podcast interview with jeff pike (@ new digs)

As I slowly step away from this site (…), I have decided to start hosting my podcasts and audio excursions in a new WordPress space: and you can dance to it. How active this mostly-talk site becomes depends on how willing anyone is to talk to me (and how actively I pursue other people talking to me; I do currently have a few conversations lined up).

In any case, I’m pleased to kick off this new chapter with a conversation with Jeff Pike, author of the newly published Index: Essays, Fragments, and Liberal Arts Homework. I’ve been a fan of Jeff’s writing since I first encountered it in the ’90s fanzine mini-network we both frequented (Radio On, Why Music Sucks, Kitschener, and Jeff’s own Tapeworm), so it was a pleasure to a) read Jeff’s new anthology, and b) bend his ear over the phone about his writing.

Interview with Richard Goldstein


“One must always remember that girls discovered Elvis — little girls discovered Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. And they did not discover Dylan, interestingly enough. I don’t know whether that’s their fault, or Dylan’s.”
– Richard Goldstein

“Who was the first?” continues apace as one of the more boring and unanswerable questions regarding rock criticism, but if anyone can rightly claim the title, it’s Richard Goldstein (unless it’s Jane Scott or Paul Nelson or…), whose “Pop Eye” column turned up in the Village Voice music section in 1966, some years before the Village Voice even had a “music section” to speak of. Never, by his own admission, the sort of critic’s-critic who would end up dominating Voice music coverage under the guidance of (his longtime compadre), Robert Christgau, Goldstein fashioned a criticism modeled on literature, albeit a literature imbued with fannish enthusiasm and revolutionary fantasies. Another Little Piece of My Heart, Goldstein’s recently published memoir of the ’60s, is a great read — a clear-eyed attempt not to explain but to begin to try and grasp a period of personal and social turbulence and joy and heartbreak. On June 17, I talked with Goldstein for just over an hour, about the book and about his relatively brief (three-four year) stint as a rock critic. (Visit Richard Goldstein’s website for further information about his work, including his original Sgt. Pepper review, a gallery of period photos, and a preserved copy of his televised interview with the Doors.)

Part one (memories; Occupy Wall St.; puritanical freedom; doubt…)

Part two (genius and fraud; lit vs. crit; civil rights; charting the intelligentsia…)

Part three (Sgt. Pepper; McLuhan, Marcuse, and Marxism…)

Part four (Velvet wedding; kids these days; coming out at the Voice…)

Back cover of Goldstein’s Greatest Hits: A Book Mostly About Rock ‘n’ Roll (1970)

Richard Goldstein releases memoir

Richard Goldstein, one of the founders of rock criticism, has recently published his memoir, Another Little Piece of My Heart. Planning to read it soon, with followup to come on this site, but in the meantime, there’s a very entertaining live interview with Goldstein at Word magazine. (Main page of Word podcasts is here; direct Goldstein link here.) Also: If you’re in New York, Strand Books is presenting Goldstein, in conversation with Anthony DeCurtis, on May 20th. Details here.)

Robert Christgau: He Needs Us, We Need Him (podcast)

going-into-the-cityJoin Phil Dellio, Steven Rubio, and myself as we spend two hours gabbing about Robert Christgau and his recently published memoir, Going Into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man. Not surprisingly — given how these things usually go — City is a springboard for a wide-ranging conversation that also delves into the Consumer Guide and Christgau’s influence in general, along with detours regarding Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, obscure records, internet flame wars, Eminem, some death, some shit, a hamburger, spaghetti, world travel, crime, etc.

To ground the discussion, each of us participates in The Christgau Challenge by selecting one song apiece which has had a particular Christgauian impact on our respective upbringings. Of course, you’ll have to wade through the entire two hours to find out what our picks are.





Also downloadable as mp3s: Part one, two, three, four.

