Movie Review: Love & Mercy

Brian Wilson is the forgotten genius of the 1960s. His group, the Beach Boys, was constantly being compared to the Beatles, and some say that Sergeant Pepper drove him to madness as he tried to up the ante with his (until recently) unfinished magnum opus Smile. And his image has been tainted by Mike Love touring the country with …

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A Second Listen: ‘Up,’ R.E.M.

I remember hearing “Airportman,” the first track from the 1998 R.E.M. album Up, and thinking, That’s it, they’ve lost it. Drummer Bill Berry had just quit the band, and they had steadfastly refused to replace him, opting to remain a trio and adding a session drummer when and if needed. From the sounds of “Airportman,” …

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Introducing ‘The Death and Life of Mal Evans: A Novel’

I’m excited to announce the future publication of “The Death and Life of Mal Evans,” my first novel, due in July 2015. I’ve always been bothered that the Beatles broke up too soon. Granted, I didn’t expect them to be the Rolling Stones, playing together for 50 years, but eight years wasn’t enough. I had …

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A Second Listen: R.E.M., ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’

In 1994, fresh off their mega-million selling Automatic for the People, R.E.M. decided to go hard. Very hard. Their follow-up, Monster, was brash and noisy, with tremolo guitar effects threatening to kill what little harmony Michael Stipe could generate from the songs. It seemed as if they were trying to catch up with the grunge movement that Kurt …

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Is Hip-Hop More Influential than the Beatles?

I was floored a few days ago by a headline I read at Digital Trends: “New Study: Hip-Hop, not Brit Rock, is the Most Influential Genre Since 1960″. My God. No. Could it be true? What kind of study was this? What were they smoking? Researchers at the University of London and Imperial College used …

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Guilty Pleasures: ‘Shadows of the Night,’ Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar was a rocker, plain and simple. Overlook her melodic hooks, keyboard-laden accompaniments and harmonies. She emerged from the 1970s as a sexually tough arena rock star, often getting lumped into AOR (Mom alert: Album-Oriented Rock) acts such as Foreigner, Journey and Heart. But as can happen with most hard rockers, they tend to …

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