Sean Murphy loves music, books, and movies and can't imagine a world without sub-titles. He was born in northern Virginia and has never found a compelling reason to leave. He studied English at George Mason University and has an MA in Literature. One of his thesis papers dealt with the utopian impulse in '70s rock (which, depending upon one's perspective, at least partially explains why he opted not to purse that PhD in Cultural Studies). During his time at PopMatters he has written extensively about music, movies and books, and his column "The Amazing Pudding" appears every other month. His memoir Please Talk about Me When I'm Gone was published in 2013; his novel Not To Mention a Nice Life in 2015. Visit him online at http://seanmurphy.net/.
One Shot: Remembering Michael Cimino's Masterpiece, 'The Deer Hunter' | 13 Jul 2016 // 9:30 PM
The Deer Hunter gets war, yes, but it also nails the beautiful, if banal simplicity of working class existence.
None More Black: Reassessing Black Sabbath's First Three Albums | 11 Mar 2016 // 3:38 AM
The sound Black Sabbath cultivated remains, at once, neither derivative nor capable of duplication.
Never Say Nevermore: Edgar Allan Poe's 10 Best Stories | 28 Oct 2015 // 9:30 PM
Poe endures as an artist who made his life’s work a deeper than healthy dive into the messy engine of human foibles, obsessions and misdeeds.
A Portrait of the Boss As a Young Man: On Bruce Springsteen's First Seven Albums | 5 Feb 2015 // 9:20 PM
The go-for-broke inspiration Bruce Springsteen became legendary for providing in his songs initially sprang from the most authentic source: himself.
What Is and What Will Always Be: A Fresh Look at Led Zeppelin's Familiar Masterpieces | 11 Aug 2014 // 9:14 PM
With the exception of the Beatles, no other band has loomed quite so large as Led Zeppelin, to the extent that we’ll never run out of things to say: good, bad and great.
Ray Manzarek: The Key to the Doors //21.May.13
In Defense of the Greatness of the Gatsby //14.May.13
Neil Young: Long May He Run //31.Mar.13
Ten Horrific Movie Scenes for Post-Halloween //1.Nov.12
Why Not Pink Floyd? //10.Nov.11
R.E.M.: The Greatest American Band. Ever. //21.Sep.11
10 Albums That Supposedly Suck (But Don't) //1.Aug.11
The 25 Best Progressive Rock Songs of All Time //22.May.11
What 'Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle Can -- and Can't -- Tell Us About What Happened in Tucson //26.Jan.11
God Is Not Dead: The Jimi Hendrix Re-Issues //11.Mar.10
Dan Auerbach: In Search of the Authentic Sound //22.Jul.09
Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain (Legacy Edition) //23.Jun.09
Beastie Boys: Check Your Head //29.Apr.09
The Doors: Open for Business (Again) //7.May.07
Moby Dick: American Chowder //31.Aug.06
The 25 Best Classic Progressive Rock Albums | 16 Nov 2015 // 9:00 PM
The purpose of this column has been to revisit, reassess and, above all, celebrate classic prog rock, so it’s inevitable we name names and select the best of the best.
Reappraising Ian Anderson's 'Minstrel in the Gallery' | 4 Aug 2015 // 9:30 PM
Minstrel in the Gallery seems as autobiographical as any Jethro Tull album, before or after, and there is a vulnerability and sensitivity that the songwriter was simply growing into.
Jethro Tull: Back to Basics (Sort Of) | 19 Mar 2015 // 9:30 PM
After the back-to-back-to-back brilliance of their previous three albums, a letdown seemed inevitable; amazingly, Ian Anderson & Co. raised the bar, instead.
The Moody Blues: Masters of the Mini Epic | 20 Nov 2014 // 9:30 PM
While so many of their progressive rock contemporaries were writing novels in the form of side-long suites, the Moody Blues were masters of the short story.
How About Some Unironic Love for Emerson, Lake & Palmer? | 18 Sep 2014 // 9:30 PM
Love them or loathe them, Emerson, Lake & Palmer wore immoderation like a badge of courage.
The Holy Trinity: Genesis //5.Mar.14
The Holy Trinity: Jethro Tull //12.Nov.13
The Holy Trinity: Yes //22.Sep.13
King Crimson: A Prog-Rock Case Study //9.Jul.13
Pink Floyd: The Prog Rock Archetype //7.May.13
1967 and the Prog-Rock Progenitors //6.Mar.13
Led Zeppelin Loathed, Loved, Copied, Scrutinized and Glorified | 14 Sep 2016 // 9:05 PM
For Zeppelin fanatics, Marc Roberty’s book will become an enduring bible of the good times, the bad times and even the boring times.
'Five Easy Pieces' Must Be Appreciated on Its Own Cantankerous Terms | 29 Jul 2015 // 9:10 PM
As the hippie hangover from the ‘60s begins in earnest, Jack Nicholson's Bobby Dupea has neither tuned in nor entirely dropped out.
'Pedro' Is a Glorious Romp Full of Stories That Only Pedro Martinez Can Tell | 18 Jun 2015 // 9:05 PM
No one can say Pedro did not walk the walk.
