riley rock report

Bob Dylan Turns 81:

Baffling Persists

When Dylan released Love and Theft back in 2001, it forced a reassessment


Twenty years ago it seemed lik a lot of Dylan followers kept defending him beyond reason. I gave up after one too many zombie shows where he literally turned his back on the audience and acted so preoccupied it felt chilling, patronizing. So the shock of Love and Theft went beyond the bizarre moment of its release date (September 11, 2001). His vocal commitment, combined with his renewed humor, spelled out a weirdly acontextual return. And perhaps more.

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Born-Again Brahms

How the Piano Saved the Symphony

András Schiff performs the two Brahms piano concertos on an 1859 Blüthner 


"These lighter, less boomy forces cleanse these scores with a miraculous ease, and the effect is like taking in a restored Rembrandt. Where Brahms can sound thick and overripe, here the music turns transparent and glowing. A central irony of Brahms’s work lies in how even his large-scale symphonies require a chamber player’s alertness, an intimacy between players that only comes from eye contact and rigorous listening..."

Punk’s Revenge

Loretta Lynn Turns 90, Humbles Jack White

Also: Courtney Love, Barbra Streisand, and Melissa Auf Der Maur… 

As she turns 90, Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, her comeback at age 70, doesn’t sound a day over 50. And in this 2004 article, Courtney Love goes up against Barbra Streisand… now who’s crying?

..AND IF YOUR ARE CURIOUS about how the White Stripes turned garage rock into Top Ten material, you’re going to love what Jack White has done for country legend Loretta Lynn on her new album, Van Lear Rose. Now 70, Loretta Lynn takes a page from the Johnny Cash book of C&W elder statesman: teaming up with a young producer to bypass Nashville’s stale formulas.

The result is a set of all-original Lynn songs that mint traditional themes with alt-attitude. In “Family Tree,” she takes her kids to visit her husband’s lover for a public rebuke that would make a reality show producer blush… 

Farcial Swagger

Nick Lowe Turns 73, Waxes Modest

An Emerson College solo acoustic set from 2019, and Will Birch’s biography…

When Nick Lowe played a delirious solo acoustic show at Emerson College in November of 2019, I didn’t realize at the time it would be one of the last live concerts I’d see in two years. But I do think the reason it’s stayed with me has more to do with his stature and charisma than COVID…

THE MYTH ABOUT NICK LOWE hinges on his Mr. Goofball persona, all pop-friendly pranks and what-me-worry smirks.”Insouciant,” Robert Christgau once wrote of him. “Maybe too insouciant.” The joke’s on us: as this mostly post-2000 material setlist demonstrated, he’s gone next-level as a writer, and mastered adult themes with increasing rue (“The Man That I’ve Become,” “Lately, I’ve Let Things Slide”)…

The Who at Sullivan Stadium
the riley rock report debut issue with audio, March 2022

WITH A TYPICALLY fervid whimsy, the reunited Who’s set at Sullivan Stadium on July 12 reaffirmed the group’s 25-year-old gift for posing key questions—Who are we? Who are you? Why are we all here (again)?—that will aIways be larger than the answers. The grand rock spectacle they virtually invented had ripened, extended itself well into queasy adulthood, and the set bounded from weighty opuses (like “Baba O’RiIey”) to non-entities (like “Face the Face”) with telling gaps in quality. Even those of us blessed with the memory of vintage Who sets came away with our best hopes recharged, and in some ways restored. As a piece of rock history, it was less than riveting, and yet far more fulfilling than nostalgia.The evening had the odd afterglow of a long-lost friend whose unexpected reappearance helps to reveal something illuminating about yourself.

Accustomed to controversies about motives, the aesthetics of rock pretension, and any number of self-contradictions (they supposedly gave their farewell tour in 1982, with drummer Kenny Jones), the three remaining band members seem perfectly at ease explaining their latest incarnation. Guitarist Pete Townshend, as always, feels responsible to his fans, and has fewer and fewer qualms about staying rich. Singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle were never as equivocal about the band’s demise—after all, Townshend was the one to quit publicly and become an editor and writer at Faber and Faber. Although Daltrey, the most well-preserved of the three, claimed in Musician that he would do the tour for nothing, he quickly added, “Better not tell John that. He’ll want my share…”—The Boston Phoenix, July 1989

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Live chats with Tim Riley

On January 2, Producing the Beatles podcast host and author Jason Kruppa (All Things Must Pass: Harrison, Clapton, and Other Assorted Love Songs) spoke about  technical matters, where Jackson "fudges" some of his audio syncs up with film, and some promising new developments for scholarship. He also mentioned the Steve Hoffman audio forum.

Earlier episodes cover why Peter Jackson's Get Back doesn't work as a "documentary," and where it opens up new threads of scholarship. Tensions emerge between seen and unseen, sloppy rehearsals and masterful performance. More in links below...

Dec 12, 2021: Riley on Springsteen's No Nukes (13m, mp3)

Dec 5, 2021: more Riley on career context (45m, mp3)

Nov 28, 2021: Tim Riley on Get Back (65m, mp3)

Watch video clips here. More resources on the Beatles Bonus Round page.