Rock's Backpages

Rock's Backpages

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. Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie.

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    E35: P. Funk Special + Hal David audio with Lloyd Bradley and Tom Vickers

    In this week's episode of the RBP podcast, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by not one but two guests: Lloyd Bradley and Tom Vickers. They tell the story of how they met, Lloyd blagging his way into a singles reviewing session with George Clinton at Blues and Soul magazine while Tom was Parliament's 'Minister of Information'. This gives rise to a lengthy discussion about all things Parliament, Funkadelic, and George Clinton as well as Lloyd explaining how he managed to go from sneaking into gigs to a long and illustrious career in music journalism. The four of them listen to clips from the week's audio interview, with Hal David of the David and Bacharach songwriting partnership, in which he talks about recording 'Make It Easy on Yourself' with Dionne Warwick as a demo, and her subsequent upset when they gave the song to Jerry Butler. Finally, Mark presents the highlights from the articles added to the archive, including Jimmy Page waxing astrological, Mick Jagger feeling intellectually limited, and Eminem getting booed off stage in London—leading the group to consider whether, and how, hip-hop can be successful in large venues.

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    E34: Amy Linden on Amy Winehouse + Kanye West + Nico + Bobby Womack

    In this week's episode of the Rock's Backpages podcast, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns welcome special guest Amy Linden to talk about how she went from reading Creem magazine at the library to falling in with the punk scene in San Francisco in the late 70s to becoming a music journalist for the likes of Vibe, Spin and XXL. She shares stories of meeting Amy Winehouse, Talib Kweli and the Beastie Boys as well as some choice thoughts on Kanye West. The three of them listen to excerpts from a Bobby Womack audio interview in which he talks about recording at Muscle Shoals with white musicians and tells of how Wilson Pickett's voice replaced his own on early recordings for Atlantic Records. Ahead of the opening of The Nico Project in Manchester, she is featured as artist of the week on RBP, giving rise to discussion of an interview in which she says that, had she not become an actress and singer, she would have liked to be a farmer, or perhaps the captain of a ship. Finally, Mark presents the archive highlights, including an account of what it's like to play a Rolling Stones gig supposedly penned by Brian Jones, a Randy Newman interview in which he playfully describes himself as 'loveable and friendly and perfect in every way' and a De La Soul interview which leads Amy to mock Mark's pronunciation of their name mercilessly.

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    E33: L.A. Special with Chris Campion + Elliot Roberts audio + Little Feat

    On this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by Chris Campion all the way from Pioneertown in Los Angeles. The subject of Chris' upcoming book, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, leads into a wide-ranging and discursive conversation about L.A. in the 60s, including Arthur Lee, Charles Manson and Joni Mitchell. Continuing the L.A. theme, the three of them listen to excerpts from a 1993 audio interview with Elliot Roberts in which he talks about everyone hanging out at Joni's house, the Eagles knowing that they wanted to write hits and about the impact that cocaine had on that scene. Finally, in the archive highlights section, Mark selects articles including one in which Keith Richards' mother talks about sending Keith money and food parcels (because she reckons the money just goes on cigarettes), a live review of Jimi Hendrix playing to everyone who's anyone in London at the Bag O'Nails club in 1967 and, returning to the L.A. theme, an interview with David Geffen in 1972.

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    E32: Go-go in D.C. + Anita Ward audio + Felix Dennis and the Oz Trial

    For this week's episode of the RBP podcast, Barney Hoskyns, Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie take a look at Go-Go, the funk and party music scene of Washington, D.C.. Discussing its influences on swing beat and intersections with hip-hop, they look at three articles including the one that broke the news of the scene to UK audiences by Richard Grabel in the NME, Simon Witter finding out whether Go-Go is dead in 1987 and a Don Snowden obituary of 'godfather of Go-Go' Chuck Brown. Your three hosts then listen to a clip from an 2016 audio interview with Anita Ward in which she discusses life as a one-hit-wonder and the disco hit in question, 'Ring My Bell'. Barney, Mark and Jasper then mark five years since Felix Dennis' death, reflecting on the Oz Trial and Dennis' subsequent rise to becoming a media mogul worth $500 million. Mark begins the 'what's new in the RBP archives' section with an interview with Mike Nesmith of the Monkees in which he is relentlessly miserable before moving on to other pieces including a Grateful Dead live review from their Europe 72 tour and a Gram Parsons interview which gives rise to a discussion about Parsons' return to country as opposed to country rock. Barney picks out a review of Radiohead's Hail to the Thief, met by loud snoring from Mark, as well as a Baxter Dury interview, while Jasper enthuses about the live sound of Oxford band Foals.

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    E31: Bernard Fowler's Life in Music + Dr. John audio + Andy Gill R.I.P.

    Hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by special guest Bernard Fowler to talk about his life in music, from founding the Peech Boys at the Paradise Garage with Larry Levan before working with Mick Jagger on She's the Boss and beginning a 30-year touring and recording relationship with the Rolling Stones. He also regales the boys with tales of recording a disco cover of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall' and talks about how growing up in NYC influenced his brand new album of Stones covers, Inside Out. Barney then enthuses about the recently released Rolling Thunder Revue, a film about Dylan's tour of the USA in 1975, before paying tribute to writer Andy Gill, whose absence in the world of music journalism will be keenly felt. The three of them then listen to clips from an audio interview with Dr. John in which he talks about being ripped off by labels in his early recording career and his struggle with getting clean. Finally, Mark presents highlights from the week's other additions to the archive, including a 1956 interview with Alexis Korner about British Skiffle, Labelle shaking up the male-dominated music industry in 1974 and Barbara Ellen's report of having a miserable time at Glastonbury festival.

