Author: Barry Walters

  • Sylvester: Staying Alive

    1988 article Village Voice article by Barry Walters about disco singer Sylvester

    In Sickness and Health, Sylvester Keeps Mighty Real TWO IMAGES OF SYLVESTER: It’s 1978, and disco rules. Donna Summer may be acknowledged as one Queen of Disco, but for gay men, Sylvester is the Other Queen. The falsetto singer has suddenly gone from drag infamy to hit records without giving up the gowns. “Dance (Disco […]

  • Rick Rubin: The King of Rap

    In 1964, Tom Wolfe wrote “The First Tycoon of Teen” about the 23-year-old Phil Spector. The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” was on its way to number one and Spector’s label, Philles, was in its hit-making prime. Wolfe described Spector as a jittery, Jewish, misunderstood boy-genius — the first youth to cre­ate […]

  • David Mancuso’s Message of Love

    The first of David Mancuso’s Loft parties was Valentine’s Day 1970. His homemade invitations read “Love Saves the Day,” which was both a manifesto and a hint that LSD might be involved. Mancuso was more than a bit of a hippie, and about to become a disco originator. Like a lot of folks at the […]

  • Grace Jones’s Hurricane Pays Self-Tribute to an Icon

    While most everyone else is downsizing their sound and overextending their image, Grace Jones returns to the meat market after an extended absence with a massive tsunami of sonic detail matched to an equally finessed and poetic sense of self. Her first album in 19 years, Hurricane resembles no other recent record, and yet its […]

  • Dominique Leone’s Self-Titled Debut

    Despite the name, Dominique Leone is very much a guy. He’s bearded, thinning on top, and kinda looks like the actor who plays Michael McDonald in the Yacht Rock mockumentaries. The resemblance is appropriate: If he didn’t dump extreme feedback and other disruptions into his bustling arrangements, this smooth-crooning San Franciscan could be kicking out […]

  • When Now Wasn’t Soon Enough

    Nowadays, anybody can become an armchair Anglophile. Scan the charts, YouTube the videos, study the Wikipedia entries, and any insomniac with a computer might make a better anthology than Rhino’s 16-year-spanning 78-track shrine to emphatically English guitar bands, The Brit Box. But when most of this stuff was new, you had to be self-sacrificing and […]

  • Bittering the Sweet, Reveling in the Surreal

    It’s their knack for sounding contemporary while twisting vintage genres that’s ranked Super Furry Animals among psychedelia’s greatest post-Vietnam bands. So it’s startling to hear them nail an even trickier feat: reviving early-’70s nostalgia for the early ’60s. After two albums of mounting experimentation and declining sales, the greatest Welsh export since Tom Jones goes […]

  • English Hardcore

    “This is the sound of someone losing the plot,” Jarvis Cocker sang with characteristic self-awareness on the title track to This Is Hardcore, the notoriously dark 1998 sequel to Pulp’s career-capping 1995 U.K. smash Different Class. Eight years later, it’s still one of the bravest and most extreme follow-up albums ever. After retreating for so […]

  • Disinformation Society

    At the heart of all the weirdness that comprises Beck is something stranger: his blankness. He’s made it the subject of his art (his attention-grabbing, ostensibly ironic “Loser”), covered it up (his crowd-pleasing, extroverted Odelay), and even temporarily transcended it (his critic-wowing, introverted Sea Change). Even sweet Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips—who briefly acted […]

  • The Madcap Laughs Last

    Pink Floyd themselves wrote the most fitting epitaph for their former singer and guitarist, Roger “Syd” Barrett, 31 years ago: “Wish You Were Here.” Never has a departed musician weighed so heavily on his former bandmates—chunks of post-Syd Floyd classics Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall also bear his influence. No one could’ve […]