Musical collaborations rarely get as unexpected as on the recently released Wise Up Ghost And Other Songs. The album is the product of British musician Elvis Costello teaming up with America’s Philadelphia-based hip-hop and R&B band, The Roots. The only thing I can find common between the two collaborators is that though both parties have, respectively, earned oodles of critical acclaim through their careers, neither has become as popular as I think they deserve to be. It’s a pity that more people don’t listen to either Costello or The Roots even though both are very, very influential musical entities.

Come together, right now: Questlove’s (right) drumming is refreshing and Costello often sings highly literate lyrics (Photo: Dan Hallman/AP)

Come together, right now: Questlove’s (right) drumming is refreshing and Costello often sings highly literate lyrics (Photo: Dan Hallman/AP)

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You don’t realise how talented a guitarist and bluesman the young Texan, Gary Clark Jr., is till you are into the second song on his first major label album, Blak and Blue. That’s when you see the way he can wield the axe. That’s also when you begin realising why many people compare him to Jimi Hendrix. Clark can make his guitar scream and shriek and do things that take you back to the golden era of blues based guitar rock. He’s also the one of the few contemporary African American blues guitarists to have created a ripple. Most of those in the new wave of great blues guitarists have been white—at least my favourites are (Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jack White, Dan Auerbach and so on). Read more

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The box set comprising the entire second season of Treme had been lying on my bedside table for months without being watched. One reason for that was, of course, time. Watching a box set can become an addiction and even if you start by watching the first couple of episodes, before you realise it, you’ve spent the entire night, eyes glued to the television screen, watching the entire truckload of episodes and, in effect, killed any prospect of functioning normally at work the following morning. Read more

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Sometimes it takes a re-issue of old albums to rediscover a musician that you’ve been out of touch with for a while. So it was with me last week. When a couple of re-issued Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums landed up, re-mastered and with bonuses such as DVDs in tow, I revisited Nick Cave and after the first couple of tracks on the re-issued Dig, Lazarus Dig!!! (originally released in 2008), I wondered how on earth could I have let so much time elapse before I re-heard Cave’s music. Read more

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I don’t remember waiting for any album as eagerly as I have been for The Black Keys’ new album, El Camino. In October, I heard a track from it, Lonely Boys, and ever since I have wanted to lay my hands on the blues duo’s seventh full-length album. Seven albums in less than nine years is a staggering achievement by any standard but not only have guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney been relentless with their releases, each of which is followed by hectic touring, but on each of their albums, they have tweaked and evolved the minimalist, near-purist blues sound that has become their hallmark. Read more

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Rarely have I known someone to be as passionate about music as was my friend Amitava. Incorrigible Deadhead and passionate lover of guitar jams, he’d drop by in office occasionally to check what I was listening to and pass me his pen drive for a top-up. I enjoyed feeding him new music; mainly because he would not only listen to the stuff I proffered but promptly provide feedback on the music as well as regularly on this column. Amitava ‘Goldie’ Guha passed away recently and I shall miss him sorely.

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I’d never have thought songs about breaking up could be so sonically joyous if I hadn’t heard Fitz and The Tantrums’ debut extended play album titled Songs For A Break Up Volume I. Fitz And The Tantrums are a Los Angeles band and their debut work is actually downloadable for free off their website. They’re a soul band that recreates the purity of the sound of that genre as it was in the nineteen-sixties and seventies.

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Many blues musicians of the early twentieth century USA battled poverty and extremely hard times through much of their careers. A lucky few lived to savour the sweet taste of success but many died in penury. Read more

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