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Observer, The

Bobby Womack: Hammersmith Odeon, London

Live Review by Simon Frith, Observer, The, 1984

FOR THE last couple of weeks, London theatres have been filled (or should have been) with British pop musicians taking tips from their American masters. ...

Billy Bragg, Prefab Sprout: The ICA Season: Rock Bands Find The Human Touch

Live Review by Simon Frith, Observer, The, 1984

Billy Bragg/Prefab Sprout: The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London ...

Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen: Scruff As Superstar

Profile by Simon Frith, Observer, The, 1985

IF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN didn’t exist rock critics would have had to invent him – which, in a sense, they did. His manager, ex-journalist Jon Landau, ...

Tom Robinson Band: Tom Robinson: Staying True

Profile and Interview by Simon Frith, Observer, The, June 1986

THEY MET AGAIN, after all these years, in a hotel corridor in Manchester, John Lydon and Tom Robinson, the yin and yang of punk politics. ...

U2: Prophet Incentive

Profile and Interview by Robin Eggar, Observer, The, April 1987

In Dublin they joke that Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2, has God's phone number. Not for U2 groupies, drugs or a limo ...

The Jesus & Mary Chain: The Jesus And Mary Chain: In Never-never Pop Land.

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, 1988

In their promo videos the Jesus and Mary Chain aim to be as disorientating to the eye as they are to the ear. Look again ...

Billy Bragg's Brave New England

Report and Interview by Mark Sinker, Observer, The, November 1988

2005 comment: Neil Spencer didn’t rate me or want to use me, according to Jon Savage – who told him (Sav told me) not to ...

Roy Orbison: The Big O 1936-1988

Obituary by Mark Cooper, Observer, The, December 1988

Chubby and shaded, Roy Orbison made a generation weep in pleasurable misery, says MARK COOPER ...

Suicide

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, February 1989

"NEW YORK IS getting dull," says Suicide's Alan Vega. "The downtown New York of the Seventies has gone. But there's still something here, an electricity, ...

R.E.M.: Post-Yuppie Pop

Interview by Jon Savage, Observer, The, May 1989

"I COULD TURN YOU inside out! But I choose not to!" R.E.M.’s singer Michael Stipe, back arched, is bellowing into a megaphone. Five songs into ...

Soul II Soul

Interview by Cynthia Rose, Observer, The, October 1989

A mix of songs that paint pictures, with women and God driving the music and the marketing machine, have spawned a Soul II Soul empire. ...

Ocean Colour Scene: Fowler’s Mod English Usage

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, 1990

If 1989 was the year Manchester proclaimed itself pop capital of Britain, 1990 was when reality caught up with the rhetoric. ...

The Creatures: Demon Hunters

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, 1990

From her punk beginnings as style terrorist through her early Eighties reign as godmother of 'Goth' to the almost motherly figure she now presents, Siouxsie's ...

The Pixies: Ditties Of Pixilated Reasoning

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, 1990

A year ago, the Pixies were considered the last word in rock bacchanalia. The Boston-based band's three albums – Come On Pilgrim, Surfer Rosa and ...

Lloyd Cole: Cool-cut

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, February 1990

Two years ago, Lloyd Cole folded his band, The Commotions, after six years, a bunch of hit singles and three solidly successful albums (Rattlesnakes, Easy ...

The Stone Roses: Flaring Up: The Stone Roses at Spike Island

Report and Interview by Jon Savage, Observer, The, July 1990

YOU CAN see them all over the North-West, drifting through Manchester’s arcades, doing the swim-dance in the high-tech Hacienda, travelling en masse to tribal events ...

James Brown: He’s Brown And He’s Proud

Profile and Interview by Cynthia Rose, Observer, The, September 1990

"NOT TOO MANY people can really set a precedent," James Brown told me. "But then, I was never too traditional about music." What an understatement. ...

Primal Scream

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, 1991

The story of Primal Scream, whose second hit single entered the charts this week, encapsulates the last 14 years of British rock history. Bobby Gillespie, ...

