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Tony Joe White Lived It and Wrote It

by Marshall Bowden

Tony Joe White passed away on October 24, 2018. He died suddenly at home of a heart attack only weeks after the release of his album Bad Mouthin’. The following piece is adapted from a review of White’s album The Heroines with additional observations on his collaborations with Shelby Lynne.

Tony Joe White’s music is generally described as swamp rock, and it is true that he was one of the first performers to have a hit record with that sound. Back in 1969, when “Polk Salad Annie” became a hit record, there were a few other performers, mostly black, playing a swampy cocktail of sounds from the southern United States, but the mainstream public had never really heard most of them.

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Iggy Pop: The Arista Trilogy

by Marshall Bowden

Iggy Pop had proven that he could write well, could focus and produce solid work without David Bowie’s assistance and was generally ready to assume the mantle of a more mature, and therefore saleable, artist.

Iggy Pop was pretty much down for the count at the time Arista signed him in 1978. When former Columbia Records exec and Arista founder Clive Davis was approached about signing Iggy to his fledgling label (remember, Columbia lost megabucks financing the recording, production, and re-production of the Stooges’ Raw Power) he pretty much said no dice.

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8 Reasons Miles Davis is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Photo by Peter Buitelaar

Back in 2006 when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Miles Davis, there were more than a few raised eyebrows. Davis did release some heavily plugged-in music beginning with the album Bitches Brew, but many still never saw him as a rocker. But Miles didn’t just transform jazz, he transformed and was transformed by rock, funk, and soul music and ultimately popular culture as well. 


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GoGo Penguin’s Transmission From a Humdrum Star

GoGo Penguin, the piano trio from Manchester UK that has received a great deal of attention since its debut in 2012, utilizes the services of sound engineer Joe Reiser. Reiser began working with (joined?) the group with the release of their second album 2.0, along with bassist Nick Blacka, another essential element who joined at the same time. Reiser produced both 2.0 and the group’s recent album, Humdrum Star, sharing production with Brendan Williams. Reiser is generally acknowledged as the band’s fourth member, and integral to the band’s live sound as well as to their recording process.

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Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile

by Marshall Bowden

In the acknowledgments of his book Cut ‘N Mix: Culture and Identity in Carribean Music, Dick Hebdige notes that

“In his book There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack, Paul Gilroy has suggested that music functions within the culture of the black diaspora as an alternative public sphere. Sometimes a reggae toast or soul rap might consist of little more than a list of names or titles. Naming can be in and of itself an act of invocation, conferring power and/or grace upon the namer: the names can carry power in themselves. The titles bestowed on Halile Selassie in a Rastafarian chant or a reggae toast or on James Brown or Aretha Franklin in a soul or MC rap testify to this power. More importantly in this context, the namer pays tribute in the ‘name check’ to the community from winch (s)he has sprung and without which (s)he would be unable to survive.”

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Sun Goddess

How the paths of Ramsey Lewis and Maurice White led to the recording of this quiet storm classic

Ramsey Lewis recorded this track in 1974 with Maurice White & members of Earth Wind  & Fire

by Marshall Bowden

The Trio

Ramsey Lewis was one of the more popular jazz musicians of the 1950s and 1960s, bridging the gap between gospel, blues, soul, and jazz. The Lewis of this period is best known for his gospel and blues-inflected pop tunes with a heavy backbeat, such as “The ‘In’ Crowd”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, and “Hang On Sloopy”.

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