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Spoken word and poetry

53 articles

Rod McKuen: "Money Is Only Good To Buy Candy Bars"

Interview by Louise Criscione, KRLA Beat, 17 June 1967

NESTLED ON the side of a hill in Hollywood is the home of an extremely talented, highly successful, completely unassuming man named Rod McKuen. A ...

The Scaffold: Scaffold: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Live Review by Lon Goddard, Record Mirror, 17 February 1968

AN HILARIOUSLY comedic and subtly intimate evening sparsed with a few soft-core implications was to be had at the Queen Elizabeth Hall during the appearance ...

Joan Baez: Baptism (Vanguard SVRL19000)

Review by Karl Dallas, Melody Maker, 16 November 1968

Lovers of Baez folksong will be disappointed ...

Richard Brautigan, Aretha Franklin, The Moody Blues: The Moody Blues: A Question of Balance; Listening To Richard Brautigan; Aretha Franklin: Spirit In The Dark

Review by Vernon Gibbs, Columbia Daily Spectator, 29 September 1970

MOODY BLUES' Question of Balance (Threshold, THS3)I first heard of the Moody Blues early this year about five minutes before I was scheduled to interview them. A ...

The Last Poets: This Is Madness (Douglas SDGL 69102, £2.49)

Review by Phil Symes, Disc and Music Echo, 15 January 1972

THIS ALBUM has had tremendous success in America over the last year and practically become the testament of the Black American. It's not hard to ...

Nikki Giovanni, The Last Poets, Wanda Robinson: Wanda Robinson: Black Ivory; Nikki Giovanni: Truth Is On Its Way; The Last Poets: This Is Madness

Review by Sheila Weller, Fusion, May 1972

THE BLACK cultural tradition has always depended for its survival on oral, rather than written, communication: from the chants of tribal Africa to the folk-tales ...

Patti Smith

Interview by Victor Bockris, Carryout, 15 August 1972

VICTOR BOCKRIS: Would you consider yourself to be the greatest poet in New York City? ...

Graham Bond, Pete Brown and His Battered Ornaments: Graham Bond & Pete Brown: Premium Bond

Profile and Interview by Dave Laing, Let It Rock, December 1972

TEN YEARS ago, Graham Bond was playing alto sax at the Marquee on Tuesday nights with Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, and then with his equally ...

Ivor Cutler: Dandruff (Virgin)

Review by Ian MacDonald, New Musical Express, 26 October 1974

I REMEMBER the time when you got seven tracks on each side of an album. Over the years, the quantity has been steadily decreasing and, ...

Gil Scott-Heron: "You Will Not Be Able To Plug In, Turn On, Cop Out"

Profile and Interview by Mick Brown, Street Life, 7 February 1976

IT'S A mystifying truism that perhaps the most surprising thing about Gil Scott-Heron is that he is still standing very much in the shadows as ...

John Cooper Clarke (1978)

Interview by Ian Ravendale, Rock's Backpages Audio, 1978

The Punk Poet talks about comic writing vs. being a comedian; about writing poetry; about putting his words to music; and about his place in the music business.

File format: mp3; file size: 8.2mb, interview length: 9' 00" sound quality: ****

John Cooper Clarke: Disguise In Love (CBS 83132)

Review by Tim Lott, Record Mirror, 28 October 1978

Disguise in sane ...

Patti Smith: Cowboy Mouth, Rock & Roll Theater Company: Club 57, New York NY

Live Review by Richard Grabel, New York Rocker, November 1978

WHEN CAVALE, the Patti Smith-styled character in this play, tries to explain to her boyfriend Slim what rock 'n' roll is and what it means ...

John Cooper Clarke: This Year's Esperanto

Profile and Interview by Nick Kent, New Musical Express, 11 November 1978

JOHN COOPER-CLARKE, the poet who came in from the cold ...

The Doors, Jim Morrison: Jim Morrison: An American Prayer (Elektra 5E-502)*****

Review by Sandy Robertson, Sounds, 2 December 1978

Flashes from the archives of oblivion (Thank you, Roy Harper) ...

John Cooper Clarke: The Salford Surrealist

Report and Interview by Brian Case, Melody Maker, 16 December 1978

A poet and his roots ...

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Forces Of Victory (Island ILPS 9566)*****

Review by Garry Bushell, Sounds, 24 March 1979

Stricker ishion (Roughly translated, some of the finest reggae ever made in England) ...

Linton Kwesi Johnson, Rico Rodriguez: Marquee, London

Live Review by Chris Bohn, Melody Maker, 16 June 1979

EVERY REFERENCE to cops getting hurt elicited cheers of approval from a largely white audience on Sunday. Is that the kind of solidarity that back-and-proud ...

