features 2014

Rock & The Occult

occultcover Ozzy Osbourne famously serenaded "Mr. Crowley," in his 1980 track. But, poet, novelist and noted occultist Alesteir Crowley has been name-checked, celebrated and explored in hundreds of rock songs. And he's just one example of how the occult has influenced rock and roll, or how it saved it, according to author Peter Bebergal. He talks to Jim and Greg about his new book Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll on this Halloween edition of the show. First off, we're not talking about satanism here. There's no great definition of“occult,”because it carries so much baggage. But Bebergal explains that occult beliefs are a conglomerate of bits of mythology, religion and actual experience, which take the form of mystical or other states of altered consciousness. Despite darker connotations, occult beliefs attempt to understand reality in a way traditional religious practice cannot or chooses not to explore.

Then Jim and Greg get into the music. The occult has trickled into popular music since early blues recordings at the beginning of the last century. That evolved into the hoodoo-inspired sounds of Elvis Presley, the mystical references to the east in the music of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and even the Illuminati imagery of modern hip-hop.

For more great occult tunes, check out Peter Bebergal's playlist by following us at Beats Music.

Go to episode 465

New Wave

No one of a certain age can hear "Rio" without picturing Simon LeBon and the members of Duran Duran crooning off the side of a yacht. They were the“Rolling Stones of the New Wave era”according to writer Lori Majewski, and through such videos represented everything you either love or hate about the 1980's—the excess, the sex, the fashion and the pure pop production. But, while this was a very visual era of music (with infamous clothes and even more infamous hair), there's a lot to be said for the sound. Jim and Greg talk to Lori about her new book Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and the Songs That Defined the 1980's, co-written with Jonathan Bernstein. In it, the authors reveal why New Wave caught on so strongly with pop fans and the media, especially post-punk in the U.K. (Certainly the NME would rather photograph Adam Ant than a spitting Johnny Rotten). And Jim and Greg reveal their own affection for music by Boy George, The Cars, A Flock of Seagulls and most anything brought to the big screen by John Hughes.

Here are other New Wave acts we fondly remember:

And check out Lori Majewski's favorite New Wave Videos and follow us on Beats Music for a full playlist.

Go to episode 456