This week on the smart pop culture podcast: Should Eagles Of Death Metal be kicked off festivals just because of their singer’s politics? Comeback albums from Dexys, ABC and S’Express. And legendary Smash Hits writer Sylvia Patterson talks us through I’m Not With The Band, her hilarious memoir of life at the sharp end of pop journalism. Also joining us this week is special guest Alexis Petridis, The Guardian’s chief rock and pop critic.
Fifty years ago Bob Dylan turned pop entertainment into a vehicle for dazzling visions – and it’s been that way ever since. James Medd investigates the album that invented an art form.
In 2016, the single is king. iTunes’ unbundling of the album into single tracks for sale individually changed the way we buy and listen to music. We all know it, but we often act is if it isn’t so: though we most likely access music through streaming services or downloads, we still talk about “new albums”, and newspapers and magazines still review them over individual tracks. Strangely, many artists think this way too. The most innovative and ambitious of them, such as Kanye West or Kendrick Lamar, release albums and even a pop sensation like Miley Cyrus turns to the long format when she wants to be taken seriously. We continue to view the album as the mode for music worthy of attention, for art. The reason for that is ‘Blonde On Blonde’.
Released 50 years ago this May, ‘Blonde On Blonde’ still sounds fresh and unlike anything else – a sprawling double album that’s the perfect entry point to Bob Dylan’s sprawling career. Even unbundled, it is astonishing. There’s ‘I Want You’, a pop song that could compete with The Beatles for catchiness; ‘Just Like A Woman’, a torch song Sinatra could have covered; ‘Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’, the original epic love ballad; and ‘Visions Of Johanna’, a stream-of-consciousness tone poem that’s as enigmatic and atmospheric as anything in popular music – and none of them are the best song on the album.
Crucially, though, it’s the other tracks, the “filler”, that make it. What ‘Blonde On Blonde’ has, above all, is cohesion: it’s an album – in fact, it’s pretty much the album. It’s where rock – or pop as art – started, and where a new kind of listening began, one that’s only just coming to an end now. Continue reading “How Dylan’s ‘Blonde On Blonde’ created the modern album”
This week on the smart pop culture podcast: Richard Ashcroft, the Manics, the Stone Roses… they’re all back. Where did this sensitive 90s Man-Rock revival come from? Will Trainspotting 2 be any good? And how punk is the British Library’s Punk exhibition? Music writers Arwa Haider and Dev Sherlock of the Hype Machine join Matt Hall and Andrew Harrison to argue the “toss” on these and other matters.
It’s Bob Dylan week on the Bigmouth podcast as noted Zimmermanologists Eamonn Forde and James Medd join sceptical presenters Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall to explain how ‘Blonde On Blonde’ created the rock album as we know it, Jim. Also: Will letting Joe and Josephine Public vote on the Mercury Prize produce a Votey McVoteface disaster? Were born-again shoegazers Lush’s comeback gigs as good as everyone says? And secrets of The Krankies’ memoirs. Brace yourselves.
Noted Beatleologist and veteran of The Word magazine Paul du Noyer and free-range Internet person Michael Moran join presenters Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall to shout the odds on this week’s pop culture developments. Can famed ‘Team Lennon’ writer Philip Norman give Paul McCartney a fair crack of the whip in his new Macca-ography? Are Radiohead stealing from Half Man Half Biscuit? And was The Wag a hive of bereted posers, the best club ever – or both? Let heated debate commence.
Dance music guru Joe Muggs and “recovering music journalist” Sarah Bee join Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall for an hour of free-range pop culture argument. This week: Prince and the Great Pop Extinction Event of 2016. Can you understand Captain America: Civil War if you aren’t a massive geek? Is spoof news journo Jonathan Pie a welcome comic voice or a creepy Putin-panderer? And Internet language – why we’ve run out of can’ts to even.
Special guests Jude Rogers and Andrew Collins join us for our first show, smashing a bottle of virtual champagne across the bows of the Good Ship Bigmouth with regular presenters Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall. This week: Is it ever OK to buy vinyl and never play it? What’s all the fuss about Sandy Denny? is is possible to talk about long-form TV like Game Of Thrones without your friends wanting to murder you? Plus the traditional much, much more…