Show 275: Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman, Reviews of Adele & Lucinda Williams
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1 Pop music invaded the Academy Awards last week. Veteran singer/songwriter Randy Newman won the Oscar for Best Original Song. It was Newman’s 20th nomination, but only 2nd win. Despite that, it is revenue from soundtracks like Toy Story that have enabled him to be so prolific. You can’t count on the music industry alone, which Newman compared to a “bank that's already been robbed.” Another rocker, Trent Reznor, went home with the Best Original Score prize for The Social Network. That category is usually dominated by composers like James Horner and Hans Zimmer. Zimmer, for one, was hopeful that Reznor’s win would open doors for more non-traditional musicians in film.
2 If you’ve never heard of The Seeds, chances are you’ve heard their tunes. The garage rock band’s music has been featured in a number of movies and commercials and covered by tons of artists. But, according to lead singer Sky Saxon’s estate, no royalties have been coming in. Saxon died in 2009, and now his estate is suing his former label and music publisher for royalties.
3 Before there was a Merge or a Matador there was Elektra Records. The great American label recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, and its founder Jac Holzman is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month. Jim and Greg talk to Jac about launching Elektra as an independent folk label out of his dorm room in 1950. Eventually the roster grew to include every genre of music—blues, rock, funk, world and pop. It became the home to The Stooges, the MC5, Love and Queen, and, Jim adds, some notoriously difficult personalities. But, Jac insists no artist was too hard to handle. He did use caution when out drinking with Jim Morrison, however.
4 This week British singer Adele bumps the big names off the Billboard chart. Her new album 21 is currently at #1. The former hairdresser impressed Jim and Greg with her debut 19, and now she’s amped up the production with some big names including Beyonce, Rick Rubin and Dan Wilson. But sometimes bigger isn’t always better. Greg loves Adele’s powerful voice, but the quality of the singing trumps the quality of the songs. He gives 21 a Burn It rating. Jim is even more disappointed. He thinks Adele should know better than to sing some of the “nonsense” on this record. She’s gone Hollywood, so he’s going with a Trash It.
5 Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams also has a new album out called Blessed. Now that she is happily married she’s moved on from the woeful bar tales to songs about other people. Jim loves this approach, especially on songs like “Soldier’s Song” that are from the point of view of a G.I. Greg agrees—Williams has reinvented herself. This goes for the singing as well, and he credits producer Don Was for pulling everything back to make way for that voice. Williams is doubly Blessed with two Buy Its.
Songs Featured in Show #275
Randy Newman, “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3 O.S.T., Walt Disney, 2010
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “In Motion,” The Social Network, The Null Corporation, 2010
The Seeds, “Mr. Farmer,” A Web Of Sound, GNP Crescendo, 1966
Queen, “Killer Queen,” Sheer Heart Attack, Elektra, 1974
Jean Ritchie, “O Love Is Teasin’,” Her Kentucky Mountain Family, Elektra, 1952
Judy Collins, “Hard Lovin’ Loser,” In My Life, Elektra, 1966, (0:48)
Josh White, “Free And Equal Blues,” The Story Of John Henry & Ballads, 1955
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Blues With A Feeling,” Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Elektra, 1965
Carly Simon, “You’re So Vain,” No Secrets, Elektra, 1972
MC5, “Kick Out The Jams,” Kick Out The Jams, Elektra, 1969
The Stooges, “Down On The Street,” Funhouse, Elektra, 1970
Love, “My Little Red Book,” Love, Elektra, 1966
Love, “The Red Telephone,” Forever Changes, Elektra, 1967
The Doors, “Light My Fire,” The Doors, Elektra, 1967
The Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” The Stooges, Elektra, 1969
Tim Buckley, “Wings,” Tim Buckley, Elektra, 1966
Adele, “Rolling In The Deep,” 21, XL, 2011
Adele, “Turning Tables,” 21, XL, 2011
Lucinda Williams, “Buttercup,” Blessed, Lost Highway, 2011
Lucinda Williams, “Seeing Black,” Blessed, Lost Highway, 2011
Lucinda Williams, “Soldier’s Song,” Blessed, Lost Highway, 2011
tUnE-yArDs, “Bizness,” W H O K I L L, 4AD, 2011
Grateful Dead, “Operator,” American Beauty, Warner Bros., 1970
Monkees, “Head Trailer,” Head, Colgems, 1968
Monkees, “Circle Sky,” Head, Colgems, 1968