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.
In this week's episode of the RBP Podcast, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie are joined by Ian Penman to talk about his recently published essay collection It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track, as well as his time at the NME and The Wire. And so commences a wide-ranging conversation about everything from Frank Sinatra to Charlie Parker to Prince, via John Fahey, Nina Simone and Kate Bush.
Along the way, Ian makes a compelling case that his reputation for having brought down the NME by making too many references to poststructuralist French philosophy is undeserved. The three of them also consider how his writing manages to be approachable while maintaining an academic rigour, and conclude that it has much to do with the heart and warmth of his writing, which brings the music itself closer to the reader.
They also listen to clips from a 1990 audio interview with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons in which he talks about meeting Muddy Waters and remembers Stevie Ray Vaughan. Finally, having had too much fun with the rest of the podcast, your hosts run swiftly through a few new pieces available to RBP subscribers.
In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by cabaret performer and Marianne Faithfull-imitator extraordinaire Tammy Faye Starlite to talk about the grande dame, both in the context of Tammy's upcoming run of shows at Pangea in NYC and the week's RBP audio interview with Marianne herself. They chat about her extremely high opinion of herself, wondering if it's partly what keeps her going, plus her relationships and/or friendships with Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg. They also discuss parallels between her and Nico, another subject of Tammy's mimicry—starting with the fact that they were both blonde, at least for a bit.
Talk then turns to David Dalton, featured writer of the week (who happens to have ghostwritten Marianne's autobiography) and the three of them mark the recent passing of filmmaker D. A. 'Penny' Pennebaker with a pair of interviews conducted by Dalton and Adam Sweeting.
The free feature on RBP is Miles Davis, to mark the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking ambient album In A Silent Way, sparking discussion of how those sessions came to be and how Miles was influenced by Betty Davis (née Mabry) both in terms of fashion and music.
As usual, Mark picks his highlights from the archive pieces, which include a rare interview with Arthur Lee of Love, a review of Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Nick Coleman talking to Anita Baker in 1986.
Content warning: This episode contains references to sexual violence and domestic abuse.
In the wake of the cancellation of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, regular RBP Podcast hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle, joined by occasional host Jasper Murison-Bowie, discuss the ongoing legacy of that fateful 3-day stretch in summer 1969. They look at two contemporaneous reports which paint rather different pictures: Danny Goldberg's report for Billboard is all optimism, likely because he got to hang out in the press area, whereas Miller Francis Jr.'s is altogether more varied and highlights the survivalist nature of attending the festival as a punter. Featured writer of the week is 'rockademic' Mark Anthony Neal, with pieces on (more-than-just-)blue-eyed-soulster Lewis Taylor, the demise of Vibe magazine and the remarkable vocal of Linda Jones.
The three of them then listen to an excerpt from an interview with doyenne of British Folk Shirley Collins, conducted by John Tobler in 1991 ahead of a reissue of her classic album No Roses. She talks about the recording process, and how making an album with 26 musicians was never the intention, and reflects on the wide variety of different musicians involved.
Mark then presents his highlights from the archive, including a report on controversy surrounding Otis Redding following an unfavourable review by Norman Jopling, a Tina Turner interview that gives rise to a discussion of bigotry in music journalism, and a report on the drug ecstasy. Jasper rounds out the selection of archive highlights, and the episode, with a live review of reggae singer Shaggy, aka Mr Boombastic/Mr Lover Lover/Mr Romantic.
Joined by special guest Dylan Jones ahead of the publication of his new book, The Wichita Lineman: Searching in the Sun for the World's Greatest Unfinished Song, RBP podcast hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle chat about the songwriting talent behind the song that inspired said book, Jimmy Webb. Dylan explains how the book came to be, and the three of them enthuse about Jimmy's ability to tell stories, both in song and in person.
They then listen to an excerpt from a 2005 audio interview with the man himself in which he laments what he sees as a lack of complexity in the pop music of today and talks about his use of harmony and chords before Mark and Barney quiz Dylan about what compelled him to hire Boris Johnson as car correspondent for GQ magazine.
