John Lydon is … Happy? (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… A defining characteristic of most all of PiL’s releases is that – like Black Sabbath, oddly enough – each was critically panned upon release, only to undergo reassessment within a few years, by which time the music would be hailed as relevant, innovative and important. One might expect Lydon to find

Jeff Beck’s ‘Truth’ at 50

Many years ago, a rock critic whose name escapes me put forth the argument (I’m paraphrasing here) that the Kinks were the band to which one could point if and when making the assertion that the Beatles weren’t all that special. Merits of that point of view aside, a similar argument can be made, provoking

Album Review: Brian Wilson (1988)

If we’re being honest with ourselves, most sympathetic critics grade the post-Beach Boys music of Brian Wilson on a curve. Unquestionably a musical genius, Wilson is responsible for Pet Sounds and the legendary long-thought-lost SMiLE, arguably two of the most revolutionary albums in the history of popular music. The Beatles certainly regarded Pet Sounds as

Album Review: Guadalcanal Diary – At Your Birthday Party

Signed to DB Recs at or near the local label’s commercial high point, Guadalcanal Diary released its debut EP, Watusi Rodeo in 1983. The disc’s catchy yet slightly off-kilter songs (mostly by guitarist Murray Attaway) attracted the attention of Elektra, who soon signed the band. Released in 1984, the Don Dixon-produced Walking in the Shadow

Soul Stalwart: Sidney Barnes (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… Jackson got a deal that saw him relocating briefly to London, so he and Barnes parted ways. Around that time Barnes got a call from George Clinton, then with Golden World Records in Detroit. “I was missing working with him and he was missing working with me,” Barnes says. “We were

Mike Mills: R.E.M. and Beyond

I grew up just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, so when R.E.M. got together in the nearby college town of Athens and started making noises in 1980, my friends and I thought of them as a local group. We followed with interest their rise in popularity; I recall an episode a few months before the release

Jimmy Webb: A Consummate Tale-spinner (Part 4 / Conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… Over the years, several recording artists have chosen to record entire albums of nothing but Jimmy Webb songs. Johnny Rivers was the first to do so, on his 1967 album Rewind. Also in 1967, The 5th Dimension recorded 16 Webb originals, spread across two albums. The following year, Irish actor-turned-singer Richard

An American in London: The Shel Talmy Interview, Part One

In the history of rock and pop, it’s rare that a producer becomes a “rock star.” Certain names have become prominent fixtures in the audio part of pop culture: Phil Spector and George Martin are among the most well-known producers of the 1960s. In later years, Quincy Jones, Jeff Lynne, Brian Eno and Rick Rubin

Long Shot: The Story of Delaney & Bonnie’s ‘Motel Shot’ (Part 1)

As the 1960s rolled over into 1970, popular music was undergoing a seismic shift. The full reasons aren’t totally clear; maybe it was the disillusionment in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Perhaps it was the cumulative shock experienced at the daily news of the disastrous war in

Arthur Brown’s “Fire” Still Burns (Part 1)

One of the most remarkable singles in a year full of remarkable music, 1968’s “Fire” was unlike most anything else on the radio. Backed with malevolent swirls of organ and brass punctuating a hard-driving arrangement, the operatic vocals of Arthur Brown made quite an impression on listeners. Opening with the memorable spoken (well, shouted) introduction