Rock's Backpages
Rock's Backpages
Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns, Jasper Murison-Bowie
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.
E97: Joel Selvin on Early '60s L.A. + Jack Nitzsche + Malcolm Cecil R.I.P.
In this episode of the RBP podcast, we welcome San Francisco Chronicle legend Joel Selvin into the virtual cupboard to talk about Hollywood Eden, his terrific new book about L.A.'s pop scene in the early '60s. After explaining how he first came to write for "the Chron" at the end of that decade, Joel recalls his early fascination with L.A. as the burgeoning "surf city" celebrated by Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys. Barney & Mark press him for stories about the scurrilous but brilliant "bottom feeder" Kim Fowley, after which we hear three audio clips from John Tobler's 1973 interview with (Jan &) Dean Torrence. (Among those namechecked along the way: Jan Berry, inevitably, and Lou Adler, Bruce Johnston, Terry Melcher & Jill Gibson...) Staying in a Southern California groove, Joel also reminisces about the troubled Jack Nitzsche, whom he interviewed for Melody Maker in 1978. We discuss Nitzsche's achievements as a producer-arranger, his big influence on the Rolling Stones, and his regrettable decline in the last years of his life. Handily, Joel also turns out to know his stuff when it comes to the role played in Stevie Wonder's synthesized '70s soul by the late Malcolm (Tonto's Expanding Head Band) Cecil, who passed away last week... Mark wraps matters up with observations on such recent RBP library additions as Maureen O'Grady's 1965 Rave interview with the visiting Byrds; Richard Goldstein's 1968 New York Times profile of the splendidly eccentric Van Dyke Parks; and — from 1980 — Glenn O'Brien's Interview interview with the Marianne Faithfull of Broken English. Many thanks to special guest Joel Selvin. Hollywood Eden is published by House of Anansi and Joel can be found online at Pieces discussed: Beach Boys, Lenny Waronker, Dean Torrence audio, Jack Nitzsche, Joel on Jack, Jack Nitzsche and the Stones, Stevie Wonder, Stubbs on Stevie, Tonto's Expanding Head Band, The Byrds, Bill Graham, Phil Spector, Phil Spector Again, The Stone Roses, Stash de Rola, Van Dyke Parks, Marianne Faithfull, Madonna, J.J. Fad, Brandy, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.
Apr 5
1 hr 13 min
E96: Adele Bertei on Labelle + Peter Laughner + August Darnell
Content warning: This episode contains discussion of domestic abuse and violence against women (33:50–37:42).  In this episode, we talk to the amazing Adele Bertei about her career as a singer, songwriter and the author of two terrific books, Peter & the Wolves & the new Why Labelle Matters. Starting with her wild life as a gay teenager in Cleveland, Ohio, we hear about her friend & mentor Peter Laughner, founder member of Pere Ubu and a tragically self-destructive troubadour who died back in 1977. Adele then talks us through her move to New York's East Village and her participation in the city's No Wave punk-funk scene as a member of James White & the Contortions — and as the leader of the all-girl Bloods. This leads on to discussion of ZE Records & August "Kid Creole" Darnell, audio clips of whom we hear in a 2016 conversation with Larry Jaffee... which in turn takes us on to Adele's hymn of love for Labelle, the trailblazing trio who morphed from '60s girl group into '70s Afrofuturists. RBP's co-hosts ask Adele about the group's manager Vicki Wickham (hear Vicki's own RBP podcast episode) and about Laura Nyro, Bobby Womack's Poet II, and female power & resistance in the decades before #MeToo. Finally, after noting the passing of Sally Grossman — widow of Bob Dylan's manager Albert & the "lady in red" on the cover of Bob's Bringing It All Back Home — Mark rounds up the highlights of his recent additions to the RBP Library, including Richard Goldstein's review of The Band's Big Pink, Philip Elwood's prescient 1970 appreciation of a young Bruce Springsteen playing live in San Francisco & the recently-recruited Maureen O'Grady interviewing new Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Jasper takes us out with thoughts on pieces about white appropriation of Black soul, plus an underwhelming 2000 "chart battle" between (insert polite cough) Westlife & Spice Girls... Many thanks to special guest Adele Bertei. Why Labelle Matters is published by UT Press and Peter & the Wolves by Smog Veil. Pieces discussed: Nona Hendryx, Labelle, Bobby Womack, August Darnell audio, Sally Grossman, Woodstock, Pere Ubu/Devo, Kid Creole, Chris Farlowe, The Monkees, The Band, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top, Love's Alone Again Or, Mick Taylor, Steel Mill, Ian Dury, Keith Levene, Millie Jackson, Screaming Lord Sutch, Westlife vs. Spice Girls, Le Tigre and Lily Allen/Joss Stone/Amy Winehouse. This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
Mar 22
1 hr 12 min
E95: Tony Russell on old-time country music + Phil Everly audio + Bunny Wailer R.I.P.
