Music Reviews

Country music singer Hank Snow dead at 85

By Ian Bruce, 31 December 1999

The death of country singer Hank Snow marks the passing of a major figure in the history of popular music. Snow, who died December 20 in Nashville at age 85, played a key role in helping transform country music from a localized, largely rural musical style to an internationally popular form. In a 45-year recording career, he sold an estimated 70 million records and influenced performers from Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan.

"The heart and soul of country music is the experiences of ordinary people"

An interview with Dale Watson

By Richard Phillips, 16 December 1999

One of the more interesting music documentaries screened on Australian television this year was Naked Nashville, a Channel Four production about American country music. While the program did not provide a definitive history of country music, a rich genre with varied traditions and numerous musical sub-groups, the four-part series did expose the crass commercialism dominating the Nashville music industry today and interviewed a number of musicians and critics who voiced their concerns about the artistic decline of their craft.

Book Review:

Auden's poetry and his last years

Later Auden by Edward Mendelson Farrer, Strauss and Giroux, New York, 1999

By Margaret Rees, 20 November 1999

The publication last April of Later Auden, Edward Mendelson's detailed biography of Wystan Hugh (W.H.) Auden, has again focused attention on this key figure of 20th century English poetry. Mendelson, a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York City, wrote Early Auden, the first volume of his Auden biography, in 1981.

Why we need Byron

By David Walsh, 1 September 1999

Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame, by Benita Eisler, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1999, 837 pages.

The atmospheric music of Underground Lovers

By Jason Nichols, 25 August 1999

One of the more thoughtful contemporary music bands to emerge in Australia in the last decade is Underground Lovers. Cold Feeling, the group's latest CD, combines guitar rhythms and taped music sequences with introspective lyrics to produce unusual songs and atmospheric dance music.

A letter on the music of Joaquin Rodrigo

10 August 1999

The WSWS received the following letter in response to our July 13 obituary of the Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo.

Book Review

A humane life

Jackson's Track Memoir of a Dreamtime Placeby Daryl Tonkin & Carolyn Landon, Viking Books ISBN 0-670-88332-8

By Stephen Griffith, 31 July 1999

Jackson's Track is a remarkable story of ordinary Australian people—Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal—living together under difficult circumstances. It is a story of rural life that is rarely told. It is narrated through the eyes of a man whose account testifies to his personal humanity, and sensitivity to those whose lives he touched.


Joaquin Rodrigo, famed Spanish composer dies

By John Martinez, 13 July 1999

Joaquin Rodrigo, acclaimed Spanish composer and the man most responsible for popularising the guitar as a classical concert instrument, died on July 6 in Madrid at the age of 97.

Mel Torme, an appreciation

By John Andrews, 10 June 1999

The last few years have not been good ones for the giants of American song. First we lost the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald, then Frank Sinatra and Joe Williams. Now Mel Torme, who died Saturday from the lingering effects of the debilitating stroke which abruptly ended his 65-year singing career in August 1996.

Tracks, a Sony Music 4-CD boxed set by Bruce Springsteen

Anthology charts Springsteen's musical journey

By Peter Stavropoulos, 4 May 1999

The latest release from American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen is a collection of 66 tracks spanning a musical career that has endured for nearly three decades. The four-hour anthology, which includes 56 previously unreleased songs, is an important historical record of the artistic development of Springsteen and his E Street Band.

A reader asks about the poetry of Wilfred Owen

8 April 1999

To: Harvey Thompson

World Poetry and the English language

19 March 1999

Dear Editor,

A remarkable anthology of world poetry

12 March 1999

Dear editor,

Iris DeMent song provokes intense debate

By Richard Phillips, 12 March 1999

The folk/traditional American music scene has produced powerful social commentators from Woody Guthrie and others in the 1930s and 40s, through to the numerous folk singers who spoke out in the 1960s against racism, the war in Vietnam and other political and social issues.

Iris DeMent song provokes intense debate

By Richard Phillips, 11 March 1999

The folk/traditional American music scene has produced powerful social commentators from Woody Guthrie and others in the 1930s and 40s, through to the numerous folk singers who spoke out in the 1960s against racism, the war in Vietnam and other political and social issues.

The singer and the song explored

The Voice of the People: A 20 CD collection of folk song by Topic Records

By Paul Bond, 5 March 1999

The recent release of Topic Records' 20 CD collection The Voice of the People makes available many long-deleted recordings of traditional folk-singers and musicians from the British Isles. Compiled by Dr Reg Hall, himself a fine musician, the collection draws primarily on Topic's own output of some 120 albums, but also on previously unreleased private recordings and other long-unavailable commercial recordings. Coinciding with last year's centenary of the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS), it marks a highpoint of what is being described as a revival of folk-song in Britain.

Struttin' with Some Barbecue: Louis Armstrong and the growth of jazz

The music of everyday events

Review of Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen

By Ian Bruce, 25 February 1999

Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life by Laurence Bergreen. Broadway paperback edition, 1998, 564 pages, $16.00


I Married a Communist, by Philip Roth, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 1998, 323 pp., $26.00

By David Walsh, 13 January 1999

"At any rate, all I can do with my story is tell it. And tell it. And tell it."-- My Life as a Man

Experiencing Porgy and Bess

By Barry Grey, 11 June 1998

The opening night performance of Porgy and Bess by the Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit was a deeply emotional, even overwhelming experience.

Arnold Schoenberg on Gershwin

11 June 1998

Arnold Schoenberg wrote this remarkable appreciation in 1938, the year after Gershwin’s death.

A conversation with Dave Van Ronk

By David Walsh, 7 May 1998

The name of Dave Van Ronk is inextricably linked, first and foremost, to the folk music scene in New York City's Greenwich Village in the 1960s. He played with and knew virtually everyone of musical significance in that decade.

Music should not be a selfish thing

An interview with Sleepy LaBeef

By David Walsh, 16 December 1996

Sleepy LaBeef is as gracious in an interview as he is generous in performance. After the show I asked him:

The country boogie-woogie of Sleepy LaBeef

By David Walsh, 16 December 1996

The recent appearance by Sleepy LaBeef at the Magic Bag in Ferndale, Michigan, confirms his status as one of the greatest living performers of American popular music. It is hard to imagine anyone surpassing LaBeef in honesty, enthusiasm and intensity. All this accomplished at the age of 61, after 40 years as a professional musician.