The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious: Sid Vicious crashed my 21st

Essay by Peter Silverton, Observer, The, 1991

At this distance, all I can remember for certain is the gangle of his legs and the pinch of his cheeks. ‘This is John,’ said ...

Paul Simon: Simon Reports Back To Base

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, May 1991

PAUL SIMON'S management company has one client: Paul Simon. Based in Broadway's legendary Brill Building (where Simon and Garfunkel first attempted to sell their songs ...

David Byrne: From Ur to L.A. and back again

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, June 1991

In performance, and as the 'compere' in his film True Stories, David Byrne comes across as the epitome of Wasp uptightness, nervy and ill at ...

Guns N' Roses: Guns N’ Roses: Danger Lurks Beyond The Doors

Profile by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, August 1991

No other rock band today provokes such polarised opinions as Guns N' Roses. For some, they are 'the most dangerous band in the world', heirs ...

The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Red Hot Chili Peppers: Magicians followed but not chaste

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, September 1991

One of the most hyperactive rock scenes in the United States is a genre called 'funk-metal' or 'funk 'n' roll'. Groups like Faith No More, ...

Saint Etienne: St Etienne: Debut That's Alpha Oscar Kilo.

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, October 1991

On their delightful debut album, Foxbase Alpha, St Etienne mix contemporary house rhythms with the string-swept melodrama of Sixties pop. Amazingly, the creators of this ...

Manic Street Preachers: Righteous Hate 4 Real

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, November 1991

When Malcolm McLaren rewrote the Sex Pistols story as The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, he invented a new genre – rock bands who come ...

Teenage Fanclub: The Glitz And The Grunge

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, December 1991

With their first single, ‘Everything Flows', last year, Teenage Fanclub's grinding raunch and bluesy solos announced that here at last was a British group unafraid ...

Nirvana: Smells Like A Sensation

Profile by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, December 1991

NIRVANA ARE THE sensation of 1991. Their single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ shot straight into the UK Top Ten and is now number seven after ...

Tom Waits: A conversation with Tom Waits

Interview by Peter Silverton, Observer, The, 1992

To converse with Tom Waits is to be lied to, consistently, determinedly, entertainingly. ‘I’ll tell you all my secrets but I’ll lie about my past,’ ...

Lush: Hazy Daze For The Scenesters

Profile by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, February 1992

Just about the only thing happening in British indie music last year was a rash of blurry, neo-psychedelic bands known as 'shoegazers' or The Scene ...

The Jesus & Mary Chain: The Jesus and Mary Chain: A Spectacle Of Eclectic Rock

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, March 1992

For a while it looked like The Jesus and Mary Chain had slipped into the ‘where are they now? file. "We’re lazy bastards," says William ...

Faith No More: God, The Devil And All The Rest

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, June 1992

Despite starting out as an anti-people band, Faith No More's last album, 1989's The Real Thing, has sold millions, even though its baroque, doom-laden fusion ...

Suede: Roll Over, Jimmy Dean

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, June 1992

"WHEN WE STARTED the group, we felt that people were starved for music which allowed them to let themselves go," says Brett Anderson, Suede's 24-year-old ...

The Verve: Richard Ashcroft: Having The Verve To Become Unashamedly Epic

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, July 1992

"When you live in a place like Wigan, your senses aren't exactly bombarded with stimuli," says Richard Ashcroft, lead singer of Verve. "So when you ...

Donald Fagen: Steely Don is no fly-by-night

Interview by Simon Reynolds, Observer, The, May 1993

With their jazz-tinged soft-rock and mordant lyrics, Steely Dan were critics' favourites and a staple of FM radio throughout the Seventies. ...

Nirvana: Sounds Dirty: The Truth About Nirvana

Report and Interview by Jon Savage, Observer, The, August 1993

SITUATED ON 51st Street and Broadway, in the heart of the old entertainment area, Roseland is a New York institution. In the 1920s it was ...

