Spectator. A discussion follows of pieces he wrote about the death of Jimi Hendrix and — later, for NME — the decline of Sly Stone. He also talks about contributing to Crawdaddy! and other rock publications in the mid-'70s. The 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On gives Vernon's hosts a chance to ask about the 1974 interview he did with the Motown superstar for Zoo World. He then explains how he was hired for A&R positions at Mercury and — more notably — Clive Davis' Arista label, where he worked with P-Funk offshoot Quazar and 'Disco Nights' hitmakers GQ. Vernon's return to music journalism takes us into a discussion of the downtown New York punk scene and a 1983 Creem interview in which Richard Hell defines "the blank generation". This in turn leads to clips from Jim Sullivan's 1996 audio interview with Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth — and Vernon's thoughts on that most un-punk of CBGB bands — in the week when Jonathan Demme's concert documentary Stop Making Sense is given well-deserved a cinematic re-release. After Mark quotes from archive interviews with Philly International legend Kenny Gamble (1976), L.A. bete noire Kim Fowley (1979) and smoooooth jazz man Kenny G (1988), Jasper rounds off the episode with his thoughts on Lloyd Bradley's celebration of London's Harlesden scene (2001), Def Jam rapper Ludacris (2005) and "jazz-rock" trio the Bad Plus (2013). Many thanks to special guest Vernon Gibbs. Pieces discussed: Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, Let's Get It On, Richard Hell, Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth audio, Gamble & Huff, Kenny G, Kim Fowley, Do the Harlesden Shuffle, Ludacris and The Bad Plus.

    E158: Charles Shaar Murray on the NME + John Lee Hooker + Robbie Robertson

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 14, 2023 66:42

    In this episode we welcome NME legend Charles Shaar Murray, beamed in from his adopted Ipswich to reminisce about his career from Oz magazine to his John Lee Hooker biography Boogie Man. We start by discussing Charles' 1970 interview with the mighty Muddy Waters, his "favourite singer since I was 12 years old". Our guest talks about the Oz "School Kids" issue and the other underground publications for which he wrote before he was recruited by New Musical Express in the summer of 1972. We hear how "CSM" became NME's unofficial David Bowie correspondent and how — under Nick Logan's editorship — the paper radically broadened its rock remit to embrace film, literature and politics. Taking the story into the early '80s, we discuss the continuing passion for blues that led to years of research for Boogie Man. Clips from Tony Scherman's 1992 audio interview with its subject Mr. Hooker prompt our guest's memories of coaxing information out of the veteran bluesman. From John Lee and Muddy Waters we turn our attention to a Canadian guitarist who fell heavily under their spell: Robbie Robertson, whose death we learned about the night before recording this episode. After we hear audio of the Band man talking in 1991 about his "musical brother" Levon Helm, we discuss what the proto-Americana quintet meant then and now. We also pay tribute to punk artist Jamie Reid and Mexican-American cult hero Rodriguez. Wrapping up the episode, Barney quotes from late '70s interviews with Ted Nugent and Bruce Springsteen, after which Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on pieces about Monie Love and Beyoncé... Many thanks to special guest Charles Shaar Murray. His books, including Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker, are available from all good bookshops. Pieces discussed: Muddy Waters, David Bowie, Crosstown Traffic, John Lee Hooker, John Lee Hooker audio, Robbie Robertson, The Second Coming of Robbie Robertson, Jamie Reid, Rodriguez, Ted Nugent, Bruce Springsteen, Monie Love and Beyoncé.

    E157: Jim Farber on Glam Rock + Marc Bolan + Sinéad O'Connor

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 31, 2023 81:52

    In this episode, we invite acclaimed New York writer Jim Farber to tell us about his 50-year career and his experiences of "growing up gay to a Glam Rock soundtrack", to cite the title of a superb 2016 piece he wrote for The New York Times. We start by asking the former Chief Music Critic of the New York Daily News about his Scarsdale childhood and his formative musical memories. He explains how Alice Cooper's 'I'm Eighteen' became a portal to both obsessive fandom and the urgent need to write about rock for Creem, Circus and Rolling Stone. Additionally he recalls interviewing Robert Fripp for Creem in 1978 and then being reunited with King Crimson's prog-rock dissident in 2022 when the extraordinary In the Court of the Crimson King film came out. After Barney quotes from "The Androgynous Mirror", Jim's brilliant essay for the 1998 book Rolling Stone: The Seventies, we discuss Glam Rock and listen to clips from Keith Altham's 1971 audio interview with T. Rex's Marc Bolan. A brief digression about Queen and Freddie Mercury leads to Jim's thoughts on the openly gay, overhyped and ill-fated Jobriath, who died 40 years ago this week. The awful loss of Sinéad O'Connor on the eve of this episode's recording prompts reflections on the Irish singer's blazing talent and turbulent life — particularly from our guest, who interviewed her three times for the Daily News. Finally, Mark quotes from newly-added library interviews with John Lennon and Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter, while Jasper wraps things up with notes on the Strokes (and the White Stripes) and Belle & Sebastian (and Norah Jones). Many thanks to special guest Jim Farber. Follow him on Twitter @JimFarberMusic. Pieces discussed: Growing up gay to a glam rock soundtrack, Soft Cell's Marc Almond, Robert Fripp, Marc Bolan audio, Jobriath, Jobriath @ the Bottom Line, More Jobriath, Glitter rock's lingering shadow, Sinéad O'Connor audio, Skinéad, Lennon & Yoko, Kraftwerk, Primal Scream, Strokes/Stripes, Pet Shop Boys and Belle & Sebastian.

    E156: Richard Boon on Buzzcocks + Manchester + Morrissey audio

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 17, 2023 55:16

    In this episode, Richard Boon joins us to talk about his life in music, taking in the birth of Buzzcocks, the Smiths on Rough Trade and his time as "the world's coolest librarian" in Stoke Newington. The punk instigator takes us back to 1976, when he went to see the Sex Pistols live in High Wycombe together with a certain Howard Trafford and Peter McNeish. This shock to the system led to Richard inviting them to play his art studio in Reading, plus the near-mythological Lesser Free Trade Hall show that everyone in Manchester later claimed to have been at. Once Howard and Pete re-christened themselves Devoto and Shelley and formed Buzzcocks, Richard fell into managing the group and put out their seminal Spiral Scratch EP on his New Hormones label. We then ask Richard about his move to Rough Trade around the same time as he brought them the Smiths. Clips from Martin Aston's 1986 audio interview with Morrissey form the backdrop for a discussion of why the band were special, their reluctance to film music videos and their relationship with their fans.  Following discussion of featured writer Cath Carroll, whose early interview with Morrissey and Marr plus pieces on Linder and New Order round out the Manchester theme, Mark and Jasper finish up on library highlights including Sandy Bull, Yazz, the Spice Girls, and Lewis Capaldi. Many thanks to special guest Richard Boon. Please note that this episode was recorded before the death of Jane Birkin. Pieces discussed: Buzzcocks, Spiral Scratch, Pete Shelley audio, Morrissey audio, The Smiths, Linder, New Order, Sandy Bull, Van Morrison, Little Feat, Yazz, The Spice Girls, Pete Rugolo, Chuck Berry and Lewis Capaldi.

