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Tim Riley

Tim Riley

NPR critic, Emerson College professor and author Tim Riley reviews pop and classical music for NPR's On Point and Here and Now. His reviews appear widely in the New York Times,, the L.A. Review of Books, the Huffington Post, on National Public Radio, and the Washington Post.

Tim earned degrees in classical piano from Oberlin and Eastman. Since 2009, he has taught digital journalism at Emerson College in Boston. Brown University hosted Riley as Critic-In Residence in 2008, and his first book, Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (Knopf/Vintage 1988), was hailed by the New York Times as bringing "new insight to the act we've known for all these years..."

Tim's television appearances include the PBS Newshour, CBS Morning and Evening News, MTV, and the History Channel. Riley gave a keynote address at Beatles 2000, the first international academic conference in Jyvaskyla, Finland. Since then, he's given hundreds of lively multi-media lectures on "Censorship in the Arts," and "Rock History." His current projects include the music metaportal, the Riley Rock Index, and a major new Beatles multimedia textbook (What Goes On: The Beatles, Their Music, And Their Time, Oxford, 2019).

Riley Rock Index

Tim Riley online

20 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

2 Live Crew: Nasty or Nice?

Comment by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 27 July 1990

DEFENDING 2 LIVE Crew's right to party feels more like a chore than a privilege. Graphic slapstick writ large, As Nasty As They Wanna Be ...

The Beatles: Mark Lewisohn: Tune In: The Beatles – All These Years, Volume 1

Book Review by Tim Riley, The New York Times, 6 December 2013

APPROACHES TO retelling the Beatles' story slice in two distinct directions: narrow or wide. Some authors choose a single figure and bore down deep, which ...

The Bottle Rockets: Songs Of Sahm

Review by Tim Riley, Public Arts, 3 January 2002

YOU MAY NOT have heard of Doug Sahm, but might recognize his voice from 'She's About Mover', the oldies linchpin. Those who did know him ...

David Bowie: Sound + Vision

Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 20 October 1989

Boxing Bowie: Sound + Vision puts it together ...

Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, X, Neil Young: Rock Of Middle Ages

Comment by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 9 February 1990

The new traditionalism looks for its roots. ...

The Fall: The Praxis Of Punk

Essay by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 7 April 1989

Why The Fall continue to rise ...

Buddy Holly, John Lennon: Learning The Game: How John Lennon Learned to Stop Worrying and Love His Inner Geek

Essay by Tim Riley, Rock's Backpages, November 2006

LONG BEFORE "POST-MODERN" became pure jargon, Buddy Holly put quotes around his "normalcy" to disarm rock machismo. Holly, the "King of the Sixth Grade," hiccupped ...

Jim Keltner: His Time Is Tight: Jim Keltner

Profile by Tim Riley,, January 2002

Jim Keltner has drummed for everybody from Bob Dylan to Steely Dan to Ry Cooder; he drives a lot of the better rock albums you ...

Led Zeppelin: Lead Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin (Atlantic box-set)

Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 21 December 1990

Dead Zeppelin: New Led box is full of hot air ...

The Lemonheads: Getting In Their Lick

Review and Interview by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 26 May 1989

Who needs coherence? ...

Van Morrison: Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles

Live Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 27 April 1990

Soul to burn — the spirit moves Van Morrison ...

Gram Parsons: Gram Cracker

Profile by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 25 May 1990

Parsons's Grievous Angel returns ...

Prince: Graffiti Bridge

Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 1990

Take it to the bridge — Prince's funky graffiti ...

Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet (Def Jam/Columbia)

Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 22 April 1990

Their Own Worst Enemy? Fear of a Black Planet; seductive music, muddled message ...

The Replacements: All Shook Down (Sire/Warner Bros.)

Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 21 September 1990

Refining the metal – The Replacements shake it down ...

Sonic Youth: Will Sonic Youth Keep Rock Honest?

Comment by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 16 March 1990

EVER SINCE punk failed to explode rock's dysfunctional excess with red-faced ire, hardcore noisemakers have been wrestling with the problem of how to be outrageous. ...

Ringo Starr: Starr Dust

Comment by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 18 August 1989

Does Ringo have too many friends? ...

Wipers: Turning the Sage: Boston says goodbye to the Wipers

Live Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 27 January 1989

THE WIPERS, a seasoned punk trio from Portland, Oregon, are headed up by singer/songwriter/guitarist Greg Sage, an electronics wizard offering yet more proof that techies ...

Yo La Tengo: Fakebook (Bar None)

Review by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 14 September 1990

Yo La Tengo's pop mother lode ...

List of genre pieces

Get Ready... Get Set... Dance

Guide by Tim Riley, The Boston Phoenix, 7 December 1990

The perfect party tape ...

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