John Cooper Clarke: Cool for Catholics

Interview by Peter Silverton, Sounds, 29 September 1979

John Cooper Clarke makes a good confession to Pete Silverton (lapsed) ...

Linton Kwesi Johnson: a poet turns to reggae

Interview by Mick Brown, Rolling Stone, 7 February 1980

Summoning Forces of Victory in Britain ...

John Cooper Clarke, Linton Kwesi Johnson: Linton Kwesi Johnson: Bass Culture (Island import); John Cooper Clarke: Snap, Crackle & Bop (Epic import)

Review by Don Waller, New York Rocker, November 1980

THIS IS The Rap on The Rap, Part I: On the day you're born the doctor smacks your butt, then you start to rappin' and ...

Jim Carroll: The Transformation of Jim Carroll

Profile and Interview by Laura Fissinger, Musician, February 1981

IS JIM CARROLL, streetwise poet, athletic Catholic Boy, being pushed into the vacant position of rock'n'roll martyr? ...

John Cooper Clarke: Zip Style Method (Epic)

Review by Danny Baker, New Musical Express, 5 June 1982


The Clash, Allen Ginsberg: Ginsberg Finds Poetry in Punk

Interview by Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 1983

WHEN THE Clash decided it wanted "the voice of God" in its last album, the group turned to Allen Ginsberg. The 56-year-old poet with the ...

Michael (Mikey) Smith: Michael Smith: Jamaica Killing

Report by Mick Brown, The Guardian, 26 August 1983

MICHAEL SMITH, internationally acclaimed as Jamaica's foremost "dub" poet, was murdered last week, apparently a victim of Jamaica's turbulent and violent political climate. Smith, who ...

The Blasters, X: Language: Thick Malt, Weird Cream

Interview by Richard Cromelin, Los Angeles Times, 13 November 1983

NOTED SONGWRITERS Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen contribute liner notes to the album, but they don't sing on it. The two records feature members of ...

Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Melle Mel, Mutabaruka: Grandmaster & Melle Mel: 'White Lines (Don't Do It)' (Sugar Hill 12-inch); Mutabaruka: 'Ode To Johnny Drughead' (Alligator 12-inch)

Review by J.D. Considine, Musician, January 1984

ALTHOUGH IT'S doubtful Nancy Reagan listens to either rap or reggae records (or anything more soulful than Ray Anthony, for that matter), she ought to ...

John Cooper Clarke, Gil Scott-Heron: Gil Scott-Heron, John Cooper Clarke: Greenwich Festival, Borough Hall, Greenwich, London

Live Review by Sean O'Hagan, New Musical Express, 22 June 1985


Mutabaruka: Reggae Star Is More Than A Poet

Report and Interview by Don Snowden, Los Angeles Times, 26 July 1985

"I DON'T LIKE being classified as a dub poet because dub poetry is a limit to one's expression," Mutabaruka declares. "It's like saying that you're ...

Ivor Cutler: Bloomsbury Theatre, London

Live Review by Simon Reynolds, Melody Maker, 24 May 1986


Gil Scott-Heron: Life After Arista

Profile and Interview by Larry Jaffee, unpublished, August 1986

NOTE: This interview was intended for Tower Records' Pulse!, but was rejected for fear that Arista Records would pull its advertising. ...

AUDIO: Lydia Lunch (1989)

Audio transcript of interview by Martin Aston, Rock's Backpages Audio, Winter 1989

This is a transcript of Martin's audio interview with Lydia. Hear it here.   ...

Lydia Lunch (1989)

Interview by Martin Aston, Rock's Backpages Audio, Winter 1989

The morning after a London performance, Ms Lunch discusses herself as a spoken word performer and artist: being censored; confronting issues such as abuse of women; her pleasure at being on the margins; other spoken word performers like Henry Rollins and Karen Finley; how she came to music via lyrics, and about the confrontational nature of audiences.

File format: mp3; total file size: 45.5mb, total interview length: 47' 21" sound quality: ****

Jello Biafra, Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins: Spoken Word: Jello Biafria, Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins

Report and Interview by Martin Aston, The Independent, Winter 1989

ONCE UPON a time, people took to the stage without the blast of music behind them, and people would take them seriously. Poetry and the ...

Freestyle Fellowship, The Watts Prophets: The Watts Prophets, Freestyle Fellowship: Ivar Theatre, Los Angeles CA

Live Review by Don Snowden, Los Angeles Times, 1 May 1993

Mishaps Plague Watts Prophets Show ...

Lightnin' Rod: Great Recordings: Lightnin' Rod — Hustler's Convention

Retrospective by Kodwo Eshun, The Wire, October 1993

In 1973, Jalal Nuriddin of The Last Poets changed his name to Lightnin' Rod and recorded Hustler's Convention, the first Blaxploitation audiodrama. Kodwo Eshun recalls ...

