DIJs 2014

Greg

Jim

Greg

“Politicians in My Eyes”Death

In the 1970's, an all African-American band out of Detroit named Death crafted abrasive, no reservations proto-punk songs responding to the city's bleak politics and poverty. Their raw rock edge caught the ear of infamous music industry executive Clive Davis who wanted to debut the band to the world, but only if they'd change their morbid name. The band (of brothers) refused, broke up, and their songs were nearly lost until Chicago record label Drag City got a hold of them and reissued the collection in 2009. Since that release entitled …For the Whole World to See, the band has gotten back together and impressed many with a sound that was clearly ahead of its time. To demonstrate, Greg plays "Politicians in My Eyes."

Go to episode 451

Jim

“Her Head's Revolving”The Three O'Clock

During his most recent adventure on the desert island, Jim took comfort in a Paisley Underground classic called "Her Head's Revolving" by a band that truly exemplifies the genre. The Three O'Clock* came up in Los Angeles at the start of the 1980's alongside similar sounding groups such as The Dream Syndicate, Green on Red and The Bangles. The band's mix of 1960's psychedelic harmonies and 1980's pop flavor produced a new distinct twist on a classic sound. Lead vocalist Michael Quercio dubbed it“Paisley Underground,”a tribute to the“far out”decade. And none other than Prince took notice.

Go to episode 449

Greg

On his latest trip to the desert island, Greg pays tribute to an unsung musical hero who passed away more than 20 years ago. Mississippi-born guitarist and singer Ted Hawkins was often found on Venice Beach strumming along to folk, blues, and country standards, but occasionally - often at the behest of an awestruck passerby - he made his way into a recording studio. One such occasion came after Hawkins spent a lengthy stint in jail working through a heroin addiction. The album Hawkins cut after his release, Hapy Hour, features the poignant track "Bad Dog" which Greg sees as the perfect metaphor for the late soulman's erratic life and career, and the perfect song to get a sense of what the man was all about.

Go to episode 448

Jim

“True Love”Têtes Noires

Jim recently visited Minneapolis public radio station The Current, where he saw lying around the studio a new reissue of American Dream by Têtes Noires. French for“black heads,”Têtes Noires was an accurate descriptor for the six raven-haired women who made up the band. Jim recalls how they stuck out in the sea of Nordic blondes called Minnesota. Their music was a capella harmony bolstered with wheezing organ and hand claps, and their lyrics fell somewhere between comedy, performance art and "killer indie rock." To show what he means, Jim plays "True Love," which features the vocalist listing all of the rotten relationships she's had since grade school. Têtes Noires may not have survived past its '80s heyday, but its spirit lives on in the new remaster – and, thanks to Jim, on the Desert Island.

Go to episode 444

Greg

“I Met Him on a Sunday”Laura Nyro

Laura Nyro is an artist we don't talk about enough, says Greg. Best known for writing songs that others made famous, like Three Dog Night's "Eli's Coming" and The 5th Dimension's "Wedding Bell Blues," Nyro died young in 1997 at age 49. But Greg insists that her own records are criminally overlooked — namely her fifth, Gonna Take a Miracle, an all-covers album of songs that Nyro listened to growing up in the Bronx. For that album, she enlisted as collaborator (and chef) Patti LaBelle, who in turn brought onboard her Labelle bandmates Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. The result was an extraordinary record, produced by the legendary duo of Gamble and Huff. Greg picks the group's (mostly) a capella rendition of The Shirelles' "I Met Him on a Sunday" to jazz up the Desert Island.

Go to episode 441

Jim

“10,000 Lovers”Ida Maria

While recently scouring the Bermuda Triangle for long-lost artists, Jim rediscovered Norway's Ida Maria who specializes in energetic punk rock blended with new wave melodies. The song "10,000 Lovers" from Maria's second album Katla is a little less punk, but still a lot of fun and reminded Jim why Maria's debut album Fortress Round My Heart in 2009 was his favorite of that year. 10,000 Lovers features Maria's first use of her native Norwegian on a song, and while Jim doesn‘t understand any of it, there’s no mistaking Maria's shout-out to Frank Sinatra at the end.

Go to episode 437

Greg

“The Red and the Black”Blue Öyster Cult

During his conversation with Jim and Greg, Mike Watt reveals some of Minutemen's more surprising influences. One that didn't come up, but has been cited in the past, is Blue Öyster Cult. But, as Greg explains, the more you think about it, the more that affinity makes sense. This hard rock arena band was actually masterminded by producer (and former rock critic) Sandy Pearlman. And some of the bands lyricists were Patti Smith and critic Richard Meltzer. So you have the heft of literary words with the speed and intensity of punk rock. You can hear that combination in a song Watt continues to perform to this day: "The Red and the Black" by Blue Öyster Cult.

Go to episode 433

Greg

“Watch Your Step”Bobby Parker

Musician Nick Waterhouse recently told Greg that he's always trying to make his music "swing." Except instead of swinging like Benny Goodman, Waterhouse wanted to swing more like blues-guitarist Bobby Parker. Specifically, Parker's 1961 track, "Watch Your Step", which at the time of its release was a huge influence on everyone from The Spencer Davis Group, to Carlos Santana, to John Lennon. Unfortunately for Parker, the general public wasn‘t nearly as smitten by the song, and it’s since faded into obscurity. Greg managed to find a copy of this rare release, and now he's eager for Parker to earn the recognition his riffs deserve. You can hear“Watch Your Step's”inspiration on songs like The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" and Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick".

Go to episode 430

Jim

“"Open Your Eyes"”The Lords of the New Church

This week we looked at the music, past and present, of Russia. Jim thought about one band that curiously made a splash there: The Lords of the New Church. The band was somewhat of a supergroup, with punk pioneers Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys, Brian James of The Damned, Dave Tregunna of Sham 69 and Nick Turner of The Barracudas, all coming together to play, what Jim readily admits, a 1980's sound that mixed punk with goth. While he didn't love most of their output, he really loved the first single that penetrated the Iron Curtain: "Open Your Eyes".

Go to episode 429

Greg

“Nowhere Again”Secret Machines

Music fans experienced another loss over the holidays: Benjamin Curtis, one of the founding members of Secret Machines died at age 35 after a battle with cancer. He, brother Brandon and cousin Josh Garza, visited the show in 2006, and Greg fondly remembers their distinctive sound. While contemporaries like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes were steeped in a New York punk and New Wave sound, Secret Machines had a more experimental and psychedelic edge. And when people lament the lack of great modern rock bands, Greg refers them to this one. So to remember Ben Curtis and Secret Machines, Greg adds "Nowhere Again" from the band's 2004 debut Now Here is Nowhere to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 424