dijs 2012

Greg

Jim

Jim

“Pop Songs”Suicidal Tendencies

Jim's DIJ pick was inspired by an article he read recently in The New Yorker. In spite of a life-long hatred of The Grateful Dead, Jim made it through (and even enjoyed!) Nick Paumgarten's 25,000 words on the world of Deadhead bootleg tape collecting. No, this critic wasn't converted to the church of Jerry Garcia, but the article did remind him of some particular nasty punk songs with lyrics about the Dead. His favorite, "Pop Songs" by Suicidal Tendencies, is this week's addition to the jukebox.

Go to episode 366

Greg

“She's Not a Little Girl”Green

For his turn at the Desert Island Jukebox, Greg wants to add a song by one of his favorite“Power Pop”bands. The term was actually coined by Pete Townshend during The Who's pre-rock opera era. It now describes a slew of bands that use big melodies, tight arrangements, harmonies and prominent guitar riffs. The Midwest produced a lot of power pop bands, including Green. The band has had many incarnations, but it's the constant force of Jeff Lescher that gives the group its edge and puts them above the rest for Greg. He takes their song, "She's Not a Little Girl Anymore" with him to the deserted island.

Go to episode 365

Greg

“The Seed (2.0)”Cody Chesnutt,The Roots

Soul singer Cody Chesnutt has a new album out, reminding Greg that he's often left off the list of masterful vocalists. This is most evident on his 2002 album The Headphone Masterpiece. In fact, The Roots were such fans they re-worked his song "The Seed" into "The Seed (2.0)." and released it as part of their album Phrenology. Greg takes it with him to the desert island this week.

Go to episode 364

Jim

“The Oogum Boogum Song”Brenton Wood

It was movie night recently in Jim's“Critiquing the Arts”class at Columbia College. He and his students sat down to watch Almost Famous - still the only feature film he knows about rock criticism. The film's opening number "The Oogum Boogum Song" blew his students away, so this week Jim pays homage to this hidden gem with his Desert Island Jukebox pick.“The Oogum Boogum Song”is the work of R&Bsinger Brenton Wood, a Compton native and fan of Sam Cooke who narrowly avoided being a one hit wonder with his other hit, "Gimme Little Sign." Jim puts“The Oogum Boogum Song”alongside other nonsense rock classics like "MMMBop" and "Tutti Frutti."

Go to episode 363

Greg

“The New World”X

As the presidential election approaches, Greg's thoughts turn to the terrific L.A. band X. For this week's DIJ, he picks "The New World," the leadoff track on the band's 1983 album, More Fun in the New World. For Greg, this song perfectly reflects the meaning (or lack thereof) of a presidential election for society's have-nots. In the song, X takes the perspective of a politically apathetic homeless person. Whoever wins the election, he explains, nothing really changes for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. But the song's narrator doesn‘t totally lose hope. In the chorus he urges the politicians of the day: "Don’t forget the motor city!"

Go to episode 359

Jim

“The Calvary Cross”Richard Thompson

After Mumford & Sons, Jim was sorely in need of a folk-rock palette cleanser. So for his DIJ he chose one of the great folk rock musicians of all time, Richard Thompson. A founder of Fairport Convention, Thompson went on to make music with his wife, Linda Thompson, and as a solo artist. Like Marcus Mumford, Thompson has a yen for the biblical. But unlike Mumford, he used Bible stories to spine-tingling affect. Case in point, "The Calvary Cross," a track he recorded with Linda on their 1974 album I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight. Listen for the drums echoing Jesus's footsteps as he climbs the hill where he will be crucified.

Go to episode 358

Greg

“Dream in Blue”Los Lobos

For his DIJ, Greg wants to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Los Lobos's Kiko. In 1992, grunge acts like Nirvana were shaking up the mainstream, and veteran acts like Los Lobos had to either reinvent or face irrelevance. Kiko, Greg says, was Los Lobos's answer to grunge's challenge. The group started out in the seventies playing a fusion of American roots rock and Mexican folk. Kiko saw main songwriters David Hidalgo and Louie Perez moving in a more trippy psychedelic direction, writing lyrics that were so concise, they were almost haiku-like. The band's new sound only really began to gel however when their label put them in the studio with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. Froom and Blake pumped up the distortion and keyboard effects, and suddenly Los Lobos were walking into a new sonic world. Greg says the album's opening track, "Dream in Blue," represents the door opening onto that new world. Hidalgo and Perez's lyrics describe a sleeping child who, as she begins to dream, finds herself entering a realm of unprecedented freedom.

