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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…