June 2024

The editorial is here again, and it is being written while politics and elections dominate the news from India and South Africa to the US and England. So the television is off, and the music is on! I find that though politicians of all persuasions consistently let me down, my favourite music never does. As Kiss sang in “God Gave Rock and Roll to You,” put your faith in a loud guitar. Of course, musicians can be just as guilty of hyperbole as politicians, the new album from an established band is always portrayed as the best thing they have ever done, and that statement can sometimes be flattering to deceive.

I thought I would take stock of the direction we are heading, under the umbrella of what we cover – especially noting what you are sending for review. Firstly, we continue to see a steady upward swing in the readers we have on a daily basis (those who like figures, we range from around 800-1400 per day now). We cover rock, prog rock, melodic punk, country and jazz, occasionally dipping into techno and pop. We are getting a lot of music submissions for review, and we are very happy to take them. We still have a policy of reviewing what we are happy to recommend. We have two reviewers who work hard getting these done, and we won’t review something to trash it, but we will be honest and are not going to say that this is the best thing since The Beatles released “Abbey Road,” as it probably isn’t. 

We seem to get a lot of submissions for death metal, I’m not sure why. We don’t cover death/black metal, and we don’t cover hardcore, stoner or rap. We would like to occasionally feature gospel, and if anyone wants to submit gospel to us, then you are very welcome! You can submit via our email, admin@rockthejointmagazine.co.uk 

Lastly, I was asked why, when a comment is sent in to the magazine, it doesn’t immediately show. The reason is that I need to approve it (that is one of my roles here). And we get a lot of spam! Spam can be amusing, up to a point. They obviously have a set number of copy-and-paste comments like: “I’m wondering if your article truly matches the title. Just joking! How about checking out xxx !” and other such variations, all there with their internet identity trackers in that little cafe in Zurich, or wherever!  So we don’t want those going up, and they go straight to delete. We also had a little irritation with an insane stalker. That means any comments are always checked by me. We welcome them, and all comments about the music make us very pleased!

I wish you all well, wherever you are in the world reading this, and let’s hope the politicians all go away soon!

All the best for June, Benny (the Ball) Benson.

May 2024

As we welcome May with a series of really interesting features and interviews, the mood in other parts of the world is seemingly worse than ever. Although I often lift more than an eye brow to our injustice system here in the UK, we have the freedom, at least to criticize and complain; to speak out and even offend. Others are not so fortunate. Artistic freedom is something we take for granted, but there is a poem called “Not My Business” by Niyi Osundare that points out what can happen when we constantly pretend to not see what is going on. I feel that although we are small, we have to sometimes raise a voice.

Toomaj Salehi is a rap artist based in Iran, currently sentenced to death for writing and performing songs critical of his government. “It’s a shame you’re blood sucking leeches,” he sings in the “mouse trap” about his government apologists in the West. “If you cover your eyes, then your hands are drenched in blood.”  

It is not hard for those in power to turn an innocent person into a criminal, sadly. But to be sentenced to death for “spreading corruption on earth” speaks everything about a system that runs scared of a singer who expresses an explicit attack on them in Persian. In “Rathole,” he sang of those still supporting the regime: “You saw the people’s pain but closed your eyes.”

His voice speaks to a generation tired of theocratic oppression that polices the streets and bans everything from dancing to showing your hair. The young say Salehi lives within a “regime that has deprived us of light.” Protest music has formed the backbone of music for decades, and Salehi has turned his attention to the movement to support Mahsi Amini and her death at the hands of the morality police. He is a voice for youth and freedom.

For presenting his music, he tells us, “I was severely tortured at the time of my arrest,” he said. “They broke my arms and my legs. They were hitting my face and my head, so at first I tried to cover myself with my hands, and they broke my fingers.”

He now awaits death. In this troubled world, please remember the name and try not to look the other way. In a small way, listen to his music and write to your MP to place some pressure on the Iranian authorities. Our injustice system pales into insignificance when compared. Let us hope that music can still have the capacity to change the world for the better.

Mark C. Chambers

April 2024

This editorial wishes all our readers a Happy Easter, as we seem to have found ourselves in April. Where is 2024 going? Anyway, I wanted to pick up on a BBC article from March 2024. The article starts, ‘K-pop star Karina posted a handwritten apology on Instagram earlier in March; it was both contrite and profuse.

“I sincerely apologise for surprising my fans who have supported me,” the frontwoman of the girl group Aespa wrote.

Her offence?

Publicly acknowledging that she was in a relationship with actor Lee Jae-wook.’ I will link the BBC article here if you want to read it.

