Rock's Backpages

Rock's Backpages podcast

They were so much older then, they're younger than that now: Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle reel in the years and riff on all that's new in the world's biggest library of music journalism – definitive interviews with legends of the last 60 years by the pop press' greatest writers ... and much more besides.

Every fortnight, Mark & Barney pick their highlights from the 50+ new pieces added to the RBP archives, and present an exclusive excerpt from a newly-added audio interview. Special guests have included Neil Tennant, Billy Bragg, Nick Kent, Midge Ure, Robyn Hitchcock, Laura Barton, Nelson George, Gary Kemp, Peter Buck, Peter Guralnick, Stewart Lee, Simon Reynolds, Mary Harron, Nick Hornby, Lenny Kaye, Alan McGee, Sylvia Patterson, Danny Fields, Carol Cooper, Paul Morley, Loyd Grossman, Chris Blackwell, Pamela Des Barres and Charles Shaar Murray.

Produced and co-hosted by Jasper Murison-Bowie

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The Rock’s Backpages podcast is proud to be part of the Pantheon podcast network.

Episode 178: Ann Powers on Joni Mitchell + Tori Amos + Women in Pop

12 June 2024

In this episode we're joined from Nashville by acclaimed critic, author and broadcaster Ann Powers for a discussion of her new Joni Mitchell book.

Starting in Ann's native Seattle, we hear about her early '80s pieces for The Rocket before moving on to her stints at the San Francisco Weekly and the New York Times. Mention of Piece by Piece, the 2005 book she wrote with Tori Amos, leads us to clips from Steven Daly's 1998 audio interview with Amos and a broader conversation about the wave of female singer-songwriters that engulfed pop music in the '90s.

Ann's noughties move to California and the L.A. Times prompts discussion of the "dreamlike" night she spent chez Prince on New Year's Eve, 2008. From there we jump to the life and music of an artist Prince admired more than most: Joni Mitchell, subject of Ann's remarkable new book Travelling. With particular focus of 50-year-old jazz-rock masterpiece Court and Spark, we explore the richness and complexity of Joni's '70s work, her deep engagement with the Black American experience, and the worship she's experiencing in the wake of the recent "Joni Jams".

Many thanks to special guest Ann Powers. Travelling: on the Path of Joni Mitchell is published by Harper Collins and available now from all good bookshops.

Episode 177: Val Wilmer on free jazz + photography + Lesley Gore audio

28 May 2024

In this episode — our first-ever "field recording" — we travel up to North London to interview the legendary writer-photographer Val Wilmer.

Val takes us back to her earliest musical memories in Streatham, South London, and her immersion in the capital's '60s jazz and blues scenes. We hear about her first pieces for Jazz Journal and her experiences of interviewing (and photographing) the likes of blues singer Jesse Fuller. We also hear about her remarkable DownBeat interview with Jimi Hendrix from early 1968.

Val's classic 1977 book As Serious As Your Life — reissued in 2018 — provides the pretext for asking about her passionate championing of the "free jazz" of John ColtraneOrnette Coleman and others. We focus on her 1966 Melody Maker encounter with the extraordinary Albert Ayler and the unsolved mystery of his death in 1970.

A discussion of Val's deep involvement in the women's movement leads us to clips from Ira Robbins 1994 audio interview with the late Lesley ('It's My Party') Gore — and in particular her startling photo-feminist classic 'You Don't Own Me', six decades young this year. Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on Alan Light's 1991 Rolling Stone interview with Queen Latifah.

Many thanks to special guest Val WilmerAs Serious As Your Life is published by Serpent's Tail and available from all good bookshops.

Episode 176: Simon Day on The Fast Show + Brian Pern + Steely Dan audio

13 May 2024

In this episode we welcome Fast Show legend Simon Day to downtown Hammersmith and ask him about his musical passions and the immortal Life Of Rock With Brian Pern.

We start with our guest's misspent youth in south-east London, where he frequently saw bands such as Dr. Feelgood and local lads Squeeze and even fronted his own punk combo Simon & the Virgins. We hear about his early days on the standup circuit and his close associations with Vic ReevesBob Mortimer and the gang that coalesced around The Fast Show. From there we discuss the genesis of his "prog'n'roll" alter ego Brian Pern and his affectionate lampooning of Peter Gabriel.

Clips from a 2003 audio interview with Steely Dan prompt an in-depth conversation about Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker. During this, Simon tells us how he first fell for the arch duo and we collectively compare notes on some of the group's greatest songs and albums.

After a brief mention of featured writer Dorian Lynskey and his new book Everything Must Go, Mark quotes from newly-added library pieces about Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx and Beatles hairdresser Leslie Cavendish before Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on M. People's Heather Small and a particularly cantankerous Van Morrison.

Episode 175: Steffan Chirazi on Metallica + Jack Casady audio + John Sinclair

15 April 2024

In this episode we welcome the splendid Steffan Chirazi to RBP Towers and ask him about his career as a metal/hard rock specialist and his long association with the mighty Metallica.

We hear about our guest's lucky break as a 15-year-old Motörhead maniac when the band's frontman Lemmy gave up three hours to Steffan during the sessions for 1983's Another Perfect Day – and became a dear friend for life. Steffan then recounts how he got his foot in the door at Sounds and its enduring HM spinoff Kerrang!

The first of many interviews with Metallica led to Steffan moving to San Francisco, where the band's bassist Cliff Burton showed him around town – only to die, tragically, in a car crash just months later. Clips from Barney's 1996 audio interview with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield prompt a conversation about our guest's close involvement with the thrashmeisters and his eventual stewardship of their in-house mag-turned-website So What!

Following the metallic section of the episode we return to the older San Francisco of Haight-Ashbury and its '60s summer(s) of druggy love. Clips from Gene Sculatti and Davin Seay's 1984 audio interview with Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casady — about to turn 80 as we record this episode — give us the chance to ask Steffan about the days of the Grateful Dead and their many hirsute friends. From there we switch to the rather different environment that was late '60s Detroit, paying tribute to poet, political firebrand and MC5 manager John Sinclair.

We circle back to Steffan's post-Kerrang! career and hear about his 1999 encounter with David Bowie before Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on newly-added library pieces about LL Cool J and Eels.

Many thanks to special guest Steffan Chirazi. Find him on Patreon at and read the Metallica magazine So What! at metallica.comListen to the official Metallica podcast at

Episode 174: Sean O'Hagan on Microdisney + The High Llamas + The Beach Boys

2 April 2024

In this episode we welcome revered High Llamas leader (and arranger to the hip and the mighty) Sean O'Hagan to Hammersmith and ask him about his life and times from Microdisney to new album Hey Panda.

We hear about Sean's Luton childhood, his family's move back to Ireland, and his 1980 encounter with the late Cathal Coughlan — the Corkonian with whom he formed the brave and brilliant Microdisney. Their path through '80s pop via Rough Trade and Virgin, and their eventual unravelling at the end of the decade, is discussed with reference to the new BBC documentary The Clock Comes Down the Stairs.

The birth of the High Llamas involves RBP's own Mark Pringle, who recalls his production work on the 1992 EP Apricots (a.k.a. Santa Barbara). The influence of Brian Wilson on the sound and aesthetic of 1994's Gideon Gaye and 1996's Hawaii leads to Sean's reminiscences of meeting the Beach Boys and (almost) producing them. A side story involves his amusing memories of backing another cult L.A. genius, Love's Arthur Lee, in London.

After we've heard clips from Mike Quigley's 1969 audio interview with Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, we return to the arc of the Llamas' story and ask Sean about the influence of contemporary R&B on the Llamas' Hey Panda.

Finally, Mark and Jasper talk us out with quotes from the pieces they've most enjoyed adding to the RBP library over the preceding fortnight.

Many thanks to special guest Sean O'Hagan. The High Llamas new album, Hey Panda, is out now; visit or your local record shop to get your hands on it.

Episode 173: Ira Robbins on Trouser Press + Anglophilia + Nick Lowe audio

18 March 2024

In this episode we welcome long-time RBP contributor Ira Robbins as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of his beloved Trouser Press.

Ira tells us about the musical Anglophilia that began for him with the Beatles but surged with the 1968 release of The Who Sell Out. He then recounts the beginning of his friendship with schoolmate Dave Schulps and explains how it led to a shared obsession with the British music press.

The story of the 1974 launch of Anglophile fanzine Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press, in partnership with the late Karen Rose, is accompanied by quotes from a 2001 interview Ira gave to He talks about the years that followed the dropping of the "Trans-Oceanic" prefix, and about some of the contributors — more than a few female — who made Trouser Press such essential '70s reading.

After playing a clip from a 1975 audio interview Ira did with Cockney Rebel's late frontman Steve Harley — who died after this episode was recorded — we turn our attention to his more recent encounter with the rather more genial Nick Lowe. Clips from this 2007 conversation prompt a general appreciation of the Jesus of Cool's career from Kippington Lodge to Little Village via Elvis Costello and Johnny Cash.

After we've paid tribute to the departed Eric Carmen — with our guest disputing that (the) Raspberries were authentically "power pop" — Mark talks us out with quotes from the pieces he's most enjoyed adding to the RBP library over the preceding fortnight.

Many thanks to special guest Ira Robbins. Zip It Up! The Best of Trouser Press Magazine 1974–1984 is published by Trouser Press Books and available now via

Episode 172: Alan Light on Vibe + Prince + Taylor Swift + Townes Van Zandt

4 March 2024

In this episode we welcome esteemed writer and editor Alan Light and ask him about the years he spent at Rolling StoneVibe and Spin — plus his close encounters with PrinceTaylor Swift and Townes Van Zandt.

Vibe is the particular focus of interest for Alan's hosts, hence we hear about the magazine's inception, its co-founder Quincy Jones, our guest's long interview(s) with The Artist No Longer Known As Prince... and the problem with being a white editor of an essentially Black publication. Not to mention being at the helm when the East vs. West Coast rap wars kicked off and led to the killings of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.. Alan's 1999 move to alternative-rock bastion Spin prompts questions about managing music magazines and nurturing their writers. He talks proudly of Spin's coverage of the infamous Woodstock '99 festival.

Our guest's return to full-time writing meant that he went on to interview many of music's biggest stars — none bigger than Taylor Swift, about whom he speaks with the greatest respect. The singer's 2014 switch from country to pop with the 1989 album triggers a fascinating conversation about the Swift phenomenon.

What would have been the "late great" Townes Van Zandt's 80th birthday provides the perfect excuse to hear clips from John Tobler's 1987 audio interview with the tragically self-destructive Texan. Alan recalls a couple of "long evenings" with the singer-songwriter who died in 1997 — and tells Townes' funniest joke in the process.

After Mark quotes from recently-added library articles about Loverboy and Warren Zevon, Jasper wraps matters up with his thoughts on Papa Roach and Françoise Hardy.

Many thanks to special guest Alan Light. Find all his books, including Let's Go Crazy: Prince and the Making of Purple Rain and The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah, at all good bookshops. To listen to his podcast, visit

Episode 171: Kimberly Mack on Living Colour + Greg Tate + The Black Rock Coalition

19 February 2024

In this episode the writer and academic Kimberly Mack joins us from Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to discuss the subject of "Black rock" in the context of her 33 1/3 study of Living Colour's Time's Up.

We start by asking our guest about her childhood as the daughter of a rock-obsessed Black mother – and her experience of seeing Cheap Trick in 1980 when she and her mom were the only Black faces in the Radio City Music Hall audience. She then discusses the "fictional categories (with real-world consequences)" of (white) rock and (Black) funk and R&B, from the earliest marketing of "race records" to the continuing genre segregation of the present day.

We trace the line from Jimi Hendrix to Bad Brains – and the racist barriers they encountered. This culminates in Kimberly's recollection of seeing Living Colour on Showtime at the Apollo in 1988 – and how itled eventually to the writing of last year's book about Time's Up.

Mark introduces clips from a 1988 audio interview with Living Colour's Vernon Reid. These lead in turn to a conversation about the late Greg Tatementor and inspiration to Kimberly and so many others – and the writer who co-founded the Black Rock Coalition with Reid. After namechecks for female rock icons from Labelle to Tracy Chapman, Kimberly talks about the "untold history" of marginalised American rock critics, a book about which she is currently researching.

After tributes to MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, Can frontman Damo Suzuki and Melody Maker/Quietus scribe Neil Kulkarni, Mark quotes from newly-added RBP library articles about David Bowie (1967), Bill Withers (1972), Alice Cooper (1975) and Porter Wagoner (1978). Jasper then wraps matters up with his thoughts about Frank Owen's 2003 report on the slaying of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay and – from last year – Steve Pafford's account of the making of Gloria Gaynor's immortal disco anthem 'I Will Survive'.

Many thanks to special guest Kimberly Mack. Living Colour's Time's Up is published by Bloomsbury and available now. Visit Kimberly's website at

Episode 170: A Tom Hibbert special!! with Mark Ellen and Sylvia Patterson

1 February 2024

In this extra-special episode we welcome into the RBP lair not one but two legends of music journalism. Former Smash Hits/Q/MOJO supremo Mark Ellen and Sylvia (I'm Not With The Band) Patterson join us to pay tribute to their late friend and colleague upon the publication of our book Phew, Eh Readers? The Life and Writing of Tom Hibbertthe single funniest music journalist who ever lived.

Both guests recount their initial and unforgettable encounters with "Hibbs" – Mark's at New Music News in 1980; Sylvia's at Smash Hits in 1986 — before we look back at Tom's early years, his marriage to the marvellous Allyce Tessier and his pop passions from the Byrds to Big Star (via Moby Grape and the 13th Floor Elevators).

Interspersing the conversation with quotes from the classic Hibbert pieces collected in Phew, Eh Readers? and the tributes to Tom we commissioned for the book — plus clips from audio interviews with Jon Bon Jovi, Vivien Stanshall and Tom's Smash Hits colleague Neil Tennant – we follow our hero's path through his brilliant career.

Stops along the way include his entirely made-up letters to New Music News, his 1987 audience with Margaret Thatcher, his infamous "Who the Hell" interviews for Q and his hilariously irreverent columns for The Observer and the Mail On Sunday. Not forgetting the Love Trousers, the neo-psychedelic covers band he formed with Mr. Ellen...

The pathos of Tom's twilight years, following his 1997 hospitalisation with pneumonia and pancreatitis — is touched upon before we wrap up with a fond nod to his old pal "Juggins". We shall not read his like again.

Phew, Eh Readers?: The Life and Writing of Tom Hibbert is published by Nine Eight Books on 1st February, 2024.

Episode 169: Penelope Spheeris on filming punk and metal + Wayne's World

22 January 2024

In this episode we welcome the legendary Penelope Spheeris and invite her to talk us through her extraordinary life and brilliant career.

Barney wastes little time in asking the Louisiana-born filmmaker about the shocking traumas of her childhood and teenage years. We hear about her alcoholic mother's multiple marriages and the family's move to Southern California that led to Penelope putting herself through film school before graduating from UCLA.

Along with the Saturday Night Live shorts she made with actor/comic Albert Brooks, Penelope talks about the pioneering Rock 'n' Reel production company that made '70s videos for everyone from Funkadelic to Fleetwood Mac. We also learn about her conversion to punk rock via Brendan Mullen's Masque club, where she shot SoCal hardcore bands like X, Fear, the Germs and Black Flag, the footage winding up in 1981's thrilling Decline of Western Civilization.

From the first Decline we jump forward seven years to Decline II — and to a discussion of the '80s glam-metal scene that exploded on West Hollywood's Sunset Strip via bands such as W.A.S.P. and Poison. In addition we hear clips from Mat Snow's 1989 audio interview with all-girl quartet Vixen, sparking a discussion of rampant misogyny on the big-hair metal scene.

With Decline II: The Metal Years being our guest's de facto passport to directing 1992's enormo-grossing Wayne's World, we ask Spheeris to recall her not-altogether- felicitous experience of working on the hit Saturday Night Live spinoff with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. We also consider how the week's featured writer "Metal Mike" Saunders bridged the gulf between metal and punk, tracing his maverick career from a 1971 Creem review of Sir Lord Baltimore's Kingdom Come to the 1978 formation of SoCal hardcore band Angry Samoans.

After Mark offers quotes from recently-added library pieces about electro-pop duo Erasure, rapper Schoolly D and, yes, Penelope Spheeris, Jasper closes out the episode with remarks on articles about El Paso's At the Drive-In and David Bowie.

Many thanks to special guest Penelope Spheeris. Visit her website at

Episode 168: Andy Schwartz on CBGB + New York Rocker + Mink DeVille

8 January 2024

In this episode we welcome the admirable Andy Schwartz, who Zooms in from upstate New York to reminisce about New York Rocker, the much-missed monthly magazine he edited from 1977 till 1982.

We hear about Andy's early years in suburban Westchester County and his first experiences of live music in Manhattan, which included historic gigs by the Doors, the Dead and Jimi Hendrix. We also learn about Oar Folkjokeopus, the Minneapolis record store where he worked as a student in the mid-'70s, and the local Minnesota publications for whom he wrote his first reviews.

Much of our discussion is taken up with Andy's recollections of New York Rocker founder Alan Betrock, and of his own years at the helm of that essential guide to the CBGB scene that spawned Blondie, Television, Patti Smith, the Ramones and Talking Heads... not to mention Mink DeVille. Clips from Mark "Radio Pete" Bliesener's 1977 audio interview with Willy DeVille include the Mink man's caustic thoughts on the downtown scene and the rock critics who chronicled it.

After our guest recalls his stint as the manager of Smithereens and Beat Rodeo, we hear about his days at Epic Records' Director of Editorial Services and his involvements with artists as diametrically different as Celine Dion and the Allman Brothers. He also reflects on his early involvement with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and assesses its problematic standing in today's music industry.

The episode concludes with Mark's quotes from newly-added library interviews with Ray Davies, Bryan Ferry and Carly Simon, followed by Jasper's thoughts on pieces about Scissor Sisters and Bootsy Collins.

Episode 167: Barbara Ellen on the NME + Madonna + Spinal Tap

18 December 2023

Content warning: This episode contains discussion of sexual violence (22:45–24:55).

In this episode we welcome the excellent Barbara Ellen, who joins us on Zoom all the way from... well, the other side of London, actually. (It's a long story.)

Barbara talks us through her illustrious writing career from zines such as her own Wax Lyrical and Ooh Gary, Gary (a footie zine dedicated entirely to one G. Lineker, Esq.) via ZigZag (in its Goth phase) to the golden decade she spent in the pages and offices of the NME.

Always highly amusing in print, our guest is no less hilarious in (virtual) person – especially when recalling her 1987 interview with Guns N' Roses. But Barbara is also capable of reverence and seriousness, not least when speaking of the revelatory interview Madonna granted her in 1995.

It's back to belly-laughs when we turn our attention to news of the planned sequel to This is Spinal Tap. A clip from Gavin Martin's 2009 audio interview with Tap axeman Nigel Tufnel (a.k.a. the 4th Baron Haden-Guest) has us all in stitches as we debate the wisdom or otherwise of attempting Spinal Tap 2. Another audio clip – of the late Genesis P-Orridge explaining why Santa Claus was originally a shaman – is almost as funny.

After Mark quotes from interviews with Janis JoplinNeneh Cherry and Thom Yorke, Barney cites splendid conversations with Beatles boffin Mark Lewisohn and power-balladeering songsmith Diane Warren. Finally, Jasper concludes the episode with his thoughts on Sophie Ellis-Bextormuzak and a Hip Hop anniversary.

Many thanks to special guest Barbara Ellen.

Episode 166: Daryl Easlea on Slade + Peter Gabriel + Shane MacGowan R.I.P.

4 December 2023

In this episode we welcome the delightful Daryl Easlea to Hammersmith for a pre-Xmas special on Slade and the sadly-departed Shane MacGowan.

Daryl talks about his Essex childhood: the psychogeography of Canvey Island; his memories of seeing Dr. Feelgood at Southend's legendary Kursaal Ballroom; and how working at Our Price Records led to an eclectic taste palette that stretched from prog-rock to Chic, the subject of his first book in 2004. We jump to Slade, the subject of his latest book, and discuss the legacy of glam-rock's Black Country bovver boys — culminating in the story behind their ageless 1973 hit 'Merry Xmas Everybody'.

From there we sidestep into the parallel '70s stream of prog and public schoolboys Genesis. Clips from Adam Sweeting's 1992 audio interview with that band's former foxhead-sporting frontman Peter Gabriel give us an opportunity to evaluate the achievements of the maverick solo artist and WOMAD founder.

News of Shane MacGowan's death at 65 came in as we were preparing to record this episode. With Daryl's help we do our best to pay tribute to the tragically self-destructive Pogues frontman before Mark recaps on new library pieces about Elton John (1974) and Eternal (1995). Finally, Jasper wraps up with remarks about a 2002 London show by Jack Black's Tenacious D... 

Many thanks to special guest Daryl Easlea. Whatever Happened to Slade? When the Whole World Went Crazee is published by Omnibus and available now.

Episode 165: Michel Faber on music & sound + Nick Cave + Captain Beefheart

20 November 2023

In this episode we welcome acclaimed novelist Michel Faber to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him about his new book … as well as about a 1979 interview he did with the young Nick Cave.

Barney gets the ball rolling by asking the author of Under the Skin and The Crimson Petal and the White what he set out to do with Listen: On Music, Sound and Us. Viewing music through a variety of prisms — from nostalgia and snobbery to racial bias and auditory biology — was the book at least partly an exercise in demystification?

A stimulating conversation unfolds as Michel answers questions about "MOJO-fication", vinyl fetishisation, and live performance. A tangent on tinnitus takes us to his memories of seeing (and hearing) one of the Birthday Party's last shows … and waking up temporarily deaf the next morning. Which in turn leads to discussion of the interview our guest did as a student at Melbourne University with the pre-Birthday Party Boys Next Door, and then to clips from a 1995 audio interview in which Nick Cave answers Andy Gill's questions about Murder Ballads and Kylie Minogue.

Finally the "panel" considers the week's featured artist (and a key influence on the early Birthday Party): the archetypal "MOJO-fied" cult hero who traded musically under the moniker Captain Beefheart — and whose exceptional paintings as Don Van Vliet feature in a new exhibition at Mayfair's Michael Werner Gallery.

After Mark quotes from recently-added library pieces on Little WalterSylvesterOrnette Coleman and Björk, Jasper wraps up the episode with his thoughts on articles about the aforementioned Kylie MinogueGoodie Mob and The Face.

Many thanks to special guest Michel Faber. Listen: On Music, Sound and Us is published by Canongate and available now from all good bookshops.

Episode 164: Kate Simon on Bob Marley + Sounds + Joni Mitchell

6 November 2023

In this episode we welcome the great Kate Simon, who Zooms in from New York City to answer our questions about her stellar career and the new edition of Rebel Music, her book of classic reggae portraits.

Kate talks about the formative moments that made her a music photographer, plus the 1972 move to London that brought her into the pages of Disc & Music Echo and Sounds. Her hosts quiz her about her timeless shots of David Bowie, Rod Stewart and the Clash before we hear of her first trip to Jamaica in 1976 and the start of her long association with Bob Marley and his fellow Wailers. We also learn more about Kate's friendships with Sounds colleagues such as Jonh Ingham, Vivien Goldman and art director Dave Fudger.

After hearing about Kate's return to her native soil and her '80s work for The Face – as well as her personal preferences as a photographer — we switch coasts to California in order to mark the imminent 80th birthday of Joni Mitchell. Clips from Dave Zimmer's 1983 audio with the First Lady of Laurel Canyon – with her wry observations about Messrs. Crosby, Stills and Nash – prompt more general thoughts on her peerless music from Blue to Hejira to Night Ride Home. [Note: Barney's claim that Mitchell was recording Dog Eat Dog at the time the interview was done has been rubbished by a committee of experts.]

With Mark sipping the last of the summer wine in his beloved Crete, Jasper concludes matters with quotes from — and reflections on — newly-added library pieces about Miles DavisRod Stewart and Steve Reich... not to mention a priceless Billy Eckstine reminiscence of gigging with John Coltrane.

Many thanks to special guest Kate Simon. The new edition of Rebel Music: Bob Marley and Roots Reggae is published by Genesis Publications.

Episode 163: Evelyn McDonnell on Joan Didion + The Motels + Carla Bley R.I.P.

23 October 2023

In this episode we welcome acclaimed critic, author and professor Evelyn McDonnell and invite her to discuss her new Joan Didion book, along with the Motels, Britney Spears and California's pop history in general.

Evelyn talks about her early L.A. memories and childhood move to Wisconsin before we hear how she progressed from her college paper in Providence, RI, to becoming the pop critic for the Miami Herald. We also note books such as her Runaways biography Queens of Noise, a suitable jumping-off point for a long conversation about her fellow Californian, Didion.

Mark and Martin reminisce about the impact of Didion's extraordinary essay collections Slouching towards Bethlehem and The White Album, after which we follow her career through to the bestselling Year of Magical Thinking. The L.A. theme continues as we hear two clips from Steve Roeser's 2001 audio interview with Motels singer Martha Davis, putting that band into historical context with discussion of the pre-punk D.I.Y. "Radio Free Hollywood" shows in 1976.

From there we fast-forward to the very different "L.A. Woman" that was and is Britney Spears, which in turn prompts our guest to give her very pertinent take on the [Jann] "Wennergate" saga of the past month. At a significant remove from all this Hollywood Babylonia was avant-jazz giant Carla Bley, whose passing we mark in a conversation about 1971's extraordinary Escalator Over The Hill.

Finally, Mark mentions pieces he's recently added to the RBP library, including interviews with Laurie Anderson and the Byrds' Roger McGuinn, and Jasper rounds the episode off with remarks on pieces about Herbie Hancock and Steve Goodman's Hyperdub label. 

Many thanks to special guest Evelyn McDonnellThe World According to Joan Didion is published by HarperOne and available now.

Episode 162: Billy Bragg on forty roaring years + Skiffle + Woody Guthrie

9 October 2023

In this episode we welcome the left's very own "national treasure" Billy Bragg – beamed in from his adopted Dorset – and ask him about the long and remarkable career that's enshrined in forthcoming box set The Roaring Forty.

Billy revisits his Barking boyhood and early pop and folk influences, culminating in the 1977 formation of Clash-inspired punks Riff Raff. After a brief 1981 detour via the British Army, he explains how he settled on his unique solo style and delivery – and how he wound up on the cover of the NME in January 1984.

Inevitably the conversation turns to politics and the way Billy has managed to retain his charm, humour and compassion in the face of hatred and extremism. An audio clip of Spectator editor Boris Johnson haranguing him at Glastonbury in 2000 is followed by discussion of left-wing patriotism, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party and our present-day hyperpolarisation.

Martin recalls the day Billy came to tea to ask about the RBP co-founder's father Bill and uncle Ken – and the catalytic impact Ken Colyer's Jazzmen had on the music Billy chronicled so impressively in his 2017 book Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World. From the Colyers and Lonnie Donegan we cross the big pond to talk about Woody Guthrie, the agit-folk bard whose lyrics Billy and Wilco turned into 1998's Mermaid Avenue album. Clips from Chris Smith's 1999 audio interview with Woody's daughter (and archivist) Nora Guthrie prompt conversation about the Okie icon's mighty legacy.

After Mark quotes from recently-added articles about the Stooges, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Dr. Dre, Jasper wraps matters up with remarks on Truth Hurts and FKA Twigs.

Watch a video clip from this episode

Many thanks to special guest Billy Bragg. For more about The Roaring Forty, as well as Roots, Radicals and Rockers, visit his website at

Episode 161: Mick Gold on Let It Rock + Pub Rock + Bruce Springsteen + Jann Wenner

25 September 2023

In this episode we welcome music writer/photographer turned award-winning TV director Mick Gold and ask him to return to the mid-'70s to discuss pub rock, Bruce Springsteen and the wonderful Let It Rock magazine.

Mick explains how he fell in with Let It Rock's "hard-up left-wing intellectuals" after penning a 5,000-word Beatles thesis at Sussex University. We then hear about the magazine and its eclectic agenda, along with our guest's parallel career as a photographer and his 1976 photo-essay book Rock on the Road.

This in turn leads to a conversation about the "pub rock" scene that mushroomed in London during Let It Rock's 1972-75 lifespan. Along with Mick's 1975 Dr. Feelgood interview, Mark, Martin and Barney share their memories of gigs by Kilburn & the High Roads and Chili Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. The gradual transition from Pub to Punk is recalled and analysed with passing reference to Mick's 1976 Street Life interview with Patti Smith.

The mid-'70s theme takes us into clips from a 2016 audio interview in which Bruce Springsteen talks to Vanity Fair's David Kamp about 1975's breakthrough classic 'Born to Run' — and then to a further discussion of the Boss' inclusion in Jann Wenner's controversial new book The Masters.

After Mark quotes from interviews with Dizzy GillespieJames BrownTodd Rundgren, Chic and Wham!, Jasper talks us out with his notes on pieces about Nona Hendryx and Rammellzee.

Episode 160: Richard Grabel on Hip Hop + Kool Lady Blue + Beastie Boys

11 September 2023

In this episode we invite Richard Grabel to reminisce about his long career as a journalist and music-biz lawyer.

We hear how Richard had his mind blown by an early CBGB double-bill of Television and the three-piece Talking Heads — and about his first reviewing efforts as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He describes how he got his foot in the door at New York Rocker – reviewing one of Lowell George's last shows for editor Andy Schwartz — and then at the NME on a 1978 visit to London.

Richard's classic reports on NYC's early rap scene provide a perfect opportunity for us to ask him about his visits to the South Bronx and his interviews with Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash. He's also namechecked in a clip from Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton's 1998 audio interview with Brit rap promoter Kool Lady Blue, whose legendary nights at the Roxy club in Chelsea he discusses with his hosts.

After reflecting on the rise of the Beastie Boys and the story of how rap's "flash-in-the-pan" novelty status led to the genre's global domination, Richard explains how he became a high-profile lawyer for such alt-rock bands as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.

After Mark quotes from interviews with Betty DavisJackson Browne and George Michael, Jasper concludes the episode with remarks about pieces on Smash Mouth, *NYSNC and the 16-year-old Lorde.

Many thanks to special guest Richard Grabel.

Episode 159: Vernon Gibbs on Marvin Gaye + Talking Heads + A&R at Arista

29 August 2023

In this episode we're delighted to invite Vernon Gibbs to look back on his career as a pioneering soul scribe and A&R man.

Vernon begins by describing his early years as a scholarship student who took the subway from Brooklyn to prep school on Manhattan's Upper East Side — and his formative years at NYC's Columbia University. He describes how he fell in with the counterculture and began writing about music for the Columbia Daily Spectator. A discussion follows of pieces he wrote about the death of Jimi Hendrix and — later, for NME — the decline of Sly Stone. He also talks about contributing to Crawdaddy! and other rock publications in the mid-'70s.

The 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On gives Vernon's hosts a chance to ask about the 1974 interview he did with the Motown superstar for Zoo World. He then explains how he was hired for A&R positions at Mercury and — more notably — Clive Davis' Arista label, where he worked with P-Funk offshoot Quazar and 'Disco Nights' hitmakers GQ.

