Fela Kuti: Unwrapping genius in a box, 20 years after the Afrobeat pioneer’s death

Commemorating the 20 years which have passed since his death, the latest Fela Kuti collection to hit the market – simply titled Box Set #4, and released today [December 15] – says much about the bewitched legacy of the Nigerian pioneer most observers credit with inventing an entire musical genre. Hailed as the propagator of Afrobeat, Kuti might be the continent’s most fetishised musical export. The style he both fathered and coined the name of is a quixotic brew, criss-crossing poppy Ghanaian highlife and West African Yoruba traditions with thick grooves repurposed from American funk, the soaring improvisational impulses of … Continue reading Fela Kuti: Unwrapping genius in a box, 20 years after the Afrobeat pioneer’s death

What Neil Young’s massive, monetized Archives dump means for the music industry

When Neil Young revealed plans to release every song he has ever recorded, on his own bespoke online streaming portal, it was just the latest, greatest piece of mindful self-curation from an artist who has historically enjoyed a contrary control over his own storied musical archives. Equally ingenious and indulgent, Young’s forthcoming interactive depository also surely represents the single most brazen bid by any artist of any age to regulate, and presumably profit from, their back catalogue in the digital era. Unveiled by the 71-year-old rocker in a rambling open letter – posted on the web address neilyoungarchives.com earlier this … Continue reading What Neil Young’s massive, monetized Archives dump means for the music industry

RIP Chuck Berry: Remembering Rock n’ roll’s greatest architect – obituary

The world of rock ‘n’ roll has lost its most distinguished elder, with the passing of Chuck Berry at the age of 90 in his home state of Missouri on Saturday. Berry was not just the genre’s greatest architect, but also its archetypal great-grandfather – cranky, irreducible, immutable and utterly inimitable. Fittingly, he outlasted nearly all of his peers, still thrilling audiences onstage until late 2014. Those pioneers still standing cannot match Berry’s staggering, monumental influence on the genre which came to define the second half of the 20th century. It might have been The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and … Continue reading RIP Chuck Berry: Remembering Rock n’ roll’s greatest architect – obituary

Noel Gallagher: The complete interview

The year 2012 was a pretty good one for Noel Gallagher. After walking out of Oasis in 2009 after one too many fights with frontman/brother Liam, in late 2011 he launched solo album Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Going in straight at UK number one, 45-year-old Noel spent the bulk of last year on a 150-date tour which was swiftly upgraded from theatres to arenas, embraced with open arms by the press and public as British national treasure. But Noel’s taking 2013 off (and 2014 too if he can ‘get away with it’) aside from a few dates – including one … Continue reading Noel Gallagher: The complete interview

Scattered thoughts on seeing Sonny Rollins blow live – aged 80 – at The Barbican

The overused superlative “endless flow of ideas” dwarfs into a meaningless cliché after hearing Sonny Rollins’ torrential bombardment of sax. Notes cascaded out of the giant’s towering tenor, swelling to climax after climax, ears overflowing with peaks like water dashing … Continue reading Scattered thoughts on seeing Sonny Rollins blow live – aged 80 – at The Barbican