Sting: Lord Of The Lake

Interview by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, January 1994

ON THE DRIZZLY Monday morning before Christmas, I'm sitting in an oak-panelled room in deepest Wiltshire, awaiting the entrance of the owner of a Jacobean ...

Nirvana: The Death of Kurt Cobain

Report by Jon Savage, Observer, The, July 1994

DEPENDING ON your view of the afterlife, suicide may or may not be the solution to a life that has become unbearable. For ...

Randy Newman: London, Theatre Royal

Live Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, November 1994

IT'S HARD to believe that in 1968 Randy Newman claimed he was "very rarely propelled by any great desire to perform live". Especially hard when ...

Morrissey: The King of Bedsit Angst Grows Up

Profile by Will Self, Observer, The, 1995

Heaven knows he was miserable then. Morrissey was the archetypal mixed-up young man: anti-fun, seemingly tortured by his sexuality, with a detached and ironic worldview. ...

Janet Jackson: Behind Those Sphinx-like Eyes: Janet Jackson

Profile by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, April 1995

"THIS IS A STORY ABOUT CONTROL," whispered the 19-year-old Janet Jackson at the start of her breakthrough album, Control, in 1986. "It’s all about control, ...

Sid Vicious's mum

Obituary by Peter Silverton, Observer, The, 1996

No one knows exactly when Ann Beverley died. Even the South Derbyshire coroner wasn’t detained by that particular detail. ...

Phish

Interview by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, June 1996

WHEN THE Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia died last year, a whole era of rock’n’roll seemed to be drawing to a close. Many people assumed this ...

Elvis Presley, Leiber and Stoller: Elvis, homoeroticism and 'Jailhouse Rock'

Essay by Peter Silverton, Observer, The, August 1997

'Oh yes,' said Stanley, a builder - though not a man known ever to have displayed his bum cleavage beyond the privacy of his own ...

James Brown: Sweet Cell Music

Profile by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, February 1998

(THE OBSERVER PROFILE James Brown – same song, different keys – by Sean O'Hagan ...

Frank Sinatra: Sinatra's 'My Way'

Essay by Peter Silverton, Observer, The, May 1998

As songs go, 'My Way' doesn't so much wear its heart on its sleeve as rip it from its chest, throw it down and shout: ...

Dusty Springfield: You Started Something: Dusty Springfield

Profile and Interview by Lucy O'Brien, Observer, The, February 1999

Dusty Springfield, now battling with cancer, is finally being recognized as the first queen of Britpop after 40 years in the business. ...

Lee Hazlewood: The Return of Nancy's Boy

Profile and Interview by Andrew Smith, Observer, The, June 1999

NEW YORK CROWDS don't get much hipper than this. The women look either like a young Patti Smith or Marianne Faithfull circa Girl On A ...

Beck: Being For the Benefit of Mr. Hansen

Live Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, September 1999

THE GANG’S all here: Yoko Ono and Gwyneth Paltrow, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, Kate Moss and Evan Dando. All have ventured out on a ...

Pet Shop Boys

Interview by David Bennun, Observer, The, October 1999

AS REGENCY drawing rooms go, this one is on the largish side but, at first sight, perfectly ordinary.  ...

Brits Go Home! The End of the Invasion

Overview by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, 2000

AMID ALL the self-congratulatory hubbub over the British successes at the Oscars, few people stopped to reflect that luvvie wonderboy Sam Mendes hadn't actually made ...

David Bowie: Major Tom.com

Profile by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, January 2000

From drifting astronaut to Ziggy Stardust to Thin White Duke and actor...the Brixton boy worth £500 million and with his own Internet bank is bringing ...

The KLF: Burning question: The KLF

Report and Interview by Andrew Smith, Observer, The, February 2000

Why did Bill Drummond set fire to £1 million? Why did he want to chop off his own hand on stage? And why did the ...