Vernon's return to music journalism takes us into a discussion of the downtown New York punk scene and a 1983 Creem interview in which Richard Hell defines "the blank generation". This in turn leads to clips from Jim Sullivan's 1996 audio interview with Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth — and Vernon's thoughts on that most un-punk of CBGB bands — in the week when Jonathan Demme's concert documentary Stop Making Sense is given well-deserved a cinematic re-release.

After Mark quotes from archive interviews with Philly International legend Kenny Gamble (1976), L.A. bete noire Kim Fowley (1979) and smoooooth jazz man Kenny G (1988), Jasper rounds off the episode with his thoughts on Lloyd Bradley's celebration of London's Harlesden scene (2001), Def Jam rapper Ludacris (2005) and "jazz-rock" trio the Bad Plus (2013).

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Vernon Gibbs.

Episode 158: Charles Shaar Murray on the NME + John Lee Hooker + Robbie Robertson

14 August 2023

In this episode we welcome NME legend Charles Shaar Murray, beamed in from his adopted Ipswich to reminisce about his career from Oz magazine to his John Lee Hooker biography Boogie Man.

We start by discussing Charles' 1970 interview with the mighty Muddy Waters, his "favourite singer since I was 12 years old". Our guest talks about the Oz "School Kids" issue and the other underground publications for which he wrote before he was recruited by New Musical Express in the summer of 1972.

We hear how "CSM" became NME's unofficial David Bowie correspondent and how — under Nick Logan's editorship — the paper radically broadened its rock remit to embrace film, literature and politics. Taking the story into the early '80s, we discuss the continuing passion for blues that led to years of research for Boogie Man. Clips from Tony Scherman's 1992 audio interview with its subject Mr. Hooker prompt our guest's memories of coaxing information out of the veteran bluesman.

From John Lee and Muddy Waters we turn our attention to a Canadian guitarist who fell heavily under their spell: Robbie Robertson, whose death we learned about the night before recording this episode. After we hear audio of the Band man talking in 1991 about his "musical brother" Levon Helm, we discuss what the proto-Americana quintet meant then and now. We also pay tribute to punk artist Jamie Reid and Mexican-American cult hero Rodriguez. En passant, CSM talks about going to New York's CBGB for the first time in April 1975 and the NME piece that resulted from it.

Wrapping up the episode, Barney quotes from late '70s interviews with Ted Nugent and Bruce Springsteen, after which Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on pieces about Monie Love and Beyoncé...

Watch a video clip from this episode

Many thanks to special guest Charles Shaar Murray. His books, including Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker, are available from all good bookshops.

Episode 157: Jim Farber on Glam Rock + Marc Bolan + Sinéad O'Connor

31 July 2023

In this episode, we invite acclaimed New York writer Jim Farber to tell us about his 50-year career and his experiences of "growing up gay to a Glam Rock soundtrack", to cite the title of a superb 2016 piece he wrote for The New York Times.

We start by asking the former Chief Music Critic of the New York Daily News about his Westchester County childhood and his formative musical memories. He explains how Alice Cooper's 'I'm Eighteen' became a portal to both obsessive fandom and the urgent need to write about rock for CreemCircus and Rolling Stone. Additionally he recalls interviewing Robert Fripp for Creem in 1978 and then being reunited with King Crimson's prog-rock dissident in 2022 when the extraordinary In the Court of the Crimson King film came out.

After Barney quotes from "The Androgynous Mirror", Jim's brilliant essay for the 1998 book Rolling Stone: The Seventies, we discuss Glam Rock and listen to clips from Keith Altham's 1971 audio interview with T. Rex's Marc Bolan. A brief digression about Queen and Freddie Mercury leads to Jim's thoughts on the openly gay, overhyped and ill-fated Jobriath, who died 40 years ago this week.

The awful loss of Sinéad O'Connor on the eve of this episode's recording prompts reflections on the Irish singer's blazing talent and turbulent life — particularly from our guest, who interviewed her three times for the Daily News.

Finally, Mark quotes from newly-added library interviews with John Lennon and Kraftwerk's Ralf Hütter, while Jasper wraps things up with notes on the Strokes (and the White Stripes) and Belle & Sebastian (and Norah Jones).

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Jim Farber. Follow him on Twitter @JimFarberMusic.

Episode 156: Richard Boon on Buzzcocks + Manchester + Morrissey audio

17 July 2023

In this episode, Richard Boon joins us to talk about his life in music, taking in the birth of Buzzcocks, the Smiths on Rough Trade and his time as "the world's coolest librarian" in Stoke Newington.

The punk instigator takes us back to 1976, when he went to see the Sex Pistols live in High Wycombe together with a certain Howard Trafford and Peter McNeish. This shock to the system led to Richard inviting them to play his art studio in Reading, plus the near-mythological Lesser Free Trade Hall show that everyone in Manchester later claimed to have been at. Once Howard and Pete re-christened themselves Devoto and Shelley and formed Buzzcocks, Richard fell into managing the group and put out their seminal Spiral Scratch EP on his New Hormones label.

We then ask Richard about his move to Rough Trade around the same time as he brought them the Smiths. Clips from Martin Aston's 1986 audio interview with Morrissey form the backdrop for a discussion of why the band were special, their reluctance to film music videos and their relationship with their fans. 

Following discussion of featured writer Cath Carroll, whose early interview with Morrissey and Marr plus pieces on Linder and New Order round out the Manchester theme, Mark and Jasper finish up on library highlights including Sandy BullYazzthe Spice Girls, and Lewis Capaldi.

Many thanks to special guest Richard Boon.

Please note this episode was recorded before we learned of Jane Birkin's passing.

Episode 155: Robyn Hitchcock on the Soft Boys + David Blue + Mick Farren

10 July 2023

In this episode we invite the inimitable Robyn Hitchcock to reminisce about his heroically nonconformist career from the Soft Boys to 2022's Shufflemania!

After Robyn explains his recent return to London from his adopted Nashville, Barney, Mark and Martin hear about his hippiefied but not entirely psychedelic '60s youth — plus his early immersion in the far-out folk of the Incredible String Band and the songs of his greatest influence Syd Barrett. He talks about how the Soft Boys did — and didn't — fit into the UK's punk scene of the late '70s, but also how they became a totemic cult influence on American acts from R.E.M. to Gillian Welch & David Rawlings.

Clips from John Tobler's 1973 audio interview with '60s folk-rocker turned Asylum Records singer-songwriter David Blue provide an opportunity to discuss the former David Cohen's Greenwich Village buddy Bob Dylan and the huge influence on Robyn of Bobsongs like Blonde On Blonde's 'Visions of Johanna'. Meanwhile the 10th anniversary of the death of underground-press legend and Deviants rabble-rouser Mick Farren takes us back to the revolutionary '60s and the heyday of International Times — as well as to such seminal Farren pieces as 1976's NME rallying cry "The Titanic Sails at Dawn".

Mark rounds off the episode with quotes from newly-added library pieces about 'Terry' hitmaker Lynn "Twinkle" Ripley (Evening Standard, 1964), Motown chauvinist Marvin Gaye (Phonograph Record, 1977), Henry Rollins Garfield (Washington Post, 1981) and more…

Many thanks to special guest Robyn Hitchock. Somewhere Apart: Selected Lyrics 1977–1997 is published by Tiny Ghost and available now.

Episode 154: Richard Morton Jack on Nick Drake + Steve Marriott + Flashback magazine

19 June 2023

In this episode we welcome the very personable Richard Morton Jack to "RBP Towers" and ask him to talk about his monumental new biography of Nick Drake – along with his marvellous Flashback magazine and an audio interview with Small Faces/Humble Pie frontman Steve Marriott.

We commence by hearing how Richard was initiated into pop music (and its freakier offshoots) — and how this led him to the arcane cult figures covered in Flashback, not to mention released on his Sunbeam label. From the underground sounds of Sam GopalMad River and Blossom Toes to the exhaustive undertaking that was Nick Drake: The Life was a major gear-shift for Richard, but one that came with the blessing of the Drake estate — and a foreword by Nick's sister Gabrielle.

In a long and in-depth conversation, we attempt to make sense of the life, death and musical magic of the troubled troubadour, placing him in the context of producer Joe Boyd's Witchseason stable and hearing about a 1970 Jackie interview with Nick that Richard unearthed during his no-stone-unturned research for the book.

A very different legend of '60s/'70s English music can be heard in two clips from Chris Welch's 1985 audio interview with artful rock dodger Steve Marriott. We discuss the Small Faces and then Humble Pie; infamous manager Don Arden and Immediate boss Andrew Loog Oldham; Steve's blue-eyed-soul holler of a voice... and of course 1968's concept album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. Then we briefly turn our attention to Steve's R&B-boom contemporary Tony McPhee (1944–2023) and the remarkable blues-infused hard rock trio that was the Groundhogs.

Finally, Mark and Jasper talk us out with notes on (and quotes from) newly-added library pieces about — among other subjects – Odetta (1963), Marc Bolan (1970), Motörhead (1981), New York's Collective School of Music (2003) and Congolese street musicians Staff Benda Bilili (2009).

Many thanks to special guest Richard Morton JackNick Drake: The Life is published by John Murray Press and available now.

Episode 153: Lloyd Bradley on Black London + Tina Turner + Steve Barrow audio

5 June 2023

In this episode we welcome Lloyd Bradley into our Hammersmith lair and ask him about his career as a journalist and as the acclaimed author of Bass Culture and Sounds Like London — the latter book celebrating its 10th birthday at the time of recording.

We learn what London sounded like to Lloyd as a boy growing up in '60s Hornsey, and how his love for music led to writing for Blues & Soul and then NME and Q. He talks us through some of the key themes of Sounds Like London — his history of "100 years of Black music in the capital" — and particularly the homegrown reggae sub-genre known as "lover's rock" and the rise of grime as a hybrid of UK garage, hip hop, jungle and dancehall.

Discussion of lover's rock leads us to clips from a 1998 audio interview with Steve Barrow, founder of dub/roots-reggae reissue label Blood and Fire — and then (with passing swipes at "the White-Man Reggae Club") to how Lloyd came to write 2000's mighty Bass Culture: When Reggae was King.

After a short discussion of soul legend Bettye LaVette — and her journey from early '60s Atlantic Records to the Anti- label in the mid-noughties — we pay tribute to the late Tina Turner and her epic story of survival and self-reinvention.

Mark quotes from highlights of his additions to the RBP library, including Richard Harrington's Washington Post review of the last gig Lowell George ever played and Tony Scherman's exhaustive Musician interview with session drummer Earl Palmer. Finally, Jasper talks us out with his remarks on pieces about Labrinth and London's hyper-eclectic jazz scene.

Many thanks to special guest Lloyd Bradley. For more on Bass Culture and Sounds Like London, visit his website at

Episode 152: Cliff Jones on Gay Dad + Brian Jones + Paul Simon audio

22 May 2023

In this episode we welcome pop poacher-turned-gamekeeper (turned rockademic) Cliff Jones to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and invite him to talk about his shape-shifting career in music — as well as about Paul Simon and doomed Rolling Stone Brian Jones (no relation).

Barney starts things off with his memories of Cliff coming into the MOJO office circa 1994-5, plus we hear about long-form pieces our guest wrote about Peter Green and (for The Face) the Fugees. We also discuss Johnny Cigarettes' 1999 NME interview with Gay Dad, the band Cliff formed in the wake of Britpop.

Nick Broomfield's new BBC documentary about Brian Jones prompts conversation about the self-destructive blues obsessive who was sidelined by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards — and ditched by Anita Pallenberg — after which we turn our attention to the rather different Paul Simon. Clips from Tony Scherman's 1993 audio interview with the other half of Art Garfunkel are jumping-off points for our collective thoughts on the New Yorker's career from his Brill Building days to the Hearts and Bones album and beyond.

We pay heartfelt tribute to our guest's fellow RBP contributor Pete Silverton, who passed away on May 18th, and recall his crucial early Sounds interviews with the Clash, the Sex Pistols and other punk bands. Among the new library additions discussed, finally, are pieces about Flamingo Club owner Rik Gunnell (1966), Mick Hucknall's Frantic Elevators (1982), hip hop heroes the Jungle Brothers (1989) ... and, from 2007, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse.

Please note this episode was recorded before we learned of the passing of former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke.

Episode 151: Sylvia Patterson on Smash Hits + George Michael audio

8 May 2023

In this episode, we welcome the excellent Sylvia Patterson to RBP’s Hammersmith HQ and ask her all about her life as a music journalist from Smash Hits to the NME and beyond, referencing her excellent memoirs I’m Not With the Band and Same Old Girl

We begin with her start in writing at Dundee publisher D.C. Thomson, including as music editor for the short-lived Etcetera, which led to her applying for a staff job at irreverent pop paper Smash Hits. Sylvia reminisces about what it was like working on a magazine that never took the business of popular music too seriously, reflecting that the lack of a cynical ulterior agenda engendered a fun atmosphere for both the writers and (most of) the musicians.

Touching on Sylvia’s 1987 interview with newly inducted Rock Hall of Famer George Michael, whom she dubbed "the glummest man in pop", we hear clips from an Adam Sweeting audio interview conducted on the same day. The man born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou cut a serious figure at the time, contemplating his relationship with the press and the nature of political gestures from pop stars as well as rebuffing "rumours" that he’s gay after Boy George has outed him on the radio. 

Moving on to the 90s and beyond, at which point Sylvia became a freelancer for publications including The Face and the NME, we talk about her experience interviewing The Artist Formerly Known as Prince before discussing the chaos of the Britpop era. Defending her chosen side in the Oasis vs Blur debate, she recounts the hilarity of speaking with the Gallagher brothers in 2001.

To bring Sylvia’s story up to date, we ask her about her new memoir Same Old Girl, published in April, about her diagnosis in late 2019 with breast cancer and the treatment amidst a global pandemic that followed. 

We then spotlight three articles on Donna Summer ahead of a new documentary directed by her daughter and pay tribute to recently departed Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Finally, Mark and Jasper quote from a few new additions to the RBP library including interviews with Jet Harris and Chris Cornell and a profile of Christian Scott/Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah.

Many thanks to special guest Sylvia Patterson. Same Old Girl is published by Fleet and available now.

Episode 150: Edwin Pouncey & Sandy Robertson on rock and the occult + Andrew Lauder

24 April 2023

In this episode we welcome Sounds legends Sandy Robertson and Edwin (Savage Pencil) Pouncey into our Hammersmith lair and ask them about their careers and shared fascination with the occult.

After describing their routes into writing and their days at Sounds, Sandy and Edwin reflect on the dark history of occult rock from Black Widow to Norway's Black Metal scene, via Jimmy Page, Kenneth Anger and Aleister "the Beast" Crowley.

Clips from the late Andy Gill's 1990 audio interview with Liberty/United Artists executive Andrew Lauder give us an opportunity to honour the Hartlepool-born facilitator of musical freakiness and discuss the many acts he signed and/or A&R'd over the course of 50 years, from Hawkwind and the Groundhogs to the Stranglers and the Stone Roses.

After saying our goodbyes to reggae sound-system operator Jah Shaka and small-band jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, Mark and Jasper run through their highlights among recent additions to the RBP library, including pieces about Nancy Sinatra (1967), the Eagles (1972) and Kim Deal and Tanya Donnelly (1993)... and a 2011 tribute to hip hop star Dwight "Heavy D" Myers.

Many thanks to special guests Edwin Pouncey and Sandy Robertson. Find their books, including Edwin's Savage Pencil Scratchbook and Sandy's Aleister Crowley Scrapbook, in all good bookshops. 

Please note that we recorded this episode before learning of Mark Stewart’s death.

Episode 149: Andy Beckett on Pop & Politics + The Beat + Everything But The Girl

11 April 2023

In this episode we welcome author and Guardian journalist Andy Beckett to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him to discuss politics and pop from the late '70s to the present day.

Andy talks about his first musical passions as a teenager in the early '80s, as well as about Rock Against Racism, Red Wedge and the politicised postpunk era in general. He recalls his first pieces for The Independent in the early '90s and explains how his broader interest in popular culture informs his perspective as an op-ed columnist and the author of When the Lights Went Out and Promised You a Miracle. In a week that saw Finland joining NATO and the indictment of Donald Trump, we ask what musicians can and can't do to change the world.

The imminent new album from proto-Woke duo Everything But The Girl gives us an opportunity to address the enduring political ideals of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn, plus we travel back to 1981 via clips from an audio interview with The Beat's David Steele and Ranking Roger, who talk to John Tobler about youth unemployment and the menace of nuclear weapons.

After we've paid our respects to departed legends Seymour Stein and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mark talks us through his new additions to the RBP library, including pieces about the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper, Joan Armatrading, Talking Heads and Sun Ra. Jasper then wraps up the episode with his thoughts on a 2002 live review of Queens of the Stone Age and a 2015 piece exploring the influence of Spaghetti Westerns on reggae.

Many thanks to special guest Andy Beckett.

Episode 148: Rob Dickins on Warner Bros. + Leon Russell + Wayne Shorter

13 March 2023

In this episode we welcome music-industry legend Rob Dickins and ask him to tell us about his "pop life" in the 27 years he worked with Prince, Madonna and other Warner Brothers superstars.

Rob takes us back to his music-infused youth when his dad Percy worked for Melody Maker and New Musical Express and his brother Barry managed the High Numbers/Who. We hear about his days booking bands as a Social Sec at Loughborough University, and then about his start at Warner Publishing in 1971. Tremendous yarns about Madonna, Cher, Rod Stewart and others follow in rapid succession, along with the mind-boggling account of how Rob became global head of Warner Music… for 24 hours.

A new biography of Leon Russell gives us the perfect excuse to hear clips from Andy Gill's 1998 audio interview with "the master of space and time" — the first about 1970's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, the second about the writing of Russell's beloved 'Song For You'. 

After we've said goodbye to former Miles sideman and Weather Reporter Wayne Shorter and to Jackson Browne's virtuoso sideman David Lindley, Mark talks us out with quotes from his favourite new library additions from the past fortnight.

Episode 147: Ellen Sander on rock life in the sixties + Robert Palmer audio

27 February 2023

In this episode we welcome pioneering '60s rock writer Ellen Sander and invite her to discuss her classic 1973 book Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties, reissued in an "augmented" edition in 2019.

Ellen recalls her New York upbringing and initiation into the folk scene in Greenwich Village, then explains how Danny Fields (episode 28) steered her towards writing for Sing Out! and Hullabaloo. With references to David Crosby, David Geffen, Abbie Hoffman and the Monterey Pop festival, she talks about the inextricable relationship between '60s music and the decade's political upheavals. We also hear about her 1968 article on groupies; her troubling experiences on the road with Led Zeppelin; and her relationship with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman (father of her son Marin), all of which led to the writing of Trips.

Attention then turns to two clips from the week's new audio interview, in which suave Yorkshire-born rock'n'soul man Robert Palmer talks about his love of bossa nova and the fun he had on the sessions for 1974's Sneakin' Sally through the Alley with Little Feat's Lowell George.

After Mark quotes from new library interviews with the Beatles (1963), B.B. King (1968), and Simpsons creator Matt Groening (1993), Barney cites an early Steely Dan piece from 1973 and Jasper recommends articles about emo stars Paramore (2010), Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor (2014) and – from 2016 – jazz hybridiser Jacob Collier.

Watch a video clip from this episode

Many thanks to special guest Ellen SanderTrips: Rock Life in the Sixties is published by Dover and available now.

Episode 146: Fred Goodman on Rock Films + D.A. Pennebaker + Burt Bacharach

13 February 2023

In this episode we welcome the exemplary Fred Goodman and ask him about his journalistic career and highly acclaimed books.

Fred talks about his early years as a jazz columnist for Cash Box, as well as his interest in the business side of popular music. He describes how a stint as a Senior Editor at Rolling Stone led to the idea of a book about "the head-on collision of rock and commerce", subsequently published as 1997's The Mansion on the Hill. Avid fans of that classic tome, Mark and Barney ask their guest about legendary figures such as Albert Grossman, David Geffen and Jon Landau, after which Fred explains why — in an effort to champion the late Mexican-American singer in her native USA — he wrote 2019's Why Lhasa de Sela Matters.

Moving on to Fred's latest book Rock On Film, conversation turns to some of his favourite music movies from A Hard Day's Night to This is Spinal Tap – with a nod to Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who wrote the foreword to Rock On Film. Clips from an audio interview with the late D.A. Pennebaker lead in turn to a discussion of 1967's Bob Dylan documentary Dont Look Back.

Not long after we've paid tribute to Television's mercurial Tom Verlaine, breaking news comes in that we've also just lost the great Burt Bacharach. Putting ourselves on the spot in real time, we talk about the genius who (with lyricist Hal David) created masterworks from 'Make it Easy on Yourself' to 'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head'.

Finally, Mark talks us out with quotes from pieces about folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary, the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet and the late David Crosby, while Jasper concludes the episode with remarks about pieces on Keane and pop's relationship with social class.

Watch a video clip from this episode

Many thanks to special guest Fred Goodman. Rock on Film is published by Running Press and Why Lhasa De Sela Matters is published by University of Texas Press.

Episode 145: Gary Kemp on Spandau Ballet + Pink Floyd + David Crosby R.I.P.

30 January 2023

In this episode we welcome the excellent Gary Kemp to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and invite him to talk about Spandau Ballet, the New Romantics and Pink Floyd.

After describing the pop baptism that was watching David Bowie sing 'Starman' on Top of the Pops, Gary recalls seeing the Sex Pistols at the Screen on the Green; the Bowie nights at Billy's; Steve Strange and the Blitz kids; and the formation of the band that became Spandau Ballet. With special reference to Betty Page's Sounds pieces on Spandau, we discuss the New Romantics and their complex relationship with the music press.

From Spandau to Floyd is not a segue anyone would have made back in 1979, but Gary explains how he saw the half-century-old Dark Side of the Moon played live at Wembley's Empire Pool in 1974 and how he later joined forces with Floyd drummer Nick Mason in Saucerful of Secrets. In the course of a conversation about Dark Side, we hear clips from Jim Sullivan's 1997 phone interview with the late Rick Wright, who reflects on the state of Syd Barrett and his own (temporary) firing from Floyd.

With a nod to Rockonteurs — Gary's own great podcast with Saucerful of Secrets bassist Guy Pratt — we pay tribute to the late David Crosby, who was the duo's guest in early 2020. Mark then talks us out with quotes from pieces about the Beatles (1966), the New York Dolls (1973) and Joni Mitchell at the Troubadour (1968 and 1973), after which Jasper concludes the episode with quotes from reviews of Björk's Homogenic (1997) and a Manchester "Gods of Rap" show starring Wu Tang Clan, De La Soul and Public Enemy...

Many thanks to special guest Gary Kemp. Visit his website at and find the Rockonteurs at

Please note that this episode was recorded before the death of Tom Verlaine. We will be paying tribute to him in the next episode.

Episode 144: Pamela Des Barres on the GTOs + Peter Asher audio + Jeff Beck R.I.P.

16 January 2023

In this episode we welcome the truly legendary Pamela Des Barres, all the way from her native San Fernando Valley, and invite her to reminisce about the all-girl GTOs, Frank Zappa, Lowell George... and plenty more besides.

The bestselling author of 1987's groupie confessional I'm With The Band describes how she entered the Laurel Canyon orbit of ringmaster Zappa, and how the motley troupe he christened Girls Together Outrageously came into being. The former Miss Pamela talks about her fellow "Misses" Mercy and Christine, then describes the sessions for the group's unruly 1969 classic Permanent Damage. This leads on to a discussion of the Groupie phenomenon and its problematic nature in the #MeToo era. In passing, we hear about Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco and 1974's Hollywood Street Revival and Trash Dance show.

The somewhat different — yet not entirely unrelated — L.A. domain of the canyon singer-songwriter crowd is considered as we hear clips from co-host Barney Hoskyns' 2003 audio interview with James Taylor/Linda Ronstadt producer Peter Asher. Following discussion of Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell and their mutual paramour John David Souther, we circle back to the GTOs and the guest appearance of the late Jeff Beck on Permanent Damage. We then pay extensive tribute to Beck's eclectic genius and unique technique.

We conclude with quotes from notable RBP library additions, including pieces about Bonnie Raitt recording at Bearsville, L.A. session bassist Carol Kaye and apocalyptic jazz trio Comet Is Coming.

Many thanks to special guest Pamela Des Barres. Visit her website at for details of her podcast, books and more.

Episode 143: Nick Hornby on Prince (& Dickens) + Boz Scaggs audio interview

23 December 2022

In this episode we welcome bestselling author and screenwriter Nick Hornby to RBP's Hammersmith HQ and ask him to talk about his new book Dickens & Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius.

We start by asking Nick if his original plan was to become a music journalist, then proceed to his first awareness of Prince in 1979. A broad discussion of the Minneapolitan marvel — and the parallels with Charles Dickens's "no off-switch" prolificacy — takes in his first London show in 1981, his mastering of multiple overlapping genres, his (and Dickens's) "weakness for women"… and the profound shock of his death in 2016.

The imminent reissue of Boz Scaggs's eponymous 1969 Atlantic album provides the opportunity to hear clips from the late Andy Gill's 1997 audio interview with the blues-soul smoothie. Among other things, Nick, Barney and Jasper touch on Muscle Shoals, Silk Degrees and Boz's spine-tingling version of Richard Hawley's 'There's a Storm Comin''.

After Jasper offers his thoughts on newly-added library pieces about the Human League and British hip hop, we indulge in a brief chat with the Fever Pitch author about football's World Cup, which at the time of recording had reached the semi-final stage. Find out who Nick wanted to win…

Many thanks to special guest Nick HornbyDickens & Prince: A Particular Kind of Genius is published by Penguin and available now.

Note that this episode was recorded on December 14th, four days before the sad news came through that we'd lost Specials/Fun Boy Three star Terry Hall.

Episode 142: Paul Gorman on the rise and fall of the music press + Time Out's Tony Elliott

12 December 2022

In this episode we welcome writer, curator and consultant Paul Gorman and ask him about his new book Totally Wired: The Rise and Fall of the Music Press.

In a loose and free-ranging conversation, our guest reflects on various eras and aspects of all that Rock's Backpages is about, from the launch of Melody Maker almost 100 years ago to the online ecosystem of Instagram and Tik Tok in the present day.

Along the way we cover everything from Crawdaddy! to Smash Hits via marginalised women writers and feuds between musicians and journalists. (Listen out for the unsettling sound of Nick Cave describing his new "hate" song 'Scum' to interviewer Mat Snow.) We also hear clips from Frank Broughton's 1998 audio interview with Time Out's late founder Tony Elliott.

By way of paying tribute to the late Christine McVie, there are further audio clips in the episode, this time from John Pidgeon's 1977 interview with Fleetwood Mac, plus we bid a sad farewell to Stax Records co-founder Jim Stewart.

Mark selects his highlights from recent additions to the RBP library, quoting from pieces about Marianne Faithfull, Ravi Shankar, Alexis Korner and the mighty Pat Benatar, after which Jasper concludes matters with remarks on articles about Odd Future and the brilliant Billie Eilish.

Many thanks to special guest Paul Gorman; Totally Wired is published by Thames & Hudson and available now from all good bookshops. Visit Paul's website at and follow him on Instagram at _paul_gorman_.

Episode 141: RJ Smith on Chuck Berry + Ice-T + Black L.A. + Wilko Johnson

28 November 2022

In this episode we invite esteemed author RJ Smith to tell us about his career, his adopted Los Angeles, and his new biography of Chuck Berry.

We start in Detroit, where RJ was raised on a diet of AM radio, the Stooges and Creem magazine, then follow him to New York and his decade of writing for the Village Voice. He talks about the impact of Lester Bangs and Robert Christgau before explaining why he followed the Voice's executive editor Kit Rachlis to California and the L.A. Weekly. We hear how he became fascinated by the pre-rock history of African-American L.A. and how that led to the publication of The Great Black Way (2008). His fourth book, Chuck Berry: An American Life, gives us the opportunity to discuss the problematic brilliance of St. Louis's "Black bard of white teen angst", a half-century after the creepy novelty comedy of 'My Ding-a-Ling' gave the Black-rock pioneer a No. 1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

We return to our L.A. theme to hear clips from a 1991 audio interview in which Tracy "Ice-T" Marrow talks to Andy Gill about the birth of gangsta rap and his thrash-metal side project Body Count. RJ recalls his own writing about West Coast hip hop before we say a sad goodbye to the great Wilko Johnson and hear the-then Dr. Feelgood guitarist speaking to Mick Gold in 1975.

Mark quotes from some of the pieces he's added to the RBP library, including interviews with Long John Baldry and Olivia Newton-John, after which Jasper wraps matters up with remarks on articles about Deadmau5 and Asian Dub Foundation.

Many thanks to special guest RJ SmithChuck Berry: An American Life is published by Omnibus in the UK and Hachette in the US and is available now from all good bookshops.

Episode 140: Holly Gleason on Women in Country + Guy Clark + Taylor Swift

14 November 2022

In this episode we welcome the splendid Holly Gleason, all the way from downtown Nashville, and invite her to tell us about her life as a country music writer and artist development consultant.

Holly explains how, as a teenage championship golfer, she first became enamoured of country in her native state of Ohio, later writing about it (as well as about rap and R&B) for the Miami Herald. Tying in the episode's main theme with Woman Walk the Line – the wonderful essay collection she assembled and edited in 2017 – Holly's hosts ask her about her favourite female artists from Emmylou Harris to Taylor Swift. Along the way she gives us the inside lowdown on "Music City" – having just attended 2022's CMA Awards – and talks fascinatingly about Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus.

The week's new audio interview, with the late great Guy Clark, gives us a chance to discuss that unpigeonholeable singer-songwriter, his complicated friendship with Townes Van Zandt, and his influence on disciples such as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell. Two clips from John Tobler's 1986 interview with Guy prompt tearful memories of Holly's friendship with the Texan troubadour.

After we've said our own sad goodbyes to Melody Maker mainstay Colin Irwin, Low's Mimi Parker and Nazareth frontman Dan McCafferty, Mark and Jasper talk us out with their favourite new additions to the RBP library including interviews with Patti Smith and Little Simz.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Holly Gleason; visit her website at and find Woman Walk the Line at all good bookshops.

Episode 139: Billy James on Bob Dylan + Columbia Records + Laurel Canyon

31 October 2022

In this episode we welcome the legendary Billy James, all the way from the Bay Area, and tap him for his memories of working with Bob Dylanthe Doors and more.

We start with Dylan and the interview the young Minnesotan gave to Billy in October 1961 in the latter's capacity as a Columbia Records publicist. Billy reminisces about his early interactions with the kid born Zimmerman; we hear a snatch of that 1961 audio, plus two clips from Eric Von Schmidt talking to Larry Jaffee about his friendship with Bob in that same period. In passing, we mention two great Dylan pieces by the week's featured scribe Greil Marcus, author of a new Bob "biography in seven songs" entitled Folk Music.