    E155: Robyn Hitchcock on the Soft Boys + David Blue + Mick Farren

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 10, 2023 88:26

    In this episode we invite the inimitable Robyn Hitchcock to reminisce about his heroically nonconformist career from the Soft Boys to 2022's Shufflemania! After Robyn explains his recent return to London from his adopted Nashville, Barney, Mark and Martin hear about his hippiefied but not entirely psychedelic '60s youth – plus his early immersion in the far-out folk of the Incredible String Band and the songs of his greatest influence Syd Barrett. He talks about how the Soft Boys did – and didn't – fit into the UK's punk scene of the late '70s, but also how they became a totemic cult influence on American acts from R.E.M. to Gillian Welch & David Rawlings. Clips from John Tobler's 1973 audio interview with '60s folk-rocker turned Asylum Records singer-songwriter David Blue provide an opportunity to discuss the former David Cohen's Greenwich Village buddy Bob Dylan and the huge influence on Robyn of Bobsongs like Blonde On Blonde's 'Visions of Johanna'. Meanwhile the 10th anniversary of the death of underground-press legend and Deviants rabble-rouser Mick Farren takes us back to the revolutionary '60s and the heyday of International Times – as well as to such seminal Farren pieces as 1976's NME rallying cry "The Titanic Sails at Dawn". Mark rounds off the episode with quotes from newly-added library pieces about 'Terry' hitmaker Lynn "Twinkle" Ripley (Evening Standard, 1964), Motown chauvinist Marvin Gaye (Phonograph Record, 1977), Henry Rollins né Garfield (Washington Post, 1981) and more… Many thanks to special guest Robyn Hitchock. Somewhere Apart: Selected Lyrics 1977–1997 is published by Tiny Ghost and available now. Pieces discussed: The Soft Boys, The Soft Boys live, Robyn Hitchock by J. Kordosh, Robyn Hitchcock by Pete Paphides, David Blue, Pop in the Police State, Rock – Energy for Revolution, The Titanic Sails at Dawn, Memories of Mick Farren, Black Flag, Marvin Gaye, Eddie Hinton, The Cramps, Twinkle and Chet Atkins.

    E154: Richard Morton Jack on Nick Drake + Steve Marriott + Flashback magazine

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 19, 2023 80:38

    In this episode we welcome the very personable Richard Morton Jack to "RBP Towers" and ask him to talk about his monumental new biography of Nick Drake – along with his marvellous Flashback magazine and an audio interview with Small Faces/Humble Pie frontman Steve Marriott. We commence by hearing how Richard was initiated into pop music (and its freakier offshoots) — and how this led him to the arcane cult figures covered in Flashback, not to mention released on his Sunbeam label. From the underground sounds of Sam Gopal, Mad River and Blossom Toes to the exhaustive undertaking that was Nick Drake: The Life was a major gear-shift for Richard, but one that came with the blessing of the Drake estate — and a foreword by Nick's sister Gabrielle. In a long and in-depth conversation, we attempt to make sense of the life, death and musical magic of the troubled troubadour, placing him in the context of producer Joe Boyd's Witchseason stable and hearing about a 1970 Jackie interview with Nick that Richard unearthed during his no-stone-unturned research for the book. A very different legend of '60s/'70s English music can be heard in two clips from Chris Welch's 1985 audio interview with artful rock dodger Steve Marriott. We discuss the Small Faces and then Humble Pie; infamous manager Don Arden and Immediate boss Andrew Loog Oldham; Steve's blue-eyed-soul holler of a voice... and of course 1968's concept album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. Then we briefly turn our attention to Steve's R&B-boom contemporary Tony McPhee (1944-2023) and the remarkable blues-infused hard rock trio that was the Groundhogs. Finally, Mark and Jasper talk us out with notes on (and quotes from) newly-added library pieces about — among other subjects – Odetta (1963), Marc Bolan (1970), Motörhead (1981), New York's Collective School of Music (2003) and Congolese street musicians Staff Benda Bilili (2009). Pieces discussed: Nick Drake by Jerry Gilbert, Nick Drake in Jackie, In Search of Nick Drake, Nick Drake: Exiled from Heaven, Steve Marriott audio, Tony McPhee audio, Odetta, Marc Bolan, Motörhead, Folk albums, The Who, Terence Trent D'Arby, The Collective and Staff Benda Bilili.

    E153: Lloyd Bradley on Black London + Tina Turner + Steve Barrow audio

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 5, 2023 87:31

    In this episode we welcome Lloyd Bradley into our Hammersmith lair and ask him about his career as a journalist and as the acclaimed author of Bass Culture and Sounds Like London — the latter book celebrating its 10th birthday at the time of recording. We learn what London sounded like to Lloyd as a boy growing up in '60s Hornsey, and how his love for music led to writing for Blues & Soul and then NME and Q. He talks us through some of the key themes of Sounds Like London — his history of "100 years of Black music in the capital" — and particularly the homegrown reggae sub-genre known as "lover's rock" and the rise of grime as a hybrid of UK garage, hip hop, jungle and dancehall. Discussion of lover's rock leads us to clips from a 1998 audio interview with Steve Barrow, founder of dub/roots-reggae reissue label Blood and Fire — and then to how Lloyd came to write 2000's mighty Bass Culture: When Reggae was King. After a short discussion of soul legend Bettye LaVette — and her journey from early '60s Atlantic Records to the Anti- label in the mid-noughties — we pay tribute to the late Tina Turner and her epic story of survival and self-reinvention Mark quotes from highlights of his additions to the RBP library, including Richard Harrington's Washington Post review of the last gig Lowell George ever played and Tony Scherman's exhaustive Musician interview with session drummer Earl Palmer. Finally, Jasper talks us out with his remarks on pieces about Labrinth and London's hyper-eclectic jazz scene. Many thanks to special guest Lloyd Bradley. For more on Bass Culture and Sounds Like London, visit his website at Pieces discussed: George Clinton, Beggar & Co, The Growth of Grime, Blood & Fire's Steve Barrow audio, Bettye Lavette, Bettye Lavette vs. Susan Boyle, Thankful N' Thoughtful, Ike & Tina, Tina Turner, Soulful Queen of Rock'n'roll, Tina Turner roars into Rock Hall, Lowell George, Earl Palmer, Labrinth live and London jazz.