See also:

Steely Dan podcast, part three

For the third installment of our conversation about Steeleye Spam Dan, Vic Perry and I are joined on the line by Alfred Soto (who you may recall from previous long-winded podcast adventures) to examine the most-disagreed-upon SD release of all, 1980’s Gaucho. Largely dismissed as too-slick for its own good by punk- and post-punk-obsessed critics, Gaucho has, in more recent years, come to be considered by many not merely a “not-rock” blip in an otherwise remarkably consistent—if nevertheless imperfect—career, but a masterwork in its own right. A good summation of the dialectic around Gaucho is summed up in an excellent 2006 re-evaluation by Mike Powell. The “friends” he refers to here could well be me:

Gaucho isn’t for everyone. I’ve tried forcing the album on friends who reply simply by saying “It’s slick, it’s boring, it’s stupid. If there’s something there, I don’t get it and I don’t want to wait around to figure it out.” And I don’t know what to tell them, frankly; in that moment, my own responses somehow feel like perversities, though I know I’m not alone in how I feel about the album. And while I hate to challenge their reactions, I always get this feeling that people are just afraid to open up to Gaucho. Fagen’s sneer is too much to handle, the music is somehow too dead to ignore, the stink of contempt—for their surroundings and themselves—makes for an experience that upsets the most fundamental virtues of pop music; I’m not talking about “expression” or “emotion,” I’m talking about the relationship between musicians and their creation, between a band and their fans.

Addressing my (and to some degree, Vic’s) puzzlement about the rising critical fortunes of Gaucho, Alfred offers his own fresh evaluation of the record on its own terms. (And as per usual, we go a little off the rails now and again into tangential-but-related matters.) Whole thing is roughly two hours.

PART 1: This is your chance to believe

PART 2: It’s everything they say

PART 3: Illegal fun

PART 4: We’ll see behind those bright eyes

{Download: one, two, three, four.}

Steely Dan podcast, part two


In part 2 of my Steely Dan excursion with Vic Perry, we delve into critics, love songs, and Phil Spector, all as a conspiratorial smokescreen to express our mutual ambivalence about Aja and Gaucho.

PART 1: Got a feeling I’ve been here before 
PART 2: Don’t seem right
PART 3: If you live in this world
PART 4: The things you think are precious

[Download: one, two, three, four]

Steely Dan podcast, part one

Writer Vic Perry joins me for an in-depth discussion of critically acclaimed seventies weirdos—coincidentally, one of the most popular bands of their time—Steely Dan. Our first conversation (an economical two-hours-and-20-minutes) has us sharing our personal Steely Dan histories, top ten song lists, and rankings of the phase one (1972-80) LPs. To keep it manageable, I’ve broken the conversation into seven parts.

PART 1: I recall when I was small
PART 2: Go back, Jack
PART 3: No, we got nothing in common
PART 4: You could have a change of heart
PART 5: It’s your favorite foreign movie
PART 6: Soon it will be too late
PART 7: The answer they reveal

[Download: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven]

Supplementary Steely Dan Reading List (part one)
– Greil Marcus, Stranded discography
– Robert Christgau, What Kind of a Best Rock and Roll Band in the World Is This? + Consumer Guide entries
– Nate Patrin reviews and ranks the albums at Stereogum
– Nicholas Pell, It Takes a Lot of Cocaine to Be as Smooth as Steely Dan
Rolling Stone SD reviews

steely ad

Pet Shop Boys, Critically (5)

Here’s the third in our series of PSB podcasts. This time Alfred Soto and I are joined by Ned Raggett to discuss Pet Shop b-sides, which leads into a discussion of: PSB’s Alternative (their double-disc b-sides collection); Sonic Youth vs. Pet Shop Boys; Diane Warren; Mick Jagger; Simon Reynolds… and much, much more!


