Author: Milo Miles

  • John Prine: God’s on the Phone

    God’s on the Phone November 19, 1991 Now that Bonnie Raitt has got hers, the most thoroughly accom­plished-but-denied veteran pop musician in America is John Prine (no arguments please). An insider’s favorite who dates from the initial early-’70s batch of sing­er-songwriters, Prine is far less eroded as a performer now than his more canonized peers. […]

  • Carl Craig’s String Theory: The Detroit House Pioneer Gets Orchestral

    Ever since discos became churches of sound in the Seventies, the magic of ever-evolving dance music has also been its curse. In a sizzling club or a full-on house party, the music became a world apart, an echosystem of beats that eradicated the everyday. But this was not a portable paradise. Because of its aggressive […]

  • Jug Bands: The Original D.I.Y. Music

    Everybody knows these days how changes in taste and technology can ravage whole styles of popular music. But the same forces can also give obscure antiques a fresh sheen and unprecedented vitality. The new anthology The Rough Guide to Jug Band Blues makes a superb case that a once high-flying and then long-buried African-American folk […]

  • The Best Conspiracy Theory-Fueled Jazz Fusion You’ll Hear All Year

    Real Enemies — the third album from Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society — is a vast meditation on conspiracy theories, news manipulation, and reality rejection. Think of it as the sonic incarnation of our strange and dangerous times. Alternating spoken-word passages and a supple eighteen-piece band rooted in jazz and post-minimalist classical music, it slides […]

  • Bolts of Clarity

    The instrumental engines behind Mission of Burma were never geared to youth. So guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley, and drummer Peter Prescott, who on their first studio album in 22 years have replaced retired tape-tweaker Martin Swope with Bob Weston of Shellac, don’t seem aged now. They also were never away. Pulled out of […]

  • Joe Strummer, 1952–2002

    Joe Strummer died quietly in his sleep on December 22, surprising to the last. As the leader of the primal punk outfit the Clash, he knew what the perfect rock band should be and lived when he could make it happen. The beat should be fast and ferocious, as hyper and relentless as the old […]

  • Born Under a Bad Sign

    Blues is a music for troubled times, and as a year that started with little promise for the form descended into turmoil, the blues themselves were energized by a clutch of top-flight releases, mostly by veterans in snappy new suits. Blues is drapery that’s always around to try on. In 2001, what looked like the […]

  • International Urchin

    Since rai music scrambled up from the slums and street markets of the Algerian port city Oran about 80 years ago, it has remained ineradicably urban, restless, acquisitive, and gregarious. As a lyric-heavy outlet for the female underclass, with slanguage extolling sex and nightlife while aggressively opposing French colonialism, rai was the original urchin rap. […]

  • Senior Superheroes

    Throughout the 1980s, African pop styles—some generations old, some invented last season—came in a stampede. Everything from mbaqanga to mbalax, juju to zoukous to bikouts, rushed through Western ears. Supposedly, this was the international payoff for a long musical gestation. The backlog of well-tested star players had built at an accelerated pace in sub-Saharan Africa […]

  • This Year’s Remodel

    The word on Renegades is that it happened by accident when rap-rock agitators Rage Against the Machine got together with rap-rock eminence Rick Rubin to wham out a couple oldie B sides. They kept thinking of additional goodies until the project blew up into a full cover album—which proved the last with the original lineup […]