Archived entries for Music Profiles

David Bowie: Loving the Alien

Richard Pearmain on the loss of David Bowie.

“Where the fuck did Monday go?” A line from a song on an album that had come out only three days before. That particular Monday went floating in a most peculiar way.

I first saw the news on the platform at Hackney Downs station, idly scrolling through Facebook on my phone whilst waiting for a train in to work, noticing an unusual number of Bowie related posts, and then I saw a link to the story on BBC News. You get that immediate sense of incomprehension (“but he’s only just released a new album! I’d just been to a Bowie birthday club night in Brixton!”), and then a sense of – well, I don’t know really. Why was I feeling so upset? I got a text from a friend, who I’d been to that club night with, who was in tears, and asking the same question. We didn’t know David Bowie personally, we’d never met him, but it felt almost like a death in the family. Continue reading…


Following a documentary on the band, Martin Cloake writes about Squeeze.

Take Me I’m Yours was the latest in what’s proving to be a well-crafted series of documentaries on early 1980s bands, and this one on Squeeze topped even the superb recent Undertones episode. I’ve been a huge fan for years, and I’ve never understood why the band are so often dismissed as pop/pub band candy floss.

I can remember standing with my schoolmates outside a church in Bounds Green, having been told to queue up to get homework during a teachers’ strike in the early 1980s. If you wanted to look cool at the time, you could reel off all the words to Cool for Cats, which was Squeeze’s current hit evoking a Sweeney-like world of coppers and villains in London. These were London boys singing about London things in accents we identified with and although there was something of a novelty appeal about the single – and about the way the tune was marketed – we also sensed there was something more to it. The lyrical dexterity that has attracted thoughtful kids to well-crafted pop music for ages was on display early on. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Profile

Ahead of Bruce Springsteen’s 2012 Tour coming to the UK this month, Alan Fisher writes about the enduring positive values that remain constant in the work of The Boss.

Rock music is fast approaching the Era of the Geriatric. Those stars from six decades of rock and roll who aren’t bloated on royalties or substance abuse are shlepping round revival tours, a pallid cardboard cut-out version of their former selves. Many make more money than they ever did in their heyday. Where the acts themselves can’t quite get it together or didn’t make it this far, tribute bands fill the vacuum. For those of us of a certain age, three chords over a snappy backbeat will always set the toes a-tapping but there’s no denying a lingering unease that we’ve heard it all before.

Bruce Springsteen has chosen a different option. At 62, he’s discovered a rich seam of creativity that shows little sign of running out. After a fallow period in the middle of his career, Springsteen can’t stop writing and touring. As a misunderstood punk-kid on New Jersey streets, the songs tumbled out faster than the embryonic E Street Band could keep up and forty years on little has changed. Albums, concepts, styles from full-blown storming rock through American folk to acoustic, his prolific energy puts his contemporaries to shame. His latest album, Wrecking Ball, released earlier this year, is his 17th studio effort, adding to a catalogue fans own including a cannon of live recordings and collections of previously unreleased material, and he’s already begun a world tour that comes to Britain this month. The album was number one in the States and they still queue overnight for tickets, even though he tours regularly. Seeing Springsteen perform remains special. Continue reading…

Mark E Smith

Music critic and fan of the Fall, Richard Pearmain profiles Mark E Smith. 

The Madness of King Mark

Like everyone who says they remember where they were when they heard about President Kennedy’s assassination, I always remember the first time I ever heard the Fall. It was on the radio, approximately 3.02pm, as a student on vacation, and not just a vacation for me either – Steve Wright, then the mainstay DJ of primetime Radio 1, was off on his jollies, and who was sitting in for him? John Peel. “Hello, everybody out there in radio land,” or words to that effect, “this is the Fall.” And there it was, Lost In Music, the Sister Sledge disco classic remade/remodelled in the most unlikely way. And there was that unmistakable voice, over the driving funk guitar (funk! The Fall!), Mark E Smith grumbling about “the brick refurbishment of pubs”. Not sure what Nile Rodgers would make of that….

Admittedly, I wasn’t immediately launched headlong into the Wonderful and Frightening World of they Fall, they were more of a slow burner. Of course, I knew who the Fall were, but they seemed a murkier proposition than the Smiths or New Order. However, I don’t know how, but they got me in the end. I think it’s fair to say that there is no such thing as a casual Fall fan – you’re either in, or you’re not. Continue reading…


Musician and Poet Matt Abbott profiles Morrissey, the lyricist.

The year is 2012, and The Smiths are just as vital now as they were when ‘Hand In Glove’ was introduced to the world in May 1983. The single was championed by John Peel but largely ignored by the British public, and as a result it failed to chart. But what those four men were creating in Manchester would go on to change the lives of millions. Their influence and importance can never be dismissed and nearly thirty years later, I genuinely believe that we need them more than ever.

I was admittedly a late bloomer when it came to discovering The Smiths. In the early days of Skint & Demoralised my song-writing partner and producer very much mentored me as a new lyricist and bought me a couple of their albums for Christmas 2007. At the time I was just about to turn nineteen and musically I had a fairly limited collection. Aside from the odd “Best Of…” here and there it was mainly stuff that had been released in my teenage years; dominated by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Streets, Eminem and The Ordinary Boys. Through the latter obsession I’d discovered The Jam, but other than that I’d failed to delve into the list of singers that are commonly regarded as the all-time great lyricists. So imagine how I felt when I first listened to ‘Hatful of Hollow’ in my bedroom… Continue reading…

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