    E152: Cliff Jones on Gay Dad + Brian Jones + Paul Simon audio

    Play Episode Listen Later May 22, 2023 84:05

    In this episode we welcome pop poacher-turned-gamekeeper (turned rockademic) Cliff Jones to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and invite him to talk about his shape-shifting career in music — as well as about Paul Simon and doomed Rolling Stone Brian Jones (no relation). Barney starts things off with his memories of Cliff coming into the MOJO office circa 1994-5, plus we hear about long-form pieces our guest wrote about Peter Green and (for The Face) the Fugees. We also discuss Johnny Cigarettes' 1999 NME interview with Gay Dad, the band Cliff formed in the wake of Britpop. Nick Broomfield's new BBC documentary about Brian Jones prompts conversation about the self-destructive blues obsessive who was sidelined by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards — and ditched by Anita Pallenberg — after which we turn our attention to the rather different Paul Simon. Clips from Tony Scherman's 1993 audio interview with the other half of Art Garfunkel are jumping-off points for our collective thoughts on the New Yorker's career from his Brill Building days to the Hearts and Bones album and beyond. We pay heartfelt tribute to our guest's fellow RBP contributor Pete Silverton, who passed away on May 18th, and recall his crucial early Sounds interviews with the Clash, the Sex Pistols and other punk bands. Among the new library additions discussed, finally, are pieces about Flamingo Club owner Rik Gunnell (1966), Mick Hucknall's Frantic Elevators (1982), hip hop heroes the Jungle Brothers (1989) ... and, from 2007, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. Please note this episode was recorded before we learned of the passing of former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke. Pieces discussed: Talk Talk talk tech, The Fugees, Gay Dad, Brian Jones by Dawn James, Brian Jones by Greil Marcus, Brian Jones by Carol Clerk, Paul Simon audio, Hearts and Bones, Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, Rik Gunnell, Average White Band, Danielle Dax, The Jungle Brothers, Frantic Elevators, Dave Matthews, Erykah Badu and Lily Allen/Amy Winehouse.

    E151: Sylvia Patterson on Smash Hits + George Michael audio

    Play Episode Listen Later May 8, 2023 55:49

    In this episode, we welcome the excellent Sylvia Patterson to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask her all about her life as a music journalist from Smash Hits to the NME and beyond, referencing her excellent memoirs I'm Not With the Band and Same Old Girl.  We begin with her start in writing at Dundee publisher D.C. Thomson, including as music editor for the short-lived Etcetera, which led to her applying for a staff job at irreverent pop paper Smash Hits. Sylvia reminisces about what it was like working on a magazine that never took the business of popular music too seriously, reflecting that the lack of a cynical ulterior agenda engendered a fun atmosphere for both the writers and (most of) the musicians. Touching on Sylvia's 1987 interview with newly inducted Rock Hall of Famer George Michael, whom she dubbed "the glummest man in pop", we hear clips from an Adam Sweeting audio interview conducted on the same day. The man born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou cut a serious figure at the time, contemplating his relationship with the press and the nature of political gestures from pop stars as well as rebuffing "rumours" that he's gay after Boy George has outed him on the radio.  Moving on to the 90s and beyond, at which point Sylvia became a freelancer for publications including The Face and the NME, we talk about her experience interviewing The Artist Formerly Known as Prince before discussing the chaos of the Britpop era. Defending her chosen side in the Oasis vs Blur debate, she recounts the hilarity of speaking with the Gallagher brothers in 2001. To bring Sylvia's story up to date, we ask her about her new memoir Same Old Girl, published in April, about her diagnosis in late 2019 with breast cancer and the treatment amidst a global pandemic that followed.  We then spotlight three articles on Donna Summer ahead of a new documentary directed by her daughter and pay tribute to recently departed Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Finally, Mark and Jasper quote from a few new additions to the RBP library including interviews with Jet Harris and Chris Cornell and a profile of Christian Scott/Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah. Many thanks to special guest Sylvia Patterson. Same Old Girl is published by Fleet and available now. Pieces discussed: George Michael: The Glummest Man in Pop?, George Michael audio, Prince, Oasis, Blur, Donna Summer, Donna Summerer, Giorgio Moroder, Gordon Lightfoot, Jet Harris, Soundgarden, Smokey Robinson, Morrissey, Secret Affair and Christian Scott/Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah.

    E150: Edwin Pouncey & Sandy Robertson on rock and the occult + Andrew Lauder

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 24, 2023 70:05

    In this episode we welcome Sounds legends Sandy Robertson and Edwin (Savage Pencil) Pouncey into our Hammersmith lair and ask them about their careers and shared fascination with the occult. After describing their routes into writing and their days at Sounds, Sandy and Edwin reflect on the dark history of occult rock from Black Widow to Norway's Black Metal scene, via Jimmy Page, Kenneth Anger and Aleister "the Beast" Crowley. Clips from the late Andy Gill's 1990 audio interview with Liberty/United Artists executive Andrew Lauder give us an opportunity to honour the Hartlepool-born facilitator of musical freakiness and discuss the many acts he signed and/or A&R'd over the course of 50 years, from Hawkwind and the Groundhogs to the Stranglers and the Stone Roses. After saying our goodbyes to reggae sound-system operator Jah Shaka and small-trio jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, Mark and Jasper run through their highlights among recent additions to the RBP library, including pieces about Nancy Sinatra (1967), the Eagles (1972) and Kim Deal and Tanya Donnelly (1993)... and a 2011 tribute to hip hop star Dwight "Heavy D" Myers. Many thanks to special guests Edwin Pouncey and Sandy Robertson. Find their books, including Edwin's Savage Pencil Scratchbook and Sandy's Aleister Crowley Scrapbook, in all good bookshops.  Please note that we recorded this episode before learning of Mark Stewart's death.  Pieces discussed: Mister Aleister Crowley, The Primer: Occult rock, David Bowie: White Lines, Black Magic, Andrew Lauder audio, Sound Systems & Jah Shaka, Ahmad Jamal, April Stevens, The Eagles, Shaun Cassidy, Nancy Sinatra, Kim Deal & Tanya Donnelly and Why Heavy D Matters.

    E149: Andy Beckett on Pop & Politics + The Beat + Everything But The Girl

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 11, 2023 78:18

    In this episode we welcome author and Guardian journalist Andy Beckett to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him to discuss politics and pop from the late '70s to the present day. Andy talks about his first musical passions as a teenager in the early '80s, as well as about Rock Against Racism, Red Wedge and the politicised postpunk era in general. He recalls his first pieces for The Independent in the early '90s and explains how his broader interest in popular culture informs his perspective as an op-ed columnist and the author of When the Lights Went Out and Promised You a Miracle. In a week that saw Finland joining NATO and the indictment of Donald Trump, we ask what musicians can and can't do to change the world. The imminent new album from proto-Woke duo Everything But The Girl gives us an opportunity to address the enduring political ideals of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn, plus we travel back to 1981 via clips from an audio interview with The Beat's David Steele and Ranking Roger, who talk to John Tobler about youth unemployment and the menace of nuclear weapons. After we've paid our respects to departed legends Seymour Stein and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mark talks us through his new additions to the RBP library, including pieces about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper, Joan Armatrading, Talking Heads and Sun Ra. Jasper then wraps up the episode with his thoughts on a 2002 live review of Queens of the Stone Age and a 2015 piece exploring the influence of Spaghetti Westerns on reggae. Many thanks to special guest Andy Beckett. Pieces discussed: Andy Beckett on Dylan, on Simon Reynolds' Rip It Up, on The Face, Everything But The Girl, Peter Paul and Mary, War Between the Generations, Enoch Clapton, Red Wedge, Where are the political pop stars?, The Beat audio, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Seymour Stein, Sgt. Pepper, Joan Armatrading, Talking Heads, Sun Ra, Queens of the Stone Age and dub spaghetti.