Talk turns briefly to politics as they consider how David Cameron might feel about having called the referendum, but returns to music shortly afterward, with Mark presenting some of his highlights from the archive. These include an interview with Robin Gibb shortly after he left the Bee Gees, a report from The Wailers first trip to London (before they were 'Bob Marley and...') and a Diana Ross press conference about having to de-Chic-ify the album she recorded with Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.
This week, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by Mick Houghton, journalist for Let It Rock and Sounds (among others) turned publicist for Echo & the Bunnymen and the KLF (among others). They talk about how the former band never made it to the level of worldwide success they could have because they didn't want to leave Liverpool and about how Bill Drummond was forever pushing up the stakes.
Discussing Mick's new book, Barney picks up on a passage in which Mick describes how angry he was at a bad review in the NME of Julian Cope's World Shut Your Mouth ... which just so happens to have been penned by Barney himself.
The three of them then listen to excerpts from a fascinating conversation between Dave Bartholomew, Red Tyler and Earl Palmer, convened by Tony Scherman, in which they talk about what makes New Orleans musically different and hence tricky for non-NOLA musicians to apprehend.
Finally, Mark presents the highlights from the archive, including a live review of Joni Mitchell getting off to a rocky start at the Isle of Wight festival, an article about the John Fogerty/Saul Zaentz 'Zanz Kant Danz' lawsuit, and an interview with a young Britney Spears, prompting Mark and Barney to laud the pop genius of hits like '...Baby One More Time' and 'Oops!...I Did It Again'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by special guest Cathi Unsworth to talk about her new book, Defying Gravity: Jordan's Story, written together with Jordan herself. They consider her influence on the London punk scene and talk about its female-driven side, in which women carved out a voice and space for themselves where they previously hadn't been afforded one.
A history she wrote of 80s goth lead Cathi to reminisce about her goth days before articles of hers on Dick Dale and Kelly Osbourne provide the basis for discussion of Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and The Osbournes on MTV respectively.
The three of them don't have an awful lot to say about free feature The Cranberries, but they make a valiant effort to at least mention them before moving on to the week's audio interview with disgraced Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton. (Or, as Mark refers to it, 'the "I'm not bitter and twisted" tape'. ) Tam, from his bungalow inside a barbed-wire-walled garden, complains that nobody sends him Christmas cards any more and explains why the Bay City Rollers broke up (jealousy, apparently).
Finally, Mark and Barney tell Cathi about some of their favourite pieces from the week's library additions, including a 1966 Rave magazine feature on drugs ('a drag on a drug is still a drag'), Paul Morley falling in love with Girlschool and Richard C. Walls on the total bust that is Stevie Wonder's Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.
Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie explore what's new in the RBP archive this week, starting with free feature Al Green—three articles take them through the various stage of his career, including his stint recording only gospel music and his return to secular music in more recent years.
They then discuss featured writer Ann Moses, whose editorship of Tiger Beat magazine and contributions to the NME led her to interview the Beach Boys, the Monkees and many more, as described in her 2017 memoir Meow! My Life with Tiger Beat's Teen Idols.
Barney Hoskyns makes an appearance on the podcast despite his absence via the audio interview, which features him asking Anita Pallenberg about her experience of being a rock muse. Mark and Jasper listen to her thoughts on how men in rock still just want blondes, how they sometimes get more than they bargained for, and how things still aren't close to equal in such relationships.
To round things out, your two hosts present their selections from the week's other additions to the library. The boys talk about everything from an ignorant piece on 'The Jamaica Ska' to an all-night graduation party in Detroit (featuring possibly the first ever in-print mention of the MC5!), from Sun Ra's cosmology to Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G, and from Bob Marley to Lenny Bruce, with much else in between. Finally, a discussion of Thundercat in response to a 2017 review of him live in London rounds out the proceedings.
