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Author Jeff Slate

“Welcome to Jamrock — the scene and the album — is what exposed me to a broader audience, for sure,” Damian Marley says when we meet on a New York City penthouse patio – on Marley’s birthday, no less — about his breakthrough 2005 album, the moment he says felt he’d begun to move out from the enormous shadow of this father, reggae legend Bob Marley. But when I ask him what are, in his estimation, the standout tracks, he has to pull out his phone to consult the tracklist via Tidal. “It’s been a while,” he says with a…

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You might not guess it, but Steve Earle, the modern epitome of Outlaw Country, started out life inspired by English punk rock. “That scene was huge to me,” he says, and looks up at the ceiling of his New York City apartment, drifting away for a moment. “My Aim is True? That was an important record for me. I had been inspired by Dylan, and was really focused on the acoustic guitar when I was first starting out, but then I saw Springsteen and got that Elvis Costello record, and I saw real songwriting by guys with electric guitars. It…

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When I meet up with David Crosby during rehearsals for his fall tour supporting his new solo album Lighthouse, he almost can’t contain himself about the amazing reviews the album had been getting. “Have you read the Rolling Stone review?” he asks me, almost immediately after we say hello. “Woo! Uncut was a blazer, too, but Rolling Stone, man, it was a rave. It’s a great review. They loved it!” Crosby is going it alone these days, and he’s never seemed happier. After a nasty, public falling-out with longtime musical foil Graham Nash, and cutting ties with his other musical…

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“I adore her,” Chrissie Hynde says of fellow rock legend Stevie Nicks, on whose current tour Hynde’s band the Pretenders are filling the supporting slot. “Stevie’s shows are great, and she’s a darling. She’s got an incredible voice, and it’s a good audience.” While the Pretenders have been fitting in the odd headlining show while supporting Nicks on her U.S. trek, Hynde says it’s been good for her band to stretch their collective legs. “If we can go out on our own, do our own show, it’s going to be a little more crazy,” Hynde admits. “I like that, and…

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“Mudcrutch’s whole approach is like a power band,” Roger McGuinn, the founder of The Byrds, tells me when I catch up with him after seeing him in New York City with Tom Petty’s “other” band. “They’re more like Rolling Stones than Beatles. It’s a powerful, punchy band.” But McGuinn, who tours the world solo these days, says it wasn’t much of an adjustment to sit in with his old friends from the Heartbreakers. “I play with the Rock Bottom Remainders almost every year,” he says of the band of best-selling authors, including Scott Turow, Amy Tan and Stephen King, that…

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“I guess it’s my sense of inquisitiveness and maybe boredom, a mixture of the two. I always look for tomorrow in today. Whoever’s involved with my music at the time, I go along with them, hand-in-hand, to find out where I can go. The answers are always there if you look carefully enough.” Unlike his contemporaries, Jeff Beck has only ever followed his muse. It’s frustrated many of his most ardent followers, but in hindsight it’s liberated Beck. At 72, he isn’t forced to tour the world playing his greatest hits, and Loud Hailer is proof positive. After meeting rhythm…

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“We were enormously creative, always pushing ourselves,” Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin’s legendary guitarist and founder tells me when I ask why he thinks the band’s albums have stood the test of time. “If I was off the road I was writing songs for the next album. I wasn’t somebody who was sort of producing other bands and making hay while the sun shined. I didn’t want to do that. I was more into seeing how far I could personally push myself. I just wanted to keep coming up with new things that would inspire the others, and they were all…

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“The thing about The Kinks is that I’m a really big fan,” Ray Davies, the leader of the rock legends and its principal songwriter, told me when I caught up with him last fall. “The Kinks always defied genre. We were our own genre. We were unpredictable and our music was really varied.” That unpredictability, and the varied nature of the band’s catalog, is on full display in a clutch of recent releases. There’s the 5-CD The Anthology: 1964-1971, as well as the first of what should be a long line of exciting releases under a deal with Sony, The Essential…

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“We’ve gotta thank our audience,” Tom Petty told the crowd in Boise, Idaho on August 5, 2014. “We’ve had quite a long career as far as rock’n’roll bands go. Throughout that long career, and many records, we’ve never been able to get past number two on the charts. So I want to thank you because Hypnotic Eye is now our first #1!” As remarkable as it may seem, in a career that has soundtracked the lives of seemingly half the planet, with albums like Damn The Torpedoes, Hard Promises, Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers, not to mention his membership in the Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty had never hit the top…

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Standing in the Breach, the new Jackson Browne album out October 7th on Inside Recordings, is full of the sort of ruminations on love and loss and the state of the world that fans of his remarkable early 70s work will find familiar, with songs of longing about the space between us ultimately giving way to reflections on peace and hope. Jackson Browne has released three excellent live acoustic-based albums since 2005, but Standing In The Breach is his first studio album since 2008’s Time the Conqueror. It opens with “The Birds of St. Marks,” a song he wrote in…

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