From the early Bob years we switch coasts to California, where Billy worked in Columbia's Hollywood office and fell in with the Byrds between arranging press conferences for Patti PagePercy Faith and his beloved Tony Bennett (pictured in the photo Billy is holding above). Finally, he talks about Terry MelcherElektra Recordsthe Doors, and the significant part he played in putting Laurel Canyon on L.A.'s pop map after moving up there from Beverly Hills in 1965...

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Billy James; you can book his Airbnb in Redwood City here.

Episode 138: Kid Congo Powers on the Cramps + the Gun Club + Brian Eno audio

17 October 2022

In this episode we welcome the delightful Kid Congo Powers, all the way from his home in Tucson, and ask him to talk about his former lives in the Gun Club, the Cramps and the Bad Seeds — as detailed in the riveting new memoir Some New Kind of Kick.

The man born Brian Tristan looks back to his teen fanboy years from Frank Zappa to the New York Dolls, plus his memories of the L.A. glitter scene at Rodney's English Disco. He describes how it felt — as a gay Mexican American — to be a misfit among mainly white misfits on the punk scenes in L.A. and New York. He also explains how the Gun Club was conceived after he met Jeffrey Lee Pierce while queuing for a 1979 Pere Ubu show at the Whisky. We hear how Kid was then headhunted by the Cramps' Lux and Ivy, and what it was like to be part of their ghoulish B-movie aesthetic. We similarly learn how he was recruited (and "cast") as one of Nick Cave's drug-addled Bad Seeds in mid-'80s Berlin.

From the decline and premature death of Jeffrey Lee Pierce — via Kid's own eventual long-term sobriety — we shift into the rarefied and erudite world of Brian Eno, an iconic glam influence on the young Brian Tristan. Clips from Mark Sinker's 1992 audio interview with pop's resident egghead are heard, leading in turn to discussion of Eno's collaborations with Robert Fripp and Toby Amies' remarkable new King Crimson documentary.

Mark talks us through pieces about the Stones' 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' (1968), classic-blues septuagenarian Victoria Spivey (1975), the Police (1979) and Joe Bataan & Arthur Baker (1996) after which Jasper concludes the episode with quotes from pieces on bodyguard-to-the-stars Michael Francis (2003) and the "rise and rise" of Pharrell Williams (2015).

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Kid Congo PowersSome New Kind of Kick is available this week in all good bookshops. For more Kid, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @kidcongopowers.

Episode 137: Luke Haines & Peter Buck on R.E.M. + The Auteurs + Pharoah Sanders

3 October 2022

In this episode we welcome the dynamic transatlantic duo of Luke Haines & Peter Buck and invite them to discuss their splendidly-titled new album All the Kids are Super Bummed-Out.

Luke and Peter reflect on their musical partnership, working methodology, and relationships with music journalists — sometimes fractious, occasionally fruitful. Peter recalls growing up as a New York Dolls fan in the Allman Brothers country of his native Georgia, then listens to 1992 audio of himself and bandmate Mike Mills telling Ira Robbins about R.E.M.'s rise and decision not to tour the imminent Automatic for the People. Luke then reflects on his early preference for Sounds (over NME and Melody Maker) and the postpunk writing of the late Dave McCullough.

Mark & Jasper pay fulsome tribute to the departed Pharoah Sanders, with both guests pitching in on the music of the intrepid jazz man — and we also bid farewell to 'Gangsta's Paradise' rapper Coolio. Marks then talks us through his highlights among the latest articles added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Beatles in America (1964), Otis Redding at the Whisky (1966) and Leon Russell at the Royal Albert Hall (1971) — the greatest gig he ever saw, he claims — and Jasper wraps matters up with quotes from articles about Harry Styles (2017) and Rose Royce (2021)...

Watch a video clip of Peter Buck speaking in this episode

Many thanks to special guests Luke Haines and Peter Buck; their new album All The Kids Are Super Bummed Out is out October 28th on Cherry Red.

Episode 136: Richard Goldstein on '60s pop writing + the Shangri-Las + Shadow Morton

19 September 2022

In this episode we welcome the great Richard Goldstein and invite him to relive his days as the Village Voice's "Pop Eye" columnist in the '60s — and his heady experiences in New York and California in that tumultuous decade.

Richard takes us back to his Bronx youth and the early discovery of writers such as Joyce, Dostoyevsky and Voice co-founder Norman Mailer. He also recalls his subsequent exposure to Tom Wolfe and Susan Sontag — both of whom he knew — and explains their influence on his very personal writing style. The second piece he ever wrote for the Voice gives us the chance to discuss that most outré of '60s girl groups, the fabulous Shangri-Las, and to hear clips from Tony Scherman's 1993 audio interview with the trio's mentor-producer George "Shadow" Morton.

From the "Las" we turn our attention to the Byrds and the dawning "rock" revolution Richard chronicled so adroitly. We also discuss his immersion in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury scene — plus the attraction to hippie heroes such as Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir that indirectly led to his coming-out and to his militant fight for gay rights as he subsequently rose to the position of Executive Editor at the Voice.

Notwithstanding his marvellous 2015 memoir Another Little Piece of My Heart — frequently cited in this episode — Richard poignantly explains how the deaths of Janis Joplin and others made it almost impossible to write any longer about music.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Richard Goldstein; find him at and buy his books, including Another Little Piece of My Heart, at any good bookshop.

Episode 135: Chris Blackwell on Island from Millie to U2 + Bunny Wailer

2 September 2022

In this episode we welcome legendary Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and invite him to reminisce about key moments in his career at the helm of one of the UK's great independent labels.

Chris describes his youth in Jamaica, his early exposure to Kingston's sound systems, and his move back to England in 1962. From Millie's 1964 smash 'My Boy Lollipop' to Island's expansion from ska and blue beat into rock and folk, the Harrow-educated mogul reflects on the vital importance of artists such as Steve Winwood, Free, John Martyn and of course the Wailers, the band that made roots reggae a global phenomenon. Clips from a 1988 audio interview with Bunny Wailer prompt reflections on the "Blackheart Man" and his role within the group. A discussion of the Compass Point studio Chris built in the Bahamas takes us to the Island reinvention of Grace Jones and the stunning early '80s albums she made there with the immortal rhythm section of Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare.

References to the week's featured writer Rob Partridge — Island's head of press from 1977 to 1991 — leads to recall of the label's biggest act, U2, and the eventual sale of Island to Polygram... not forgetting Chris' signing of the singular Tom Waits in 1983.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Chris Blackwell, whose autobiography The Islander is published by Nine Eight Books and available now.

Episode 134: Wayne Robins on Steely Dan + Donald Fagen + Denny Dias

22 August 2022

In this episode we invite former Creem editor and Newsday critic Wayne Robins to reminisce about his journalistic journey from the Berkeley Barb to NYU's graduate school of journalism — and to hold forth on his (and our) beloved Steely Dan.

Wayne recalls the suburban East Coast childhood he had in common with the Dan's Donald Fagen — and the music that set them both free from it. Jumping forward to 1969, he describes the Rolling Stones show he saw in Oakland a month before Altamont. He also paints a vivid and amusing picture of Bard College, the upstate New York institution he attended at the same time as Fagen and Dan co-founder Walter Becker. Clips from RBP audio interviews with the duo and original Dan member Denny Dias accompany an in-depth discussion of every rock egghead's favourite group, not to mention Fagen's 40-year-old solo album The Nightfly.

The episode concludes with a swift survey of recent additions to the RBP library, including pieces about Juliette Gréco (1961), James Booker (1976), Mark E. Smith (1990), Limp Bizkit (2000), Soul Train's Don Cornelius (2012), Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner (2017)… and the "atomic" Count Basie (2020).

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Wayne Robins. Sign up for his newsletter Critical Conditions at

Episode 133: Jason King on Queen + Sylvester + Boy George + Beyoncé

8 August 2022

In this episode, we invite Jason King to tell us about his multi-faceted career, from his Canadian upbringing to his chairmanship of Brooklyn's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

Along the way, Jason talks about his writing on LGBTQ icons from Sylvester and Luther Vandross to Queen's Freddie Mercury, of whom he is writing a major biography. Jason recalls writing for Vibe and the Village Voice in the Noughties, listens to clips from Bill Brewster's 2002 audio interview with Boy George and discusses the brilliant career of — and new album by — Beyoncé.

After Jason and his co-hosts pay homage to revered Warner-Reprise chief Mo Ostin, Mark quotes from newly-added library pieces about John Lennonthe JamAC/DC and Primal Scream. Jasper rounds things off with remarks on a 1998 interview with Mo Ostin signing Prince, then known as "The Artist Formerly Known as..."

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Jason King. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @jasonkingsays.

Episode 132: Steven Daly on Orange Juice + Suede + Sugar Hill + Lizzo

25 July 2022

In this episode we welcome "gamekeeper-turned-poacher" Steven Daly, who Zooms in from his adopted Brooklyn to tell us about drumming in Orange Juice and his stellar writing career in America.

Steven revisits his musical youth in '70s Glasgow and his first encounters with Edwyn Collins and Postcard's Alan Horne. He talks about the creative divergences within Orange Juice, his eventual move into writing for The Face and Edinburgh's Cut magazine, and the decision in the late '80s to base himself in New York. His hosts focus on three of his pieces, written over the course of 15 years for SpinRolling Stone and Vanity Fair, with Steven reminiscing about meeting Joni Mitchell and Sugar Hill matriarch Sylvia Robinson.

Clips from Steven's May 1993 audio interview with Suede's Brett Anderson and Mat Osman provide a good excuse to discuss the emerging "Englishness" of post-grunge Britain and the abiding fantasy of UK bands "taking America". Staying Stateside, Jasper praises the week's featured artist Lizzo, with reference to pieces about the funk-pop star that stretch back to 2013. Mark then pays tribute to former Miles Davis bassist Michael Henderson, who died on July 19th, and talks us through his favourite library additions from the past fortnight — including pieces about Yoko OnoPink FloydJuan Atkins and the aforementioned Miles Davis. Barney mentions pieces about Canned Heat and World of Twist, while Jasper concludes the episode with his thoughts on D'Angelo and the great Black-owned record labels...

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Steven Daly; visit his RBP writer's page for more on him and his writing.

Episode 131: Robert Gordon on Memphis + Stax + ZZ Top + Robert Johnson

11 July 2022

In this episode we welcome the very engaging Robert Gordon "all the way from Memphis" and ask him to talk about the music of his hometown, from Sun and Stax to Alex Chilton and Big Star.

Robert tells us about his childhood, along with the blues epiphany that was watching Furry Lewis support the Rolling Stones on the Memphis leg of their 1975 U.S. tour. Moving on to Stax, we look back at a great 1988 interview Robert did with the Memphis Horns' Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson — and then forward to the Wattstax festival, staged in L.A. 50 years ago this summer.

Clips from the week's new audio interview — Tony Scherman asking Billy Gibbons about Robert Johnson — afford us the perfect excuse not only to discuss ZZ Top and their imminent new album but to revisit our guest's exhaustive 1991 essay on the "plundering" of Delta blues legend Johnson's estate.

Mark talks us through a selection of newly-added library pieces about Frankie Lymon, Alma Cogan, San Francisco's Trips festival, Syreeta, Gang of Four and Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. In the absence of a vacationing Jasper, Barney wraps things up with quotes from articles about rock scribe R(ichard) Meltzer, the Specials and — circling back to Stax — Booker T. Jones recalling co-writing Albert King's brooding 'Born Under a Bad Sign' with William Bell...

Many thanks to special guest Robert Gordon; the 25th anniversary edition of It Came From Memphis is published by Third Man Books and available now. Visit his website at

Episode 130: Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton on DJ history + Dom Phillips + Elvis

24 June 2022

In this episode we welcome dynamic duo Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton to Hammersmith as they prepare for the publication of a newly expanded edition of their mighty Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.

Bill and Frank talk about the original mission behind the book, as well as their different routes into dance music. They recall how they met and combined forces in '90s New York, where DJs such as Frankie Knuckles and Junior Vasquez proved transformative figures. Co-host Mark recalls seeing Bill and Frank DJ'ing at Fabric in 2000 and then reading the original edition of Last Night

Recalling their first articles for Mixmag in the '90s, the DJ History duo reminisce about the late Dom Phillips, the magazine's former editor who was so brutally murdered in the Amazon this month. They praise the courage Dom showed in confronting Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and exposing the criminal gangs behind much of the Amazon's deforestation.

Bill and Frank discuss the process of researching and writing Last Night…, barely knowing if figures such as Bronx hip hop legend were even still alive, and explain what turned clubs like Larry Levan's Paradise Garage into "religious" experiences.

The week's new audio interview – Bill and Frank's own 2005 quizzing of drum and bass legend Fabio – proves infectiously enjoyable as they hear themselves asking the Brixton-born DJ about Crackers and Spectrum.

The episode concludes with thoughts on Elvis Presley and the new biopic made by Baz Luhrman, after which Mark talks us through library pieces he's added about Bill Haley (1957), Billie Holiday (1959) and Buffalo Springfield (1968), while Jasper concludes proceedings with quotes from pieces about Kanye West (2016) and Arlo Parks (2019).

Many thanks to special guests Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. The new edition of Last Night a DJ Saved My Life is published by White Rabbit and available to pre-order now.

Episode 129: Deborah Frost on heavy metal + Blue Öyster Cult + Grace Jones + Foals

13 June 2022

In this episode we welcome heavy metal expert Deborah Frost, Zooming in from her native New York City, and invite her to talk about her career as a writer and musician.

Deborah reminisces about the all-girl "female Dolls" Flaming Youth, in which she drummed in the early '70s, and then explains how she came to write her first pieces for Circus in 1977. She talks about her love of hard rock and heavy metal, and about contributing to Rolling Stone and the Village Voice — including her acclaimed 1985 Voice piece 'White Noise: How Heavy Metal Rules', with its unflattering descriptions of the drug-and-groupie-addled Mötley Crüe.

From the Crüe we segue into another great "umlaut" metal band, one beloved of Deborah's co-hosts Barney, Martin & Jasper. Yep, we're talking about Blue Öyster Cult, to whose drummer Albert Bouchard our guest was once married. After Barney & Martin attempt to do justice to what made the Cult so uniquely brilliant, we hear clips from 1978 audio interviews with the group's Allen Lanier & Eric Bloom, while Deborah talks about the "rock-critical" role played in the BÖC's development by Sandy Pearlman, R(ichard) Meltzer & punk poetess Patti Smith.

An abrupt shift takes us into the amazing world of Grace Jones and her curation of the 2022 Meltdown festival in London. Guest and hosts alike celebrate the iconic Jamaican transgressor, focusing particularly on the Island albums she made at Chris Blackwell's Compass Point studios in the early '80s. Deborah also dumbfounds us with a story about getting naked in a New York sauna with Grace and her beefy boyfriend Dolph Lundgren.

There's bonus audio in the form of Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis, talking in 2015 to Coup De Main's Pip Williams. Foals fan Jasper introduces the clips and — in the week that sees the release of their new album — explains why he rates his fellow Oxonians so highly. After that, he takes us through recent RBP library pieces added by the holidaying Mark Pringle, including Max Jones' 1959 Melody Maker homage to the departed Billie Holiday and Calvin Bush's 1998 Muzik profile of Jungle king Goldie.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Deborah Frost. Find out more about her and her writing on her RBP writers page.

Episode 128: Robert Greenfield on the Rolling Stones + Jerry Jeff Walker

30 May 2022

In this episode we welcome the great Robert Greenfield, beamed in from his home in Carmel, California, and ask him about his early '70s adventures with the Rolling Stones that inspired the seminal book S.T.P..

Robert recounts his journey from Fusion and Boston After Dark, via Rolling Stone's London bureau, to his stellar career as an author and biographer — including his celebrated books about Bill Graham, Jerry Garcia and Augustus "Owsley" Stanley III. He describes how he showed up at Keith Richards' Villa Nellcote in August 1971, during the recording of the now-50-year-old Exile On Main St.. After this we hear about the defining 1972 pieces he wrote for Rolling Stone about that album's final overdub/mixing stages in L.A., and about the start of the "Stones Touring Party" trek through North America. We also hear a 1997 audio clip of Keef looking back on Exile and its gradual rise to acclaim as the group's greatest album, plus there's a digression on photographer-filmmaker Robert Frank, whose Cocksucker Blues was (like S.T.P.) a key document of that triumphant 1972 tour.

From there we go to clips from the week's new RBP audio interview, which features John Tobler in a 1992 conversation with folk-country legend Jerry Jeff Walker, the object of veneration on Steve Earle's new album Jerry Jeff. The genial and engaging Mr. Walker talks to Tobler about the difference between Nashville and his adopted Austin, his beloved 1968 song 'Mr. Bojangles', and (in the episode's outro) his encouragement of fellow troubadour Guy Clark — another object of Earle's Texan veneration.

After valedictory reflections on Dylan crony and "stars' superstar" Bob Neuwirth, Microdisney/Fatima Mansions frontman Cathal Coughlan, and Greek prog-electronic deity Vangelisnews of the deaths of Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher and former Yes drummer Alan White came in after the recording of this episode — Mark Pringle quotes from his favourite new additions to the RBP library. These include pieces about Scott Walker, the Wailers, choreographer Cholly Atkins and self-proclaimed "bedroom bore" Aphex Twin, after which Jasper weighs in with remarks on the Streets and Shontelle.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Robert Greenfield. Find his books, including S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones, in all good bookshops.

Episode 127: Chris Roberts on Radiohead + Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott

16 May 2022

In this episode we are joined by the droll and charming Chris Roberts, who looks back on his career as a journalist, author and musician.

Chris recalls the seminal early experience of first hearing T. Rex's 'Metal Guru' and explains how this led eventually to his writing for Sounds and then Melody Maker in the '80s. After detours via the ill-fated Ikon magazine and the fascinating Idle Worship anthology, we get to Chris' Uncut years and hear an audio clip of him being very cheeky to Debbie Harry. This brings us up to the present day and the publication of his fine new study of the Velvet Underground.

We then turn to the week's featured artist, the divine Missy Elliott, and discuss her 25-year-old debut Supa Dupa Fly, reviewed by Chris for the Maker — and the "Misdemeanor" gal's amazing career in general. Another album turning 25 is Radiohead's towering OK Computer, which affords the perfect excuse to hear clips from not one but two audio interviews — the first with Thom Yorke and Colin Greenwood from 1993, the second with Phil Selway from 1997, shortly after OK Computer's release. Chris reminisces about two Radiohead shows he saw, including a Royal Festival Hall gig he reviewed in 2000.

Mark then runs through the articles he's most enjoyed adding during the previous fortnight, including pieces about the Ronettes, the Impressions, Ray Parker, Jr. and A Guy Called Gerald. Jasper finishes things off with remarks about interviews with Fall Out Boy and Grandmaster Flash.

Many thanks to special guest Chris Roberts. His new book The Velvet Underground is published by Palazzo and available now.

Episode 126: Robert Duncan & Jaan Uhelzski on Lester Bangs + Creem + Suicide

2 May 2022

In this episode we mark the 40th anniversary of the death of arguably the greatest — and certainly the most "almost famous" — writer in the history of music journalism.

Two of Lester Bangs's closest Creem colleagues (both wonderful writers in their own right) join us from California to reminisce about the man and his work. Jaan Uhelszki, who started in the Creem office the same day as Lester, gets the ball rolling by putting Detroit's "anti-Rolling Stone" in context. Robert Duncan, who arrived two years later in 1974, adds his recollections of "America's only rock'n'roll magazine" [sic] before paying tribute to Lester. Respect, laughter and sadness ensue as Robert & Jaan discuss their friend's gonzoid genius, his exasperating foibles and the addiction that killed him at 33, six years after Robert persuaded him to move to New York.

Seminal New York duo Suicide — beloved of Bangs — are the subjects of the week's new audio interview, clips from which feature pioneering electropunks Alan Vega & Martin Rev talking in 1998 about their "confrontational" live act, their introduction of the word "punk" into NYC's music scene in 1971… and Vega's love of British comedy The Full Monty!

Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the articles recently added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Righteous Brothers, Laura Nyro, Jeff Beck at the Fillmore East, Pharoah Saunders and England's miserable Bickershaw festival. Barney notes a 1988 Paul Morley rumination on, yes, music journalism… and Jasper quotes from a John Doran "review" of Aphex Twin's Collapse.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guests Robert Duncan and Jaan Uhelszki; you can visit Robert's website at and find more of Jaan's writing on her RBP writer's page.

Episode 125: Vashti Bunyan on Wayward + Nick Drake + Joe Boyd audio

19 April 2022

In this episode we welcome the wonderful Vashti Bunyan — all the way from her home in Edinburgh — and ask her about her magical music and the remarkable memoir she's just published.

The "freak folk" legend — though she strongly disavows the "folk" tag — begins by talking of her early musical memories, among them meeting an unhappy Cliff Richard backstage in Blackpool in 1961. She describes her dream of becoming a pop singer in mid-'60s London, and how that led her to the Mayfair office of Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Briefly and unhappily typecast as "a dark-haired Marianne Faithfull", she recalls the session for the Jagger-Richards song 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind', backed up in the studio by Jimmy Page & Nicky Hopkins.

Vashti explains how she felt equally adrift in the world of folk, eventually dropping out of the London music scene to travel to the Outer Hebrides in a horse-drawn wagon. This is the journey she writes about so vividly in Wayward, leading circuitously to Joe Boyd producing her 1970 album Just Another Diamond Day. After a discussion of that exquisite record, she talks about why she neither wrote nor sang another song for 30 years… then admits how much it meant when younger admirers like Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart discovered the album in 2000, subsequently appearing on her Lookaftering (2005) and Heartleap (2014).

With Nick Drake's final album Pink Moon turning 50 this year, we take Vashti back to the awkward afternoon she spent trying to write a song with him after Joe Boyd had introduced them. Along the way we hear clips of Joe speaking to Gerrie Lim about Nick's guitar playing and "romantic doom" in 1994.

After paying our respects to Saints frontman Chris Bailey, we touch on highlights among the 120+ articles just added to the RBP library, including pieces about Charles Mingus (1962), Dusty in Memphis (1969), the Smiths (1987) and Fatboy Slim (1997). Jasper's selection of a recent Michael McDonald interview gives us the perfect excuse to explain to Vashti what "Yacht Rock" is… after which we hear a final clip from the Boyd interview.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Vashti Bunyan; Wayward is published by White Rabbit and available now. You can visit Vashti's website at

Episode 124: Devon Powers on the Village Voice + Red Hot Chili Peppers + White Stripes audio

5 April 2022

In this episode we welcome the excellent Devon Powers — beamed in from Philadelphia — and ask her to talk about The Village Voice, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the White Stripes… and music journalism since the turn of the century.

Devon begins by talking about the music she loved when growing up in her native Michigan — and her first awareness of "rock critics". We hear about her move to New York City in 1999, her early pieces for the PopMatters site, and the Anglophilia that led to umpteen pieces about the likes of Clinic, Starsailor, Badly Drawn Boy and, yes, even Ocean Colour Scene. Citing a great 2003 piece she wrote about Red Hot Chili Peppers, who released a new album the week of this recording, we ask Devon what those punk-funk Californicators meant to her in the '90s and noughties.

After a brief discussion of Devon's 2004 thinkpiece 'Is Music Journalism Dead?', we turn our attention to Writing the Record: The Village Voice and the Birth of Rock Criticism, the 2013 book which came out of her doctoral dissertation at NYU. She talks about the vital New York weekly paper, and the "rock critics" who were such a key part of its arts coverage — particularly Richard Goldstein, several of whose '60s Voice pieces we have on RBP. We then pay tribute to another Voice contributor, John Swenson, lost to us a few days before this recording, as well as to Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins and Mighty Diamonds frontman "Tabby" Shaw.

Two clips from Ira Robbins' 2001 audio interview with the White Stripes prompt a general chinwag about Jack, Meg, blues etc., after which Mark zips through the most notable of the interviews & reviews he's just added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Kingston Trio, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Canned Heat and Teddy Pendergrass. Barney then rounds things off by flagging up pieces on Marc Bolan, the Prodigy, Tony Hatch, Jack Good and the Descendents.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Devon Powers; visit her website at and find Writing the Record in all good bookshops.

Episode 123: Joe Carducci on SST Records + Henry Rollins + Paul Nelson

21 March 2022

In this episode we invite SST legend Joe Carducci to join us — all the way from Las Vegas — and talk about his life and career in music from the mid-'70s to the present day. 

We hear about Joe's childhood in Illinois, his move to L.A. in 1976 and his first pieces for Eurock and anarchist rag The Match! From there we learn about his forming record distributor Systematic in Portland; his working with Rough Trade US in Berkeley; and his helming of Black Flag's SST label from 1981 to 1986. Following his reminiscences of SST producer Spot and photographer Naomi Peterson, we hear clips frm a 1994 audio interview with Henry Rollins — including the former Black Flag frontman's thoughts on his old band and its influence on the recently-deceased Kurt Cobain. Joe also discusses his controversial 1990 book Rock & the Pop Narcotic, as well as the legendary Sing Out!/Circus/Rolling Stone writer Paul Nelson and the vital importance of his Little Sandy Review fanzine (1959–1967).

After paying our respects to Timmy ('Why Can't We Live Together') Thomas and NME/Daily Mirror journalist Gavin Martin, we hear from Mark about new library pieces on Country Joe & the Fish, Bette Midler and the Sex Pistols' famous Screen On The Green gig; from Jasper about Chicago's Tortoise and French pop; and from Barney about Little Feat's Lowell George, Texan "artlaw" Boyd Elder and Canadian rock'n'roller Jack Scott.

Finally we hear a third clip from the Rollins audio, in which Henry harks back to his teenage infatuation with Ted Nugent.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Joe Carducci; find his blog at and his books, including Rock & the Pop Narcotic, in all good bookshops.

Episode 122: David Dalton on the Beach Boys + the Beatles + Charles Manson

7 March 2022

In this episode we welcome the legendary — and highly amusing — David Dalton to join us all the way from his rural retreat in upstate New York.

We start by comparing our shocked reactions to Vladimir Putin's horrific invasion of Ukraine before asking David how he moved to America from England in 1961. He tells us about his mid-'60s adventures as a photographer of British Invasion acts like the Animals — with assistance from a pre-Beatle Linda McCartney — and then about his mid-stream switch to profiles of James Brown and Little Richard for Jann Wenner's nascent Rolling Stone. He also recounts his very fond memories of crossing Canada by train with Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and fellow stars on 1970's Festival Express tour.

We revisit the award-winning 1970 Stone piece David co-wrote about Charles Manson and the Family, hearing along the way about Manson's connections with the Beach Boys. This leads almost seamlessly into clips from the late Andy Gill's 1988 audio interview with Dr. Eugene Landy, the shrink who "saved" Brian Wilson only to abuse his professional trust by inveigling his way into the singer's music and business affairs.

We then return to the horrors of Manson when we ask David about the influence of Beatles tracks on the man who orchestrated the Tate-LaBianca killings. Our guest reminisces about working with Rolling Stone colleague Jonathan Cott on Get Back, the only book the Beatles ever commissioned, and we discuss with him the Fab Four's unhappy last days in the context of Peter Jackson's recent documentary of the same name.

After David brings his American story full circle with memories of hanging out with Andy Warhol in 1961, Mark talks us through newly-added library pieces on Muddy Waters (1958), Brian Epstein (1963), the Who (1967) and Jerome "Doc" Pomus (1982), while Barney quotes from a review of a 1990 book about Eastern Bloc rock and Jasper mentions 2012 pieces about Kendrick Lamar and Green Day's American Idiot musical...

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest David Dalton; find his excellent biographies at any good bookshop and read his writing on RBP.

Episode 121: Peter Guralnick on Blues + Southern Soul + Jerry Wexler

21 February 2022

In this episode we invite the great Peter Guralnick — Zooming in from his native Massachusetts — to discuss his "adventures in music and writing"… to quote the subtitle of his wonderful 2020 collection Looking to Get Lost.

Peter takes his hosts back to his discovery of Delta blues giants Skip James and Robert Johnson in the early '60s — and to the first pieces he wrote for Paul Williams' Crawdaddy! in 1966. He explains his approach to the masterful profiles he collected in Feel Like Going Home and Lost Highway, and the friendships with Charlie Rich and Bobby "Blue" Bland that resulted from them. Conversation leads from Howlin' Wolf to Solomon Burke and southern soul, and from there to the use of Val Wilmer's remarkable photos in Peter's books.

Talk of Memphis and Muscle Shoals prompts Mark to introduce the first of three clips from Barney's 1985 audio interview with Atlantic Records legend Jerry Wexler. Peter reminisces about his relationship with "Wex" (and with Ray Charles), then follows up with riveting recall of Joe Tex and Jerry Lee Lewis. Pieces by Memphis writer Andria Lisle — one of many Guralnick disciples — brings us on to discussion of Bobby Bland and the late Hi Rhythm section drummer Howard Grimes. We also remember the brilliant Betty Davis and Syl ('Is It Because I'm Black?') Johnson.

Finally, Mark quotes from newly-added library pieces about John Lee Hooker, Nik Venet, the Nazz and Simon Napier-Bell, while Jasper notes articles about Norah Jones and Robert Glasper. Bringing things full circle, Barney quotes from Peter's friend Bill Millar's tribute to recently-deceased soul specialist Bob Fisher.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Peter Guralnick. Looking to Get Lost is published by Little, Brown, and you can visit his website at

Episode 120: Kate Mossman on Joni Mitchell + Lou Reed + Morrissey & Marr

7 February 2022

In this episode we welcome the excellent Kate Mossman to our state-of-the-art recording suite and ask her about her writing career and musical passions. She talks about working with Mark Ellen at The Word and about her current employer the New Statesman, and Jasper quotes from a recent Statesman piece she wrote about her secret passion for jazz fusion.

Kate's interview with "mean old daddy" Cary Raditz affords her the chance to talk about her beloved Joni Mitchell and the classic Blue song Raditz inspired. Joni's request to follow Neil Young's lead and have Blue and other albums removed from Spotify prompts discussion of the streaming platform's headaches in the wake of Joe Rogan's COVID disinformation.

Another of Kate's Statesman pieces, about Lou Reed, gives her and co-hosts Mark & Barney the perfect excuse to riff on Reed's notoriously sadistic treatment of British interviewers — and the cue for Mark to talk about Martin Aston's 1989 audio interview with the ex-Velvets man. From there we turn to Lou's fellow contrarian Morrissey and the "severed alliance" between him and former Smiths bandmate Johnny Marr. With the latter releasing a new album this month, Kate and the RBP crew reflect on the very different personalities (and values) of the two Mancunians.

After noting the passing of folk matriarch Norma Waterson, Mark references recently-added library pieces about Sam Cooke, Todd Rundgren and the late Janice Long. Jasper then finishes things off with observations on pieces about Glass Animals and Adele.

A clip of Kate talking about her secret love for jazz fusion

Many thanks to special guest Kate Mossman; find her writing in the New Statesman and on RBP.

