spoken word Archive

Album Review: Iceberg Slim — Reflections

If I told you that a key inspiration for the slice-of-street hip-hop of Ice-T was an earlier recording artist going by the name of Iceberg Slim, you’d likely develop some immediate preconceptions as to what the earlier iceman sounded like. But I’m here to tell you that you’d probably be way off base. Iceberg Slim

Album Review: Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War

Readers old enough to remember the long-running and beloved television sitcom M*A*S*H likely know that according to its creators, even though the show was set in wartime Korea, it was really about American involvement in Vietnam. But despite the show’s comedic framework, it managed to explore some important truths about that ill-advised endeavor in southeast

Joe Penland on the Connection Between Old-time Music and Storytelling

“I didn’t know I was a storyteller until I was told I was one,” says Joe Penland. A singer, songwriter and most definitely a storyteller, Penland is part of the ongoing movement to keep musical ballad traditions alive. He’s one of the featured speakers in From Knee to Knee: An Exploration of the Roots of

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 8 of 10

Manu Katché – Unstatic Style: jazz This is an album of tasty mostly-instrumental jazz that sometimes – but not always – leans in an Afro-Cuban direction. Luca Aquino’s trumpet is often the lead instrument, but there is plenty else going on throughout. The overall vibe is more subtle than fiery, but there’s some fascinating interplay

Album Mini-review: Allen Ginsberg — The Last Word on First Blues

File next to: William Burroughs, The Fugs, Lenny Bruce Beat poet Allen Ginsberg is a towering figure in America’s cultural history. Most of his recorded material is spoken word, but in 1983 he cut an album of music called First Blues. With a ramshackle folk backing from pals including Bob Dylan, First Blues is a

Radio Radio!

A programming note: I am pleased to announce that tomorrow (Thursday, April 17, 2016) I will be a guest on Vance Pollock‘s “Riffin'” radio show on Asheville FM 103.3. Among (I imagine) other topics, we’ll be discussing the life and career of Keith Emerson. The program airs 11am-1pm, and those interested can listen via a

Hundred-word Reviews for September, Part 7 of 8

Today features hundred word reviews of archival and reissue releases from American and overseas labels. The Brecker Brothers – The Bottom Line Archive This is the latest from the new series of releases documenting soundboard recordings from one of New York’s most famed nightclubs. The label’s web site claims the archive contains over a thousand

Hundred Word Reviews for May 2015, Part 4

My unrelenting trip through my CD backlog continues today with five more capsule reviews. These five are rock and/or soul and/or pop. The Monochrome Set – Spaces Everywhere Heroes of the first wave of new wave, The Monochrome Set formed in the late 1970s. Though they never achieved any measurable success in the USA, they’ve

Album Review: John and Yoko w/ Harry Smith: I’m Not the Beatles

Way back in 1990, author John Robertson published a provocative book called The Art & Music of John Lennon. The title might lead one to think it’s a coffee table book or somesuch; in fact it’s something much more weighty (metaphorically speaking, that is). Robertson’s central thesis – consistent with a largely unspoken viewpoint espoused

Festival Review: Big Ears 2014, Day 2 (Part 1)

Marc Ribot (Again) The second day of Big Ears 2014 kicked off with a most unusual event: Marc Ribot seated in total darkness, armed with only a classical acoustic guitar. Above him on the Bijou stage was a projection screen, upon which was shown Charlie Chaplin‘s 1921 silent film, The Kid. Ribot’s charge was to