176 episodes

Tales from the world's largest archive of music journalism: entertaining interviews with luminaries such as Neil Tennant, Billy Bragg, Pamela Des Barres, Gary Kemp, Vashti Bunyan, Midge Ure, Nick Hornby and Robyn Hitchcock. Thoughtful and informative conversations about all aspects of popular music history, interspersed with clips from exclusive audio interviews that date back to the mid-'60s.
The RBP podcast is hosted by Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle and co-hosted & produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie. We're a proud part of Pantheon — the podcast network for music lovers.

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

    • Music
    • 4.3 • 73 Ratings

Tales from the world's largest archive of music journalism: entertaining interviews with luminaries such as Neil Tennant, Billy Bragg, Pamela Des Barres, Gary Kemp, Vashti Bunyan, Midge Ure, Nick Hornby and Robyn Hitchcock. Thoughtful and informative conversations about all aspects of popular music history, interspersed with clips from exclusive audio interviews that date back to the mid-'60s.
The RBP podcast is hosted by Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle and co-hosted & produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie. We're a proud part of Pantheon — the podcast network for music lovers.

    Simon Day on the Fast Show + Brian Pern + Steely Dan audio

    Simon Day on the Fast Show + Brian Pern + Steely Dan audio

    In this episode we welcome Fast Show legend Simon Day to downtown Hammersmith and ask him about his musical passions and the immortal Life Of Rock With Brian Pern.
    We start with our guest's misspent youth in south-east London, where he frequently saw bands such as Dr. Feelgood and local lads Squeeze and even fronted his own punk combo Simon & the Virgins. We hear about his early days on the standup circuit and his close associations with Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and the gang that coalesced around The Fast Show. From there we discuss the genesis of his "prog'n'roll" alter ego Brian Pern and his affectionate lampooning of Peter Gabriel.
    Clips from a 2003 audio interview with Steely Dan prompt an in-depth conversation about Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker. During this, Simon tells us how he first fell for the arch duo and we collectively compare notes on some of the group's greatest songs and albums.
    After a brief mention of featured writer Dorian Lynskey and his new book Everything Must Go, Mark quotes from newly-added library pieces about Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx and Beatles hairdresser Leslie Cavendish before Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on M. People's Heather Small and a particularly cantankerous Van Morrison.
    Many thanks to special guest Simon Day.
    Pieces discussed: Genesis Doing The Foxtrot, Genesis: No "Pale" Imitation, Seventies prog rockers Genesis are back, but are they welcomed?, All Apologies: Brian Pern, Steely Dan audio, Wayne Robins on the RBP podcast, Pete Seeger, Kendrick Lamar, Why do pop stars fall for conspiracy theories?, Dorian Lynskey on the RBP podcast, Mötley Crüe, Beatles hairdresser Leslie Cavendish, Elvis, The King Remembered — An oral history, Heather Small: Proud, Los Campesinos!, and A duel with Van Morrison.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Steffan Chirazi on Metallica + Jack Casady audio + John Sinclair

    Steffan Chirazi on Metallica + Jack Casady audio + John Sinclair

    In this episode we welcome the splendid Steffan Chirazi to RBP Towers and ask him about his career as a metal/hard rock specialist and his long association with the mighty Metallica.
    We hear about our guest's lucky break as a 15-year-old Motörhead maniac when the band's frontman Lemmy gave up three hours to Steffan during the sessions for 1983's Another Perfect Day – and became a dear friend for life. Steffan then recounts how he got his foot in the door at Sounds and its enduring HM spinoff Kerrang!.
    The first of many interviews with Metallica led to Steffan moving to San Francisco, where the band's bassist Cliff Burton showed him around town – only to die, tragically, in a car crash just months later. Clips from Barney's 1996 audio interview with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield prompt a conversation about our guest's close involvement with the thrashmeisters and his eventual stewardship of their in-house mag-turned-website So What!
    Following the metallic section of the episode we return to the older San Francisco of Haight-Ashbury and its '60s summer(s) of druggy love. Clips from Gene Sculatti and Davin Seay's 1984 audio interview with Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady – about to turn 80 as we record this episode – give us the chance to ask Steffan about the days of the Grateful Dead and their many hirsute friends. From there we switch to the rather different environment that was late '60s Detroit, paying tribute to poet, political firebrand and MC5 manager John Sinclair.
    We circle back to Steffan's post-Kerrang! career and hear about his 1999 encounter with David Bowie before Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on newly-added library pieces about LL Cool J and Eels.
    Many thanks to special guest Steffan Chirazi. Find him on Patreon at patreon.com/steffyspurs and read the Metallica magazine So What! at metallica.com. Listen to the official Metallica podcast at https://metallica.lnk.to/TheMetallicaReport.
    Pieces discussed: Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister: The Man Behind the Myth, Metallica: Thrash on Delivery, Metallica audio, Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady audio, Portrait of the Artist: David Bowie, LL Cool J: Time Traveller and Eels: Shootenanny!.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Sean O'Hagan on Microdisney + The High Llamas + The Beach Boys

    Sean O'Hagan on Microdisney + The High Llamas + The Beach Boys

    In this episode we welcome revered High Llamas leader (and arranger to the hip and the mighty) Sean O'Hagan to Hammersmith and ask him about his life and times from Microdisney to new album Hey Panda.
    We hear about Sean's Luton childhood, his family's move back to Ireland, and his 1980 encounter with the late Cathal Coughlan — the Corkonian with whom he formed the brave and brilliant Microdisney. Their path through '80s pop via Rough Trade and Virgin, and their eventual unravelling at the end of the decade, is discussed with reference to the new BBC documentary The Clock Comes Down the Stairs.
    The birth of the High Llamas involves RBP's own Mark Pringle, who recalls his production work on the 1992 EP Apricots (a.k.a. Santa Barbara). The influence of Brian Wilson on the sound and aesthetic of 1994's Gideon Gaye and 1996's Hawaii leads to Sean's reminiscences of meeting the Beach Boys and (almost) producing them. A side story involves his amusing memories of backing another cult L.A. genius, Love's Arthur Lee, in London.
    After we've heard clips from Mike Quigley's 1969 audio interview with Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, we return to the arc of the Llamas' story and ask Sean about the influence of contemporary R&B on the Llamas' Hey Panda.
    Finally, Mark and Jasper talk us out with quotes from the pieces they've most enjoyed adding to the RBP library over the preceding fortnight.
    Many thanks to special guest Sean O'Hagan. The High Llamas new album, Hey Panda, is out now; visit highllamas.com or your local record shop to get your hands on it.
    Pieces discussed: The High Llamas: You Can Call Me Alpaca, The High Llamas: Lo-fi Heaven, The High Llamas: A Different Breed, An Improbable History: Microdisney Interviewed, The Beach Boys audio, Ted Nugent Unleashes His Little Ball of Fire, Leonard Bernstein: Lenny's song and dance in Vienna, Lounging with Mr Williams, So why exactly does David Gray have this effect on women? and Terence Trent D'Arby: Neither Fish Nor Flesh.

    • 1 hr 33 min
    Ira Robbins on Trouser Press + Anglophilia + Nick Lowe audio

    Ira Robbins on Trouser Press + Anglophilia + Nick Lowe audio

    In this episode we welcome long-time RBP contributor Ira Robbins as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of his beloved Trouser Press.
    Ira tells us about the musical Anglophilia that began for him with the Beatles but surged with the 1968 release of The Who Sell Out.  He then recounts the beginning of his friendship with schoolmate Dave Schulps and explains how it led to a shared obsession with the British music press.
    The story of the 1974 launch of Anglophile fanzine Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press, in partnership with the late Karen Rose, is accompanied by quotes from a 2001 interview Ira gave to RockCritics.com. He talks about the years that followed the dropping of the "Trans-Oceanic" prefix, and about some of the contributors – more than a few female – who made Trouser Press such essential '70s reading.
    After playing a clip from a 1975 audio interview Ira did with Cockney Rebel's late frontman Steve Harley – who died after this episode was recorded – we turn our attention to his more recent encounter with the rather more genial Nick Lowe. Clips from this 2007 conversation prompt a general appreciation of the Jesus of Cool's career from Kippington Lodge to Little Village via Elvis Costello and Johnny Cash.
    After we've paid tribute to the departed Eric Carmen – with our guest disputing that (the) Raspberries were authentically "power pop" – Mark talks us out with quotes from the pieces he's most enjoyed adding to the RBP library over the preceding fortnight.
    Many thanks to special guest Ira Robbins. Zip It Up! The Best of Trouser Press Magazine 1974–1984 is published by Trouser Press Books and available now via trouserpressbooks.com. 
    Pieces discussed: Ira Robbins articles, The Story behind Trouser Press, Ira interviewed on RockCritics.com, Steve Harley audio, The New Wave Washes Out, Nick Lowe audio, Eric Carmen: Rock's Rejuvenated Raspberry, World Party, Charlie Watts, Was (Not Was), Rhythm and Blues and Kiss.

    • 57 min
    Alan Light on Vibe + Prince + Taylor Swift + Townes Van Zandt

    Alan Light on Vibe + Prince + Taylor Swift + Townes Van Zandt

    In this episode we welcome esteemed writer and editor Alan Light and ask him about the years he spent at Rolling Stone, Vibe and Spin — plus his close encounters with Prince, Taylor Swift and Townes Van Zandt.
    Vibe is the particular focus of interest for Alan's hosts, hence we hear about the magazine's inception, its co-founder Quincy Jones, our guest's long interview(s) with The Artist No Longer Known As Prince... and the problem with being a white editor of an essentially Black publication. Not to mention being at the helm when the East vs. West Coast rap wars kicked off and led to the killings of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.. Alan's 1999 move to alternative-rock bastion Spin prompts questions about managing music magazines and nurturing their writers. He talks proudly of Spin's coverage of the infamous Woodstock '99 festival.
    Our guest's return to full-time writing meant that he went on to interview many of music's biggest stars — none bigger than Taylor Swift, about whom he speaks with the greatest respect. The singer's 2014 switch from country to pop with the 1989 album triggers a fascinating conversation about the Swift phenomenon.
    What would have been the "late great" Townes Van Zandt's 80th birthday provides the perfect excuse to hear clips from John Tobler's 1987 audio interview with the tragically self-destructive Texan. Alan recalls a couple of "long evenings" with the singer-songwriter who died in 1997 — and tells Townes' funniest joke in the process.
    After Mark quotes from recently-added library articles about Loverboy and Warren Zevon, Jasper wraps matters up with his thoughts on Papa Roach and Françoise Hardy.
    Many thanks to special guest Alan Light. Find all his books, including Let's Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain and The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah, at all good bookshops. To listen to his podcast, visit sounduppod.com. 
    Pieces discussed: Vibe: the Hip Hop Years, R.I.P. Vibe, The Demise of Vibe and the Future of Criticism, Prince breaks the silence, Taylor Swift on writing her own rules, Taylor Swift at CMA Fest, Townes Van Zandt audio, Loverboy, Warren Zevon, Papa Roach and Françoise Hardy.

    • 1 hr 31 min
    Kimberly Mack on Living Colour + Greg Tate + The Black Rock Coalition

    Kimberly Mack on Living Colour + Greg Tate + The Black Rock Coalition

    In this episode the writer and academic Kimberly Mack joins us from Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to discuss the subject of "Black rock" in the context of her 33 1/3 study of Living Colour's Time's Up.
    We start by asking our guest about her childhood as the daughter of a rock-obsessed Black mother – and her experience of seeing Cheap Trick when theirs were the only Black faces in the Radio City Music Hall audience. She then discusses the "fictional categories (with real-world consequences)" of (white) rock and (Black) funk and R&B, from the earliest marketing of "race records" to the continuing genre segregation of the present day.
    We trace the line from Jimi Hendrix to Bad Brains – and the racist barriers they encountered. This culminates in Kimberly's recollection of seeing Living Colour on Showtime at the Apollo in 1988 – and how itled eventually to the writing of last year's book about Time's Up.
    Mark introduces clips from a 1988 audio interview with Living Colour's Vernon Reid. These lead in turn to a conversation about the late Greg Tate, mentor and inspiration to Kimberly and so many others – and the writer who co-founded the Black Rock Coalition with Reid. After namechecks for female rock icons from Labelle to Tracy Chapman, Kimberly talks about the "untold history" of marginalised American rock critics, a book about which she is currently researching.
    After tributes to MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, Can frontman Damo Suzuki and Melody Maker/Quietus scribe Neil Kulkarni, Mark quotes from newly-added RBP library articles about David Bowie (1967), Bill Withers (1972), Alice Cooper (1975) and Porter Wagoner (1978). Jasper then wraps matters up with his thoughts about Frank Owen's 2003 report on the slaying of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay and – from last year – Steve Pafford's account of the making of Gloria Gaynor's immortal disco anthem 'I Will Survive'.
    Many thanks to special guest Kimberly Mack. Living Colour's Time's Up is published by Bloomsbury and available now. Visit Kimberly's website at kimberlymack.com.
    Pieces discussed: Johnny Rotten, My Mom and Me, Living Colour's Time's Up (excerpt), Q&A with Jack White, David Toop on Black Rock, RJ Smith on Black Rock & Roll, Michael A. Gonzales' Tribute to Black Rock Coalition, Vernon Reid audio

    • 1 hr 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
73 Ratings

73 Ratings

RaphaRamone ,

Great Rider, Went to Great Pardies

Seems this chaps inability to use the letter t hasn’t impeded his career as a music journalist, perhaps his compuder has autocorrect. Just as well he wasn’t attempting to write about equestrianism.
Doubtless he’ll blame his working class upbringing, possibly bullshid.

splinno ,

Always entertaining

Experts with amateurs’ enthusiasm. Really good fun

stumpyarms ,

Essential listening

I’m ashamed to say I only caught on to this podcast about a year ago but I’ve listened to about thirty episodes and just think the whole thing is superb. Just listened to the Robert Greenfield show and thought it the best so far. So informative and a really worthy archive. I don’t understand why anyone would leave a bad review - it’s so much better than any other music pod I’ve heard and the presenters are so likeable. Hooked!

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