essay Archive

Progress Report #4: My Book About 415 Records

It’s time for another of my occasional book updates. I’m mere days away from finishing writing my second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave. As I tackle the remaining few chapters, I’m struck (as I have been throughout the project) by the ways in which various themes come up

Musoscribe at 12

This month marks the 12-year anniversary of this here Musoscribe site. I’ve been writing much longer than that, but I started archiving/posting my work online in June 2009. It seems like a lifetime ago. As I’m currently consumed with finishing my second book, I’d like to pause a beat and take the opportunity to glance

Progress Report #3: Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave

I love my work; I really do. But even against the backdrop of the thousands of other stories with which I’ve been – and continue to be – involved, the work on my book about 415 Records stands apart. The manuscript is coming along briskly; I’ve already written more than 35,000 words, and have drafts

Farewell, Mr. Personality

It was nearly six years ago that I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing a rock’n’roll legend. Lloyd Price scored many hits: nearly 30 of his songs made it onto the charts. And even as he moved into the twilight of his years, he continued to tour. He also wrote a fascinating, lively and

Robyn Hitchcock: Give it to the (Former) Soft Boy

Cambridge, England singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock first came to prominence with the Soft Boys, a group that combined the prickly, angular sounds of new wave with a lysergic worldview redolent of Syd Barrett. The latter connection is no accident: Pink Floyd’s legendary and doomed founder was a Cambridge boy as well. Hitchcock’s lyrical approach was at

Wesley Stace: It Happens One Night

This story was published previously in Chicago’s New City. For a long time, the man born Wesley Stace was John Wesley Harding. Taking his stage name from the title Bob Dylan’s 1967 album, the singer-songwriter crafted a superb series of albums. Those releases covered a great deal of musical territory; though he’s firmly rooted in

A Guilty-pleasure Look Back at The Jerky Boys

Americans of a certain age will remember the phenomenon of the prank phone call. In the pre-cell phone era, everyone had either a landline or no phone at all, and unless one paid extra to the phone company (and in those days there was only one phone company), your number was published in a thick

Don’t Ever Change: The Beatles’ ‘Live at the BBC’ at 25

The Beatles’ final album, Let it Be, was released in May 1970. With the exception of the 1977 LP The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl and two same-named but different records titled Rarities in 1978, there would be no release of previously-unheard Beatles music until the middle of the 1990s. That wasn’t the plan.

The Church: Further, Deeper, Infinity

This essay appeared previously in NewCity. The Church debuted with Of Skin and Heart (known worldwide as The Church) in 1981. The Australian foursome never fit neatly into the then-thriving new wave movement; while guitarist Marty Willson-Piper’s jangling guitars bore some sonic connection with the American West Coast’s so-called “Paisley Underground” movement, the band’s moody,

Brian Wilson: Do It Again

The standard take on Brian Wilson is also the most accurate one. It can be neatly divided into two parts. First part: The man is a genius. There’s simply no denying that Wilson is a force of nature; his command of the recording studio-as-instrument is almost beyond compare, which itself is fascinating in light of