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Chris Campion

Chris Campion

A long-term contributor to the Daily Telegraph and the Observer, Chris Campion never wanted to be a music journalist and has been trying his utmost to sabotage his career since the late '90s. Drawn to the extremes of popular culture, as well as its beating heart, he has written feature articles that include a lengthy treatise on the bizarre fan-led metaculture surrounding girl groups and boy bands in the Japanese pop industry, a sympathetic portrait of the personalities who drove the chaotic and oft-times violent emergence of Norwegian black metal, and an exploration of the extraordinary spirit and defiance of folk music produced by embattled Sami peoples living in the Scandinavian Arctic Circle. These have appeared alongside profiles of mainstream pop acts, celebrities, artists and outsiders, and also true crime stories, in publications such as The Guardian, The Times, Rolling Stone, The Wire, Dazed & Confused and Bizarre.


His first book, a notorious 2010 anti-biography of the Police, Walking on the Moon: the Untold Story of the Police and the rise of New Wave Rock (Aurum Press), set the rise of the popular white reggae band (dubbed "the world's first Thatcherite pop group") against a backdrop of Cold War politics and the neoconservative triumphalism of the American music industry. Along the way, it also tackled the obscene posturing underpinning the '80s fad for charity rock and the strange phenomenon of gay Police fan fiction.

The book polarised readers, fans and reviewers alike. Unhappy Police fans derided the book as "brutally negative and mean-spirited" and "one man's crusade to destroy the Police and their legacy". Critics praised it as "a sharpened pin to the bloated balloon of mythmaking", an antipathetic biography in the vein of Barry Miles' Frank Zappa and Victor Bockris' Keith Richards that was "pungent but nonetheless serious". Sting did not pass comment.

In 2010, frustrated with the lack of opportunities to write about the music he loves at length, he also started a record label, Saint Cecilia Knows (after the patron saint of musicians) as a roundabout way of writing liner notes for a planned series of reissues of unheralded musical geniuses. The first release, a deluxe box set of seminal albums by Mickey Newbury (entitled An American Trilogy), was acclaimed by all quarters as a long overdue monument to one of America's most brilliant and overlooked songwriters.

He is currently at work on an authorised biography of Papa John Phillips, founder and creative force behind the Mamas and the Papas, for St. Martin's Press.

Saint Cecilia Knows Records

List of articles in the library by artist

50 Cent: Right on the Money

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, August 2005

He's the top-selling artist in the world, his life story is being filmed by an Oscar-nominated director and he's moved on from being a rap ...

A Guy Called Gerald: Essence of Gerald

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, URB, August 2000

TWO YEARS AGO, A Guy Called Gerald walked away from his London-based label Juicebox and into a new life. He took his studio and his ...

A Guy Called Gerald, LTJ Bukem, Goldie, Grooverider, Shut Up And Dance, Roni Size and Reprazent: Law of the Jungle

Overview by Chris Campion, URB, 1995

NEW MUSIC is born of the old. Hip-hop and Rock 'n' Roll can be traced back through Delta Blues, field and slave songs back to ...

Aphex Twin: Rephlex Records at 10

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, URB, June 2001

PART MALL, part Moroccan Souk, Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre is a dilapidated mish-mash of late '60s brutalist architecture that contains a bustling marketplace. It's ...

Devendra Banhart: Stranger than Folk: Devendra Banhart

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, August 2007

IN A HOUSE on a hill, in a canyon near L.A., Devendra Banhart scatters popcorn on the earth like seed. "This is for the hairs," ...

Bat For Lashes: Bat for Lashes: "She's not wicked, nor kooky. And don't tell her she's like Tori Amos…"

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, September 2009

NATASHA KHAN does not feel herself. She is standing in the living room of a cramped Brooklyn apartment on a frosty January morning. If first ...

The Beta Band

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Ray Gun, 1998

THE BETA BAND are an awkward bunch of ne'er-do-wells. It takes roughly thirty seconds after sitting down with the acclaimed London-based four-piece to discover this.  ...

Boredoms: Never a Dull Moment

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, New Musical Express, July 2002

EYE YAMANTAKA, founder and creative visionary of Japan's Boredoms, is one of rock's great eccentrics. His band churn out a cosmic slop for kids with ...

Brujeria: This Is Jarcor: Brujeria

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, July 2003

Mexican Death metal band Brujeria are the white man's nightmare. Striking mortal fear into the populace both north and south of the border for over ...

The Cake: More of Cake Please

Sleevenotes by Chris Campion, Rev-Ola Records, August 2007

THREE TEENAGE girls are discovered singing along to records in a New York night club by two hotshot managers. They are rushed into a recording ...

