130 episodes

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 much much more. The RBP podcast is produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie and is a proud part of Pantheon — the podcast network for music lovers.

Rock's Backpages Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns, Jasper Murison-Bowie

    • Music
    • 4.2 • 63 Ratings

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 much much more. The RBP podcast is produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie and is a proud part of Pantheon — the podcast network for music lovers.

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

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

    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.

    • 1 hr 29 min
    E129: Deborah Frost on heavy metal + Blue Öyster Cult + Grace Jones + Foals

    E129: Deborah Frost on heavy metal + Blue Öyster Cult + Grace Jones + Foals

    In this episode we welcome heavy metal expert Deborah Frost, Zooming in from her native New York City, and invite her to talk about her career as a writer and musician.

    Deborah reminisces about the all-girl "female Dolls" Flaming Youth, in which she drummed in the early '70s, and then explains how she came to write her first pieces for Circus in 1977. She talks about her love of hard rock and heavy metal, and about contributing to Rolling Stone and the Village Voice — including her acclaimed 1985 Voice piece 'White Noise: How Heavy Metal Rules', with its unflattering descriptions of the drug-and-groupie-addled Mötley Crüe.

    From the Crüe we segue into another great "umlaut" metal band, one beloved of Deborah's co-hosts Barney, Martin & Jasper. Yep, we're talking about Blue Öyster Cult, to whose drummer Albert Bouchard our guest was once married. After Barney & Martin attempt to do justice to what made the Cult so uniquely brilliant, we hear clips from 1978 audio interviews with the group's Allen Lanier& Eric Bloom, while Deborah talks about the "rock-critical" role played in the BÖC's development by Sandy Pearlman, R(ichard) Meltzer & punk poetess Patti Smith.

    An abrupt shift takes us into the amazing world of Grace Jones and her curation of the 2022 Meltdown festival in London. Guest and hosts alike celebrate the iconic Jamaican transgressor, focusing particularly on the Island albums she made at Chris Blackwell's Compass Point studios in the early '80s. Deborah also dumbfounds us with a story about getting naked in a New York sauna with Grace and her beefy boyfriend Dolph Lundgren.

    There's bonus audio in the form of Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis, talking in 2015 to Coup De Main's Pip Williams. Foals fan Jasper introduces the clips and — in the week that sees the release of their new album — explains why he rates his fellow Oxonians so highly. After that, he takes us through recent RBP library pieces added by the holidaying Mark Pringle, including Max Jones' 1959 Melody Maker homage to the departed Billie Holiday and Calvin Bush's 1998 Muzik profile of Jungle king Goldie.

    Many thanks to special guest Deborah Frost. Find out more about her and her writing on her RBP writers page.

    Pieces discussed: How Heavy Metal Rules, Rock Criticism as Brain Surgery, Allen Lanier audio, Eric Bloom audio, Grace Jones in 1977, Grace Jones in 1980, Chris Blackwell's Compass Point studios, Foals' Yannis Philippakis audio, Billie Holliday R.I.P., Goldie and Odell's disco.

    • 1 hr 13 min
    E128: Robert Greenfield on the Rolling Stones + Jerry Jeff Walker