Ian Dury, Kilburn & The High Roads: Ian Dury 1942 - 2000

Obituary by Charlie Gillett, Observer, The, March 2000

THE FIRST TIME I saw Ian Dury was at the Tally Ho in Kentish Town in 1972, when he had just started to play in ...

Junior Vasquez

Profile and Interview by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, September 2000

IN THE SUMMER of 1990, I was in New York for the New Music Seminar, as were many of the UK's emerging new DJs and ...

Radiohead: Sound and Fury: Radiohead

Profile and Interview by Andrew Smith, Observer, The, October 2000

IN THE EARLY '90S, you knew you'd arrived as a rock group the day you made it on to MTV and the Beavis & Butthead ...

Wookie: Garage Convert

Profile and Interview by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, October 2000

'RINSE IT OUT for us, mate!' The bag being handed over in the foyer of this small but bustling recording studio is not full of ...

Leeroy Thornhill: A Prodigy Returns

Profile and Interview by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, February 2001

THERE WAS A tendency for bands coming out of the acid house club explosion to have dancers – Cressa in the Stone Roses, Bez with ...

Will Oldham: The Prince Of Darkness

Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, March 2001

"I created Billy and let him take care of the performing. It's not me, Will Oldham, who gets up on stage." ...

Manic Street Preachers: Our Manics in Havana: Manic Street Preachers

Report and Interview by Andrew Smith, Observer, The, March 2001

THURSDAY MORNING and the short journey to the national radio station affords a first look at Havana, which turns out to be exactly what I ...

Nick Cave: Rage Has Not Withered Him

Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, March 2001

Nick Cave never thought he'd get past 40, but heroin and self-hate are behind him now. Married and "reborn", he writes nine to five in ...

Bob Dylan: Well, How Does It Feel?

Profile by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, March 2001

There's only one person in pop who is not fascinated by the myth of Bob Dylan – and that's Bob Dylan. Now approaching sixty and ...

Sigur Ros: So good they make you vomit

Report and Interview by Andrew Smith, Observer, The, April 2001

ON THE OTHER side of the door is a sprawling south London estate gathered round an old factory turned business park, as oppressive an environment ...

Syd Barrett: Disappearances Can Be Deceptive

Report by Tom Cox, Observer, The, April 2001

THERE ARE PROBABLY better places in the world to go to become invisible than Cambridge, but perhaps not if you are an ex-rock star with ...

Let's Try That One Again...

Comment by Tom Cox, Observer, The, May 2001

IN AN ERA WHEN pop carries scant mystery and every 'best ever' list imaginable seems to have been compiled, the term 'lost classic' has so ...

Life Support: Michael and Emily Eavis

Interview by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, June 2001

Michael Eavis, founder of the Glastonbury Festival – taking a rest this year – and his youngest daughter Emily. ...

Sara Cox: Vox Cox

Profile and Interview by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, June 2001

IT'S 7AM AND the tall, pretty young woman I'm watching work has clearly not been out of bed too long. Her blonde hair is tied ...

Did Video Kill The Radio Star? MTV 20 Years On

Retrospective by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, July 2001

"MTV makes me want to smoke crack..." (Beck, 1992) ...

Gorillaz: Hey, Hey, We're The Gorillaz

Profile by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, July 2001

IN ITS TENTH year now, the £20,000 Mercury Music Prize is awarded every September to the best British album. Chosen by a panel of critics, ...

Paul McCartney: He Loves Her Yeah Yeah Yeah

Comment by Charles Shaar Murray, Observer, The, July 2001

PAUL McCARTNEY has always been known for his broad, boyish smile, but the ear-splitting grin he sported last week while announcing his engagement to Heather ...

The Big Chill Festival

Report by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, August 2001

IT'S A WARM Sunday afternoon, and I'm stretched out on the grass watching white clouds blow across blue sky, while Norman Jay plays some of ...

