John Cale & Opinions on Annie Lennox

Jim and Greg welcome musician, producer and Velvet Underground founder John Cale for a conversation and live acoustic performance.

John Cale
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00:01:49 Last week Jammie Thomas, the first of 20,000 people the RIAA accused of infringement to go to trial, lost her battle with the record labels. A jury in Duluth, MN found Thomas liable for infringing copyright on 24 major-label recordings and awarded the record industry $220,000 in damages. Most of the other people sued settled out of court, but as her attorney Brian Toder explains to Jim and Greg, Thomas insisted that she did not download copyrighted songs to make them available for sharing in a folder on the KaZaA  peer-to-peernetwork. Eric Bangeman, the managing editor of the website Ars Technica, also speaks to Jim and Greg about this issue, and he notes that this was a key point in the trial. The judge in the trial instructed the jury that the prosecution didn't have to prove that any music was actually shared, just that Thomas made the files available for sharing. Toder and his legal team are gearing up for an appeal, and Thomas has proclaimed herself a permanent thorn in the side of the record industry, but until actual laws are changed to reflect the digital age, it's doubtful any thorns will be able to penetrate the thick hide of the RIAA.

John Cale

John Cale is known for many things: co-founding The Velvet Underground, producing major albums for The Stooges and Patti Smith, and doing one of the best covers of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." So when John Cale was touring in support of his most recent album Black Acetate in 2006, Jim and Greg wanted him to stop by the Sound Opinions studio to be their first guest on public radio. Now almost 100 episodes later, we wanted to revisit that terrific conversation.

During Cale's visit, the three men covered everything from Brian Eno to Lou Reed to Snoop Dogg. And, Cale played two of his songs live: "Set Me Free" and "Gravel Drive," which he names as his favorite track on the record. He explains to Jim and Greg that this song was his way of talking to his daughter about some complicated issues, and why "Dad" sometimes wasn't around. Greg notes that despite Cale's admitted anger, and his undeniable punk rock attitude, a number of the songs on Black Acetate are equally heartfelt and beautiful.

Songs of Mass Destruction Annie Lennox

Songs of Mass Destruction (Bonus Track Version)

Songs of Mass Destruction is pop diva Annie Lennox's first album in over four years, but for her die-hard fans, anything she does is well worth the wait. On this effort, she not only tackles life post-divorce, but also the African AIDS crisis. The track "Sing" features 23 singers including Madonna, k.d. lang, and Celine Dion, and was written to raise awareness about the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Both Jim and Greg praise Lennox for this song and her always impressive, soulful voice. But Greg for one wishes she wasn't attracted to such glossy production. For Songs of Mass Destruction, she hired Glen Ballard, the producer who is responsible for some of the most generic, "schlocky" albums ever made by people like Barbra Streisand and Aerosmith. The slickness doesn't allow Lennox's voice to shine, so Greg has to give this album a Try It. Jim agrees Lennox would benefit from a turn with a more authentic producer and grittier band, but he can't deny her voice. He gives it a Buy It.


The Annie Lennox review prompted Greg to think about other UK  soul singers. Of course there's Amy Winehouse now, but the mother of them all was Dusty Springfield. Many people know Dusty for her song "Son of a Preacher Man," which was featured in the movie Pulp Fiction. But the track Greg wants to take with him to the desert island is "The Look of Love," which was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. For Greg it highlights Dusty's subtle sexy voice, one that is almost doing a duet with the saxophone. And it also summed up, at one time, what Greg thought marriage was going to be all about: lust, romance and glamorous hair.

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!