    E148: Rob Dickins on Warner Bros. + Leon Russell + Wayne Shorter

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 13, 2023 88:05

    In this episode we welcome music-industry legend Rob Dickins and ask him to tell us about his "pop life" in the 27 years he worked with Prince, Madonna and other Warner Brothers superstars. Rob takes us back to his music-infused youth when his dad Percy worked for Melody Maker and New Musical Express and his brother Barry managed the High Numbers/Who. We hear about his days booking bands as a Social Sec at Loughborough University, and then about his start at Warner Publishing in 1971. Tremendous yarns about Madonna, Cher, Rod Stewart and others follow in rapid succession, along with the mind-boggling account of how Rob became global head of Warner Music… for 24 hours. A new biography of Leon Russell gives us the perfect excuse to hear clips from Andy Gill's 1998 audio interview with "the master of space and time" — the first about 1970's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, the second about the writing of Russell's beloved 'Song For You'.  After we've said goodbye to former Miles sideman and Weather Reporter Wayne Shorter and to Jackson Browne's virtuoso sideman David Lindley, Mark talks us out with quotes from his favourite new library additions from the past fortnight. Pieces discussed: Leon Russell audio interview, Wayne Shorter: The Sunny Weatherman, Wayne Shorter: After the Storm, Michelle Mercer on Wayne Shorter, Behind the Curtain: David Lindley, Lynyrd Skynyrd: The 100 Proof Blues, Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter and Maureen Cleave in conversation with Jack Good.

    E147: Ellen Sander on rock life in the sixties + Robert Palmer audio

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 27, 2023 57:23

    In this episode we welcome pioneering '60s rock writer Ellen Sander and invite her to discuss her classic 1973 book Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties, reissued in an "augmented" edition in 2019. Ellen recalls her New York upbringing and initiation into the folk scene in Greenwich Village, then explains how Danny Fields (episode 28) steered her towards writing for Sing Out! and Hullabaloo. With references to David Crosby, David Geffen, Abbie Hoffman and the Monterey Pop festival, she talks about the inextricable relationship between '60s music and the decade's political upheavals. We also hear about her 1968 article on groupies; her troubling experiences on the road with Led Zeppelin; and her relationship with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman (father of her son Marin), all of which led to the writing of Trips. Attention then turns to two clips from the week's new audio interview, in which suave Yorkshire-born rock'n'soul man Robert Palmer talks about his love of bossa nova and the fun he had on the sessions for 1974's Sneakin' Sally through the Alley with Little Feat's Lowell George. After Mark quotes from new library interviews with the Beatles (1963), B.B. King (1968), and Simpsons creator Matt Groening (1993), Barney cites an early Steely Dan piece from 1973 and Jasper recommends articles about emo stars Paramore (2010), Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor (2014) and – from 2016 – jazz hybridiser Jacob Collier.

    E146: Fred Goodman on Rock Films + D.A. Pennebaker + Burt Bacharach

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 13, 2023 70:17

    In this episode we welcome the exemplary Fred Goodman and ask him about his journalistic career and highly acclaimed books. Fred talks about his early years as a jazz columnist for Cash Box, as well as his interest in the business side of popular music. He describes how a stint as a Senior Editor at Rolling Stone led to the idea of a book about "the head-on collision of rock and commerce", subsequently published as 1997's The Mansion on the Hill. Avid fans of that classic tome, Mark and Barney ask their guest about legendary figures such as Albert Grossman, David Geffen and Jon Landau, after which Fred explains why – in an effort to champion the late Mexican-American singer in her native USA – he wrote 2019's Why Lhasa de Sela Matters. Moving on to Fred's latest book Rock On Film, conversation turns to some of his favourite music movies from A Hard Day's Night to This is Spinal Tap with a nod to Michael Lindsay-Hogg who wrote the foreword to Rock On Film. Clips from an audio interview with the late D.A. Pennebaker lead in turn to a discussion of 1967's Bob Dylan documentary Dont Look Back. Not long after we've paid tribute to Television's mercurial Tom Verlaine, breaking news comes in that we've also just lost the great Burt Bacharach. Putting ourselves on the spot in real time, we talk about the genius who (with lyricist Hal David) created masterworks from 'Make it Easy on Yourself' to 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head'. Finally, Mark talks us out with quotes from pieces about folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet and the late David Crosby, while Jasper concludes the episode with remarks about pieces on Keane and pop's relationship with social class. Many thanks to special guest Fred Goodman. Rock on Film is published by Running Press and Why Lhasa De Sela Matters is published by University of Texas Press. Pieces discussed: The Mansion on the Hill, Rock and Roll on Film, Richard Lester audio, 25 Essential Music DVDs, The Harder They Come, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Spinal Tap, Metallica's Some Kind of Monster, D.A. Pennebaker audio, Television, Tom Verlaine, Burt Bacharach, Peter, Paul and Mary, Beggars Banquet, David Crosby, Keane and Class.

    E145: Gary Kemp on Spandau Ballet + Pink Floyd + David Crosby R.I.P.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 30, 2023 90:33

    In this episode we welcome the excellent Gary Kemp to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and invite him to talk about Spandau Ballet, the New Romantics and Pink Floyd. After describing the pop baptism that was watching David Bowie sing 'Starman' on Top of the Pops, Gary recalls seeing the Sex Pistols at the Screen on the Green; the Bowie nights at Billy's; Steve Strange and the Blitz kids; and the formation of the band that became Spandau Ballet. With special reference to Betty Page's Sounds pieces on Spandau, we discuss the New Romantics and their complex relationship with the music press. From Spandau to Floyd is not a segue anyone would have made back in 1979, but Gary explains how he saw the half-century-old Dark Side of the Moon played live at Wembley's Empire Pool in 1974 and how he later joined forces with Floyd drummer Nick Mason in Saucerful of Secrets. In the course of a conversation about Dark Side, we hear clips from Jim Sullivan's 1997 phone interview with the late Rick Wright, who reflects on the state of Syd Barrett and his own (temporary) firing from Floyd. With a nod to Rockonteurs — Gary's own great podcast with Saucerful of Secrets bassist Guy Pratt — we pay tribute to the late David Crosby, who was the duo's guest in early 2020. Mark then talks us out with quotes from pieces about the Beatles (1966), the New York Dolls (1973) and Joni Mitchell at the Troubadour (1968 and 1973), after which Jasper concludes the episode with quotes from reviews of Björk's Homogenic (1997) and a Manchester "Gods of Rap" show starring Wu Tang Clan, De La Soul and Public Enemy... Many thanks to special guest Gary Kemp. Visit his website at and find the Rockonteurs at Pieces discussed: A Manifesto for the Eighties, Spandau Ballet, the New Romantics, Rick Wright audio, Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, Nick Mason, The Byrds' David Crosby, A Hippy out of Hell, A Long Strange Trip, The New York Dolls, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell at the Troubadour in 1968 and then in 1973, Björk and Gods of Rap.

