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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Mark Ribowsky about Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams.

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 2:22pm

After he died in the backseat of a Cadillac at the age of twenty-nine, Hank Williams -- a frail, flawed man who had become country music's first real star --- instantly morphed into its first tragic martyr. Having hit the heights with simple songs of despair, depression, and tainted love, he would, with that outlaw swagger, become in death a template for the rock generation to follow. Six decades later, Mark Ribowsky now weaves together the first fully realized biography of Hank Williams in a generation. Examining his music while also re-creating days and nights choked in booze and desperation, Ribowsky traces the miraculous rise of this music legend from the dirt roads of rural Alabama to the now-immortal stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and finally to a sad, lonely end on New Year's Day, 1953. The result is an original work that promises to uncover the real Hank beneath the myths that have long enshrouded his legacy.

The interview was recorded on January 26, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Steve Turner about Beatles '66: The Revolutionary Year.

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 1:08pm

The year that changed everything for the Beatles was 1966—the year of their last concert and their first album, Revolver, that was created to be listened to rather than performed. This was the year the Beatles risked their popularity by retiring from live performances, recording songs that explored alternative states of consciousness, experimenting with avant-garde ideas, and speaking their minds on issues of politics, war, and religion. It was the year their records were burned in America after John’s explosive claim that the group was "more popular than Jesus," the year they were hounded out of the Philippines for "snubbing" its First Lady, the year John met Yoko Ono, and the year Paul conceived the idea for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Music journalist and Beatles expert Steve Turner slows down the action to investigate in detail the enormous changes that took place in the Beatles’ lives and work during 1966. He looks at the historical events that had an impact on the group, the music they made that in turn profoundly affected the culture around them, and the vision that allowed four young men from Liverpool to transform popular music and serve as pioneers for artists from Coldplay to David Bowie, Jay-Z to U2.

By talking to those close to the group and by drawing on his past interviews with key figures such as George Martin, Timothy Leary, and Ravi Shankar—and the Beatles themselves—Turner gives us the compelling, definitive account of the twelve months that contained everything the Beatles had been and anticipated everything they would still become.

The interview was recorded on November 10, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to musician and author Lol Tolhurst about his new memoir Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys.

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:16am

“On our first day of school, Robert and I stood at the designated stop at Hevers Avenue with our mothers, and that's when we met for the very first time. We were five years old.”

So began a lifelong friendship that fourteen years later would result in the formation of The Cure, a quintessential post-punk band whose albums—such as Three Imaginary Boys, Pornography, and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me—remain among the best-loved and most influential of all time.

As two of the first punks in the provincial English town of Crawley, Lol Tolhurst and Robert Smith didn't have it easy. Outsiders from the start, theirs was a friendship based initially on proximity and a shared love of music, from the punk that was raging in nearby London to the groundbreaking experimentation of David Bowie's “Berlin Trilogy.” First known as The Easy Cure, they began playing in pubs and soon developed their own unique style and approach to songwriting, resulting in timeless songs that sparked a deep sense of identification and empathy in listeners, songs like “Boys Don't Cry,” “Just Like Heaven,” and “Why Can't I Be You?,” spearheading a new subculture dubbed “Goth” by the press. The music of The Cure was not only accessible but also deeply subversive, challenging conventional notions of pop music and gender roles while inspiring a generation of devoted fans and a revolution in style.

Cured is not only the first insider account of the early days of the band, it is a revealing look at the artistic evolution of the enigmatic Robert Smith, the iconic lead singer, songwriter, and innovative guitarist at the heart of The Cure. A deeply rebellious, sensitive, tough, and often surprisingly “normal” young man, Smith was from the start destined for stardom, a fearless non-conformist and provocateur who soon found his own musical language through which to express his considerable and unique talent.

But there was also a dark side to The Cure's intense and bewildering success. Tolhurst, on drums and keyboards, was nursing a growing alcoholism that would destroy his place in The Cure and nearly end his life. Cured tells the harrowing and unforgettable story of his crash-and-burn, recovery, and rebirth.

Intensely lyrical and evocative, gripping and unforgettable, Cured is the definitive story of a singular band whose legacy endures many decades hence, told from the point of view of a participant and eyewitness who was there when it happened—and even before it all began.

The interview was recorded on October 13, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Heather Ann Thompson about her New York Times bestseller Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 12:48pm

On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed.

On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men—hostages as well as prisoners—and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed.

Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian and University of Michigan professor Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this forty-five-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.

The interview was recorded on September 14, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Joel Selvin about his new book Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day.

Tue, 10/04/2016 - 11:39am

In his deeply researched book, Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day, filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones’ infamous Altamont concert in San Francisco, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s.

In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock—the day that shattered the Sixties’ promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from the film Gimme Shelter, the whole story has remained buried in varied accounts, rumor, and myth—until now.

Altamont explores rock’s darkest day, a fiasco that began well before the climactic death of Meredith Hunter and continued beyond that infamous December night. Joel Selvin probes every aspect of the show—from the Stones’ hastily planned tour preceding the concert to the bad acid that swept through the audience to other deaths that also occurred that evening—to capture the full scope of the tragedy and its aftermath. He also provides an in-depth look at the Grateful Dead’s role in the events leading to Altamont, examining the band’s behind-the-scenes presence in both arranging the show and hiring the Hells Angels as security.

The product of twenty years of exhaustive research and dozens of interviews with many key players, including medical staff, Hells Angels members, the stage crew, and the musicians who were there, and featuring sixteen pages of color photos, Altamont is the ultimate account of the final event in rock’s formative and most turbulent decade.

Martin’s interview with Joel Selvin was recorded on August 29, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Tom Stanton about Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit.

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 11:26am

Martin talks to author Tom Stanton about Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit.

Detroit, mid-1930s: In a city abuzz over its unrivaled sports success, gun-loving baseball fan Dayton Dean became ensnared in the nefarious and deadly Black Legion. The secretive, Klan-like group was executing a wicked plan of terror, murdering enemies, flogging associates, and contemplating armed rebellion. The Legion boasted tens of thousands of members across the Midwest, among them politicians and prominent citizens—even, possibly, a beloved athlete.

A New York Times Bestseller, Terror in the City of Champions opens with the arrival of Mickey Cochrane, a fiery baseball star who roused the Great Depression’s hardest-hit city by leading the Tigers to the 1934 pennant. A year later he guided the team to its first championship. Within seven months the Lions and Red Wings follow in football and hockey—all while Joe Louis chased boxing’s heavyweight crown.

Amidst such glory, the Legion’s dreadful toll grew unchecked: staged “suicides,” bodies dumped along roadsides, high-profile assassination plots. Talkative Dayton Dean’s involvement would deepen as heroic Mickey’s Cochrane’s reputation would rise. But the ballplayer had his own demons, including a close friendship with Harry Bennett, Henry Ford’s brutal union buster.

Award-winning author Tom Stanton weaves a stunning tale of history, crime, and sports. Richly portraying 1930s America, Terror in the City of Champions features a pageant of colorful figures: iconic athletes, sanctimonious criminals, scheming industrial titans, a bigoted radio priest, a love-smitten celebrity couple, J. Edgar Hoover, and two future presidents, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. It is a rollicking true story set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.

The interview was recorded on August 3, 2016

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin Interviews Steve Lehto, author of Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 11:27am

Martin talks to author Steve Lehto about Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow.

After World War II, the American automobile industry was reeling. Having spent years building tanks and airplanes for the army, the car companies would need years more to retool their production to meet the demands of the American public, for whom they had not made any cars since 1942.

And then in stepped Preston Tucker. This salesman extraordinaire from Ypsilanti, Michigan, had built race cars before the war, and had designed prototypes for the military during it. Now, gathering a group of brilliant automotive designers, engineers, and promoters, he announced the creation of a revolutionary new car: the Tucker '48, the first car in almost a decade to be built fresh from the ground up. Tucker's car would include ingenious advances in design and engineering that other car companies could not match. With a rear engine, rear-wheel drive, a safety-glass windshield that would pop out in case of an accident, a padded dashboard, independent suspension, and automatic transmission, it would be more attractive and aerodynamic—and safer—than any other car on the road.

But as the public eagerly awaited Tucker's car of tomorrow, powerful forces in Washington were trying to bring him down. An SEC commissioner with close ties to Detroit's Big Three automakers deliberately leaked information about an investigation the agency was conducting, suggesting that Tucker was bilking investors with a massive fraud scheme. Headlines accused him a perpetrating a hoax and claimed that his cars weren't real and his factory was a sham.

In fact, the Tucker '48 sedan was genuine, and everyone who saw it was impressed by what this upstart carmaker had achieved. But the SEC's investigation had compounded the company's financial problems and management conflicts, and a superior product was not enough to keep Tucker's dream afloat.

In Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow, author Steve Lehto tackles the story of Tucker's incredible rise and tragic fall, relying on a huge trove of documents that has been used by no other writer to date. It is the first comprehensive, authoritative account of Tucker's magnificent car and his battles with the government.

The interview was recorded on July 6, 2016

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin Interviews Frances Stroh, Author of Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 3:10pm

Martin talks to Frances Stroh about Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss. Stroh’s debut as an author is a memoir of a city, an industry, and a dynasty in decline, and the story of a young artist’s struggle to find her way out of the ruins.

Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of great privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regency Hotel, and a house filled with precious antiques, which she was forbidden to touch. Established in Detroit in 1850, by 1984 the Stroh Brewing Company had become the largest private beer fortune in America and a brand emblematic of the American dream itself. While Stroh was coming of age, the Stroh family fortune was estimated to be worth $700 million.

But behind the beautiful façade lay a crumbling foundation. Detroit’s economy collapsed with the retreat of the automotive industry to the suburbs and abroad and likewise the Stroh family found their wealth and legacy disappearing. As their fortune dissolved in little over a decade, the family was torn apart internally by divorce and one family member's drug bust; disagreements over the management of the business; and disputes over the remaining money they possessed. Even as they turned against one another, looking for a scapegoat on whom to blame the unraveling of their family, they could not anticipate that even far greater tragedy lay in store.

Featuring beautiful evocative photos throughout, Stroh’s memoir is elegantly spare in structure and mercilessly clear-eyed in its self-appraisal—at once a universally relatable family drama and a great American story.

The interview was recorded on May 23, 3016

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Barney Hoskyns, Author of "Small Town Talk"

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 11:41am

Martin talks to author Barney Hoskyns about his new book Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock.

Think "Woodstock" and the mind turns to the seminal 1969 festival that crowned a seismic decade of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. But the town of Woodstock, New York, the original planned venue of the concert, is located over 60 miles from the site to which the fabled half a million flocked. Long before the landmark music festival usurped the name, Woodstock—the tiny Catskills town where Bob Dylan holed up after his infamous 1966 motorcycle accident—was already a key location in the '60s rock landscape.

In Small Town Talk, Barney Hoskyns re-creates Woodstock's community of brilliant dysfunctional musicians, scheming dealers, and opportunistic hippie capitalists drawn to the area by Dylan and his sidekicks from the Band. Central to the book's narrative is the broodingly powerful presence of Albert Grossman, manager of Dylan, the Band, Janis Joplin, Paul Butterfield, and Todd Rundgren—and the Big Daddy of a personal fiefdom in Bearsville that encompassed studios, restaurants, and his own record label. Intertwined in the story are the Woodstock experiences and associations of artists as diverse as Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Tim Hardin, Karen Dalton, and Bobby Charles (whose immortal song-portrait of Woodstock gives the book its title).

Drawing on numerous first-hand interviews with the remaining key players in the scene—and on the period when he lived there himself in the 1990s—Hoskyns has produced an East Coast companion to his bestselling L.A. canyon classic Hotel California. This book is a richly absorbing study of a vital music scene in a revolutionary time and place.

The interview was recorded on April 4, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Andy Partridge, co-author of Complicated Game: Inside the Songs of XTC

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:45pm

One of the defining rock groups of the post-punk / new wave era, XTC was led by the gifted British singer-songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. Active from the mid-70s through the early 2000s, the band is best known for the songs Dear God, Senses Working Overtime, Making Plans for Nigel, Life Begins at the Hop, and Mayor Simpleton. I still have fond memories of seeing the band perform with the Police at the Michigan Theater back on Jan. 22, 1980!

The book Complicated Game offers unique insights into the work of XTC founder Andy Partridge, one of Britain's most original and influential songwriters. It is also an unprecedentedly revealing and instructive guide to how songs and records are made.

Developed from a series of interviews conducted over many months, it explores in detail some thirty of Partridge's songs - including the controversial 'Dear God' - from throughout XTC's thirty-year career, as well as an extensive interview dedicated solely to the art and craft of songwriting. While the interviews cast new light on the writing of lyrics, the construction of melodies and arrangements, the process of recording, and the workings of the music industry, they are also filled with anecdotes about Partridge, his XTC bandmates, and their adventures around the world - all told with the songwriter's legendary humour.

Martin’s interview with Andy Partridge was originally recorded on March 8, 2016.