Andrew Petrie rss

Ginger Baker plays the drums at Cream’s first live performance at the Windsor Festival, 31 July 1966

The poor drummer is music’s goalkeeper — you only notice him if he screws up

16 May 2015
Born to Drum: The Truth About the World’s Greatest Drummers — From John Bonham and Keith Moon to Sheila E. and David Grohl Tony Barrell

Dey Street, pp.302, £16.99, ISBN: 9780062307859

Tony Barrell can’t play the drums, but he’s in awe of those who can. ‘A band without a drummer is like a rocking chair that somebody has cruelly bolted to… Read more

The aurora: you really have to see it for yourself

The Northern Lights

13 December 2014

Getting here took a long time. First a flight to Seattle, then a connection to Fairbanks, followed by a coach to Coldfoot Camp and a final stage by minibus. It’s… Read more


Rome, Open City still shocks

15 March 2014

Roberto Rossellini shot his neorealist landmark Rome, Open City while the war still raged and rubble littered the freshly liberated capital. Based on real experiences from the ten-month German occupation,… Read more

Graham Nash in London, 1970

Wild Tales: The book to make any Spectator reader weep

19 October 2013
Wild Tales Graham Nash

Viking, pp.320, £25, ISBN: 9780241003411

We all know that if you can remember the Sixties you weren’t really there. But Graham Nash, of the Hollies, and later of Crosby, Stills & Nash, was there, and… Read more


At home with President Nixon

7 September 2013

The most paranoid of presidents, Richard Nixon must have been feeling unwell when he allowed three of his closest aides to shoot personal Super 8 footage of their time in… Read more


Herzog at the BFI: Mad men in the rainforest

15 June 2013

‘I am the wrath of God. The earth I pass will see me and tremble.’ Not my words, Mr Speaker, but those of demented conquistador Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s… Read more


The stamp of quality – Terence Stamp at the BFI

18 May 2013

If ever a director’s decision to cast an actor based solely on looks could be excused, it would be Pier Paolo Pasolini’s choice of Terence Stamp for the lead in… Read more


The shock of the old

26 January 2013

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross published The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century five years ago, earning himself the Guardian First Book Award and a finalist citation… Read more


London pride

10 November 2012

The trend for documentary portraits of individual cities assembled from archive footage continues with Julien Temple’s London: The Modern Babylon, out now on Bfi DVD. Temple was the obvious choice… Read more


24 hours in Tulsa

29 September 2012

Oklahoma will always be a red state on the political map, but the colour goes deeper than that. Everything here was red: red earth, red brick, red dust, red rust.… Read more


Critical meltdown

28 July 2012
Antony’s Meltdown Southbank Centre

If the River of Music put you in the mood for stimulating sounds on the banks of the Thames, next week’s Meltdown at the Southbank Centre, also part of the… Read more


From our own correspondent

7 July 2012

‘Interviewing Afghan warlords is always something of a delicate dance,’ writes roving BBC reporter Nick Bryant in Confessions from Correspondentland (Oneworld, £10.99), and, given that he has also observed the… Read more


The first lady of song

12 May 2012

Folk legend Sandy Denny’s eminently coverable songs, direct of melody and opaque of lyric, have scarcely declined in popularity since the singer’s death in 1978 at the age of 31.… Read more


Bad habits

31 March 2012

When the late Ken Russell published his autobiography in 1989, he called it A British Picture. That title could just as easily describe The Devils, his 1971 adaptation of Aldous… Read more


A bite of the Apple

11 February 2012

For the first time in its 170-year history, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra has a native New Yorker at the helm. Music director Alan Gilbert (above) brings the band to… Read more


Disappearing lords

17 December 2011

‘I don’t like him looking daft,’ growls Alastair Campbell to the camera as Bafta-winning documentary film-maker Molly Dineen shadows Tony Blair for the 1997 party election broadcast. The warning is… Read more

Home away from home

17 December 2011

‘The first time I was in Australia I got in the taxi and after a bit the driver said, “Yer a Pom, aren’t yer?” so I said yes, how did… Read more


On a slow night

30 July 2011

American trio Low are what you get when a band evolves far from the established music scenes of laidback California and buzzing NYC. Fronted by husband and wife Alan Sparhawk… Read more

Religious doubt

23 April 2011

No description of Eric Gill is ever without the words ‘devout Catholic’, and Eric Gill: Lust for Letter & Line (British Museum Press, £9.99), while short, provides evidence to both… Read more


Well trained

26 March 2011

Behind you, the New York skyline recedes as you plunge into bridge-and-tunnel New Jersey on a three-hour, five-state train journey to the District of Columbia. Of historical interest is that… Read more

A chorus of disapproval

19 March 2011

At more than 700 pages including appendices, Guardian writer Dorian Lynskey’s 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs (Faber & Faber, £17.99) certainly can’t be accused of skimping… Read more

Bipolar exploration

12 February 2011

‘I’m not writing songs anymore; they’re writing me.’ Plagued by music in her head that arrived unbidden, drowning out conversation, Kristin Hersh was diagnosed with bipolar disorder just as psychologists… Read more

Those who are about to rock salute you

19 December 2010

They’re as international as Qantas, as influential as Sidney Nolan and could give Rupert Murdoch lessons in global market dominance. They’re Australia’s biggest export since Foster’s, and are probably responsible… Read more

The road to ruins

11 December 2010

Director Patrick Keiller made his name with London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997), semi-documentaries recounting the peripatetic investigations into ‘the problem of England’ conducted by the unseen narrator and… Read more


Friends indeed

30 October 2010

Jarrow playwright Peter Flannery’s superb television serial Our Friends in the North started life as an RSC production in Stratford in 1982 and has finally been re-released on DVD. The… Read more