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James Maycock

James Maycock

James attended the University Of East Anglia, reading History Of Art and Film Studies, before entering the wicked world of the media.

As a freelance print journalist, he's written a large amount of feature articles for the British broadsheets: The Independent, Guardian, Telegraph, The Times — and for magazines: Mojo, the Guardian Weekend Magazine, the Observer Music Monthly. He's also worked for record labels and produced programmes for BBC Radio 1, 2 and 3.

In television — where James now concentrates most of his energies — he's worked on many BBC and Channel 4 music, arts and history documentaries since 2003.

James has directed and produced a number of acclaimed 60-minute BBC Television documentaries: the award-winning THE MOTOWN INVASION (2009), which focused on the Motown Revue's very first 1965 UK tour as it zigzagged around the provinces. ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN: THE CHESS RECORDS SAGA (2010), a dynamic chronicle of this world famous Chicago rock & roll and blues label, from the late 1940's to the late 60's. GERSHWINS SUMMERTIME (2011) which revealed the secret, magical life of George Gershwin's 1935 classic tune up to the present day. SWEET HOME ALABAMA: THE SOUTHERN ROCK SAGA (2012), an epic 1970's tale of rebel rock bands from the Deep South who transformed the region. BOBBY WOMACK: ACROSS 110TH STREET (2013), a film following this musician's rollercoaster trip through life, from the 1950's gospel highway to his Indian summer sparked by a Damon Albarn-produced album. The award-nominated DANNY BOY: THE BALLAD THAT BEWITCHED THE WORLD (2013), which investigated the emotional life and immense cultural influence of this famous ballad — from World War One to Elvis, Johnny Cash to 9/11. NORTHERN SOUL: LIVING FOR THE WEEKEND (2014), a film about the underground club culture that exploded across the north of England in the 1970's.

List of articles in the library by artist

Chet Baker: 10th Anniversary Of Chet Baker’s Death

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, May 1998

"WHAT’S YOUR favourite type of high?" inquires Bruce Weber towards the end of his film Let’s Get Lost. Chet Baker’s answer is unsettling. ...

Joe Bataan: Young, Gifted And Brown

Sleevenotes by James Maycock, Vampi Soul Records, 2004

A ROMANTIC STREET punk, a jailbird with spirit, a champion of the blue-collar underdog – Joe Bataan is a rebel with soul. ...

Ike Turner, Jackie Brenston: 'Rocket "88"' and the Birth of Rock & Roll

Retrospective and Interview by Barney Hoskyns, James Maycock, MOJO, February 2002

AND GOD SAID, Let There Be Rock'n'Roll... ...

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Sophisticated Lady: This Is Dee Dee Bridgewater

Interview by James Maycock, Pride, 2002

"DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER is very effervescent and very energetic and very optimistic and very positive," I'm informed. "Dee Dee Bridgewater has consumed my life." ...

Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers: Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers: Blow Your Whistle: Original Old School Breaks & Classic Funk Bombs

Sleevenotes by James Maycock, Vampi Soul Records, March 2007

JANUARY 2003. AUGUSTA, GEORGIA. A documentary crew are filming James Brown outside the house his aunt operated as a brothel in the 1940s. It was ...

James Brown: Beat The Devil: James Brown's Demons

Profile by James Maycock, Observer Music Monthly, February 2004

DAMN! LIFE WAS sweet and dandy for the Godfather of Soul in the last few years. But James Brown's slippin' and slidin' once again – ...

James Brown: Death Or Glory: James Brown In Vietnam

Retrospective by James Maycock, MOJO, July 2003

JUNE, 1968. Seven US Army lieutenant colonels - six Afro-Americans and one Caucasian - are collected from Tan Son Nhut, Saigon’s international airport, and ...

James Brown 1933-2006

Obituary by James Maycock, Independent, The, December 2006

JAMES BROWN was one of the most extraordinary Afro-Americans of the 2nd half of the 20th century. A raw, emotional singer, electric performer and tough ...

James Brown: The Making Of James Brown Live At The Apollo

Retrospective by James Maycock, Daily Telegraph, February 2003

"ARE YOU READY for Star Time?" exclaimed MC Lucas "Fats" Gonder from the stage of Harlem’s Apollo on 24th October, 1962. The eager crowd ...

Mel Brown: Whaddya Mean You've Never Heard Of… Mel Brown?

Retrospective by James Maycock, MOJO, 2002

"WITH THE GUITAR outselling all other musical instruments today," declared a Down Beat editor confidently in 1967, "it's good to have Mel Brown around to ...

Terry Callier: Look At Me Now: The Return Of Terry Callier

Profile and Interview by James Maycock, Independent, The, February 1998

DEFINING THE "soul" part of soul music is a tricky issue – it's one of the bigger questions. The music's intangible qualities are often the ...

Johnny Clarke: Busy Doing Nothing: Johnny Clarke, the Reggae Idler

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, Independent, The, March 1999

THE COMPETITIVE MUSICAL CLIMATE was so intense in mid-'70s Kingston, that Jamaica's capital city was given the soubriquet "Third World Nashville". Hundreds of aspiring ...