This week, Barney, Mark and Jasper listen to excerpts from a 1997 interview with Todd Rundgren in which he is remarkably prescient about the impact of the internet on music production and distribution and talks about how difficult it is to be original when writing songs. Barney sings his praises as one of the most intelligent men in rock, but laments the fact that he has never quite been able to make enough of himself despite being ahead of the curve.
They then move on to free feature Orange Juice and their label Postcard Records, which provide the basis for a discussion of the disappearance of regionality in music and the rise and fall of the indie label in the late 70s and early 80s.
Danny Goldberg, erstwhile manager of Kurt Cobain, is the featured writer for the week and the boys consider his pieces on Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and going to school with Gil Scott-Heron before selecting their favourites from the new additions to the library.
Mark chooses pieces on Gerry and the Pacemakers, more Alice Cooper (the earliest on RBP!), Yoko Ono on rescuing John Lennon from chauvinism, Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Foo Fighters, while Barney highlights record exec Lenny Waronker, The Stooges and Paul Morley's complaints about the Rolling Stones headlining Glastonbury in 2013. Jasper rounds out the selection with album reviews of Mel C's (of the Spice Girls) Reason and Clipse's Lord Willin' plus an art historical examination of the over-the-shoulder pose and a live review of Lauryn Hill.
In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by Jon Savage to talk about his new Joy Division book This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else. Jon tells the story of moving up to Manchester and getting to know the band plus Tony Wilson and Martin Hannett, and speaks about how seeing Joy Division live still haunts him to this day.
They then listen to some excerpts from a 2007 audio interview with Dizzee Rascal, in which he and interviewer Maureen Paton take a taxi ride through his old East London haunts. Dizzee tells her about how music has shaped his life, how London knife crime is influenced by skunk and about getting stabbed in Ayia Napa.
Mark then highlights a number of interesting articles from the new additions to the library, including pieces on the Yardbirds playing the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, George Harrison in full 'mystic' mode, a scathing review of David Bowie's 'Young Americans' and Johnny Rotten right after the Sex Pistols split.
In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by special guest Keith Altham to pay tribute to Scott Walker, whom Keith interviewed many times throughout his career. They consider Scott's beginnings as a teen idol, which he was never comfortable with—he wanted to be taken seriously as a musician and anyway felt he 'looked odd' and his metamorphosis into a radical avant garde artist. Keith tells Mark and Barney stories of being on tour with Scott and Jimi Hendrix and of introducing the New Musical Express to the concept of 'humour'.
The three of them then listen to a clip from an interview with Martin Fry and Mark White of 80s pop band ABC about Trevor Horn's production of their first album before Mark and Barney introduce their selections from the new pieces to go into the archive:
Mark brings Mick Jagger to Dawn James in 1965, Anne Briggs 'zooming down a whirlpool to annihilation', David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, My Bloody Valentine live at The Clarendon in London, John Mellencamp's self-confessed status as a rock cliché and Salt-N-Pepa being denied their rightful place in hip-hop's history. Barney rounds it out with a piece on T. Graham Brown and tributes to Steven Wells and Mick Farren.
This week, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle welcome special guest Tony Stewart to talk about the glory days of the NME plus his notoriously tricky interviews with Van Morrison and Freddie Mercury. They then hear about the time Tony saw the first-ever performance of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, which was brought to a standstill by technical difficulties (something about the lighting rig running through the same circuit as the sound...who knows?) within half an hour of starting.
The three of them then tune into clips from an audio interview with Steve Earle in 1996 following his recovery from drug addiction and consider his 6 (six!) marriages and lasting position as a country rebel.
Free feature for the week is Lana Del Rey, whose noir-Americana Barney finds interesting conceptually if not always musically. (The name of her upcoming album is the source of some amusement, with only Mark daring to speak its full title, Norman Fucking Rockwell, as Barney resorts to self-censorship.)