My topic for this month is to note whether fans have the right to know so much about the artist they love. Now, the article also notes how these devoted fans stream their favourite stars music around the clock when they release music to boost chart rankings. This is why the charts have become such imprecise monitors of what artists are actually popular. For example, there have been albums here in the UK (I won’t name them, because I like some of the bands involved), that went to number one in the charts, stayed there for a week, then bombed down to the lower 80’s a week later. This instant success, and equally instant drop, shows the power of targeted streaming at the start by hard core groups of fans. 

The internet has massively changed the relationship fans have with bands. Following artists on social media means that we have a connection with them that we never had in the past. I remember having to gain any news on my favourite artists from the music press, Kerrang and Sounds (which closed in 1991), in my case. Therefore, any information tended to connect to tours, albums and general updates as they arrived. I had no idea whether such an artist was having an affair, and I really had little interest in whether they were. Equally, with physical album sales, there is less of a chance to manipulate charts; finances dictated that I could only buy the new Stranglers album once.

So we don’t cover K-Pop here, although I have huge sympathy for Karina on this issue. I am co-editor of a music magazine, but I don’t listen to her music; it is not mandatory. Social media has attracted the obsessives, the trolls and the mad, along with the genuine fans and those who wish you well. Anyone, us included, has problems with some of the more crazy cookies who lurk on the fringes. I just hope that Karina continues with her romance and learns that she owes no apology to anyone for being in love. Surely, as The Beatles said,  “All You Need is Love.”

By Benny (the Ball) Benson

Editorial: March 2024

I am a little late getting this month’s editorial done, but I have been moving house so have a valid excuse! Anyone who has moved home knows the nightmare of boxes and being unable to find anything at all. A simple request like, “Dad, where’s my toothbrush?” becomes an hour long hunt. My moving house has coincided with some illness in the rest of the team and Lorraine headed off on holiday – so the last week has been slow-slow here at Rock the Joint. 

However, I have to note that this month celebrates the magazine’s second birthday, so now we are two. I don’t think we need fanfare, but we have done well and have a settled little team who all know their roles. For the record, I am Mark, I’m a Dad and a full-time writer. I love medieval history and tend to do the rock side of things here. In the magazine, I often do the interviews and chip in ideas here and there. Benny is a lecturer in cultural studies, he also does the back end of the magazine here, so if you send in an email, he will 90% of the time be answering. He also does most of the Instagram, Threads and Twitter side of things. Musically, Benny loves melodic punk. Stevie is next, one of the original trio who set this up. Stevie (NOT Steve) is a working mum who does the reviews for the blues side of things. She also sometimes does interviews for us. Lastly, Lorraine was the last to join, she wrote in an email, and hey presto. Lorraine does a lot of the writing up of the features, she gets the presentation right; and also does the reviews for country music. She also models a lot of our merchandise and runs the poetry page. Aside from the main team, there are Roy and Hazel, who get out to the live shows, and a couple of hidden faces who help on the technical side of things. And that is us! We are actually proud of moving the magazine from zero readers a day when we started to figures of around 1,000 a day now. I must also say how much I appreciate your donations on the “buy me a coffee” link. We do thank-you and it helps us improve what we do.

Lastly, I have chosen Kirstie Kraus for my video this month. I loved our interview with her and here she is again!

And here I am in this big Victorian terrace in the middle of the street, Madness got it right all those years ago, and I am glad to still be a bit crazy even today! 

Happy Birthday to us, and thanks for your support.

By Mark C. Chambers

Editorial 3 February 2024

By Benny (the Ball) Benson

I am having one of those moments when I just noticed the end of the month is near and tomorrow’s editorial should be ready. In the world of music, there are new tours and music to get excited about, but the non-musical world is so sad at present that I am actively avoiding the news.

I was reading the most recent feature that Mark and Lorraine had written on the American band “Female President,” and, unusually for us, we asked a political question. This was justified because the band’s most recent single was an anti-war song. However, it is a dilemma we have faced on occasion. We felt compelled to show some solidarity with Iranian women after the government forces murdered 16-year-old Armita Geravand, who suffered an assault from the nation’s morality police for not donning a headscarf and went into a coma. She passed away. Since then, security forces have killed/executed at least 530 protesters. Almost 20,000 other protesters have reportedly been detained, including journalists, film stars and footballers. Events slip from the news, but the plight and misery for the Iranian people go on. The actions of the government do not equate to the actions of the people.

I note all of this because I was also listening to a podcast from The Spectator magazine about how the presidential candidates in the US are desperately trying to get the endorsement of Taylor Swift. As amazing as that woman is, why should her political views influence Americans? Guitarist Ace Frehley recently (ish) noted that politics and rock don’t mix, so he doesn’t talk politics, and then he went ahead and endorsed Trump. Equally, here in the UK, I had a wtf moment at the last election when Kerrang magazine placed Jeremy Corbyn of all people on its front cover. I don’t comment on other magazines usually, but they are a huge music publication compared to us, and they should stick to music. Would a political magazine have Linkin Park on its front cover? I doubt it. 