Dennis Coffey: Big City Funk

Sleevenotes by James Maycock, Vampi Soul, November 2006

Dennis Coffey: Original Old School Breaks & Heavy Guitar Soul (Vampi Soul) ...

John Coltrane: Honk If You Love Jesus! The Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church

Report by James Maycock, MOJO, 1997

EVERY TUESDAY afternoon, Sister Deborah spreads Coltrane consciousness through the San Francisco airwaves. ...

Betty Davis: She's Gotta Have It

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, MOJO, February 2005

ONE EVENING during the high summer of 1967, the fragrant Miss Mabry left her Greenwich Village apartment situated in the S&M area of Bedford Street. ...

Betty Davis: The Witty, Wicked World Of Betty Davis

Interview by James Maycock, Pride, April 2002

Intro: I think I’m the only journalist in about 20 years to have tracked down and interviewed Miles Davis’ now reclusive ex-wife who was an ...

Miles Davis: The Miles Davis Quintet 1965-1968: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, March 1998

"YOU GET THE RIGHT GUYS to play the right things at the right time and you got a motherfucker!" recalled Miles Davis in his inimitable ...

Billie Holiday, Miles Davis: Billie 4 Miles: A Kind Of Blue Love

Essay by James Maycock, Guardian, The, February 1999

MILES DAVIS CONFESSED twice in his candid autobiography he fancied Billie Holiday. "She had such a sensuous mouth," he remarked, "I thought she was ...

The Fania All Stars: Fania All Stars: Our Latin Thing

Sleevenotes by James Maycock, Vampi Soul Records, 2004

ON 19TH JULY, 1972, the first few images flickering on the screen at the premiere of Our Latin Thing in New York’s Line 2 cinema ...

The Fania All Stars: Rumba In The Jungle: Fania All Stars Live In Africa

Sleevenotes by James Maycock, Vampi Soul DVD, February 2005

1974 WAS A fine year for Jerry Masucci's golden boys. Following the triumphs of Our Latin Thing, the Fania All Stars broke out across the ...

Bebel Gilberto: Joao And Bebel Gilberto

Profile and Interview by James Maycock, Times, The, June 2004

IT WAS IN THE summer of ‘64, 40 years ago this month, that Joao Gilberto’s ‘A Girl From Ipanema’ was released. A huge global ...

Nikki Giovanni: Whaddya Mean You've Never Heard Of… Nikki Giovanni?

Retrospective by James Maycock, MOJO, 2001

IN THE CRAZY, HEADY DAYS of the Black Power era, Nikki Giovanni was one of the few female voices to offset the rampant machismo of ...

Isaac Hayes: A Black Woodstock: Wattstax

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, Guardian, The, July 2002

Intro: This is about 1000 words longer than the version published by The Guardian. There’s much more on the concert, more quotations and more on ...

Billie Holiday, Lester Young: Billie Holiday And Lester Young: The Intimate Friendship Between Lady Day & Prez

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, July 1999

IN PARIS, A COUPLE of weeks before his death on 15th March, 1959, Lester Young spoke about his friend, Billie Holiday. "She’s still my ...

The Incredible Bongo Band: The Strange Life Of The Incredible Bongo Band

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, Daily Telegraph, June 2001

THE TALE OF the Incredible Bongo Band is, aptly, an improbable one. With a highly eclectic cast that includes Bobby Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, ...

Mick Jagger: The Battle Of Grosvenor Square

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, March 1998

Author's note: I interviewed Barry Miles for this look at the political side of London’s counterculture, with references to The Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’ ...

B.B. King: The Day B.B. King Went to Jail

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, September 1998

ON A SUBLIME autumn day in 1970, B.B. King performed for 2,117 prisoners in Cook County Jail. Against the sound of B.B. King's musicians ...

King Tubby: "This is a journey into sound"

Retrospective by Lloyd Bradley, James Maycock, MOJO, April 1999

Sonic visionary, dancehall supremo and obsessive money-launderer, he played the sliders like Jimi played a Fender. Lloyd Bradley and James Maycock chronicle the crowning glories ...

Bob Marley & the Wailers: Celebrating Bob Marley at Studio One

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, February 1998

On the 35th anniversary of Studio One ...

Charlie Mingus: Charles Mingus: A Musical Misfit In Black And White

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, November 1997

A traumatic childhood and a dramatic life characterised the career of the bassist Charles Mingus. James Maycock looks at a documentary on a 'phenomenal musician ...

The Ohio Players, Sly & The Family Stone: In Pursuit Of The Pimp Mobile

Essay by James Maycock, Nine, October 2002

A look at how black pimp culture has crossed into black popular culture, for which I interviewed Antonio Fargas. I refer to Miles Davis, the ...

Johnny Otis at 80

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, MOJO, 2002

JOHNNY OTIS, the renaissance man of rhythm and blues, is somewhat ambivalent about entering his ninth decade. "I have two kinds of feelings," he concedes. ...

Eddie Palmieri & La Perfecta: Sugar Daddy

Sleevenotes by James Maycock, Fania CD, September 2007

THE HIP DANCEFLOOR RHYTHMS OF PALMIERI'S LA PERFECTA: 1962-1967 ...

