Show 329: Nick Lowe, Sinead O'Connor Revie & Greg's DIJ
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1 Star athletes and star musicians have a lot more in common than you might think. No, we don’t mean the abundance of tattoos. Both fields are high-risk, high-reward and both pro-players and rockers have a short shelf life. Now, the NFL is helping its athletes transition out of football and into the music industry. The player engagement division has paired with New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music for the “Business of Music Boot Camp.” As Greg explains, the list of athletes who have launched successful recording careers is pretty short. But, Jim suggests these men may fare better behind-the-scenes. Perhaps they can share the NFL’s secrets to making a profit. After all, no industry is better at protecting its copyright.
2 The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has unveiled a program to let some inmates carry mp3 players. It’s first being tested in West Virginia, but should go nationwide this year. The devices will be sold in prison commissaries, but prisoners won’t have access to everything. Strictly forbidden will be explicit tracks, and Jim and Greg imagine, anything about tunneling out of jail. So they make a couple of suggestions. Greg would like The Zombies’ “Care of Cell 44” to get him through the lonely times. And Jim goes with the protest anthem, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” by the Animals, written by Mann & Weil.
3 This week Jim and Greg are joined by the “Jesus of Cool,” Nick Lowe. He’s been writing, recording and producing music for over 40 years, and his latest release The Old Magic harkens back to his Pub Rock roots. Lowe began playing in the bands Brinsley Shwartz and Rockpile before going solo and producing. But, his songs are probably even better known than he is. There’s “Cruel to Be Kind,” “I Love the Sound of Broken Glass,” and “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” which was made famous by Elvis Costello. Lowe admits that Costello’s version is more earnest than his own, and generally he favors humor over seriousness. Check out his in-studio performance and video.
4 Sinead O’Connor debuted in the late ‘80s with two commercial and critical hits: The Lion and the Cobra and I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. But since she infamously burned a picture of the Pope on SNL, the Irish singer-songwriter’s career has been as much about her personal troubles as her music. Through four marriages, drug addiction, and mental illness, she’s remained prolific, releasing albums as diverse as 2002’s Sean-Nos Nua (a tribute to Irish folk music) and 2005’s Throw Down Your Arms (drawing on Rastafari traditions). Her latest, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? is a characteristically personal album, Greg says, but with a pop spin. She’s poking fun at herself, and most importantly, doing it within the context of some surprisingly melodic songs. But Greg still can’t buy into the more political tracks. She’s confusing rants for songs, so he has to give How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? a Burn it rating. Jim thinks that’s a bit harsh. The new record is brilliant, he says…Sinead’s best since 1994’s Universal Mother. The political material doesn’t overshadow the record, which is first and foremost about love and the meaning of commitment. Sinead’s voice stands undiminished, and her witty, lighthearted lyrics don’t hurt either. Jim says Buy it.
4 Talking to Nick Lowe got Greg thinking about all things seventies – in particular, Lowe’s work as a producer during that decade. Few people realize Lowe worked with The Damned, the first UK punk band to put themselves on the map (take that Sex Pistols!). Where another producer might have been tempted to clean up the band’s sound, Lowe kept The Damned as dirty and gritty on record as they were live. And nowhere do you hear that better, Greg insists, than on the band’s first single, 1976’s “New Rose.” Rat Scabies’s drums sound huge, and Brian James’s guitar is so distorted it sounds defective. This, Greg says, is what punk sounds like to this day, and Lowe was onto the trend before anyone else.
Songs Featured in Show #329
Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew, “Super Bowl Shuffle,” Super Bowl Shuffle, Red Label, 1985
Elvis Presley, “Jailhouse Rock,” Jailhouse Rock, RCA, 1957
The Zombies, “Care of Cell 44,” Odyssey and Oracle, CBS, 1968
The Animals, “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” Animal Tracks, MGM, 1965
Nick Lowe, “Cruel to Be Kind,” Cruel to Be Kind, Radar, 1979
Tennessee Ernie Ford, “The Shotgun Boogie,” The Shotgun Boogie, Capitol, 1950
Nick Lowe, “Shame on the Rain,” The Old Magic, Yep Roc, 2011
Nick Lowe, “Stoplight Roses (Live on Sound Opinions),” The Old Magic, Yep Roc, 2011
Nick Lowe, “36 Inches High,” Jesus of Cool, Radar, 1978
Nick Lowe, “Somebody Cares for Me,” The Old Magic, Yep Roc, 2011
Graham Parker, “White Honey,” Howlin’ Wind, Vertigo, 1976
Rockpile, “Play That Fast Thing (One More Time),” Seconds of Pleasure, Columbia, 1980
Nick Lowe, “Somebody Cares for Me (Live on Sound Opinions),” The Old Magic, Yep Roc, 2011
Brinsley Shwarz, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding?,” The New Favourites of Brinsley Schwarz, United Artists, 1974
Elvis Costello, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding?,” Armed Forces, Radar, 1979
Nick Lowe, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding? (Live on Sound Opinions),” United Artists, 1974
Nick Lowe, “(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass,” Jesus of Cool, Radar, 1978
Sinead O’Connor, “The Wolf is Getting Married,” How About I Be Me (And You Be You?), One Little Indian, 2012
Sinead O’Connor, “Old Lady,” How About I Be Me (And You Be You?), One Little Indian, 2012
Sinead O’Connor, “V.I.P.,” How About I Be Me (And You Be You?), One Little Indian, 2012
The Damned, “New Rose,” Damned Damned Damned, Stiff, 1977
Fountains of Wayne, “Hung Up on You,” Welcome Interstate Managers, S-Curve, 2003
The Monkees, “When Love Comes Knockin’ (At Your Door),” More of the Monkees, Colgems, 1967
WZRD, “Upper Room,” WZRD, Wicked Awesome, 2012
Atmosphere, “Sunshine,” Sad Clown Bad Summer Number 9 EP, Rhymesayers, 2007