That is not to say that songs must always be about “I love you,” “I hate you,” “I did my woman wrong,” or whatever. Anti-War songs have been around doing good for decades, and with the tragedy unfolding in the Middle East and Ukraine right now, coupled with Chinese oppression of Muslims and repression of free thinking in Hong Kong, ongoing misery for the Kurds, and tensions in Yemen, it really is awful. Music can make a difference. When Sting sang “Russians” or when Lennon (in the middle of his awful Yoko period) bashed out “Give Peace a Chance,” music showed it had a political voice. During Live Aid, it showed it has a conscience.

So I am not swayed in the slightest politically by whether Taylor Swift likes Biden. I am equally unimpressed by Trump walking into Madison Square, flanked by rapper Kid Rock. In the unlikely event that Taylor Swift recommended me the name of a decent plumber then I may take her advice. I can listen to her country music without caring that she was a Republican then; I can equally listen to her now without her Democratic sympathies bothering me at all. 

And as for Trump, when I heard him the other day saying he would end the Ukraine war in a day, and bring peace (I note he didn’t say how), he seemed to care about the dying. When I heard him note that during his time as President it was often Israel that were the blockers of regional peace, then I took an interest. I’m interested in a better world, I’m disinterested in who is endorsed by who. I am bored of the court trials (establishment versus I think, sometimes the establishment really is out to get you), and I dislike the politics of hate.

Listen to more music and enjoy February dear readers!

January 2024

This time it’s my turn to do the editorial, and I will go straight to wishing all of you a happy new year and welcoming you to 2024. I hope you have a great year, and I hope 2024 sees the world finding more peace than it has in 2023. As a Quaker, I have always supported peace, unless no alternative presents itself, and I can’t understand man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man.

Aside from that, my editorial is about the power of music and how it can help lift us out of depression. The role of music for mental health support is everything. This can be especially an issue in those winter months when we can all feel those post-festive downers and concerns over what is happening on the news or how to pay those bills. When I am down, I have music.

Thus, this editorial is going to supply my life with six songs, and these songs can take me away from any trouble into a different, happier world. And if you do like what we do in the magazine and you enjoy my piece today, please do buy me a new year’s drink by going to the donate button on any of these pages. We work hard for you and do appreciate acknowledgement.

My one proviso on these songs was that the memories were all positive. They were chosen for the song; it has nothing to do with the artist. I never set out to say that I must have a track by Queen, The Beatles or whoever. It was all about the song. These are not necessarily songs I play a lot; I am far more likely to have a Nina Simone album on than these, but they are special songs, and that makes a difference. They are my mental wellbeing songs.

  1. “Apache” by The Shadows is a song that is absolutely connected to my father. He loved Cliff Richard, and The Shadows were often on his playlist. My dad admired Bruce Welch and Hank Marvin’s guitar work, and whenever I hear The Shadows, I am at home. I’m happy, and the music playing tells me that my dad is in a good mood. He also loved to play the musical “Phantom of the Opera,” but “Apache” makes me smile more. My mum likes this too, but I associate her less with music; I know she liked Tom Jones and Trad. Jazz, but she would play music at home far less. But this is a childhood song.

2. Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train.” This song represents school days when I was into Kiss and Queen. I can’t say I enjoyed school and could have just as easily picked Pink Floyd’s “We Don’t Need No Education.” However, I had a great last year in school (which I left while still aged 15), as I had made a couple of wonderful friends. One of my two best friends was a huge Ozzy fan, and so whenever I hear this, I am back in my mind chatting to him and having fun. People go and take their routes in life, but songs take us back to them. And as the song says, “Maybe, it’s not too late, to learn how to love and forget how to hate.”

3. Lutricia McNeal “Ain’t that just the way?” This song always takes me to that certain time in the late nineties when I was just having a good time. A close friend first introduced me to the song, and it will always remind me of that time, person and place. Although, in a way, it is a song about lost opportunity, it also tells us to cherish the times we have. 

4. Lindisfarne, “Coming Home, Newcastle.” Newcastle-Upon-Tyne has always been a part of my world. I used to go and watch football and theatre there (my great-grandmother supported Newcastle United in the 1920’s!), I was married there, and my son was born there, so he is a Geordie. Whenever I play or hear that song, I am with my wife and son, and it is a really positive song about a place that will always be a part of me.

