In Graham Nash’s recently published memoir, there is a surprisingly candid anecdote about David Crosby, his bandmate in two of the biggest ever folk rock bands, Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN) and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY). Presumably in the early 1970s, when CSN had come into some money, Crosby and Nash, then scruffy, long-haired hippies, walked into a Mercedes dealership in California and to the surprise of the salesmen, promptly bought a car each, paid, and left. But the real story comes later. Soon after buying his new Merc, Crosby sold it to a drug dealer to pay for whatever substance he needed. The story doesn’t end there. When the drug dealer died of an overdose, Crosby sneaked into his house and stole the sales slip, which gave him back the ownership of the car. Read more
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Upon hearing from my friend Hemant that he was listening to a lot of Walter Trout, I rummaged in my hard drives and CD shelves to bring out my old copies of albums by one of the most fret-searing blues guitarists that I’ve heard. I hadn’t heard Trout in a long time. And what came up first was the two-disc live album from 2000, Live Trout, on which Trout plays with his band The Free Radicals (the band’s now just called Walter Trout). Read more

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When Tom Waits and Keith Richards sing the old ballad Shenandoah for you, the only libation that I can think of as an accompaniment is Old Monk Rum. Waits, 63, and Richards, 69, have probably two of the most gravelly voices (and looks to match) in the business and their rendition of Shenandoah, a song whose exact provenance I tried to find out and wasn’t completely successful, is an indication of the shape of things to come in the form of a new album called Son of Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys. Read more

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Ever since iTunes opened up its store to customers in India, it has been bliss for me. I can now buy music at very reasonable prices – songs for as low as R12 and in some cases, even full albums for a dirt cheap R30. The opening up of the iTunes Store was the best thing to have happened for Indian music lovers but some of us, especially of the grey-haired (or, no-haired) vintage, the real deal is often all about buying the album in its physical, touchable form. There is a certain something about peeling off the plastic and opening up the jewel case of a new CD that digitally downloaded albums just can’t match. Read more

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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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Last week, after a couple of quick listens to Radiohead’s The King of Limbs, I had gushed about that album. Now, after several more unhurried listens, I am happy to report that – despite the negative blah by some critics (no guitar riffs; nothing new; very short…. yada yada…) – it is a fine album that I’m going to keep going back to. In fact, what I did after the second, third and fourth helpings of the 37-minute TKOL was revisit the band’s back catalogue and get lost for a couple of days in all of their albums, particularly Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows, all of which came out in  the 2000s, but also the super ones that the band released in the 1990s – Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer. That’s what set me thinking about the Nineties. I know, I know, it’s been a while since that decade passed, but have you stopped to think how much great music was produced in those ten years? Read more

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It’s the curse of plenty. When collecting tends towards hoarding, choice becomes a real problem. And that has been happening to me. The rate at which I’m amassing music—courtesy the scores of feeds from mp3 blogs that I subscribe to and the huge number of podcasts that unfailingly land in my iTunes each week—is far higher than the rate at which I can listen to them all. Some weeks back, a reader and occasional admonisher, Sanjay Ghosh, while commenting on the web version of this column, observed how when you have hundreds of albums, your attention per album gets really small. I couldn’t agree more. Read more

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