Schizophonia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined | 13 May 2015 // 10:00 PM
Schizophonia set a new bar for ways we can imagine intersections between the old school, the spiritual, and the evanescent.
This Collection of the Band's Memories Makes Led Zeppelin Actually Likeable | 25 Jan 2015 // 9:05 PM
No matter how grandiose the Led Zeppelin legend gets, hearing the golden gods tell their tale is both astounding and more real than anything anyone could ever make up.
Mathias Kunzli: Playground //14.Jan.15
Zion80: Adramelech: Book of Angels Volume 22 //13.Nov.14
Gary Clark Jr.: Live //22.Oct.14
Aram Bajakian: There Were Flowers Also in Hell //23.Feb.14
Slobber Pup: Black Aces / New Zion Trio: Chaliwa //28.Oct.13
Will Calhoun: Life in This World //8.Aug.13
Like The Dude, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson Abides //17.Jul.13
'Mingus Speaks', We Listen //10.Jul.13
Jimi Hendrix: People, Hell & Angels //7.Mar.13
'The Who Live In Texas '75': 'Nough Said //12.Dec.12
'They Live' Is the Most Blunt Critique of Unfettered Capitalism Ever Committed to Celluloid //13.Nov.12
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson: Thick As a Brick 2 //13.May.12
Human Connections, Missed Connections, Chance Connections: 'Three Colors: Blue, White, Red' //12.Jan.12
Gentle Giant: Three Friends / Octopus //5.Jan.12
Jimi Hendrix Experience: Winterland //15.Dec.11
New Zion Trio: Fight Against Babylon //14.Dec.11
Aram Bajakian: Aram Bajakian's Kef //1.Nov.11
The Michael Giles Mad Band: In the Moment //10.Oct.11
Garage A Trois: Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil //27.Jul.11
American: The Bill Hicks Story //27.Jun.11
The Dead Kenny Gs: Operation Long Leash //28.Apr.11
Pitom: Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes //13.Apr.11
Lloyd Miller: Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics //10.Mar.11
Syd Barrett: An Introduction to Syd Barrett //10.Nov.10
'Rush: 2112 & Moving Pictures Classic Albums': The Album Rush was Meant to Make (Both of Them) //24.Oct.10
The Budos Band: The Budos Band III //28.Sep.10
'Walkabout' Is the Rarest of Films That Will Change Your Life Again Every Time You Return to It //3.Jun.10
Jethro Tull: Live At Madison Square Garden 1978 //11.Jan.10
Living Colour: The Chair in the Doorway //9.Dec.09
Henry Threadgill: This Brings Us To, Volume 1 //29.Oct.09
Vieux Farka Touré: Fondo //31.May.09
Dennis Miller: The HBO Comedy Specials //30.Mar.09
Dan Auerbach: Keep It Hid //9.Feb.09
Bottle Rocket //8.Jan.09
Burning Spear: Jah is Real //16.Oct.08
The Melvins: Nude With Boots //14.Aug.08
Love Story //31.Jul.08
Eyvind Kang: Athlantis //16.Sep.07
Neil Young: Live At Massey Hall //19.Mar.07
Ennio Morricone: We All Love Ennio Morricone //1.Mar.07
Mike Dillons Go-Go Jungle: Battery Milk //21.Feb.07
Eric Dolphy Quintet: Outward Bound //6.Feb.07
The Melvins: A Senile Animal //18.Jan.07
Oliver Nelson: Screamin' the Blues //20.Dec.06
Stanton Moore: III //29.Nov.06
The Pretenders: Pretenders //16.Nov.06
African Head Charge: Off the Beaten Track //12.Nov.06
Charles Mingus: Music Written for Monterey, 1965. Not Heard…Played in Its Entirety, at UCLA //1.Nov.06
Invitation to a Suicide (2004) //19.Oct.06
Steely Dan: The Definitive Collection //24.Sep.06
Orrin Keepnews: Hero for America's Music | 18 Mar 2015 // 5:00 AM
Orrin Keepnews didn't just encourage and oversee some of the most important jazz recordings in history; he rolled up his sleeves and helped shape their final form.
The Cream of Cream: Their 10 Best Songs | 3 Dec 2014 // 4:00 AM
These ten selections, some more obscure than others, are chosen to represent the songs where the British power trio was most focused, most locked-in, and most original.
Jack Bruce: The Thinking Man's Golden God | 28 Oct 2014 // 4:29 AM
Jack Bruce didn’t need music videos, laser shows, dry ice, PR Kits, and crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics. He was too busy being one of the very best musicians in the business.
Harold Ramis (1944 - 2014): Empathy for the Rebel | 3 Mar 2014 // 3:15 AM
Harold Ramis’s oeuvre comprised a Hall of Justice for the nerds; people old enough to know there are no super heroes, but young enough to realize we could use them from time to time.
Bright Moments Past: On Music and Loss | 19 Sep 2013 // 4:17 AM
Music is first and foremost a very real and easily identifiable source of extreme pleasure. It’s also a vehicle, something I use to help me get around in life.