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    E30: Dawn James on The Beatles + Roky Erickson R.I.P. + Neil Young audio

    Content warning: This episode contains a description of sexual assault that some listeners may find distressing. In this week's episode of the Rock's Backpages podcast, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by queen of Rave magazine Dawn James to talk about life as a features writer for pop magazines in the 60s. She tells stories of the Beatles' bad culinary habits, reveals who was her most difficult interview and surprises Barney and Mark by confessing her love for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. She also talks about her sister Twinkle, whose career as a pop singer-songwriter is celebrated in a new release on RPM records—Twinkle: Girl In A Million. Paying tribute to Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators, Barney and Mark discuss their influence on punk and the Texas psychedelic scene before moving on to a lengthy Neil Young audio interview from 1985. The three of them listen to a clip in which he talks about rock 'n' roll being a young man's game and marvel at the strength of his convictions. Lastly, Mark presents the highlights from the articles added to the library, including interviews with Nancy Sinatra about being in her father's shadow, James Brown wanting to see the Queen and the President get down to soul music, and the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne desire to struggle with the 'insane beast' that is music.

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    E29: Rickie Lee Jones + Harry Doherty + Rory Gallagher audio

    In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie hold the fort in Mark Pringle's absence as he enjoys the sunny shores of Crete. Back in muggy London, Rickie Lee Jones is the free feature on RBP ahead of the release of a new cover album, Kicks. Barney and Jasper take a look at pieces about her unexpected success with 'Chuck E's in Love', as well as her drug problems and wild days with boyfriend Tom Waits. Then, the two of them consider three Harry Doherty pieces on a joint Queen/Thin Lizzy tour, a young Kate Bush on her songwriting techniques and an interview with Rory Gallagher. By editorial design, a different interview with Rory Gallagher, this time from 1978 and with Cliff White, is the audio interview for the week, and Barney and Jasper hear a clip in which he talks about recording live before agreeing that he's a good guitarist if fairly derivative. Despite his absence, Mark has selected some highlights from the week's library load, including an interview with the Beatles before they embark on their tour of the United States and an interview with Pete Townshend in which he slags off their song 'Yesterday'. A brilliant Steven Wells polemic about homophobia sparks discussion of Morrissey's far-right views and whether or not bad people can make good music before pieces on Gnarls Barkley and Christine and the Queens/Chris round out the episode.

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    E28: Danny Fields on the Stooges + the Ramones + George Clinton audio

    Joined by godfather of punk Danny Fields, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle hear tales from his time with the Stooges and the MC5, as press agent for The Doors and as manager of the Ramones. Plus, he tells the story of how Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin ended up rolling around on the floor of a bar in a big ball of cartoon smoke and fists. Primal Scream is the week's free feature, and Mark, Barney and Danny chat about their frontman Bobby Gillespie and consider the influence of Screamadelica. The three of them then listen to excerpts from a 1978 audio interview with George Clinton, in which he talks about what 'funkadelic' really is and where 'One Nation Under a Groove' came from. To round out the episode, Mark presents his highlights from the articles added to the archive, including a 1966 interview with Kim Fowley, Shirley Bassey live at the Royal Albert Hall and the fact that in its early days, MTV only played white music.

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    E27: Bruce Springsteen + Elton John + The Beatles + Stevie Wonder with Bob Spitz

    In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by Bob Spitz, who was all set to go to medical school until his parents talked him out of it. Instead, he got a job with "New York's Mickie Most" Wes Farrell and went on to discover Bruce Springsteen, getting him a record deal and representing him for a number of years. After falling out with his business partners over how much Springsteen wasn't getting paid, he took over Elton John's management in North America. Tiring of life on the road, he began writing about music for Crawdaddy before going on to write major books about Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Bob recounts fascinating stories about all of the above, conveniently tying in with this week's free feature Elton John ahead of the release of a new biopic, Rocketman. The three of them listen to a clip from a 1995 audio interview with Stevie Wonder in which he talks about why he started writing more political music, influenced by Marvin Gaye's What's Going On?. Mark then selects his highlights from the week's additions to the library, ranging from a Crispian St. Peters interview in which members of Chelsea FC throw olives at him to John Sinclair's White Panther Statement in the Warren-Forest Sun, plus a pre-release review of The Beatles' Let It Be when it was still slated to be called Get Back.

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    E26: Mavis Staples + Bob Stanley/Saint Etienne + The B-52s audio

    This week, Barney, Mark and Jasper start with free feature Mavis Staples and discuss her legacy as a member of the Staple Singers as well as her solo output with various producers including Prince and upcoming release We Get By with Ben Harper. Three pieces by featured writer Bob Stanley spark discussion of Johnny Cash, self-proclaimed 'best group on the planet' the Stone Roses and the peculiar appearance of Sparks. As a bonus, a 1992 interview with Saint Etienne charts his 'poacher turned gamekeeper' status with his subsequent success as one third of the band. The week's audio interview is Ira Robbins in conversation with Keith Strickland and Katie Pierson of the B-52s, in which they skirt round the subject of bandmate Ricky Wilson's AIDS related death and talk about why touring without him wouldn't feel right. The boys consider their status as darlings of the New York scene 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 live review of the Rolling Stones, an interview with jazzman Horace Silver, and Bobby Brown of New Edition being spectacularly lacking in humility. Barney's picks range from an irascible Mark E. Smith to a review of Ellen Willis' book Vinyl Deeps, while Jasper introduces the other two to the band Crystal Fighters (even though he knows they'll hate it).

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