Tag Archives: Unspooled

A certain time, a certain place: Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tango in the Night’

A few years ago I found this story about the recording of Tango in the Night, Fleetwood Mac’s fifth with Lindsey Buckingham and first with Stevie Nicks as a triggered Fairlight sample. Press around the album centered on Buckingham’s exit … Continue reading

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George Michael: notes on a brilliant career

I’m happy with how my George Michael essay for Billboard turned out. I’ve had time to think about him since my first reevaluation in October. Because of space and thematic limitations I couldn’t fit a few other points. First, the … Continue reading

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We know about time: The best of R.E.M.

In 1995 the only band bigger than R.E.M. was U2. In 2005, the only band less relevant than R.E.M. was Reel Big Fish. When the fingers of time ripped the calendar page from January 2015 I was asking my students … Continue reading

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I was waiting for him: The career of George Michael

It could have been the pinstriped jacket. But credit the combination of thick generous hair and stubble. When George Michael, then and forever of Wham!, faced the camera in “Careless Whisper” (what a title!) and shared the story of how … Continue reading

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Something happens and I’m head over heels: Best of 1985

Often dismissed as the hangover after two years of consecutive partying, 1985 does indeed have explaining to do on both the British and American charts. But I still had no trouble finding plenty of R&B and dance tracks I adore, … Continue reading

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‘If my heart could do the thinking, will my head begin to feel?’ — Van Morrison remastered

It can’t have escaped the grouch’s notice that his seventieth birthday lands three days after his catalog gets digitized. I’m not much of a Van Morrison fan — I prefer Saint Dominic’s Preview and Tupelo Honey to the earlier classics … Continue reading

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Butterflies in me arise

Before streaming and the Internet, used CD stores stocked a dozen copies of one of the nineties best and least heralded albums, priced at pennies. But Symphony or Damn is available for a couple bucks on Amazon. Buy it. I … Continue reading

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“No coward soul is mine – “

After completing a round of triumphant returns to the UK stage, Kate Bush deserves to bask. Audience responses validated her decision to limit set lists to albums recorded after 1985. Before Stylus Magazine folded, the editorial board on which I … Continue reading

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On the Communards’ “Don’t Leave Me This Way”

A synth pop act covering a Giorgio Moroder-helmed electronic piece was one thing; keeping the spirit of Thelma Houston’s biggest hit with falsetto was another. It’s to Richard Cole and Jimmy Somerville’s credit that they wanted “Don’t Leave Me This … Continue reading

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I really really really really really zig-a-zig-ahh: Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”

Tom Ewing arrives at Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” a single whose impact in America paled beside what the British experienced. Spicemania wasn’t an American phenomenon; we could barely tell the Spices apart. A couple of facts: we got “Wannabe” almost six … Continue reading

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U2’s War: “It…felt like being hit on the head with a rolled-up copy of the Christian Science Monitor for forty-two minutes.”

I don’t care much for War, and Marcello explains why: So U2 felt moved to prove they were Men. The cover star of War – Peter Rowen, who had also been the cover star of Boy some twenty-nine months earlier … Continue reading

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If a love song could climb over mountains: Bowie’s “Absolute Beginners”

David Bowie essaying a straightforward love song is usually cause to head for the hills (rather like learning that Paul McCartney will record one of those I’m-gonna-play-all-the-instruments-cuz-I’m-a-pop-genius albums he does from time to time). Generally the poseur is most moving … Continue reading

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