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Rock's Backpages

Rock's Backpages podcast

They were so much older then, they're younger than that now: old farts at play Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns reel in the years and riff on all that's new this week in the world's biggest library of music journalism – definitive interviews with legends of the last 60 years by the pop press' greatest writers ... and much much more.

Every week, Mark and Barney pick their highlights from the 50+ new pieces added to the database, and present an exclusive excerpt from the week's new audio interview.

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Episode 19: Morrissey + Madonna + Minnie Riperton with James Medd

Joined by RBP contributor James Medd, Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle hear tales of interviewing Morrissey and Joanna Newsom for Esquire and of life at The Word. Paying tribute to drummer Hal Blaine, one of the great American session players, the trio discuss L.A.'s legendary Wrecking Crew and marvel at just how many hits they played on. Talk then moves on to the week’s free feature, Lambchop, via another great session player, Charlie McCoy – a stellar guest on their forthcoming album. 

James, Mark and Barney hear an excerpt from an audio interview with the late great Minnie Riperton and discuss her "whistle register" and cancer activism. Mark then presents his selection of choice cuts from the week's new library pieces, including articles on Rolf Harris, the Osmonds, Johnny Nash, Scritti Politti, Carl Wilson and the Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense. The show this week winds up with some thoughts on Madonna, sparked by a 7000-word NME interview conducted by Barbara Ellen in 1995.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 18: The Prodigy's Keith Flint R.I.P. + Jayne County audio interview

In the absence of Mr. Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie pay tribute to Keith Flint of the Prodigy, revisiting three articles from the RBP archive, including an interview conducted during the shoot for the 'Firestarter' video.

Three pieces by the week's featured writer Jeff Tamarkin spark discussion of Bay Area musicians Marty Balin, Greg Kihn and the Residents before talk turns to a brief but brilliant 1985 audio interview with Jayne County. Contemplating her influence as the first open transwoman in rock, Barney and Jasper listen to an excerpt from Ira Robbins' phone interview in which she talks of transitioning and working in a Berlin "house of prostitution".

Finally, Jasper and Barney introduce select highlights from the new additions to the RBP library: Beatles label court battles of the early '60s, Jeff Beck's 1970 visit to Motown, Alice Cooper's shock-rock and Rage Against the Machine raging against the corporate rock machine.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 17: Remembering Mark Hollis + Dead Kennedys Audio + Mark Leviton

Paying tribute to the late Mark Hollis, Mark Pringle, Barney Hoskyns and Jasper Murison-Bowie consider the Talk Talk frontman's huge influence on "post-rock" (and even trip-hop) and trace the band's evolution from early '80s synth-pop to 1988's beautiful jazz/classical-influenced Spirit of Eden.

The trio then hear an excerpt from the week's new audio interview, recorded in 1981 with Dead Kennedys Jello Biafra and Klaus Fluoride, and discuss the California punk scene (and rise of American indie). Mark Leviton is the week's featured writer, commencing with his account of a week on a recent "rock cruise" – Pringle's idea of "hell" – and wrapping up with a 1984 report on L.A.'s Slash Records.

Pringle presents his highlights of the week's new library additions, including pieces on Scott Walker, the Beatles' White Album, Queen's Brian May, Jackie Wilson, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM — "the worst acronym in music history"?) and the first reports, in 1993, of Michael Jackson's sexual abuse of young boys.

"Jazzbo" Murison-Stardust discusses the 2015 film Whiplash – with its "sports-movie" approach to jazz drumming – along with the xx and Alessia Cara. Barney babbles about maverick British record man Andrew Lauder and Cajun-pop icon Johnnie Allan...

Hosted by Barney Hoskyns, Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 16: Curtis Mayfield + Sigue Sigue Sputnik + History of RBP with Martin Colyer

Together with special guest (and RBP co-founder) Martin Colyer, Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns consider soul giant Curtis Mayfield and his enduring influence. They hear a snippet of Julian Henry's 1985 audio interview with the absurd Sigue Sigue Sputnik – and talk about how Tony James and co. crashed down to earth despite their stratospheric ambitions. There's a brief discussion of pieces by featured writer Mac Randall on Robert Wyatt & Bill Nelson, Linda Thompson and Beck, leading on to a rundown of what's new in the archive for the subscribers, led by chief archivist Pringle: specifically, articles on Del Shannon, Diana Ross, Keith Richards, Viv Stanshall, Joy DivisionAndrew Weatherall and Missy Elliott, as well as a lengthy feature on the drug Ketamine from 1976. Martin, Mark and Barney then take a journey back in time to the origins of Rock's Backpages, explaining how the idea for the archive came to be and what steps they took together to make it a reality.

