Marginal Utility
Image: Marginal Utility
When shopping nirvana shrivels away like the mega mall growing incrementally smaller behind you at the end of a long day, and buyer's remorse begins gnawing at your nerves, and you begin to fret the futility of it all, Rob Horning's blog, "Marginal Utility", steps in to stimulate your woefully neglected neocortex. Read, laugh, weep, but above all: realize. You'll feel smarter again in no time.
More Recent Features
	Menthol: Danger: Rock Science!

The stories of small rock bands against the mighty labels litter the pages of music history like so many bad parables. David and Goliath ad

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12 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Mississippi Fred McDowell: Mama Says I’m Crazy

About midway through the first listen of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s Mama Says I’m Crazy, I’d more or less decided to write off

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	Guided By Voices: The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet

Guided By Voices’ 10-song EP The Pipe Dreams of Instant Prince Whippet is release #24 in The Fading Captain Series, which GBV captain Robert Pollard uses

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	The Dudley Corporation: The Lonely World of the Dudley Corporation

OK, heads down again, rockers. It’s time to plunge ahead (again) into Eternal Recurrence, that noisy wheel that routinely spits out nice chunks of

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	Franklin Bruno: A Cat May Look at a Queen

Before listening to Franklin Bruno’s new CD, throw on your bathing suit, grab a glass of lemonade with a little umbrella sticking out, and

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	Bukkene Bruse: The Loveliest Rose

The Loveliest Rose is an album of Christmas music from Norway; but don’t expect “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly” or even “Good

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	Biffy Clyro: Blackened Sky

Biffy Clyro started out as a teenaged group in the mid-‘90s in a small village in Scotland. Influenced by Nirvana and Guns ‘N Roses

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Interview With the Assassin (2002)

When the movie does work, it's more often than not because of Raymond J. Berry's understated rendering of the assassin as a simple, humorless man.

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	The Shimmer Kids UnderPop Association: The Natural Riot

It could have been great. It had all the right ideas, right motivations. The key ingredients. A psychedelic underground pop band, straight from the streets

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9 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Shazam: Tomorrow the World

This is very good news indeed. Just when doubts were brewing about whether The Shazam could return to the kind of form displayed on their

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9 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Rhett Miller: The Instigator

For nearly 10 years, Rhett Miller and his band Old 97’s have defied simple categorization. Alt-country? Sure, in that they don’t play the typical gag

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9 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Diana Krall: Live in Paris

 DIANA KRALL Live in Paris [DVD](Eagle Eye Media)US release date: 2 April 2002UK release date: 1 April 2002 by Wayne Franklin kralldiana-live.jpg :. e-mail this

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	Al Jarreau: All I Got

Al Jarreau was going to be as important as Curtis, Marvin, or Stevie. At least that was the way he was talked about briefly in 1975

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9 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Hot Water Music: Caution

As musical genres go, few are more limiting than hardcore punk rock. After all, there’s only so much that you can do with three

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	FC Kahuna: Machine Says Yes

Here it is, people—a dance album without clichés, and a group that refuses to do what they’re “supposed” to do (crank out

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	Miles Davis: The Miles Davis Story [DVD]

During the introduction to this DVD biography of Miles Davis released by Sony Music Miles’ onetime mentor, trumpeter Clark Terry, points out that the tension

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	Elvis Costello & The Imposters: Cruel Smile

Elvis Costello is one of those artists that people love. Not just listen to and like, not just appreciate and admire, but actually wholly love,

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	Common: Electric Circus

So here’s the burden—you’ve been heralded as this generation’s Celebrity Gramscian. You know, the kind of brotha given to counter hegemonic

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Welcome to the new comic image of men on TV: incompetence at its worst.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Pessimists argue that this bygone role of college sports can no longer exist, yet students and educators can decide to wrest their teams away from negative outside influences. As a result, it may be possible to remove the athletic albatross from bringing down the academic worth of the institution, and college athletics would once again truly serve the student body.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Baseball needs a new marketing campaign and fast, or it really is in danger of becoming a relic of another era.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Talk to Her (2002)

Its frank observations of love in excess of gender (or even sex) and its postmodern, eclectic style are distinctly reflective of our own present.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Trapped (2002)

Scary as this sounds -- Courtney Love channeling Claire Standish or Andie Walsh -- it might explain a few things about what was going on in Trapped.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Narc (2002)

Both Henry and Nick are addicted, in different ways, to the job, the adrenalin it churns up.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Love Liza (2002)

Love Liza wallows in grief and asks its audience to do likewise.