Last but certainly not least, Mark rounds up the highlights from the new pieces in the archive, starting with an interview with Ken Brown, member of The Quarrymen, who 'could have been a Beatle', followed by articles on Lulu & the Luvvers, L.A. mogul Lou Adler on the Mamas & the Papas, Orange Juice's Edwyn Collins, Sinead O'Connor's prescient comments on the pope, and the war between west and east in hip-hop.
Joined by James Medd, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle hear tales of interviewing Morrissey and Joanna Newsom for Esquire and of life at The Word magazine. (Despite himself, James rather liked Morrissey.)
Paying tribute to Hal Blaine, one of the great American session players, the three of them discuss The Wrecking Crew and marvel at just how many hits they were essential to. Talk then moves on to the week’s free feature, Lambchop, via another great session player, Charlie McCoy, who plays on their upcoming album.
James, Mark and Barnet then listen to an excerpt from an audio interview with the delightful Minnie Riperton and discuss her whistle register soul singing and breast cancer activism.
Mark then presents his selection of choice cuts from the new pieces added to the archive, including articles on Rolf Harris, The Osmonds, Johnny Nash, Scritti Politti, Carl Wilson and Talking Heads’ film Stop Making Sense. The show this week winds up with consideration of Madonna, sparked by a 7000-word interview conducted by Barbara Ellen for the NME in 1995.
In the absence of Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie pay tribute to Keith Flint of The Prodigy, considering three articles from the Rock's Backpages archive, including an interview conducted during the filming of the iconic 'Firestarter' music video.
Three pieces by the week's featured writer, Jeff Tamarkin, spark discussion of a diverse collection of Bay Area musicians from Jefferson Airplane to The Residents before talk turns to the brief but brilliant newly added audio interview with Jayne County.
Contemplating her influence as the first open transwoman in rock, Barney and Jasper listen to an excerpt from a 1985 phone conversation Jayne had with Ira Robbins, in which she talks about transitioning.
Jasper then pretends to be Mark while he and Barney introduce selected highlights from the rest of the articles added to the RBP archive: Beatles court battles of the 60s, Jeff Beck at the Motown studios, Alice Cooper's shock rock, Rage Against the Machine's anti-corporate major label releases and The Associates' last holiday.
Paying tribute to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk, Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie consider his influence on post-rock and trip-hop and trace the band's evolution from 80s synth-pop to the beautiful jazz- and classical-influenced Spirit of Eden. They then listen to an excerpt from an interview with Jello Biafra and Klaus Flouride of Dead Kennedys and discuss the LA punk scene and the rise of the independent American label, culminating in Sub Pop and grunge. Mark Leviton is the week's featured writer, with his piece about going on a 'rock cruise' terrifying Jasper and Mark and an article on Slash Records sparking yet more talk about punk.
Mark then presents his highlight selection from the week's additions, including pieces on Scott Walker, The Beatles' White Album, Queen's Brian May, Jackie Wilson, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM—'the worst acronym in music history') and an early scandal surrounding Michael Jackson and his alleged abuse of Jordy Chandler. Barney and Jasper bring the best of the last 20 years or so, and the gang discuss their dislike of the film Whiplash and its 'sports-movie' approach to jazz drumming, plus Andrew Lauder, Johnnie Allan, The xx and Alessia Cara.
Together with special guest (and RBP co-founder) Martin Colyer, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns consider soul giant Curtis Mayfield and his enduring influence. They hear a snippet of Julian Henry's 1985 audio interview with the absurd Sigue Sigue Sputnik – and talk about how Tony James and co. crashed down to earth despite their stratospheric ambitions. There's a brief discussion of pieces by featured writer Mac Randall on Robert Wyatt & Bill Nelson, Linda Thompson and Beck, leading on to a rundown of what's new in the archive for the subscribers, led by chief archivist Mark Pringle: specifically, articles on Del Shannon, Diana Ross, Keith Richards, Viv Stanshall, Joy Division, Andrew Weatherall and Missy Elliot, as well as a lengthy feature on the drug Ketamine from 1976, long before it became popular in the UK. Martin, Mark and Barney then take a journey back in time to the origins of Rock's Backpages, explaining how the idea for the archive came to be and what steps they took together to make it a reality.