Aaliyah, Singer/Actress

Obituary by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, September 2001

AALIYAH DANA HAUGHTON was just 22 when she died last Saturday in a plane crash in The Bahamas, but she'd already been famous for seven ...

Groove Armada: Mellow Fellows

Interview by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, September 2001

IT'S A HOT summer afternoon, Tom Findlay and Andy Cato have cold beers, and we're all sitting on a terrace in west London overlooking the ...

Vincent Gallo: Buffalo Boy: Vincent Gallo

Profile and Interview by Andrew Smith, Observer, The, September 2001

He's a self-confessed sexual compulsive, a teetotal right-wing extremist who made the hit movie Buffalo 66. Andrew Smith meets Vincent Gallo, painter, actor, model, director, ...

Robbie Williams: Royal Albert Hall, London

Live Review by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, October 2001

WHAT A SWELL party it was. Not being an opera fan, I don't often see 3,500 people in black tie and evening gowns. It's a ...

Pulp: In a Class of His Own: Jarvis Cocker

Live Review by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, December 2001

Jarvis Cocker could have been trapped in his role of English eccentric, a blend of Morrissey, Ray Davies and Alan Bennett. But he has found ...

The Strokes: Great White Hopes

Report and Interview by Ted Kessler, Observer, The, December 2001

Twelve months ago they were an unheard of indie band. Today, they're being compared to The Rolling Stones. Ted Kessler goes on the road in ...

Pop Idol: Idols Made In Our Own Image

Comment by Sheryl Garratt, Observer, The, February 2002

AND THEN THERE were two... Last night's penultimate episode of the latest 'water-cooler TV' left only two hopefuls, Gareth Gates and Will Young, remaining from ...

The Hives: The Junction, Cambridge

Live Review by Tom Cox, Observer, The, February 2002

The Hives put on a fine imitation of garage rock. And the garage is where it would be best appreciated ...

Eminem: Mean, Moody And Magnificent: Eminem

Profile by Charles Shaar Murray, Observer, The, May 2002

IT'S BEEN too damn quiet, Carruthers. With the upper echelons of the pop scene currently dominated by the industry's endless cavalcade of squeaky-clean teen puppets, ...

Oasis: Liam Gallagher: Mad for it

Interview by Ted Kessler, Observer, The, June 2002

Liam Gallagher has it all: the looks, the voice, the blondes, the tabloid headlines. So why is the new album his last chance of rock ...

Muddy Waters: Robert Gordon: Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters (Jonathan Cape)

Book Review by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, July 2002

The ONE-ROOM shack where Muddy Waters grew up originally stood on the edge of Stovall's plantation in Coahoma County in the Mississippi Delta. A few ...

George Michael: Who's a Cheeky Boy?

Comment by Charles Shaar Murray, Observer, The, July 2002

'WITH THE RELEASE of his George Bush and Cherie Blair-referencing new single,' snickers the Popbitch website, 'we would like to commiserate with George Michael on ...

Shakira: Colombian Gold

Interview by Ted Kessler, Observer, The, July 2002

As a schoolgirl she drove the nuns crazy with her belly dancing, now she's got the world gyrating. Ted Kessler meets Shakira, the Colombian superstar ...

Coldplay: Happy Landings

Interview by Ted Kessler, Observer, The, July 2002

He worries about his hair, he worries about women and he worries about death. Chris Martin even worries about worrying. But with the launch of ...

Sinead O'Connor: Mother Superior

Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, October 2002

A mellow Sinead O'Connor, who describes herself as 'a regular housewife', talks about ordination, her flair for getting into trouble – and why she's more ...

Alabama 3: London's Scariest Band: Alabama 3

Report and Interview by Will Self, Observer, The, November 2002

IF YOU LIKE seriously deranged, outrageously danceable and indisputably subversive music, then clear your diary for December 1st when the Alabama 3 play the Astoria. ...

Eminem: Marshall Mathers, Movie Star: Eminem in 8 Mile

Report by Edward Helmore, Observer, The, November 2002

THREE YEARS AGO he was the foul-mouthed scourge of parents everywhere. A sulky, misogynistic, homophobic, mother-hating all-round bad influence. A white-trash Negro. A true punk ...

