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Author Jeff Slate

Mike D. and Ad-Rock are just the same as when I first met them in the mid-80s. When I catch up with them at their Bowery hotel to discuss their fantastic new Beastie Boys Book — part oral history, part cookbook, part graphic novel, and so much more — they’re still loud, brash, funny and fully of life. But they’ve also logged a lot of miles in the intervening years, with epic highs and crushing lows, not least of which was the loss of the heart and soul of the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch, to cancer in 2012. All of…

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Every year like clockwork, since 2015, there’s been a deep dive box set, highlighting each period of David Bowie’s remarkable career. Rightly so, Five Years: 1969-1973, Who Can I Be Now?: 1974-1976 and A New Career In A New Town: 1977-1982 topped year-end critics lists. But the highlights of each were the hidden gems. The lost soul album The Gouster, and Tony Visconti’s magical remix of 1979’s Lodger were everything fans had hoped they’d be, and made the box sets worth every penny. This year’s box, Loving The Alien: 1983-1988, delves into the period when Bowie became an international pop…

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“We never once thought about what audience we were making this for,” Sebastian Krys, the co-producer of Elvis Costello’s new album, Look Now, told me as we lingered in the aftermath of a listening event held by Concord Records at the fabled Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. “We just wanted to make the best album we could make — with real scope to it — in the hopes that it would find an audience, and maybe even inspire younger musicians who might stumble on it via some playlist one day down the road.” While Krys’ statement speaks volumes about…

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“When we get to New York you’ll have to come visit me on the tour bus,” Willie Nelson said, when I told him how disappointed I was to be interviewing him by phone rather than in person. “We have fun on the bus. I think you’d like it.” He then let out a long, hearty laugh that left no doubt in my mind: Willie Nelson had just invited me to party with him on his tour bus, the legendary Honeysuckle Rose. Or at least I hope he had. At 85, Nelson is still going strong. The legendary singer/songwriter released a…

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(Tom Petty photo courtesy Steve Ziegelmeyer) “Tom had really high standards, and that was really in my mind,” Mike Campbell says with a chuckle when I ask him about compiling the new Tom Petty career-spanning box set An American Treasure, without his former band mate there to offer a thumbs up or down. “But these were tracks that just didn’t fit, for one reason or another. They were orphans. Tom was always very clear about what he wanted and didn’t want, but it’s not like there was anything wrong with them. So now they’ve found a home.” That home is a…

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“No matter how many times I see it, I always learn something new about David,” pianist Mike Garson told me, after visiting the final stop of the David Bowie is exhibition in Brooklyn. “And I worked with him for 45 years!” David Bowie’s final tour — a remarkable museum show built around the legend’s vast archive of stage clothes, videos, recordings, and a remarkable trove of personal mementos from the late-musician’s career — came to a close this past summer. Bowie died in January 2016, but the exhibition, entitled David Bowie is, wrapped up July 15th, after a five-month stint…

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Over the past few years, every time I’ve interviewed Paul Weller, the legendary English musician known as the Modfather, he mentioned that he was contemplating releasing an acoustic album. For an artist who’s taken as many twists and turns over the course of his 40-plus year career as Bob Dylan, it seemed no idle threat. Still, with a triumphant run of genre-defying albums since the release of 2008’s 22 Dreams, it seemed to me that a bare, stripped-down song cycle could hardly contain Weller’s creative muse. How wrong I was. True Meanings, Weller’s 14th studio album since the demise of…

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Detroit’s legendary MC5 were probably the first punk rock band — but try to tell the band’s guitarist, Wayne Kramer, that. “I get that. I get the value of that. But that was never what the MC5 was,” Kramer insists when we catch up by phone during rehearsals for the MC50 tour. “We thought it was important to play well, so I was always a little confused by the connection, especially since the punk rockers never picked up on any of the more stretched out ideas that the MC5 was trying to champion.” In fact, Kramer doesn’t pull any punches…

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“I don’t think it sold many copies, but there was no pressure to go in a certain direction, and Columbia just let us do whatever we wanted,” The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn told me in 2016 of his former band’s legendary album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Now considered a crucial moment in the birth of country-rock — it ranked number 120 on Rolling Stone’s recent list of the greatest albums ever — upon its release in 1968, Sweetheart of the Rodeo confounded and out and out angered fans of both rock and roll and country music, in equal measure, at a…

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“For once we’re not catching up about Pink Floyd,” Nick Mason says with a laugh, when he calls from London to tell Rock Cellar about Unattended Luggage, a box set due at the end of August that collects the drummer’s solo work. The three-disc reissue, released in both CD and fantastic sounding vinyl versions, collects Mason’s diverse releases in the early and mid-1980s, as Pink Floyd crashed and burned in the aftermath of the success of The Wall, fractured during the making of 1983’s The Final Cut, and found rebirth, with guitarist David Gilmour at the helm, with A Momentary…

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