Category Essays

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock & Roll: Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo, and the Torched Twang of Americana

Despite its recent arrival as a charted radio format, Americana is nothing new. In fact, its very existence is predicated on the past. Rock & roll has always been an untidy bastard — rooted as much in outlaw country as it is in backporch blues or jukejoint R&B. Just listen to early Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, or Chuck Berry.

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Rocking The 617 24-7: Inside the Vortex of a Spectacularly Noisy Universe

It speaks volumes — maybe decibels is a better word — about the consistent musical vitality of this city that I simply could not keep up with all of the adventurous, surprising, inspiring, and thrilling music that reached my ears over the years. But man, I tried.

A ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD: Tom Petty, 1950-2017

He became a stadium superstar in later years, but Tom Petty’s early, brilliant records of underdog striving were what got us (and many other kids tuned in to their radios during the ’70s) hooked. Our appreciation of the man on what would have been his 67th birthday Friday.

MANNISH BOYS AT THE MOCAMBO: What, No April Wine?

The 300 lucky radio station contest winners who crowded into a dozen buses bound for Toronto’s El Mocambo Tavern one early March evening in 1977 began booing when they thought they wouldn’t be seeing the club’s headliners, April Wine, after all. Also on the bill that night was some opening act called The Cockroaches. They […]

NOTES FROM THE MEMORY MOTEL: Half A Century of Stones in Two Days

To truly consider the Rolling Stones, it’s simply not adequate to ponder a clutch of hit singles or a few best-selling albums, or even an epochal moment or movement in music history. No, to properly contemplate the Stones is to throw a wide net across the stretching seas of the decades encompassing music, fashion, and culture that’s informed their existence (and vice versa). And bring your magnifying glass and microscope.

REGARDING THE END: Life, Death, and The Wondrous World of Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy

Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy conjure a mostly deserted world of long, lingering shadows where guys like Nick Cave and Mark Eitzel brood in a half-light that’s either salvation or damnation — a distinction that depends on whether you think being alone is solitude or isolation. A world where the songs thread through a musty room and gather there like settling smoke. Eventually, if you’re lucky, a cracked window swings open from the wind, bringing a new beam of sound and a fresh light with it to remind you that you’re alive.

FLASHING STAR: The Gorgeous Gospel of Kevin Junior’s Chamber Strings

Not nearly enough people got the chance (or took the time) to listen to the music Kevin Junior made during his short lifetime, which ended one year ago today at age 46. But there’s a good chance that most of those who did have never forgotten what they heard. And hear still. Today we’re remembering […]

FROM STARMAN TO STARDUST: The Singular Sound, Voice & Vision Of David Bowie (1947-2016)

Originally posted on RPM: Jonathan Perry's Life in Analog:
Reblogged on WordPress.com Source: FROM STARMAN TO STARDUST: The Singular Sound, Voice & Vision Of David Bowie (1947-2016)

TRUE BLUES: The Stones Get Back To The Bedrock

Ultimately, despite (or perhaps because of) being bashed-about and knocked-out off-the-cuff, “Blue & Lonesome” firmly and expansively situates itself in time and place. Like most good albums, it captures and distills a mood and a feeling, a frame of mind, a state of being, and it’s a welcome, if relatively brief (at 42 minutes), escape.

BOBBY KEYS & IAN McLAGAN: Sounds Of Stones Sidemen (and Rock ‘n’ Roll) Silenced

MAC & KEYS: Two years ago this week we lost two titans who helped shape the sound, course, and texture of roughly a half-century of rock music, not to mention that of their frequent collaborators and employers, the Rolling Stones, who benefitted greatly from their skillful, soulful mastery on the horns and keys. I’d like to […]

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