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.
John Simon on Janis Joplin + The Band + Van Morrison + Lillian Roxon
In the new episode of the Rock's Backpages Podcast, we welcome legendary producer, piano player and songwriter John Simon, beamed in from his winter retreat in the Florida Keys. Mere hours before the shocking assault on D.C.'s Capitol building, John reminisces wittily and insightfully about working with The Band, Janis Joplin, Taj Mahal & Bobby Charles — and about his trenchant musical memoir Truth, Lies & Hearsay. He also joins us as we listen to his sometime fellow Woodstocker Van Morrison talking in 1979 about the classic Astral Weeks. Van/Band fanboys Barney, Mark & Martin ask John about The Last Waltz, for which he served as musical director.
The Joplin connection leads to discussion of famed writer and encyclopaedist Lillian Roxon, the pioneering Australian who became a den mother at NYC's Max's Kansas City in the late '60s — and whose Janis obit is one of her featured pieces on our new home page. The RBP team also pays homage to departed stars Gerry Marsden, Geoff Stephens and masked hip hop maverick MF DOOM. Mark and Jasper wrap matters up with remarks on recent RBP library additions, including pieces about Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bruce Springsteen and his pre-E Street band Steel Mill and "Welsh Wu Tang" Goldie Lookin Chain.
Many thanks to special guest John Simon; please visit his website at johnsimonmusic.net for information about his book Truth, Lies & Hearsay and much else besides.
The Rock's Backpages podcast is part of the Pantheon podcast network.
Pieces discussed: John Simon, The Band, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison, Lillian Roxon on Janis, Merseybeat, Gerry Marsden, Winchester Cathedral, MF DOOM, Nor-Cal Folk-Rock Festival, Paul McCartney, Ska Jump, Kenickie, Divine Comedy, Billy Fury, Reggae in the USA, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Radiohead and Goldie Lookin Chain.
John Harris on Britpop + McCartney audio + Charley Pride
In this episode we welcome The Guardian's John Harris into RBP's virtual cupboard to reminisce about his career as a music journalist and author. Mark, Barney & Jasper look back with John at Britpop and at The Last Party, his definitive 2003 book about it; we also consider the crucial role in the Britpop story of Select magazine, which John edited between 1995 and 1997. Discussion of Britpop's more jingoistic aspects is accompanied by references to contemporary pieces on Blur, Oasis & co. by Jon Savage and Stuart Maconie — and followed by John's thoughts on morphing into one of the Grauniad's most respected political columnists.
The week's theme leads neatly into clips from a 1980 audio interview with Britpop forefather Paul McCartney, heard talking to John Tobler about his McCartney II album. Seasoned Beatles freak Harris talks about Macca's solo oeuvre and McCartney II's just-released successor… McCartney III! The "team" and their guest then turn their attention to the passing of the remarkable Charley Pride, the Black southerner who — against considerable odds — became a country music superstar.
Mark talks us through some notable new additions to the RBP library, including pieces about the Manson family, the Bee Gees, Kirsty MacColl, the Beastie Boys and Metallica. Barney welcomes California writer Deanne Stillman to the RBP fold with her 2004 piece on the trial of Phil Spector, while Jasper rounds matters off with reflections on Shakira and RBP's Paul Kelly's favourite band Coldplay.
Many thanks to special guest John Harris; visit his website at johnharris.me.uk.
Pieces discussed: Britpop, Britpoper, Britpopest, Paul McCartney audio, Patti Smith, Ramones, Dis-Education of Rock 'n' Roll, Charley Pride, Charley Prider, Charley Pridest, Charles Manson, Ashford & Simpson, Kirsty MacColl, Soft Cell, Beastie Boys, John Lennon, Barry Gibb & the Bee Gees, Kevin Coyne, Human League, Jason & Kylie, Metallica, Phil Spector, Viv Albertine, Shakira and Coldplay.
This show is a part of Pantheon Podcasts.
Kandia Crazy Horse on Southern Rock + Little Richard
In this week's episode, we talk to the splendid Kandia Crazy Horse — Zooming in from her apartment in "high Harlem" — about her career as a writer and singer-songwriter; about her abiding love for Southern rock; and about Rip It Up, her 2004 anthology of essays on Black rock from Little Richard to Lenny Kravitz. Along the way we discuss Donny Hathaway, Muscle Shoals, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Love's Arthur Lee... and Kandia's terrific 2013 country-soul album Stampede.
We then go back to 1969 and hear the first of three clips from Joel Selvin's audio interview with the aforementioned Little Richard, prompting discussion of Mr. Penniman's pivotal role in the story of Black rock ('n'roll).
Mark then guides us through his new library highlights, including Roy Carr & Ian MacDonald debating David Bowie, Nick Tosches on Dolly Parton, Barry Cain on the blower to Sylvester, Sandy Robertson meeting L.A. legend Terry Melcher in London and Mark Rowland talking at length with Tom Waits. Barney mentions Andy Beckett on Peter Hook and Gary Pig Gold on the Shaggs, while Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Jason Gross' piece about Istanbul in the early noughties and Wyndham Wallace's 2010 review of Janelle Monáe performing at Berlin's Postbahnhof.
Many thanks to special guest Kandia Crazy Horse; visit her website at kandiacrazyhorse.com.
The Rock's Backpages podcast is proud to be part of the Pantheon Podcast network.
Pieces discussed: Allman Brothers, Donny Hathaway, Arthur Lee, Black Rock, Black Rocker, Afropunk, Love, Little Richard audio, Muscle Shoals, Grateful Dead, Dolly Parton, Sylvester, Supremes, David Bowie, Terry Melcher, Tom Waits, George Michael, New Order, Shaggs, Istanbul and Janelle Monáe.
Mark Cooper on Neil Young + Jools Holland + Steve Van Zandt
In the new episode of the Rock's Backpages podcast, we welcome into RBP's cosy virtual cupboard the BBC's former Head of Music Entertainment — and the co-creator of the enduring Later… with Jools Holland show. Yes folks, Mark Cooper revisits his career as a music writer — from seeing the last Sex Pistols show in San Francisco in 1978 to interviewing N.W.A. in South-Cental L.A. 1989 — and talks about his long TV career and the hatching of Later in 1992.
Mark's 2008 interview with Neil Young sparks a discussion of the Canadian giant's so-called "doom" years from 1972 to 1976, boxed up this month in the second volume of his monumental Archives project. With special attention to 1975's dark masterwork Tonight's the Night, we hear clips of Neil speaking in 1985 and 2005, then discuss Don't Be Denied, the documentary Mark made about him with director Ben Whalley.
There's yet more audio in the episode as we celebrate the 70th birthday of Steve Van Zandt (or, if you prefer, Miami Steve, Little Steven… or indeed Silvio Dante) with clips from a 1982 interview. The E Street Band legend and subsequent Sopranos star talks to John Tobler about the bands he and his buddy Bruce Springsteen led in mid-'60s New Jersey, after which Mark and his co-hosts compare views on SVZ's side band the Disciples of Soul.
Finally, Mark (Pringle, that is) talks us through his highlights among the week's 50+ new library articles, including great pieces on the Four Tops, David Bowie, Hound Dog Taylor, Dan ('Instant Replay') Hartman and Sheryl Crow … after which Barney quotes from interviews with Prince and Ani DiFranco, talking about Woody Guthrie and Donald Trump's odious dad Fred. That just leaves Jasper to wrap things up with closing remarks on Simon Cowell's ill-fated Girl Thing and former X-Factor contestant Cher Lloyd.
Many thanks to special guest Mark Cooper.
Rock's Backpages is proud to be part of the Pantheon podcast network.
Pieces discussed: Neil Young, Sex Pistols, NWA, Neil Young, Neil Younger, Neil Youngest, Crazy Horse, Steve Van Zandt audio, Four Tops, David Bowie, Hound Dog Taylor, Dan Hartman, Culture Club, Mantronix, Sheryl Crow, Prince, Ani DiFranco, Girl Thing and Cher Lloyd.
Jez Butterworth on The Band + Dolly Parton + Perry Farrell
In this episode we welcome acclaimed playwright Jez (Jerusalem) Butterworth into RBP's virtual cupboard to talk mainly about The Band – but also about Dolly Parton and other musical tastes shared with hosts Mark, Barney & Jasper.
Barney gets the ball rolling by asking Jez how an early '90s conversation with Malcolm McLaren led to his first play Mojo – and how music has long played a part in his work. A Butterworth screenplay based on John Niven's peerless novella Music from Big Pink prompts discussion of The Band, taking in clips from Barney's 1991 audio interview with Al Aronowitz, the New York Post writer who first visited Big Pink to report on Bob Dylan's former backing group.
A tangent takes the episode into the terrain of Jerusalem, not to mention Brexit and the rural vs. urban polarisation exemplified by the U.S. presidential elections (still bitterly undecided at the time this episode was recorded). A neat segue leads to a deep appreciation of Dolly Parton, about to publish her autobiography Storyteller. An early Parton interview on RBP's home page provides a perfect springboard for consideration of her unique voice, her politics (or lack thereof), and her cosmetic augmentations.
There's no easy pivoting from Parton to Perry Farrell: suffice to say that – in 1996 audio clips about his Lollapalooza festival and the "spirits" of heroin and cocaine – the former Jane's Addiction and current Porno for Pyros frontman is barmy, brilliant and typically engaging.
Last but far from least, Mark talks us through his personal highlights from the week's new intake of great interviews and reviews from the golden age(s) of music journalism – including the Daily Express' Ivor Davis dropping in on John Lennon during his "lost" L.A. weekend in 1973, the Village Voice's Richard Goldstein on the "meaning" of Bette Midler in 1975, NME's Paul Morley coaxing quotes out of Joy Division's Ian Curtis in 1979… and that same rag's Steven Wells lambasting pale and uninteresting Velvet Underground devotees in 1993. Jasper takes us out with quotes from a fabulous early interview with Ms. Amy Winehouse…
Many thanks to special guest Jez Butterworth.
The Rock's Backpages podcast is proud to be part of the Pantheon Podcast Network.
Pieces discussed: The Band, Bob Dylan, Al Aronowitz audio, Dolly Parton, Dollier Parton, Dolliest Parton, Perry Farrell audio, Bob Dylan & the Hawks, Steve Winwood, John Lennon, Bette Midler, Manchester bands, Luther Vandross, Velvet Underground, Public Enemy, Amy Winehouse and Baron Wolman.
Loraine Alterman on Detroit + Stevie Wonder + Elvis Costello
In this episode, Barney, Mark & Jasper welcome the great Loraine Alterman — live from New York City! — to reminisce about her journey from '60s "Teen Beat" reporter on the Detroit Free Press to co-producer of a new Broadway show about Motown stars the Temptations. Along the way we also hear about New York's Fillmore and Apollo theatres — and how John Lennon came to be Best Man at her wedding to actor Peter Boyle. Then we head back to the Motor City to discuss the genius of Stevie Wonder as he morphed from '60s Motown prodigy to '70s Moog magician.
After paying their respects to the late Spencer Davis – the R&B "professor" who launched the superhuman lungs of 16-year-old Stevie Winwood on the world — your hosts and their guest hear the first of three clips from a compelling audio interview with Elvis Costello, mainly (but not exclusively) telling Adam Sweeting about his 1995 covers album Kojak Variety. Discussion of pop's own Mr. Eclectic ensues before Mr. Pringle talks us through his favourite new additions to the ever-expanding RBP library — including interviews with Brian Jones, Robert Wyatt, Grace Jones … and mall-pop princess Debbie Gibson. Barney cites a prescient 2014 interview about racism and Confederate flags with Lynyrd Skynyrd's Rickey Medlocke, and Jasper wraps matters up with reflections on Jason Donovan and D'Angelo…
Many thanks to special guest Loraine Alterman. For more information about the International Myeloma Foundation’s Annual Comedy Celebration, please visit comedy.myeloma.org.
Pieces discussed: MC-5, Smokey Robinson, Apollo Theatre vs Fillmore East, John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Wonderer, Stevie Wonderest, Spencer Davis Group, Spencerer Davis Group, Spencest Davis Group, Elvis Costello audio, Brian Jones, Soul, Soft Machine, Funkadelic, J. J. Cale, Grace Jones, Debbie Gibson, New Order, Lauryn Hill, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jason Donovan, D'Angelo's Black Messiah and Parody in Popular Music.
This show is part of the Pantheon Podcast Network.