Ben Watt’s Romany & Tom

I reviewed a book by the musician Ben Watt about his parents for Paste. See the review here. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the house remixes that Watt did in the early ’00s after the breakup of his group, Everything but the Girl. Check out what he does with Sade:

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There Goes Gravity

I reviewed a memoir by the music journalist Lisa Robinson. She’s had more experience in pop than almost anybody, but spends a lot of time rehashing the same old rock history that has been dissected countless times.

Man on the Run

I reviewed a new book, Man on the Run, about Paul McCartney in the ’70s. Here’s McCartney doing disco.

New Biography of Louis Jordan

I reviewed a biography of Louis Jordan for Splice Today. Louis Jordan influenced all the people who went on to influence everyone else–Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, B.B. King. Below, check out Jordan’s “Caldonia Boogie.”

 

The Jesus Lizard Book

I reviewed a book about the rock band Jesus Lizard for Paste. It’s the latest in a steadily increasing pool of books looking at indie guitar bands from the ’80s and ’90s.

Philip Bailey Still Hits The High Notes

I reviewed the new memoir from Philip Bailey, the lead singer in the group Earth, Wind & Fire. Check that piece out over at Paste. It’s hard to pick a favorite Earth, Wind & Fire tune, so I picked two.

 

In the book, Bailey points out that his sound was heavily indebted to the Brazilian singer Sergio Mendes, which comes through in the vocal clouds here.

A First for the Staple Singers

I wrote about a new book on the Staple Singers for Paste. Surprisingly it’s the first book on a group that had two number one hits and earned admiration from Elvis, Dylan, and Prince. Below, a Staple family track that the Stones ripped wholesale.

 

And here’s their last number one hit, written and produced by Curtis Mayfield.

Questlove’s Family Affair

(I wrote this last summer, when the drummer Questlove’s autobiography came out, but my piece slipped through the cracks, so I’m posting it now.)

In Ahmir Thompson’s memoir, Mo’ Meta Blues, the drummer writes about his decision to go by his better-known moniker, Questlove. The name, he writes, combined “a mix of substance and style;” so does his book. Mo’ Meta Blues includes some normal career description, but several years are described largely through the records he remembers listening to at the time. He also throws in interviews with (and interjections from) the manager of his band, as well as emails from other people involved in the writing and editing process. Musicians take note: most of the time, Questlove manages to spice up a form that should be interesting — after all, few people have an artist’s breadth of experience — but too often ends up boring, repetitive, and predictable.

Not that Questlove throws the whole musician’s autobiography playbook out the window (for another interesting experiment in music memoir, read the book-length interview of the artist Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy). “[E]very music memoir has the same shape,” writes Questlove, “[i]t starts off with a simple statement about childhood: ‘I was born. . . My dad did this.’ But I don’t want to start that way. I can’t start that way. I won’t.” But of course, he does.

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