Episode 119: Michael Simmons on country punk + '60s counterculture + Van Dyke Parks

24 January 2022

In this episode, Barney, Mark & Jasper invite counterculture chronicler and "father of country punk" Michael Simmons to join them in RBP's virtual cupboard… all the way from his Culver City lair in small-hours Southern California.

Michael talks very entertainingly about his dad Matty's '60s "hippie mag" Cheetah and about National Lampoon, the satirical '70s institution that succeeded it. Yarns about John Belushi and chums lead into Simmons Jr.'s unlikely but lifelong love of country music; his New York band Slewfoot; depping for George Jones at the Bottom Line; and his late '70s stint as one of Kinky Friedman's self-styled "Texas Jewboys".

We also hear about our guest's parallel writing career and his move to Los Angeles, from whence he has long contributed to such outlets as the L.A. Weekly and (from the mid-noughties on) MOJO. He reminisces about his teenage Greenwich Village obsession with Bob Dylan, and talks about the liner notes he's penned for three of Bob's Bootleg Series box sets.

Mention of a Van Dyke Parks piece Michael wrote in 2013 takes us into clips from John Tobler's long 1973 audio interview with that eccentric L.A. genius & Beach Boys/Randy Newman acolyte. At the end of the episode you will hear amusing banter between Van Dyke and a passing Lowell George (who'd just been interviewed next door by Pete "Family Trees" Frame).

After paying our respects to departed heroes Ronnie Spector and Michael Lang, Mark & Jasper take us out with quotes from their favourite new additions to the RBP library. Mark mentions the late Maureen Cleave's 1965 interview with Nina Simone, Lon Goddard's 1970 encounter with Joni Mitchell & Ed Jones' 1975 review of Motörhead at the Roundhouse, while Jasper cites a Simon Reynolds special on "digital maximalism" and Mark Sinker's reflections on COVID and rock nostalgia.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Please note that this episode was recorded before news of Meat Loaf's death reached us.

Many thanks to special guest Michael Simmons; find his writing on RBP as well as in the Huffington Post and LA Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @the1stmunz.

Episode 118: Pete Wingfield on Soul + Lee Dorsey + Dexys + Mel Brooks

10 January 2022

In this episode we welcome the legendary Pete Wingfield to Hammersmith to discuss his career as a keyboard player, record producer and music journalist.

We start by asking Pete about Soulbeat, the fanzine he started at Wellington College, and about the network of R&B fans in mid-'60s Britain. From there we learn about Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label (and Chipping Norton studio); about Pete's 1967 trip to America, where he met Otis Redding at Stax studios; and about the Breakfast Special album that produced his big 1975 hit 'Eighteen with a Bullet'.

Fast-forwarding to 1981, Pete tells Barney, Mark & Jasper about Sylvia Robinson, the Sugarhill Gang, and cutting Mel Brooks' rap hit 'It's Good to be the King' in a basement studio in Mortlake — the same place where he produced Dexys Midnight Runners' No. 1 hit 'Geno'. A brief discussion of Dexys and Searching for the Young Soul Rebels leads into recollections of touring with the reunited Everly Brothers, producing the Proclaimers' '500 Miles' and playing on Paul McCartney's 1999 covers album Run Devil Run.

Clips from Cliff White's 1980 audio interview with New Orleans great Lee Dorsey provide the perfect excuse to express our abiding love of Lee and of Allen Toussaint's Crescent City soul sound. Staying in a southern vein, we mark the passing of country-soul king Joe Simon, who died in December. We also bid a sad farewell to beloved Radio 1 deejay Janice Long.

Mark talks us out with quotes from pieces about Kathy Kirby, Van Dyke Parks, Prince's Controversy and Shelby Lynne, while Jasper brings us up to date with his thoughts on Taku Sugimoto, Wolf Alice and Sampa the Great.

Hear a YouTube clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Pete Wingfield.

Episode 117: Holly George-Warren on Janis Joplin + the Monkees + Michael Nesmith

20 December 2021

In this episode we invite Holly George-Warren — beamed in from upstate New York — to tell us about her long and distinguished career as a journalist, author and editor.

Holly revisits her North Carolina childhood and early infatuation with pop radio, then talks about her move to New York City in the early '80s, her East Village bands Clambake and Das Fürlines, and her long tenure at Rolling Stone Press. Barney, Mark and Jasper ask her about the latest of her many books — her acclaimed 2019 biography of Janis Joplin — and tie this in with two clips from a 1984 audio interview with Peter Albin of Big Brother & the Holding Company, including his account of Joplin's impact on the band in 1966.

Conversation turns to the passing of Michael Nesmith, the Monkee who walked away from pop fame to commence life as an eccentric country singer-songwriter. We hear a clip of the lugubrious Texan speaking about the Monkees in 1974, then discuss "America's Beatles" [sic] and Nesmith's own singular musical legacy.

Mark and Jasper talk us out with their reflections on new library pieces about John Peel (1969), the Cockettes (1971), Ronnie Scott (1975), Daft Punk (1997) and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (2000).

Many thanks to special guest Holly George-Warren; please visit her website for details about her books, including Janis: Her Life and Music.

Episode 116: Norman Jopling on Record Mirror + Rhythm & Blues + Rolling Stones

13 December 2021

In this episode we welcome the wonderful Norman Jopling to join us in RBP's sleek Hammersmith recording suite (yeah, right) and reminisce about his days as a budding "pop reporter" on Record Mirror.

As a rhythm 'n' blues obsessive in early '60s London, Norman was the first music journalist to write about the "Rollin' Stones" — in May 1963 — and he tells Mark, Barney & Jasper about the Sunday night in Richmond when he first saw and heard Mick, Keith, Brian, Bill & "Charles Watts" blow the roof off the town's Station Hotel. He also talks about his Record Mirror colleagues Peter Jones, Ian Dove & the legendary Guy Stevens; about giving the 19-year-old Eric Clapton a lift on his scooter; and about the interviews he later did with Aretha Franklin and Jimi Hendrix.

From there we return to the episode's broadly Stonesy theme, hearing audio clips from Robin Eggar's 1997 audio interview with the late Charlie Watts and discussing the man's unique drumming style and endearingly unpretentious personality. Also sadly lost to us this year — this week, to be precise — are reggae icon Robbie Shakespeare and "freaky deke" critic Greg "Ironman" Tate; we pay tribute to both these giants.

With Norman pitching in, Mark talks us out with his thoughts on newly-added library pieces about Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach (both Maureen Cleave interviews from 1964) and Columbia's Clive Davis (a Loraine Alterman interview from 1974). Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Sophie Heawood's 2009 Snoop Dogg interview and Michael Gonzales' retrospective piece on Common's Electric Circus album.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Norman Jopling; keep an eye out for his book Shake It Up Baby.

Please note that this episode was recorded before the death of Mike Nesmith, so we'll be paying tribute to him in the next episode.

Episode 115: Davitt Sigerson on disco + Bootsy Collins + Mick Rock R.I.P.

29 November 2021

In this episode, we welcome Davitt Sigerson, all the way from his native New York City, to talk about his stellar career from Black Music magazine in 1975 to being made chairman of Island Records in America in 1998. Along the way we hear about his passionate love of disco, his two albums for ZE Records, and plenty more besides.

Davitt also weighs in with thoughts on ChicPrinceDavid Bowie's Young Americans, the late Mick Rock and a newly-added audio interview with Bootsy Collins, conducted in June 1978 by Davitt's sometime Black Music colleague Cliff White. Davitt proves to be a witty and erudite guest, as comfortable holding forth on Robert Musil as on Cloud One's 'Atmosphere Strut' — and with fascinating recall, to boot.

Among the new library articles added by the RBP team, Mark & Jasper focus on pieces about the Clash, Vivian Stanshall, Cecil Taylor, Randy Newman, Amy Winehouse and — bringing the episode neatly full circle — disco "mix master" Tom Moulton.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Davitt Sigerson, whose remastered demos are coming soon to a streaming service near you.

Episode 114: Lenny Kaye on Patti Smith + Nuggets + Led Zep IV

15 November 2021

In this episode, we welcome the great Lenny Kaye — all the way from NYC — and ask him to reminisce about his New Jersey youth; the revelation that was rock 'n' roll; his exposure in 1966 to Crawdaddy! and other pioneering music zines, and of course his first encounters with the inimitable Patti Smith. Along the way we hear about his landmark 1972 anthology Nuggets, and about his thrilling new book Lightning Striking.

Clips from John Tobler's 1978 audio interview with Patti prompt Lenny to relive key moments from the '70s, including the pair's engagement with the British punk scene on their band's first London visit in May '76. To mark the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV, he also talks about his rave Rolling Stone review of that album, a piece he stands by to this day. His hosts also note the imminent release of the follow-up to Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' Americana classic Raising Sand.

The RBP team pays its respects to Maureen Cleave, whose crucial early pieces on the Beatles made her part of Fab Four folklore. Lenny mentions his New York mentor Danny Fields (episode 28) whose syndication of Maureen's "more popular than Jesus" Lennon interview sparked an unholy fundamentalist backlash across America. Mark & Jasper talk us out with remarks about "new and notable" library pieces on — among other subjects — Patti Smith and Led Zeppelin! And several more great interviews and reviews besides…

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Lenny Kaye. Lightning Striking is published by White Rabbit and available now.

Episode 113: Michael Zilkha on ZE Records + John Cale + The Velvet Underground

1 November 2021

In this episode, Michael Zilkha joins us all the way from Houston, Texas, to reminisce about his iconic ZE label — and the extraordinary artists he signed to it, from James Chance and Lydia Lunch to his late ex-wife Cristina and August "Kid Creole" Darnell... not forgetting John Cale, whom we hear in two audio clips talking about Lou Reed, Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground. Discussion of Todd Haynes' new documentary on the band — Michael's all-time favourite group — follows.

Mark & Jasper round things off by talking us through their highlights among the 100+ new articles added to the RBP library, including a 1966 piece about Mama Cass meeting the Beatles, Nick Kent's 1987 Face op-ed on the Smiths, and a 2018 celebration of Moroccan gnawa by John Lewis.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Michael Zilkha. Visit the ZE Books website at

Episode 112: Paul Morley on Manchester + Tony Wilson + New Order + Faust

18 October 2021

In this episode, the legendary Paul Morley joins us to talk about his native Manchester, Joy Division and his epic new biography of Factory Records boss Tony Wilson.

Paul recounts his early pop epiphanies and discovery of the UK's music press, culminating in the one & only issue of his 1976 fanzine Out There — not to mention his first reviews for the NME in 1976. The conversation then turns to "Anthony H." Wilson and the formation of Factory, taking in Paul's championing of Joy Division before leading into a discussion of Martin Aston's 1986 audio interview with New Order's Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris.

From there we consider the week's featured act Faust, spinning off from pieces about the German enigmas by Ian MacDonald, Andy Gill and David Stubbs, and prompting general thoughts on "Krautrock" from both guest and hosts. After saying goodbye to chief Chieftain Paddy Moloney, and to two veteran RBP writers on soul and R&B (Pete Grendysa and Bob Fisher; note that Roger St. Pierre passed away after the recording of this episode), Mark leads us through his personal favourites among the 100+ articles added to the RBP library over the past fortnight, including pieces about the Stones' pad in Edith Grove, Lorraine Ellison's volcanic single 'Stay With Me' and Charlie Watts on drummers & drumming. Finally, Jasper talks us out with his thoughts on pieces about Primal Scream's 2000 XTRMNTR and John Sinclair taking The Wire's "Invisible Jukebox" text in 2003.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Paul Morley; his book From Manchester with Love: The Life and Opinions of Tony Wilson is published by Faber. 

Episode 111: Miles Marshall Lewis on Kendrick Lamar + Wynton Marsalis + Bob Marley

4 October 2021

In this episode, we welcome the excellent Miles Marshall Lewis to Zoom in from his native New York City. Co-hosts Barney, Mark & Jasper ask Miles about his formative musical experiences in the South Bronx, including the impact of his parents' superhip record collection. The conversation turns to hip hop, and then to the "mashing" of jazz and rap on the first three Tribe Called Quest albums — which leads circuitously to Kendrick Lamar's jazz-infused 2015 masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, and then to the biography (Promise That You Will Sing About Me: The Power & Poetry of Kendrick Lamar) that Miles has just published. Jasper asks the author about Kamasi Washington and other guest stars on Butterfly, after which we swing to the opposite end of the jazz spectrum and discuss Tony Scherman's 1996 interview with somewhat divisive traditionalist Wynton Marsalis — the week's new audio offering, from which we hear two clips.

From jazz and hip hop we turn to reggae and to the week's featured artist Bob Marley. Prompted by the imminent London premiere of Marley musical Get Up, Stand Up!, we hear the voice of the Jamaican superstar as he speaks to Karl Dallas about 'I Shot the Sheriff', a mere day after the Wailers blew the roof off London's Lyceum theatre on 18th July, 1975.

After bidding farewell to Status Quo bassist/cofounder Alan Lancaster and to George "Commander Cody" Frayne IV, the RBP team talk us through the 100+ pieces added to our library over the past two weeks. These include Lillian Roxon writing about L.A. in the aftermath of the 1969 Manson killings (before Manson has been arrested); Ronnie Hawkins in hot water with former charges The Band/Hawks (also 1969), Michael Watts in hot pursuit of Iggy Pop in 1977, Mark Rozzo revisiting "ultimate cult album" Big Star Third in 2006, and — bringing the episode full circle — our special guest on Baz Luhrmann's 2016 hip hop drama The Get Down...

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Miles Marshall Lewis. Visit his website at and buy his book Promise That You Will Sing About Me: The Power & Poetry of Kendrick Lamar.

Thanks to Nat Hoskyns for consulting on this episode.

Episode 110: Jaan Uhelszki onstage with KISS + Buena Vista Social Club + Lindsey Buckingham

20 September 2021

In this episode, Mark Pringle, Martin Colyer and Jasper Murison-Bowie discuss the writing of Creem legend Jaan Uhelszki, the featured writer on the week's homepage. Her open letter to Smokey Robinson, interview with Suzi Quatro, appraisal of proto-punk band Death and onstage escapades with KIϟϟ provide the trio with an opportunity to enthuse about her marvellously stylish prose. 

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Buena Vista Social Club, the power trio consider the unusual circumstances that led Ry Cooder and son Joachim to record with a group of veteran Cuban musicians. Mark and Martin confess their initial scepticism about the project, but admit that it (and various offshoots featuring Rubén González and Manuel Galbán) won them over, while Jasper contemplates its enduring appeal and timeless nature.

The trio then listen to clips from the week's audio interview, which features Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham in conversation with Bud Scoppa in 2011, talking about Tusk, Rumours and his own solo output before Mark and Jasper pick out their highlights from their additions to the library. Mark's selections include a reader's letter to Robert Shelton on the standoff between folk and folk rock in 1966 and a live review of Burt Bacharach at San Francisco's Cow Palace in 1971... plus a review of Paul Butterfield's Better Days that makes Mark and Martin wax lyrical about guitarist Amos Garrett. Jasper spotlights a scathing review of the Killers' Sam's Town, a rather more positive review of Blood Orange's Negro Swan, and a report on German pyrotechnics-enthusiasts Rammstein.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Episode 109: Simon Reynolds on Melody Maker + Saint Etienne + Heaven 17 + Lee 'Scratch' Perry

6 September 2021

In this episode we're thrilled to host Simon Reynolds, beamed in from his adopted Southern California. One of the most outstanding music writers of the past three and a half decades, Simon talks to us about his formative pop years; his own early fanzines Margin and Monitor; and the sea-change he (and others) brought to Melody Maker in the late '80s.

Simon's fascinating and passionate Pitchfork piece "Worth Their Wait" (2014) is the springboard for a general discussion of the peak years of the MM, the NME and the general phenomenon of the UK's weekly music press. The conversation turns to what's been lost in the digital/internet era, but also what's been gained.

One of Simon's fellow Melody Maker scribes was Bob Stanley, which affords us the excuse to rhapsodise about Bob's neo-retro meta-pop trio Saint Etienne. With their latest album I've Been Trying To Tell You due for imminent release, Simon and Barney reminisce happily about the impact of their glorious 1991 debut Foxbase Alpha.

The week's new audio interview — Adam Blake's 1988 conversation with Heaven 17 — takes us even further back in pop time, to the Sheffield group's 40-year-old (and still highly impressive) Penthouse & Pavement album... and to a more general discussion of proto-electropop and the first edition of the Human League. We hear two clips of (mainly) Martyn Ware speaking: one about the challenges of Heaven 17 promoting themselves, the other about their scorn for the Top 40 radio fodder of the day (with particular venom reserved for Messrs. Stock, Aitken & Waterman). There's a brief but related digression on the previous week's audio, Steven Daly's 1990 interview with hitmaker-for-hire Diane Warren.

From there it's a not-so-seamless segue to the sad losses of maverick Jamaican producer Lee "Scratch" Perry and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, with attendant discussions of dub & roots reggae — and of the central importance of Mr. Watts to everything that was great about peak-period Stones.

Mark talks us out with his thoughts on (and quotes from) new library pieces about Dylan at Forest Hills, Bowie at Winterland, Donna Summer and the Smiths, and Jasper concludes matters with remarks on St. Vincent and the wonderful cover of Marvin Gaye's I Want You.

Many thanks to special guest Simon Reynolds; find his blog at

Episode 108: Richard Williams on Laura Nyro + Beach Boys audio interviews

23 August 2021

In this episode — the first we've recorded in our London office for over 18 pandemic months — we persuaded long-time RBP contributor Richard Williams (far left) to make his second appearance on "the show", principally so we could pick his brains on two of his favourite musical subjects. We start with a conversation about Laura Nyro, of whom both he and co-host Barney are besotted devotees (fellow co-hosts Mark & Martin can't get past the voice), then move on to the Beach Boys of 1970's Sunflower & 1971's Surf's Up. Richard is particularly fascinating on the role on the latter masterpiece of manager/co-writer Jack Rieley... and at least Martin likes the Beach Boys!

The BBs discussion provides the perfect cue for three clips from the week's new audio interviews: John Tobler's conversations with Mike Love (1976) & Bruce Johnston (1980), both of which prompt further thoughts on the quintessential California band & the doomed "Brian Wilson Is Back!" campaigns of the mid-'70s. We then segue into the work of a quintessential California writerDeanne Stillman, and her featured RBP pieces about Surf culture & Tom Wolfe's 1965 Phil Spector profile "The Tycoon of Teen".

After paying our respects to Texan country-folk icon Nanci Griffith — with quotes from interviews conducted with her in 1988 & 2012 — Mark talks us through his favourite new additions to the RBP library, including interviews with John LennonSid Vicious & Nancy Spungen & Madonna producer Pat Leonard, while Barney rounds things off with remarks on a 2007 interview with Raymond "Gilbert" O'Sullivan.

Many thanks to special guest Richard Williams; find his blog at

Episode 107: David Bates on making hits + Julian Cope audio + Dusty Hill R.I.P.

9 August 2021

In this episode, Barney, Mark & Jasper invite legendary A&R man David Bates to tell them about his long & distinguished career in music — particularly the years he spent working at Phonogram with the likes of Tears For Fears, Def Leppard & Robert Plant.

David reminisces about hearing the Beatles on the radio in 1962, and how that took him eventually to DJ'ing & to working at Richard Branson's first Virgin megastore in the '70s. A clip from our 1990 Was (Not Was) audio interview prompts recall of the droll duo & of David Geffen, after which our guest talks about the "torturous" process of overseeing Tears For Fears' eye-wateringly expensive Seeds Of Love album. He also recalls reuniting Robert Plant with Led Zep bandmate Jimmy Page for 1994's live No Quarter album.

From there we segue into the week's new audio interview, which features Julian Cope — frontman with David's first major Phonogram signing the Teardrop Explodes — talking to a roomful of French music journalists about 1991's Peggy Suicide album. Two clips from this highly entertaining press conference prompt memories of the inimitable "Saint Julian" from our guest, who also joins in with the RBP team's tribute to ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill, God rest his beard.

Mark concludes the episode with quotes from his favourite library additions over the past fortnight, including pieces about Joe South and Earth, Wind & Fire, and Barney & Jasper respond with remarks on interviews with Seth Lakeman and Christina Aguilera.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest David Bates; find his playlists at

Episode 106: Jennifer Otter Bickerdike on Nico + Jackson Browne + Britney Spears

26 July 2021

In this episode, Mark and Jasper are joined by the excellent Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike to talk about her new Nico biography, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone. Jennifer explains where the idea for the book came from and discusses comparisons of Nico with Marianne Faithfull. The trio also consider her remarkable music from Chelsea Girl to Camera Obscura and the stint in the Velvet Underground that led to a long-lasting collaboration with John Cale...

They then listen to two excerpts from the week's audio interview, a 2014 conversation between Jackson Browne and Adam Sweeting, in which the poster-boy for Southern Californian sensitivity and political conscience reminisces about learning to play piano and cheap rents in Los Angeles. Following the sad news of rapper Biz Markie's death, the trio pay tribute to his infectious humour and joyful singing...

Talk turns to what's new in the library, with Mark highlighting pieces about Bob DylanDebbie Harry and M People's Mercury Prize success among other articles, and Jasper selecting David Kamp's oral history of the Brill Building and an early Britney Spears review, which sparks discussion of Jennifer's next book Being Britney: Pieces of a Modern Icon and the horrors of Britney's guardianship.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Jennifer Otter BickerdikeYou Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico is published by Faber and available now. Visit Jennifer's website at

Episode 105: Nelson George on the Death of R&B + Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis audio

12 July 2021

In the new episode of the RBP podcast, hosts Barney, Mark & Jasper welcome the great Nelson George into "the cupboard", all the way from his native Brooklyn. Nelson talks about his long and distinguished career, from interning at Billboard via his Village Voice column to his recently-published collection The Nelson George Mixtape, Vol. 1. His hosts ask him specifically about his essential 1988 book The Death of Rhythm & Blues, as well as about hip hop & the Average White Band.

The conversation then turns to the week's new audio interview(s) with Nelson favourites Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis — and to the Minneapolis duo's peerless productions of Janet Jackson, Alexander O'Neal and the S.O.S. Band. Mark then talks us through new library pieces about Lee Dorsey, Television's Richard Lloyd and Public Enemy, while Barney highlights Sheila Weller's Vanity Fair retrospective on Haight-Ashbury and Jasper quotes from Mal Peachey's 2004 Independent appreciation of Eric Dolphy's jazz classic Out to Lunch.

Many thanks to special guest Nelson George. Visit his website at for details of his books and other work.

Episode 104: Vivien Goldman's Punky Reggae Party + 'Launderette' + Joe Strummer audio

28 June 2021

In this episode, hosts Barney Hoskyns, Mark Pringle & Jasper Murison-Bowie welcome the one & only Vivien Goldman to join them live & direct from her beloved Jamaica — and to talk about her life as a writer about postpunk, reggae, dub & her other "outernationalist" passions.

The "Punk Professor" reminisces about her days on Sounds & the UK's other "inkies", and her fight to make women's voices heard in the '70s music press: her 1977 challenging of George Benson's ingrained male chauvinism; her championing of the Raincoats & other "she-punks" of the period; and her own 1981 indie classic 'Launderette'. She brings her musical odyssey up to date by trailing Next Is Now, the new album she's just finished with producer Youth.

After we hear clips from Adam Sweeting's 1988 audio interview with Joe Strummer, Vivien pitches in with her memories of the Clash man — and of the Ladbroke Grove "punky reggae" scene of which she was herself a key part. Mark then talks us through his library highlights from the past fortnight, including a 1966 Melody Maker interview with a young David Bowie; Penny Valentine's Disc review of 'River Deep — Mountain Highfrom the same year; and Harold Bronson's 1972 Rolling Stone retrospective on Animals/Yardbirds producer Mickie Most. Barney mentions more recent pieces about BritpopRoy Harper & Willie Nelson, and Jasper wraps things up with a nod to Gary Lucas' memoir of introducing a young Vin Diesel to cult "mixmaster" Arthur Russell.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording

Many thanks to special guest Vivien Goldman; visit her website at and read a tribute to her close friend Jean Bernard Sohiez (photographer of the 'Launderette' sleeve photograph and many classic reggae images) here.

Episode 103: David Kamp on Rock Snobbery + 1971 + Sly Stone + Doors audio

28 June 2021

In the new episode of the RBP podcast, hosts Mark Pringle, Martin Colyer & Barney Hoskyns invite David Kamp to reminisce about The Rock Snob's Dictionary, already 15 years old but still wonderfully droll and still very on-the-money about people like, well, Mark, Martin & Barney. We ask David to explain the origins of Rock Snobbery and to revisit his epic Vanity Fair pieces about Sly Stone and the unlikely friendship 'twixt country icon Johnny Cash & producer Rick Rubin.

The week's overaching theme of 1971 — inspired by Asif Kapadia's new Apple TV series — leads to discussion of Sly's dark masterpiece (and rock-snob staple) There's A Riot Goin' On, and then on to the Doors' redemptive swansong L.A. Woman, released three months before Jim Morrison's death in Paris. Clips from John Tobler's 1983 audio interview with surviving trio Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger & John Densmore prompt discussion of the Doors' legacy & status in the rock pantheon, after which Mark & Barney talk us through their highlights among the new articles in the RBP Library. These include great pieces on Bob Dylan, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Rough Trade, Some Bizzare's Stevo, the Stones' Keith Richards, plus a lovely 2008 conversation between Simply Red's Mick Hucknall and the mighty Bobby "Blue" Bland.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording

Many thanks to special guest David Kamp; visit his website at

Episode 102: Carol Cooper on New York Sounds + Stax Records + Eddy Grant audio

31 May 2021

In this episode we welcome the distinguished New York writer Carol Cooper and ask her to talk us through her career, from her first pieces for the SoHo Weekly News, via the Village Voice and The Face to her present incarnation as an Adjunct Instructor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Dr. Cooper also talks about her early experiences of live music in NYC & New Jersey, plus the dawn of East Coast hip hop (and the vital importance of Bronx club Disco Fever); the problematic concept of "global music"; and the impact of Jungian psychology on her writing & teaching.

Carol then pitches in on a discussion about Steve Cropper, Otis Redding & the racial politics of Stax Records, as well as reminiscing about her 1983 Musician interview with Eddy Grant as Mark talks us through a 1991 audio interview with the former Equal. There's a general discussion of the Guyana-born maverick's unique genre-blending career and DIY business acumen.

Mark talks us through highlights among the most recent additions to the RBP Library, including pieces on Graham Nash & the Hollies, Aretha Franklin's legendary show at the Fillmore West and Paul McCartney's 1980 drug bust in Japan, while Jasper has his mind twisted by Edwin Pouncey's guide to "occult rock" and Lisa Verrico's advice to Times readers on "how to get hip to rap".

Watch a video clip from this recording

Episode 101: Marshall Crenshaw on Buddy Holly + Tom Wilson + Lloyd Price

17 May 2021

In this episode we invite beloved pop-rock singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw to reminisce about his long career, from the 40-year-old Shake single 'Something's Gonna Happen' to the documentary film he's producing about Dylan/Zappa/Velvets producer Tom Wilson. Along the way, Barney, Mark & Jasper ask Marshall about his Michigan upbringing, playing John Lennon in Beatlemania, signing to Warner Bros. Records, and his great influence Buddy Holly.

Holly pops up in a clip from the week's new audio interview, a 1990 conversation with sometime Cricket Sonny Curtis, who tells John Tobler about his friendship with Buddy, the Clash's version of his timeless 'I Fought the Law' and the mysterious 1966 death of fellow Texan singer Bobby Fuller. Yet another Texan, the aforementioned Mr. Wilson, offers the perfect excuse to discuss Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention.

From there, we say goodbye to another deep Southerner, R&B legend Lloyd ('Lawdy Miss Clawdy') Price, referencing Wayne Robins' fascinating 2013 interview with the 80-year-old "Mr. Personality". Mark guides us through his favourite library additions of the week, including interviews with Carly Simon, Lamont Dozier and Mel & Kim, and Jasper concludes the episode with passing remarks on Wattstax, Björk and Charles Aznavour.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guest Marshall Crenshaw; visit his website at, and back the Kickstarter for the Tom Wilson documentary.

Episode 100: Celebrating 100 episodes + The Black Keys + Donald Fagen audio

10 May 2021

In this episode we depart from our normal format in order to celebrate the milestone that is our 100th episode. Barney, Mark & Jasper look back over highlights of the previous 99 "shows", listening to amusing clips from interviews with Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, Neil Tennant, Amy Linden, Bernard Fowler, James Fox, Stewart Lee, Caroline Boucher, Loyd Grossman and John Harris. Along the way they relive the podcast's inception and evolution — and the crucial importance of Mark Pringle's inimitable laugh.

The podcast's "power trio" wish a happy 80th birthday to contributor Keith Altham, express their deep appreciation for his support over the past 20 years, and discuss three of his 450 pieces on RBP. They also talk a bit about the Black Keys, R.L Burnside & the North Mississippi hill country blues sound that inspired the Keys' new Delta Kream album. Clips from a 1991 audio interview with Donald Fagen prompt conversation about The Nightfly, the Rock & Soul Revue, and the all-round greatness of Steely Dan.

Finally, Mark regales us with quotes from new library pieces about the Velvets & the Mothers live, the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb and Cameo's Larry Blackmon. Jasper talks us out with remarks on Coldplay live and Lil Jon.

Many thanks to all our guests, contributors and listeners for joining us for one hundred episodes.

Episode 99: David Quantick on Pop Eating Itself + Teenage Fanclub + Marianne Faithfull

3 May 2021

In this episode we invite Emmy award-winning screenwriter David Quantick to relive his days as a budding pop scribe on the NME – and to share his memories of Paul WellerLloyd Cole & the ignominious Morrissey. As someone who's written with Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci and Harrys Hill & Enfield, David is predictably hilarious about '80s pop – as well as about Simon Cowell & many other things. He also offers his tuppenceworth on the week's featured act Teenage Fanclub, and on our 1998 Marianne Faithfull audio interview, clips from which we hear and discuss in this episode.

Mark then talks us through new library pieces about John Lennon's dadLed Zeppelin and Earth, Wind & Fire; Barney cites Mat Snow's 2009 interview with Mike Oldfield, triggering a Quantick memory of the Tubular Bells dude being quizzed by the late Steven Wells; and finally Jasper wraps up the episode with reflections on pieces about the 2001 BRIT Awards, soundtrack composer Mica Levi & jazz titan Kamasi Washington.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest David QuantickRead more about his work at and pre-order Quantick's Quite Difficult Quiz Book here.

Episode 98: Chris Welch on Melody Maker + Fairport Convention + DMX R.I.P.

19 April 2021

In this episode we welcome Melody Maker legend Chris Welch into the virtual cupboard to talk about his long career — all the way from The Scotsman on Fleet Street in 1958 to editing Metal Hammer in 1989. Chris reminisces about the swinging, thrilling '60s and his essential early pieces on acts such as the Rolling Stones, Cream and Jimi Hendrix. He also recalls coining the term "progressive rock", after which he discusses jazz-fusion virtuosi the Mahavishnu Orchestra with Mark, Barney & Jasper.

