Results for Bob Dylan

interviews

Booker T. Jones

When Jim and Greg were at SXSW, they were invited to interview soul legend Booker T. Jones in front of a live audience. This week, you'll get to hear some highlights of that interview. Jim and Greg start the interview by asking Booker how he became such a musical prodigy. The multi-instrumentalist, who has played tuba, piano, saxophone, guitar, oboe, and of course, most notably, organ, credits his musical family with steering him on that path. This path took him to Stax Records where he, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., and Lewie Steinberg (later replaced by Duck Dunn) formed Booker T. and the MGs. While Booker was still in high school, the group recorded "Green Onions," which went on to become one of their most well-known hits.

Jim asks how Booker feels about being relegated to the role of“side man,”in music history, but the musician explains that he feels nothing but pride about being“best supporting musician.”In fact, Booker explains that being a side man elevated him as a musician and allowed him to do so much more than he would have been able to solo. Some of the people our guest has recorded with over the years include Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Ray Charles, and even Barbra Streisand.

Booker T. and the MG's not only played with an impressive cast in the studio, but on the road as well. Jim and Greg highlight his 1967 European tour with other Stax artists, and ask Booker what everyone must have been on to get that powerful, lighting fast tempos. Booker attributes that kind of energy and enthusiasm to people like Otis Redding and Al Jackson, describing them as“possessed people.”The Monterey International Pop Music Festival followed in the summer of 1967, and Booker describes this experience as one of the most eye-opening of his life. With everyone (including the Hell's Angels) collectively joining in to ensure its success, this concert was an affirmation of the values of peace and love everyone there believed in. The MGs went on to perform with Neil Young and with many artists at the Bob Dylan tribute in 1992 including George Harrison and Eric Clapton, who he dishes on later in the interview.

Performing at Monterey eventually led Booker to leave his steady stream of jobs at Stax and venture out to California. As a solo performer and producer Booker challenged himself with a number of new projects including a collection of standards for his neighbor, Willie Nelson. He also worked in the studio with Stephen Stills, Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers and Neil Young.

Go to episode 72

Donovan

This week Jim and Greg talk with legendary '60s singer/songwriter Donovan. In honor of his 40th anniversary in the music business, Donovan has written an autobiography, released a box set, and set out on tour. A contemporary of Bob Dylan and The Beatles, Donovan was acclaimed for his finger-picking style, which he garnered from The Carter Family and demonstrates for our hosts.

Jim and Greg also want to know about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll in Donovan's life. Specifically, they discuss his experience being busted for drugs in 1966. His arresting officer, Sgt. Pilcher, later targeted fellow British rockers Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and John Lennon.

Another part of the Donovan mythology involves the origin of his song "Mellow Yellow." As Jim points out, many people believe that Donovan was alluding to the ability to get high by smoking banana peels. While Donovan does not refute this idea, which was tried out by Country Joe McDonald, he also admits that part of the song's imagery was taken from a“marital device”he saw advertised in a magazine. In his book, Donovan also suggests that Andy Warhol may have been inspired by the "electrical banana."

Jim and Greg also ask Donovan about covers of his songs. They play for him the Butthole Surfers' rendition of "Hurdy Gurdy Man." Other notable covers include Hüsker Dü's "Sunshine Superman," Eartha Kitt's "Hurdy Gurdy Man," and My Morning Jacket's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven."

Go to episode 7

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is a rock survivor, and with each decade comes a new successful era—whether it's Fairport Convention in the 1960's, with Linda Thompson in the '70s or as a solo artist. (You can check out producer, Joe Boyd, talking about Thompson & Fairport Convention here.) In fact, he's one of only a handful of artists, along the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, who have sustained a high level of artistic intensity and integrity since the '60s. And to further set him apart, he's one of few guitar heroes from that generation without an obvious debt to the blues. Instead, you'll hear blends of Eastern tones, jazz, Scottish balladry and Celtic folk. Jim and Greg agree he's one of the most underrated guitarists and songwriters in folk history and would urge acts like Mumford & Sons to“Listen and Learn.”The first step would be to study his live performance, which includes a gem from the "Capitolyears," the yet to be released "Fergus Lang," and the Richard and Linda classic "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight." Plus, check out the bonus track, Greg's request, "Dimming of the Day," which may be his most beautiful love song to date.