    E128: Robert Greenfield on the Rolling Stones + Jerry Jeff Walker

    In this episode we welcome the great Robert Greenfield, beamed in from his home in Carmel, California, and ask him about his early '70s adventures with the Rolling Stones that inspired the seminal book S.T.P..
    Robert recounts his journey from Fusion and Boston After Dark, via Rolling Stone's London bureau, to his stellar career as an author and biographer — including his celebrated books about Bill Graham, Jerry Garcia and Augustus "Owsley" Stanley III. He describes how he showed up at Keith Richards' Villa Nellcote in August 1971, during the recording of the now-50-year-old Exile On Main St.. After this we hear about the defining 1972 pieces he wrote for Rolling Stone about that album's final overdub/mixing stages in L.A., and about the start of the "Stones Touring Party" trek through North America. We also hear a 1997 audio clip of Keef looking back on Exile and its gradual rise to acclaim as the group's greatest album, plus there's a digression on photographer-filmmaker Robert Frank, whose C********r Blues was (like S.T.P.) a key document of that triumphant 1972 tour.
    From there we go to clips from the week's new RBP audio interview, which features John Tobler in a 1992 conversation with folk-country legend Jerry Jeff Walker, the object of veneration on Steve Earle's new album Jerry Jeff. The genial and engaging Mr. Walker talks to Tobler about the difference between Nashville and his adopted Austin, his beloved 1968 song 'Mr. Bojangles', and (in the episode's outro) his encouragement of fellow troubadour Guy Clark — another object of Earle's Texan veneration.
    After valedictory reflections on Dylan crony and "stars' superstar" Bob Neuwirth, Microdisney/Fatima Mansions frontman Cathal Coughlan, and Greek prog-electronic deity Vangelis — news of the deaths of Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher and former Yes drummer Alan White came in after the recording of this episode — Mark Pringle quotes from his favourite new additions to the RBP library. These include pieces about Scott Walker, the Wailers, choreographer Cholly Atkins and self-proclaimed "bedroom bore" Aphex Twin, after which Jasper weighs in with remarks on the Streets and Shontelle.
    Many thanks to special guest Robert Greenfield. Find his books, including S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones, in all good bookshops.
    Pieces discussed: Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones tour, Keith Richards audio, Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Jeff Walker audio, Al Aronowitz on Bob Neuwirth, Cathal Coughlan, Vangelis, Scott Walker, Cholly Atkins, The Wailers, Aphex Twin, The Streets and Shontelle.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    E127: Chris Roberts on Radiohead + Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott

    E127: Chris Roberts on Radiohead + Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott

    In this episode we are joined by the droll and charming Chris Roberts, who looks back on his career as a journalist, author and musician.
    Chris recalls the seminal early experience of first hearing T. Rex's 'Metal Guru' and explains how this led eventually to his writing for Sounds and then Melody Maker in the '80s. After detours via the ill-fated Ikon magazine and the fascinating Idle Worship anthology, we get to Chris' Uncut years and hear an audio clip of him being very cheeky to Debbie Harry. This brings us up to the present day and the publication of his fine new study of the Velvet Underground.
    We then turn to the week's featured artist, the divine Missy Elliott, and discuss her 25-year-old debut Supa Dupa Fly, reviewed by Chris for the Maker — and the "Misdemeanor" gal's amazing career in general. Another album turning 25 is Radiohead's towering OK Computer, which affords the perfect excuse to hear clips from not one but two audio interviews — the first with Thom Yorke and Colin Greenwood from 1993, the second with Phil Selway from 1997, shortly after OK Computer's release. Chris reminisces about two Radiohead shows he saw, including a Royal Festival Hall gig he reviewed in 2000.
    Mark then runs through the articles he's most enjoyed adding during the previous fortnight, including pieces about the Ronettes, the Impressions, Ray Parker, Jr. and A Guy Called Gerald. Jasper finishes things off with remarks about interviews with Fall Out Boy and Grandmaster Flash.
    Many thanks to special guest Chris Roberts. His new book The Velvet Underground is published by Palazzo and available now.
    Pieces discussed: Debbie Harry audio, Chris on Supa Dupa Fly, Missy Elliott, Radiohead audio: Thom Yorke & Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway, The Ronettes, John Mayall, Stonewall riots, Popol Vuh, Guy Called Gerald, The Impressions, Ray Parker Jr., Fall Out Boy, Grandmaster Flash and Ayo.

    • 1 hr 15 min
    E126: Robert Duncan & Jaan Uhelszki on Lester Bangs + Creem + Suicide