Martin Colyer's blog can be found at and the book, Five Things I Saw & Heard This Week, Volume 1: Dispatches from the everyday world of music is available on Amazon.

Hosted by Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 15: Radiohead, Gladys Knight and Daft Punk

Barney Hoskyns is joined by Mark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie to discuss the week's free feature, which coincides with the publication of RBP's new Radiohead anthology Present Tense. While Mark can't abide Thom Yorke's "middle class pain", Barney deems the 'head to be The Greatest British Band of the past 25 years. Jasper meanwhile describes his "pivotal" role in the Radiohead story: clapping along as a 10-year-old to In Rainbows' '15 Step'.
Los tres hombres hear an excerpt from Cliff White's 1976 audio interview with Gladys Knight & the Pips and enthuse wildly about the lady before considering three free pieces by Jon Young – about Soft Cell/Yaz(oo), LL Cool J and Mariah Carey. Talk then turns to highlights among the new additions to the RBP library, including articles on Cassius Clay the soul singer, Nick Cave and the Birthday Party and Daft Punk's 2013 revival of disco...

Hosted by Barney HoskynsMark Pringle and Jasper Murison-Bowie

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 14: KRS-One + Avril Lavigne + Alex Harvey with Michele Kirsch

Joined by very special guest Michele Kirsch, regular host Mark Pringle and irregular host Jasper Murison-Bowie start with classic Kirsch pieces on the Replacements, KRS-One and New York Dolls Syl Sylvain and Jerry Nolan. Michele then tells the story of how she was mistaken for an intern at New York’s Soho Weekly News, which started her on the path to NME and City Limits in '80s London. Talk then turns to her life after music journalism, including coming off prescription drugs and working as a cleaner — experiences that formed the basis of her forthcoming memoir, Clean. The week’s free feature Avril Lavigne sparks some discussion of Sk8er boys and the merits or otherwise of manufactured pop, while the sensational Alex Harvey tells tales of the early British rock’n’roll in a clip from a 1975 audio interview by Ira Robbins. Mark presents the highlights from the week’s library load, including John Mendelssohn's fabulous dismissal of the MC5, Larry Graham’s departure from Sly and the Family Stone and Quincy Jones’ pigeonhole-defying career in music.

Michele Kirsch's book Clean can be pre-ordered via Amazon.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 13: Sid Vicious does it his way + Bobbie Gentry's Delta Sweete

This week, Sid Vicious talks about the Sex Pistols splitting up and his inimitable cover of 'My Way' in clips from a previously unheard audio interview by John Tobler. RBP podcast host Mark Pringle is joined in Barney Hoskyns' absence by Jasper Murison-Bowie to listen to it and, predictably, talk about it. They contemplate Sid's sadness at the band coming to an end, as well as his endorsement of Nancy Spungen as his manager, who he thinks will take the music industry by storm. Moving on to the week's free feature, Bobbie Gentry, ahead of an upcoming reimagining of her album The Delta Sweete, they consider the meaning of 'Ode to Billy Joe' and Gentry's retirement from music after only three albums, with Mark wondering what else might have been if she hadn't. Next up are pieces by featured writer Andrew Bailey of Rolling Stone on British bluesman Alexis Korner, T. Rex's Marc Bolan and Guy Peellaert's Rock Dreams, before Mark and Jasper pick some of their highlights from the week's library load. Topics range from Cliff Bennett meeting Jerry Lee Lewis to Caroline Sullivan on the disappointing boybands of the 90s, via Cannonball Adderley on the intellectualisation of jazz, John Mendelssohn slagging off Led Zeppelin I and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks in one fell swoop, and much else besides. Finally, Mark and Jasper discuss Loyle Carner's approach to grime and London hip-hop, producer Mura Masa's difficulty at being a convincing performer and the despicable Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 12: Big Star + Prefab Sprout with special guest Jennifer Otter Bickerdike