In this episode we welcome the great blues & country writer Tony Russell, who talks about his new Rural Rhythm: The Story of Old-Time Country Music in 78 Records — and the joys of the original Americana sound from the '20s to the '40s. Tony also talks us through his writing career from the late '60s to the present, with a particular nod to a 1972 Cream piece about B.B. King. The focus on the "Old-Time" country of Fiddlin' John Carson & Uncle Dave Macon carries through to discussion of those compelling revivalists Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, big faves of the RBP crew — and then to clips we hear from a 1983 audio interview with Phil Everly of peerless country-pop harmonists the Everly Brothers. Phil talks about the strained relationship with brother Don and the prospect of the Everlys reunion that happened in the fall of that year. For those less smitten by Appalachia and "high lonesome" close-harmony singing, there are heartfelt farewells to roots reggae icon Bunny Wailer & trad-jazzer turned "Father of British R&B" Chris Barber, both of whom were lost to the music world last week. There's effusive appreciation of the Wailers co-founder's classic 1976 solo debut Blackheart Man, while RBP's co-founder Martin Colyer pitches in with reminiscences of his uncle Ken's bandmate Barber. Mark talks us through his highlights from recent additions to the RBP Library, including the great Derek Taylor holding forth on the Stones' drug bust in 1967 and the recently-departed Chick Corea discussing his Return To Forever group with Zoo World's John Swenson in 1974. Barney namechecks a Kandia Crazy Horse hymn to the L.A. Canyons from 2009 and Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Danger Mouse's Rome project, from 2011, and London MC Sway's 2006 album This is My Demo. Many thanks to special guest Tony Russell, whose new book Rural Rhythm is published by OUP and available now. Pieces discussed: Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon, B.B. King, Gillian Welch, Gillian Welch, Phil Everly, Bunny Wailer, The Wailers, Chris Barber, Chris Barber, Ben Webster, Peter Green, Curtis Mayfield, Roky Erickson, Rolling Stones, Chick Corea, The Time, L.L. Cool J, L.A. Canyons, Dave Edmunds, Valerie June, Sway and Danger Mouse.
Mar 8
1 hr 10 min
E94: Caroline Boucher on Zappa + Beefheart + Alice Cooper + Yes
In this episode we invite former Disc (and Music Echo) reporter Caroline Boucher to reflect on her journey from the Gravesend & Dartford Reporter to The Observer's Food Monthly supplement — via a stint at Elton John's Rocket label. Barney, Mark & Jasper ask Caroline about being a female pop reporter in that very unwoke era, and press her for stories about her favourite L.A. freaks Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. The Zappa theme leads into clips from not one but two audio interviews with Vince "Alice Cooper" Furnier, the first from August 1969 — when Alice signed to Frank's Straight label — and the second from exactly 20 years later, when Adam Blake talked to him about his new Trash album. Fond recall ensues of 'School's Out' and other Cooper classics. The conversation turns from freaky California weirdness to pompous English prog-rock, though Mark makes a compelling case for — and defence of — the 50-year-old Yes Album. The "team" pays its respects to the Supreme Mary Wilson, the jazz-fusing Chick Corea, Salsa godfather Johnny Pacheco and Byrds/Smiths biographer Johnny Rogan, after which Mark talks us through his library highlights from the previous fortnight and Jasper signs off with remarks on pieces about Halsey and Pharrell Williams. Many thanks to special guest Caroline Boucher; for more of her writing, visit her page on RBP. The Zappa documentary is streaming now on the website and all major platforms from March. Pieces discussed: Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Burgers with Alice Cooper, Alice Cooper backstage, Alice Cooper audio, Yes, Yes, Yes, Mary Wilson, The Supremes, Chick Corea, Johnny Pacheco, Johnny Rogan, The Beatles live, Aretha Franklin, Nick Drake, Sunset Strip groupies, Evan Parker, Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, George Clinton, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Alan Douglas, Al Bell, Pharrell Williams and Halsey.
Feb 22
1 hr 2 min
E93: Nick Kent on the NME + Iggy Pop audio + SOPHIE R.I.P.