Will Oldham: Still Voice, Distant Life: Will Oldham

Profile and Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, November 2002

He’s the finest songwriter to come out of America in the past decade. Just ask Johnny Cash. But Will Oldham doesn’t play the fame game. ...

Pulp: Pulp: Je Suis Un Rock Star...

Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, December 2002

IN THE BBC CANTEEN, where passing celebrity chefs must recoil before a menu that has stubbornly resisted the onward march of culinary ponciness, Jarvis Cocker ...

Patti Smith: Making Waves

Profile and Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, June 2003

THERE ARE TEARS in Patti Smith's eyes. She is midway through a performance that has been, by turns, sombre and joyous, intense and ecstatic, when ...

Ian MacDonald: The People's Music - Selected Journalism (Pimlico)

Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, July 2003

BROADLY SPEAKING there are three kinds of British rock writers: boring ones, brash ones, and genuinely bright ones. Somehow it's typical of our anti-intellectual culture ...

The Strokes: Room on Fire

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, September 2003

THREE HOURS before I am left alone in a press-office antechamber with Britain's only copy of Room on Fire, something very important happens on the ...

Missy Elliott: This is Not a Test

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, November 2003

WAY BACK IN 1997, when Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott launched her debut album Supa Dupa Fly with the touching dedication "To my mom... I would not ...

Carla Bruni: Quelqu'un m'a dit (V2)

Review by Charlie Gillett, Observer, The, 2004

MAYBE YOU KNOW her name. I didn't when I first played songs from this album several times on the radio last year,, until a ...

Dizzee Rascal: Boy In Da Corner

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, 2004

PRECOCIOUS BOW roughneck Dylan Mills knocked up his first single (scabrous teen pregnancy shocker 'I Luv You') in downtime from his school music class at ...

Nirvana, Sid Vicious: Kurt Cobain and Sid Vicious: Death and Glory

Essay by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, February 2004

"Thank you all from the pit of my burning nauseous stomach." – Extract from Kurt Cobain's suicide note ...

Palace Music, Will Oldham: Will Oldham: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy Sings Greatest Palace Music (Domino)****

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, February 2004

FIRST THINGS FIRST. The 15 songs that Louisville Kentucky singer-songwriter Will Oldham has chosen to reinterpret here (originally featured on three albums, an EP, a ...

Prince: Royal Blush

Profile by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, April 2004

LAST WEEKEND, tickets for the opening show of Prince's American arena tour, his first in nearly a decade, were changing hands over the internet for ...

The Streets: Dead Cert: The Streets

Interview by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, April 2004

'I LOVE THE NAME "The Streets",' muses 24 year-old Mike Skinner - at once the mercurial creative-director, canny CEO and flaky spokesmodel of that thriving ...

Youssou N'Dour: A Song and a Prayer

Profile and Interview by Mark Hudson, Observer, The, May 2004

As the first superstar of world music, Youssou N'Dour has consistently sought to reconcile Africa and the West, but his most personal record yet is ...

Nick Drake: Bryter Later (Island, 1970)

Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, June 2004

THE CULT OF Nick Drake, posh Lost Boy of post-folk singer-songwriting, shows little sign of abating. That’s because his mellow, Colin Blunstone-ish burr of a ...

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St.

Retrospective by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, June 2004

STICKY FINGERS has always been taken for granted. Fans and critics alike have drooled for decades over Let It Bleed and Exile on Main St., ...

New York Dolls: The New York Dolls: Fast and Louche

Live Review by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, June 2004

The New York Dolls: Royal Festival Hall, London ...

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks

Review by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, June 2004

RECORDED in New York over two days in 1968, Astral Weeks still sounds like nothing before or since. Unlike other classic albums, Pet Sounds, say, ...