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9 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Just Married (2003)

Some movies don't need to be made.

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The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) - PopMatters Film Review
)

Lotte Reiniger used film to... investigate the connections between past and present traditions.

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	UB40: UB40 Present the Fathers of Reggae

It’s been nearly two decades since British reggae group UB40 had a hit with “Red Red Wine”. Since that highpoint, the group has faded

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	Tandy: The Lowdown: 1997-2002

There has been a great alt.country band under our noses the whole time, and their name is Tandy. Headed by American singer-songwriter Mike Ferrio

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	Saint Etienne: Finisterre

Poor Saint Etienne. Back when they first appeared in the early ‘90s, they seemed like the next Pet Shop Boys, a couple of British music

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8 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Roots: Phrenology

On 1995’s Do You Want More?, the first widely available album by the Roots, there was a track called “Essaywhuman?!!??!” that was essentially an excuse

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8 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Darryl Purpose: A Crooked Line

When one thinks of a male folk singer from anywhere but Texas, the image of a squirrelly guy in long hair and wire-rim glasses is

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	The Mishaps: Get Away Volume

Is punk dead? You know, I’m just not sure. I’m certainly pushed towards a big fat yes when I look around at what

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8 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Ladytron: Light & Magic

Two cuts into Ladytron’s sophomore effort Light & Magic, they drop “Seventeen”, a delicious slice of early ‘80s electro-sleeze with all the right elements—

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	Hayden: Live at Convocation Hall

Double live albums are dodgy enterprises any way you cut it. While they can sometimes be interesting for the diehard fan of an artist, for

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	The Flaming Sideburns: The Flaming Sideburns Save Rock ‘N’ Roll

This late into 2002, you’d think the ever-growing number of Scandinavian rock bands that have been heavily hyped Stateside has reached its saturation point. However,

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	Jane Bunnett: Cuban Odyssey

Jane Bunnett is undoubtedly one of North America’s most talented and authentic interpreters of Cuban music, having been involved with the country’s music

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8 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Are gender identity and sexual preferences immutable lifelong features or dynamically evolving frames of self-reference?

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#3

8 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

What Rob Williams and Co. expose in this deftly written series is that power lies as far from the common man as is possible; it rests in the hands of the wealthiest elite.

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At the tender age of 12 Derf befriended Jeffrey Dahmer. He witnessed firsthand the downward spiral that created the monster we all know Dahmer to be.

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8 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

Glenn Tilbrook practically skipped onto the tiny red-curtained Viper Room stage in Los Angeles, California. Dressed in a simple red and white T-shirt and jeans

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8 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

S E T    L I S T The Last DJLove Is a Long RoadHave Love Will TravelFree Fallin’When a Kid Goes BadShadow

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8 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

S E T    L I S T My Little Red BookOrange SkiesYour Mind and We Belong Together7 and 7 IsSigned D.C.Everybody’s

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8 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

For those of you who are familiar with Counting Crows’ morose recordings, let me assure you that lead singer Adam Duritz did not walk out

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. . .when you personally pass Jimi's age or John's, or Buddy's or Elvis', you realise just how fleetingly they basked in the limelight, and how briefly the candle of your own existence flairs then flickers.

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7 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Stereo Total: Oh Ah

If you’ve heard that schticky polyglot pan-European lounge-act Stereo Total were a must to catch live (which is something I’ve been told over

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7 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Donna Summer: Bad Girls (Deluxe Edition)

Originally released as a double-LP in 1979, Bad Girls fully established Donna Summer as pop icon. Replete with the epic production work of Giorgio Moroder and

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7 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	G-Unit: Beg For Mercy

If you want to be a full-fledged star in today’s rap world, there are a few prerequisites. First, you should have a compelling story:

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The Green Pajamas: Through Glass Colored Roses: The Best of the Green Pajamas

The soft and breathy approach quickly starts to feel bland over the long haul, and there are times when you find yourself wanting to tweak the knobs in the studio and spice the songs up a bit.