    E144: Pamela Des Barres on the GTOs + Peter Asher audio + Jeff Beck R.I.P.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 16, 2023 56:32

    In this episode we welcome the truly legendary Pamela Des Barres, all the way from her native San Fernando Valley, and invite her to reminisce about the all-girl GTOs, Frank Zappa, Lowell George... and plenty more besides. The bestselling author of 1987's groupie confessional I'm With The Band describes how she entered the Laurel Canyon orbit of ringmaster Zappa, and how the motley troupe he christened Girls Together Outrageously came into being. The former Miss Pamela talks about her fellow "Misses" Mercy and Christine, then describes the sessions for the group's unruly 1969 classic Permanent Damage. This leads on to a discussion of the Groupie phenomenon and its problematic nature in the #MeToo era. In passing, we hear about Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco and 1974's Hollywood Street Revival and Trash Dance show. The somewhat different — yet not entirely unrelated — L.A. domain of the canyon singer-songwriter crowd is considered as we hear clips from co-host Barney Hoskyns' 2003 audio interview with James Taylor/Linda Ronstadt producer Peter Asher. Following discussion of Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and their mutual paramour John David Souther, we circle back to the GTOs and the guest appearance of the late Jeff Beck on Permanent Damage. We then pay extensive tribute to Beck's eclectic genius and unique technique. We conclude with quotes from notable RBP library additions, including pieces about Bonnie Raitt recording at Bearsville, L.A. session bassist Carol Kaye and apocalyptic jazz trio Comet Is Coming. Many thanks to special guest Pamela Des Barres. Visit her website at for details of her podcast, books and more. Pieces discussed: The GTOs by Miles, A Requiem for Miss Christine, Girls Together Outrageously, Miss Mercy, Los Angeles Clubs, Rodney Bingenheimer, The GTOs live, Peter Asher audio, Jeff Beck audio, Jeff Beck by Eden, Jeff Beck by Alan Light, Jeff Beck by Kate Mossman, Bonnie Raitt, Ethel Merman, Carol Kaye, Compiling by gender and The Comet is Coming.

    E143: Nick Hornby on Prince (& Dickens) + Boz Scaggs audio interview

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 23, 2022 82:49

    In this episode we welcome bestselling author and screenwriter Nick Hornby to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him to talk about his new book Dickens & Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius.We start by asking Nick if his original plan was to become a music journalist, then proceed to his first awareness of Prince in 1979. A broad discussion of the Minneapolitan marvel – and the parallels with Charles Dickens's "no off-switch" prolificacy – takes in his first London show in 1981, his mastering of multiple overlapping genres, his (and Dickens's) "weakness for women"... and the profound shock of his death in 2016.The imminent reissue of Boz Scaggs's 1969 debut album provides the opportunity to hear clips from the late Andy Gill's 1997 audio interview with the blues-soul smoothie. Among other things, Nick, Barney and Jasper touch on Muscle Shoals, Silk Degrees and Boz's spine-tingling version of Richard Hawley's 'There's a Storm Comin''.After Jasper offers his thoughts on newly-added library pieces about the Human League and British hip hop, we indulge in a brief chat with the Fever Pitch author about football's World Cup, which at the time of recording had reached the semi-final stage. Find out who Nick wanted to win...Many thanks to special guest Nick Hornby. Dickens & Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius is published by Penguin and available now.Note that this episode was recorded on December 14th, four days before the sad news came through that we'd lost Specials/Fun Boy Three star Terry Hall.Pieces discussed: Betty Page sees Prince live at the Lyceum, Prince airs his Dirty Mind to John Abbey, Prince in Pieces by Chris Heath, Boz Scaggs audio interview, The Human League do Christmas and Stevie Chick on how UK hip-hop got its groove.

    E142: Paul Gorman on the rise and fall of the music press + Time Out's Tony Elliott

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 12, 2022 84:45

    In this episode we welcome writer, curator and consultant Paul Gorman and ask him about his new book Totally Wired: The Rise and Fall of the Music Press.In a loose and free-ranging conversation, our guest reflects on various eras and aspects of all that Rock's Backpages is about, from the launch of Melody Maker almost 100 years ago to the online ecosystem of Instagram and Tik Tok in the present day.Along the way we cover everything from Crawdaddy! to Smash Hits via marginalised women writers and feuds between musicians and journalists. (Listen out for the unsettling sound of Nick Cave describing his new "hate" song 'Scum' to interviewer Mat Snow.) We also hear clips from Frank Broughton's 1998 audio interview with Time Out's late founder Tony Elliott.By way of paying tribute to the late Christine McVie, there are further audio clips in the episode, this time from John Pidgeon's 1977 interview with Fleetwood Mac, plus we bid a sad farewell to Stax Records co-founder Jim Stewart.Mark selects his highlights from recent additions to the RBP library, quoting from pieces about Marianne Faithfull, Ravi Shankar, Alexis Korner and the mighty Pat Benatar, after which Jasper concludes matters with remarks on articles about Odd Future and the brilliant Billie Eilish.Many thanks to special guest Paul Gorman; Totally Wired is published by Thames & Hudson and available now from all good bookshops. Visit Paul's website at and follow him on Instagram at _paul_gorman_.Pieces discussed: US indie mags, The Decline and Fall of the UK Music Press, From NME to Smash Hits, How to be a Rock Critic, Rock Critics Rule..., Tony Elliott audio, Fleetwood Mac audio, Stax Records, That Memphis Sound, The 1973 Rock Writers Convention, Marianne Faithfull, Alexis Korner, Ravi Shankar, Pat Benatar, Odd Future and Billie Eilish.

