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Chess Records & Opinions on Dark Night of the Soul

Jim and Greg explore the history and influence of Chess Records. During its 25 year run, the Chicago label put out music by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters—forever changing the sound of rock and roll.

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Music News

American Idol is currently on summer vacation, but they've still been making quite a bit of news. The pop music contest and music industry juggernaut has decided to take its business to Universal Music and away from Sony. In years past, the show's winners and runners-up released albums on Sony under the direction of powerhouse Clive Davis. Now it appears that Interscope executive Jimmy Iovine will become the new mentor. In addition, both Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres are out as hosts. Kara DioGuardi may also be leaving. In their place? Possibly Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. And, since it's been years since Idol produced a Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, hopefully these changes will mean more exciting winners as well.

It doesn't look like we can count on an “Iranian Idol” anytime soon. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a strong statement against music this week, proclaiming that it is“not compatible”with the values of the Islamic republic. Many are seeing this as leading to an outright ban of music in Iran and an expression of Khamenei's long-held mistrust of Western cultural influence. As rock evangelists, this attitude toward music is, of course, disheartening to Jim and Greg. For more on rebel culture in Iran check out Marjane Satrapi graphic novel and film Persepolis and the Cannes winner No One Knows About Persian Cats.

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Chess Records

A couple of months ago Jim, Greg and some WBEZ listeners visited 2120 S. Michigan: the home of Chicago's famed Chess Records. Unfortunately, this was a rare treat. Despite two recent movies, both the museum and the label often don't get their due. Jim and Greg wanted to take an episode to talk about the history and legacy of Chess. During its brief 25-year run, it produced records by heavyweights like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry. That music went on to influence British rockers like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix. In fact, the Rolling Stones even made a pilgrimage to the studios to record with Waters. Here are the artists Jim and Greg highlight:

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Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse Dark Night of the Soul

A year after it was supposed to be released, Dark Night of the Soul is finally here. The record is a collaboration between producer Danger Mouse, singer/songwriter Mark Linkous, aka Sparklehorse, and director David Lynch. Sadly, Linkous committed suicide last year, as did one of the album's contributors Vic Chestnutt. The finished product is disjointed, according to Greg. There are a couple of standout tracks (no thanks to Lynch), but he can only give it a Burn It rating. Jim agrees, noting that it's sad that Linkous himself wasn't able to sing more of the material. He also gives Dark Night of the Soul a Burn It.

JimGreg

Featured Songs

  1. Carrie Underwood, Undo It, Play On, Arista Nashville/19 Recordings, 2009
  2. Mahdyar Aghajani feat. Bahman Ghobadi, Jouwani, Music from the Motion Picture No One Knows About Persian Cats, Milan, 2010
  3. Muddy Waters, I Can't Be Satisfied, His Best 1947-55 (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  4. Clarence Samuels, Lollypop Mama, Chess Blues, Geffen, 1993
  5. Muddy Waters, Hard Day Blues, Muddy Waters 1941 - 1946, Document, 2001
  6. Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm), Rocket 88, Rocket 88 (Single), Chess, 1951
  7. Muddy Waters, Rollin' Stone, His Best 1947-55 (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  8. Muddy Waters, (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man, His Best 1947-55 (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  9. Howlin' Wolf, Smokestack Lightning, His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  10. Little Walter, Blues With A Feeling, His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  11. Little Walter, My Babe, His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), 1997, Chess, 1955
  12. Sonny Boy Williamson, Don‘t Start Me To Talkin’, His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), 1997, Chess, 1955
  13. The Rolling Stones, I Can't Be Satisfied, The Rolling Stones No. 2, Decca, 1965
  14. Bo Diddley, I'm A Man, His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  15. Chuck Berry, Maybellene, The Definitive Collection, Chess, 2006
  16. Howlin' Wolf, Moanin' at Midnight, His Best 1947-55 (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  17. Foghat, I Just Wanna Make Love To You, Foghat, Bearsville, 1972
  18. Jeff Beck, Let Me Love You, Truth, Epic, 1968
  19. Bobby Charles, See You Later Alligator, Introduction to Bobby Charles, Fuel 2000, 2006
  20. Buddy Guy, First Time I Met The Blues, Buddy's Blues (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  21. Bo Diddley, Who Do You Love, His Best (Chess 50th Anniversary Collection), Chess, 1997
  22. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul, Dark Night of the Soul, self-released, 2010
  23. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse, Jaykub, Dark Night of the Soul, self-released, 2010
  24. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse, Dark Augur, Dark Night of the Soul, self-released, 2010
  25. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse, Little Girl, Dark Night of the Soul, self-released, 2010
  26. Dangermouse and Sparklehorse, Every Time I'm With You, Dark Night of the Soul, self-released, 2010
  27. Kevin Lyttle, If You Want Me (Call Me), Kevin Lyttle, Atlantic, 2004
  28. Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dallas, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, High Tone, 1989
  29. Pavement, Range Life, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Matador, 1994

Footnotes

wsj.com American Idol Changes theguardian.com Music not in line with Iran chessrecords.co.uk Chess Records dnots.com Dark Night of the Soul