Current 93: Waiting for the Apocalypse in a Hastings back garden

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, June 2006

Chris Campion meets David Tibet of the industrial folk band Current 93. ...

DJ Shadow: King of the Vinyl Junkies

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, June 2002

DJ Shadow revolutionised hip hop with his first album and toured the world with Radiohead, but he is still regarded as a record-collecting nerd, he ...

Einstürzende Neubauten: Postbahnhof, Berlin

Live Review by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, April 2005

THIS YEAR Einstürzende Neubauten, the German godfathers of Industrial Rock, celebrate a quarter century of existence. One suspects that the irony of this is not ...

Wild Man Fischer, Gold Chains, Bob Log III, Moondog, Tiny Tim: I Am The Band: Bob Log III and the One-Man-Band

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, June 2003

Let me introduce the band to you. On the cymbal… left foot. Over here on the bass drum, we've got right foot. Shut up! My left hand does ...

John Frusciante: The Return of John Frusciante

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, April 2001

MOST ROCK STARS have "lost weekends". John Frusciante had "lost years", specifically the period between 1992 and 1997. At the height of the Red Chilli ...

Future Sound of London: Beauty/Paranoia at the Flick of a Pixel

Interview by Chris Campion, Mondo 2000, Summer 1994

EMITTING ELECTRONIC effluvia across a liquid sky. Broadcasting their alienation out to the world. Future Sound Of London's music and pronouncements contain viral strains of ...

Serge Gainsbourg: Intoxicated Man: The Life and Times of Serge Gainsbourg

Retrospective by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, March 2001

AN ARTISTIC DEMAGOGUE flaunting a reputation that was an unholy cross between Warhol, Dylan and the Marquis De Sade, Serge Gainsbourg performed a decadent waltz ...

Vincent Gallo: Royal Festival Hall, London

Live Review by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, April 2004

OPINION IS polarised around the work of actor-musician Vincent Gallo, whose art is inseperable from his ego. His film Brown Bunny was given a drubbing ...

The Germs: St. Anger: Darby Crash

Retrospective by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, November 2002

HE WAS Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious rolled into one. A befuddled punk prophet with a brilliant mind whose rise was as shocking as his ...

Daniel Johnston: An Outsider's Songs of Pain and Longing: Daniel Johnston

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, July 2003

LOCKED ON his own in an Xfm recording booth, Daniel Johnston casually flips through the weathered ring binder that holds his songbook and begins to ...

The Knife: A Curious Exoticism

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, April 2006

YOU MIGHT NOT have heard of the Swedish brother-sister duo the Knife, but there's a fair chance you've heard their music. ...

Kool Keith: Welcome to the weird world of Kool Keith, rap's kookiest star

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, August 2006

CALL HIM Black Elvis, Dr Dooom, Mr Gerbik or just plain Matthew. Kool Keith (real name Keith Thornton) responds to all of them. ...

The Last Poets

Report by Chris Campion, Village Voice, The, April 1996

A LONG-RUNNING saga of legitimacy has embroiled the Last Poets in a situation that is rapidly echoing the sentiments of one of their own poems, ...

Bill Laswell

Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, Winter 2000

MAVERICK PRODUCER and bassist Bill Laswell is on a mission to collapse musical boundaries by any means necessary. With a resolutely pioneering spirit, a typical ...

Arthur Lee: The Singing Cowboy

Retrospective and Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, August 2002

ARTHUR LEE IS rock's almost-ran, never-was but could have been. A musical chameleon whose mythical personas have imprinted themselves on music history. He was the ...

John Phillips, The Mamas and The Papas: King of the Wild Frontier: Papa John Phillips

Retrospective and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, March 2009

IN AUGUST 1977, John Phillips was supposed to be recording the album with Keith Richards that would mark his comeback. ...

Marilyn Manson

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, September 2000

ANTICHRIST. MESSIAH. Celebrity. Pariah. Marilyn Manson, the celebrity death cult leader everyone loves to hate, is a dark star whether the religious right like it ...

Meat Loaf: Is Meat Loaf Just A Great Big Ham?

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, October 2004

INSIDE THE garage of Meat Loaf's California home there is a photograph of him lying comatose on stage surrounded by paramedics, part of a framed ...

Metallica: Taming the Beast

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, June 2003

THE US ARMY'S Psychological Operations Company recently revealed that it has been playing Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' repeatedly to Iraqi prisoners as a pre-interrogation routine. In ...

Mickey Newbury: Guitars, Boats And Fairways: Mickey Newbury and Friends on Old Hickory Lake

Sleevenotes by Chris Campion, Saint Cecilia Knows Records, 2011

IT LOOKS, FROM ABOVE, like a snake arching through the brush. A series of long blind curves that begins at Hendersonville, the small community formed ...