Go to episode 355

Jim

“The Return of the Giant Hogweed”Genesis

Jim's been thinking a lot about Genesis lately – and no, not the most famous version of the band with Phil Collins on vocals. Before hits like "I Can't Dance" Genesis was an unabashedly nerdy prog rock band, and that's the iteration of the group Jim wants to celebrate with his DIJ pick. 1971's Nursery Cryme with Peter Gabriel on vocals fit wonderfully into Jim's teenage world of renaissance fairs, Isaac Asimov, and Dungeons and Dragons. No track embodied the group's proto-steampunk ethic better than "The Return of the Giant Hogweed." Gabriel tells the story of a Victorian explorer who discovers the hogweed in Russia. Unaware of the plant's carnivorous tendencies he brings it back to England to the royal Kew Gardens, where it proceeds to wreak havoc. Listen for Steve Hackett, mimicking the sounds of the murderous plant on his guitar.

Go to episode 353

Greg

“Hideway”Olivia Tremor Control

In honor of Olivia Tremor Control co-founder Bill Doss, Greg drops "Hideway" from the band's second album, Black Foliage, into the Desert Island Jukebox. Doss died this week at age 43 of unknown causes. Doss was a founding member of the Elephant 6 recording collective, a group of friends from Ruston, Louisiana whose bands Neutral Milk Hotel, The Apples in Stereo, and The Olivia Tremor Control left a potent legacy in the nineties. Using cheap boom boxes and four track recorders, the friends sought to replicate the lush pop sounds of the Beach Boys and the Beatles on a budget. Greg calls The Olivia Tremor Control the trippiest and most psychedelic of the Elephant 6 bands. They were known for their layering of avant-garde sounds and pop melody. The band reunited in 2009 and played a terrific set at the Pitchfork music festival shortly before Doss's death.

Go to episode 349

Jim

“Me and Mr. Sanchez”Blue Rondo a la Turk

It's all aboard the rock cruise to the desert island. For this week's Desert Island Jukebox pick, Jim was inspired by Neneh Cherry's first band, Rip Rig + Panic. They weren't the only post-punk band in the eighties playing at the intersection of jazz and rock. British band Blue Rondo a la Turk was a fellow traveler. Jim caught their set at the Peppermint Lounge as a kid, and their hit "Me and Mr. Sanchez" became a go-to party record for him. The track not only merges punk and jazz, but adds a pinch of Latin spice.

Go to episode 345

Greg

“Vietman”Jimmy Cliff

For his DIJ pick, Greg goes with Reggae all-star Jimmy Cliff's anti-war song "Vietman." While Cliff's legacy is sometimes overshadowed by those of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Greg says Cliff was instrumental in popularizing reggae in America. Not only did he star in The Harder They Come and pen that movie's most enduring tracks, he also wrote“Vietnam,”a tune which none other than Bob Dylan called the best protest song ever written.“Vietnam”tells the story of a soldier's death in two letters home. For Greg, it's the song that proved once and for all that Reggae was much more than just a fad and a rhythm. This genre was here to stay.

Go to episode 344

Jim

“Cry of the Wild Goose”Frankie Laine,Frankie Laine,Frankie Laine

Sociologists talk about the concept of a“gateway drug.”For his turn at the Desert Island Jukebox, Jim turns to the singer who was his gateway drug to music. When a six-year-old Jim popped his dad's old Frankie Laine LP on the record player, he knew music was a mysterious force he couldn't live without. An Italian-American from Chicago, Frankie Laine remade himself into an icon of the American West. Songs like "High Noon" and "Rawhide" are undeniable cheese, but between Laine's rich baritone and those horns, you have to buy whatever he's selling. (And who could forget that scene from The Blues Brothers where the band gets on the good side of a raucous country crowd by playing "Rawhide"?) Jim's song pick, however, is "Cry of the Wild Goose" - the epitome of Frankie Laine insanity.