Go to episode 446

Robyn Hitchcock, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey

Robyn Hitchcock, the man who Jim and Greg call a cross between Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett, visits the show this week. He is joined by his Venus 3 band mates, Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, whose day jobs as members of R.E.M. aren‘t too shabby. All of the band members share a deep love of music, and a history of finding inspiration in record stores. Peter and Scott explain that this is how they initially became familiar with Robyn’s music. Greg remarks that they're all just a buncha rock geeks — our kind of guys!

Robyn and the Venus 3 have a new album out entitled Olé! Tarantula. According to Jim, it's a return to an earlier Hitchcock sound full of jangly melodies and multiple harmonies. And of course, you can count on the singer/songwriter for inventive lyrics. Sound Opinions H.Q. won't attempt to summarize his explanation of the concept behind Olé! Tarantula and the album's artwork, but offers this and this as reference points. You can hear the band perform this song, as well as "Adventure Rocket Ship," Syd Barrett's "Dominoes", and the bonus track, "N.Y. Doll" written about deceased New York Dolls member Arthur Kane.

Jim and Greg don‘t neglect to ask Peter Buck about his other gig. The R.E.M. guitarist and songwriter explains that he has written a lot of material and hopes to get together with some of the other band members soon to work on songs for their next album. Ideally he’d like to avoid spending“a lifetime.”An example of the band's more immediate work is the song "Final Straw." Buck wrote that piece of music while they were working on Automatic for the People, but he continued it to use it as a guitar warm-up. Lead singer Michael Stipe was struck by the tune and inspired by in the Middle East, and within a day it was recorded and put on the web.

Go to episode 59

Roger Ebert

bwebert Last week fans of movies and criticism in general felt a big loss. Roger Ebert died at age 70 after a long battle with cancer. Jim and Greg remember their friend and colleague and talk about how Ebert and his partner Gene Siskel provided them inspiration for their own show. Jim worked with Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times, and Greg worked with Siskel at the Chicago Tribune. And whether it was in print, on TV or via Twitter, Roger Ebert was full of Sound Opinions. In 2006, the three critics sat down to talk music movies and Ebert's own rock ‘n’ roll past, which includes a remarkable meeting with the Sex Pistols. This ended up being one of Ebert's last recorded interviews before losing his ability to speak.

First, Jim and Greg ask Roger Ebert to rate music movies. He calls Woodstock the greatest rock documentary ever made. In fact, he thinks it's just one of the best movies ever made. He also recommends Hard Day's Night and Gimme Shelter. One movie he did love was Martin Scorcese's film Don't Look Back. In Roger's original review, he took Dylan to task for being kind of a jerk. He reconsidered the movie years later.

One of Jim and Greg's favorite rock ‘n’ roll movies was actually written by Roger Ebert himself, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. He and Russ Meyer followed that up with a Sex Pistols movie entitled Who Killed Bambi. The movie never came to fruition, but it provided memorable experiences meeting Sid Vicious and John Lydon.

Go to episode 385

Mike Heidorn of Uncle Tupelo

You can trace alternative country's roots to the 1960's when rock musicians such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds and the Flatlanders began dabbling with and reinvigorating country music. It was part of a wider investigation of American roots music in rock, a move toward more“authentic”styles. These rockers looked to country greats like Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard for inspiration — Bob Dylan famously collaborated with Cash on "Girl From the North Country." In the '70s and early '80s, a new generation of punk rockers started digging into traditional country for inspiration, including X, The Mekons, Rank & File, Jason and the Scorchers and the Long Ryders. Then third wave of alt country hit in the late '80s and early '90s, led by The Jayhawks out of Minneapolis and Uncle Tupelo, the trio of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn, out of Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. Uncle Tupelo's debut album,“No Depression,”took its name from a Carter Family song, "No Depression in Heaven," and it's one of many the key albums in defining the alt-country movement of this era. We have this band to thank for groups like Farrar's Son Volt, Tweedy's Wilco, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown, the Drive-By-Truckers and the Old 97's …and not to mention No Depression Magazine. Legacy Recordings recently reissued No Depression, complete with some never before released demo tracks from 1987 to 1989. And to talk about it, Jim and Greg are joined by Uncle Tupelo's founding drummer Mike Heidorn.

