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.
Jennifer Otter Bickerdike on Nico + Jackson Browne + Britney Spears
In this week's podcast, Mark and Jasper are joined by the excellent Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike to talk about her new Nico book, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico. Jennifer shares the story of where the idea for the book came from and contemplates comparisons of Nico with Marianne Faithfull. The three of them also consider her remarkable music from Chelsea Girl to Camera Obscura and her time in the Velvet Underground that led to long-lasting collaboration with John Cale.
They then listen to two excerpts from the week's audio interview with Jackson Browne, in which he reminisces about cheap rents in Los Angeles and learning the piano, plus why he often doesn't write political songs. Following the sad news of rapper Biz Markie's death, the trio pay tribute to his infectious humour and joyful singing.
Talk then turns to what's new in the library, with Mark highlighting pieces about Bob Dylan, Debbie Harry and M People's Mercury Prize success among others and Jasper selecting David Kamp's oral history of the Brill Building and an early Britney Spears review, which sparks discussion of Jennifer's upcoming book Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon and the horrors of Britney's guardianship.
Many thanks to special guest Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico is published by Faber and available now. Visit Jennifer's website at jenniferotterbickerdike.com.
Pieces discussed: Nico by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, Nico by Peter Jones, Nico by Clinton Walker, Nico by Geoffrey Cannon, Jackson Browne audio, Cold Chillin' Records/Biz Markie, Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, John Lennon, Sex Pistols, Radiohead, Young Bob Dylan, The Tremeloes, Blondie, M People, Lyrics not poetry, Britney Spears, The Brill Building, Grime, Lavine Hudson and Women music journalists in America 1920–1960.
Nelson George on the Death of R&B + Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis audio
In the new episode of the RBP podcast, hosts Barney, Mark & Jasper welcome the great Nelson George into "the cupboard", all the way from his native Brooklyn. Nelson talks about his long and distinguished career, from interning at Billboard via his Village Voice column to his recently-published collection The Nelson George Mixtape, Vol. 1. His hosts ask him specifically about his essential 1988 book The Death of Rhythm & Blues, as well as about hip hop & the Average White Band.
The conversation then turns to the week's new audio interview(s) with Nelson favourites Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis — and to the Minneapolis duo's peerless productions of Janet Jackson, Alexander O'Neal and the S.O.S. Band. Mark then talks us through new library pieces about Lee Dorsey, Television's Richard Lloyd and Public Enemy, while Barney highlights Sheila Weller's Vanity Fair retrospective on Haight-Ashbury and Jasper quotes from Mal Peachey's 2004 Independent appreciation of Eric Dolphy's jazz classic Out to Lunch.
Many thanks to special guest Nelson George. Visit his website at http://www.nelsongeorge.net/bio for details of his books and other work.
Pieces discussed: Nelson George, The Death of Rhythm & Blues, Hip Hop America, Bruce Springsteen, Arthur Lee, Average White Band, Jimmy Jam audio, Terry Lewis audio, The Who, Byrds, Miles Davis, Germaine Greer, Richard Lloyd, Public Enemy, Lee Dorsey, Suede, Summer of Love, Eric Dolphy and Run the Jewels.
Vivien Goldman's Punky Reggae Party + 'Launderette' + Joe Strummer audio
In this episode, hosts Barney Hoskyns, Mark Pringle & Jasper Murison-Bowie welcome the one & only Vivien Goldman to join them live & direct from her beloved Jamaica — and to talk about her life as a writer about postpunk, reggae, dub & her other "outernationalist" passions.
The "Punk Professor" reminisces about her days on Sounds & the UK's other "inkies", and her fight to make women's voices heard in the '70s music press: her 1977 challenging of George Benson's ingrained male chauvinism; her championing of the Raincoats & other "she-punks" of the period; and her own 1981 indie classic 'Launderette'. She brings her musical odyssey up to date by trailing Next Is Now, the new album she's just finished with producer Youth.