In this episode we welcome the legendary Nick Kent as our very special guest. Unarguably the most famous British rock writer from the golden era of '70s rock journalism, Nick tells Barney, Mark & Jasper how he began writing for the underground Frendz and then for Nick Logan's super-hip New Musical Express. Recollections of Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones lead inevitably to tales of self-indulgence and self-destruction — and eventually to Nick's sometime drug buddy Iggy Pop, who is heard speaking in March 1977 about his beloved proto-punk band the Stooges and about his new Bowie-produced solo album The Idiot. The conversation turns briefly to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain before we pay our respects to departed Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine and then — led by a very eloquent Jasper — to the extraordinary electronic producer and trans icon SOPHIE. Among the new library articles Mark highlights are pieces about Cream's Eric Clapton, Charlie Gillett's Sound Of The City, Fun Boy Three and 12" disco master-mixer Tom Moulton. For reasons that will be obvious to many of you, Nick pitches in after Mark quotes from Barry Cain's 1978 Record Mirror interview with PiL's John Lydon and Jah Wobble. Jasper wraps up the episode with passing remarks on Simon Reynolds' 2017 retrospective on Donna Summer's epic 'I Feel Love'... Many thanks to special guest Nick Kent; his novel The Unstable Boys is published by Constable and out now. Pieces discussed: Nick Kent on David Bowie, Nick Kent on Brian Wilson, Nick Kent on Iggy Pop, Nick Kent on Kurt Cobain, Chris Salewicz on Nick Kent, Iggy Pop audio, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, The Animals, SOPHIE, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, New York Dolls, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, Sound of the City, Public Image Limited, Fun Boy Three, Tom Moulton, Donna Summer & Giorgio Moroder and Jon Bon Jovi.
Feb 8
1 hr 11 min
E92: Nick Coleman on Voices + Phil Spector + Miles Copeland
In this episode, we welcome the excellent Nick Coleman into RBP's snug virtual cupboard. Barney, Mark & Jasper quiz Nick about his distinctively personal music writing for the NME, Time Out and the Indie on Sunday, with especial reference to his 1986 interview with jazz-soul siren Anita Baker. This leads seamlessly to discussion of his terrific 2017 tome Voices: How a Great Singer Can Change Your Life, as well as to the harrowing experience of hearing loss that inspired 2012's The Train in the Night. In this episode, it was impossible to ignore the death of monstrous megalomaniac and murderer Phil Spector. After hearing a chilling audio clip of him speaking to Roy Carr in 1975, Nick and his hosts attempt to separate the man from the visionary architect of the "Wall Of Sound". (Now a certified psychotherapist, Nick compares Spector's narcissistic personality disorder to that of Donald Trump, who finally vacated the White House the day before this recording.) We also bid farewell to Ed "Duke Bootee" Fletcher, whose lyric for 'The Message' made rap superstars of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and played a huge part in the birth of "conscious hip hop". Somewhat less megalomaniacal than Spector is Miles Copeland III, whose rapid-fire voice we hear in audio clips from 1989. The man who seemed fated to follow in his dad's C.I.A. footsteps tells John Tobler how bankruptcy made him switch from Wishbone Ash to Wayne County – and how he launched I.R.S. Records as a home for R.E.M., the Go-Go's and Fine Young Cannibals. Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the 100+ new arrivals in the RBP library, including Dan Nooger reviewing our previous podcast guest John Simon live at Max's Kansas City in 1972; Mary Harron explaining U.K. punk to her U.S. readers in 1977; and Deanne Stillman reporting on America's enduring heavy-metal subculture in 1991. Jasper concludes matters with passing remarks on avant-jazz enigma Albert Ayler and the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, staged in the tiny Irish town of Millstreet… Many thanks to special guest Nick Coleman; The Train in the Night and Voices are published by Penguin. The Rock's Backpages podcast is part of the Pantheon Podcast Network. Pieces discussed: Donald Fagen, Anita Baker, How to be Keef, Phil Spector audio, Phil Spector, Phil Spectorer, Phil Spectorest, Miles Copeland audio, Herb Alpert, U.K. punk, Blondie, Heavy Metal Mania, Bob Dylan, John Simon, Al Green, CDs vs LPs, Harold Budd, Midlake, Marc Zermati, Ant & Dec, Albert Ayler and the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest.
Jan 25
1 hr 17 min
E91: 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 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.
Jan 11
1 hr 22 min
E90: 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 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.
Dec 21, 2020
1 hr 14 min
E89: 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 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.
Dec 7, 2020
1 hr 10 min
E88: 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.
Nov 23, 2020
1 hr 16 min
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