    E126: Robert Duncan & Jaan Uhelszki on Lester Bangs + Creem + Suicide

    In this episode we mark the 40th anniversary of the death of arguably the greatest — and certainly the most "almost famous" — writer in the history of music journalism.
    Two of Lester Bangs's closest Creem colleagues (both wonderful writers in their own right) join us from California to reminisce about the man and his work. Jaan Uhelszki, who started in the Creem office the same day as Lester, gets the ball rolling by putting Detroit's "anti-Rolling Stone" in context. Robert Duncan, who arrived two years later in 1974, adds his recollections of "America's only rock'n'roll magazine" [sic] before paying tribute to Lester. Respect, laughter and sadness ensue as Robert & Jaan discuss their friend's gonzoid genius, his exasperating foibles and the addiction that killed him at 33, six years after Robert persuaded him to move to New York.
    Seminal New York duo Suicide — beloved of Bangs — are the subjects of the week's new audio interview, clips from which feature pioneering electropunks Alan Vega & Martin Rev talking in 1998 about their "confrontational" live act, their introduction of the word "punk" into NYC's music scene in 1971… and Vega's love of British comedy The Full Monty!
    Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the articles recently added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Righteous Brothers, Laura Nyro, Jeff Beck at the Fillmore East, Pharoah Saunders and England's miserable Bickershaw festival. Barney notes a 1988 Paul Morley rumination on, yes, music journalism… and Jasper quotes from a John Doran "review" of Aphex Twin's Collapse.
    Many thanks to special guests Robert Duncan and Jaan Uhelszki; you can visit Robert's website at duncanwrites.com and find more of Jaan's writing on her RBP writer's page.
    Pieces discussed: Lester on RBP, Lester Bangs and Almost Famous, Richard Riegel on Lester, Robert Duncan, Lester on the MC5, Lester on how to be a rock critic, Lester on Astral Weeks, Lester on punk/jazz, Suicide audio, Righteous Brothers, Laura Nyro, Pharaoh Sanders, George Jones, Grateful Dead & Jeff Beck Group, Bickershaw festival, KISS, Divine, Paul Morley on the rock press and Aphex Twin's Collapse.

    • 1 hr 12 min
    E125: Vashti Bunyan on Wayward + Nick Drake + Joe Boyd audio

    E125: Vashti Bunyan on Wayward + Nick Drake + Joe Boyd audio

    In this episode we welcome the wonderful Vashti Bunyan — all the way from her home in Edinburgh — and ask her about her magical music and the remarkable memoir she's just published.
    The "freak folk" legend — though she strongly disavows the "folk" tag — begins by talking of her early musical memories, among them meeting an unhappy Cliff Richard backstage in Blackpool in 1961. She describes her dream of becoming a pop singer in mid-'60s London, and how that led her to the Mayfair office of Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Briefly and unhappily typecast as "a dark-haired Marianne Faithfull", she recalls the session for the Jagger-Richards song 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind', backed up in the studio by Jimmy Page & Nicky Hopkins.
    Vashti explains how she felt equally adrift in the world of folk, eventually dropping out of the London music scene to travel to the Outer Hebrides in a horse-drawn wagon. This is the journey she writes about so vividly in Wayward, leading circuitously to Joe Boyd producing her 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day. After a discussion of that exquisite record, she talks about why she neither wrote nor sang another song for 30 years… then admits how much it meant when younger admirers like Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart discovered the album in 2000, subsequently appearing on her Lookaftering (2005) and Heartleap (2014).
    With Nick Drake's final album Pink Moon turning 50 this year, we take Vashti back to the awkward afternoon she spent trying to write a song with him after Joe Boyd had introduced them. Along the way we hear clips of Joe speaking to Gerrie Lim about Nick's guitar playing and "romantic doom" in 1994.
    After paying our respects to Saints frontman Chris Bailey, we touch on highlights among the 120+ articles just added to the RBP library, including pieces about Charles Mingus (1962), Dusty in Memphis (1969), the Smiths (1987) and Fatboy Slim (1997). Jasper's selection of a recent Michael McDonald interview gives us the perfect excuse to explain to Vashti what "Yacht Rock" is… after which we hear a final clip from the Boyd interview.
    Many thanks to special guest Vashti Bunyan; Wayward is published by White Rabbit and available now. You can visit Vashti's website at anotherday.co.uk.
    Pieces discussed: Vashti Bunyan, Heartleap, Robert Kirby, Lost Ladies of Folk, Joe Boyd on Nick Drake, The Saints, Chris Bailey, Muddy Waters, Jimi and Janis, The Smiths, Fatboy Slim, Charlie Mingus, Dusty Springfield, Robyn, Ry Cooder, Duke Ellington, ESP Disk, Michael McDonald and Phil Collins.

    • 1 hr 12 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
63 Ratings

63 Ratings

dgf4am ,

Snearingly awake!

Top class fellers love it. Appreciate the diversity and the rabbit holes that the various articles inevitably lead me down. Keep up the fine work, maybe consider some closer micing for your recordings. Bring on the shirts. Snearingly awake! DGF

Ice-DM2-Tablet ,

Lefties alert!

Love the musical knowledge, the guests and the banter. Can’t abide the smug, 6th form common room, self-satisfied, media-liberal lefty political comments. Can you please start a new podcast and put your political stuff on there? Wonder how successful that would be 🤣

thaw lanark ,

Five stars

A fine, fine podcast

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