Laura Barton on the RBP podcast

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In this week’s episode of the Rock’s Backpages podcast, Mark & Barney welcome the wonderful Laura Barton and learn all about her career as a star Guardian writer – and as an author and broadcaster.

Laura talks about her travels in America, and about working with photographer Sarah Lee on the newly-published collection West Of West. The hosts ask her about her pieces on Bon Iver, Daniel Johnston and Riot Grrrl power – and more generally about her deeply personal approach to music writing.

A new Sam Cooke box set prompts a conversation about the pin-up gospel star who crossed over to become an icon of “proto-soul” before his shocking and tragic death in 1964. A 2010 hymn to Sam by the legendary Lenny Kaye provides the platform for ruminations on the man’s sublime voice and his immeasurable influence on everyone from Otis Redding to Rod Stewart.

A clip from the late Andy Gill’s 2005 audio interview with ex-Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell is the catalyst for a discussion of the latter’s collaborations with brooding grunge survivor Mark Lanegan. Having interviewed the Scots singer-songwriter when the duo’s Ballad of the Broken Seas came out in 2006, Laura helps to place the pair in the tradition of such “beauty-and-the-beast” hook-ups as Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra.

Mark talks us through highlights of the week’s additions to the RBP Library, including pieces on the unsavoury Jonathan King, the fabulous Freddie Mercury and David Bowie’s personal tour of his London landmarks. The episode concludes with discussion of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame‘s just-announced Class of 2020 – with specific reference to the covert racism (not to mention misogyny) underpinning reaction to the inclusion of Whitney Houston…

Fave albums 1974-1985

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Johnnie Johnstone of New Perfect Collection asked me and a bunch of other folks to list their 30 best albums released between January 1st, 1974 and December 31st, 1985. As resistant as I am to lists (as blokey and reductive), I couldn’t, well, resist. So here in no particular order are my platters of choice… no doubt fairly bloody obvious, but still as honest as I can be:

Todd Rundgren: Todd

Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey

Joni Mitchell: Court & Spark

Television: Marquee Moon

Talking Heads: ‘77

Associates: Sulk

Gene Clark: No Other

Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti

Earth, Wind & Fire: I Am

Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life

Bob Marley & the Wailers: Natty Dread

Ramones: Leave Home

Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures

David Bowie: Low

Al Green: Al Green is Love

Bobby Womack: Lookin’ for a Love Again

Neil Young: Tonight’s the Night

Chic: Risqué

Kate Bush: The Dreaming

Prince: Dirty Mind

Rickie Lee Jones: Pirates

Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones

Steely Dan: Gaucho

Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue

Fleetwood Mac: Tusk

Randy Newman: Good Old Boys

Suicide: Suicide

Elvis Costello: Get Happy!!

Donald Fagen: The Nightfly

Luther Vandross: Any Love

A Waits in your ear: Happy birthday, Tom

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Happy 70th birthday to Tom Waits: That’s me in the middle of David Hepworth & Mark Ellen, clutching the paperback of my Waits biog Lowside Of The Road… and about to start the highly enjoyable Word In Your Ear podcast last Monday. Thanks to those major dudes for inviting me… and also for inviting the excellent Alexis Petridis to talk about Elton “Me” John.

Blue is the Colour: the legendary Barbara Charone on the RBP podcast

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In the new episode of the Rock’s Backpages podcast, Mark Pringle (left) and I welcome music scribe turned PR legend Barbara Charone to the RBP “cupboard” (© David Hepworth) and ask her about moving to London from her native Chicago in 1974 – along with her experiences of interviewing the Who, the Stones and other superstars of the ’70s.

“BC” talks about befriending Keith Richards and writing his biography while staying at his Sussex home, Redlands, then reminisces about her move into PR and her decades-long association with such clients as Madonna and Robert Plant. Finally, Mark & Barney ask Barbara how she came to support the team they all three (and Jasper!) adore: Chelsea FC. (Spurs fans may wish to fast-forward at this point.)

The conversation segues seamlessly into a discussion of the week’s fascinating new audio interview, in which John Tobler asks Pete Townshend about his 1993 solo album Psychoderelict – and all about the Who, Tommy and Pete’s childhood traumas.

After semi-skirting around the week’s free feature on Coldplay – an act for whom none of the three can muster much enthusiasm – Mark takes the reins and talks us through his highlights of the week’s new additions to the RBP library – including a report of the 1966 scrapping of seminal TV pop show Ready, Steady, Go!, a review of the opening date of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 tour of America, and a 1977 Rolling Stone interview with the ‘Clean-Up Woman’ woman Betty Wright.

A half-century of RBP podcasts

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In this week’s episode of the Rock’s Backpages podcast (the 50th, no less), Mark, Barney & Jasper pay tribute to the late Nick Tosches, discussing pieces by him on Captain Beefheart (1981) and his great biographical subject Jerry Lee Lewis (1982).

They then discuss the week’s other free pieces, which concern the annus metallibis that was Motörhead’s 1979 – the year of both Overkill and Bomber. They also lament the passing of original ‘head guitarist Larry Wallis, who last month departed the stage for the final time.