After we hear clips from Adam Sweeting's 1988 audio interview with Joe Strummer, Vivien pitches in with her memories of the Clash man — and of the Ladbroke Grove "punky reggae" scene of which she was herself a key part. Mark then talks us through his library highlights from the past fortnight, including a 1966 Melody Maker interview with a young David Bowie; Penny Valentine's Disc review of 'River Deep — Mountain High' from the same year; and Harold Bronson's 1972 Rolling Stone retrospective on Animals/Yardbirds producer Mickie Most. Barney mentions more recent pieces about Britpop, Roy Harper & Willie Nelson, and Jasper wraps things up with a nod to Gary Lucas' memoir of introducing a young Vin Diesel to cult "mixmaster" Arthur Russell.
Many thanks to special guest Vivien Goldman; visit her website at viviengoldman.com.
Pieces discussed: Vivien Goldman vs. George Benson, Raincoats, Punk Renaissance Woman Vivien Goldman, Joe Strummer audio, David Bowie, Nancy Sinatra, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robert Wyatt, River Deep – Mountain High, Sly and the Family Stone, Mickie Most, Blondie, Wanda Jackson, Britpop, Roy Harper, Willie and the Weed Factory, Labelle and Vin Diesel meets Arthur Russell.
David Kamp on Rock Snobbery + 1971 + Sly Stone + Doors audio
In the new episode of the RBP podcast, hosts Mark Pringle, Martin Colyer & Barney Hoskyns invite David Kamp to reminisce about The Rock Snob's Dictionary, already 15 years old but still wonderfully droll and still very on-the-money about people like, well, Mark, Martin & Barney. We ask David to explain the origins of Rock Snobbery and to revisit his epic Vanity Fair pieces about Sly Stone and the unlikely friendship 'twixt country icon Johnny Cash & producer Rick Rubin.
The week's overaching theme of 1971 — inspired by Asif Kapadia's new Apple TV series — leads to discussion of Sly's dark masterpiece (and rock-snob staple) There's A Riot Goin' On, and then on to the Doors' redemptive swansong L.A. Woman, released three months before Jim Morrison's death in Paris. Clips from John Tobler's 1983 audio interview with surviving trio Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger & John Densmore prompt discussion of the Doors' legacy & status in the rock pantheon, after which Mark & Barney talk us through their highlights among the new articles in the RBP Library. These include great pieces on Bob Dylan, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Rough Trade, Some Bizzare's Stevo, the Stones' Keith Richards, plus a lovely 2008 conversation between Simply Red's Mick Hucknall and the mighty Bobby "Blue" Bland.
Many thanks to special guest David Kamp; visit his website at davidkamp.com.
Pieces discussed: The Rock Snob's Dictionary: An Introduction, Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin, Sly Stone's High Power, The Doors, The Doors audio, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Van der Graaf Generator, Stevo, Sylvester, Bob Dylan, Scott Walker, Johnny Cash, Rough Trade, Keith Richards, Mick Hucknall meets Bobby "Blue" Bland and Jen Cloher.
Carol Cooper on New York Sounds + Stax Records + Eddy Grant audio
In this episode we welcome the distinguished New York writer Carol Cooper and ask her to talk us through her career, from her first pieces for the SoHo Weekly News, via the Village Voice and The Face to her present incarnation as an Adjunct Instructor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Dr. Cooper also talks about her early experiences of live music in NYC & New Jersey, plus the dawn of East Coast hip hop (and the vital importance of Bronx club Disco Fever); the problematic concept of "global music"; and the impact of Jungian psychology of her writing & teaching.
Carol then pitches in on a discussion about Steve Cropper, Otis Redding & the racial politics of Stax Records, as well as reminiscing about her 1983 Musician interview with Eddy Grant as Mark talks us through a 1991 audio interview with the former Equal. There's a general discussion of the Guyana-born maverick's unique genre-blending career and DIY business acumen.
Mark talks us through highlights among the most recent additions to the RBP Library, including pieces on Graham Nash & the Hollies, Aretha Franklin's legendary show at the Fillmore West and Paul McCartney's 1980 drug bust in Japan, while Jasper has his mind twisted by Edwin Pouncey's guide to "occult rock" and Lisa Verrico's advice to Times readers on "how to get hip to rap".