Returning to the podcast from holiday, Barney Hoskyns is joined by Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie to discuss free feature Radiohead, coinciding with the publication of RBP's new Radiohead anthology. Opinions among the gang vary: although they can all agree that Johnny Greenwood is a talented musician and composer, Mark can't bear to listen to Thom Yorke's 'middle class pain and angst'. Barney, despite finding Thom occasionally irritating, nevertheless defends Radiohead as one of the greatest bands of the last 25 years. Jasper is just keen to draw attention to his pivotal role in the history of Radiohead, namely his clap being sampled for In Rainbows.
The three of them then listen to an excerpt from an interview with Gladys Knight & the Pips and enthuse wildly about Gladys (no disagreement on that front), before considering three divergent pieces from the week's featured writer Jon Young on Soft Cell + Yaz(oo), LL Cool J and Mariah Carey. Subsequently, talk turns to what's new in the library, including articles on Cassius Clay's attempt at a singing career, Nick Cave and the Birthday Party and Daft Punk's dive into disco.
Joined by special guest Michele Kirsch, regular host Mark Pringle and irregular host Jasper Murison-Bowie start with classic pieces by Michele on The Replacements, KRS-One and the New York Dolls. Michele then tells the story of how she was mistaken for an intern at New York’s Soho Weekly News, which started her on a path that saw her write for the NME and City Limits in London in the 80s and 90s. Talk then turns to her life after music journalism, including getting clean from prescription drugs and working as a cleaner—experiences based on which Michele has written an upcoming book, Clean. The week’s free feature Avril Lavigne sparks some discussion of ‘Sk8er Bois’ and the merits or otherwise of manufactured pop and Alex Harvey tells tales of the early days of rock’n’roll in a clip from a 1975 audio interview. Mark presents the highlights from the week’s library load, including John Mendelssohn fabulous dismissal of the MC5, Larry Graham’s departure from Sly and the Family Stone and Quincy Jones’ pigeonhole-defying career in music.
This week, Sid Vicious talks about the Sex Pistols splitting up and his inimitable cover of My Way in clips from a previously unheard audio interview by John Tobler. RBP podcast host Mark Pringle is joined in Barney Hoskyns' absence by Jasper Murison-Bowie to listen to it and, predictably, talk about it. They contemplate Sid's sadness at the band coming to an end, as well as his endorsement of Nancy Spungen as his manager, who he thinks will take the music industry by storm. Moving on to the week's free feature, Bobbie Gentry, ahead of an upcoming reimagining of her album The Delta Sweete, they consider the meaning of 'Ode to Billy Joe' and Gentry's retirement from music after only three albums, with Mark wondering what else might have been if she hadn't. Next up are pieces by featured writer Andrew Bailey of Rolling Stone on British bluesman Alexis Korner, T. Rex's Marc Bolan and Guy Peellaert's Rock Dreams, before Mark and Jasper pick some of their highlights from the week's library load. Topics range from Cliff Bennett meeting Jerry Lee Lewis to Caroline Sullivan on the disappointing boybands of the 90s, via Cannonball Adderley on the intellectualisation of jazz, John Mendelssohn slagging off Led Zeppelin I and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks in one fell swoop, and much else besides. Finally, Mark and Jasper discuss Loyle Carner's approach to grime and London hip-hop, producer Mura Masa's difficulty at being a convincing performer and the despicable Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines.