    E141: RJ Smith on Chuck Berry + Ice-T + Black L.A. + Wilko Johnson

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 28, 2022 70:04

    In this episode we invite esteemed author RJ Smith to tell us about his career, his adopted Los Angeles, and his new biography of Chuck Berry.We start in Detroit, where RJ was raised on a diet of AM radio, the Stooges and Creem magazine, then follow him to New York and his decade of writing for the Village Voice. He talks about the impact of Lester Bangs and Robert Christgau before explaining why he followed the Voice's executive editor Kit Rachlis to California and the L.A. Weekly. We hear how he became fascinated by the pre-rock history of African-American L.A. and how that led to the publication of The Great Black Way (2008). His fourth book, Chuck Berry: An American Life, gives us the opportunity to discuss the problematic brilliance of St. Louis's "Black bard of white teen angst", a half-century after the creepy novelty comedy of 'My Ding-a-Ling' gave the Black-rock pioneer a No. 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.We return to our L.A. theme to hear clips from a 1991 audio interview in which Tracy "Ice-T" Marrow talks to Andy Gill about the birth of gangsta rap and his thrash-metal side project Body Count. RJ recalls his own writing about West Coast hip hop before we say a sad goodbye to the great Wilko Johnson and hear the-then Dr. Feelgood guitarist speaking to Mick Gold in 1975.Mark quotes from some of the pieces he's added to the RBP library, including interviews with Long John Baldry and Olivia Newton-John, after which Jasper wraps matters up with remarks on articles about Deadmau5 and Asian Dub Foundation.Many thanks to special guest RJ Smith. Chuck Berry: An American Life is published by Omnibus in the UK and Hachette in the US and is available now from all good bookshops.Pieces discussed: Chuck Berry, Chuck Berrier, Chuck Berriest, Interview with RJ Smith, Charles Brown, N.W.A., Ice-T audio, Dr. Feelgood, Wilko Johnson, Rab Noakes, Long John Baldry, Free, Captain Beefheart, B. Bumble and the Stingers, Simon and Garfunkel, Olivia Newton-John, Deadmau5 and Asian Dub Foundation.

    E140: Holly Gleason on Women in Country + Guy Clark + Taylor Swift

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 14, 2022 69:47

    In this episode we welcome the splendid Holly Gleason, all the way from downtown Nashville, and invite her to tell us about her life as a country music writer and publicist.Holly explains how, as a teenage championship golfer, she first became enamoured of country in her native state of Ohio, later writing about it (as well as about rap and R&B) for the Miami Herald. Tying in the episode's main theme with Woman Walk the Line – the wonderful essay collection she assembled and edited in 2017 – Holly's hosts ask her about her favourite female artists from Emmylou Harris to Taylor Swift. Along the way she gives us the inside lowdown on "Music City" – having just attended 2022's CMA Awards – and talks fascinatingly about Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus.The week's new audio interview, with the late great Guy Clark, gives us a chance to discuss that unpigeonholeable singer-songwriter, his complicated friendship with Townes Van Zandt, and his influence on disciples such as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell. Two clips from John Tobler's 1986 interview with Guy prompt tearful memories of Holly's friendship with the Texan troubadour.After we've said our own sad goodbyes to Melody Maker mainstay Colin Irwin, Low's Mimi Parker and Nazareth frontman Dan McCafferty, Mark and Jasper talk us out with their favourite new additions to the RBP library including interviews with Patti Smith and Little Simz.Many thanks to special guest Holly Gleason; visit her website at and find Woman Walk the Line at all good bookshops.Pieces discussed: Women in country, Taylor Swift, Holly Gleason in conversation with John Prine, Guy Clark audio, Guy Clark: Randall Knives, Desperados & Homegrown Tomatoes, Colin Irwin articles, Low, Nazareth, Patti Smith, Bobbie Gentry and Little Simz.

    E139: Billy James on Bob Dylan + Columbia Records + Laurel Canyon

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 31, 2022 68:21

    In this episode we welcome the legendary Billy James, all the way from the Bay Area, and tap him for his memories of working with Bob Dylan, the Doors and more.We start with Dylan and the interview the young Minnesotan gave to Billy in October 1961 in the latter's capacity as a Columbia Records publicist. Billy reminisces about his early interactions with the kid born Zimmerman; we hear a snatch of that 1961 audio, plus two clips from Eric Von Schmidt talking to Larry Jaffee about his friendship with Bob in that same period. In passing, we mention two great Dylan pieces by the week's featured scribe Greil Marcus, author of a new Bob "biography in seven songs" entitled Folk Music.From the early Bob years we switch coasts to California, where Billy worked in Columbia's Hollywood office and fell in with the Byrds between arranging press conferences for Patti Page, Percy Faith and his beloved Tony Bennett (pictured in the photo Billy is holding above). Finally, he talks about Terry Melcher, Elektra Records, the Doors, and the significant part he played in putting Laurel Canyon on L.A.'s pop map after moving up there from Beverly Hills in 1965...Many thanks to special guest Billy James; you can book his Airbnb in Redwood City here.Pieces discussed: Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan audio, Dylan #2, Eric Von Schmidt, The Billy James Underground, Billy James interviewed by Richie Unterberger, Time Out of Mind, Preemptive Obituaries and Prince's Dirty Mind.

    E138: Kid Congo Powers on the Cramps + the Gun Club + Brian Eno audio

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 17, 2022 68:17

    In this episode we welcome the delightful Kid Congo Powers, all the way from his home in Tucson, and ask him to talk about his former lives in the Gun Club, the Cramps and the Bad Seeds — as detailed in the riveting new memoir Some New Kind of Kick.The man born Brian Tristan looks back to his teen fanboy years from Frank Zappa to the New York Dolls, plus his memories of the L.A. glitter scene at Rodney's English Disco. He describes how it felt — as a gay Mexican American — to be a misfit among mainly white misfits on the punk scenes in L.A. and New York. He also explains how the Gun Club was conceived after he met Jeffrey Lee Pierce while queuing for a 1979 Pere Ubu show at the Whisky. We hear how Kid was then headhunted by the Cramps' Lux and Ivy, and what it was like to be part of their ghoulish B-movie aesthetic. We similarly learn how he was recruited (and "cast") as one of Nick Cave's drug-addled Bad Seeds in mid-'80s Berlin.From the decline and premature death of Jeffrey Lee Pierce — via Kid's own eventual long-term sobriety — we shift into the rarefied and erudite world of Brian Eno, an iconic glam influence on the young Brian Tristan. Clips from Mark Sinker's 1992 audio interview with pop's resident egghead are heard, leading in turn to discussion of Eno's collaborations with Robert Fripp and Toby Amies' remarkable new King Crimson documentary.Mark talks us through pieces about the Stones' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' (1968), classic-blues septuagenarian Victoria Spivey (1975), the Police (1979) and Joe Bataan & Arthur Baker (1996) after which Jasper concludes the episode with quotes from pieces on bodyguard-to-the-stars Michael Francis (2003) and the "rise and rise" of Pharrell Williams (2015).Many thanks to special guest Kid Congo Powers; Some New Kind of Kick is available this week in all good bookshops. For more Kid, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @kidcongopowers.Pieces discussed: The Cramps, The Gun Club, Art Laboe, Brian Eno audio, Robert Fripp, The Stones, Arthur Baker, 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', Victoria Spivey, The Police, The Cramps live, Joey Ramone, Kiss and Cher's minder, Pharrell Williams and Jon Hopkins.