Welcoming special guest, featured writer and hilarious raconteur Jennifer Otter Bickerdike, hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns hear stories of Jennifer's days in the record business, including the time her car broke down with Kurt Cobain in it... as well as her subsequent decision to give it all up to write a PhD on Joy Division. Having moved to a rat-infested flat in London's New Cross, Jennifer's initial thought was: "My god, what have I done?" She has since gone from strength to strength as the queen of rockademia and global music ambassador for BIMM. Her books Joy Devotion and Why Vinyl Matters serve as the springboard for discussion before talk turns to her biography-in-progress of the doomed Nico. Mark, Barney and Dr. Bickerdike then listen to 1986 audio of Alex Chilton talking about cult Memphis band Big Star and about his decline into alcoholism in the mid-'70s. Barney's attempts to sing the praises of Prefab Sprout are met with unbridled disdain by both Mark and Jennifer, who shut him down in order to move on to the subjects of P. J. Proby's ripped trousers, Van Halen's David Lee Roth and much, much more...

Visit Jennifer's website at and buy Why Vinyl Matters and Joy Devotion on Amazon.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 11: The Specials + Juliana Hatfield + Dave Laing

Hailing 'Ghost Town' as "one of the great British records", RBP podcast hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns consider The Specials and their politically conscious combination of punk and ska. They then pay tribute to Dave Laing and reflect on his role in the influential Let It Rock magazine, presenting pieces of Dave's on John Martyn, a Bill Monroe live show in a Scottish monastery and singer-songwriters from Jim Croce to John Denver. The week’s audio interview sees Juliana Hatfield in conversation with Ira Robbins about not wanting to get pigeonholed as the Lemonheads' bassist and her subsequent solo album Hey Babe. Beyond all of that, Mark and Barney somehow find time to discuss an early Beatles piece, get confused about Dawn James interviewing her sister Twinkle and berate Robert Fripp for his lack of self-awareness...

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 10: Earth, Wind & Fire + special guest Mark Sinker on the underground music press

Joined by special guest Mark Sinker, RBP's Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle discuss A Hidden Landscape Once A Week, an anthology on the "unruly curiosity" of the UK's music press from the late '60s to the '80s. Moving on to the week's free feature, goth-punks the Flesh Eaters and their contemporaries the Gun Club spark a discussion of the L.A. scene in the early '80s. The tres hombres then talk about Earth, Wind & Fire's metaphysical funk and the philosophical ramblings of mainman Maurice White (as heard in clips from a 1979 interview by Cliff – no relation – White). Further topics include Liverpool's legendary Cavern club, the Temptations dissing Motown, "pop's public intellectual" Brian Eno and Millie Jackson's self-proclaimed status as "one of the rudest b****** around".

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 9: The Absurdities of Bros + Kenny Rogers audio + Oz Rock

Chatting about Bros and how appallingly they come out of the After the Screaming Stops doc, RBP podcast hosts Mark & Barney agree that Matt Goss is a "grotesque parody of overweening ego". Moving seamlessly on to Kenny Rogers, the duo hear a clip from John Tobler's 1989 audio interview with the man and discuss his uneasy status as a country icon and his true roots in rhythm & blues. Your hosts then pay tribute to RAM founder/editor Anthony O'Grady, who died in December, and discuss his writing on Australian rock from AC/DC to Radio Birdman. They also consider Paul McCartney & Wings, legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones and Ecstasy's role in the Second Summer of Love.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 8: Keith Richards on drug busts + Mick Jagger in Performance

Featuring exclusive clips of an increasingly intoxicated Keith Richards during a 2002 interview by Adam Sweeting, this week's RBP podcast could be described as a Rolling Stones special if there weren't so many other things being discussed. Lauding Keef as the band's heart and soul and asking "how has this man made it to 75", Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns wax lyrical about the brilliant Performance. Directed by the late Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell – with a Jack Nitzsche soundtrack Barney describes as one of the "creepiest, weirdest, but most mesmerising" he's ever heard, Performance sums up the transition from '60s flower power to something altogether darker and spookier, with the Stones themselves at "the centre of a vortex of social change". Other topics under consideration include Elvis Presley, the Beastie Boys, Paul Weller, Fleetwood Mac, Ice Cube and Gary Barlow's envy of of Robbie Williams...

