A blog about music from Canada and beyond.

Long reads, short reads and bite-size bits.

Movie Review: Purple Rain

Movie Review: Purple Rain
PURPLE RAIN Directed by Albert Magnoli.   Purple Rain resembles its provocative singing star, Prince: it delights in breaking rules and raising eyebrows. While such anarchic behavior is the root of rock music, it is rare in rock films. They usually offer a safe and predictable storyline that is little more than background to the soundtrack. But Purple Rain cleverly integrates its sultry electronic funk music with a story of unexpected depth and emotion. It receives great support from Prince himself, the 24-year-old pop ...
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Music Review: Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain

Music Review: Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain
Prince is one of pop's true originals. His credo of eroticism and his nervy, androgynous pose have made the 24-year-old Minneapolis native a constroversial figure. Radio stations often ban his sexually explicit songs from airplay, but his music is an ingenious blend of keyboard funk and guitar rock. Purple Rain is a kaleidoscope of pulsating sounds and velvety textures. It opens with the cheerful chaos of "Let's Go Crazy," in which Prince preaches hedonism in the face of impending apocalypse. "Darling Nikki," about a steamy encounter ...
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Blog Post: Around the World on a 45 rpm Disc

Blog Post: Around the World on a 45 rpm Disc
Bengawan Solo. Anneke Grönloh. 1962. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” Mark Twain wrote.  It also has the power to awaken the senses.  In 1962, I was an innocent abroad, a white boy plucked from homogenous suburban Toronto and deposited in the tropical, northern Malayan town of Ipoh.   My father, born there during colonial times, had decided to move us to his hometown while he embarked on a writing project and explored his ancestral roots.  I can still vividly remember all the exotic smells, sig...
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Music Review: Yoko Ono - Yes, I'm a Witch Too

Music Review: Yoko Ono - Yes, I'm a Witch Too
Yoko Ono has long been misunderstood. Blamed for the Beatles’ breakup and criticized for her influence over husband John Lennon, she has never been accepted outside of avant-garde circles. That may be changing. Last year, New York’s Museum of Modern Art mounted an extensive exhibition of her paintings, drawings, sculptures, films and music. Now everyone from Sonic Youth to Lady Gaga is calling the controversial 83-year-old an influence. A new album of collaborations sees contemporary musicians reinterpreting her music. Alt-rockers Death Cab for...
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Music Review: Bonnie Raitt - Dig in Deep

Music Review: Bonnie Raitt - Dig in Deep
The flame-haired star, part of rock’s sisterhood with Linda Ronstadt and Maria Muldaur, is a formidable slide guitarist. As a young performer on the Boston coffeehouse circuit in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Raitt met blues greats like Sippie Wallace, Son House and Muddy Waters and immersed herself in the tradition. Soon, she was winning acclaim for her own bottleneck style. Born and raised a Quaker, she has always mixed activism with her music, campaigning against nuclear energy with No Nukes concerts and co-founding the Rhythm and...
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Feature Article: Ay Caramba! - Music in Cuba

Feature Article: Ay Caramba! - Music in Cuba
Behind a dilapidated storefront in central Havana, an ancient ritual is under way. An old black man, sitting in a crumbling shell of a room, instructs four initiates in the art of traditional Yoruba drumming. Beneath the glare of a dangling light bulb, Elpidio Acea barely seems up to the task. Wiry and wizened, he looks like he’d have trouble keeping a heartbeat, let alone a tricky West African rhythm. But striking two cigar-shaped sticks together, he taps out the offbeat pattern that signs the drums to begin. His students, all young women, res...
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Grammy Awards 2016: 5 Reasons to Tune-in to Music's Big Night

Grammy Awards 2016: 5 Reasons to Tune-in to Music's Big Night
The Grammy Awards has become one of the world’s most-watched television events. Last year, over 25 million people tuned in to see singer Sam Smith win basically … everything. This year’s edition, the 58th (Feb. 15, City), promises plenty of drama as Taylor Swift and The Weeknd challenge nomination leader Kendrick Lamar to decide who takes home the most hardware. Here are five of the biggest things to expect from music’s starriest night.   1. SHOW-STOPPING NUMBERS Live television means that music is spontaneous and often full of surprises. ...
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