Many thanks to special guest Carol Cooper. Please visit carolcooper.org for more of her writing and to buy her book, Pop Culture Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race.
Pieces discussed: Black Music Association, Global Music, Disco Fever, Stax Story, Steve Cropper, Stever Cropper audio, Otis Redding, Eddy Grant audio, Graham Nash, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, Chelsea FC, Gil Evans, Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop, Neil Young's archives, Top 10 Black clubs, Occult rock, How to get hip to rap and Rick Rubin.
Marshall Crenshaw on Buddy Holly + Tom Wilson + Lloyd Price
In this episode we invite beloved pop-rock singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw to reminisce about his long career, from the 40-year-old Shake single 'Something's Gonna Happen' to the documentary film he's producing about Dylan/Zappa/Velvets producer Tom Wilson. Along the way, Barney, Mark & Jasper ask Marshall about his Michigan upbringing, playing John Lennon in Beatlemania, signing to Warner Bros. Records, and his great influence Buddy Holly.
Holly pops up in a clip from the week's new audio interview, a 1990 conversation with sometime Cricket Sonny Curtis, who tells John Tobler about his friendship with Buddy, the Clash's version of his timeless 'I Fought the Law' and the mysterious 1966 death of fellow Texan singer Bobby Fuller. Yet another Texan, the aforementioned Mr. Wilson, offers the perfect excuse to discuss Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention.
From there, we say goodbye to another deep Southerner, R&B legend Lloyd ('Lawdy Miss Clawdy') Price, referencing Wayne Robins' fascinating 2013 interview with the 80-year-old "Mr. Personality". Mark guides us through his favourite library additions of the week, including interviews with Carly Simon, Lamont Dozier and Mel & Kim, and Jasper concludes the episode with passing remarks on Wattstax, Björk and Charles Aznavour.
Many thanks to special guest Marshall Crenshaw; visit his website at http://marshallcrenshaw.com/, and back the Kickstarter for the Tom Wilson documentary.
Rock's Backpages is part of the Pantheon podcast network.
Pieces discussed: Marshall Crenshaw by Iman Lababedi, Marshall Crenshaw by Laura Fissinger, Sonny Curtis audio, Lloyd Price by Bill Millar, Lloyd Price by Wayne Robins, Tom Wilson, Carly Simon, Lamont Dozier, The Replacements, Mel & Kim, Shaun Ryder, Wattstax, Björk and Charles Aznavour.
Learn so much
It's like an education on rock through the ages (starting around 1956). Barney, Mark, and Jasper -- and their various FANTASTIC guests-- go into delightful and remarkably erudite discussions about all the stars across popular music who touched or crossed their paths, and ours -- who were squarely the movers of Rock through the Rock ages. The three hosts remind us that rock journalism was once a vital movement that helped a culture understand and appreciate what was happening in it musically. So, if you want to know who sang what, who wrote what, and how today's popular music has changed compared to how it started and blossomed throughout the 60s to today -- or didn't -- then the RBP Podcast will leave you wonderfully fulfilled, educated, and perhaps left with a hope that the future will learn from the past. Maybe modern music will once again be a force for thoughtful change in attitudes and a relevant commentary on society. All of this is discussed, and more. Check it out, and see what you think. And subscribe to the RBP archive! Articles and audio by major rock journalists from the past 55 years. There is nothing like RBP. Highly recommended!
They are all vastly informative and entertaining.
All topics discussed come from a wide variety of popular music and the hosts are informed in giving their opinions, if not already informed through first-hand experience and/or memory. Sensitive, thought-provoking discourse on the subjective nature of music, culture, and taste. They value writers and critics whose work has influenced other writers and critics with respect to writing style and personality— more so than writers who sought to uncover objective truth (and those writers are still seeking, the ones still alive anyhow). A must-listen for aspiring musicologists and music journalists.