It’s a 38-second clip showing four old geezers announcing and extolling the goodness of a new smartphone app and it’s so funny that I actually went over and downloaded The Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary app. The four old geezers are, of course, Mick Jagger (69), Keith Richard (68), Charlie Watts (71) and Ronnie Wood (65). On the promotional clip, which you can watch on YouTube, the funniness is not of the comical type but one that reeks of uneasiness. Each of the Stones’ veterans gets a shot to speak and is ill at ease talking about something such as a smartphone application. Jagger kicks off the promo mentioning how the Stones app is unlike any other because it isn’t just another version of their website dumped into the app; Richard wheezes about how it is a “fifty year thing” and that it will have some “surprises”; Watts confesses that he’s never turned a computer on although Mick bought him a couple; and Wood mentions the virtues of having the “Brushes” app (which I think is a painting application and Wood, as we know, is a trained painter) on his iPhone. But all four geezers sound so unconvincing and tentative, that you can’t help but check out the Rolling Stones Official 50th Anniversary App, launched a fortnight ago. Read more

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Around 10 days back, my colleague in London mailed me a link with a short note that simply said “Yes they are back! And I can die in peace”. The link was to a lyric video (the kind where you can read the lyrics while listening to the song) of The Rolling Stones’ latest new single, Doom And Gloom. And the note from my colleague who’s obviously a huge Stones fan besides being an erstwhile (or, is he still one?) bass slapper himself, is an example of how much diehard Stones fans love the 50-year-old band. Read more

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It’s the trippiest music that I have heard in the past six months and it comes from Karachi. Yes. That’s right. Karachi, Pakistan. It’s a band called Basheer & The Pied Pipers and they make a top notch variety of original experimental rock music. The band was formed by two medical students—Saad Munzar and Salman Younas Khan—and their debut album, Basheer, is available for free download. It’s a gem of a find. Read more

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One of my favourite podcasts—a free one to boot—is called The Roadhouse. It’s a weekly blues podcast that is into its 360th episode and, for the past five or six years that I’ve been a subscriber, a great way to discover blues music. Run by Tony Steidler-Dennison who calls his podcast a “true labour of love”, The Roadhouse is described is a podcast that gets you “the finest blues that you never heard”. That’s true. Listen to any of the hour-long episodes of The Roadhouse and, even if you’re a hard-core blues fan, you are likely to be surprised by the number of new artistes that you can discover. Read more

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I never really took to Neil Diamond, although his growling baritone often came out of the record player we had at home in the early 1970s. The player wasn’t mine; very few of the records were what I could call my own; and the women at home seemed to be very fond of Diamond’s songs. So, there was no escaping an occasional dose of Diamond: Song Sung Blue, Sweet Caroline, Red, Red Wine, and so on. Women seemed to love Neil Diamond, although my wife tells me her memories of the shiny sequin shirted singer relate to playing musical chairs to his songs at birthday parties. Some men liked Diamond’s songs too, as I realised much later, when a cousin of mine, well into his forties, made a solo trek to London’s Hyde Park expressly to listen to Diamond sing live. When he came back he seemed to be on cloud nine. To each his own, I guess. Read more

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Every time I listen to Baba O’ Riley, The Who’s marvellous song off their Who’s Next album, I simply have to crank up the volume to as high as my ears can take. Always. Ever since I first heard that album in the early 1970s with its cheeky cover photograph of members of the band having just peed on a huge concrete piling, when Baba O’ Riley comes on, it just has to be full on—the highest volume level that I can manage. Attribute it to the violin solo on the song. Apparently, putting the violin solo into that Pete Townshend-composed song was the idea of the late Keith Moon, The Who’s pretty mad drummer. It was a great idea because that solo is brilliant and one that begs you to turn the volume knob or your iPod touch wheel or whatever works the loudness on the device that you get your fix on up high. Read more

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My recent visits to Kolkata, the hometown I left long before they changed its name from Calcutta, haven’t really been pleasant ones, partly because of the none-too-happy personal reasons for which I have to visit the city. But also because the city I go back to, albeit infrequently, is just not the place that used to be home for nearly the first 30 years of my life – and I’m not referring to its re-christening alone. I have fond memories of Calcutta and many of the reasons why I like the kind of music that I do has to do with being exposed – through friends, bands and simply because of easy availability – to a heck of a lot of great music while I was growing up in that city. Read more

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On December 22, it will be eight years since Joe Strummer suddenly died when he was just 50. Most of us know Strummer as the lead singer (and rhythm guitarist) of one of Britain’s best known early punk bands, The Clash. Although The Clash were a short-lived act – disbanding in less than 10 years – and witnessing many internal quarrels and line-up changes, they were a cult band whose rebelliousness and political lyrics had a long-lasting influence on legions of musicians on the so-called alternative rock scene. Read more

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When Bob Dylan released his 2009 album, Together Through Life, an album on which all but one of the songs were co-written by Robert Hunter, I raved about it in this very column. I was biased, of course. I have a tender spot for Hunter, a long-time collaborator of the late Jerry Garcia and really an invisible member of the erstwhile Grateful Dead, the band that lived and died with Garcia. Even today, much of the repertoire of the remaining members of the Grateful Dead comprises songs that were written jointly by Hunter and Garcia.
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I’ll be completely honest. I sought out Grinderman 2 because I read it described somewhere as being Nick Cave’s midlife crisis project. Cave’s 53, not much older than me and that phrase “midlife crisis” struck a chord (make no mistake, I’m dealing with mine with finesse: I just bought a motorcycle. Yes, go ahead, laugh). Read more

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