“I Was Killed When I Was 27”: Catching Up with Sananda Maitreya


Apropos of my original black eclecticism post, I came across this article/profile of Sananda Maitreya (formerly Terence Trent D’Arby) in, of all places, The New Statesman earlier. Although it functions partly to promote Maitreya’s latest album, The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords, The Rise of the Zugebrian Time Lords CD Cover in some ways, it’s really just another version of the “whatever-happened-to” genre of entertainment journalism. In it, one will still learn some interesting things about egos, eccentricity, creativity, the recording industry, career trajectories and much more. The quotations from Martyn Ware (of Heaven 17), who co-produced D’Arby’s debut album Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, are especially illuminating. In any event, because of the way it paints Maitreya as somewhat paranoid and conspiracy-theory–oriented, I doubt that this article will promoted on Maitreya’s own website. It’s a good read nonetheless.

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Mysteries to Me and My Friends: Gregg Alexander Interviewed


Wait. What’s that? Who’s Gregg Alexander? If you were listening to pop radio in the late 1990s or walked down a street where people were blasting pop hits from their cars, you might have heard this track by The New Radicals, a group that was essentially Alexander. Indeed, had the song not been such a chart success, I would already have written a Perfect Pop Songs entry about it. Although the Hollywood Reporter interview linked here veers at times toward shameless idol worship, in it we learn about what Alexander did before becoming a New Radical, why he disbanded the “group,” and what he’s been doing in the decade and a half since his only hit was released. Click through to find out why he consented to be interviewed and to learn how you might hear more music from him …

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One of Those Perfectly Formed Debuts: Ned Raggett on Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine


Although I am growing more conflicted about, if not downright hostile toward, anniversary features like the one I’m including here, this one is notable both for its subject matter and its (mostly) not succumbing to self-congratulatory, nostalgic impulses. What Ned Raggett does here is to explain the contemporary and lingering resonance of one of the most striking debut recordings of the late 1980s.Pretty Hate Machine CD Cover Indeed, in pitched battles about what to play on the store stereo system at Philadelphia’s Discovery Discs, where I worked from 1989 to 1991, no one ever objected to playing this album because it was bad or mediocre, only because it had already been played—in its entirety—on a given day, and sometimes more than once. The goths, the punks, the hip-hop heads—we all found something immediately engaging and deeply powerful in it. Read on to find out why…

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To Capture the Feel of Coltrane: The Biography of the Biographer


Back in 2011, more than four years after publishing a review of Ben Ratliff’s Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, I woke to an e-mail message that made me do a double-take. When I saw the author’s name, I was wondering whether it was really the person I thought it was. During my college years, I was fascinated by the music and life of John Coltrane, so much so that within the span of a few months I had read all three of the biographies then available: J.C. Thomas’s Chasin’ the Trane: The Music and Mystique of John Coltrane, Bill Cole’s John Coltrane, and C. O. Simpkins’ Coltrane: A Biography.Coltrane: A Biography Cover On that morning back in 2011, there was a message that appeared to be from Simpkins himself. When I read it, I figured it had to be he, because the writer partly took me to task for a couple of things in my review. Luckily, I was able to answer and deflect both criticisms. One idea I didn’t endorse—that Coltrane was “obsessive” about practicing—was in a direct quote, and the published gloss made clear how my position differed. The other idea was an editing infelicity of the kind that makes writers cringe: the removal of a word, in this case a crucial “perhaps.” Anyway, I never got a reply to my reply (maybe Simpkins was unswayed or just busy), but yesterday I happened upon a piece that tells us a little about the life of the man who presented a more intimate portrait of Coltrane than any other biographer before or since. The author of the piece is Sam Stephenson, the documentarian behind The Jazz Loft Project, and he makes me want to know even more about Simpkins. Click through for more (while I search my archives for the e-mail address) …

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Back to the Dance Floor Darkly with Phantogram


I don’t have time to write a Perfect Pop Songs entry for this track, and its newness—Voices was released just a few days ago—makes me think that making such a declaration might be premature. In any event, this track grabbed and held my attention when I first heard it on the radio a few weeks ago. Voices Album CoverIt’s about as perfect a lead single I can imagine for a band whose music contains elements of everything I’ve loved in other groups’ dance music: deep Moog basslines, hip-hop/trip-hop style drum programming, an off-kilter approach to textural flow and continuity, and dark, emotive vocals. So, that means Phantogram reminds me here of Lamb, Esthero, and Portishead. And the video ain’t bad either. The only downside for me is that the track’s length is too radio-friendly: I can’t wait to hear a good 12-inch mix in a club. Can you?

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