Marcus Berkmann

Mel Gibson in Braveheart (Photo: Getty)

The top loo books of 2015

21 November 2015 9:00 am

There is not, sadly, a dedicated Trivia Books section in your local Waterstones, although at this time of year there…

Long player: 33 years on ABC's 'The Lexicon of Love' sounds only slightly less than current

Why I’m stepping down after 28 years as The Spectator pop critic

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Pop's place in culture has changed drastically. Marcus Berkmann explains why, after 27 years, it is time to step down as The Spectator's pop critic

Carly Simon, 1972 (Photo: Getty)

In praise of cheap box sets

12 September 2015 9:00 am

This column does like a bargain. Indeed, it not only esteems and relishes a bargain, it has also worked long…

Jazz soloist Charlie Parker with his saxophone c. 1946

From ragtime to the X Factor: the epic story of popular music

22 August 2015 9:00 am

As pop music drifts away from many people’s lives, so its literature grows ever more serious and weighty, as though…

Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Photo: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)

Four of the best albums to write books by

8 August 2015 9:00 am

I have been writing a book this summer, in the usual mad tearing hurry. (Much as I admire those who…

Looking idiotic: Cathy Fechoz performs ski ballet at the Olympic Games, Albertville, 1992. The sport no longer exists

Anyone for eel-pulling?

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Scholarship for its own sake has rather gone out of fashion, although I’m sure Spectator readers would be the last…


Why do we always beat up on drummers?

11 July 2015 9:00 am

It’s rare that I see a piece about music that makes me want to cheer from the rafters and shake…

Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons (Photo: Getty)

A reason to (almost) like Mumford & Sons

13 June 2015 9:00 am

Like a lot of essentially cautious people, I like my music to take some risks, play with fire and damn…

And then there were four: One Direction (Photo: Getty)

If One Direction lost one more member, would they be quorate?

9 May 2015 9:00 am

Where were you when you heard that Zayn Malik had left One Direction? No, me neither, but as my teenage…

Chris Rainbow fan: DJ Kenny Everett Photo: Getty

The golden age of pop has been replaced by the golden age of pop obituaries

11 April 2015 9:00 am

The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians’ obituaries is definitely…

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran poses with his Brits Awards for album of the year and male solo artist Photo: Getty

Why you should never trust songwriting credits

7 March 2015 9:00 am

Songwriting credits are, as we know, not always to be trusted. Since the dawn of music publishing, there has always…


Music’s unsung heroes: we owe a debt of gratitude to the passionate talent-spotters who actually discover the stars

21 February 2015 9:00 am

The crucial thing to remember about the music business is that it’s a business. If you happen to be creating…

James Blunt Photo: Getty

James Blunt's sense of entitlement is so palpable you could wear it as a hat

7 February 2015 9:00 am

Only a fool would mess with James Blunt. As his Twitter followers know, he has a sharp wit, and, as…

2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Weekend 2 - Day 1

His lyrics are hopeless, his covers are catastrophic, yet I still love Bryan Ferry

10 January 2015 9:00 am

There were two new albums I wanted for Christmas — the Bryan Ferry and the Pink Floyd — and to…

"Andrew Mueller hates The Doors more than any band in the world" Photo: Getty

Why we love hating the music we hate as much as we love loving the music we love

13 December 2014 9:00 am

It’s all gone now, of course. Not just the magazines themselves, but the legendary bile of old-school rock criticism

From Stephen Collins’s Some Comics

The 10 best loo books of 2014: why we sing so much better in the shower and what became of Queen Victoria’s children’s milk teeth

22 November 2014 9:00 am

Nancy Mitford would not call them ‘toilet books’, that’s for certain. Loo books? Lavatory books? One or two people I…

Tim Burgess of the Charlatans Photo: Getty

Is there anything a gospel choir can't cheer up?

8 November 2014 9:00 am

‘I’m starting to think that all of the world’s major problems can be solved with either oyster sauce or backing…


Michael Frayn’s new book is the most highbrow TV sketch show ever

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Enough of big ideas and grand designs. Instead, here are 30 unusually small ideas from the giant pulsating brain of…

Director Nora Ephron Photo: Getty

Why everyone wants what Nora Ephron was having

18 October 2014 9:00 am

I have come late to Nora Ephron — a little too late for her, anyway, as she died in 2012.…

Steve Howe of Yes Photo: Redferns via Getty

Why Yes are still the funniest rock band in the world (although Radiohead are catching up)

11 October 2014 9:00 am

My favourite comment about the Scottish referendum came from the eminent comedian and novelist David Baddiel. ‘What if Yes wins,…

Kate Bush at her family home, 1978 Photo: Getty

The secret to a long and happy pop career? Don’t die

13 September 2014 9:00 am

As everybody in the world except me seems to have seen Kate Bush’s live shows — against all apparent arithmetical…


A toast to beer, from Plato to Frank Zappa

16 August 2014 9:00 am

‘He was a wise man who invented beer,’ said Plato, although I imagine he had changed his mind by the…

Laurie Taylor interviews Sir David Attenborough

Interviews with the great, the good, the less great and the really quite bad

9 August 2014 9:00 am

The TV chat show, if not actually dead, has been in intensive care for a while now, hooked up to…

Latitude Festival 2010: Day 1

My daughter wants to know why you haven't heard of the Jayhawks

9 August 2014 9:00 am

One of the many delightful aspects of having children is that you can get them to do things you are…

Illustration, from World War I in Cartoons, Mark Bryant, Grub Street.

The completely ludicrous – and sometimes believable – world of the First World War spook

12 July 2014 9:00 am

There can’t have been this many books about the first world war since — just after the first world war.…