The Blue Nile: High (Sanctuary)

Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, July 2004

ANYONE WHO loves the Blue Nile as much as I do will know there is something profoundly holy about their music. Twenty years after the ...

Girls Aloud, Sugababes: Xenomania: Heart Of The Country, Home Of The Hits

Profile and Interview by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, July 2004

In rural Kent, the future of British pop is being shaped by Brian Higgins – a Phil Spector for the 21st century. Ben Thompson meets ...

Youssou N'Dour: Egypt (Nonesuch)

Review by Charlie Gillett, Observer, The, July 2004

THIS BEAUTIFUL record is a new album by Youssou N'Dour, but it is not 'the new Youssou N'Dour album'. We have had one of those ...

Brian Wilson: Smile

Review by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, September 2004

The piano in the sand pit, the orchestra decked out in fireman's helmets, the kilos of grade A hashish, the master tapes that were destroyed, ...

Kings of Leon: A-Ha Shake Heartbreak

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, October 2004

AS WITH SO many of the best second albums - from Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure to Dizzee Rascal's Showtime - the first time you ...

Bob Geldof: Live Aid: The View From The Pitch

Memoir by Pete Paphides, Observer, The, October 2004

Nothing was going to stop a schoolboy fan of the Boomtown Rats making it to Wembley on that fateful day. Peter Paphides recalls every high ...

Judee Sill: Heart Food and Dark Peace: Judee Sill

Retrospective by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, December 2004

This is an expanded version of "The Lost Child", published in The Observer Music Monthly. ...

Queens Of The Stone Age: Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, February 2005

CANNED HEAT without the weight problem, ZZ Top without the tacky '80s gloss, Nirvana if Nevermind hadn't grown so big it blocked the road to ...

Super Furry Animals: Love Kraft

Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, August 2005

THE FIRST SOUND on Love Kraft is a splash caused by Super Furry Animals guitarist Huw "Bunf" Bunford plunging into a Spanish swimming pool. An ...

Sigur Ros: Takk

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, August 2005

A ROBE-FREE polyphonic spree, a depoliticised Godspeed! You Black Emperor, a less unforgivably insipid Talk Talk, Mogwai with the heavy metal taken out, the Cocteau ...

Bettye LaVette: Betty LaVette: I've Got My Own Hell to Raise (Anti)

Review by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, September 2005

PREVIOUSLY KNOWN only to fanatical followers of obscure deep soul, the legendary Ms LaVette belatedly comes in for a Joe Henry tune-up on this feisty, ...

Bob Mould: Bob's Their Uncle: Bob Mould, Mean Fiddler, London

Live Review by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, September 2005

THE MEAN FIDDLER is thick with black T-shirts, shaven heads and heavy spirals of smoke — from onstage behind Bob Mould and the cigarettes being ...

Mary J. Blige: The Drama of Being Mary J. Blige

Profile by Barney Hoskyns, Observer, The, November 2005

"WE LOVE YOU, MARY!" The shouts float up from isolated pockets in the plush auditorium housed within Columbus Circle's glitzy Time Warner building. Mary J. ...

Ronnie Spector: Ronnie's Spectre

Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, March 2006

RONNIE SPECTOR Greenfield strolls into the nondescript foyer of the Sheraton hotel in Danbury, Connecticut, a few paces behind her husband, Jonathan. ...

ECM, World Circuit, Topic: Groove Is In Their Hearts

Report by Mark Hudson, Observer, The, August 2006

In the corporate world of modern music, some niche labels still thrive through their passion and commitment. As jazz pioneer ECM reaches its 1,000th release ...

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeves: The Lost Art of the Mix Tape

Memoir by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, January 2007

LAST WEEK, while preparing to write this piece, I did something I have not done for a long time. I made a compilation tape. Back ...

Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare

Review by Jon Savage, Observer, The, April 2007

Don't be fooled by their common touch: the cheeky chimps are special. Jon Savage hears them make sense of the modern world ...

