A discussion on D‘Angelo’s Voodoo

Voodoo album cover image

It’s here! The latest episode of the Bloomsbury Academic Podcast features Faith Pennick (@FaithPennick), author of D’Angelo’s Voodoo, discussing the legacy of the acclaimed 2000 album that skirts all definitive labels.  With not one song under four minutes in length, Voodoo takes its time. It is a leisurely paced work of art backed by a steady beat that does not waver, while lyrics like “And I hoped by chance I’d see you once again / I’d love to kiss your lips, baby, once again” (“One Mo’Gin”) and “I need someone to hold me / Bring me back to life before I’m dead” (“The Root”)…

Celebrating The Raincoats + New Podcast Episode!

The Raincoats’ The Raincoats album cover image

Last week marked the end of a particularly eventful Pride month, but that doesn’t mean the conversations, or celebrations, have to end. Today we are highlighting one of our favorite queer-rebellious-feminist-punk bands of all time: The Raincoats. That’s right, you can now listen to our newest episode of the Bloomsbury Academic Podcast, where we talk to 33 1/3 author Jenn Pelly about this spontaneous and captivating all-female group and the unapologetic music they created.

Pride and Pop’s Queen Mom

Matthew Restall, on the story of Elton’s coming out. Elton John has famously described himself as “the most famous poof in the world.” In Pride Month, as millions celebrate being out, who better to read about and listen to than the Queen Mom of Pop (as the British press have dubbed Sir Elton)? Actually, this year, as some Pride parades merge with BLM marches, many of us will be reflecting on the significance of present-day pioneers like Frank Ocean and Lil Nas X; or on the experiences of gay black…

An Abbreviated Judy Garland Bibliography

Manuel Betancourt, on the movies, books, and films that shaped Judy Garland’s Judy at Carnegie Hall For months on end all I read (and watched and thought about) was Judy Garland. I had no shortage of books and movies and interviews and magazine profiles and blog posts and zines and websites to choose from. I knew I could never read everything I needed, but that didn’t mean I didn’t try.  Judy at Carnegie Hall benefited immensely from the many talented writers (and filmmakers and actors and critics) who’ve spent years…

Here’s to Judy’s Female Fans

Manuel Betancourt, on what Judy Garland meant to the women that listened to her. As soon as I sat down to write about Judy Garland I knew I’d be entering into a conversation that’s been going on for decades. The avid fandom Garland inspires is almost as legendary as the star herself. Years before the world caught Beatlemania—and decades before self-anointed “stans” would dub themselves Swifties, Lambies, Little Monsters and the like—Judy fans epitomized a kind of devotion that was hard to put into words without sounding hyperbolic.  Writing about…

Judy at Carnegie Hall: Concert vs. Album

Manuel Betancourt on why Judy Garland’s concert at Carnegie Hall and the live recording are different animals. “On the evening of April 23, 1961, 3,165 privileged people packed the world famous Carnegie Hall in New York beyond its capacity, and witnessed what was probably the greatest evening in show-business history. Now YOU will join those privileged few and thrill to the very performance which has been captured live and undiluted in this album. Here is the complete concert. These two records contain rare show-business history, recorded permanently with all the…

Falling in Love With Judy Garland

Manuel Betancourt on how he came to know and love Judy at Carnegie Hall Judy Garland lights up the screen. To watch The Wizard of Oz or A Star is Born is to understand why she remains one of the most beloved screen icons of the twentieth century. But to read about her live performances is to realize that the camera could only ever capture a fraction of what “the world’s greatest entertainer” could accomplish on the stage. Her musical numbers in the Rooney-Garland films, her dancing alongside Fred Astaire…

Judy Garland & Stonewall: Debunking a Decades’ Old Myth

Manuel Betancourt on the gay iconicity of Judy Garland Judy Garland died on June 22, 1969.  The Stonewall riots began on June 28, 1969. The contiguity of these two events have encouraged many since to see them as intimately tied to one another, going so far as suggesting that one caused the other. It’s a question that came up several times in casual conversation last year, especially during the summer as New York City celebrated their joint anniversary. Such commingling of fact and fiction fascinated me, especially as my book…

Talking Sides

Matthew Restall on the four glorious sides of Blue Moves. You may be unlikely to listen to a double album today as exactly that—a set of four sides of vinyl. And there is nothing wrong with streaming it as a single sequence of eighteen tracks (re-sequencing or editing the album is a trickier issue, as I discuss in my Blue Moves book). But it is worth considering why an album from the vinyl era was assembled the way it was—in the case of Blue Moves, by its brilliant producer, Gus…

Reg vs Elton and Other Contradictions

Matthew Restall, author of Elton John’s Blue Moves, on the many contradictions of Elton John. Contradictions are at the heart of rock and pop music. Its genres and its culture are laced with paradoxes. The personality, career, and music of Elton John are no exception. Here are a trio of such contradictions that particularly fascinate me and are reflected in my Blue Moves book. 1. Name changing is an experiment in alchemy. The intention is for the new persona to replace, even erase, the old. For Reginald Kenneth Dwight, it…