Black Flag, Henry Rollins: Henry Rollins (1994)

Interview by Andy Gill, Rock's Backpages Audio, May 1994

Henry reflects on Kurt Cobain's recent death; Black Flag's influence on the new bands; his disapproval of slackers and his ascetic lifestyle; his disciplinarian father; violence in America; what he likes and loathes about England; his youthful fondness for Ted Nugent, and '70s hard rock in general; the difference between Black Flag and his Rollins Band; music vs. spoken word; his literary influences, including Nietzsche; his mother's record collection; being knocked out by punk rock; his gym work... and his relationship with his fans.

File format: mp3; file size: 79.5mb, interview length: 1h 22' 46" sound quality: ****

Henry Rollins: Forum, London

Live Review by Caroline Sullivan, The Guardian, 8 January 1996

Monster made mellow: Caroline Sullivan wonders if mean rocker Henry Rollins can possibly be related to the loveable raconteur performing at the Forum ...

The Last Poets

Report by Chris Campion, The Village Voice, April 1996

A LONG-RUNNING saga of legitimacy has embroiled the Last Poets in a situation that is rapidly echoing the sentiments of one of their own poems, ...

Damon Albarn, Blur: Blur: Meet Damon, The Poet

Interview by Caroline Sullivan, The Guardian, 6 July 1996

Blur's Damon Albarn tells CAROLINE SULLIVAN he is tired of being a star, tired of Yob Pop and tired off feuding. That's why he's reading ...

Van Morrison: Verses I'm versus

Comment by Caitlin Moran, The Times, 4 October 1996

Pop lyrics should be sung, not read out on the radio for pseuds to sneer at ...

Oasis, Spice Girls: Larging it? I should zigah-zigah

Report by Caitlin Moran, The Times, 10 January 1997

Those who live their lives by the vocabulary of pop music are fated to repeat it. Sounds fair to me ...

David Toop: Jeff Noon & David Toop: Needle In The Groove (Sulphur)

Review by Ian Penman, The Wire, June 2000

AT A CERTAIN point in my journey through Jeff Noon and David Toop's shapeshifter alliance — an ingeniously treated setting of Noon's latest novel — ...

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Wardrobe, Leeds

Live Review by Dave Simpson, The Guardian, 23 March 2001

IT'S 26 years since Linton Kwesi Johnson became the world's first and foremost dub poet with the single 'Dread Beat An' Blood'. For this rare ...

Laurie Anderson: Invisible Jukebox: Laurie Anderson

Interview by Mike Barnes, The Wire, August 2001

MOST PEOPLE first heard about Laurie Anderson when her 1980 single, 'O Superman', an eight minute voiceloop and vocoder incantation, reached number two in the ...

John Cooper Clarke: Buster Rhymes

Interview by Andy Gill, The Word, July 2003

Punk's not dead, and neither is its poet laureate, John Cooper Clarke. ...

Jill Scott: The Real Thing – Words and Sounds vol. 3

Review by Lois Wilson, MOJO, January 2008

Scott chronicles her marriage break-up. More Let's Get It On than Here, My Dear, though, says Lois Wilson. ...

Chet Baker, Jan Erik Vold: Jan Erik Vold & Chet Baker: Telemark Blue (Hot Club)

Review by Ian Penman, The Wire, March 2011

SO MANY paradoxes with Chet: a man who became a visual icon, but couldn't care less about his appearance; a man whose music was all ...

Bob Dylan: The Curmudgeon: Interpreting Lyrics

Column by Geoffrey Himes, Paste, 13 November 2012

A QUICK SURFING run through the blogosphere confirms that the Dylanologists are already poring over Bob Dylan's lyrics from Tempest as if the bloggers were ...

Kate Tempest: Poet, performer, novelist: the rise of the uncategorisable Kate Tempest

Report and Interview by Laura Barton, The Guardian, 12 September 2014

Mercury nomination and place on prestigious list of poets are well-deserved accolades for bright young performer ...

Marian McPartland, Kate Tempest: A Tale of Two British Women: Marian McPartland and Kate Tempest

Comment by Larry Jaffee, Women Across Frontiers, 25 August 2015

AMERICAN SINGER-SONGWRITER Aimee Mann once told me during an interview how male executives from major record labels always gave her problems when she wanted to ...

The Beatles: From Beetles to Beatles: It was 60 years ago today

Essay by Simon Warner,, 1 June 2020

How Beat and a British poet changed the history of rock music ...

Nikki Giovanni, and What Poets and Lyricists Can Learn from Each Other

Retrospective by Geoffrey Himes, Paste, 15 February 2022

NIKKI GIOVANNI'S poem 'Ego Tripping' first appeared in her third book, 1970's Re: Creation. As its title implied, it was a giddy blast of all-encompassing ...

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