DIJs 2015

Greg

Jim

Jim

“Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst)”Peter Schilling

Jim has never been the world's biggest David Bowie fan, but he does love many of Bowie's less pretentious imitators. Neue Deutsche Welle artist Peter Schilling went so far as to write a synthpop response to Bowie's 1969 classic "Space Oddity," continuing the adventures of that song's Major Tom character. "Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst)" reached the top of the charts in Germany in 1983, and the English-language version went on to become an international hit. It's now featured as the theme song to the new TV series Deutschland 83. Jim loves both the show and the song, so Major Tom now makes his home in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 504

Greg

“Teenage Nightingales to Wax”The Mekons

Greg has been enjoying the live return of the British punk band, The Mekons. He in fact wanted to play a Mekons song, but Jim stole his thunder with his pick from show 191. Greg decided to play a track by Mekons offshoot band, The Three Johns, featuring bon vivant Jon Langford. Langford and company took the idea of protest music and gave it a twist, making it less precious. In honor of the Mekons and Langford, Greg plays the track Teenage Nightingales to Wax this week.

Go to episode 503

Montage

Throughout our 500 episodes, Greg and Jim have put over 200 quarters in the Desert Island Jukebox. Here are some of their most memorable selections.

Go to episode 500

Jim

Recently, Jim re-watched David Lynch's '90s supernatural TV show, Twin Peaks. The program uniquely incorporated music to complement its twisted murder-mystery storyline. Singer-songwriter Julee Cruise frequently offered her vocals to the show's soundtrack and collaborated with producer Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti on her debut album, Floating into the Night. The single "Falling," featuring Lynch's haunting lyrics and Badalamenti's dark composition, was used as the theme song for Twin Peaks throughout its run and is one of Jim's favorite tracks.

Go to episode 499

Greg

“Teenage Head”the Flamin' Groovies

All this Grateful Dead news has Greg thinking of San Francisco in the 1960s. And in the era of peace and love, the Flamin' Groovies were wildly out of step. In the midst of psychedelia, the group drew on '50s rockabilly and garage rock. The band has also often been called a progenitor of punk. The Flamin' Groovies even had a song about sniffing glue years before The Ramones did. The title track "Teenage Head" from their third album channels teenage angst into three minutes. The song cites how they are the children of“atom bombs and rotten air and Vietnams.”Greg notes that in a predominately "hippy" music scene, the Flamin' Groovies were doing something completely unique both lyrically and sonically.

Go to episode 497

Jim

“Raymond Chandler Evening”Robyn Hitchcock

Although Jim is no fan of his new record, Sufjan Stevens got Jim thinking about rock music that has a literary vibe. Taken from his 1986 album Element of Light, "Raymond Chandler Evening" by Robyn Hitchcock is an excellent example of a novel in song form. Not only is the title a reference to the great American crime writer Raymond Chandler, but the general mood of the song also evokes the mysterious atmosphere of noir fiction. Some Hitchcock fans who were expecting more of his trademark surrealism might have been surprised by the lack of humor in the song, but Jim thinks it ranks right alongside the best of Dylan.“Raymond Chandler Evening”is his pick this week for the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 496

Greg

“California Soul”The 5th Dimension,Tammi Terrell,Marvin Gaye,Ashford & Simpson,Marlena Shaw

One of the best things about music is it can transport you to a whole other place without ever having to leave the room. Greg's DIJ pick this week is Marlena Shaw's 1969 track, "California Soul." The song was written by Ashford & Simpson and had been covered by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and The 5th Dimension. However Shaw's version is the most definitive, having been sampled numerous times over the years. Her cover combined elements of R&B, soul, jazz and a hypnotizing string arrangement. While Shaw recorded the track in Chicago, it transports the listener straight to California.