    E137: Luke Haines & Peter Buck on R.E.M. + The Auteurs + Pharoah Sanders

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 3, 2022 58:25

    In this episode we welcome the dynamic transatlantic duo of Luke Haines & Peter Buck and invite them to discuss their splendidly-titled new album All the Kids are Super Bummed-Out.Luke and Peter reflect on their musical partnership, working methodology, and relationships with music journalists — sometimes fractious, occasionally fruitful. Peter recalls growing up as a New York Dolls fan in the Allman Brothers country of his native Georgia, then listens to 1992 audio of himself and bandmate Mike Mills telling Ira Robbins about R.E.M.'s rise and decision not to tour the imminent Automatic for the People. Luke then reflects on his early preference for Sounds (over NME and Melody Maker) and the postpunk writing of the late Dave McCullough.Mark & Jasper pay fulsome tribute to the departed Pharoah Sanders, with both guests pitching in on the music of the intrepid jazz man — and we also bid farewell to 'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio. Marks then talks us through his highlights among the latest articles added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Beatles in America (1964), Otis Redding at the Whisky (1966) and Leon Russell at the Royal Albert Hall (1971) — the greatest gig he ever saw, he claims — and Jasper wraps matters up with quotes from articles about Harry Styles (2017) and Rose Royce (2021)...Many thanks to special guests Luke Haines and Peter Buck; their new album All The Kids Are Super Bummed Out is out October 28th on Cherry Red.Pieces discussed: Rock Criticism and the Rocker: Peter Buck in conversation with Anthony DeCurtis, Simon Price on the Auteurs, Peter Buck and Mike Mills audio, Don Snowden's tribute to Pharoah Sanders, Coolio Like That, The Beatles in New York, Graham Nash, The Beach Boys, Leon Russell, Otis Redding, Arif Mardin, Harry Styles and Rose Royce on making 'Car Wash'.

    E136: Richard Goldstein on 60s pop writing + The Shangri-Las + Shadow Morton

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 19, 2022 55:45

    In this episode we welcome the great Richard Goldstein and invite him to relive his days as the Village Voice's "Pop Eye" columnist in the '60s — and his heady experiences in New York and California in that tumultuous decade.Richard takes us back to his Bronx youth and the early discovery of writers such as Joyce, Dostoyevsky and Voice co-founder Norman Mailer. He also recalls his subsequent exposure to Tom Wolfe and Susan Sontag — both of whom he knew — and explains their influence on his very personal writing style. The second piece he ever wrote for the Voice gives us the chance to discuss that most outré of '60s girl groups, the fabulous Shangri-Las, and to hear clips from Tony Scherman's 1993 audio interview with the trio's mentor-producer George "Shadow" Morton.From the "Las" we turn our attention to the Byrds and the dawning "rock" revolution Richard chronicled so adroitly. We also discuss his immersion in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury scene — plus the attraction to hippie heroes such as Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir that indirectly led to his coming-out and to his militant fight for gay rights as he subsequently rose to the position of Executive Editor at the Voice.Notwithstanding his marvellous 2015 memoir Another Little Piece of My Heart — frequently cited in this episode — Richard poignantly explains how the deaths of Janis Joplin and others made it almost impossible to write any longer about music.Many thanks to special guest Richard Goldstein; find him at and buy his books, including Another Little Piece of My Heart, at any good bookshop.Pieces discussed: Pop Eye: Soundblast '66 — The Byrds @ Yankee Stadium, The Shangri-Las: The Soul Sound from Sheepshead Bay, Shadow Morton audio, Thinking about the Sxities and Talking Heads Hyperventilate Some Clichés.

    E135: Chris Blackwell on Island from Millie to U2 + Bunny Wailer

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2022 61:10

    In this episode we welcome legendary Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and invite him to reminisce about key moments in his career at the helm of one of the UK's great independent labels.Chris describes his youth in Jamaica, his early exposure to Kingston's sound systems, and his move back to England in 1962. From Millie's 1964 smash 'My Boy Lollipop' to Island's expansion from ska and blue beat into rock and folk, the Harrow-educated mogul reflects on the vital importance of artists such as Steve Winwood, Free, John Martyn and of course the Wailers, the band that made roots reggae a global phenomenon. Clips from a 1988 audio interview with Bunny Wailer prompt reflections on the "Blackheart Man" and his role within the group. A discussion of the Compass Point studio Chris built in the Bahamas takes us to the Island reinvention of Grace Jones and the stunning early '80s albums she made there with the immortal rhythm section of Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare.References to the week's featured writer Rob Partridge — Island's head of press from 1977 to 1991 — leads to recall of the label's biggest act, U2, and the eventual sale of Island to Polygram... not forgetting Chris' signing of the singular Tom Waits in 1983.Many thanks to special guest Chris Blackwell, whose autobiography The Islander is published by Nine Eight Books and available now.Pieces discussed: Maureen Cleave on Ska and Blue Beat, Chris Blackwell in conversation with Richard Green, Richard Williams on Island Records, David Toop on the sale of Island Records, Rob Partridge on Free, Rob Partridge on Reggae and Bunny Wailer in conversation with Mark Sinker (audio).

    E134: Wayne Robins on Steely Dan + Donald Fagen + Denny Dias

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 22, 2022 82:22

    In this episode we invite former Creem editor and Newsday critic Wayne Robins to reminisce about his journalistic journey from the Berkeley Barb to NYU's graduate school of journalism — and to hold forth on his (and our) beloved Steely Dan.Wayne recalls the suburban East Coast childhood he had in common with the Dan's Donald Fagen — and the music that set them both free from it. Jumping forward to 1969, he describes the Rolling Stones show he saw in Oakland a month before Altamont. He also paints a vivid and amusing picture of Bard College, the upstate New York institution he attended at the same time as Fagen and Dan co-founder Walter Becker. Clips from RBP audio interviews with the duo and original Dan member Denny Dias accompany an in-depth discussion of every rock egghead's favourite group, not to mention Fagen's 40-year-old solo album The Nightfly.The episode concludes with a swift survey of recent additions to the RBP library, including  pieces about Juliette Gréco (1961), James Booker (1976), Mark E. Smith (1990), Limp Bizkit (2000), Soul Train's Don Cornelius (2012), Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner (2017)… and the "atomic" Count Basie (2020).Many thanks to special guest Wayne Robins. Sign up for his newsletter Critical Conditions at discussed: Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Steely Dan II, Donald Fagen audio, Denny Dias audio, Donald Fagen, Steely Dan III, Juliette Gréco, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, Culture Club, James Booker, Tom Petty, The Sixties, The Fall, Jann Wenner, Among the Mooks, Don Cornelius and Count Basie. 

