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New and Improved Formula

Strokes Room on Fire (RCA) Hype is considered more blessing than curse for a young rock act. Though industry types will tell you it’s crucial that buzz be cultivated gradually and delicately, bands and labels pay publicists to create it first and control it a distant second. And hype clearly pays off in short-term commercial […]

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It’s a D.C. Thing

The Pocket: The DC Go-Go Movement Directed by Nicholas Shumaker and Michael Cahill From Madchester to Miami Bass, regional scenes have a way of drying up once their mass appeal has subsided. Folks outside the beltway might imagine that go-go–the funk variant birthed in Washington, D.C., that seemed poised to cross over nationally in the […]

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Honor Among Thieves

Interpol at the Empty Bottle, September 6 Making rock music involves a lot of promiscuous recycling. Euphemistically, this is called “assimilation of influences” or “working in the tradition of.” But ask your average indie rocker what his favorite band right now sounds like and he’s likely to describe it using the names of two or […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cool and Collected: highs in the fifties

Last year was a dark one for the big auction houses, with the economic slump and September 11 hitting an industry already rocked by the Sotheby’s and Christie’s price-fixing scandal. But according to Richard Wright, his young West Loop auction house is on the upswing. “Our business has thrived, while Sotheby’s closed the Chicago location,” […]

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Ragged But Right

Velvet Underground Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes (Universal) Once, back in 1990, I smuggled my college radio station’s handheld recorder into a Chicago club and recorded a matinee gig by a shaggy and relatively obscure band called Nirvana. One listen to the cassette today and the room still comes into focus: Chris Novoselic […]

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Who Got the Stones Rolling?

Stoned: A Memoir of London in the 1960s By Andrew Loog Oldham (St. Martin’s Press) In the annals of rock history, artist managers are rarely recognized for their creative vision. Their behind-the-scenes manipulations may be well documented, but we prefer to think of them as scheming, greedy, and shallow (and preferably old and fat). That […]