The week’s new audio offering being a 1993 conversation with Long Beach OG Snoop (Doggy) Dogglost trios paranoias hear clips from Steven Daly’s fascinating interview and reminisce about the impact of Dr. Dre’s languid beanpole prodigy.

New library highlights considered by your hosts include Disc‘s Rosalind Russell on Sweet’s Brian Connolly, Glenn O’Brien on the (temporary) shuttering of NYC landmark Max’s Kansas City and Susan Corrigan on her abiding love affair with Madchester. After Jasper samples some Señor Coconut from 2002, the RBP “team” bows out for another week.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter our great giveaway at rocksbackpages.com/giveaway for a chance to win an RBP book or subscription.

The long and winding Road

In this week’s episode of the Rock’s Backpages Podcast, my very dear old pal Mat Snow (far right) comes to Hammersmith to discuss the Beatles’ swansong album Abbey Road… as well as the week’s new audio interview (with Blondie from May 1977) and plenty more besides. Hear Mat & me (far left) reminiscing about the NME, MOJO and, erm, Little Dean’s Yard! (Also featured in pic: podcast co-host Mark Pringle & whizzkid producer Jasper Murison-Bowie…)

The RBP podcast with Richard Williams

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In the lastest episode of the Rock’s Backpages podcast, Jasper Murison-Bowie (left) and I talk with very special guest Richard Williams about his long & august career as a writer, editor & author… and about Easy Rider, Arthur Lee, Albert Ayler, Laura Nyro, Melody Maker & much, much more. Richard gave me my first break as a music writer when he (and Ian Birch) gave me some reviews to write for MM in 1979. I owe him more than I can ever express. His taste and erudition have been beacons for me for at least 45 years. Thank you, sir.

The RBP podcast: Dylan Jones on Jimmy Webb and ‘Wichita Lineman’

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Joined by GQ editor (and sometime i-D contibutor) Dylan Jones, Mark & Barney talk in the new Rock’s Backpages podcast about Dylan’s new book The Wichita Lineman: Searching in the Sun for the World’s Greatest Unfinished Song and celebrate ‘Lineman”s composer Jimmy Webb and the song’s original singer, the late Glen Campbell. Dylan explains how he came to write the book and the three men enthuse about Webb’s ability to tell stories in song and in person.

After listening to a clip from a 2005 audio interview with Webb himself, wherein he laments the lack of complexity in contemporary pop and discusses his use of harmony and chords, Mark and Barney quiz Dylan about hiring Boris Johnson as car correspondent for GQ magazine. Talk turns briefly to politics as they consider how Dylan’s acquaintance David Cameron might now feel about calling the 2016 referendum.

Mark presents highlights from the week’s new library pieces. These include an interview with Robin Gibb shortly after he left the Bee Gees, a report from the Wailers’ first trip to London, and a Diana Ross press conference about the album she recorded with Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.

Danny Fields in the RBP podcast

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In this week’s RBP Podcast, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns are joined by the legendary Danny Fields to hear tales of his Elektra days with the Stooges and the MC5 – and the five years he spent managing the Ramones. He also recounts the tale of the night Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin wound up rolling around on the floor of Steve Paul’s The Scene in a ball of cartoon smoke and fists.
The week’s free feature focuses on Primal Scream: Mark, Barney and Danny compare notes on the band’s frontman Bobby Gillespie and weigh up the influence of 1991’s Screamadelica. The trio then listen to excerpts from a 1978 audio interview with George Clinton, in which the P-Funk chief talks about the meaning of “funkadelic” and how the classic ‘One Nation Under a Groove’ was born.
To round out the episode, Mark presents highlights from the articles added to the archive, including a 1966 interview with Kim Fowley, a review of Shirley Bassey live at the Royal Albert Hall and a 1983 report on MTV.

This week’s RBP podcast

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In this week’s particularly magnificent edition of the Rock’s Backpages Podcast, Mark, Barney & Jasper start with featured artist Mavis Staples and discuss her legacy as a member of the Staple Singers – as well as her solo work with Prince and other producers.

Three pieces by featured writer Bob Stanley spark discussion of Johnny Cash and self-proclaimed “best group on the planet” the Stone Roses. A 1992 interview with Saint Etienne cements Bob’s “poacher turned gamekeeper” status as one third of that “meta-pop” trio.

The week’s audio interview is with B-52s Keith Strickland and Katie Pierson, wherein they skirt around the subject of bandmate Ricky Wilson’s AIDS-related death in 1985. Mark and Barney consider the group’s status as darlings of late ‘70s New York and hail them as one of “the best things to come out of New Wave”.

Launching into the highlights of the rest of the week’s additions, Mark selects a diverse selection of pieces including a 1972 live review of the Rolling Stones, plus interviews with jazzman Horace Silver and with Bobby Brown of the rebooted New Edition. Barney mentions the irascible Mark E. Smith and a review of the late Ellen Willis’ book Out of the Vinyl Deeps. Jasper introduces his considerably older colleagues to the music of young guns Crystal Fighters.