Go to episode 343

Greg

“That's Entertainment”The Jam

Still smarting from Jim's put-down of The Jam during our Best Second Acts show, Greg goes with the mod-rock group's track "That's Entertainment" for his Desert Island Jukebox pick this week. From the group's fifth studio album Sound Affects,“That's Entertainment”takes its name from a song in the old Hollywood movie The Band Wagon. Greg says the title choice was tongue-in-cheek. For songwriter and vocalist Paul Weller,“entertainment”is walking though his working class British neighborhood, chronicling the ordinary lives of dissatisfied people dreaming of something better. The real sense of empathy comes from Weller's falsetto voice, says Greg, which combined with Bruce Foxton's harmonies puts the song over the top.

Go to episode 342

Greg

“Mother Richard”Lida Husik

Looking at an artist like Sharon Van Etten, one is reminded of how much the music landscape has changed in the past two decades. It's possible that despite her talent, Sharon wouldn't have gotten noticed without the help of critics and fans on the internet. Take Lida Husik. Greg explains that in the '90s she was every bit as good as singer/songwriters like Liz Phair and Beth Orton. But, without blogs, message boards and social media, she never got her due. Greg can still give Husik a little love by adding her track "Mother Richard" to the Desert Island Jukebox this week.

Go to episode 336

Jim

“Nicolas”Les Calamit'es

Jim spoke about the French pop group Les Calamit'es during the SXSW show, and now he has an opportunity to further showcase them. The British press called them better than Bananarama. The American press called them better than The Bangles. However they stacked up, the songs were irrepressible and high energy. In fact reviewing their LP A Bride Abattue, was Jim's first professional review job, and his editor stole his copy of the record. So to re-appropriate what was rightly his, he adds "Nicolas" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 332

Greg

“New Rose”The Damned

Talking to Nick Lowe got Greg thinking about all things seventies - in particular, Lowe's work as a producer during that decade. Few people realize Lowe worked with The Damned, the first UK punk band to put themselves on the map (take that Sex Pistols!). Where another producer might have been tempted to clean up the band's sound, Lowe kept The Damned as dirty and gritty on record as they were live. And nowhere do you hear that better, Greg insists, than on the band's first single, 1976's "New Rose." Rat Scabies's drums sound huge, and Brian James's guitar is so distorted it sounds defective. This, Greg says, is what punk sounds like to this day, and Lowe was onto the trend before anyone else.

Go to episode 329

Jim

“Meet the Creeper”Destroy All Monsters

Last month bassist Michael Davis of the legendary Detroit bands the MC5 and Destroy All Monsters died at age 68. So during this episode Jim wants to honor him by adding a 1979 Destroy All Monsters track called "Meet the Creeper" to the Desert Island Jukebox. It features Davis on bass along with Ron Asheton of The Stooges and a lead singer simply called Niagra.

Go to episode 327

Greg

“Unsung”Helmet

Greg celebrates the 20th anniversary of Meantime by Helmet during his turn at the Desert Island Jukebox. It's an album many people don‘t consider much anymore, but it’s one of his favorites from that era. While we often think about grunge and punk coming from the West Coast in the 1990's, Helmet reflects a sharper, harder-edged East Coast sound. And like many '80s and '90s acts, they too were swept away by big labels. But, with their major debut Meantime, they didn't compromise one iota. So Happy Anniversary Helmet fans! We offer you "Unsung."

Go to episode 326

Jim

“Mushroom”Can

Jim is always excited by the opportunity to talk about one of his favorite bands: Can. The pioneering German band took that trademark Velvet Underground drone and updated with elements of punk rock. And on its second album Tago Mago, Can was joined by experimental lead singer Damo Suzuki. A 40th anniversary reissue of Tago Mago was released late last year, so Jim adds a classic track from the album, "Mushroom," to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 320

Greg

“Killing Floor”Hubert Sumlin

The great Chicago blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin died last month and Jim and Greg didn't get a chance to send him off with a full obit. With his turn at the Desert Island Jukebox, Greg now has his opportunity. Sumlin was twenty-one years younger than Howlin' Wolf when he joined the elder bluesman's band in the 1950s. Wolf was like a father to Sumlin, and Sumlin eventually became his right-hand man. Sumlin was briefly booted from the band in ‘56 for playing over Wolf’s vocals (no one plays over the Wolf!), but adapted his style by dropping his pick and plucking with his fingers. This signature style would make him an icon to later guitarists like Clapton and Hendrix. The 1964 track "Killing Floor," Greg says, is Sumlin at his best-like a second voice in the song.

Go to episode 319