(Or download part one, two, three, four)

(A couple listeners have mentioned the less than stellar sound quality for these podcasts. It’s true, especially, I presume, if you’re listening to them on a high-end playback system. When I monitor them, usually in computer headphones, they’re fine, though understand that my measurement for sound quality success here is that each speaker is merely audiible… wind-tunnel background noise be damned! In any event, I will work on improving this at some point, so long as I can figure out a cost-effective way of doing so.)

1) The buried treasure of Pet Shop Boys’ B-sides: Dorian Lynskey in The Guardian
2) List of songs written by Diane Warren (does not include, as erroneously stated by yours truly, Heart’s “Alone”)
3) Ned‘s Storify link with his Pet Shop Boys CD project


> > > Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend< < < (via Grooveshark, b-side to “Where the Streets Have No Name/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”)

“A Man Could Get Arrested” (b-side to “West End Girls”)

“The Truck Driver and His Mate” (b-side to “Before”)

“Saturday Night”/”Rent” (Suede w/Neil Tennant)


“Your Funny Uncle”

“Do I Have To”

> > > Miserablism< < < (via Grooveshark)

“Glad All Over” (Dave Clark 5 cover)

“Viva la Vida” (Coldplay cover)

Pet Shop Boys, Critically (1)


As a follow-up to our lengthy series of conversations (in 2010 and earlier this year) about Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry, Alfred Soto and I embark on a similar excursion into all things Pet Shop Boys. Over a series of who-knows-how-many discussions, we will delve into the music and the guiding aesthetic behind our mutually-agreed-upon favourite synth-pop duo of all time (better than Erasure, better than Soft Cell, better, even, than Blancmange). Unlike our Roxy discussions, we won’t tackle PSB in a strict, album-by-album chronology, choosing instead to bounce around from theme to theme. It’s also our intention to engage other people in the discussion.

In our first chat, we delve into the latest PSB release, Electric, the group’s intrinsic (sometimes complex) roots in gay life and culture, and why PSB still matter, at least sometimes.

Part one
Part two
Part three

(Or download part one, two, three)


RC Podcast #3: This is You, Isn’t It?


Artists/Critics/Voices: Velvet Underground, Bill James, CFRB 1010, Rob Ford, DJ Shoe, Icona Pop, Pet Shop Boys, Wild Palms, Beastie Boys, Chris Heath, Frank Zappa, Nick Lowe, Nelly Furtado, Sam Ervin, Chris Farley, Rolling Stones, Animal House, Kraftwerk, Plastikman, Electronic, The Manchurian Candidate, Lindstrom & Todd Terje, Laurel & Hardy


RC Podcast #2: The Streets You Crossed

The second RC Podcast, a tribute to Lou Reed (though with more music not by Lou than by Lou) could charitably be called some kind of technical disaster (second half, especially), but you can’t say it’s an unambitious technical disaster (and some of it came out pretty good, anyway). Apologies to Lillian Roxon for drowning her words.


ARTISTS/CRITICS: Lou Reed/Velvet Underground, Four Seasons, Shangri-Las, Basquiat, Pet Shop Boys, Marvin Gaye, Erica Ehm, Andy Warhol, Rammelzee vs. K-Kob, Robert Christgau, John Rockwell, Rosie & the Originals, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Psychedelic Furs, Cascades, Lillian Roxon, Lillian Leach

roxon book

RC Podcast #1

For a long time I’ve wanted to get a college radio show, which would combine music and talk with a heavy dose of critic-related content as well. Given that the likelihood of acquiring such a show is unbelievably slim, I decided to just create my own live podcast (not transmitted live, obviously, but recorded in one take, with no post-production). Here’s the first episode. It’s 30 minutes long. Sound quality is decent, though sorry for all the mic pops in that one part.


Artists/Critics: Lady Gaga, Herbie Hancock, Hardrock Gunter, Geoffrey O’Brien, Lester Bangs, Heaven 17, Hues Corporation, Hiszekeny, Joyce Millman, Lorde, Daft Punk, Hi-Five, Richard Meltzer, Hanson