Go to episode 495

Jim

“Starship”MC5,Sun Ra

There's no better desert island track for the Rock Fan's Guide to Jazz than "Starship" by MC5.“Starship”comes from the band's debut album Kick Out the Jams and showcases its musical influences. The perfect merger between the two genres, the godfathers of punk took a poem by jazz icon Sun Ra and turned it into a song. This eight minute long track exemplifies a wild free jazz experience where the band is leaving the earth and the stage. For Jim and many others, MC5 was a gateway for rock fans to jazz. Do you have a question, comment or suggestion? Contact us here.

Go to episode 491

Greg

“Losing True”The Roches

Greg was inspired by a conversation he had at SXSW with a fan of The Roches, a sister group from New York City in the late '70s/early '80s. While British female-led post-punk bands like The Slits and The Raincoats are celebrated, their American counterparts like The Roches are often overlooked. Sisters Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche began singing Christmas carols door-to-door, but were later recruited by Paul Simon to sing backup vocals. They had an artier, weirder strain than most others in the folk scene, with lyrics that could be very funny or extremely poignant. Robert Fripp of King Crimson became a huge fan and produced two of their records. Fripp's guitar line on "Losing True" combines with the sisters' rich vocals to create what Greg calls a celestial sound, landing it a spot in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 488

Jim

“East-West”The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

We really do read your letters! After we first aired our interview with Jac Holzman, a listener wrote in saying he'd like to hear more about Paul Butterfield. So in response, Jim drops a track by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band into the Desert Island Jukebox. In 1966, on an album of the same name, the group recorded the song "East-West" written by guitarist/composer Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield was influenced by blues, psychedelia, free jazz and Indian raga music. This track in turninfluenced everyone from the Grateful Dead to Joe Boyd. It's a landmark in rock, and it's goin' with Jim to the island. Gotta question, comment or suggestion? Contact us here.

Go to episode 486

Greg

“What's the New Mary Jane”The Moles

Lately Greg has been binging on the music of Australian songwriter Richard Davies. Davies has worked as a solo artist and also released an album with Eric Matthews under the moniker Cardinal. But this week Greg is especially drawn to Davies' first band, The Moles, which merged baroque pop and psychedelia with a skewed sense of melody. The Moles' 1992 single "What's the New Mary Jane" lifts its title from a famous Beatles outtake, but it's much more substantive than what the Fab Four actually recorded. It's a twisted, druggy slice of pop music unlike anything else coming out during the grunge era, so it earns its place in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 483

Jim

“St. Elmo's Fire”Uilab

After hearing the news that fellow music critic Sasha Frere-Jones was stepping down from his post at The New Yorker, Jim was reminded of Frere-Jones's own band Ui. Ui was active throughout the 1990's as part of the so-called "post-rock" scene, experimenting with strange instrumentation including electronics, banjos, tubas, and multiple bass guitars. In 1998, Ui collaborated with another of Jim's favorites, Stereolab, under the moniker Uilab and recorded an EP of deconstructed covers of "St. Elmo's Fire" by (who else?) Brian Eno. The combination of Eno's songwriting, Laetitia Sadier's wonderful vocals, and Ui's trancelike performance add up to a DeRogatis triple threat, making it Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick of the week.

Go to episode 477

Greg

“It's Like That”Kurtis Blow,Jimmy Spicer,Run-D.M.C.,Run-D.M.C.

Before getting any further into 2015, Greg wants to pay tribute to one last musical talent the world lost in 2014: Pioneering hip-hop producer Larry Smith. Often overshadowed in the history books by co-producer Russell Simmons, Smith played a vital role in shaping the early sound of hip-hop, both lyrically and sonically. Before producing the oft-sampled "Money (Dollar Bill Y'all)" by Jimmy Spicer, Smith co-wrote "The Breaks" with Kurtis Blow. Later, on Run-D.M.C.'s first album, Smith pushed for stripping down the production and bringing hard-hitting drums and lyrics to the fore with just a sprinkling of synthesizer. The epitome of this minimalist approach can be heard on Run-D.M.C.'s first single "It's Like That," which arguably laid the foundation for many of today's top hip-hop tracks and is Greg's Desert Island Jukebox pick of the week.

Go to episode 476