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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Music Review: Various artists - Music and Rhythm

The doldrums of contemporary popular music have led many artists to other cultures in search of inspiration. Increasingly, bands such as Talking Heads and the Police are incorporating African or West Indian rhythms into their sound. Just how rich and varied that mix can be is evident on Music and Rhythm, a double-record set featuring musicians from more than 15 countries. The “benefit” album was intended to offset the debts of the World of Music Arts and Dance (WOMAD), a large multicultural festival held in England last summer. The collection places rock musicians, from former Genesis singer and festival promoter Peter Gabriel to the Who’s Peter Townshend, alongside the primeval sounds ...
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Music Feature: Expeditions to pop's global village

On Naked, the latest album by rock’s influential New York City-based Talking Heads, leader David Byrne sings: “’Round and ’round and we won’t let go/And where we stop no one knows.” The song is “Ruby Dear,” and Byrne could well be referring to the new disc’s musical tour around the world. Recorded in Paris with a crew of international musicians, Naked reflects pop’s global village, where Congolese guitars meet Latin-style horns and ancient Middle Eastern melodies play off modern Western synthesizers. The result is one of the band’s best recordings. And by crossing a number of cultural boundaries, Naked signals a strong new trend toward international pop.Rock music ha...
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Music Feature: Around the World on a 45 rpm Disc

“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, sights and sounds of the place.  A walk through Ipoh’s streets, past food stalls selling aromatic curries and spiky rambutans, dodging trishaw peddlers and pedestrians in sarongs and cho...
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Feature Article: Taj Mahal - Bluesman on a mission

Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, better known as Taj Mahal, is an American music treasure. A self-taught singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Mahal has done more to stretch and redefine blues music than any other artist past or present. Over the course of his over 50 year career, he has taken the blues and fused it with the sounds of the Caribbean, Africa, the South Pacific and beyond.This diverse, melting-pot approach has puzzled some listeners while making Mahal a hero to lovers of eclectic roots music. “Here’s the thing, plain and simple,” music blogger Miles Mellough once wrote about the man, “Taj Mahal has always been a conundrum; a man who is capable of mirroring many th...
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Billy Bryans, a cultural bridge builder who changed the sound of Canadian music

Billy Bryans was best known as the drummer and founding member of the Parachute Club, the Juno Award-winning political rock group famous for its anthemic hit “Rise Up.” But his credits and contributions ran much deeper and he may ultimately be remembered as a cultural bridge builder who changed the sound of Canadian music.As a musician, Bryans performed and recorded with bands across the musical spectrum, from rock and blues to punk and African styles. At the height of the new wave era, playing in several groups at once, he was often seen pushing his drum kit on a trolley from club to club along Toronto’s Queen Street.His work as a record producer was equally eclectic, working with everyone ...
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