    E133: Jason King on Queen + Sylvester + Boy George + Beyoncé

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 8, 2022 92:24

    In this episode, we invite Jason King to tell us about his multi-faceted career, from his Canadian upbringing to his chairmanship of Brooklyn's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.Along the way, Jason talks about his writing on LGBTQ icons from Sylvester and Luther Vandross to Queen's Freddie Mercury, of whom he is writing a major biography. Jason recalls writing for Vibe and the Village Voice in the Noughties, listens to clips from Bill Brewster's 2002 audio interview with Boy George and discusses the brilliant career of — and new album by — Beyoncé.After Jason and his co-hosts pay homage to revered Warner-Reprise chief Mo Ostin, Mark quotes from newly-added library pieces about John Lennon, the Jam, AC/DC and Primal Scream. Jasper rounds things off with remarks on a 1998 interview with Mo Ostin signing Prince, then known as "The Artist Formerly Known as..."Many thanks to special guest Jason King. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @jasonkingsays.Pieces discussed: Little Richard, Queen, Pop's great awokening, Gay soul, Boy George audio, Destiny's Child, Beyoncé, Beyoncé in the movies, Mo Ostin, John Lennon, The Jam, Joan Jett, Primal Scream, Newport Folk Festival, Tim Buckley, AC/DC, Radiohead and Prince.

    E132: Steven Daly on Orange Juice + Suede + Sugar Hill + Lizzo

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 25, 2022 89:11

    In this episode we welcome "gamekeeper-turned-poacher" Steven Daly, who Zooms in from his adopted Brooklyn to tell us about drumming in Orange Juice and his stellar writing career in America.Steven revisits his musical youth in '70s Glasgow and his first encounters with Edwyn Collins and Postcard's Alan Horne. He talks about the creative divergences within Orange Juice, his eventual move into writing for The Face and Edinburgh's Cut magazine, and the decision in the late '80s to base himself in New York. His hosts focus on three of his pieces, written over the course of 15 years for Spin, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, with Steven reminiscing about meeting Joni Mitchell and Sugar Hill matriarch Sylvia Robinson.Clips from Steven's May 1993 audio interview with Suede's Brett Anderson and Mat Osman provide a good excuse to discuss the emerging "Englishness" of post-grunge Britain and the abiding fantasy of UK bands "taking America". Staying Stateside, Jasper praises the week's featured artist Lizzo, with reference to pieces about the funk-pop star that stretch back to 2013. Mark then pays tribute to former Miles Davis bassist Michael Henderson, who died on July 19th, and talks us through his favourite library additions from the past fortnight — including pieces about Yoko Ono, Pink Floyd, Juan Atkins and the aforementioned Miles Davis. Barney mentions pieces about Canned Heat and World of Twist, while Jasper concludes the episode with his thoughts on D'Angelo and the great Black-owned record labels...Many thanks to special guest Steven Daly; visit his RBP writer's page for more on him and his writing.Pieces discussed: Orange Juice, Joni Mitchell, Deee-Lite, Sugarhill Gang, Suede audio, Suede, Lizzo profile, Lizzo live, The Year of Lizzo, Michael Henderson, David Dalton podcast, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Robert Fripp, Juan Atkins, Yoko Ono, Dusty Springfield, Canned Heat, Earl King, World of Twist, D'Angelo, Black Artist-Owned Labels and Sean Paul's teenage obsessions.

    E131: Robert Gordon on Memphis + Stax + ZZ Top + Robert Johnson

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 11, 2022 78:57

    In this episode we welcome the very engaging Robert Gordon "all the way from" his hometown of Memphis and ask him to talk about the music of his city from Sun and Stax to Alex Chilton and Big Star.Robert tells us about his childhood, along with the blues epiphany that was watching Furry Lewis support the Rolling Stones on the Memphis leg of their 1975 U.S. tour. Moving on to Stax, we look back at a great 1988 interview Robert did with the Memphis Horns' Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson — and then forward to the Wattstax festival, staged in L.A. 50 years ago this summer.Clips from the week's new audio interview — Tony Scherman asking Billy Gibbons about Robert Johnson — afford us the perfect excuse not just to discuss ZZ Top and their imminent new album but to revisit our guest's exhaustive 1991 essay on the "plundering" of Delta blues legend Johnson's estate.Mark talks us through a selection of newly-added library pieces about Frankie Lymon, Alma Cogan, San Francisco's Trips festival, Syreeta, Gang of Four and Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. In the absence of a vacationing Jasper, Barney wraps things up with quotes from articles about rock scribe R(ichard) Meltzer, the Specials and — circling back to Stax — Booker T. Jones recalling co-writing Albert King's brooding 'Born Under a Bad Sign' with William Bell...Many thanks to special guest Robert Gordon; the 25th anniversary edition of It Came From Memphis is published by Third Man Books and available now. Visit his website at discussed: The Memphis Horns, The plundering of Robert Johnson, It Came From Memphis, Wattstax, Wattstax, Wattstax, Billy Gibbons audio, Frankie Lymon, Andrew Loog Oldham, Syreeta, Punk magazine, XTC, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, Alma Cogan, Trips Festival, Sly Stone, Gang of Four, Richard Meltzer, The Specials and Booker T. Jones.

    E130: Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton on DJ history + Dom Phillips + Elvis

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 24, 2022 89:17

    In this episode we welcome dynamic duo Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton to Hammersmith as they prepare for the publication of a newly expanded edition of their mighty Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.Bill and Frank talk about the original mission behind the book, as well as their different routes into dance music. They recall how they met and combined forces in '90s New York, where DJs such as Frankie Knuckles and Junior Vasquez proved transformative figures. Co-host Mark recalls seeing Bill and Frank DJ'ing at Fabric in 2000 and then reading the original edition of Last Night…Recalling their first articles for Mixmag in the '90s, the DJ History duo reminisce about the late Dom Phillips, the magazine's former editor who was so brutally murdered in the Amazon this month. They praise the courage Dom showed in confronting Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and exposing the criminal gangs behind much of the Amazon's deforestation.Bill and Frank discuss the process of researching and writing Last Night…, barely knowing if figures such as Bronx hip hop legend were even still alive, and explain what turned clubs like Larry Levan's Paradise Garage into "religious" experiences.The week's new audio interview – Bill and Frank's own 2005 quizzing of drum and bass legend Fabio – proves infectiously enjoyable as they hear themselves asking the Brixton-born DJ about Crackers and Spectrum.The episode concludes with thoughts on Elvis Presley and the new biopic made by Baz Luhrman, after which Mark talks us through library pieces he's added about Bill Haley (1957), Billie Holiday (1959) and Buffalo Springfield (1968), while Jasper concludes proceedings with quotes from pieces about Kanye West (2016) and Arlo Parks (2019).Many thanks to special guests Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. The new edition of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is published by White Rabbit and available to pre-order now.Pieces discussed: House, Rave, DJ Kool Herc, Dom Phillips, Fabio audio, Elvis, Comeback Special, Elvis and Black Music, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, James Brown, Bob Marley, Bill Haley, Buffalo Springfield, Kanye West and Arlo Parks.