5. Sigrid, Justice League, “Everybody Knows.” This song I never get tired of. It entered my life recently (ish) and it speaks volumes about how I feel. It also provides me with strength, and regardless of how loaded those dice are, no-one can defeat you. You don’t quit.

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows the war is over

Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the fight was fixed…” (songwriters Cohen and Robinson).

  1. The Pretty Reckless “You Make Me Wanna Die.” I had to have a song for me now, today, at the end of 2023. Now, I have really had to fight back in life over the last few years, and music has certainly helped. I play my favourites from The Beatles, Kiss, Britney, Six the Musical (my tastes are eclectic), The Bombpops and so forth; but when I discovered The Pretty Reckless I gained a new lease of life. Right now, here at this moment, this song is close to how I feel, and everything does look better sometimes when the sun goes down.

So that ends my editorial. Benny will take over and do the one for February. We may have some guests do the odd editorial too in 2024, so that may be something to watch out for! Take Care everybody.

Mark C. Chambers

Editorial One: December 2023

This is a new departure. We have decided to do an occasional editorial piece, with Mark and I swapping turns. It gives an occasional chance to step outside reporting on artists and instead give our thoughts and perspectives as things come up that we want to say!

A little bit of news on the magazine: we are so pleased to have lifted daily readers to nearly 1,000 a day now, and, for us, that is something we are very proud of as a little group of music fans. Considering we were on zero when we started, we must thank you all for looking in. It has been so positive, apart from collecting an uninvited stalker that we could have done without! Looking forward, we are going to get into posting news on bands, so you will see a news page in January. We have also got a couple of new writers who are going to cover live shows and the London scene.

The editorial today, however, coincides with Kiss playing their last shows on their End of the Road Tour (it’s been a long road). I know Mark and his family all went to see them in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and said they were as good as ever. Kiss represents the passing of an era; it is, of course, age. Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, all the greats of the last era simply haven’t got the years left now to do full shows for ever. Studio recording is another matter. Ozzy and the Rolling Stones will continue to do new music till they drop, but sadly, Paul Stanley seems disinterested in taking Kiss back into the studio.

https://rockthejointmagazine.com/merchandise/

I salute the old guard; they formed so many of the reasons why this magazine exists, but there must be some new bands to take up the mantle and drive music forward in the age of the download and streaming systems. In the magazine, we like to report on the older bands still doing it out there, but we are especially proud of the new artists we have helped promote and support. For the record, we cover rock, country, jazz, and blues. The umbrella is wide, but it does have a line. I have been asked why we never reviewed the new Rolling Stones album “Hackney Diamonds.” Personally, I really liked it. I thought the Stones delivered on every front and were at their classic best. But the Stones don’t need a little magazine like us; their album is reviewed in the nationals and in the biggest publications. But with two reviewers who are stretched as it is, Doctor Lincoln, Olivia Lynn, Anita Bonsu and so forth do need us to review their work as they are, which is not yet going to be in The Times music section.

On a global level, we think The Pretty Reckless, formed in 2009, are as good as you found at any time in the past. They have consistently delivered classy commercial rock for over a decade now.

On a smaller scale, Emma Wilson is a huge talent with a great blues voice, or listen to Sunjay! When Rivers Meet, Brave Rival, Black Roze, Rogue Awakening are all out there in the rock world. Some of these bands may still be playing cellars and small venues, but Kiss played their first show at the Coventry in New York to an audience of 3. Check out Eva Schubert in the jazz field, and country music is having a huge revival. Our piece on Taynee Lord, for example, points toward an artist heading up, like Robyn RedLaura Evans, so many exciting new names. You just must listen to them!

Above picture: When Rivers Meet.

Returning to Kiss, I wish they had spent a bit more time in the studio over the last decade (like any time in the studio), as the creation of music shouldn’t just stop, even if the initial desire for creativity ends. Kiss will be seen as one of the great American bands, drawing on a tradition pulled from the British invasion of bands like The Beatles, Cream and Slade. I finish my first editorial acknowledging their contribution to rock music and performance, as well as delivering rock marketing and image in spades. I’m sad to see their generation or rockers calling it a day, but doing this magazine has made me ever more hopeful for the future. So, when you next stream The Stranglers, check out The Bombpops too. When you stream Dolly Parton, play some Olivia Lynn, and if you love those old blues men and listen to BB King, why not listen to a bit of Wily Bo Walker too? My editorial says, Love the old but embrace the new! Look through the magazine; if we are covering an artist, it is because we believe in them. On reviews, we won’t waste time doing a review on something we don’t like; life’s too short!

As a last word, we work hard for you here. Please do appreciate what we do by buying us a coffee on the donation page and checking out the rest of the site.

Take care and all the Best in this winter season. Benny (the ball) Benson.

One Reply to “Editorial Page”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.