MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: GEORGE MICHAEL AND FREEDOM UNCUT

Guest Post by Matthew Horton It’s a big month in the George Michael Expanded Universe, as not only has my 33 1/3 book on Faith been released in the US (it’s coming your way on 8 September, Europe), but 22 June also sees the global theatrical release of George Michael: Freedom Uncut, the George Michael documentary feature that – according to the official press material – ‘serves as his final work’. ‘Final work’ revisited, that is, because it first appeared in 2017. Back then, it was just called George Michael:…

The Music of Sports and the Sports of Music: Get Your Sporty Groove On!

“I’m often amused when people roar about something they don’t like—as if said roaring attests to some value or characteristic they wish to have—when what it is they’re roaring about actually has a lot in common with what they’re more than happy to tell you they’re into.”

A guest post by Colin Fleming.

Curiosity Without Boundaries: An Interview with Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett lives according to, what he calls, “curiosity without boundaries.” The lead guitarist of Metallica provides an impressive, but unpretentious reminder that many observers of the heavy metal and hard rock juggernaut might forget: Despite their unlikely mainstream status, after selling more than 125 million records worldwide, Metallica navigates strictly according to their own cartography. On October 1st, I interviewed Kirk Hammett about the Black Album, his philosophy of creativity, and the often misunderstood identity of Metallica.

MP3 Killed the Rockstar: The Downfall of Guns N’ Roses

My 33 and 1/3 book on Use Your Illusion I and II is the only one of my seven books, as author or editor, to have no acknowledgment section. David Barker, who edited the series back then (2006), read the manuscript, accurately predicted that Guns N’ Roses fans would hate it, but said he liked it and we should go ahead and publish the thing. For a good stretch, it was the worst selling title in the series. The conceit, applying Nicholson Baker’s U and I, a book on John Updike that Baker wrote about his half-remembered take on Updike rather than undertaking new research, but here used to create a UYI and I based on my own blurry impressions, all but guaranteed that.

Nenes to Nenez 30 Years On

In 2021, Nenez (using their recent romanized name with a “z” instead of a “s”) celebrated their 30th anniversary with the release of the indies album, Gajumaru. Founded in 1991, the group has seen a number of line-up changes, with three of the current quartet joining in 2019. The ever changing line-ups are comparable with groups such as the American all-women trio, The Three Degrees, which dates from 1963 and is a brand that continues to this day. Indeed,
brand Nenez (or Nēnēzu, to use the transliteration of their Okinawan name) has gone through several phases that have transitioned from a world music act of the 1990s to live-house entertainment in their most recent guise.

Unconventional research and writing with Sam Cooke

People who write often think there are rules that you more or less have to follow. Or should follow. I see a lot made of how much time people spent on their book, and their heaps and heaps of research. I guess maybe I should start by saying that the time in which I wrote the book probably didn’t much resemble the time frames of most other writers.

Sam Cooke, singing and what it means to be a singer-writer

Let’s talk about Sam Cooke and singing and what it means to be a singer-writer. Or a writer-singer.

What does it mean to sing?

I know, I know—you sounded sublime this morning in the shower, when you channeled your inner Robert Plant and delivered a knockout “When the Levee Breaks,” or maybe you were Billie Holiday, with a soul-pasting version of “Lover Man.”

The Drum Machine That Helped Open Paul’s Boutique

When you talk about drum machines and Paul’s Boutique, there are two things that even casual listeners can probably hear. The first is that you don’t hear a lot of drum machines on the album. A big part of the record’s legacy is its sampled beats, assembled into intricate, polyrhythmic collages by The Dust Brothers and Matt Dike.

But Matt Dike thought it was less a song than an opportunity. “When I heard it,” he told me, back in 2005, “I knew they were in trouble.”