Go to episode 442

Angel Olsen

From St. Louis, to Chicago to Asheville, NC, Angel Olsen is now a national figure in indie rock. Her first big break came after performing backup for Bonnie Prince Billy, but Olsen has grown into a confident artist in her own right. Her songwriting has been compared to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and her voice has been compared to that of the great Roy Orbison. For most of her career, Olsen has made sparse, introspective records, starting with her first EP, Strange Cactii, and then with her debut album, Half Way Home. Now with her latest record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, the critical acclaim has matched that of fans. During her studio visit, Angel Olsen played songs from this new record, talked to us about the challenge of playing with a full band, and how she views songwriting as an exercise in acting.

Go to episode 447

Spooner Oldham

Despite its location in a relatively obscure part of the South, Muscle Shoals, Alabama was home to some of the greatest studio musicians of the 1960's and 1970's. One of those pros was our guest Spooner Oldham, keyboardist and songwriter at FAME Studios. Spooner played piano and organ on hits like "Steal Away" by Jimmy Hughes and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." Pretty soon, record executives from the North were sending artists down to record with the excellent house band at FAME. Spooner provided the drive behind Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally," and even rescued a stagnating Aretha Franklin session by coming up with the iconic keyboard line for "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)."

Along with his collaborator Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham wrote huge hits like "Cry Like a Baby" by The Box Tops and "I'm Your Puppet" by James & Bobby Purify. After leaving Muscle Shoals, he played with Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bobby Womack, and more, and continues to perform with acts like Cat Power and Drive-By Truckers. In 1972, Spooner recorded his own album Pot Luck. It was largely forgotten except by cult record collectors, but now is being honored with an overdue reissue from Light in the Attic.

Go to episode 515

Roger Ebert

Film critic Roger Ebert joins Jim and Greg this week. The three critics sit down to discuss some of their favorite movies made about music. Roger has called Woodstock the greatest rock documentary ever made. In fact, he thinks it's just one of the best movies ever made. He also recommends Hard Day's Night and Gimme Shelter. One movie Roger didn't love was Martin Scorcese's film Don't Look Back. In Roger's original review, he took Bob Dylan to task for being kind of a jerk (though he reconsidered the movie years later).

One of Jim and Greg's favorite rock and roll movies was actually written by Roger Ebert himself. He wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with Russ Meyer. The movie was quite successful and eventually became a cult classic, particularly in the rock world. The original story, written by Jacqueline Susann, was about struggling actresses. In this version, the actresses were turned into struggling rock stars. Despite the fact that the movie is not mentioned in Fox's official history, it is coming out this year on DVD.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was not our guest's only screenplay. Roger and his partner Russ Meyer also penned a The Sex Pistols movie entitled Who Killed Bambi. The movie never came to frution, but Roger describes his memorable experiences meeting Sid Vicious and John Lydon.

Before they let him leave, Jim and Greg ask the movie expert about music. Roger chooses Hank Williams as his DIJ pick, and also talks about being a fan of the Mills Brothers, Laurie Anderson, and fellow Chicago native Liz Phair.

Go to episode 14

Tom Morello

Many fans know Tom Morello through his electric guitar innovations in Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. So it was a surprise to hear he had unplugged and donned a new guise as The Nightwatchman. The Chicago native has a new solo album out called One Man Revolution, and during a visit home he stopped by the Sound Opinions studio to show off his new incarnation. During his discussion with Jim and Greg it starts to make more sense why the famed electric guitarist would go acoustic. Tom has always been a fan of folk rockers like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. And, the one man + guitar formula lends itself to the political content Tom has always been known for.