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	Ester Drang: Infinite Keys

Ester Drang‘s latest album might be one of the sleepers of 2003. The quartet, who toured most of this year behind this record, was recently

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	Erase Errata: At Crystal Palace

There’s a moment in “CA Viewing”—the second song off the second record from the first band to give women a meaningful place in

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	The Buttless Chaps: Love This Time

Band names can be a tricky thing. It’s difficult to find a band name that’s good as well as one that belies the

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	Various Artists: Going Driftless: An Artist’s Tribute to Greg Brown

Some Comp. Lit graduate student at N.Y.U. is hard at work on a dissertation entitled, “Tribute Albums: The Un/masking of Minstrels(y)

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5 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Bill Withers: Menagerie

Menagerie, the 1977 album by soul star Bill Withers, sounds a bit similar to the excellent ‘70s Reprise albums of ace New Orleans producer and arranger

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	Maritime Jazz Orchestra: Now and Now Again

The Maritime Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of saxophonist Greg Carter, have steadily been acquiring a reputation for large group playing that is “advanced” but

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	Bill Hicks: Love Laughter and Truth / Flying Saucer Tour Vol. 1 - Pittsburgh, PA. 6/20/91

Over the past 20 years or so, the number of stand-up comedians who are eager to do anything to make it big has skyrocketed, yet so

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5 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Tom Hooper: The Unexplored Cosmos

The Grapes of Wrath’s four albums between 1986 and 1991 delivered some of the finest introspective folk/rock music ever. Some songs offered up quiet guitar

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	David Hurn: He Was a Woman

Like a plethora of British folk pop singers like David Gray and more recently James Yorkston, David Hurn finds himself in a dilemma many are

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5 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Fat Joe: Loyalty

As I think back to this past year’s MTV Spring Break broadcasts, one single, solitary, haunting image keeps coming to mind. Come on people,

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5 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Fuzzbubble: Demos, Out-takes and Rarities

In a season of pleasant musical finds, one that has taken me unawares has been the discovery of this incredibly rich collection of Demos, Out-takes

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5 Jan 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Kimya Dawson: I’m Sorry That Sometimes I’m Mean

Kimya Dawson’s new solo release, I’m Sorry That Sometimes I’m Mean, is no Moldy Peaches record, but that’s not necessarily a

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Leonard Cohen: The Essential Leonard Cohen

Poet. Novelist. Buddhist monk. Renowned ladies’ man. One of the greatest Canadian songwriters who has ever lived. Who else can I be talking about, other than one Leonard Cohen?

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	Cowboy Nation: Cowgirl A-Go-Go

There’s a distinct difference between country music and cowboy music. The former can evoke images of sweeping plains, dusty roads and dry paddocks, yet

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Roman doesn't even like using a stand-in.

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A fan of making lists, movies, and making lists of movies, I’ve published best-of lists consistently for about ten years. That such lists usually

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It’s been about 8,760 hours since the last time that I wrote a year-end best list. Considering that I receive 68 channels on my television, if

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It appears that that the past year’s economic downturn motivated filmmakers to work harder. Or, at least they worked more. The year’s U

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All the exciting movies come out at the end of the year in the U.S., which means we over here in Australia don’t

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A strong start, a humdrum middle, a stirring finish: 2002 defied all reasonable expectations, offering the first annus mirabilis of the new century. Out from under

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2 Jan 2003 // 1:03 AM

For me, this year’s best cinema came from outside the U.S., and really, I couldn’t be happier. It’s a joy to

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Top Ten Television Shows Here’s the gist of all the Best of TV lists that are available in Time, People, and TV Guide: 24, Alias,

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2 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

What the cinema will really miss, though, is his charisma, his voice.

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2 Jan 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Pianist (2002)

Confronted by one horror after another, Szpilman (Adrien Brody) is a startlingly original film protagonist.

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The 10 Most Startling Speculations and 'Conspiracy Theories' About September 11 and America's New War by Mike Ward -- Following are the 10 most alarming theories about September 11, the 'war on terror,' and the future of the world.

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27 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

Joe Strummer's musical legacy is astounding. He, along with Mick Jones, wrote the soundtrack of an era -- late '70s Thatcherite Britain with all its decaying industry and racial strife and the cynical and selfish early Reagan '80s. Strummer had a compassionate political voice and only this past November he played a show on behalf of the striking firefighters in the UK.

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Although I saw Joe Strummer in action many times, I only met him once and, embarrassingly, confused him with someone else. In early autumn 1976, as term at Sheffield University unfolded, news of the arrival of the most talked about gig of the year filtered through the underground grapevine. The Anarchy in the UK tour, bringing the nascent fury of British punk to the nation, wended its uncertain way through the country, uncertain, because where-ever the entourage set up camp, there was imminent danger of the local council denying the potential hell-raisers a performing licence.

READ more

27 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

As famous as he got, Joe Strummer never forgot what it was like to be on the other side of the stage. He never forgot what it was like to love a band with all your heart and soul. He never forgot about the transcendent power that all the best bands are capable of, and of the tremendous responsibility that comes with that kind of power.

READ more

27 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

Not all that useful, ultimately, to talk about the importance of Joe Strummer in my life, because that only applies to me and my junior high and high school friends.