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 7: Be-Bop Deluxe, Wu-Tang Clan + Tim Cooper on David Bowie

In this week's podcast, hear Be-Bop Deluxe's Bill Nelson reminiscing (in February 1978) with Ian Ravendale about starting bands in school and working on the Futurama album with Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker... followed by your hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns discussing Staten Island hip hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan. Attention then turns to featured writer Tim Cooper and his Heathen-era interview with David Bowie. New library pieces under the spotlight include a 1962 letter to Record Mirror from Frank Sinatra fan Fred Dellar; Paul Morley's 1977 NME live review of Little Feat; the return of jazz giant Dexter Gordon; and an unsavoury encounter with the Prodigy.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 6: Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry + the birth of Americana + NYC in the 70s

Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music talks about interpreting the music of others, resents being called a country gent and loves vinyl. Your hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle debate whether For Your Pleasure or Stranded is the better album, contemplate country and Americana and explore featured writer's Susin Shapiro's New York escapades, which include an interview with Patti Smith about Horses. Next, Barney and Mark consider Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man, recorded at Muscle Shoals, and Joe Zawinul of Weather Report, probably their favourite 'fusion' band. Returning to New York, they reflect on New Wave in response to Robert Duncan's piece describing Television as being 'possessed of all the manners of an oyster', before rounding off with discussions of punk vs. prog, the rise of female sexuality in pop music, and the infamous Kim Fowley.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 5: Led Zeppelin + Kate Bush with special guest John Mendelssohn

Welcoming special guest and featured writer John Mendelssohn, RBP's Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle present an excerpt from an interview with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and discuss the finer points of rock criticism with John, including the glamour of being threatened by Led Zeppelin from the stage at one of their gigs. Ahead of the publication of a new book of Kate Bush's lyrics, the three of them consider Wuthering Heights (John liked it, Barney didn't, and Mark hated it so much that he didn't listen to her music again for two decades) and discuss Mendelssohn's own book on the singer, Waiting for Kate Bush. Their guest also regales Barney and Mark with tales of finding David Bowie 'really pretty' and how 'deeply appalling' he thinks Richard Meltzer is.
Find John's own podcast at, his blog at and visit his band's website at

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 4: Etta James talks in 1978 + Marc Bolan + Willie Nelson

Etta James considers her life in RnB up to 1978—'Roll With Me Henry', Johnny Otis, Chess Records and working with Rick Hall. Your hosts Mark Pringle and Barney Hoskyns in turn consider her impact on singers from Janis Joplin to Adele and discuss featured writer Rob Partridge, raunchy and/or art-rock Royal Trux, and Jobriath. Their attentions then turn to Burl Ives, Marc Bolan and the joy of seeing Willie Nelson live, before they start disagreeing about Portishead as well as The Fugees, with Barney stubbornly refusing to be snobbish about their album The Score

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 3: Exclusive Sex Pistols interview + Chic + David Hepworth

Berating "idiot" Malcolm McLaren and "poxy" Vivienne Westwood, Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious hold forth, slagging off everyone under the sun, or at least everyone they can think of, in a 1977 interview with John Tobler. RBP podcast hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle do some holding forth of their own, about the Sex Pistols (naturally) but also about Chic, featured writer David Hepworth, Nico, Gene Clark and Luther Vandross. Hailing Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as "two of the greatest players of any musical instrument in any musical medium", Barney and Mark enthuse about disco, discuss the state of electronic music in the 1980s and question whether or not music can enact political change (spoiler: it can't). 

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 2: Massive Attack + Rosanne Cash + the night Johnny Thunders died

"Massive Attack [...] bores me to tears", says Mark Pringle ahead of their 20th-anniversary tour of Mezzanine. Following some discussion of the Bristol Scene, he and Barney Hoskyns consider this week's featured writer Terry Staunton. They then present an excerpt from a 2014 interview with Roseanne Cash in which she talks to Adam Sweeting about revisiting the south of the USA, which plays at the end of the podcast. Talk then turns to Joan Baez, Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull, the latter of which turns out to be the starting point for a conversation about addiction and drug abuse, further fuelled by Susin Shapiro's withering review of Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie

Episode 1: Freddie Mercury on Bohemian Rhapsody + Joni Mitchell + the Wu-Tang Clang

Hear an excerpt from a 1976 interview between Freddie Mercury and Robert Duncan of Creem about 'Bohemian Rhapsody' (among other things). Your hosts Barney Hoskyns and Mark Pringle then consider this week's additions to the Rock's Backpages archive, including pieces on Joni Mitchell, Lionel Richie, Randy Newman and the Rolling Stones at the height of their devilish mythology. While discussing Neil Kulkarni's rave review of Wu-Tang Clan's Forever, Barney and Mark recall the time they met Wu-Tang's U-God at San Francisco airport.

Produced by Jasper Murison-Bowie