Tom explains that he was seeking a political and musical outlet that would fulfill that side of his personality. The hard rocking side gets fulfilled by the arena rock group Audioslave. However, Tom reveals that the band might be no more. He and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell were both in Chicago at the same time, but haven't communicated in a while. Luckily friend and producer Rick Rubin encouraged Tom to branch out on his own with this record. And of course, Jim notes that the guitarist always has a political career to fall back on. Like his mother Mary Morello, Tom has always been a social activist. He also worked for Senator Alan Cranston for a number of years.

One person Tom Morello did hook up with while he was in town is fellow Rage Against the Machine member Zack de la Rocha. The Rage frontman joined Morello in a couple of protest rallies in support of low-wage immigrant farmworkers. And of course, as fans have been anticipating, the two will appear with Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk for Rage Against the Machine's first performance in seven years at this weekend's Coachella Music Festival. For a sneak preview, check out Morello's rendition of the band's song "Guerrilla Radio," as well as an exclusive bonus track.

Go to episode 74

Joe Boyd

The guest this week is Joe Boyd. Boyd recently wrote a book, White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, about his experiences as a producer, manager and club owner in London during that psychedelic era. Jim describes Boyd as one of rock's most fascinating behind-the-scenes characters. He has worked with Pink Floyd, The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Bob Dylan just to name a few.

As an American living in England in the '60s, one of the ways Boyd made a name for himself was through his club UFO. The venue only lasted less than a year, but Boyd explains that those few months in 1967 were remarkable. UFO wasn‘t anything more than a basement, but it featured light shows, films and“happenings,”and was home base to Pink Floyd. The title of Boyd’s book gets its name from track "My White Bicycle," by Tomorrow, one of the many bands to perform at UFO. The song is about the free white bicycles that were passed around in Amsterdam at that time, and Boyd explains that by the end of 1967, most of those bicycles were stolen and re-painted. The result is a“heavy-handed metaphor”for the changing times according to the author.

One of Boyd's major contributions to music is that he is credited with“discovering”Nick Drake. During a meeting with John Cale, Boyd played some of Drake's music, and immediately Cale wanted a meeting with the rising talent. The next day, Cale abandoned his studio date with singer Nico and told Boyd that he wanted to record Drake by that afternoon. The music they made that day and in the years before Drake's tragic death propelled him into this romantic, cult status that grew even bigger after his song "Pink Moon," was used in a Volkswagen commercial.

Go to episode 73

Benmont Tench

Benmont Tench is one of the most prolific keyboardists in rock and roll, and his iconic organ solos on songs like "Refugee" make him the understated driving force of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers since its inception in 1976. Aside from his success with the Heartbreakers, he's found a fruitful career as a sideman and session musician for artists like Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Johnny Cash and others. Also, he released his first and only solo album in 2014, You Should Be So Lucky. Tench joins Jim and Greg for a candid and funny conversation about his experiences in the music business, the genesis of the Heartbreakers and much more. He also gives an exclusive live performance of a track off his solo record.

Go to episode 602

Don Was

Don Was This week, our guest is musician, producer and label president Don Was. Was hails from Detroit and since the early '80s has been a part of the group Was (Not Was). In Was (Not Was,) Don is the bassist, a songwriter and a producer, creating unique music that blended the genres of jazz, pop, rock and dance music. He then found a second career as a super producer, working with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt and more. Then beginning in 2012, Was became the president of the legendary jazz record label Blue Note Records. He talks with Jim and Greg about the methodology behind Was (Not Was), working with The Rolling Stones throughout the decades and his transition into being a label head.

Go to episode 639

Shirley Collins

Of all the English folk revival artists, Shirley Collins was perhaps the most devoted to rural folk traditions. But at the same time, her records were incredibly innovative in their approach. Her 1964 album Folk Roots, New Routes with guitarist Davey Graham fused ancient songs with jazz arrangements, paving the way for bands like Fairport Convention. In collaboration with her sister Dolly, Shirley Collins also recorded with early music instruments and Renaissance ensembles. She even went electric with her acclaimed 1971 album No Roses. After developing a vocal condition known as dysphonia, Shirley gave up recording in 1978. Since then, she's become an inspiration to a new generation of artists, including The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, who covered one of her songs live on Sound Opinions. Now, after a nearly 40 year hiatus, she's returned with a new album, Lodestar. She joins Jim and Greg to explain why she returned to singing and how she chose her rather bloodsoaked repertoire.

