Paul Lester

Songs about 'women and insanity'

By Paul Lester, September 16, 2013

It is not uncommon to find American alternative or indie bands with one Jewish member. Some down the years — such as legendary New York punks the Ramones — have featured two. But it’s quite unusual to find a band like Papa, a four-piece from Los Angeles, where all the members are Jewish.


Hitmaker who became kung fu queen is not so rock ’n’ roll

By Paul Lester, August 8, 2013

Lynsey de Paul was the Adele of her day — a small, mousey blonde, Jewish version of Adele. For several years in the 1970s, she was everywhere, with that facial beauty spot and that inimitable breathy voice cooing songs that she wrote, performed on piano and produced. Not for nothing was she heralded at the time as the British Carole King — and, subsequently, as the precursor to Kate Bush.


The stars are out for Hawthorne

By Paul Lester, July 15, 2013

Mayer hawthorne
Where Does This Door Go? (Island)
Four stars

Youngblood hawke
Wake Up (Universal Republic)
Three stars


Burt showing off his six-pack

By Paul Lester, June 13, 2013

There aren’t many composers, American or British, who could support a six-CD box set of their work, but Burt Bacharach — who has just turned 85 and is due to perform in Israel for the first time in July — is one such giant of post-war song. The last major collection of his music was The Look Of Love, a mere three-CD affair from 1998.


Review: Primal Scream

By Paul Lester, May 6, 2013

It is 22 years since Primal Scream released a truly important album (Screamadelica) and 13 years since their last great one (XTRMNTR). The former captured the heady moment when house music entered the mainstream; the latter was the most successful example of the band’s rampant eclecticism.


Suddenly Remarried: My dysfunctional week of functions

By Paul Lester, February 28, 2013

You’ve heard of Four Weddings and a Funeral, right? Well, during a single week at the end of February, I had two shivahs, a barmitzvah and a bris.


Review: Playing Cards 1: Spades

By Paul Lester, February 14, 2013

There is a lot to admire about this technically brilliant offering from renowned French-Canadian director Robert Lepage. For a start, it is a measure of Lepage’s skill that at two and a half hours without an interval, the evening goes remarkably quickly.


Haim - the three sisters who are this year's pop sensation

By Paul Lester, February 14, 2013

Right now, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, from Los Angeles, are three of the hottest names in pop, rock and r&b (and their sound is a blend of pop, rock and r&b — imagine Fleetwood Mac jamming with Destiny’s Child).


Just Remarried: my nightmare Shabbat

By Paul Lester, January 17, 2013

There are certain people you don’t say no to. Your parents, say. Or the Queen. The PM would be another example. As would your rabbi. If they call, you come running.


Heirs to The Beatles: the story of 10cc

By Paul Lester, December 27, 2012

With their run of hits such as Donna, I’m Mandy Fly Me, The Wall Street Shuffle and Art For Art’s Sake and their number one singles I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday, 10cc were one of the biggest bands of the ’70s.


Just (Re)Married: There was nothing sweet about our honeymoon

By Paul Lester, December 7, 2012

I know it’s customary to go on honeymoon straight after you get married — like, duh — but I’ve only just returned from mine, despite getting hitched in May.


Kiss: the secret to being a rock legend? Face paint and a head for business

By Paul Lester, November 1, 2012

Gene Simmons, bass guitarist with the US hard-rock group, Kiss, may be one of the most successful Jewish musicians of the past 40 years.

But he is also an arch proponent of what he calls “Kisstianity” — the religion followed by the band’s thousands of devoted believers.


Just (Re)Married: Festivals? Me and the kids did them weeks ago

By Paul Lester, September 27, 2012

For those of you with kids, it was probably with some sadness — and some relief — that the summer holidays came to an end. My new wife, unbelievable as it might sound, is one of those weird, twisted individuals who (whisper it) actually likes spending time with children. I know, I know, it shouldn’t be allowed.


My obsession with tidiness is messing me up

By Paul Lester, August 23, 2012

A lot can happen in six or seven weeks. To bring you up to speed, I got married, went on honeymoon and moved into a new house.


Rock'n'roll served up without acetic acid

By Paul Lester, August 10, 2012

‘If you are after sensational celebrity stories from my 52 years in the music business, stop reading now; this book is not for you,” writes Elkie Brooks in the foreword to her new memoir. This is either very brave or very stupid, given that “sensational celebrity stories” are precisely what so many people seek in entertainment industry insider biographies.


Drake — the rap star who performs at barmitzvahs

By Paul Lester, July 26, 2012

Aubrey Drake Graham, better known as Drake, is one of the world's most successful performers, and without doubt the most popular Jewish rapper/singer - his father, Dennis Graham, is an African-American musician from Memphis, but his mother, Sandi, is a Jewish Canadian.


Adam Yauch's legacy - the rappers from the suburbs

By Paul Lester, May 10, 2012

So, farewell then Adam Yauch. Dead of cancer at 47. Yauch, and his fellow Beastie Boys - Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz - comprised one of the biggest rap groups ever. Along with mogul Rick Rubin, co-founder of Def Jam - label home of the Beasties, Run DMC, Jay-Z and Kanye West - they put Jews at the forefront of the genre in its early days.


The words I never thought I'd say: Marry me

By Paul Lester, April 4, 2012

Readers, you may remember that, late last year, I got dumped by my girlfriend Mandy when she finally twigged I wasn't going to be able to provide her with the things she really wanted: my ultra-rare Frankie Say Arm The Unemployed T-shirt from 1984 and box set of nine Seinfeld DVDs.


Fings Ain't Wot They Used To Be: The Lionel Bart Story

By Paul Lester, March 2, 2012

David and Caroline Stafford
Omnibus £19.95


Randy Newman: 'If I could have written more hits, I would have'

By Paul Lester, February 2, 2012

Maybe it is his status as one of America's foremost songwriters, the one to whom other acclaimed tunesmiths defer. Perhaps it is the forbiddingly acerbic nature of his songs.