Show 335: The Return of The Rock Doctors, Jack White Review & Greg's DIJ
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1 More sad news at the top of the show this week. Singer and drummer Levon Helm recently died at age 71, and as Jim and Greg explain, he was a fascinating character in rock, one that might epitomize American music. His self-effacing personality combined with his never-flashy drum style gave The Band exactly what it needed. They also note how extraordinary it was for a drummer to be such an accomplished vocalist. You can hear it on tracks like “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” and especially The Band’s Marvin Gaye cover “Don’t Do It.” Fans should also check out Helm’s star turn in The Right Stuff and Coal Miner’s Daughter.
2a Time now for The Rock Doctors to open up the clinic. Every so often Jim and Greg like to give back, so to speak, and help some listeners with an ailment of a musical variety. Whether someone is allergic to hip hop or addicted to jam bands, our hosts hope they can provide the right musical prescription. Heck, they’ve even taken an appointment with Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.
2b Before they get to their main appointment of the episode, they run over to the emergency room to take a call from Anne in Philadelphia. Anne is getting married next month and has been racking her brain to come up with a good song for the “Father/Daughter” dance. Problem is, Dad is something of a music expert who likes to dig deep for his wedding selections. But songs like Leadbelly’s “Ain’t It A Shame” don’t hit the right emotional chord (and aren’t exactly crowd pleasers).
So, Anne wants to know what Drs. Kot and DeRogatis would recommend? Greg goes first, suggesting “The Way You Look Tonight.” Sure, this Oscar-winner could be an obvious choice, but it’s the lesser-known version by The Jaguars that Greg prescribes. Jim takes a cue from one of rock’s best Dads, Loudon Wainwright III (father to Martha and Rufus and Marshall). His song “Daughter” has the perfect mix of humor and sentimentality.
2c Jim and Greg call their next two patients in from the waiting room. Doug and Susan have been happily married for 18 years. But they’ve never been able to get along…musically. Doug is a Presbyterian minister with an indie rock past who remains as passionate as ever about music. He loves jangly pop and expansive Spector-esque production, but doesn’t give a lick about lyrics. Susan, he tells our nurse, is stuck in “Classic Rock Hell and ‘70s Rock Purgatory.” She still favors FM rock like Jimmy Buffett and Little Feat, and has little tolerance for Doug’s “trash can music” and fondness for “whiny broads.” So the doctors are tasked with finding this couple something new they can listen to together.
Jim begins by recommending a dose of the California quartet Delta Spirit. He couldn’t resist prescribing Susan a band that actually uses trash cans, but more he thinks the couple will appreciate the group’s emotional and spiritual lyrics. Greg prescribes Arrow by Heartless Bastards. On their 4th release the Ohio group finally has the songs to match the intensity of Erika Wennerstrom’s vocals. And they reference much of the classic rock and soul that Susan favors.
So how did the medicine go down? Doug gives a Buy It to Delta Spirit, noting that Matthew Vasquez can really sing. Susan still just hears this as something up Doug’s alley. Doug also appreciated Heartless Bastards, but despite Wennerstrom’s singing style, not because of it. He’s curious to see the band live, but didn’t fall in love with the record. Susan liked the direction Greg went in more, but again, didn’t find a winner in Heartless Bastards. But both husband and wife enjoyed the process of listening to and critiquing music…and that’s all the Doctors can really ask for!
Do you need to consult with the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out a patient form and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 A blunderbuss is an antique gun that shoots scattershot—the perfect name for an album by Jack White. It’s a nod to the old, something The White Stripes front man favors, but also references how wide in scope the album is. On his solo debut, the singer, guitarist, producer and label head incorporated lots of piano and stringed music. Greg is as impressed by this variety as he is by the story the songs tell. Jim doesn’t hear as many departures. But he does get another set of extraordinary anthems. So both hosts give Blunderbuss a double Buy It rating…but for different reasons.
Songs Featured in Show #335
The Band, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” The Band, Capitol, 1969
The Band, “Don’t Do It,” Rock of Ages, Capitol, 1972
Motorhead, “I’m the Doctor,” Iron Fist, Bronze, 1982
Leadbelly, “Ain’t it a Shame to go Fishing on Sunday,” Leadbelly’s Last Sessions, Smithsonian Folkways, 1994
Fred Astaire, “The Way You Look Tonight,” The Astaire Story, UMG, 1953
The Jaguars, “The Way You Look Tonight,” The Way You Look Tonight (single), Ardl, 1956
Loudon Wainwright III, “Daughter,” Strange Weirdos, Concord, 2007
Loudon Wainwright III, “The Doctor,” History, Charisma, 1992
Little Feat, “Rock and Roll Doctor,” Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, Warner Bros., 1974
Grateful Dead, “Touch of Grey,” In the Dark, Arista, 1987
Bluebells, “Cath,” Sisters, London, 1984
Mediaeval Baebes, “Return of the Birds,” Mirabilis, Nettwerk, 2005
Van Halen, “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” Van Halen II, Warner Bros., 1979
Delta Spirit, “Home,” Delta Spirit, Rounder, 2012
Delta Spirit, “Trashcan,” Ode to Sunshine, Rounder, 2007
Delta Spirit, “Empty House,” Delta Spirit, Rounder, 2012
Heartless Bastards, “Marathon,” Arrow, Partisan, 2012
Heartless Bastards, “Gotta Have Rock and Roll,” Arrow, Partisan, 2012
Heartless Bastards, “Parted Ways,” Arrow, Partisan, 2012
The Avalanches, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” Since I Left You, Modular, 2000
Jack White, “Sixteen Saltines,” Blunderbuss, Third Man, 2012
Jack White, “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy,” Blunderbuss, Third Man, 2012
Jack White, “I’m Shakin’,” Blunderbuss, Third Man, 2012
Laurel Halo, “Hater,” Blondes, RVNG, 2012
R.E.M., “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight,” Automatic for the People, Warner Bros., 1992
Jerry Garcia Band, “Dear Prudence,” Jerry Garcia Band, Arista, 1991
Tony Bennett, “Rags to Riches,” MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett, Columbia, 1994
Happy Mondays, “Hallelujah (Club Mix),” Hallelujah, Factory, 1989
Cher, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” Heart of Stone, Geffen, 1989