Attention then turns to Richard Thompson & Fairport Convention, whose Martin Lamble was an acquaintance of Chris' before the 17-year-old drummer was so tragically killed in the band's 1969 crash. There is general discussion of the Fairports — and of folk-rock in general, with special reference to the glorious Sandy Denny — and then of the solo Thompson, who publishes his autobiography Beeswing this week.

From there it's an impossible segue into the life & death of hip hop icon DMX, who died on 9th April, followed by Mark's guide to the new RBP library highlights, including pieces about Sam & Dave, Gloria Gaynor, Boy George and Britney Spears. Barney brings in Chris when it comes to a 2004 piece on singer-turned-mogul Mickie Most, and Jasper wraps up with remarks on Joe, punk rock for kids and Charli XCX.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.

Many thanks to special guest Chris Welch. Read more about him on his RBP writer's page.

Episode 97: Joel Selvin on Early '60s L.A. + Jack Nitzsche + Malcolm Cecil R.I.P.

5 April 2021

In this episode we welcome San Francisco Chronicle legend Joel Selvin into the virtual cupboard to talk about Hollywood Eden, his terrific new book about L.A.'s pop scene in the early '60s.

After explaining how he first came to write for "the Chron" at the end of that decade, Joel recalls his early fascination with L.A. as the burgeoning "surf city" celebrated by Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys. Barney & Mark press him for stories about the scurrilous but brilliant "bottom feeder" Kim Fowley, after which we hear three audio clips from John Tobler's 1973 interview with (Jan &) Dean Torrence. (Among those namechecked along the way: Jan Berry, inevitably, and Lou Adler, Bruce Johnston, Terry Melcher & Jill Gibson...)

Staying in a Southern California groove, Joel also reminisces about the troubled Jack Nitzsche, whom he interviewed for Melody Maker in 1978. We discuss Nitzsche's achievements as a producer-arranger, his big influence on the Rolling Stones, and his regrettable decline in the last years of his life. Handily, Joel also turns out to know his stuff when it comes to the role played in Stevie Wonder's synthesized '70s soul by the late Malcolm (Tonto's Expanding Head Band) Cecil, who passed away last week...

Mark wraps matters up with observations on such recent RBP library additions as Maureen O'Grady's 1965 Rave interview with the visiting Byrds; Richard Goldstein's 1968 New York Times profile of the splendidly eccentric Van Dyke Parks; and — from 1980 — Glenn O'Brien's Interview interview with the Marianne Faithfull of Broken English.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Joel Selvin. Hollywood Eden is published by House of Anansi and Joel can be found online at

Episode 96: Adele Bertei on Labelle + Peter Laughner + August Darnell

22 March 2021

Content warning: This episode contains discussion of domestic abuse, misogyny and violence against women (33:50–37:42). 

In this episode, we talk to the amazing Adele Bertei about her career as a singer, songwriter and the author of two terrific books, Peter & the Wolves & the new Why Labelle Matters. Starting with her wild life as a gay teenager in Cleveland, Ohio, we hear about her friend & mentor Peter Laughner, founder member of Pere Ubu and a tragically self-destructive troubadour who died back in 1977.

Adele then talks us through her move to New York's East Village and her participation in the city's No Wave punk-funk scene as a member of James White & the Contortions — and as the leader of the all-girl Bloods. This leads on to discussion of ZE Records & August "Kid Creole" Darnell, audio clips of whom we hear in a 2016 conversation with Larry Jaffee... which in turn takes us on to Adele's hymn of love for Labelle, the trailblazing trio who morphed from '60s girl group into '70s Afrofuturists. RBP's co-hosts ask Adele about the group's manager Vicki Wickham (hear Vicki's own RBP podcast episode) and about Laura Nyro, Bobby Womack's Poet II, and female power & resistance in the decades before #MeToo.

Finally, after noting the passing of Sally Grossman — widow of Bob Dylan's manager Albert & the "lady in red" on the cover of Bob's Bringing It All Back Home — Mark rounds up the highlights of his recent additions to the RBP Library, including Richard Goldstein's review of The Band's Big Pink, Philip Elwood's prescient 1970 appreciation of a young Bruce Springsteen playing live in San Francisco & the recently-recruited Maureen O'Grady interviewing new Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Jasper takes us out with thoughts on pieces about white appropriation of Black soul, plus an underwhelming 2000 "chart battle" between (insert polite cough) Westlife & Spice Girls...

Many thanks to special guest Adele BerteiWhy Labelle Matters is published by UT Press and Peter & the Wolves by Smog Veil.

Episode 95: Tony Russell on Old-Time country music + Phil Everly audio + Bunny Wailer R.I.P.

8 March 2021

In this episode we welcome the great blues & country writer Tony Russell, who talks about his new Rural Rhythm: The Story of Old-Time Country Music in 78 Records — and the joys of the original Americana sound from the '20s to the '40s. Tony also talks us through his writing career from the late '60s to the present, with a particular nod to a 1972 Cream piece about B.B. King.

The focus on the "Old-Time" country of Fiddlin' John Carson & Uncle Dave Macon carries through to discussion of those compelling revivalists Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, big faves of the RBP crew — and then to clips we hear from a 1983 audio interview with Phil Everly of peerless country-pop harmonists the Everly Brothers. Phil talks about the strained relationship with brother Don and the prospect of the Everlys reunion that happened in the fall of that year.

For those less smitten by Appalachia and "high lonesome" close-harmony singing, there are heartfelt farewells to roots reggae icon Bunny Wailer & trad-jazzer turned "Father of British R&B" Chris Barber, both of whom were lost to the music world last week. There's effusive appreciation of the Wailers co-founder's classic 1976 solo debut Blackheart Man, while RBP's co-founder Martin Colyer pitches in with reminiscences of his uncle Ken's bandmate Barber.

Mark talks us through his highlights from recent additions to the RBP Library, including the great Derek Taylor holding forth on the Stones' drug bust in 1967 and the recently-departed Chick Corea discussing his Return To Forever group with Zoo World's John Swenson in 1974. Barney namechecks a Kandia Crazy Horse hymn to the L.A. Canyons from 2009 and Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Danger Mouse's Rome project, from 2011, and London MC Sway's 2006 album This is My Demo.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Tony Russell, whose new book Rural Rhythm is published by OUP and available now.

Episode 94: Caroline Boucher on Zappa + Beefheart + Alice Cooper + Yes

22 February 2021

In this episode we invite former Disc (and Music Echo) reporter Caroline Boucher to reflect on her journey from the Gravesend & Dartford Reporter to The Observer's Food Monthly supplement — via a stint at Elton John's Rocket label. Barney, Mark & Jasper ask Caroline about being a female pop reporter in that very unwoke era, and press her for stories about her favourite L.A. freaks Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart...

The Zappa theme leads into clips from not one but two audio interviews with Vince "Alice Cooper" Furnier, the first from August 1969 — when Alice signed to Frank's Straight label — and the second from exactly 20 years later, when Adam Blake talked to him about his new Trash album. Fond recall ensues of 'School's Out' and other Cooper classics...

The conversation turns from freaky California weirdness to pompous English prog-rock, though Mark makes a compelling case for — and defence of — the 50-year-old Yes Album. The "team" pays its respects to the Supreme Mary Wilson, the jazz-fusing Chick Corea, Salsa godfather Johnny Pacheco and Byrds/Smiths biographer Johnny Rogan, after which Mark talks us through his library highlights from the previous fortnight and Jasper signs off with remarks on pieces about Halsey and Pharrell Williams.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Caroline Boucher; for more of her writing, visit her page on RBP.

The Zappa documentary is streaming now on the website and all major platforms from March.

Episode 93: Nick Kent on the NME + Iggy Pop audio + Sophie R.I.P.

8 February 2021

In this episode we welcome the legendary Nick Kent as our very special guest. Unarguably the most famous British rock writer from the golden era of '70s music journalism, Nick tells Barney, Mark & Jasper how he began writing for the underground Frendz and then for Nick Logan's super-hip New Musical Express. Recollections of Syd Barrett, Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones lead inevitably to tales of self-indulgence and self-destruction — and eventually to Nick's sometime drug buddy Iggy Pop, who is heard speaking in March 1977 about his beloved proto-punk band the Stooges and about his new Bowie-produced solo album The Idiot.

The conversation turns briefly to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain before we pay our respects to departed Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine and then — led by a very eloquent Jasper — to the extraordinary electronic producer and trans icon SOPHIE. Among the new library articles Mark highlights are pieces about Cream's Eric Clapton, Charlie Gillett's Sound Of The City, Fun Boy Three and 12" disco master-mixer Tom Moulton. For reasons that will be obvious to many of you, Nick pitches in after Mark quotes from Barry Cain's 1978 Record Mirror interview with PiL's John Lydon and Jah Wobble. Jasper wraps up the episode with passing remarks on Simon Reynolds' 2017 retrospective on Donna Summer's epic 'I Feel Love'...

Many thanks to special guest Nick Kent; his novel The Unstable Boys is published by Constable and out now

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Episode 92: Nick Coleman on Voices + Phil Spector + Miles Copeland

25 January 2021

In this episode we welcome the excellent Nick Coleman into RBP's snug virtual cupboard. Barney, Mark & Jasper quiz Nick about his distinctively personal music writing for the NME, Time Out and the Indie on Sunday, with especial reference to his 1986 interview with jazz-soul siren Anita Baker. This leads seamlessly to discussion of his terrific 2017 tome Voices: How a Great Singer Can Change Your Life, as well as to the harrowing experience of hearing loss that inspired 2012's The Train in the Night.

In this episode, it was impossible to ignore the death of monstrous megalomaniac and murderer Phil Spector. After hearing a chilling audio clip of him speaking to Roy Carr in 1975, Nick and his hosts attempt to separate the man from the visionary architect of the "Wall Of Sound". (Now a certified psychotherapist, Nick compares Spector's narcissistic personality disorder to that of Donald Trump, who finally vacated the White House the day before this recording.) We also bid farewell to Ed "Duke Bootee" Fletcher, whose lyric for 'The Message' made rap superstars of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and played a huge part in the birth of "conscious hip hop".

Somewhat less megalomaniacal than Spector is Miles Copeland III, whose rapid-fire voice we hear in audio clips from 1989. The man who seemed fated to follow in his dad's C.I.A. footsteps tells John Tobler how bankruptcy made him switch from Wishbone Ash to Wayne County — and how he launched I.R.S. Records as a home for R.E.M., the Go-Go's and Fine Young Cannibals.

Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the 100+ new arrivals in the RBP library, including Dan Nooger reviewing our previous guest John Simon live at Max's Kansas City in 1972; Mary Harron explaining U.K. punk to her U.S. readers in 1977; and Deanne Stillman reporting on America's enduring heavy-metal subculture in 1991. Jasper concludes matters with passing remarks on avant-jazz enigma Albert Ayler and the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, staged in the tiny Irish town of Millstreet…

Many thanks to special guest Nick Coleman; The Train in the Night and Voices are published by Penguin.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.

Episode 91: John Simon on Janis Joplin + The Band + Van Morrison + Lillian Roxon

11 January 2021

In this episode we welcome legendary producer, piano player and songwriter John Simon, beamed in from his winter retreat in the Florida Keys. Mere hours before the shocking assault on D.C.'s Capitol building, John reminisces wittily and insightfully about working with The Band, Janis Joplin, Taj Mahal & Bobby Charles — and about his trenchant musical memoir Truth, Lies & Hearsay. He also joins us as we listen to his sometime fellow Woodstocker Van Morrison talking in 1979 about the classic Astral Weeks. Van/Band fanboys Barney, Mark & Martin ask John about The Last Waltz, for which he served as musical director.

The Joplin connection leads to discussion of famed writer and encyclopaedist Lillian Roxon, the pioneering Australian who became a den mother at NYC's Max's Kansas City in the late '60s — and whose Janis obit is one of her featured pieces on our new home page. The RBP team also pays homage to departed stars Gerry Marsden, Geoff Stephens and masked hip hop maverick MF DOOM. Mark and Jasper wrap matters up with remarks on recent RBP library additions, including pieces about Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bruce Springsteen and his pre-E Street band Steel Mill and "Welsh Wu Tang" Goldie Lookin Chain.

Many thanks to special guest John Simon; please visit his website at for information about his book Truth, Lies & Hearsay and much else besides.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.

Episode 90: John Harris on Britpop + McCartney audio + Charley Pride

21 December 2020

In this episode we welcome The Guardian's John Harris into RBP's virtual cupboard to reminisce about his career as a music journalist and author. Mark, Barney & Jasper look back with John at Britpop and at The Last Party, his definitive 2003 book about it; we also consider the crucial role played in the Britpop story by Select magazine, which John edited in the mid-'90s. Discussion of Britpop's more jingoistic aspects is accompanied by references to contemporary pieces on Blur, Oasis & co. by Jon Savage and Stuart Maconie — and followed by John's thoughts on morphing into one of the Grauniad's most respected political columnists. 

The week's theme leads neatly into clips from a 1980 audio interview with Britpop forefather Paul McCartney, heard talking to John Tobler about his McCartney II album. Seasoned Beatles freak Harris talks about Macca's solo oeuvre and McCartney II's just-released successor… McCartney III! The "team" and their guest then turn their attention to the passing of the remarkable Charley Pride, the Black southerner who — against considerable odds — became a country music superstar.

Mark talks us through some notable new additions to the RBP library, including pieces about the Manson family, the Bee Gees, Kirsty MacColl, the Beastie Boys and Metallica. Barney welcomes California writer Deanne Stillman to the RBP fold with her 2004 piece on the trial of Phil Spector, while Jasper rounds matters off with reflections on Shakira and RBP's Paul Kelly's favourite band Coldplay.

Many thanks to special guest John Harris; visit his website at

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.

Episode 89: Kandia Crazy Horse on Southern Rock + Little Richard

7 December 2020

In this week's episode, we talk to the splendid Kandia Crazy Horse — Zooming in from her apartment in "high Harlem" — about her career as a writer and singer-songwriter; about her abiding love for Southern rock; and about Rip It Up, her 2004 anthology of essays on Black rock from Little Richard to Lenny Kravitz. Along the way we discuss Donny Hathaway, Muscle Shoals, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Love's Arthur Lee... and Kandia's terrific 2013 country-soul album Stampede.

Next, we go back to 1969 and hear the first of three clips from Joel Selvin's audio interview with the aforementioned Little Richard, prompting discussion of Mr. Penniman's pivotal role in the story of Black rock ('n'roll).

Mark then guides us through his new library highlights, including Roy Carr & Ian MacDonald debating David Bowie, Nick Tosches on Dolly Parton, Barry Cain on the blower to Sylvester, Sandy Robertson meeting L.A. legend Terry Melcher in London and Mark Rowland talking at length with Tom Waits. Barney mentions Andy Beckett on Peter Hook and Gary Pig Gold on the Shaggs,while Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Jason Gross' piece about Istanbul in the early noughties and Wyndham Wallace's 2010 review of Janelle Monáe performing at Berlin's Postbahnhof.

Many thanks to special guest Kandia Crazy Horse; visit her website at

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording

Episode 88: Mark Cooper on Neil Young + Jools Holland + Steve Van Zandt

23 November 2020

In the new episode we welcome into RBP's cosy virtual cupboard the BBC's former Head of Music Entertainment — and the co-creator of the enduring Later… with Jools Holland show. Yes folks, Mark Cooper revisits his career as a music writer — from seeing the last Sex Pistols show in San Francisco in 1978 to interviewing N.W.A. in South-Central L.A. 1989 — and talks about his long TV career and the hatching of Later in 1992.

Mark's 2008 interview with Neil Young sparks a discussion of the Canadian giant's so-called "doom" years from 1972 to 1976, boxed up this month in the second volume of his monumental Archives project. With special attention to 1975's dark masterwork Tonight's the Night, we hear clips of Neil speaking in 1985 and 2005, then discuss Don't Be Denied, the documentary Mark made about him with director Ben Whalley.

There's yet more audio in the episode as we celebrate the 70th birthday of Steve Van Zandt (or, if you prefer, Miami Steve, Little Steven… or indeed Silvio Dante) with clips from a 1982 interview. The E Street Band legend and subsequent Sopranos star talks to John Tobler about the bands he and his buddy Bruce Springsteen led in mid-'60s New Jersey, after which Mark and his co-hosts compare views on SVZ's side band the Disciples of Soul.

Finally, Mark (Pringle, that is) talks us through his highlights among the week's 50+ new library articles, including great pieces on the Four Tops, David Bowie, Hound Dog Taylor, Dan ('Instant Replay') Hartman and Sheryl Crow … after which Barney quotes from interviews with Prince and Ani DiFranco, talking about Woody Guthrie and Donald Trump's odious dad Fred. That just leaves Jasper to wrap things up with closing remarks on Simon Cowell's ill-fated Girl Thing and former X-Factor contestant Cher Lloyd...

Many thanks to special guest Mark Cooper.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.

Episode 87: Jez Butterworth on The Band + Dolly Parton + Perry Farrell

9 November 2020

In this episode we welcome acclaimed playwright Jez (Jerusalem) Butterworth into RBP's virtual cupboard to talk mainly about The Band – but also about Dolly Parton and other musical tastes shared with hosts Mark, Barney & Jasper. 

Barney gets the ball rolling by asking Jez how an early '90s conversation with Malcolm McLaren led to his first play Mojo – and how music has long played a part in his work. A Butterworth screenplay based on John Niven's peerless novella Music from Big Pink prompts discussion of The Band, taking in clips from Barney's 1991 audio interview with Al Aronowitz, the New York Post writer who first visited Big Pink to report on Bob Dylan's former backing group.

A tangent takes the episode into the terrain of Jerusalem, not to mention Brexit and the rural vs. urban polarisation exemplified by the U.S. presidential elections (still bitterly undecided at the time this episode was recorded). A neat segue leads to a deep appreciation of Dolly Parton, about to publish her autobiography Storyteller. An early Parton interview on RBP's home page provides a perfect springboard for consideration of her unique voice, her politics (or lack thereof), and her cosmetic augmentations.

There's no easy pivoting from Parton to Perry Farrell: suffice to say that – in 1996 audio clips about his Lollapalooza festival and the "spirits" of heroin and cocaine – the former Jane's Addiction and current Porno for Pyros frontman is barmy, brilliant and typically engaging. 

Last but far from least, Mark talks us through his personal highlights from the week's new intake of great interviews and reviews from the golden age(s) of music journalism – including the Daily Express' Ivor Davis dropping in on John Lennon during his "lost" L.A. weekend in 1973, the Village Voice's Richard Goldstein on the "meaning" of Bette Midler in 1975, NME's Paul Morley coaxing quotes out of Joy Division's Ian Curtis in 1979… and that same rag's Steven Wells lambasting pale and uninteresting Velvet Underground devotees in 1993. Jasper takes us out with quotes from a fabulous early interview with Ms. Amy Winehouse

Many thanks to special guest Jez Butterworth.

Watch a video clip from this podcast recording.

Episode 86: Loraine Alterman on Detroit + Stevie Wonder + Elvis Costello

26 October 2020

In this episode, Barney, Mark & Jasper welcome the great Loraine Alterman — live from New York City! — to reminisce about her journey from '60s "Teen Beat" reporter on the Detroit Free Press to co-producer of a new Broadway show about Motown stars the Temptations. Along the way we also hear about New York's Fillmore and Apollo theatres — and how John Lennon came to be Best Man at her wedding to actor Peter Boyle. Then we head back to the Motor City to discuss the genius of Stevie Wonder as he morphed from '60s Motown prodigy to '70s Moog magician.

After paying their respects to the late Spencer Davis – the R&B "professor" who launched the superhuman lungs of 16-year-old Stevie Winwood on the world — your hosts and their guest hear the first of three clips from a compelling audio interview with Elvis Costello, mainly (but not exclusively) telling Adam Sweeting about his 1995 covers album Kojak Variety. Discussion of pop's own Mr. Eclectic ensues before Mr. Pringle talks us through his favourite new additions to the ever-expanding RBP library — including interviews with Brian Jones, Robert Wyatt, Grace Jones … and mall-pop princess Debbie Gibson. Barney cites a prescient 2014 interview about racism and Confederate flags with Lynyrd Skynyrd's Rickey Medlocke, and Jasper wraps matters up with reflections on Jason Donovan and D'Angelo

Many thanks to special guest Loraine Alterman. For more information about the International Myeloma Foundation’s Annual Comedy Celebration, please visit

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Episode 85: Midge Ure on the New Romantics + Eddie Van Halen + our Mariah Carey audio

12 October 2020

In this episode we invite James "Midge" Ure to talk us through his wonderfully convoluted career in a conversation that stretches from Slik to Visage — via the Rich Kids, the Blitz club and Live Aid — to his present-day Backstage Lockdown Club. With a special focus on the New Romantics, RBP's hosts ask Midge about Ultravox, whose classic Vienna album is 40 years old this week, and touch on the "manifesto" that Sounds' Betty Page put together with Spandau Ballet in that same year.

Midge also pitches in on the passing of guitar-shredder extraordinaire Eddie Van Halen, whose sad loss prompts a general celebration of the pop-metal band that was Eddie's namesake. We also pay our respects to U.S. soul singer turned reggae ambassador Johnny Nash and to country-MOR singer-songwriter Mac ('In The Ghetto') Davis

The week's new audio interview being Steven Daly's 1998 conversation with R&B mega diva Mariah Carey, we hear two clips from this very entertaining chinwag ... and then ponder the pros and cons of Carey's career and oeuvre. Mark then walks and talks us through his highlights of the week's new intake of library articles , including seminal pieces on Otis Redding (1966), Ewan MacColl (1975) and Kraftwerk (1977), while Jasper rounds matters off with remarks on reviews of Ricky Martin, Jack White... and Midge Ure live in February this year!

Many thanks to special guest Midge Ure. Join Midge's Backstage Lockdown Club at, and check out the deluxe 40th anniversary version of Ultravox's Vienna.

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Episode 84: Jude Rogers on Adele + Prince + Sonic Youth audio

28 September 2020

In this week's episode, we welcome the wonderful Jude Rogers into RBP's very own Gridworld. Live from her native Wales, the far-from-obscure Jude reviews her career as a music scribe from The Llanelli Star to The Word, revisiting interviews with megastar-in-the-making Adele Atkins and wholly reformed cocaine fiend Tony Bennett. Jude also reflects on a 2008 thinkpiece about the Beach Boys' influence on Fleet Foxes, the latter having just "dropped" a rather fine new album, Shore, with minimum fanfare. Additionally, Jude offers her thoughts on the multifarious splendours of Prince's Sign 'O' the Times, the 1987 "double" album oft regarded as his crowning achievement. Hosts Mark, Barney & Jasper reference contemporary reviews of the record and ponder the influence on the purple maestro of departed Revolutionaries Wendy & Lisa.

After noting the passing of blue-eyed soul man Roy ('Treat Her Right') Head – with nods to a nice 1966 profile of the Texan by Britain's Bill Millar – your hosts and their guest hear the first of three clips from Martin Aston's 1986 interview with Sonic Youth, wherein Kim, Lee, Steve and Thurston (new solo album out this week!) discuss, among many other matters, obscure guitars and their interpretation of fellow Manhattanite Madonna's 'Into the Groove(y)'. The episode concludes with a round-up of particularly tasty additions to the RBP librarium, including a 1966 report on "psychedelics", a 1972 interview with the impressively recalcitrant Bill Withers, a 1988 Smash Hits encounter 'twixt Chris Heath and wannabe-soul boys Wet Wet Wet...and pieces about neglected Motown siren Kim Weston and "postmodern-cabaret" man Max Raabe.

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Episode 83: Stewart Lee on Robert Lloyd + Robert Wyatt + Ronald "Khalis" Bell

14 September 2020

In this week's episode, we invite cult meta-comedian and out-there-music connoisseur Stewart Lee to discuss the new documentary he's made about Prefects/Nightingales legend Robert Lloyd. Stewart also pitches in on RBP's new audio interview, a 1991 conversation 'twixt the late Andy Gill and everyone's favourite choirboy-voiced Commie Robert Wyatt. In addition we consider the week's featured RBP writer Caitlin Moran, with especial attention to her hair-raising 1994 encounter with Courtney Love. Plus we bid a fond farewell to Kool & the Gang co-founder Ronald "Khalis" Bell and to Simeon Coxe of pioneering '60s oscillators Silver Apples...

Finally, with intermittent interjections from Mr. Lee, Mark picks highlights from the week's trove of new additions to the RBP library, including top pieces on Jimi Hendrix, Rodney "Mayor of Sunset Strip" Bingenheimer, Spandau Ballet and inimitable drag superstar RuPaul. With Stewart's tastes in mind, Jasper M-B spotlights Wire classics on Laurie Anderson and Japanese free-music extremist Keiji Haino.

Many thanks to special guest Stewart Lee. Find out more about King Rocker at

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Episode 82: Vicki Wickham on Ready Steady Go + Dusty Springfield + Labelle + Morrissey

31 August 2020

In this week's episode, Mark and Jasper are joined by the fabulous Vicki Wickham to chat all things pop and beyond, starting with her experiences as producer of TV show Ready, Steady, Go! in swinging sixties London, when Vicki became good friends with Dusty Springfieldthrough writing for Fabulous and Melody Maker to managing Labelle in the '70s and much else besides.

Vicki talks about how she got her foot in the door of television and reminisces about writing lyrics for Dusty, then tells the story of moving to New York to open a US office for Track Records. We then find out how she masterminded the metamorphosis of Patti Labelle and the Blue Belles into groundbreaking pop trio Labelle, who Mark reckons paved the way for TLC and even the Spice Girls.

Vicki, Mark and Jasper then listen to clips from an audio interview with Morrissey, in which the seeds of his later racism are occasionally audible, and Vicki admits that although she was nominally his manager for a short while, he was mostly interested in hearing the stories she had to tell. (In any case, he turned out to be unmanageable.)

The trio then pay tribute to the Heartbreakers' Walter Lure, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle and Jack Sherman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers before Mark and Jasper present some of their highlights from the new pieces going into the RBP library. Mark selects pieces on pop television, Led Zep IV and Patti Smith, and Jasper rounds things out with the Scissor Sisters and Merzbow.

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Episode 81: Alan McGee on Creation Records + Primal Scream + Oasis vs. Blur

17 August 2020

In this episode, Barney & Jasper welcome the legendary Alan McGee into RBP's virtual cupboard. The Creation Records founder talks us through his storied career, from his school days in Glasgow to the Creation 23 label of the 21st century. 

Reminiscing about the early '80s Living Room gigs he put on in London, Alan describes the signings of Oasis, the Jesus and Mary Chain another great Creation acts. He also explains how Primal Scream got from Sonic Flower Groove to Screamadelica; how he almost signed Teenage Fanclub's idol Alex Chilton; how My Bloody Valentine's Loveless did (or didn't) almost bankrupted his & Dick Green's baby; and how appalled Sony were by Kevin Rowland's My Beauty album after the company acquired 49% of Creation's shares in 1992.

Slightly cheekily, RBP's co-hosts then force Alan to listen to clips from a 2007 audio interview with Alex James of Oasis's Britpop nemesis Blur — except it turns out he never really hated those soft southern Sassenachs in the first place: it was all the Gallaghers' fault. Quel surprise

After paying their respects to fallen pop heroes Wayne Fontana, Trini Lopez and Seeds guitarist Jan Savage, Barney & Jasper talk through their highlights of the week's new "library load ". These include Lillian Roxon's 1966 report on "Music City USA" (i.e. Nashville); Michael Goldberg's 1983 report on MTV's exclusion of Black music videos; Joni Mitchell bellyaching in 1981 about being "written out of rock history"; a breathless 2002 review of Scandi garage rockers the Hives live at London's Astoria, and a riveting Aphex Twin interview from 2003…

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Episode 80: Mary Harron on New York Punk + Tom Verlaine audio + Peter Green R.I.P.

3 August 2020

In this episode we welcome the wonderful Mary Harron, director of cult movies I Shot Andy Warhol and American Psycho. After a brief digression on dating Tony Blair at Oxford, the Canadian relives her memories of the punk rock scene at New York's CBGB club, including her interviews with the Ramones and Talking Heads for John Holmstrom & Legs McNeil's pioneering Punk magazine. Mary also talks about her friendship with ZE's Michael Zilkha and her long fascination with Warhol and the Factory. Along with her hosts, she hears clips from Martin Aston's 1987 audio interview with Tom Verlaine, prompting her recall of his seminal band Television and a general discussion of 1977's classic Marquee Moon album. 

Mark & Barney pay heartfelt tribute to tragic blues-guitar hero Peter Green, ruminating on what made the Fleetwood Mac man so much more emotional a player then his UK blues-boom peers. They also say goodbye to the hilarious CP Lee, former frontman with Mancunian satirists Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias. After bringing Mary's directorial career up to date – with an aside on the American Psycho soundtrack that affords Jasper a chance to wax lyrical about Huey Lewis & the News – Mark selects his library highlights, including notable pieces about Brian Jones, Labelle, the Bush Tetras and, erm, the Knack. Jasper rounds things up – and brings matters back down to earth – with remarks on pieces about "superstar DJs" and Stock Aitken Waterman teaboy Rick Astley

Many thanks to special guest Mary Harron.

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Episode 79: Loyd Grossman, Rock Critic + Brian May audio + (Dixie) Chicks

20 July 2020

In this episode we are joined by self-professed "failed musician" and pasta-sauce mogul Loyd Grossman, OBE, to wax nostalgic about the most important years of his illustrious career: those he spent as a contributor to Fusion, Rolling Stone and other American music papers. Loyd reminisces very amusingly about seminal late '60s shows at the Boston Tea Party, before explaining how he moved to London and reinvented himself as a British national treasure on TV and in every kitchen in the country. He also recounts how he came to play guitar, three times a year, with Jethro Tull. 

After a digression on the sad passing of Fairport Convention's original singer Judy Dyble, Loyd joins his hosts in hearing clips from a 1982 audio interview with Queen's Brian May in which that poodle-headed plank-spanker describes, among other things, working with David Bowie on the classic 'Under Pressure'. Barney drags Loyd into a discussion of the wrath heaped upon his compatriots the (Dixie) Chicks, whose new album Gaslighter affords the opportunity to examine the close links between country music and hyper-patriotism. Loyd turns out to be a country fan and gives a special thumbs-up to the Chicks' defiant 2006 song 'Not Ready To Make Nice'. 

Mark brings the episode to the boil with remarks on new library pieces such as Lillian Roxon's 1966 review of James Brown at Madison Square Garden, Roy Carr's day out in Hyde Park in summer 1970 watching Pink Floyd and Kevin Ayers, and David Keeps meeting Madonna at the Hard Rock Café. Jasper's chosen pieces include Ian Penman on hip hop and John Calvert on OK Go

Many thanks to special guest Loyd Grossman.