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27 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

Not all that useful, ultimately, to talk about the importance of Joe Strummer in my life, because that only applies to me and my junior high and high school friends.

READ more

The music of Joe Strummer and the Clash were an integral part of the soundtrack of my high school and college years. Strummer's death represents the disappearance of an important and substantial part of my musical past as well as the loss of one of rock music's truly poetic voices.

READ more
	Various Artists: A Cellarful of Motown!

Every Motown fan who hears this collection is nearly guaranteed shared reactions. The first one, common astonishment, with the realization that Motown had that much

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26 Dec 2002 // 11:00 PM

	SR-71: Tomorrow

While SR-71’s 2000 debut was pedestrian punk-pop at best, the band hinted that they had a greater pop pedigree than their peers. Their admitted love

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26 Dec 2002 // 11:00 PM

	Sígur Ros: (  )

With ( ), Sígur Ros has set a trap for everyone who writes about contemporary music: discuss an album with no interpretive reference points. The title

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26 Dec 2002 // 11:00 PM

	Na Leo Pilimehana: Hawaiian Memories

Na Leo Pilimehana first formed in 1982 when Nalani Choy, Lehua Kalima Heine, and Angela Morales met and began singing together as juniors at the Kamehameha

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26 Dec 2002 // 11:00 PM

	Missy Elliott: Under Construction

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Sista, the group Missy Elliott was in as a teenager, had made it past their one song, “

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26 Dec 2002 // 11:00 PM

Talib Kweli: Quality

Quality is filled with songs that are ripe for the radio, at least in an ideal world where radio paid any attention to songs.

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26 Dec 2002 // 11:00 PM

	Noam Chomsky: The New War on Terrorism: Fact and Fiction

EXTRA chomskynoam-newwar.jpg Note: Out of curiosity, I wrote Chomsky an email asking if any events of the past 13 months have surprised him or changed

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	The Church: Parallel Universe

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never really understood the point of remix LPs. Presumably, when a band records a song in the first place,

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Tori Amos: Scarlet’s Walk

Scarlet’s Walk cements Amos’s reputation, but it also seems like a homecoming from the more contrived work of her recent past. Complex, weighty, often brilliant, Scarlet’s Walk is the album that many a fan has been waiting for.

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26 Dec 2002 // 9:00 PM

Filled with life, Joe Strummer and the Clash showed us just how much vitality and hope rock could convey.

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Not all that useful, ultimately, to talk about the importance of Joe Strummer in my life, because that only applies to me and my junior high and high school friends. I've actually done this before, written about how the Clash politicized us, made us care about US foreign intervention and issues of culture and class (funny how close "class" and "clash" always were), introduced us to dub and re-framed rockabilly so it sounded cool instead of corny -- but somehow none of that means much of anything right now.

READ more

Although I saw Joe Strummer in action many times, I only met him once and, embarrassingly, confused him with someone else. In early autumn 1976, as term at Sheffield University unfolded, news of the arrival of the most talked about gig of the year filtered through the underground grapevine. The Anarchy in the UK tour, bringing the nascent fury of British punk to the nation, wended its uncertain way through the country, uncertain, because where-ever the entourage set up camp, there was imminent danger of the local council denying the potential hell-raisers a performing licence.

READ more

26 Dec 2002 // 9:00 PM

As famous as he got, Joe Strummer never forgot what it was like to be on the other side of the stage. He never forgot what it was like to love a band with all your heart and soul. He never forgot about the transcendent power that all the best bands are capable of, and of the tremendous responsibility that comes with that kind of power.

READ more

The music of Joe Strummer and the Clash were an integral part of the soundtrack of my high school and college years. Strummer's death represents the disappearance of an important and substantial part of my musical past as well as the loss of one of rock music's truly poetic voices.

READ more

26 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

You name it, Kevin Murphy saw it in 2001. And lived to tell the tale.

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26 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

Axl must realize that he no longer comes off as the dangerous and volatile bad boy of rock, but rather the immature and irresponsible poster boy for middle age ego and disillusionment.

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26 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

Now, six years later, things are quite different: George W. is our president, Laura Bush is the First Lady, and the Texas Book Festival has morphed into one of the premier literary events in the country.

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26 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

Pop is finally eating itself.

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26 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

I see it as the globalization of the Southern experience.

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26 Dec 2002 // 1:00 AM

In my high school a constant 'battle' went on between the Kennedy emulators and the Elvis crowd. Our hair told the story: the bushy tousled look with a smart part vs. the wild, unruly pompadour.

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