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Music Dump - Madonna's Gay Colonel Neglected Bjork's Female Masters Apprentices

Colonel Parker Managed Elvis' Career, But Was He A Killer On The Lam? by Mike Dash (Past Imperfect/Smithsonian): Basically, the single worst decision Elvis ever made was sticking with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Parker couldn't leave the country, saw Elvis as a money-making machine, and became addicted to gambling, and so we have Parker to blame for a lot of his dire sixties movies (and movie songs) and for Elvis's Vegas period. Of course, Colonel Tom Parker was not only not a Colonel, but he was also not actually named Tom Parker, and Mike Dash argues here that there is pretty good evidence that Parker was the prime suspect in a 1929 murder in the Netherlands, where he grew up.

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How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide by Maura Johnston (Village Voice): Another article pointing out the double standards of the record industry, of music writers -- women and men doing the same thing are often judged very differently. You've probably read them before, agreed with them before, etc. The thing that makes this one great is that it's simultaneously hilarious and illuminating, because Johnston's use of examples (and her expert use of snark) shows just how ridiculous some music writing is.

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Straight And Narrow: How Pop Lost Its Gay Edge by Alexis Petridis (The Guardian): "All rock and roll is homosexual" screamed the slogan on a Manic Street Preachers tune. And, let's face it, Little Richard fit right into rock and roll in the beginning. And pretty much every big sixties band was managed by a gay man -- from Brian Epstein to Kit Lambert. But these days, rock and roll is oh so very straight, argues Petridis. Is it because being gay is no longer 'edgy'? Or is it because being gay is still very taboo in England? After all, 90% of British teachers claim to have seen homophobic bullying.

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Too Legit: The Neglected Legacy Of Pop-Rap by Jonathan Bogart (Ace Terrier): Jonathan Bogart seems to have this burning desire to rehabilitate and argue for forms of music that have been (un)justly neglected by the critics, from angsty woman pop to Ke$ha. And here he finds a new target: pop-rap. MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, etc. And argues that pop-rap was a gateway drug into hip-hop for perhaps even most hip-hop listeners, and that pop-rap should be celebrated for being the excellent party music that it is.

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Icons: Jim Keays/Masters Apprentices by Aaron Curran (Mess+Noise): Keays has just recorded a snarling scuzzy garage rock album called Dirty Dirty with Davey Lane (form You Am I, etc). And in case you don't know who he is, he was the lead singer of the Masters Apprentices, one of the best Australian bands of the late 60s and early 70s, and a band that influenced the likes of the Hoodoo Gurus and Jet. Curran gets a potted history of Keays' life via the interview -- how he went from being a garage rock guy in Australia to the guy who sung "Because I Love You" to working with Keith Moon, and it's fascinating stuff. Here in Australia we don't get the same amount of exposure to Aussie rock history that you get in the UK or US with magazines like Mojo or Uncut, so it's good to see M+N rectifying that.

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Bjork's Big Bang by Nitsuh Abebe (New York Magazine): Here Nitsuh Abebe profiles/talks to Bjork, and the combination is, of course, fascinating to read. Abebe has a great eye for detail: "a couple weeks from now, an acquaintance will spot her on the street and say she looks like she’s dressed for a penguin’s funeral." And Bjork has great details.

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Madonna's "Girls Gone Wild" Induces Dread, Cultural Bewilderment by Tom Hawking (Flavorwire): Tom Hawking (a regular contributor to TheVine) rightfully identifies 'Girls Gone Wild' as the moment when Madonna totally and definitively jumps the shark. And, as Hawking identifies, you can ignore the unimaginative phoned-in lyrics, but you can't ignore how un-fun, how drab and depressing, a pop song this is. Katherine St. Asaph and Maura Johnston both find the song a bit awful too).

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The Beatles - "Help!" by Sally O'Rourke (No Hard Chords): I've heard 'Help!' a million times - the soundtrack to the movie it's the title track to was one of the first tapes I ever owned. And yet, it took until reading O'Rourke's piece until I noticed that 'Help!' comes across as a backward step for the Beatles at that time in their career - it's got the rollicking pop frenzy that characterises their Beatlemania period tunes, but it's from a couple of years later. But still, Lennon had discovered his inner pain by this point, and it really is the contrast between the pop frenzy and Lennon's inner pain which makes this one of their best tunes.

Tim Byron
profile of TimByron

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