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Episode 78: Sheryl Garratt on rave culture + Terry Farley audio + the Streets

6 July 2020

In this week's episode, we welcome former Face editor Sheryl Garratt into RBP's Zoomworld to ask her about rave and club culture — and how we got from disco to acid house to 2020's quarantine raves. Sheryl discusses her newly-reissued/revised 1999 classic Adventures in Wonderland and looks back on her journey from the NME to The Observer. Mark, Barney & Jasper ask her about her seminal 1986 Face piece on Chicago's House scene — and about Ecstasy and 1988's "second summer of love". 

Clips from the week's new audio interview, a 2005 conversation between DJ History's Bill & Frank and Shoom/Boy's Own legend Terry Farley, provide the perfect springboard for further reminiscence of House music and the UK's ever-fecund club scene. Sheryl also pitches in on the week's Free On RBP feature about fellow Brummie Mike (The Streets) Skinner, whose classic track 'Weak Become Heroes' was arguably the greatest elegy for the rave era. We hear a clip of Skinner speaking to Gavin Martin in 2002 and celebrate that year's splendid Original Pirate Material album. 

Among the new RBP library additions considered are Hugh Nolan's Disc report on London's psychedelic temple the UFO club (1967), a slightly unlikely 1989 encounter between David Toop and Bakersfield country icon Buck Owens, and Chris Heath's hilarious 1997 Rolling Stone cover story on the Spice Girls. Jasper takes us out with observations on a pointless Tim Buckley tribute album (2000) and an interview with Public Service Broadcasting's amusingly-monikered J. Willgoose, Esquire … 

Many thanks to special guest Sheryl Garratt; buy Adventures in Wonderland on Amazon and visit her website at

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Episode 77: Geoff Travis on Rough Trade + Scritti Politti's Green Gartside

22 June 2020

In this week's episode, we welcome legendary Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis into RBP's virtual cupboard. Averse to nostalgia though he is, Geoff looks back on the musical odyssey that took him from suburban north London to San Francisco's City Lights bookstore — and then back to Notting Hill Gate, where the Rough Trade story started in 1976. Mark and Barney ask him about the label's many remarkable artists (from the Fall to the Smiths), the Cartel distribution network he set up, and the company's second coming with the early Noughties signings of the Strokes and the Libertines

A timely segue takes us into discussion of early Rough Trade postpunks Scritti Politti, whose frontman Green Gartside is heard in clips from a 2006 audio interview by Adam Sweeting. Geoff shares his memories of — and deep respect for — Green, answering questions about the singer's return to Rough Trade after Scritti's major-label successes of the '80s and '90s.

After a passing nod to pieces by RBP's featured writer of the week Pat Blashill — author/photographer of the splendid new Texas is the Reason — Mark leads us gently through his highlights of the week's library additions. Most pleasingly, he welcomes the work of the late Lillian Roxon to RBP in the form of her 1967 report on the new creatures dubbed "Hippies". Other pieces picked out include Isaac Hayes talking about Shaft in 1971 and a 1977 live review of Sylvester performing at San Francisco's Old Waldorf club. Jasper brings the episode to a conclusion by quoting from pieces about Corinne Bailey Rae and North Carolina's electronic duo Sylvan Esso before a final clip of Mr Gartside in full flow takes us out…

Many thanks to special guest Geoff Travis; visit Rough Trade at

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Episode 76: Gil Scott-Heron + Nina Simone + Public Enemy

8 June 2020

In this week's episode, Mark, Barney and Jasper discuss the role music has played in expressing the pain and rage of Black Americans. Touching on such seminal figures as Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield and the Last Poets, they listen to clips from a 1976 audio interview with the late Gil Scott-Heron, assessing his militant poetics and the albums he made with Brian Jackson. From there, the RBP team considers interviews with Public Enemy's Chuck D in 1992 and, from 2015, Kendrick Lamar. They also discuss a 1971 piece about James Brown by pioneering Black "rock critic" Vernon Gibbs

Mark talks us through such highlights of the week's new additions to the RBP library — Philip Elwood's live review of Judy Garland at San Carlos' Circle Star, Roy Carr's interview with New Orleans piano great Professor Longhair, Michael Goldberg's salute to New York electro-punk duo Suicide and David Toop's tribute to '60s pop Svengali Larry Parnes. Barney cites a timely 2011 interview with Harry Belafonte, wherein the singer-actor reflects on his civil-rights activism, after which Jasper wraps up matters by looking at pieces about the boundary-pushing Peaches, the return of Neneh Cherry and the bizarre artist formerly known as Terence Trent D'Arby

Please consider donating to organisations fighting against racism and injustice, such as Black Lives Matter UK and the NAACP/NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

For further resources, readings, and ways to help, please visit

Episode 75: Jonh Ingham's Grand Punk Railroad + John Peel audio + Lady Gaga

1 June 2020

In this week's episode, we welcome the great Jonh Ingham into RBP's "virtual cupboard". In a fascinating conversation, he revisits the peripatetic childhood that took him to California in the '60s – and to San Francisco's Fillmore West, where in 1971 he reviewed a famous Aretha Franklin show for Creem magazine. Mark & Barney ask him about his return to the UK, where he wrote for NME and then Sounds, championing London's nascent punk scene in early '76 and conducting the first interview with the Sex Pistols. He also reminisces about running the Fake Club in L.A., working in advertising in Tokyo, and ending up as CompuServe's head of content back in the UK. 

After a brief digression on the subject of Stefani "Lady Gaga" Germanotta – with Mark & Jasper almost coming to cultural blows – Jonh offers his thoughts on John Peel, subject of the week's knew audio interview. We hear clips of the beloved DJ talking to Martin Aston in 1989, prompting recall of the great man's self-effacing radio personality and his incalculable impact on all forms of alternative music. Mark talks us through highlights of the week's new library pieces , including Nat King Cole's last-ever interview before his death in 1965 and a 69-year-old Cab Calloway speaking to Philip Elwood in 1976. Jasper concludes matters by discoursing on French quartet Phoenix, Malian master Ali Farka Touré and jazz legend George Russell

Many thanks to special guest Jonh Ingham, whose book Spirit of '76 is available online at Blackwell's and all other good bookshops.

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Episode 74: Chris Blackwell's Island Records + Sparks + Remembering Phil May

25 May 2020

In this week's episode, Mark, Barney & Jasper talk extensively about one of the great labels, Island Records — a hallowed home to such groundbreaking acts as Jimmy Cliff, Nick Drake, Roxy Music, (Bob Marley and) the Wailers and, yes, U2. Listening to clips from John Tobler's 1989 audio interview with Island founder Chris Blackwell, RBP's power trio reflect on what made the label such a powerhouse for non-mainstream genres like folk and reggae. Blackwell talks of its transformation after 1967, as well as his first encounter with Marley in 1972.

A neat segue via Lenny Kaye's 1975 overview of the label leads "the team" into a discussion of Sparks, the American art pop duo who've just released their new album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. Mark & Barney reminisce about the Mael brothers' Island years in the '70s, commencing with Kimono My House and its astonishing hit single 'This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us'. We stay in the '70s, moreover, as the RBP troika considers great Disc pieces — about Lou Reed and Chinnichap — by the splendidly-named Ray Fox-Cumming.

Mark rounds matters off by talking us through new library pieces about Santana, Hamilton Bohannon, John Fahey, Joni Mitchell and N.W.A., while Jasper adds his tuppenceworth on articles about British folk institutionTopic Recordsthe death of the album and rapper Busta Rhymes. And we go out with a clip from Johnny Black's 1995 audio interview with Pretty Things frontman Phil May, who sadly passed away last week...

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Episode 73: James Fox on Keith Richards + Little Richard + Betty Wright + Pete Seeger

18 May 2020

In this week's episode, we welcome special guest James Fox, author of 1982's bestselling White Mischief and the man who, ten years ago, made Keith Richards' Life one of rock's outstanding autobiographies. James talks us through his long and distinguished career as a journalist in Africa, and as a features writer during the golden era of The Sunday Times Magazine. He describes how his friendship with "Keef" was cemented by the pieces he wrote for that publication about the Rolling Stones in 1973 and 1976, answering his hosts' questions about the great man's rhythm guitar playing.

The fantastic Mr. Fox also offers his perspective on Little Richard, whose death last week prompts discussion of the gay black southerner's explosive role in the birth of rock & roll. We hear a clip of the sometime Mr. Penniman speaking in 1985 – as well as one of the late Betty ('Clean Up Woman') Wright owning up to being a shameless show-off in 1978. Handily, James is able to reminisce about the importance of Moe Asch's legendary Folkways label – as revisited in the week's new audio interview, a conversation with folk elder Pete Seeger conducted by Tony Scherman in 1987. Clips follow of Seeger talking about Asch and recalling Folkways legends Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie. [Note: the man who had Lead Belly performing in overalls was not Alan Lomax, as mentioned in the episode, but his father John.]

As ever, Mark guides us through his personal library highlights, including pieces about John Coltrane (1965), Deep Purple (1970), Ashford & Simpson (1982) and Billy Idol (1990). Jasper concludes matters with quotes from pieces about Joanna Newsom (2015), JPEGMAFIA (2017) and, erm, James Blunt (2020).

Many thanks to special guest James Fox—visit his website at

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Episode 72: Simon Witter on Kraftwerk + Rick Nelson audio + Lisa Verrico

11 May 2020

In this week's episode of the RBP podcast, we pay tribute to Kraftwerk cofounder Florian Schneider, along with Afrobeat linchpin Tony Allen and Stranglers keyboardist Dave Greenfield. The excellent Simon Witter joins us to offer essential expertise on Schneider's vital part in making Kraftwerk the hugely influential group they were, with discussion revolving around our guest's epic MOJO retrospective on the electronica godfathers.

RBP's regular triumvirate consider pieces by the week's featured writer Lisa Verrico, commencing with a hilarious 1994 diatribe from the Fall's Mark E. Smith. More-up-to date are her great Sunday Times profiles of cutting-edge stars Billie Eilish and Christine & the Queens, prompting passionate endorsements by "our Jasper" Murison-Bowie. Being a tiny bit older than "our" Jasper, Mark Pringle & Barney Hoskyns steer the conversation towards the week's new audio interview. Clips from John Tobler's 1973 chat with Rick Nelson trigger musings on TV teen Idol Ricky's metamorphosis into a credible rock and roller and then into the trailblazing L.A. country rocker whose Stone Canyon Band backed him on his wry Top 10 hit 'Garden Party'. 

Finally, Mark walks us through the new library additions that most tickled his interest this week, including Jamie McCluskey III (a.k.a. Eden, a.k.a. Nikki Wine) chatting to the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson in 1965, David Keeps in conversation with Detroit's Was (Not Was) in 1983, and RJ Smith anticipating Trump's America in a prescient 1991 piece about Guns N' Roses. Barney picks Carol Clark's lovely 2001 lament for the inimitable Joey Ramone, while Jasper focuses on – among other items – John Calvert's 2015 dissection of problematic lyrics by Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye… 

Many thanks to special guest Simon Witter.

Episode 71: Jill Furmanovsky on Photography + Errol Brown audio interview

4 May 2020

In this week's episode, RBP's very own Terrible Trio are joined by the legendary Jill Furmanovsky for a free-ranging conversation about her long career – and about rock photography in general. Jill describes her lucky 1972 break at London's Rainbow Theatre, talks about shooting Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan, and namechecks fellow snappers Pennie Smith and Barrie Wentzell. Discussion follows about free pieces (on Henry Diltz, Dennis Morris, and Barry Feinstein) by Observer photography critic Sean O'Hagan

The first of three clips from a 1975 interview with the late Errol Brown prompts reflections on the delicious Hot Chocolate – and what made Brown such a compelling star of '70s pop. Mark then guides us through new library pieces about Andy Williams (1963), the MC5 (1968), Ringo Starr (1972), and Scritti Politti (1988). Barney spotlights articles on Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the state of music journalism in 2018. Jasper wraps up the episode by considering the post-Velvets careers of Lou Reed, John Cale and co., plus an unlikely 2011 live pairing of Foo Fighters and CeeLo Green… 

Many thanks to special guest Jill Furmanovsky; visit to see her photography.

The collaboration between Rockarchive and RBP bringing together images and words, starting with Tom Waits in Santa Rosa, is available to view at

Episode 70: The Who Live at Leeds + KRLA Beat + Ron Sexsmith audio

27 April 2020

Content warning: This episode contains discussion of assault (1:02:28–1:05:20) that some listeners may find distressing. 

In the 70th episode of our podcast, RBP's Zooming triumvirate talk about the Who's Live at Leeds — "the greatest live album ever made," in many people's H.O. — as it reaches its half-century. Referencing Geoffrey Cannon's unabridged Guardian review from May 1970, Mark & Barney relive memories of seeing the Who live and — with Jasper — explore what made the band such a uniquely powerful live unit.

The two other giants of '60s British pop feature in free pieces by KRLA Beat's Nikki "Eden" Wine, who attempts to explain Beatlemania in 1965 and hangs around a Rolling Stones session in Hollywood in 1966. Mark puts "the Beat" ("America's Pop Music NEWSpaper") into historical context and describes how some of its key female contributors wound up on RBP.

A passionate fan of Ron Sexsmith's for 25 years, Barney intros his own 2011 audio interview with the self-effacing Canadian. There are clips of Ron talking about Interscope signing him at the ripe old age of 31; about his and others' songwriting; and about his painful envy of Neil Diamond's onstage confidence.

Finally, Mark & Jasper chew over highlights among the week's new library pieces, including interviews with Chicken Shack (1969), Manitas de Plata (1971) and Creation's Alan McGee (1997); a report on the Jacksons' overblown Victory tour of 1984; a review of Childish Gambino's first London gig (2012); and a 2017 report on allegations of sexual abuse against "queer punk" duo PWR BTTM

Episode 69: Martin Colyer on Greil Marcus + Lucinda Williams + Rufus Wainwright

20 April 2020

In this week's episode, your regular co-hosts are joined for the second time by RBP's original co-founder Martin Colyer, beamed in from Leyton, to offer his invaluable thoughts on Lucinda Williams and Greil Marcus' classic Mystery Train

Williams prompts near-rapturous approval for her 1998 masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, with Mark and Barney similarly admiring its southern poetics and its Americana-defining country soul. Conversation flows seamlessly into the impact of Marcus' game-changing 1975 book, newly reissued (with lavish illustrations) by the Folio Society. Discussion of the book's chapters on Elvis Presley and The Band takes the RBP team back to Marcus' profound influence on British fans of American music.

Rounding out the episode's American theme, these four horsemen of the rock apocalypse hear clips from Maureen Paton's 2005 phone interview with the ever-amusing Rufus Wainwright, who covers all the topics you might expect from him, following the release of his remarkable Want albums: addiction, AIDS, America and the Wainwright/McGarrigle clans.

As per usual, Messrs. Pringle, Hoskyns & Murison-Bowie sift through some of the new library pieces that most intrigued them, including a Dawn James Rave interview with Small Face Steve Marriott from 1966; Michael Watts' underwhelmed Melody Maker response to Herbie Hancock's 1974 show at Carnegie Hall; Dave Thompson's fascinating 2004 Goldmine piece on the late Alan ('I Love Rock 'n Roll') Merrill's little-known Japanese glam band Vodka Collins; and, from 2006, a terrific Pete Paphides Times profile of Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hütz

Episode 68: Paul Gorman on Malcolm McLaren + R.I.P. Bill Withers & Hal Wilner

13 April 2020

In this week's podcast – the second to be recorded remotely under the Covid-19 lockdown — Mark, Barney & Jasper are joined by special guest Paul Gorman to discuss his long and multi-faceted career... and his epic new biography of Malcolm McLaren. We also hear clips from the week's new audio interview: a 1989 conversation with "Malcy" himself, wherein the former Sex Pistols manager and professional provocateur voices his disdain for the music industry, his becoming an artist in his own right… and his despair at the passing of rock's pagan gods.

Paul also pitches in with his thoughts on the late Bill Withers, joining his hosts in celebrating the life and work of a unique singer-songwriter – and the dignity of a man who came late to fame and chose to walk away from it without regret. After hearing a clip of Bill speaking in 2004, the makeshift gang of four pay tribute to two more victims of the coronavirus: John Prine, discussed at much greater length in Episode 62, and Hal Willner, maverick mastermind behind such unorthodox tribute albums as 1988's Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films.

Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights of the week's new library load, including pieces on Nancy Sinatra and her walking 'Boots' (1966), Joel Selvin's Sid Vicious obituary (1979) and Annene Kaye interviewing the other Gang Of Four on a park bench in 1983. Jasper offers his tuppenceworth on a So Solid Crew profile from 2003 and a 2018 review of Prince's posthumous Piano and a Microphone album… and we say goodbye until the next time.

Many thanks to special guest Paul Gorman; his new book The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren is published by Constable. Visit his website at

Episode 67: Warren Zevon + Miles Davis' Bitches Brew + Dusty Springfield

6 April 2020

After its Covid-19-enforced interruption, the RBP podcast returns for its first remotely-recorded episode. Mark, Barney & Jasper — all splendidly self-isolated, if not entirely locked down — are reunited online to run through everything that's new or free on Rock's Backpages. Noting the sad losses of Cristina, Manu Dibango and Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger — all recent victims of the coronavirus — RBP's troika discuss the week's new audio interview, a 2000 conversation with a supremely droll Warren Zevon, who talks to Adam Sweeting about Jackson Browne, David Geffen and Scottish Makar poet William Dunbar.

From there, they move on to the week's free feature, which focuses on the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis' groundbreaking Bitches Brew. RBP's very own Three Degrees revisit Richard Williams' original Melody Maker review of the 1970 album, along with Al Aronowitz's account of hanging out with Miles in the fall of that year. Then it's on to featured writer Lois Wilson and her near-definitive account of the making of 1969's Dusty in Memphis and her profile of British rhythm & blues mainstay Georgie Fame.

Among the new library pieces singled out for general discussion by Messrs. Pringle & Murison-Bowie are interviews with Elton John from 1971, Billy Cobham from 1974, Agnes Bernelle from 1985 and Kate Tempest from 2014…

Episode 66: Remembering Charlie Gillett + Johnnie Allan audio

16 March 2020

In this week's episode, RBP's self-styled "power trio" pay tribute to the late Charlie Gillett, without whose seminal 1970 book The Sound Of The City Rock's Backpages probably wouldn't exist. It is a decade since we lost Charlie – one of the first RBP writers to come on board, back in 2000 – so we wanted to do justice to the enduring influence of The Sound, as well as to his wonderful "Honky Tonk" radio show, his Oval Records label and his passionate championing of African and other "world" music genres.

Two clips from Bill Brewster's 1999 audio interview with Charlie prompt reflection and reminiscence from Mark & Barney, as does a Record Mirror piece in which Charlie describes the infamous 1970 press junket that took 134 UK rock journalists to New York to watch the little-known Brinsley Schwarz play Bill Graham's Fillmore East.

From there, we segue neatly into a clip from Cliff White's 1978 audio interview with Cajun "swamp-pop" star Johnnie Allan, whose immortal 1971 cover of Chuck Berry's 'Promised Land' – featured on Charlie's 1974 compilation Another Saturday Night – made Oval Records beloved of a generation of rootsy UK pub rockers. Mark, Barney & Jasper wax lyrical about the wonders of 'Promised Land', and about Cajun music in general, before Mark guides us through his weekly library highlights. Among the latter are pieces about "Peter No-One" of Herman's Hermits, tenor legend Stan Getz and 'Cuddly Toy' boy Roachford. Jasper finishes things off with closing remarks about pieces on Missy Elliott and Clean Bandit.

Episode 65: Michael Watts on Melody Maker + Swamp Dogg + Cramps audio

9 March 2020

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney are joined by a not-so-"Anonymous" Michael Watts, who regales his hosts with tales of life as the Walsall Observer's "Mick" Watts before reminiscing about his halcyon days as one of Melody Maker's star '70s scribes.

Watts waxes poetic – not to mention humorous – about his encounters with David Bowie, Bob Dylan, the Sex Pistols and others, and about the Maker's rivalry with the N(ew) M(usical) E(xpress). Mark & Barney grill him on the MM's response to punk and hear about colleagues such as Richard Williams and Caroline Coon.

After a brief discussion of the week's featured artist, hilarious country-soul eccentric Swamp Dogg, the trio hear the first of two clips from Martin Aston's 1986 audio interview with Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach, prompting conversation about the Cramps' inspired mash-up of '50s psychobilly and sub-Hollywood horror – and, 11 years after Lux's death, the band's unique place in post-punk rock'n'roll. [Note: the first audio clip actually features Lux & Ivy talking about original Cramps guitarist Bryan Gregory rather than about producer Alex Chilton. Apologies for our erratum.]

Finally, as Mark presents his highlights of RBP's new library additions, Barney & Michael pitch in with asides on Lou Reed, Talking Heads … and Michael's Chiswick neighbour Sophie Ellis-Bextor!

Many thanks to special guest Michael Watts; for more of his writing, please visit his writer's page.

Episode 64: The Meters + Joanna Newsom + Buzzy Linhart audio interview

2 March 2020

In this week's episode, RBP's original "house band" pays homage to New Orleans funkmeisters the Meters, enjoys Frances Morgan's 2004 interview with the 22-year-old Joanna Newsom, and listens to the late Buzzy Linhart telling Steve Roeser about Lenny Bruce's 1964 bust at New York's Café au Go Go.

Road-weary veterans Mark & Barney saddle up with hip young gunslinger Jasper to explore the Meters' close involvement with Crescent City maestro Allen Toussaint – and the unique grooves of funk classics like 'Cissy Strut' and 'Just Kissed My Baby'. They also savour the prose of Frances Morgan's Newsom profile for Plan B and her meditation on the first four albums by Can.

A clip from Roeser's 2008 audio interview with Linhart reveals the cult Greenwich Villager's disdain for Café au Go Go owner Howard Solomon. Unfortunately, an almost equal amount of disdain is meted out to Buzzy's music by Mark & Jasper. Mark then zips through new additions to the RBP library — including Chris Welch's 1966 Melody Maker interview with the Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band, featuring quotes from the late Neil Innes; Pete Silverton's 1979 Sounds encounter with punk poet John Cooper Clarke; and Loudon & Rufus Wainwright weighing up their paternal/filial issues in 1999 for the benefit of Rolling Stone's Fred Schruers. Jasper discusses a Times live review of Steven "Flying Lotus" Ellison from Bristol's Colston Hall and Pip Williams (and others) getting in questions for One Direction's Harry Styles and Niall Horan in 2015…

Episode 63: Neil Tennant on Smash Hits + Pet Shop Boys + Andy Weatherall

21 February 2020

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney invite the ever-entertaining Neil Tennant to look back on his time at Smash Hits magazine — and explain how he became pop's ultimate poacher-turned-gamekeeper.

Neil talks about mid-'70s London and about interviewing a pudgy Marc Bolan for Marvel UK. He recalls the laughter and irreverence of his 1982-85 stint at Smash Hits before the Pet Shop Boys shot to No. 1 in Britain and then America. After hearing clips of himself speaking to Steven Daly in 1996, he attempts to explain the longevity of the PSBs but takes issue with the term "national treasure".

Mark & Barney pay tribute to the late Andrew Weatherall as we hear a clip of the legendary DJ/producer/remixer talking to DJ History's Bill Brewster in 2009. Neil offers his perspective on the evolution of the UK's club culture through the '90s, then pitches in as Mark guides us through highlights of the week's new library additions. Discussion follows on Hawkwind's topless dancer Stacia, Michael Watts' 1976 dinner with Laura Nyro and the 10th anniversary of Manchester's Haçienda club…

Many thanks to our very special guest; details of the Pet Shop Boys’ new album Hotspot and upcoming tour are available via The new editions of Chris Heath’s Pet Shop Boys, Literally and Pet Shop Boys versus America are published by Heinemann and out on March 19th.

The Rock's Backpages podcast is proud to be part of the Pantheon podcast network.

Episode 62: Bryan Ferry + Prog Rock + John Prine audio interview

14 February 2020

In this week's episode, RBP's power trio reforms to talk about all that's new – and everything that's free – on the site this week. Los tres hombres start with the solo Bryan Ferry, a.k.a. "Byron Ferrari", a.k.a. "Friern Barnet", revisiting the Roxy Music frontman's makeover as a dinner-jacketed lounge lizard and aspiring country gentleman. 

They then mark the publication of Mike Barnes' Prog-Rock magnum opus A New Day Yesterday with a free-ranging chinwag about the pros and cons of said genre – with specific reference to Mike's great pieces on Pink Floyd and Peter Hammill.

We hear a hilarious clip of beloved country-folk troubadour John Prine reminiscing about an improbable visit to Phil Spector's L.A. mansion, followed by a good-humoured debate on the merits or otherwise of, well, country-folk troubadours such as John Prine.

Finally, Mark walks us through his personal highlights of the week's "library load", focusing on quotes from pieces about Paul Simon, the Bang(le)s and an unlikely 1997 hook-up between the Wu-Tang Clan and Sharleen Spiteri's Texas. Discussion of maverick axeman Marc Ribot and electro-swingers Caravan Palace rounds out the episode.

Episode 61: Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy on David Mancuso and Lydia Lunch

7 February 2020

In this week's episode, Mark and Barney are joined by the delightful Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy to mark the 50th anniversary of David Mancuso's legendary first Loft party in New York City. Colleen talks about her friendship with Mancuso and about her own musical journey as a revered DJ (not to mention host of Classic Album Sundays).

Barney notes the week's featured writer Daryl Easlea — and specifically his pieces on Elvis Presley the movie star and (tying in with this week's reissue of his excellent book Everybody Dance) Chic protegée Norma Jean Wright. Colleen concurs that the latter's 'Saturday' (1978) is a stone disco classic.

The New York theme continues with discussion of the week's new audio interview, featuring No Wave queen and fearless transgressor Lydia Lunch talking to Martin Aston in 1989. We hear a clip of Lydia holding forth on her staunch refusal to be part of any cultural mainstream — and conversation ensues about her huge influence and complicated relationship with radical feminism.

Finally, Mark talks us through such new additions to the RBP library as a 1969 Jimi Hendrix interview from the L.A. Times, Nick Kent's 1978 encounter with Elvis Costello, and Sean O'Hagan's account of his 1998 trip to Belfast with U2. A second clip from the Lydia Lunch audio takes us out of the episode…

Many thanks to special guest Colleen Murphy: like her Facebook page at Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy and visit

Episode 60: Dorian Lynskey on Daft Punk, Can audio interview ... and Brexit

31 January 2020

In this week's episode, we wave a sad goodbye to the EU with the aid of Dorian Lynskey, Guardian contributor, author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute and The Ministry Of Truth, and host of the excellent Remainiacs podcast.

Dorian talks Mark, Barney & Jasper through his stellar career in music writing, focusing on his interviews with German superstar Paul van Dyk and French electro-House robots Daft Punk. Dorian also discusses Remainiacs on the eve of the Brexit countdown, and the four remoaners collectively lament the end of the beginning of the withdrawal… or is it the beginning of the end?

The Euro theme continues with a clip from the late Andy Gill's delightful 1997 audio interview with Irmin, Holger & Michael of krautrock kings Can, heard chuckling about the "erotic dreams" embedded in soldiers' mattresses. A brief discussion of Can's uniqueness as an experimental unit ensues.

Also for RBP subscribers is the selection of new library pieces presented by Mr. Pringle, including fashion tips from Mods in 1964, a tour of Philly's Sigma Sound studios in 1975, and a cab ride across London with jazz legend Archie Shepp in 1985…

Many thanks to special guest Dorian Lynskey; visit his website for further information about his books and the Remainiacs podcast.

Episode 59: Laura Barton on Road Trips + Sam Cooke + Isobel Campbell

17 January 2020

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney welcome the wonderful Laura Barton and learn all about her career as a star Guardian writer – and as an author and broadcaster.

Laura talks about her travels in America, and about working with photographer Sarah Lee on the newly-published collection West Of West. The hosts ask her about her pieces on Bon Iver, Daniel Johnston and Riot Grrrl power – and more generally about her deeply personal approach to music writing.

A new Sam Cooke box set prompts a conversation about the pin-up gospel star who crossed over to become an icon of "proto-soul" before his shocking and tragic death in 1964. A 2010 hymn to Sam by the legendary Lenny Kaye provides the platform for ruminations on the man's sublime voice and his immeasurable influence on everyone from Otis Redding to Rod Stewart.

A clip from the late Andy Gill's 2005 audio interview with ex-Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell is the catalyst for a discussion of the latter's collaborations with brooding grunge survivor Mark Lanegan. Having interviewed the Scots singer-songwriter when the duo's Ballad of the Broken Seas came out in 2006, Laura helps to place the pair in the tradition of such "beauty-and-the-beast" hook-ups as Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra.

Mark talks us through highlights of the week's additions to the RBP Library, including pieces on the unsavoury Jonathan King, the fabulous Freddie Mercury and David Bowie's personal tour of his London landmarks. The episode concludes with discussion of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's just-announced Class of 2020 – with specific reference to the covert racism (not to mention misogyny) underpinning reaction to the inclusion of Whitney Houston

Many thanks to special guest Laura Barton, who is on Twitter @missbarton. West of West, by Sarah Lee with an introduction by Laura, is published by Unbound.

Episode 58: James Blood Ulmer + Joan Baez audio + Chris Bourke

10 January 2020

In the first episode of 2020, Mark, Barney & Jasper celebrate the 40th birthday of James Blood Ulmer's startling Are You Glad to be in America?. Pringle waxes lyrical about seeing Ulmer live and about the man's influence on his own guitar-playing – and then, with his colleagues, discusses the "punk-jazz" scene that coalesced around JBU, James Chance, Defunkt and others.

RBP's power trio then considers amusing interviews with Billy Idol, Gerry [and the Pacemakers] Marsden and Solomon Burke by New Zealander and former Rip It Up editor Chris Bourke. (Honorary mentions, along the way, to Nik Cohn, Nick Lowe and Jürgen Klopp.)

Mark intros a discussion of the week's new audio interview — with Joan Baez in 1992 — by playing a clip of America's folk queen describing how she's (temporarily) let go of her political activism. Baez's significance and legacy are considered after a second clip about learning how hard it is to write songs when you're not Bob Dylan.

Mark also talks us through his highlights of the week's new library additions, including a report on hanging out with Madeline Bell in swinging '60s London that reads like a scene from Austin Powers; Sounds' Dave McCullough bemoaning the joyless postpunk of the Raincoats and the Mekons in 1979; and Police man Stewart Copeland and others on the art of drumming in 1988…

By contrast, Jasper revisits the return of avant-funk postpunks 23 Skidoo in 2000, a probing biog of Beyoncé from 2015 and the musings of Panic! at the Disco's Brendon Urie in 2016…

Episode 57: Aretha's Amazing Grace + Mark Ronson audio + Tom Cox

20 December 2019

In this week's episode – the last of 2019 – Mark, Barney & "Jazzbo" see out the year by celebrating the sheer majesty of Aretha Franklin and the posthumously-released Amazing Grace documentary.