Joanna Newsom

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Telegraph Magazine, September 2006

EVERY TIME Joanna Newsom walks into her house she has cause to reflect on the ways that nature encroaches on human affairs. "I think there ...

Ol' Dirty Bastard

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Bizarre, March 2002

WITH AN ARREST record that's more extensive than his discography, it's a wonder that Ol' Dirty Bastard (aka Big Baby Jesus, Dirtdog, Osiris and plain ...

OutKast: Superfunk Brothers

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, February 2004

Outkast are a rap act like no other - as interested in Kate Bush as in hardcore hip hop, and as likely to be found ...

Dan Penn: Muscle Shoals: Soul of the South

Retrospective and Interview by Chris Campion, unpublished, September 2004

Muscle Shoals and Fame Studios are synonymous with the golden era of soul music. But the musicians who wrote and played on the songs that ...

The Police: Miles Copeland: Where's the Police chief?

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer, The, September 2007

AS THE POLICE prepare to finally hit home turf on their reunion tour, one figure conspicuously absent from all the reappraisals of their career is ...

Elvis Presley: Next Train to Memphis: Peter Guralnick's Sam Phillips

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Rock's Backpages, November 2015

(pic courtesy of the Phillips family) AS THE PRE-EMINENT and passionate chronicler of music history, Peter Guralnick is in a league of his own, with a ...

The Prodigy

Interview by Chris Campion, URB, January 2001

TEN YEARS AGO, rave spawned a monster. The Prodigy, a bastard progeny spat out screaming from a dirt chamber of sound. This twisted British mutation ...

Sigur Ros: Sigur Rós: Cool Band from a Cool Place

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, 2002

THE MUSIC OF Iceland has a presence on the world stage that far outstrips its influence as a country, a phenomenon of which the country's ...

Suicide, Alan Vega: Alan Vega

Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, July 2002

IT'S TAKEN 30 years for Alan Vega to make the transition from surly street punk and art world agitator to New York institution. Better known ...

Tiny Tim: Hello Stranger: Tiny Tim

Retrospective by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, September 2006

HE WAS A GOTHIC APPARITION in a grey plaid jacket, a mane of wiry black hair spilling over the shoulders. His face, powdered and blotchy, ...

Turbonegro: Clowns Of Evil Go on the Rampage

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, May 2005

THE STREETS OF Hamburg are awash with piss and broken bottles and cock-eyed sailor boys with queer intentions. A two thousand-strong army of Turbonegro fans ...

Ween

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, 2000

DEAN AND GENE Ween look disconsolate. Last night, they played a rollicking three-hour set to a 200-strong baying crowd in their hometown of New Hope, ...

Kanye West: "Arrogant? Not me. I just knew I was going to win…"

Report and Interview by Chris Campion, Telegraph Magazine, September 2004

OHIO STATE University is marching to the beat of a college dropout. Not just any college dropout mind, but rapper and producer Kanye West, who ...

Tony Joe White: Audience With The Other Elvis

Interview by Chris Campion, Daily Telegraph, December 2006

Tony Joe White, writer of 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'Rainy Night in Georgia', talks to Chris Campion about his mythic songs and his Louisiana childhood ...

The Wild Bunch

Retrospective and Interview by Chris Campion, Ray Gun, 1998

FROM ITS ACUTELY localised inception, the influence of Bristol's Wild Bunch has spread far and wide. The sound system that spawned Massive Attack, Tricky and ...

List of genre pieces

Mayor of the Sunset Strip

Film/DVD/TV Review by Chris Campion, Tartan Films, 2003

MORE THAN JUST a nostalgic character study, George Hickenlooper's Mayor Of Sunset Strip is an artfully-constructed meditation on fame that scratches at the surface world ...

Inside Grime

Profile and Interview by Chris Campion, Observer Music Monthly, May 2004

FRIDAY NIGHT AT Pals Bar & Brasserie in Croydon. An idolatrous battle cry curls through the venue. "You doan wanna war wid whoo? War wid ...

The Gnoua Brotherhood

Report by Chris Campion, Wire, The, March 1996

ALIGHTING FROM the famed Marrakech Express, Frank Rynne, Joe Ambrose and myself were hustled into an illegal taxi. It careered along Boulevard Mohamed V, the ...

Rick Rubin: Metal Guru

Interview by Chris Campion, Dazed & Confused, April 2003

The influence of the crush grooves produced by Def Jam and American Recordings founder, Rick Rubin, are stronger than ever. ...

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