Louis Prima: An Entertainer In His Prime: The Great Louis Prima

Retrospective by James Maycock, Daily Telegraph, December 2002

2003 note: I interviewed his saxophonist and arranger, Sam Butera, for an article that was published in the month of what would have seen Louis ...

The Rolling Stones and black American culture

Essay by James Maycock, Independent, The, June 1999

A bitchy look at how the Rolling Stones’ career is excessively/artfully indebted to black American culture. ...

Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson: Brothers In Arms

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, MOJO, December 2003

IN THE LATE afternoon of 4th April, 1968, Martin Luther King was shot through the neck on the balcony of Memphis' Lorraine Motel. Pronounced ...

Gil Scott-Heron: Chasing The Heron

Report and Interview by James Maycock, Times, The, July 2004

"I'M ADDICTED to creating," mutters a grizzled, slightly stoned Gil Scott-Heron. "I use other things from time to time." It's late afternoon on Friday 3rd ...

Nina Simone: The Music and Politics of Nina Simone

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, November 1999

This was published to coincide with the release of the compilation Stand Up And Be Counted; Soul, Funk And Jazz From A Revolutionary Era, Vol.1 ...

Frank Sinatra: Nelson Algren's The Man With The Golden Arm

Retrospective by James Maycock, Guardian, The, 1998

How Nelson Algren's acclaimed novel was made into Hollywood's first film about heroin. ...

The Skatalites: This Dance Music Is Dangerous To Your Heath: The Skatalites & The Birth Of Ska

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, July 1998

WITH THE passing of time, a tragic event sometimes reveals a comic nuance. One night in 1964, the Skatalites were performing at Club Calypso in ...

Jimmy Smith’s Hammond Organ Revolution

Retrospective and Interview by James Maycock, Independent, The, January 2000

BEFORE JIMMY SMITH revolutionized the archaic Hammond organ, the lethargic sound this bulky, brown instrument emitted was frequently described, like an ailing patient, as "wheezing." ...

List of genre pieces

Shaft: The Remake

Retrospective by James Maycock, Untold, 2000

How The 2000 Movie Capitalized On The Original's Reputation ...

Happy 100th Birthday, 'Danny Boy'

Comment by James Maycock, MOJO, November 2013

'Danny Boy', the song of loss and exile that became one of humanity's great anthems, is explored in a BBC Four television documentary, Danny Boy: ...

'Summertime' Forever

Retrospective by James Maycock, Daily Telegraph, November 2011

IT'S EVERYWHERE. It's become part of the air we breathe. 'Summertime' certainly feels like it's been with us forever. One day this June, while making ...

Chess Records: The Original Blues Brothers

Interview by James Maycock, Independent, The, November 1997

"WOW, YOU guys are really getting it on!" exclaimed Chuck Berry, observing the Rolling Stones cut 'Down The Road Apiece', a track he'd recorded himself ...

Chess Set Still Sings The Blues: Marshall Chess and Chess Records

Interview by James Maycock, Daily Telegraph, 1998

JUST OVER 50 YEARS AGO, brothers Phil and Leonard Chess, two industrious Polish immigrants in Chicago, tentatively established what would become the most famous blues ...

CTI Records: Coffee Table Jazz For The 1970's

Retrospective by James Maycock, Independent, The, December 1997

CREED TAYLOR was extremely shrewd at marketing jazz to those who were nervous of the genre, particularly after the discordant shreaks & squeaks made by ...

Drop The Dread, Honky: Why White Artists Wanna Be Black

Essay by James Maycock, Guardian, The, October 1997

IN 1959, JOHN Howard Griffin, a white journalist, dyed his skin black and travelled through the southern states of America. He found the experience ...

Hip-Hop: Puppets On A String?

Essay by James Maycock, Guardian, The, January 1998

How & Why Black Rappers Exploit Racial Stereotypes (With references to historical precedents through 20th century) ...

Metro & The Birth Of The British Sound System

Profile and Interview by James Maycock, Independent, The, August 1998

"AMPLIFICATION AND records – if you have those 2 items, then you can go somewhere," states the man called Metro. Born with the slightly less ...

Tales From The Funky Side Of Town: “Soul” and “Funk”, Then and Now

Essay by James Maycock, Independent, The, June 2001

"YOU'D BE SURPRISED how time can change the meaning of a word," rasped black comedian, Redd Foxx, during a performance at Harlem's Apollo Theatre in ...

War Within War: Black Americans And The Vietnam Conflict

Retrospective by James Maycock, Guardian, The, September 2001

The Vietnam war saw countless numbers of America's young men – both black and white – thrown into combat. They were there to fight the ...

Young Turk Who Got The Blues: Ahmet Ertegun & The 50th Anniversary Of Atlantic

Profile and Interview by James Maycock, Independent, The, July 1998

IN HUNDREDS of photographs, Ahmet Ertegun appears anonymously beside the famous. The celebrity might be a gaunt Phil Spector, Mick Jagger grinning widely or a ...

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