Featured writer Tom Cox provides the perfect segue: a 1999 piece about the Queen Of Soul and her Atlantic Records producer/mentor Jerry Wexler. Your hosts also enjoy a chuckle as they revisit Tom's 2004 piece on Apple's new GarageBand "workstation".

Attention then turns to a 2007 audio interview with uptown funkateer and retromaniac producer Mark Ronson. We hear a clip from Maureen Paton's back-of-a-cab conversation with Ronson, after which RBP's three amigos discuss his subsequent career and his work with Amy Winehouse.

Marks talks us through new additions to the RBP library, including Keith Altham in the studio in 1968 with the Rolling Stones (and Jean-Luc Godard!); a 1971 Roy Carr rendezvous with the skinhead edition of Slade; and Joe "Mr. C" McEwen profiling the splendidly eccentric Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams in 1975. Jasper rounds matters off with quotes from David Toop's 2001 Wire interview with the brilliant Björkand a brief chat about Boris Johnson's new nemesis Stormzy.

Oh, and to prove we're not just about yesteryear, we've compiled a playlist of our favourite tracks of 2019: beautiful & thrilling music by the likes of Lizzo, Foals, Brittany Howard, Bon Iver, Nilüfer Yanya, Rustin Man, Billie Eilish, Vampire Weekend, Joan Shelley... and of course Amyl & the Sniffers! 

Episode 56: Kris Needs on The Clash + Zigzag magazine + Politics & Pop

13 December 2019

On the day after the UK's Tory landslide, Mark & Barney ask the legendary Kris Needs to look back at the legacy of ultimate agit-rockers the Clash on the 40th anniversary of their classic London Calling.

Needs reminisces about key music venue Friar's in Aylesbury and his involvement with (and subsequent stewardship of) Pete Frame's seminal ZigZag magazine. His hosts ask about Just a Shot Away, part 1 of his memoir of the pivotal rock year of 1969, and then discuss his integral involvement with his mates Mick Jones, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon. Spinning off from the Clash, the trio hear a brief audio clip of tireless politico Billy Bragg talking about the Tories in 1990 – and then discuss free RBP pieces on "revolutionary rock" and "the greening of Planet Pop".

Mark introduces the week's new audio interview, a 1989 conversation with the much-missed Kirsty MacColl. After we hear a clip of the singer talking to John Tobler about an unreleased album she made for Polydor, there's an appreciation of MacColl as a songwriter and all-round good egg (and, later, a clip of her talking about her timeless contribution to the Pogues' Yuletide classic 'Fairytale of New York'). 

Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the week's new library articles, including pieces on Chuck Berry playing live in Lewisham in 1965, Sweet playing the Rainbow in 1973, and Donna Summer riding the "dark horse" of disco in 1976… 

Many thanks to special guest Kris Needs, whose new book Just a Shot Away: 1969 Revisited is out now and published by New Haven.

Episode 55: David Toop on art and sound + Arthur Russell + Joe Smith R.I.P.

6 December 2019

In this week's episode Mark & Barney invite writer and fearless musical improviser David Toop to reminisce about his work and his long and fascinating career.

Toop talks about the impact of an aunt returning from New York with a stack of rhythm & blues 78s – and how this instilled a lifelong love of black American music. After he describes his early adventures in free and improvised music, his hosts ask how a man who's collaborated with Brian Eno and Max Eastley came to profile Bros for The Face – by way of his pioneering 1984 book The Rap Attack, the first serious study of the East Coast hip hop scene. The three men then discuss the cult "disco auteur" Arthur Russell, whom Toop interviewed.

Toop also pitches in on the subject of the week's free feature, cult dubstep star Will "Burial" Bevan, with Barney waxing ecstatic about the man's noughties albums and subsequent Hyperdub tracks – and Toop making slightly more sceptical noises.

Mark intros the week's new audio interview, with the late Joe Smith, and we hear a clip of the veteran West Coast executive discussing Joni Mitchell, one of the many artists he worked with at Warner Brothers and Elektra/Asylum. After considering Smith's role in the rise of acts like the Grateful Dead, Toop confesses to a surprising penchant for Crosby, Stills & Nash, prompting a more general discussion of dismantling musical hierarchies.

Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the week's new library articles, including pieces on the Four Tops (1966), Mott the Hoople, with David Bowie on backing vocals (1972) and the late Luther Vandross (1985) – another artist Toop interviewed for The Face.

Many thanks to special guest David Toop; Inflamed Invisible is out now, and you can visit his blog at

Episode 54: Barbara Charone on The Who + Keef Richards + Chelsea FC

22 November 2019

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney welcome music scribe turned PR legend Barbara Charone into the RBP "cupboard" (© David Hepworth) and ask her about moving to London from her native Chicago in 1974 – along with her experiences of interviewing the Who, the Stones and other superstars of the '70s.

"BC" talks about befriending Keith Richards and writing his biography while staying at his Sussex home, Redlands, then reminisces about her move into PR and her decades-long association with such clients as Madonna and Robert Plant. Finally, Mark & Barney ask Barbara how she came to support the team they all three (and Jasper!) adore: Chelsea FC. (Spurs fans may wish to fast-forward at this point.)

The conversation segues seamlessly into a discussion of the week's fascinating new audio interview, in which John Tobler asks Pete Townshend about his 1993 solo album Psychoderelict – and all about the Who, Tommy and Pete's childhood traumas.

After semi-skirting around the week's free feature on Coldplay – an act for whom none of the three can muster much enthusiasm – Mark takes the reins and talks us through his highlights of the week's new additions to the RBP library – including a report of the 1966 scrapping of seminal TV pop show Ready, Steady, Go!, a review of the opening date of Led Zeppelin's 1975 tour of America, and a 1977 Rolling Stone interview with the 'Clean-Up Woman' woman Betty Wright.

Episode 53: John Fogerty audio + Peter Guralnick + Céline Dion

15 November 2019

In this week's episode Mark, Barney & Jasper discuss the work of American music writer Peter Guralnick, with reference to the three free interviews featured on Rock's Backpages this week. They talk about the impact of Guralnick's books about southern soul and Elvis Presley, along with his earlier profiles of Howlin' Wolf and Charlie Rich.

RBP's power trio then turns its attention to super-diva Céline Dion, subject of the week's free feature. Barney defends the empress of pop shlock against his colleagues' scorn and draws support from interviews with her by David Sinclair and Ian Gittins.

The week's new audio offering is Adam Sweeting's 1997 interview with John Fogerty, who — in the episode's featured clips — recalls the origins of his Creedence Clearwater Revival and the bitter acrimony of their eventual split. Mark, Barney & Jasper put Creedence in context and hear Fogerty reminisce about his unhappy experiences under contract to Fantasy's Saul Zaentz.

New library highlights considered by your hosts include Cilla Back "in her own words" in Disc, the Guardian's Geoffrey Cannon lambasting Led Zeppelin in 1970, Michigan State News man Bill Holdship dissing disco in 1978, Police manager Miles Copeland declaring himself to be "a nasty S.O.B." in Musician and NME's Steven Wells introducing Suffolk metalheads Cradle Of Filth to the chairman of the Campaign for Courtesy …

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Enter the giveaway at for a chance to win an RBP subscription or book.

Episode 52: Gene Clark + Mick Hucknall + Mick Brown on Spector & Soul

8 November 2019

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney invite the marvellous Mick Brown to reminisce about his journey from editing mid-'60s fanzine Soulbeat to feature-writing for the Guardian and the Telegraph, via stints at Sounds and Street Life.

Mick recalls his encounters with Marvin Gaye, Mac Rebennack and Phil Spector, subject of his seminal 2008 biography Tearing Down the Walls of Sound. He also weighs in on Gene Clark's cult classic No Other, of which he was an early champion on its 1974 release. He joins Mark and Barney in an extended appreciation of the troubled "Byrd Who Wouldn't Fly".

The three hombres then hear clips from Maureen Paton's 2009 audio interview with Mick Hucknall, in which the Simply Red frontman holds forth on Manchester, the Iraq war, The X-Factor and plenty more besides. 

New library additions highlighted by Mark include '60s pieces on the Troggs and the Yardbirds, plus interviews with Barry Manilow and Public Enemy's Chuck D.

Many thanks to special guest Mick Brown; find more of his writing on his Telegraph writer’s page at

Enter the giveaway at for a chance to win an RBP subscription or book.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 51: Bonnie Raitt + The Pop Group + Caroline Sullivan on the Bay City Rollers

25 October 2019

In this week's episode Mark & Barney welcome special guest Caroline Sullivan and hear all about her journey from New Jersey to the republic of Brightonia, discussing in the process her poptastic pieces about Girls Aloud, Adele and Courtney Love's optioning of her classic Bay City Rollers book.

Jasper then rejoins the band as Caroline, citing "artistic differences", splits the crazy scene and heads back to Brighton. Talk turns to the week's other free pieces, which mark the 40th anniversary of postpunk legends the Pop Group's incendiary debut album Y.

The week's new audio offering is John Tobler's 1977 interview with the great Bonnie Raitt, 70 years young next week. After hearing a clip in which Bonnie talks about how she got into blues, Mark, Barney & Jasper pay tribute to her voice, her slide-guitar playing, and her soulful interpretations of songs by Eric Kaz, Jackson Browne & friends.

New library highlights considered by your hosts include Disc's Caroline Boucher chatting with Marc Bolan in 1972, Trouser Press' Jim Green tagging along with Elvis Costello in Belfast, The Wire's David Stubbs going into Battles and Lisa Verrico seeing M.I.A. in live action in 2007.

Caroline Sullivan's Bay City Rollers book is available on Amazon; follow her on Twitter @TheCSullivan.

Enter the giveaway at for a chance to win an RBP subscription or book.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 50: Snoop Dogg + Motörhead + Nick Tosches tribute

17 November 2021

In this week's episode (the 50th, no less), Mark, Barney & Jasper pay tribute to the late Nick Tosches, discussing pieces by him on Captain Beefheart (1981) and his great biographical subject Jerry Lee Lewis (1982).

They then discuss the week's other free pieces, which concern the annus metallibis that was Motörhead's 1979 – the year of both Overkill and Bomber. They also lament the passing of original 'head guitarist Larry Wallis, who last month departed the stage for the final time.

The week's new audio offering being a 1993 conversation with Long Beach OG Snoop (Doggy) Dogg, lost trios paranoias hear clips from Steven Daly's fascinating interview and reminisce about the impact of Dr. Dre's languid beanpole prodigy.

New library highlights considered by your hosts include Disc's Rosalind Russell on Sweet's Brian Connolly, Glenn O'Brien on the (temporary) shuttering of NYC landmark Max's Kansas City and Susan Corrigan on her abiding love affair with Madchester. After Jasper samples some Señor Coconut from 2002, the RBP "team" bows out for another week.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Enter our great giveaway at for a chance to win an RBP book or subscription.

Episode 49: INXS' Michael Hutchence + Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood

18 October 2019

In this week's episode of the RBP podcast, cocktail-lounge trio Mark, Jasper & Barney kick things off by discussing Oz rockers INXS. Ahead of the release of new documentary Mystify, they consider the tragic death of frontman Michael Hutchence.

The week's featured writer is Tim Riley, whose articles on roots rock, 2 Live Crew and Buddy Holly's influence on John Lennon spark discussion of the intersection between nostalgia and authenticity, the disproportionate censorship of black voices... and Lennon's inner geek.

The trio then listen to excerpts from Andy Gill's 2003 conversation with Jonny Greenwood about the Radiohead guitarist's first film soundtrack Bodysong – and early electronic instrument the Ondes Martenot. 

Finally, they each pick highlights from the articles added to the RBP library this week – among them a Brian Case interview with tenor-sax great Sonny Rollins and Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, a.k.a. "the prat in the hat", plus a piece from the early days of the internet and an interview with Charles Mingus' son Eric.

Episode 48: Ginger Baker audio + Elbow with guest David Hepworth

11 October 2019

In this week's episode of the RBP podcast, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns are joined by special guest David Hepworth to talk about his experiences as a journalist, editor, publisher and now bestselling author.

In a free-ranging conversation, your hosts hear how Dave got his start at the bottom of the NME totem pole before joining the nascent Smash Hits under Nick Logan. They also discuss his longstanding friendship with Mark Ellen, from founding Q, MOJO and The Word to presenting The Old Grey Whistle Test and the TV coverage of Live Aid. Finally, they quiz him on his new book, The Rock and Roll A Level: A Very Hard Pop Quiz.

There is a brief discussion of free-featured artists Elbow, noting the Bury quintet's unlikely ascent to the status of National Treasure and the all-round decency and right-on-ness of the band's "shambling everyman" of a singer, Mr. Guy Garvey.

The week's audio interview is with the late and reliably irascible Ginger Baker, speaking on the phone to Jim Sullivian in 2015. Mark, Barney & Dave hear a clip in which the Cream legend refuses to be drawn on his relationship with his family. There follows a discussion of Baker's status as rock's first superstar drummer – and conjecture as to whether he might possibly be the single most unpleasant man in the history of rock and roll.

Finally, Mark presents some of his highlights from the week's other additions to RBP, including interviews with Pete Townshend, Billy Paul and rapper (and "complete tosser," says Mark) Just-Ice. Barney touches on the passing of Eddie & the Hot Rods frontman Barrie Masters.

Many thanks to special guest David Hepworth, whose book The Rock and Roll A Level is published by Bantam Press.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 47: Loleatta Holloway audio + Robert Hunter R.I.P. + Phil Symes

4 October 2019

Content warning: This episode contains a description of violence that some listeners may find distressing.

In this week's episode of the Rock's Backpages podcast, RBP's Mark, Barney & Jasper pay tribute to Robert Hunter, discussing his role within the Grateful Dead and how he helped unlock Jerry Garcia's voice with his lyrics.

Featured writer for the week is Phil Symes with three articles: Neil Diamond is mocked and disparaged by your hosts; a young Michael Jackson talks on the phone about his sideline solo career; and Sylvia (Robinson)'s 1973 smash 'Pillow Talk' is acknowledged as the American version of 'Je t'aime (moi non plus)'.

Your hosts then listen to a clip from the week's audio interview, in which disco diva Loleatta Holloway talks to Cliff White about the transition from gospel to secular soul – and the attendant issues. Mark argues that Holloway's gospel roots enabled her to succeed as the euphoric disco chanteuse whom Black Box sampled (sans permission) on 'Ride On Time'.

Mark presents his highlights from the week's new library additions, including the earliest mention on RBP of songsmith Randy Newman (in a Cilla Black interview); a contemplative Bill Withers talking to Disc's Robin Katz; and the violent tale of Coxsone Dodd attacking Joe Higgs over royalties. Jasper brings tales from the deep with Laurie Anderson's take on Melville's Moby Dick; Coldplay supported by Jay-Z; and just how streaming is skewing the pop charts.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Italian language consultant: Giacomo Bruzzo of RareNoiseRecords

Episode 46: The Beatles' Abbey Road + Blondie audio with Mat Snow

27 September 2019

In this week's episode of the Rock’s Backpages podcast, Mark & Barney are joined by the "Fab"-ulous Mat Snow to discuss the 50th anniversary of Beatles swansong Abbey Road. Mat also regales them with his tale of setting off a firework in the NME reviews office... plus his further adventures in the world of music journalism (including a pivotal stint as editor of MOJO).

The week's audio interview is a 1977 conversation with Blondie, so the trio hear a clip of Debbie Harry recalling her life as a waitress at Max's Kansas City. Archive highlights as selected by Mark include yodelling Frank Ifield, the Monkees' Davy Jones, and a Steven Wells review of Napalm Death's cheerily-titled Fear, Emptiness, Despair...

Episode 45: Madonna audio interview + Sugarhill Gang's 'Rapper's Delight'

20 September 2019

In this week's episode, RBP's original power trio is reunited as Barney Hoskyns returns from holiday, joined by Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie. Los tres hombres commence with a discussion of the Sugarhill Gang's groundbreaking 'Rapper's Delight', considering its place in the history of hip hop with reference to three contemporary articles about the record.

The week's featured writer is Hit Parader's girl-about-town in swinging '60s London, Miranda Ward, whose scenester piece on Otis Redding and TV interview with George Harrison are discussed. Talk then turns to the week's audio interview, which features Madonna in conversation with Steven Daly in 2002. La Ciccone talks about her forthcoming (and widely-mocked) film Swept Away, as well as the difference between British and American class and her lapsed Catholicism and devotion to Kabbalah.

Mark begins the archive highlights section with Karl Dallas interviewing Woody Guthrie's son Arlo in 1966, moves swiftly on to John Mendelssohn poo-poohing Humble Pie live in 1969 and sparks a conversation about whether or not the live album is dead with a review of Free: Live.  Jasper rounds out the episode by discussing an interview with Héloïse Letissier of Chris/Christine and the Queens and a review of Common's Black America Again.

Episode 44: Simon Witter on Cameo, Zapp & House + Robbie Robertson audio

13 September 2019

In this week's episode of the RBP Podcast, Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie are joined by Mr. Simon Witter to talk about his career in music journalism, from Zapp to acid house by way of Cameo and his forays into the early days of Chicago house with pioneering DJs Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy

Simon's interviews with Larry Blackmon and Roger Troutman inform conversation about afro-futurist funk and D.C.'s go-go music. The trio also discuss what kinds of powders taste better dissolved in cream soda  and the impact of said powders (and other drugs!) on the second summer of love in 1988.

Mark, Jasper and Simon briefly talk about the week's featured artists the Pixies and pay tribute to the late Daniel Johnston, before moving on to the new audio interview, a 1991 conversation with The Band's Robbie Robertson conducted by Tony Scherman. Robbie talks about his pre-Band days with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, how they weren't allowed to have steady girlfriends... and getting kicked out of a barbecue joint with Sonny Boy Williamson by racist Arkansas cops. 

In the archive section, Mark picks the week's highlights – including an interview with Marc Bolan of T(yrannosaurus) Rex plus the Village People doing their damnedest to remain ambiguous about their sexual preferences, while Jasper picks a review of Burial's Untrue and an interview with Anderson "best teeth in the game" .Paak.

Many thanks to special guest Simon Witter.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 43: The Story of Electronic Music + Slade + Status Quo with David Stubbs

6 September 2019

In this week's episode of the RBP Podcast, Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie are joined by David Stubbs to talk about his book Mars By 1980, which traces the story of electronic music from its beginnings in the mechanical experiments of the late nineteenth century through Stockhausen and musique concrète to Stevie Wonder's cosmic funk, the 80s electropop of bands like Depeche Mode and beyond.

Mark and Jasper hear how David got his start at Melody Maker after co-founding Oxford magazine Monitor as a student; he confesses that at the time he was in a 'slightly pompous phase' where the only music he was listening to was avant garde classical and jazz or funk. These areas inform much of the discussion that follows, as the three of them consider the initially slow and then suddenly meteoric rise of the synthesizer in popular music.

The week's audio interview is with Francis Rossi of Status Quo in 2010, with the chosen clips concerning the adjustment of Her Majesty the Queen's undergarments as well as his relationship with bandmate Rick Parfitt. The free feature is Slade, with three pieces about Noddy and co up for grabs.

In the archive section, Mark highlights a few pieces including Cecil Taylor's hands blurring with the speed of his playing live in Hammersmith, Muddy Waters interviewed by Max Jones and Dennis Wilson opening up about his time with Charles Manson for the first time to Joel Selvin. Jasper selects Evan Parker playing the Invisible Jukebox game with Mike Barnes for The Wire plus a piece by their illustrious guest about whether humour and music can mix.

Mars By 1980: The Story of Electronic Music is available via the Faber website at

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 42: Dusty Springfield + Alicia Keys + Taylor Swift with Lucy O'Brien

30 August 2019

In this week's episode of the RBP podcast, Mark & Barney are joined by She Bop queen Lucy O'Brien to discuss her life in journalism – from her days distributing Spare Rib magazine at her convent school to being a member of the "soulcialist" faction at the NME. They explore how creeping consumerism and confusion about the paper's identity caused it to lose much of what set it apart, precipitating its eventual demise.

To celebrate the new revised and updated edition of Lucy's classic Dusty Springfield biography, they discuss what set Dusty apart as a singer and the problems she faced as a result of her sexuality. In the context of Lucy's definitive She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music, the three of them consider a number of female artists including Madonna, Taylor Swift and Skunk Anansie's Skin, before listening to a clip from the week's audio interview with Alicia Keys, conducted by Maureen Paton in 2010.

Finally, exploring what else is new in the RBP archive, Mark reads from some of his highlights, including a somewhat perplexing Iggy Pop interview, Lemmy talking about Mods and combs, and Tim Westwood's cultural appropriation of hip hop.

Find Lucy O'Brien's website at and order Dusty: The Classic Biography from the publisher's website at

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 41: Easy Rider + Arthur Lee with Richard Williams

23 August 2019

In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie are joined by Richard Williams to discuss his long and august career in music journalism, from his writing about avant-jazz giant Albert Ayler for his local Nottingham newspaper through his stewardship of Melody Maker to his time as the Guardian's chief sportswriter. 

The three men talk about Ayler and the great Laura Nyro, as well as about Richard's early interview with Bob Marley, at whose UK label (Island) Richard became Head of A&R for over two years. Asked what sort of music excites him these days, Richard (and Jasper) enthuse about the contemporary London jazz scene.

The week's free feature marks the passing of Peter Fonda, with contemporary appraisals of Dennis Hopper's 1969 classic Easy Rider that spark discussion of the film's soundtrack.

We then hear clips from John Tobler's 1980 interview with Arthur Lee, wherein the sometime Love frontman toys with the notion of getting the original band back together and reminisces about meeting Jimi Hendrix for the first time in 1964.

The episode concludes with a brief look at highlights among new articles in the RBP library, including an early Pink Floyd interview, a review of Panjabi MC's The Album and a live review of rapper Dave at Koko. 

Find Richard Williams' blog at

Episode 40: Ian Penman on Prince + Charlie Parker + ZZ Top audio

16 August 2019

In this week's episode of the Rock's Backpages Podcast, Jasper Murison-Bowie and Barney Hoskyns are joined by the great Ian Penman to discuss his new essay collection It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track – along with his late '70s/early '80s years at the NME and his subsequent writing for The Wire and the London Review of Books.

Thus commences a wide-ranging conversation about everything from Frank Sinatra to Charlie Parker to Prince, via John Fahey, Nina Simone and Kate Bush. Along the way, Penman passionately disputes the received wisdom that he brought down the NME with his infrequent references to French theorists Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida.

Los tres hombres hear clips from a 1990 audio interview with Billy Gibbons, wherein the urbane ZZ Top frontman recalls meeting Muddy Waters and pays homage to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Finally, having had far too much fun with this episode, your hosts run swiftly through a handful of the new library pieces available to RBP subscribers.

It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track is published by Fitzcarraldo Editions; purchase the book here.

Find Ian Penman on Twitter @pawboy2.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 39: Tammy Faye Starlite does Marianne Faithfull + Miles & more

9 August 2019

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney are joined by American singer/performance artiste extraordinaire Tammy Faye Starlite to talk about grande dame of British art-pop Marianne Faithfull. Tammy discusses her upcoming run of New York shows based around Faithfull's 1979 classic Broken English – plus the week's new audio interview, with the lady herself. The trio mull over Faithfull's relationships and/or friendships with Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg. They also discuss parallels between her and Nico, another object of Tammy's hommage.

Talk turns to David Dalton, featured writer of the week and co-author of Faithfull's autobiography. The recent passing of filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker is marked by discussion of Dalton's 1999 interview with "Penny".

The week's free feature is about Miles Davis, marking the 50th anniversary of  groundbreaking "ambient jazz-rock" masterpiece In A Silent Way. Discussion touches on the album's sessions and the influence on Miles of funky Betty Davis (née Mabry), in terms of both music and fashion.

Mark picks his highlights from the archive pieces, which include a 1970 interview with Love's Arthur Lee, a David Hepworth review of Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Nick Coleman talking to Anita Baker in 1986.

To buy tickets for Tammy Faye Starlite's run of Marianne Faithfull shows, please visit the Pangea website.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 38: Woodstock '69 + Shirley Collins audio interview + Mark Anthony Neal

2 August 2019

Content warning: This episode contains references to sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Following the cancellation of Woodstock 50, regular RBP podcast hosts Mark Pringle & Barney Hoskyns are joined by occasional host Jasper Murison-Bowie to discuss the legacy of those fateful three days in August 1969. RBP's very own power trio considers contemporary reports that paint contrasting pictures: Danny Goldberg's positive story for Billboard, Miller Francis Jr.'s altogether more sanguine account for Atlanta's Great Speckled Bird, highlighting the survivalist nature of attending the festival as a punter.

Featured writer of the week is Duke University professor Mark Anthony Neal, with pieces on "blue-eyed" soul enigma Lewis Taylor, the demise of Vibe magazine, and the remarkable voice of doomed New Jersey soul singer Linda Jones.

Los tres hombres hear a clip from a 1991 audio interview with Shirley Collins, wherein the English folk doyenne discusses her 20-year-old No Roses album. Collins talks about the album's recording process and (most of) the 26 musicians who performed on it.

Mark presents his highlights from the archive, including a report on the controversy that followed Norman Jopling's unfavourable live review of Otis Redding on the 1967 Stax revue; a Roy Carr interview with Tina Turner, and a report on Ecstasy in Holland. Jasper rounds out the selection of archive highlights with a live review of reggae singer Shaggy, aka Mr Boombastic/Mr Lover Lover/Mr Romantic.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 37: Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb and 'Wichita Lineman' with Dylan Jones

26 July 2019

Joined by GQ editor (and sometime i-D contibutor) Dylan Jones, Mark and Barney talk about Dylan's new book The Wichita Lineman: Searching in the Sun for the World's Greatest Unfinished Song and celebrate 'Lineman''s composer Jimmy Webb and the song's original singer, the late Glen Campbell. Dylan explains how he came to write the book and the three men enthuse about Webb's ability to tell stories in song and in person.

After listening to a clip from a 2005 audio interview with Webb himself, wherein he laments the lack of complexity in contemporary pop and discusses his use of harmony and chords, Mark and Barney quiz Dylan about hiring Boris Johnson as car correspondent for GQ magazine. Talk turns briefly to politics as they consider how Dylan's acquaintance David Cameron might now feel about calling the 2016 referendum.

Mark presents highlights from the week's new library pieces. These include an interview with Robin Gibb shortly after he left the Bee Gees, a report from the Wailers' first trip to London, and a Diana Ross press conference about the album she recorded with Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.

To buy Dylan JonesThe Wichita Lineman, visit the Faber website.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 36: KLF + Echo & the Bunnymen + Julian Cope with Mick Houghton

19 July 2019

This week, Mark and Barney are joined by Mick Houghton, Let It Rock and Sounds scribe turned beloved publicist for Echo & the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes and the KLF.

Discussing Mick's new book Fried and Justified, Barney addresses Mick's rage at a bad NME review of Julian Cope's World Shut Your Mouth written by... Barney himself.

The three of them listen to excerpts from an unwieldy but fascinating conversation between New Orleans R&B legends Dave Bartholomew, Red Tyler and Earl Palmer, in which they discuss what makes the Crescent City so different – and hence so tricky for non-NOLA musicians.

Finally, Mark presents highlights from the week's new library pieces, including Geoffrey Cannon's live review of Joni Mitchell getting off to a rocky start at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival; Michael Goldberg's report on the John Fogerty/Saul Zaentz "Zanz Kant Danz" lawsuit, and Steven Daly's 1999 interview with the young Britney Spears, which prompts both Mark and Barney to laud the pop genius of '...Baby One More Time' and 'Oops!...I Did It Again'.

To buy Fried and Justified: Hits Myths, Break-ups and Breakdowns in the Record Business 1978–1998, please visit the Faber website.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 35: P-Funk Special + Hal David audio with Lloyd Bradley and Tom Vickers

12 July 2019

In this week's episode, Mark and Barney are joined by not one but two guests. Lloyd Bradley and Tom Vickers tell the story of how they first met, Lloyd blagging his way into a singles-reviewing session with George Clinton at Blues and Soul magazine when Tom was Parliament's publicist and self-dubbed "Minister of Information". This gives rise to a lengthy discussion about all things Parliamentary and Funkadelical, with Lloyd explaining how he morphed from sneaking into gigs to a long and illustrious career as a music journalist and author.

The four men hear a clip from the week's new audio interview, a 1999 conversation with Hal David, the brilliant lyricist for Burt Bacharach's pop masterpieces. Hal reminisces about demo'ing 'Make It Easy on Yourself' with Dionne Warwick – and recalls her subsequent disappointment when the song went to Jerry Butler.

Mark presents the highlights from the articles added to the archive, including Jimmy Page waxing astrological, Mick Jagger feeling intellectually-limited, and Eminem being booed off stage in London — leading the group to debate whether, and how, hip-hop can be successful in large venues.

Lloyd Bradley's website is, where you can find details of his books Bass Culture and Sounds Like London.

Tom Vickers' website is, where you can find information about his writing and excerpts from Tales from the Tour Bus.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 34: Amy Linden on Amy Winehouse + Kanye West + Nico + Bobby Womack

5 July 2019

In this week's episode, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns welcome special guest Amy Linden to reminisce about reading Creem at her local library and falling in with the punk scene in San Francisco in the late '70s... and then about writing for Vibe, Spin and XXL. Amy shares stories of chasing Amy Winehouse and detesting Kanye West.

The trio listen to excerpts from a 1976 Bobby Womack audio interview in which the maverick soul man – who died five years ago this week – talks about recording at Muscle Shoals with white musicians and tells of how Wilson Pickett's voice replaced his own on early recordings for Atlantic Records.

Ahead of the opening of Maxine Peake's Nico Project in Manchester, the former Christa Päffgen is featured as artist of the week on RBP, sparking discussion of a late interview in which she claims she'd like to be a farmer – or the captain of a ship.

Finally, Mark presents archive highlights that include an account of what it's like to play a Rolling Stones gig (supposedly penned by Brian Jones), a Randy Newman interview in which he playfully describes himself as "lovable and friendly and perfect in every way" and a De La Soul interview that prompts Amy to mock Mark's pronunciation of their name mercilessly.

Find Amy's podcast, ImmaLetYouFinish, on Spotify, Instagram @immaletyoufinishny and Twitter @finishimma.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 33: L.A. Special with Chris Campion + Elliot Roberts audio + Little Feat

2 July 2019

In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by Chris Campion all the way from Pioneertown, California. The subject of Chris' upcoming book, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, leads into a wide-ranging and discursive conversation about L.A. in the '60s and the music and madness of Arthur Lee and Charles Manson.

Continuing the Southern California theme, the three men hear excerpts from a 1993 audio interview with the late Elliot Roberts in which the legendary manager talks about his client Joni Mitchell's house, the Eagles, and the impact of cocaine on the L.A. scene.

