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Author Jeff Slate

(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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The Flaming Lips are unique for a major label, chart-topping band. They don’t compromise on their artistic vision, and they’re not afraid to make flops, especially if they scratch the band’s collective creative itch, or lead to something greater in the future. Along the way during the group’s 30-plus year career, core members Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd have developed a collaborative process that has delivered some remarkable highs — 1999’s The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from 2002 — as well as what at least casual fans would consider creative follies, like the Pink Floyd homage…

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Jeff Beck is busy. The man who boasts everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page to David Gilmour, Joe Perry and Slash amongst his most ardent fans, is slinging his guitar far and wide this summer. He’s out on the road with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers and Heart’s Ann Wilson, while fitting in solo dates along the way, as well as promotion for a new documentary about his career and life, Still On The Run: The Jeff Beck Story. The shows are earning Beck the effusive praise typical of the kind the legend has always gotten from journalists covering his…

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“We should have gone to America, and we wanted to go to America, but we’d had a drug bust, so we couldn’t go,” the Small Faces’ drummer Kenney Jones told me in 2012 of why he thinks his former band, although Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, never broke in America. “Our manager Don Arden didn’t trust anybody to look after us in America, anyway, because he was afraid he’d lose control of us. But we all conquered America anyway – Steve with Humble Pie and us with The Faces – but I think that if we had gone…

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“Someone had the great idea that if I opened for The Who, more people could hear my new work, but we promptly fell flat on our faces,” legendary singer Robert Plant tells me with a laugh when we meet up and I remind him that we’d met before, back in the early ’00s. He’d recently reemerged as a solo artist, after a stint in the 1990s when he’d joined forces with former Led Zeppelin band mate Jimmy Page for several albums and tours. That, of course, came on the heels of more than a decade of work as a solo…

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