Pere Ubu & Reviews of The Game and Bert Jansch

Punk progenitors Pere Ubu join Jim and Greg in the studio for an interview and full-blown rock performance. Then, stay tuned for reviews of albums by chart-topping rapper The Game and British folk legend Bert Jansch.

Pere Ubu
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After years of letting Apple rule with the iPod, Microsoft has decided to fight back and release its own mp3 player, called the "Zune." While analysts don't predict the Zune being stiff competition just yet, Microsoft has already broken new ground in how it does business, striking a deal with another giant corporation, Universal Music. In exchange for giving Microsoft the rights to sell its music, Universal will receive a piece of Zune sales. Jim and Greg explain that this strategic move gives record companies a stake in Zune's success. But, even with the backing of labels like Universal, Zune will still have to convert devoted iPod users. And with fans ranging from The Pope to The Queen, they'll need a major ad campaign to do that.

Love The Beatles


Despite the fact that they have been disbanded for years, The Beatles are back with a new release entitled Love. The disc is the soundtrack for the Cirque du Soleil production playing in Las Vegas and is a mix of Beatles' sounds drawn from master tapes. Thirty-seven named songs and dozens of unnamed tunes have been put together to make a sort of mashup, but it remains to be seen whether fans will accept this tampering with their beloved Beatles canon. The question for Jim and Greg, however, is why Capitol Records embarked on this endeavor. They would be completely in favor of something modern and innovative being done with the Fab Four's masters, but they both agree that Love is nothing more than a product for sale and a marketing ploy to entice fans to purchase future re-mastered albums. Love gets a double Trash It.

The Documentary The Game

Doctor's Advocate

Another news-making release is West Coast rapper The Game's sophomore album, Doctor’s Advocate. The "Doctor" referred to is none other than hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, who served as a mentor to The Game on his debut album, The Documentary. Though Dre did not work on this second release, he is certainly on The Game's mind. After engaging in some sibling rivalry with fellow Dre protégé 50 Cent, The Game was dropped by Daddy Dre and left to work with new producers like Scott Storch and Will.i.Am. Jim actually enjoyed the production on Doctor’s Advocate, and for that reason alone gives the album a Burn It. For Greg, though, it's the lyrical content that he finds most fascinating... even troubling. The Game appears to have some major emotional issues tied to his relationship with Dr. Dre, and has written some of the saddest gangsta rap lyrics Greg has heard in a long time. He recommends listeners sample some of the bizarre antics on Doctor’s Advocate and Burn It.

Pere Ubu

Pere Ubu live

It is rare that true pioneers grace the Sound Opinions studio, but this week Jim and Greg are joined by punk progenitors Pere Ubu. Many credit the famous (and often infamous) Cleveland band for being on the ground floor of the punk movement, but band leader David Thomas doesn't really buy into that label. In pure Thomas form, the singer/songwriter grouses about punk's corporate co-opting, and prefers to think of himself as a folk singer. Whatever you want to call it, Sound Opinions thinks it rocks. Check out their performances of songs "Babylonian Warehouses" and "Caroleen," off their new album Why I Hate Women.

The title of Pere Ubu's new album, Why I Hate Women, is certainly a conversation starter. But, as discussed, these views don't represent those of David Thomas or Pere Ubu. Like many of Thomas' songs, the tracks on this album are written from the perspective of a character, in this case inspired by the fictional writings of pulp novelist Jim Thompson. Thomas explains that most songs are just stories, defying the notion that 20-year-old rock stars have any true angst.

The Black Swan Bert Jansch

The Black Swan - Single

The final album up for review this week is by Scottish folk legend Bert Jansch. The guitarist and songwriter first received attention from fans like Neil Young, Jimmy Page and Sound Opinions guest  Donovan, and now, 40 years later, he has finally been signed to an American record label. The Black Swan, released by Chicago-based Drag City, sounds like a classic Jansch record with melancholic tunes and his signature skillful guitar playing. But, there's also some young blood: Devendra Banhart, Beth Orton, and Mazzy Star's Dave Roback all make contributions. Immediately after listening to the track "When the Sun Comes Up," Jim announces that he despises this record. He thinks it is "pretentious boring drivel," which he "hated to the core of his being." This critic gives The Black Swan a Trash It. Greg contends that the guitar playing is brilliant and the songs beautiful. He thinks Jim completely missed the point, and gives it a Buy It.


It is Jim's turn to drop a song into the Desert Island Jukebox, and he wants listeners to hear some "freak folk" that is truly freaky. He chooses to add "The Minotaur’s Song," by The Incredible String Band. This '60s  folk act played at Woodstock, but, as Jim explains, was too freaky to be included in the movie. Like Bert Jansch, band members Mike Heron and Robin Williamson fused Scottish and Celtic folk music with Eastern European drones and the newer folk of artists like Bob Dylan. The Incredible String Band also had an incredible lifestyle, which also affected their sound. Jim thinks that freak and folk never meshed so well, and that's why he's bringing it with him to the Desert Island.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!