Finally, in the archive highlights section, Mark selects an interview with Keith Richards' mother, a live review of Jimi Hendrix playing London's Bag O'Nails club in 1967 and – returning to the L.A. theme – a 1972 interview with Elliot Roberts' managerial/Asylum Records partner David Geffen.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 32: Go-Go in D.C. + Anita Ward audio + Felix Dennis and the Oz Trial

21 June 2019

For this week's episode, Mark, Barney and Jasper look back at Go-Go, the funk 'n' roll sound of Washington, D.C.. Discussing its influences on Swing Beat and its intersections with hip-hop, they revisit classic Go-Go articles by the NME's Richard Grabel (1984) and Simon Witter (1987), plus Don Snowden's tribute to "Go-Go godfather" Chuck Brown.

Your hosts then hear a clip from an 2016 audio interview with Memphis disco queen Anita Ward, who discusses life as a one-hit-wonder – and 'Ring My Bell', the No. 1 smash in question. Barney, Mark and Jasper mark five years since the death of Felix Dennis, reflecting on his experiences in the Oz Trial and his subsequent incarnation as a crack-smoking media magnate.

Rounding up highlights in the new RBP library additions, Mark starts with Mike Nesmith of the Monkees, moves on to the Grateful Dead live in Europe in 1972 Europe 72 and considers an NME Gram Parsons interview conducted not long before the country-rock icon's death in 1973. Jasper enthuses about the live sound of Oxford band Foals.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 31: Bernard Fowler's Life in Music + Dr. John audio + Andy Gill R.I.P.

14 June 2019

Hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by special guest Bernard Fowler to discuss his life in music, from the Peech Boys at the Paradise Garage to working with Mick Jagger on She's the Boss and commencing a 30-year relationship with the Rolling Stones. He also regales the chaps with tales of recording a disco cover of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall' and explains how growing up in New York City influenced his new album of Stones covers Inside Out.

Barney enthuses about Martin Scorsese's new Rolling Thunder Revue, a film about Bob Dylan's mid-'70s tour of America, before paying tribute to NME/Q/Independent writer Andy Gill – noting pieces he wrote about Cabaret Voltaire (and Andy's native Sheffield), Frank Zappa and the man for whom he was often mistaken: Gang Of Four guitarist Andy Gill.

The three hombres then listen to clips from Andy Schwartz's 1994 audio interview with Dr. John, wherein the man born Malcolm Rebennack remembers being ripped off by labels in his early recording career – and his struggle to get clean.

Finally, Mark presents highlights from the week's other additions to the RBP archive, including a 1956 interview with Alexis Korner about British skiffle, Labelle shaking up the male-dominated music industry in 1974 and Barbara Ellen's report of having a truly miserable time at the Glastonbury festival.

For details about Inside Out and The Bura, please visit

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 30: Dawn James on The Beatles + Roky Erickson R.I.P. + Neil Young audio

7 June 2019

Content warning: This episode contains a description of sexual assault that some listeners may find distressing.

Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns are joined by queen of Rave magazine Dawn James to hear about her wild life as a '60s pop feature writer. She remembers her friends the Beatles, reveals the identity of her most difficult interview and astonishes Mark 'n' Barney by confessing her love for ELP. She also talks about her sister Twinkle, whose career as a pop singer-songwriter is celebrated on Twinkle: Girl In A Million, a new compilation on RPM records.

Paying tribute to Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators, Barney and Mark discuss his huge influence on punk rock and psychedelia. They then move on to a lengthy and fascinating 1985 audio interview with Neil Young, including a clip in which he talks about rock 'n' roll being "a young person's game".

Lastly, Mark presents the highlights from the articles added to the library, including interviews with Nancy Sinatra about being in her father's shadow, James Brown wanting to see the Queen and the President "get down" to soul music, and Flaming Lip Wayne Coyne's desire to struggle with the "insane beast" that is rock music.

To buy Twinkle: Girl In A Million, please visit You can find more information via the Facebook page.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 29: Rickie Lee Jones + Harry Doherty + Rory Gallagher audio

31 May 2019

In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie hold the fort in Mark Pringle's absence as he enjoys the sunny shores of Crete. Back in muggy London, Rickie Lee Jones is the free feature on RBP, ahead of the release of new covers album Kicks. Barney and Jasper take a look at pieces about Jones' unexpected success with 1979's 'Chuck E's in Love', as well as her drug problems and wild days with boyfriend Tom Waits.

The two of them then consider pieces by Melody Maker mainstay Harry Doherty, who died five years ago: a report from a 1977 Queen/Thin Lizzy tour; an interview with the young Kate Bush; and a 1976 interview with Irish blues guitar hero Rory Gallagher. By editorial design, the week's audio interview is also with Gallagher, this time from 1978 and with Cliff White. Barney and Jasper hear a clip in which Rory talks about recording live.

Despite his absence, Mark has selected highlights from the week's library load, including an interview with the Beatles before they embark on their 1964 tour of the U.S., plus an interview with Pete Townshend in which he slags off Paul McCartney's song 'Yesterday'. A brilliant Steven Wells polemic about homophobia sparks discussion of Morrissey's far-right views – and of whether or not bad people can make good music. Pieces on Gnarls Barkley and Christine and the Queens/Chris round out the episode.

Episode 28: Danny Fields on the Stooges + the Ramones + George Clinton audio

24 May 2019

Joined by the legendary Danny Fields, Mark and Barney hear tales of his days with the Stooges and the MC5 – and the five years he spent managing the Ramones. He also recounts the tale of the night Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin wound up rolling around on the floor of Steve Paul's The Scene in a ball of cartoon smoke and fists.

The week's free feature focuses on Primal Scream: Mark, Barney and Danny compare notes on the band's frontman Bobby Gillespie and weigh up the influence of 1991's Screamadelica. The trio then listen to excerpts from a 1978 audio interview with George Clinton, in which the P-Funk chief talks about what "funkadelic" means and how the classic 'One Nation Under a Groove' was born.

To round out the episode, Mark presents highlights from the articles added to the archive, including a 1966 interview with Kim Fowley, a 1976 review of Shirley Bassey live at the Royal Albert Hall and a 1983 report on MTV.

Danny Says is on Netflix + Danny's book My Ramones is available on Amazon

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 27: Bruce Springsteen + Elton John + The Beatles + Stevie Wonder with Bob Spitz

10 May 2019

In this week's episode, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns are joined by Bob Spitz, who was all set to go to medical school until his parents talked him out of it. Instead, he bagged a job with "New York's Mickie Most", Wes Farrell, and went on to discover Bruce Springsteen, helping to land him a record deal with Columbia's John Hammond. Tiring of life on the road, Bob began writing about rock for Crawdaddy before going on to author major books about Bob Dylan and the Beatles.

Bob recounts fascinating stories about all of the above, conveniently tying in with this week's featured artist Elton John ahead of the release of new biopic Rocketman. The trio hear a clip from a 1995 audio interview with Stevie Wonder in which the Motown maestro talks about why he started writing more politically – and about the inspirational influence of Marvin Gaye's album What's Going On.

Mark selects highlights from the week's new additions to the library, ranging from a Crispian St. Peters interview – in which Chelsea players chuck olives at him on a plane back to London from Barcelona – to John Sinclair's White Panther Statement in the Warren-Forest Sun... not forgetting a pre-release review of the Beatles' Let It Be when it was still titled Get Back.

Many thanks to special guest Bob Spitz

Please visit for information on his books, including The Beatles: The Biography.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 26: Mavis Staples + Bob Stanley/Saint Etienne + The B-52s audio

26 April 2019

This week, Mark, Barney and Jasper start with featured artist Mavis Staples and discuss her legacy as a member of the Staple Singers – as well as her solo work with Prince and other producers.

Three pieces by featured writer Bob Stanley spark discussion of Johnny Cash and self-proclaimed "best group on the planet" the Stone Roses. A 1992 interview with Saint Etienne cements Bob's "poacher turned gamekeeper" status as one third of that "meta-pop" trio.

The week's audio interview is with B-52s Keith Strickland and Katie Pierson, wherein they skirt around the subject of bandmate Ricky Wilson's AIDS-related death in 1985. Mark and Barney consider the group's status as darlings of late '70s New York and hail them as one of "the best things to come out of New Wave".

Launching into the highlights of the rest of the week's additions, Mark selects a diverse selection of pieces including a 1972 live review of the Rolling Stones, plus interviews with jazzman Horace Silver and Bobby Brown of the rebooted New Edition. Barney mentions the irascible Mark E. Smith and a review of the late Ellen Willis' book Out of the Vinyl Deeps. Jasper introduces his considerably older colleagues to the music of young guns Crystal Fighters.

Episode 25: Jordan's Story + Goth + Bay City Rollers with Cathi Unsworth

26 April 2019

In this week's episode, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns are joined by special guest Cathi Unsworth to discuss collaborating with punk icon Jordan on the autobiographical Defying Gravity: Jordan's Story. They consider the latter's influence on the London punk scene, in which women found a voice and carved out a space for themselves they hadn't previously been afforded.

A long piece she wrote about the '80s Goth scene leads Cathi to reminisce about her early days on Sounds and Melody Maker. Her interviews with the late Dick Dale and with Ozzy progeny Kelly Osbourne provide the basis for discussion of Pulp Fiction and The Osbournes.

Discussion of the Cranberries and their late singer Dolores O'Riordan precedes a clip from the week's audio interview, with disgraced Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton. From his bungalow inside a barbed-wire-walled garden, Paton complains that nobody sends him Christmas cards any more and explains why the Rollers broke up.

Finally, Mark and Barney talk through their favourite pieces from the week's library additions, including a 1966 Rave magazine feature on drugs ("a drag on a drug is still a drag"), Paul Morley falling for all-female hard rockers Girlschool, and Richard C. Walls on the "total bust" that was Stevie Wonder's Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants.

Cathi Unsworth's new book Defying Gravity: Jordan's Story is available for pre-order now from Amazon. Find out more on Cathi's website,

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 24: Al Green + Anita Pallenberg audio + Thundercat

19 April 2019

Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie explore what's new in the RBP archive this week, starting with featured artist Al Green. Three classic interviews take them through the various stages of the soul legend's career, including his gospel period and his return to secular music in more recent years.

They then discuss featured writer Ann Moses, whose editorship of Tiger Beat magazine and contributions to the NME led her to interview the Beach Boys, the Monkees and many more, as described in her 2017 memoir Meow! My Life with Tiger Beat's Teen Idols.

Despite his temporary absence, Barney Hoskyns makes an appearance on the podcast via the week's audio interview, which features him asking the late Anita Pallenberg about her experience of being a rock muse. Mark and Jasper listen to Anita's thoughts on how rock's gentlemen still prefer blondes, how they sometimes get more than they bargained for, and how things still aren't close to equal in such relationships.

To round things out, your hosts present their selections from the week's other additions to the library. The pair discuss everything from a 1964 Billboard report on 'The Jamaica Ska' to an all-night graduation party in Detroit that features possibly the first print mention of the MC5 – and from Sun Ra's cosmology to Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G, with much else in between. Finally, a discussion of the excellent Thundercat is prompted by a 2017 review of the man live in London.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 23: Todd Rundgren audio + Orange Juice + Danny Goldberg

12 April 2019

This week, Barney, Mark and Jasper listen to excerpts from Bill DeMain's 1997 interview with the wizard, the true star that is Todd Rundgren. Subjects include "online music delivery" and the challenge of originality in songwriting.

They then move on to the week's free feature, about Orange Juice and Postcard Records. Danny Goldberg, former manager of Nirvana, is the featured writer for the week, so the boys discuss '70s pieces on Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin and a memoir of attending high school with the late Gil Scott-Heron.

Highlights among the new RBP library additions include pieces on Gerry & the Pacemakers, Yoko Ono on saving John Lennon from chauvinism, Depeche Mode, Foo Fighters, Lenny Waronker and the Stooges. Jasper rounds out the selection with discussion of Mel C, Clipse and Lauryn Hill.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 22: Joy Division special with Jon Savage + Dizzee Rascal audio

5 April 2019

In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by Jon Savage to talk about his new Joy Division book This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else. Jon tells the story of moving to Manchester and getting to know the band plus Tony Wilson and Martin Hannett – and speaks about how seeing Joy Division live haunts him to this day.

The three men listen to excerpts from a 2007 audio interview with Dizzee Rascal, in which the breakout Grime star and interviewer Maureen Paton take a taxi ride through his old East London haunts. Dizzee tells Maureen about how music shaped his life, how London knife crime is influenced by skunk – and about getting stabbed in Ayia Napa.

Mark highlights a number of interesting new additions to the library, including pieces on the Yardbirds playing the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, George Harrison in full "mystic" mode, a scathing review of David Bowie's 'Young Americans' and Johnny Rotten talking right after the Sex Pistols split.

Jon Savage's new Joy Division book This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else is available now, including from Rough Trade.

Hosted by Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 21: Tribute to Scott Walker + Jimi Hendrix + ABC with Keith Altham

29 March 2019

In this week's episode, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle are joined by special guest Keith Altham to pay tribute to the late Scott Walker, an artist he interviewed many times for New Musical Express. They consider Walker's early years as a teen idol and as a Walker Brother, followed by his bold '60s solo albums and his radical re-emergence in the '80s. Keith talks about touring with Scott and Jimi Hendrix – and about introducing the NME to the concept of "humour".

The three of them listen to a clip from an interview with Martin Fry and Mark White of '80s icons ABC about Trevor Horn's production of debut album The Lexicon of Love. Mark then introduces selections from the week's new additions to the RBP library, including Mick Jagger talking to Dawn James in 1965, Anne Briggs "zooming down a whirlpool to annihilation", David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album, My Bloody Valentine live at London's Clarendon, John Mellencamp's self-confessed status as a rock cliché and Salt-n-Pepa being denied their rightful place in hip-hop's history. Barney rounds it all off with tributes to writers Steven Wells and Mick Farren.

Hosted by Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 20: Van Morrison + Pink Floyd + Steve Earle with Tony Stewart

22 March 2019

This week, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle welcome special guest Tony Stewart to revisit the glory days of the NME – and Tony's notoriously tricky interviews with Van Morrison and Freddie Mercury. They then hear about the time Tony saw the first-ever performance of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, brought to a standstill by technical difficulties within half an hour of starting.

The trio then tune into clips from a 1996 audio interview with Steve Earle, following his recovery from heroin and crack addiction. They also discuss his six (yes, six) marriages and his enduring influence as a country rebel.

After Barney comments on Lana Del Rey – the featured artist in the week's Free On RBP section – Mark rounds up highlights from the new pieces in the archive, starting with an interview with Ken Brown, member of the pre-Beatles Quarrymen, followed by articles on Lulu & the Luvvers, L.A. mogul Lou Adler, Orange Juice's Edwyn Collins, Sinead O'Connor's prescient comments on Catholicism... and the '90s hip hop wars between the East and West coasts.

Hosted by Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 19: Morrissey + Madonna + Minnie Riperton with James Medd

15 March 2019

Joined by RBP contributor James Medd, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle hear tales of interviewing Morrissey and Joanna Newsom for Esquire and of life at The Word. Paying tribute to drummer Hal Blaine, one of the great American session players, the trio discuss L.A.'s legendary Wrecking Crew and marvel at just how many hits they played on. Talk then moves on to the week’s free feature, Lambchop, via another great session player, Charlie McCoy – a stellar guest on their forthcoming album. 

James, Mark and Barney hear an excerpt from an audio interview with the late great Minnie Riperton and discuss her "whistle register" and cancer activism. Mark then presents his selection of choice cuts from the week's new library pieces, including articles on Rolf Harris, the Osmonds, Johnny Nash, Scritti Politti, Carl Wilson and the Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense. The show this week winds up with some thoughts on Madonna, sparked by a 7000-word NME interview conducted by Barbara Ellen in 1995.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 18: The Prodigy's Keith Flint R.I.P. + Jayne County audio interview

8 March 2019

In the absence of Mr. Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie pay tribute to Keith Flint of the Prodigy, revisiting three articles from the RBP archive, including an interview conducted during the shoot for the 'Firestarter' video.

Three pieces by the week's featured writer Jeff Tamarkin spark discussion of Bay Area musicians Marty Balin, Greg Kihn and the Residents before talk turns to a brief but brilliant 1985 audio interview with Jayne County. Contemplating her influence as the first open transwoman in rock, Barney and Jasper listen to an excerpt from Ira Robbins' phone interview in which she talks of transitioning and working in a Berlin "house of prostitution".

Finally, Jasper and Barney introduce select highlights from the new additions to the RBP library: Beatles label court battles of the early '60s, Jeff Beck's 1970 visit to Motown, Alice Cooper's shock-rock and Rage Against the Machine raging against the corporate rock machine.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 17: Remembering Mark Hollis + Dead Kennedys Audio + Mark Leviton

1 March 2019

Paying tribute to the late Mark Hollis, Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie consider the Talk Talk frontman's huge influence on "post-rock" (and even trip-hop) and trace the band's evolution from early '80s synth-pop to 1988's beautiful jazz/classical-influenced Spirit of Eden.

The trio then hear an excerpt from the week's new audio interview, recorded in 1981 with Dead Kennedys Jello Biafra and Klaus Fluoride, and discuss the California punk scene (and rise of American indie). Mark Leviton is the week's featured writer, commencing with his account of a week on a recent "rock cruise" – Pringle's idea of "hell" – and wrapping up with a 1984 report on L.A.'s Slash Records.

Pringle presents his highlights of the week's new library additions, including pieces on Scott Walker, the Beatles' White Album, Queen's Brian May, Jackie Wilson, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM — "the worst acronym in music history"?) and the first reports, in 1993, of Michael Jackson's sexual abuse of young boys.

"Jazzbo" Murison-Stardust discusses the 2015 film Whiplash – with its "sports-movie" approach to jazz drumming – along with the xx and Alessia Cara. Barney babbles about maverick British record man Andrew Lauder and Cajun-pop icon Johnnie Allan...

Hosted by Barney Hoskyns, Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 16: Curtis Mayfield + Sigue Sigue Sputnik + History of RBP with Martin Colyer

22 February 2019

Together with special guest (and RBP co-founder) Martin Colyer, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns consider soul giant Curtis Mayfield and his enduring influence. They hear a snippet of Julian Henry's 1985 audio interview with the absurd Sigue Sigue Sputnik – and talk about how Tony James and co. crashed down to earth despite their stratospheric ambitions. There's a brief discussion of pieces by featured writer Mac Randall on Robert Wyatt & Bill Nelson, Linda Thompson and Beck, leading on to a rundown of what's new in the archive for the subscribers, led by chief archivist Pringle: specifically, articles on Del Shannon, Diana Ross, Keith Richards, Viv Stanshall, Joy DivisionAndrew Weatherall and Missy Elliott, as well as a lengthy feature on the drug Ketamine from 1976. Martin, Mark and Barney then take a journey back in time to the origins of Rock's Backpages, explaining how the idea for the archive came to be and what steps they took together to make it a reality.

Martin Colyer's blog can be found at and the book, Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week, Volume 1: Dispatches from the everyday world of music is available on Amazon.

Hosted by Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 15: Radiohead, Gladys Knight and Daft Punk

8 February 2019

Barney Hoskyns is joined by Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie to discuss the week's free feature, which coincides with the publication of RBP's new Radiohead anthology Present Tense. While Mark can't abide Thom Yorke's "middle class pain", Barney deems the 'head to be The Greatest British Band of the past 25 years. Jasper meanwhile describes his "pivotal" role in the Radiohead story: clapping along as a 10-year-old to In Rainbows' '15 Step'.
Los tres hombres hear an excerpt from Cliff White's 1976 audio interview with Gladys Knight & the Pips and enthuse wildly about the lady before considering three free pieces by Jon Young – about Soft Cell/Yaz(oo), LL Cool J and Mariah Carey. Talk then turns to highlights among the new additions to the RBP library, including articles on Cassius Clay the soul singer, Nick Cave and the Birthday Party and Daft Punk's 2013 revival of disco...

Hosted by Barney HoskynsMark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 14: KRS-One + Avril Lavigne + Alex Harvey with Michele Kirsch

8 February 2019

Joined by very special guest Michele Kirsch, regular host Mark Pringle and irregular host Jasper Murison-Bowie start with classic Kirsch pieces on the Replacements, KRS-One and New York Dolls Syl Sylvain and Jerry Nolan. Michele then tells the story of how she was mistaken for an intern at New York’s Soho Weekly News, which started her on the path to NME and City Limits in '80s London. Talk then turns to her life after music journalism, including coming off prescription drugs and working as a cleaner — experiences that formed the basis of her forthcoming memoir, Clean. The week’s free feature Avril Lavigne sparks some discussion of Sk8er boys and the merits or otherwise of manufactured pop, while the sensational Alex Harvey tells tales of the early British rock’n’roll in a clip from a 1975 audio interview by Ira Robbins. Mark presents the highlights from the week’s library load, including John Mendelssohn's fabulous dismissal of the MC5, Larry Graham’s departure from Sly and the Family Stone and Quincy Jones’ pigeonhole-defying career in music.

Michele Kirsch's book Clean can be pre-ordered via Amazon.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 13: Sid Vicious does it his way + Bobbie Gentry's Delta Sweete

1 February 2019

This week, Sid Vicious talks about the Sex Pistols splitting up and his inimitable cover of 'My Way' in clips from a previously unheard audio interview by John Tobler. RBP podcast host Mark Pringle is joined in Barney Hoskyns' absence by Jasper Murison-Bowie to listen to it and, predictably, talk about it. They contemplate Sid's sadness at the band coming to an end, as well as his endorsement of Nancy Spungen as his manager, who he thinks will take the music industry by storm. Moving on to the week's free feature, Bobbie Gentry, ahead of an upcoming reimagining of her album The Delta Sweete, they consider the meaning of 'Ode to Billy Joe' and Gentry's retirement from music after only three albums, with Mark wondering what else might have been if she hadn't. Next up are pieces by featured writer Andrew Bailey of Rolling Stone on British bluesman Alexis Korner, T. Rex's Marc Bolan and Guy Peellaert's Rock Dreams, before Mark and Jasper pick some of their highlights from the week's library load. Topics range from Cliff Bennett meeting Jerry Lee Lewis to Caroline Sullivan on the disappointing boybands of the 90s, via Cannonball Adderley on the intellectualisation of jazz, John Mendelssohn slagging off Led Zeppelin I and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks in one fell swoop, and much else besides. Finally, Mark and Jasper discuss Loyle Carner's approach to grime and London hip-hop, producer Mura Masa's difficulty at being a convincing performer and the despicable Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 12: Big Star + Prefab Sprout with special guest Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

25 January 2019

Welcoming special guest, featured writer and hilarious raconteur Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns hear stories of Jennifer's days in the record business, including the time her car broke down with Kurt Cobain in it... as well as her subsequent decision to give it all up to write a PhD on Joy Division. Having moved to a rat-infested flat in London's New Cross, Jennifer's initial thought was: "My god, what have I done?" She has since gone from strength to strength as the queen of rockademia and global music ambassador for BIMM. Her books Joy Devotion and Why Vinyl Matters serve as the springboard for discussion before talk turns to her biography-in-progress of the doomed Nico. Mark, Barney and Dr. Bickerdike then listen to 1986 audio of Alex Chilton talking about cult Memphis band Big Star and about his decline into alcoholism in the mid-'70s. Barney's attempts to sing the praises of Prefab Sprout are met with unbridled disdain by both Mark and Jennifer, who shut him down in order to move on to the subjects of P. J. Proby's ripped trousers, Van Halen's David Lee Roth and much, much more...

Visit Jennifer's website at and buy Why Vinyl Matters and Joy Devotion on Amazon.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 11: The Specials + Juliana Hatfield + Dave Laing

18 January 2019

Hailing 'Ghost Town' as "one of the great British records", RBP podcast hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns consider The Specials and their politically conscious combination of punk and ska. They then pay tribute to Dave Laing and reflect on his role in the influential Let It Rock magazine, presenting pieces of Dave's on John Martyn, a Bill Monroe live show in a Scottish monastery and singer-songwriters from Jim Croce to John Denver. The week’s audio interview sees Juliana Hatfield in conversation with Ira Robbins about not wanting to get pigeonholed as the Lemonheads' bassist and her subsequent solo album Hey Babe. Beyond all of that, Mark and Barney somehow find time to discuss an early Beatles piece, get confused about Dawn James interviewing her sister Twinkle and berate Robert Fripp for his lack of self-awareness...

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 10: Earth, Wind & Fire + special guest Mark Sinker on the underground music press

11 January 2019

Joined by special guest Mark Sinker, RBP's Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle discuss A Hidden Landscape Once A Week, an anthology on the "unruly curiosity" of the UK's music press from the late '60s to the '80s. Moving on to the week's free feature, goth-punks the Flesh Eaters and their contemporaries the Gun Club spark a discussion of the L.A. scene in the early '80s. The tres hombres then talk about Earth, Wind & Fire's metaphysical funk and the philosophical ramblings of mainman Maurice White (as heard in clips from a 1979 interview by Cliff – no relation – White). Further topics include Liverpool's legendary Cavern club, the Temptations dissing Motown, "pop's public intellectual" Brian Eno and Millie Jackson's self-proclaimed status as "one of the rudest b****** around".

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 9: The Absurdities of Bros + Kenny Rogers audio + Oz Rock

4 January 2019

Chatting about Bros and how appallingly they come out of the After the Screaming Stops doc, RBP podcast hosts Mark & Barney agree that Matt Goss is a "grotesque parody of overweening ego". Moving seamlessly on to Kenny Rogers, the duo hear a clip from John Tobler's 1989 audio interview with the man and discuss his uneasy status as a country icon and his true roots in rhythm & blues. Your hosts then pay tribute to RAM founder/editor Anthony O'Grady, who died in December, and discuss his writing on Australian rock from AC/DC to Radio Birdman. They also consider Paul McCartney & Wings, legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones and Ecstasy's role in the Second Summer of Love.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 8: Keith Richards on drug busts + Mick Jagger in Performance

21 December 2018

Featuring exclusive clips of an increasingly intoxicated Keith Richards during a 2002 interview by Adam Sweeting, this week's RBP podcast could be described as a Rolling Stones special if there weren't so many other things being discussed. Lauding Keef as the band's heart and soul and asking "how has this man made it to 75", Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns wax lyrical about the brilliant Performance. Directed by the late Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell – with a Jack Nitzsche soundtrack Barney describes as one of the "creepiest, weirdest, but most mesmerising" he's ever heard, Performance sums up the transition from '60s flower power to something altogether darker and spookier, with the Stones themselves at "the centre of a vortex of social change". Other topics under consideration include Elvis Presley, the Beastie Boys, Paul Weller, Fleetwood Mac, Ice Cube and Gary Barlow's envy of of Robbie Williams...

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 7: Be-Bop Deluxe, Wu-Tang Clan + Tim Cooper on David Bowie

14 December 2018

In this week's podcast, hear Be-Bop Deluxe's Bill Nelson reminiscing (in February 1978) with Ian Ravendale about starting bands in school and working on the Futurama album with Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker... followed by your hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns discussing Staten Island hip hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan. Attention then turns to featured writer Tim Cooper and his Heathen-era interview with David Bowie. New library pieces under the spotlight include a 1962 letter to Record Mirror from Frank Sinatra fan Fred Dellar; Paul Morley's 1977 NME live review of Little Feat; the return of jazz giant Dexter Gordon; and an unsavoury encounter with the Prodigy.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 6: Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry + the birth of Americana + NYC in the 70s

7 December 2018

Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music talks about interpreting the music of others, resents being called a country gent and loves vinyl. Your hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle debate whether For Your Pleasure or Stranded is the better album, contemplate country and Americana and explore featured writer's Susin Shapiro's New York escapades, which include an interview with Patti Smith about Horses. Next, Barney and Mark consider Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man, recorded at Muscle Shoals, and Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, probably their favourite 'fusion' band. Returning to New York, they reflect on New Wave in response to Robert Duncan's piece describing Television as being 'possessed of all the manners of an oyster', before rounding off with discussions of punk vs. prog, the rise of female sexuality in pop music, and the infamous Kim Fowley.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 5: Led Zeppelin + Kate Bush with special guest John Mendelssohn

30 November 2018

Welcoming special guest and featured writer John Mendelssohn, RBP's Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle present an excerpt from an interview with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and discuss the finer points of rock criticism with John, including the glamour of being threatened by Led Zeppelin from the stage at one of their gigs. Ahead of the publication of a new book of Kate Bush's lyrics, the three of them consider Wuthering Heights (John liked it, Barney didn't, and Mark hated it so much that he didn't listen to her music again for two decades) and discuss Mendelssohn's own book on the singer, Waiting for Kate Bush. Their guest also regales Barney and Mark with tales of finding David Bowie 'really pretty' and how 'deeply appalling' he thinks Richard Meltzer is.
Find John's own podcast at, his blog at and visit his band's website at

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 4: Etta James talks in 1978 + Marc Bolan + Willie Nelson

23 November 2018

Etta James considers her life in RnB up to 1978—'Roll With Me Henry', Johnny Otis, Chess Records and working with Rick Hall. Your hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns in turn consider her impact on singers from Janis Joplin to Adele and discuss featured writer Rob Partridge, raunchy and/or art-rock Royal Trux, and Jobriath. Their attentions then turn to Burl Ives, Marc Bolan and the joy of seeing Willie Nelson live, before they start disagreeing about Portishead as well as The Fugees, with Barney stubbornly refusing to be snobbish about their album The Score

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 3: Sex Pistols interview + Chic + David Hepworth

16 November 2018

Berating "idiot" Malcolm McLaren and "poxy" Vivienne Westwood, Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious hold forth, slagging off everyone under the sun, or at least everyone they can think of, in a 1977 interview with John Tobler. RBP podcast hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle do some holding forth of their own, about the Sex Pistols (naturally) but also about Chic, featured writer David Hepworth, Nico, Gene Clark and Luther Vandross. Hailing Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as "two of the greatest players of any musical instrument in any musical medium", Barney and Mark enthuse about disco, discuss the state of electronic music in the 1980s and question whether or not music can enact political change (spoiler: it can't). 

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 2: Massive Attack + Rosanne Cash + the night Johnny Thunders died

9 November 2018

"Massive Attack [...] bores me to tears", says Mark Pringle ahead of their 20th-anniversary tour of Mezzanine. Following some discussion of the Bristol Scene, he and Barney Hoskyns consider this week's featured writer Terry Staunton. They then present an excerpt from a 2014 interview with Roseanne Cash in which she talks to Adam Sweeting about revisiting the south of the USA, which plays at the end of the podcast. Talk then turns to Joan Baez, Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull, the latter of which turns out to be the starting point for a conversation about addiction and drug abuse, further fuelled by Susin Shapiro's withering review of Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 1: Freddie Mercury on Bohemian Rhapsody + Joni Mitchell + the Wu-Tang Clang

2 November 2018

Hear an excerpt from a 1976 interview between Freddie Mercury and Robert Duncan of Creem about 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (among other things). Your hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle then consider this week's additions to the Rock's Backpages archive, including pieces on Joni Mitchell, Lionel Richie, Randy Newman and the Rolling Stones at the height of their devilish mythology. While discussing Neil Kulkarni's rave review of Wu-Tang Clan's Forever, Barney and Mark recall the time they met Wu-Tang's U-God at San Francisco airport.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie