Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mojo Workin'

For many years I've preferred to get all my musical info from British music magazines. That began in the mid-70's in college when I began to read Melody Maker and discovered exotic names from all sorts of musical genres like Roy Harper, Hatfield And The North, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and the Globe Unity Orchestra. That gave way to the Punk years of the late 70's and early 80's and my allegiances switched over to the New Musical Express which seemed to uncover some fresh new name like The Fall, Stiff Little Fingers or Joy Division every week and talked about music with a fun blend of sarcasm and excitement. Years went by and a lot of British magazines either consolidated or died off while the writers who made them so much fun went on to other things. I tried out different periodicals until several years ago I came upon the one that would become my musical bible, Mojo.

These are some of the featured artists in the February 2010 issue of Mojo: Corinne Bailey Rae, Ian Dury, Jimmy Page, Slayer, Shane MacGowan and Amorphous Androgynous. That lineup gives some small idea of the magazine's breadth. It specializes in older names, with historical features on innumberable bands from the 60's and 70's but also deals with everything that has happened since then, with a British slant that means they cover a lot of people who were big in England but meant little or nothing over here in the US. Dylan, Stones and Who? Sure, but also The Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Scott Walker, Oasis, Mott The Hoople, Kraftwerk, David Sylvian and almost anyone else you could think of.

Some readers grumble because the magazine dedicates at least one cover story each year to this obscure group from Liverpool called the Beat-somethings who haven't released a new record in thirty years. Seriously, you can hardly blame Mojo for that. Their Beatles covers traditionally sell better than any other issues and the last few years especially there's always been something newsworthy about the group, whether it's the recent Cirque De Soleil-inspired Love remix CD, the Beatles Rock Band videogame or last year's remastered albums. They've also been doing annual 40-year anniversary pieces on the later albums starting back, I believe, with Revolver but that should be over after this year's inevitable piece on Let It Be. They may already have another huge band in mind to dissect. They just finished a two-issue treatise on the concert and film versions of Pink Floyd's The Wall and the latest issue has a piece on the legendary first solo album by Floyd's Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs.

Mojo also does its part to promote new musicians and they generally have a good track record in their picks, pumping up the likes of Florence And The Machine, Animal Collective and Fleet Foxes though I don't share their gushing enthusiasm for Kings Of Leon. Overall the magazine is a reliably fun read every month.

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