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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Tony Barrell, author of Born to Drum: The Truth About the World’s Greatest Drummers

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 10:33am

From John Bonham and Keith Moon to Sheila E. and Dave Grohl, the pulse of rock’n’roll—the drummer—finally gets its due in this unique, all-encompassing inside look at the history, artists, instruments, and culture of drumming. Playing a drum kit is hard, sweaty, demanding work. Yet instead of being showered with respect, drummers are often viewed with derision—stereotyped as crazy, borderline psychotic, or just plain dumb. But as every musician knows, to have a great band you need a great drummer: Ginger Baker. John Bonham. Chad Smith. Stewart Copeland. Mitch Mitchell, Bill Bruford. British journalist Tony Barrell shines a long overdue spotlight on these musicians, offering an exciting look into their world, their art, and their personalities. In Born to Drum, Barrell explores the extraordinary history of the world’s most primitive instrument and the musicians who have made it legend. He interviews some of the most famous and revered and well-known drummers of our time—including Chad Smith, Ginger Baker, Clem Burke, Sheila E, Phil Collins, Nick Mason, Butch Vig, and Omar Hakim—who share astonishing truths about their work and lives. He investigates the stories of late, great drummers such as Keith Moon and John Bonham, analyzes many of the greatest drum tracks ever recorded, and introduces us to the world’s fastest drummer, the world’s loudest drummer, and the first musician to pilot a “flying drum kit” on stage.

The interview with Tony Barrell was originally recorded on August 11, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews David Stubbs, author of Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 1:08pm

West Germany after World War II was a country in shock: estranged from its recent history, and adrift from the rest of Europe. But this orphaned landscape proved fertile ground for a generation of musicians who, from the 1960s onwards, would develop the strange and beautiful sounds that became known as Krautrock.

Eschewing the easy pleasures of rock and roll and the more substantive seductions of blues and jazz, they took their inspiration from elsewhere: the mysticism of the East; the fractured classicism of Stockhausen; the grinding repetition of industry; the dense forests of the Rhineland; the endless winding of Autobahns.

Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül II, Can—the influence of these groups’ music on Western popular music is incalculable. They were key to the development of movements ranging from post-punk to electronica and hip-hop and have directly inspired artists as diverse as David Bowie, Talking Heads, and LCD Soundsystem.

Future Days is the brilliantly reported, deeply researched story of the groups that created Krautrock, and a social and cultural history of the Germany that challenged, inspired, and repelled them.

David Stubbs is an author and music journalist whose work has appeared in the The Times (London), The Sunday Times, Spin, The Guardian and GQ, and his books include Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko but Don’t Get Stockhausen.

The interview with David Stubbs was originally recorded on October 8, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews David Browne, author of So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead.

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 12:09pm

They hold a place in history and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They helped spawn jam bands and social networking. Just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of a band that changed rock & roll musically and culturally, David Browne’s So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead takes us deep into the world of the Dead in ways that will be eye-opening even to the group’s most rabid fans.

By way of an altogether unique and striking structure – each chapter centered around a significant or pivotal day in their story – Browne, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who has written extensively on the band for that magazine, lends this epic musical story a you-are-there feel unlike any other book written on the Grateful Dead.

David Browne’s previous book Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970, was called “one of the most entertaining and informative books of the year” by NPR.

The interview with David Browne was originally recorded on June 10, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Charles Leerhsen, author of Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 4:51pm

Ty Cobb is baseball royalty, maybe even the greatest player who ever lived. His lifetime batting average is still the highest of all time, and when he retired in 1928, after twenty-one years with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletics, he held more than ninety records. But the numbers don’t tell half of Cobb’s tale. The Georgia Peach was by far the most thrilling player of the era: “Ty Cobb could cause more excitement with a base on balls than Babe Ruth could with a grand slam,” one columnist wrote. When the Hall of Fame began in 1936, he was the first player voted in.

But Cobb was also one of the game’s most controversial characters. He got in a lot of fights, on and off the field, and was often accused of being overly aggressive. In his day, even his supporters acknowledged that he was a fierce and fiery competitor. Because his philosophy was to “create a mental hazard for the other man,” he had his enemies, but he was also widely admired. After his death in 1961, however, something strange happened: his reputation morphed into that of a monster—a virulent racist who also hated children and women, and was in turn hated by his peers.

How did this happen? Who is the real Ty Cobb? Setting the record straight in Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, Charles Leerhsen pushed aside the myths, traveled to Georgia and Detroit, and re-traced Cobb’s journey, from the shy son of a professor and state senator who was progressive on race for his time, to America’s first true sports celebrity. In the process, he tells of a life overflowing with incident and a man who cut his own path through his times—a man we thought we knew but really didn’t.

The interview with Charles Leerhsen was originally recorded on May 5, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Andrew Grant Jackson, author of 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music.

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:15am

During twelve unforgettable months, in the middle of the turbulent sixties, America saw the rise of innovative new sounds that would change popular music as we knew it. In his new book, music historian Andrew Grant Jackson chronicles a groundbreaking year of creativity fueled by rivalries between musicians and continents, as well as sweeping social and technological breakthroughs.

In 1965 there was incredible music being made by an incredibly wide variety of artists, including the Beatles, the Temptations, the Rolling Stones, John Coltrane, James Brown, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Vince Guaraldi, Otis Redding, and dozens of others. Andrew Grant Jackson’s comprehensive coverage of this unforgettable year in music is a terrific, fascinating read.

The interview with Andrew Grant Jackson was originally recorded on April 8, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews George Hodgman, author of Bettyville.

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:08am

George Hodgman is a veteran magazine and book editor who was worked at Simon & Schuster, Vanity Fair, and Talk magazine. His writing has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Interview, W, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications.

A few years ago, Hodgman returned to his hometown of Paris, Missouri, for his mother Betty’s ninety-first birthday, for what he thought would be a brief visit. He soon discovered that his mother had lost her driver’s license and her in-home help, and desperately needed the assistance she would rather die than ask for.

Despite his doubts and total lack of cooking skills, Hodgman left New York City and moved back in with his mother, facing the juncture that every son or daughter understands, the reversal of roles that rarely goes smoothly as a parent grows older and both struggle to hold on to what once was. Bettyville is an exquisitely written memoir about the complicated but deeply genuine love a son feels for his courageous, headstrong, vulnerable mother in the twilight of her life.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Geoffrey O’Brien, Editor-in-Chief at the Library of America

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 11:08am

A nonprofit publisher of classic American literature, the Library of America was founded in 1979 and has published well over 200 hundred volumes by a wide range of authors, including Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, Flannery O’Connor, and Kurt Vonnegut. Geoffrey O’Brien has served as Editor-in-Chief at the LOA since 1988 and is also an accomplished poet, book and film critic, translator, and cultural historian.

Bandyke spoke to O’Brien about three recently issued titles from the Library of America: a collection of Elmore Leonard novels from the 1970s (including Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89 & The Switch); Art in America: 1945-1970 (which includes writings from the age of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art & Minimalism); and President Lincoln Assassinated! (which recaptures the immediacy of Lincoln’s assassination, the hunt for the conspirators and the nation’s mourning for the martyred president).

The interview was originally recorded on January 21, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Gareth Murphy

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:59pm

Martin talks to author Gareth Murphy about his new book Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry.
While music is an integral part of our daily lives, very little is known about the revolutionary men and women on both sides of the Atlantic who founded and shaped this enduring industry. From the invention of the earliest known sound-recording device in 1850s Paris to the CD crash and digital boom today, Murphy takes readers on an immensely entertaining and encyclopedic ride through the many cataclysmic musical, cultural and technological changes that shaped a century and a half of the music business. The interview was recorded on January 19, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Mandy Aftel

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:54pm

Martin talks to internationally known artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel about her new book Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent. An evangelist for the transformative power of scent, Aftel explores the profound connection between our sense of smell and the appetites that move us, give us pleasure, and make us fully alive. A riveting initiation into the history, natural history, and philosophy of scent, Fragrant also includes simple recipes for fragrances and edible and drinkable concoctions that reveal the imaginative possibilities of creating with – and reveling in – aroma. The interview was recorded on December 23, 2014.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Rick Bragg

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 12:52pm

Martin talks to Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Rick Bragg about his new book Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story, a biography about the wildest and most dangerous of the early rock and rollers. Lewis electrified the world in the 50s with hit records such as “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Breathless,” then lost his place in the music world after the British press uncovered salacious details about his personal life. Lewis came back in the 60s to become the biggest star of country music, and is still electrifying audiences around the world. Lewis’s story is told in full for the first time in Rick Bragg’s new biography, which is full of incredible stories and anecdotes. The interview was recorded on November 25, 2014.