Welcoming special guest, featured writer and hilarious raconteur Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns hear stories of Jennifer's time in the record business, including the time her car broke down with Kurt Cobain in it, as well as her subsequent decision to abandon it all in favour of writing a PhD on Joy Division. Having moved to a rat-infested flat in New Cross, her initial thought was "My god, what have I done?", but she has since gone from strength to strength as the queen of rockademia and global music ambassador at BIMM. Her books Joy Devotion (about Joy Division, who she claims not to even really like) and Why Vinyl Matters serve as the springboard for discussion before talk turns to her new project about Nico. The three of them then listen to Alex Chilton consider his band Big Star and his decline into alcoholism in the mid 70s. Barney's attempt to sing the praises of Prefab Sprout is met with disdain by Mark and Jennifer, who shut him down fairly quickly in order to move on to P. J. Proby's ripped trousers, David Bowie and Van Halen's David Lee Roth.
Hailing "Ghost Town" as “one of the great British records”, RBP podcast hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns consider The Specials and their politically conscious combination of punk and ska. They then pay tribute to Dave Laing and reflect on his role in the influential Let It Rock magazine, presenting pieces of his on John Martyn, a Bill Monroe live show in a Glasgow monastery and singer-songwriters from Jim Croce to John Denver. The week’s audio interview sees Juliana Hatfield of Blake Babies and The Lemonheads in conversation with Ira Robbins about not wanting to get pigeonholed as the latter bands’ bassist and her subsequent decision to move on to doing her own thing. Beyond all of that, Mark and Barney somehow find time to discuss an early Beatles piece, get confused about Dawn James interviewing her sister Twinkle and berate Robert Fripp for his lack of self-awareness.
Joined by special guest Mark Sinker, RBP's Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle discuss A Hidden Landscape Once A Week, an anthological exploration of the music press from the 1960s to the 1980s. Moving on to the week's free feature, goth-punks The Flesh Eaters and contemporaries The Gun Club spark a discussion of the L.A. scene at the time. The three of them then approach Maurice White's (of Earth, Wind & Fire) metaphysical theorising and philosophical rambling (as heard in clips from an exclusive 1979 interview) with a healthy degree of scepticism. Further topics include The Beatles at The Cavern in Liverpool, The Temptations freeing themselves from Motown, Brian Eno's charisma and Millie Jackson's self-proclaimed status as one of the rudest b****** around.
Chatting about Bros and how appallingly they come out of the After the Screaming Stops doc, RBP podcast hosts Mark and Barney agree that Matt Goss is a "grotesque parody of overweening ego". Moving seamlessly on to Kenny Rogers, the duo hear a clip from John Tobler's 1989 audio interview with the man and discuss his uneasy status as a country icon and his true roots in rhythm & blues. Your hosts then pay tribute to RAM founder/editor Anthony O'Grady, who died in December, and discuss his writing on Australian rock from AC/DC to Radio Birdman. They also consider Paul McCartney & Wings, legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones and Ecstasy's role in the Second Summer of Love.
Featuring exclusive clips of an increasingly intoxicated Keith Richards during a 2002 interview, this week's Rock's Backpages podcast could be described as a Rolling Stones special if only there weren't so many other things also being talked about. Lauding Keef as the real heart and soul behind the Stones and leaving the question 'How has this man made it to the age of 75?' unanswered, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle move on to waxing lyrical about the brilliant film Performance. Directed by Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell, with a soundtrack that Barney thinks is one of the 'creepiest, weirdest but most mesmerising' he's ever heard, Performance sums up, for your two hosts at least, the transition from 1960s flower power into something overall darker and more dangerous, with the Stones at the 'centre of a vortex of social change'. Other topics discussed include 'the Elvis Presley demographic', the Beastie Boys going from frat boy cartoon to musical revolutionaries, 'sanctified modfather of dad rock' Paul Weller, Fleetwood Mac, Ice Cube and Gary Barlow's distress at the greater success of Robbie Williams, 'beloved entertainer of 20th century British pop'.
Hear Bill Nelson of Be-Bop Deluxe reminisce (fondly) about starting bands in school and (not so fondly) about working with Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, followed by discussion between hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle about the invention of the collective by the Wu-Tang Clan. Their attentions then turn to featured writer Tim Cooper, whose piece on David Bowie sparks consideration of his later albums, after which your hosts explore other pieces added to the archive including a letter from Frank Sinatra's fans, a disappointed live review of Little Feat, the return of Dexter Gordon and a meeting with The Prodigy, who neither Mark nor Barney would particularly like to hang out with.
Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music talks about interpreting the music of others, resents being called a country gent and loves vinyl. Your hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle debate whether For Your Pleasure or Stranded is the better album, contemplate country and Americana and explore featured writer's Susin Shapiro's New York escapades, which include an interview with Patti Smith about Horses. Next, Barney and Mark consider Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man, recorded at Muscle Shoals, and Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, probably their favourite 'fusion' band. Returning to New York, they reflect on New Wave in response to Robert Duncan's piece describing Television as being 'possessed of all the manners of an oyster', before rounding off with discussions of punk vs. prog, the rise of female sexuality in pop music, and the infamous Kim Fowley.
Welcoming special guest and featured writer John Mendelssohn, RBP's Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle present an excerpt from an interview with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and discuss the finer points of rock criticism with John, including the glamour of being threatened by Led Zeppelin from the stage at one of their gigs. Ahead of the publication of a new book of Kate Bush's lyrics, the three of them consider Wuthering Heights (John liked it, Barney didn't, and Mark hated it so much that he didn't listen to her music again for two decades) and discuss Mendelssohn's own book on the singer, Waiting for Kate Bush. Their guest also regales Barney and Mark with tales of finding David Bowie 'really pretty' and how 'deeply appalling' he thinks Richard Meltzer is.
Find John's own podcast at bit.ly/john_mendelssohn, his blog at johnmendelssohn.blogspot.com and visit his band's website at www.freudiansluts.co.uk.
Etta James considers her life in RnB up to 1978—'Roll With Me Henry', Johnny Otis, Chess Records and working with Rick Hall. Your hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns in turn consider her impact on singers from Janis Joplin to Adele and discuss featured writer Rob Partridge, raunchy and/or art-rock Royal Trux, and Jobriath. Their attentions then turn to Burl Ives, Marc Bolan and the joy of seeing Willie Nelson live, before they start disagreeing about Portishead as well as the Fugees, with Barney stubbornly refusing to be snobbish about their album The Score.
Berating ‘idiot’ Malcolm McLaren and ‘poxy’ Vivienne Westwood, Johnny Rotten/John Lydon and Sid Vicious hold forth, slagging off everyone under the sun, or at least everyone they can think of, in a 1977 interview with John Tobler. RBP podcast hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle do some holding forth of their own, about the Sex Pistols (naturally) but also about Chic, featured writer David Hepworth, Nico, Gene Clark and Luther Vandross. Hailing Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as ‘two of the greatest players of any musical instrument in any musical medium’, Barney and Mark enthuse about disco, discuss the state of electronic music in the 1980s and question whether or not music can enact political change (spoiler: it can't).
'Massive Attack [...] bores me to tears', says Mark Pringle ahead of their 20th-anniversary tour of Mezzanine. Following some discussion of the Bristol Scene, he and Barney Hoskyns consider this week's featured writer Terry Staunton. They then present an excerpt from a 2014 interview with Roseanne Cash in which she talks to Adam Sweeting about revisiting the south of the USA, which plays at the end of the podcast. Talk then turns to Joan Baez, Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull, the latter of which turns out to be the starting point for a conversation about addiction and drug abuse, further fuelled by Susin Shapiro's withering review of Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers. For full show notes and links, please visit rocksbackpages.com/podcast.
Hear an excerpt from a 1976 interview between Freddie Mercury and Robert Duncan of Creem about Bohemian Rhapsody (among other things). Your hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle then consider this week's additions to the Rock's Backpages archive, including pieces on Joni Mitchell, Lionel Richie, Randy Newman and the Rolling Stones at the height of their devilish mythology. While discussing Neil Kulkarni's rave review of Wu-Tang Clan's Forever, Barney and Mark recall the time they met Wu-Tang's U-God at San Francisco airport.