Dizzee Rascal: Word Champion

Interview by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, April 2007

Dizzee Rascal is not proud of everything in his past, he tells Ben Thompson in a remarkably frank interview. But he's more than happy with ...

Sly & The Family Stone: Sly Stone: I Want To Take You... Lower

Report by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, July 2007

Sly Stone was the funkadelic pioneer who made the world dance, broke racial boundaries, raised hell and set Woodstock alight. Last week, in Italy, after ...

Son of Dave: 03 (Kartel)

Review by Charlie Gillett, Observer, The, April 2008

THERE ARE times, listening to this album, you start to feel guilty – surely, if music sounds this good, it must be bad for you. ...

Damon Albarn, Franz Ferdinand, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Vampire Weekend: Afro-Indie: Across The Great Divide

Report and Interview by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, June 2008

Suddenly indie rockers are embracing African sounds. Could the long years of a cultural apartheid be coming to a close, asks Ben Thompson ...

Glasvegas: Fat Sams, Dundee

Live Review by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, September 2008

Glasvegas are being touted as the new Oasis... with a twist. They're very polite to their fans ...

Estelle, John Legend: John Legend: Why His Name Is Legend

Interview by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, October 2008

Barack Obama is a fan of soul star John Legend, and Estelle was his protégée. Jude Rogers speaks to him in the UK for the ...

Scott Walker

Interview by Sean O'Hagan, Observer, The, November 2008

In the sixties, he was part of the celebrated pop group the Walker Brothers – known as America's Beatles – but he rebelled against stardom ...

Odetta: Grit, Guts and Glory

Profile by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, December 2008

She inspired Dylan, was pals with Ella, and was due to play at Obama's inauguration: Jude Rogers on Odetta Holmes. ...

Public Image Ltd: John Lydon: 'PiL lets me express proper emotions'

Retrospective and Interview by Dorian Lynskey, Observer, The, September 2009

ON CHRISTMAS DAY 1978, almost exactly a year after the implosion of the Sex Pistols while on tour in San Francisco, the artist formerly known ...

The Magazine Explosion: UK Pop Publications in the '60s

Retrospective by Jon Savage, Observer, The, September 2009

IT'S FEBRUARY 1963. The Beatles are No 2 in the charts with 'Please Please Me' and it's time to meet the press. An anonymous reporter ...

The X Factor

Comment by Paul Morley, Observer, The, October 2009

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I decided that I would not watch this particular series of The X Factor, because I thought, I'll get ...

Madonna: Hard Candy

Review by Ben Thompson, Observer, The, April 2010

Thanks to her henchmen, writes Ben Thompson, the shameless idol still has much to give ...

The BRIT Awards

Comment by Paul Morley, Observer, The, February 2011

THE VOTING ACADEMY for this year's Brit awards is made up of 1,000 specially invited members from across the UK music industry: music critics, music ...

Elbow: International Arena, Cardiff

Live Review by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, March 2011

TONIGHT, CARDIFF'S premier gig-shed has turned into a family parlour. Five picture frames hang from the stage, gold and old-fashioned, each of them holding a ...

Charlie Haden: Paul Morley On Music: Charlie Haden

Comment by Paul Morley, Observer, The, April 2011

Amazon has made critics of us all. But how does that bode for the professional critic? ...

Blur: Maida Vale Studios, London

Live Review by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, August 2012

AFTER BLUR'S 6 Music gig – the first of two shows they're playing for BBC radio tonight, to begin what they have suggested may be ...

Luke Haines: 'I've Been Lucky All The Way Through'

Interview by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, November 2012

Former 'saviour of UK rock' Luke Haines has never followed the unwritten rules of pop, as a surreal concept album proves ...

Bobby Womack: The Soundtrack of My Life

Interview by Jude Rogers, Observer, The, November 2012

BOBBY WOMACK'S career began in his teens in Cleveland, Ohio, when Sam Cooke mentored his family band, the Valentinos. In 1964 he wrote 'It's All ...

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