Back in September I reviewed Disgraceland, a music podcast by Jake Brennan about the seedier side of celebrity. At the time I gave it a three brain rating, owing to the fact that most of the episodes were Amazon exclusives. Since the calendar ticket over into 2023 though, Jake has started releasing the entire archive on ANY podcatcher you can think of. What a noble chap eh?
Because of this, I have decided to re-write (in parts) the old review and repost it. Not bcause I am lazy, and I havent got another review already written. Well, ok, that’s partly the reason, but this is such a brilliant podcast, I really want to revisit this and give it the rating it deserves. So read on, and ignore any feelings of deja-vu you may experience.
So what’s it about?
Disgraceland is a podcast covering the various scandals and misdemeanors of music’s great and good (and bad). Each episode covers a different story and they run the whole gamut of decades and genres. There are some wild tales to be found here, and also some heartbreaking ones too, but each is told with the amount of respect deserved. Just because someone is famous, doesn’t make them an exhibit to be held up for public amusement does it? Or maybe you think it does. Maybe you like to read the paparazzi infested gossip magazines. Whatever, I’m not your dad. I can’t tell you what to do.
The show is narrated by Jake Brennan. He also writes, produces and composes the music, so the credits list is rather short. I first heard Jake on his other podcast Dead And Gone, about people who disappeared following The Grateful Dead around the country. This true crime podcast is on my “to review” list, and will be getting 600 or so words dedicated to it very soon. He also has a very similar show to this one called Badlands, almost twin in fact, but delving into the lives and misdemeanors of everyone other than musicians. This will also be getting reviewed in the near future (and as soon as I can think of a snappy title to use).
Jake has the kind of achingly cool American voice that you would expect someone who narrates rock music podcasts to have. His voice sounds like sunshine, surf wax, petrol and pot (at least to a Welsh nerd anyway). I don’t mean any disrespect here. He’s not just someone who sounds the part. He has a deep knowledge of musical history and he has a real talent for bringing any story to life, regardless of the era. This is purely down to his skill as a writer, and he avoids the usual cut and paste from Wikipedia problems that other shows on music history (by much more well known presenters) have fallen into.
Is it any good?
Now, I’m a massive music fan and I’m not really fussy about what I listen to. The playlist on my phone runs from Dixieland Jazz, to Death Metal, Psy-trance to 1970s Japanese Funk with some traditional West African music and Musique Concrete thrown in for good measure. There aren’t many stories told that I’m not familiar with, although there are a few. Because of this, I could rate it low and say “well, there aren’t any new stories here, I’ve heard them all before”. That’s not how I do things though. Just because I know something doesn’t mean that you will.
Want to hear about the time Jerry Lee Lewis wanted to murder Elvis? Or maybe you want to learn about Syd Barrett’s psychological fall from grace. Maybe you’re interested in the sorry story of Britney Spears’ lost childhood and subsequent mistreatment. If so, this is the show for you. Whereas some music podcasts will stick to one genre of music (because it makes the authors job easier) this one really covers everything, and each subject is given the same deep dive and respect it deserves. This can only be done by someone with a love for ALL music.
Jake’s style of writing is like a (much) better version of the journalist Mick Wall. He puts himself in the situations that occur, and that really makes for an exciting story. For my money, Jake is a way better writer than Mr. Wall anyway. I’d love to read a full length biography written by him, or even better an audiobook narrated by him.
So there you have it. I’m man enough to admit I was wrong. Well, not wrong exactly I had originally said that I loved the show, and only marked it down because of the lack of episodes. Now though, I can set the record straight and give it the rating it truly deserved. You should also check out Jake’s other shows as soon as possible too. You’ll probably be watiting ages for me to review them!
You can get Disgraceland here: