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1 A story out of the British press tickled Jim and Greg’s fancy this week. England’s Essex FM decided to launch a boycott of recent pop phenomenon James Blunt. Blunt, apparently peeved by critics bashing him, instructed the haters to just stop playing his music. Essex FM gladly took the challenge and banned both of his hit singles from their airwaves. Sound Opinions H.Q. would like to take this opportunity to encourage all radio programmers to take Blunt up on his challenge. And while we are at it, there are a few other overplayed radio hits we’d like to discuss…
2 Finland loves its vodka. Apparently the Finns also love their masked death metal bands. Finnish band Lordi, who recently won the Eurovision prize, became the source of a recent uproar when the lead singer was “unmasked” by two tabloid newspapers. Fans of the masked rockers were so upset by this disrespectful move that over 200,000 of them have signed a petition forcing one of the tabloids to apologize. Sound Opinions fans need not fear however; Jim and Greg will never be unmasked.
3 In some sad news, Desmond Dekker died this week at the age of 63. Dekker is credited with bringing the ska and reggae sounds of Jamaica to the west, most notably with the hit “Israelites”. Dekker influenced fellow countryman Bob Marley, but his impact in the U.S. and England was most notable in the ska scene. You can still hear Dekker’s sound in the music of bands like The Clash, the Sex Pistols and more recently, No Doubt and Less than Jake.
4 This week on the show Jim and Greg take a musical trip around Latin America to explore the world of Rock en Espanol. Their tour guide is music writer Ernesto Lechner, author of Rock en Espanol: The Latin Alternative Rock Explosion. Here are some of the key bands they discuss as well as others you might want to check out:
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs
Los Amigos Invisibles
Bajofando Tango Club
Mexican Institute of Sound
5 Elvis Costello, the singer/songwriter who has taken on New Wave, punk, ska, country and pop, is tackling R&B on his latest release, River in Reverse. This album is a collaboration between Costello and Allen Toussaint, the multi-talented New Orleans musician. Toussaint is responsible for hits like “Working in a Coal Mine,” “I Like It Like That,” and “Lady Marmalade.” He’s also worked with The Band, Paul Simon and The Meters. The two collaborated after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, but neither Jim nor Greg think Costello’s voice is up to the task of handling Toussaint’s songs. Costello is a name that can garner attention for Toussaint, and Greg knows his heart is in the right place, but it is only a Burn It record for both critics.
6 Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Pick a Bigger Weapon, the fifth album from hip hop group The Coup. They play a bit of “Laugh, Love, F@#*k” which sets the tone of the record according to Jim. The Coup is known for their lefist politics and electro-synth grooves, but this record was mostly recorded live. Rapper Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress are joined by Tom Morello, Dwayne Wiggins and members of Maze and The Gap Band for a funkier, psychedelic sound. Greg hears great grooves and enjoys how, like Desmond Dekker, The Coup are combining politics with party music, but can’t really recommend most of Pick a Bigger Weapon. Jim believes he is being too kind. He explains that lyrically many of the songs pander to the lowest common denominator. Also, he wishes that the grooves were tighter and more hypnotic. Therefore, this record gets a Burn It from Mr. Kot and a Trash it from Mr. DeRogatis.
7 Taking his inspiration from the earlier discussion with Ernesto Lechner, Greg chooses Beck’s “Tropicalia” as his Desert Island Jukebox pick. The notion that people were ever jailed or sent into exile for playing Tropicalia music in Brazil got this host all fired up especially because this music, pioneered by artists like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, has remained such a formative influence on contemporary artists. Beck displays his love for the tropicalistas in this song from his 1998 album Mutations (a nod to fellow Brazilians Os Mutantes). Beck combines the Bossa Nova chords and gentle singing of Tropicalia music with art rock guitar and synthesizer. The result is a perfect example of Beck’s pop collage style and a perfect homage to his Brazilian heroes.
Songs Featured in Show #27
James Blunt, “You’re Beautiful,” Back to Bedlam, 2005
Lordi, “Hard Rock Hallelujah”
Desmond Dekker, “007 (Shantytown)” Bonanza Ska, 1992
Desmond Dekker, “Israelites,” Black and Dekker, 1980
Nortec Collective, “Revu Rockers,” Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3, 2005
Os Mutantes, “Panis et Circenses” Os Mutantes 1968
Stan Getz, “Girl from Ipanema,” Girl from Ipanema: The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songbook, 1962
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, “El Matador,” Vasos Vacios, 1994
Café Tacuba, “La Locomotora,” Reves/Yosoy, 1999
Aterciopelados, “El Estuche,” Caribe Atomico, 1998
Manu Chao, “Bongo Bong,” Clandestino, 1998
Mexican Institute of Sound, “Mirando a las Muchachas,” Mejico Maxico, 2006
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, “Freedom for the Stallion,” River in Reverse, 2006
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, “Who’s Gonna Help” River in Reverse, 2006
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, “Nearer to You” River in Reverse, 2006
The Coup, “Laugh/Love/Fuck,” Pick a Bigger Weapon, 2006
The Coup, “My Favorite Mutiny,” Pick a Bigger Weapon, 2006
Credits: Beck, “Tropicalia,” Mutations, 1998