I don’t know if it happens to you but every so often I go through these fairly extended phases when I’m listening to not much else than one band or one musician almost all the time. When I first discovered The National, the Brooklyn band that is hitting the headlines right now, I became a serial listener of their albums, all five of them, which were in heavy rotation on my iPod for more than a month. Through the years I’ve had that kind of infatuation with many a band. There was a Rolling Stones phase; a (late-blooming) Morrissey phase; a (very prolonged) Radiohead phase, which roughly, but not accidentally, coincided with a very prolonged low period in my personal life; a fairly long Phish phase, which quite fittingly overlapped with a very happy period in my aforementioned personal life; and, of course I’ve mentioned this before, a hugely extended Grateful Dead period. Read more

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It began a couple of weeks back when, to mark Jerry Garcia’s death anniversary, I wrote a piece remembering my own dalliance with the music of Garcia and his erstwhile band, The Grateful Dead. For much of the next couple of weeks, I found myself delving deeper and deeper into music that I’d first heard decades ago. I fished out a DVD (a gift from a friend) of Blind Faith’s concert in Hyde Park in 1969; I rummaged through my music collection to look for Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats (1969); I found a New Riders of The Purple Sage album, The Adventures of Panama Red (1973) that I hadn’t heard in ages and so on. In other words, I turned retro. But it wasn’t too long before I was jolted out of my nostalgia-laden reminiscing by some astoundingly good new music. Read more

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Sometimes there comes along a week that you wish you could rewind and do it again in a better way. Last week was one of those. Stress, tension, unhappiness, frustration all rolled into one big bad week. It’s over now, thankfully but I’m still reeling from the collateral damage it wrought: for the greater part of last week I couldn’t find time to listen to music. Of course, there was enough stuff coming my direction—via RSS feeds, my online music store accounts and a host of mp3 blogs—but I just couldn’t get down to exploring them. Up until the very end of the week when my mood was suddenly and very pleasantly lifted by a donkey’s jawbone. Read more

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It was all my friend Ashish’s fault. Sometime in the mid-1970s he handed me those three TDK C-90 cassettes. One had a recording of Steal Your Face and the other two, Europe ’72. I heard them and became a Deadhead. My friend, a few years older and much wiser, filled me in on The Grateful Dead and soon I was on my way to a more than two-decade-long relationship with the band, picking up anything by them that I could lay my hands on in those pre-internet days: a second generation tape here, a scratched vinyl there, a coveted, badly-recorded bootleg that someone got from somewhere. Of course, there was one minor issue: The Grateful Dead were best heard at their legendary gigs but no matter how much they toured there was no chance they’d be stopping by at a venue nearby. They may have played in Egypt but India? Forget about it. Read more

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