In addition to her own recording career, Shirley Collins played an important role in music history when she accompanied legendary musicologist Alan Lomax as he traveled through the American south in 1959. Together, they collected field recordings of traditional working-class artists on farms, prisons, and churches. Their tapes of musicians like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Almeda Riddle, and Hobart Smith were huge influences on generations of artists, including Bob Dylan.

Go to episode 584

The Hold Steady

Jim and Greg welcome The Hold Steady this week. The Minneapolis born, Brooklyn bred band are on tour to promote their 2008 album Stay Positive. Our hosts talk to lead singer Craig Finn, guitarist Tad Kubler and keyboardist & accordionist Franz Nicolay about their“meat and potatoes”style of rock and roll. Greg notes that comparisons are often made to Bruce Springsteen, but the band also cites Nick Cave and Bob Dylan as influences. Jim explains to the band that he was not immediately a Hold Steady fan, and was only converted after seeing them live. Craig, Tad and Franz explain that they are happy to convert him. That, of course, is the power of rock.

Go to episode 165

Joe Boyd

nickdraketributecover

For the most part we think that rock ‘n’ roll artistry and commercials don't mix, but in the case of Nick Drake, it worked out. A 1999 TV commercial featuring his 1972 track "Pink Moon," made the English singer/songwriter a household name. It was success Drake couldn‘t enjoy in his lifetime. He died at age 26 of an overdose on anti-depressants after only releasing three albums. But the small catalog lives large today, with Drake’s work influencing R.E.M., Elliot Smith, Beth Orton and many more. He's remembered on the new tribute album Way to Blue, produced by the man who discovered him, Joe Boyd. In addition to working with Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and the Fairport Convention, Joe Boyd produced Nick's first two albums, Five Leaves Left in 1969 and Bryter Layter in 1970. Jim and Greg talk to him about Nick Drake's own influences, his style and his legacy.

Go to episode 387
specials

Bob Dylan at 75: Folk Days to Newport

Dylan in the studio

Don't Look Back, the classic Bob Dylan documentary instructs us. But as the American music icon just turned 75 on May 24th, Jim and Greg can‘t help saying happy birthday by revisiting our multi-part special on his life and career. In our first installment, we focus on Dylan’s early years as a folkie and protest singer in New York. Dylan moved from Minnesota to Greenwich Village in 1961 at age 19. Within just a few years, he was signed to Columbia Records, teamed up with manager Albert Grossman, released four albums, and become“the voice of a generation.”Jim and Greg spoke to Dylan expert Clinton Heylin in 2009 about the singer's influences during those years and his growth as a songwriter and performer. Clinton explored Dylan's entire song catalog in two companion books, Revolution in the Air and Still on the Road.

Never one to be pigeonholed, Dylan abandoned categories just as soon as he was assigned them. At his headlining set at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island on July 25, 1965, Dylan went electric by playing with a full rock band. Jim and Greg get a first-hand account of the infamous concert from musician, songwriter and A&R man Al Kooper. Al performed with Dylan onstage at Newport, and he dispels a half-century's worth of myths about the“boos”that allegedly came from the crowd.

Next week, we conclude our Dylan celebration with a look at Blonde on Blonde and Dylan's "Modern Times."

Go to episode 548

Bob Dylan

heylin

If all that talk about clouds and androids hasn't made you feel old, get this…Bob Dylan is turning 70 this May. And we here at Sound Opinions feel that this birthday boy deserves not one, but three episodes in his honor. This week is the first installment and focuses on Dylan's early years as a folkie and protest singer in New York. Dylan moved to Greenwich Village in 1961 at age 19. Within just a few years, he had signed to Columbia Records, teamed up with manager Albert Grossman, released four albums, and become“the voice of a generation.”Never one to be pigeonholed, Dylan abandoned categories just as soon as he was assigned them. Jim and Greg talk to Dylan expert Clinton Heylin about the singer's influences during those years and his growth as a songwriter and performer. Clinton recently explored Dylan's entire song catalog in two companion books, Revolution in the Air and Still on the Road.

Following their conversation, Jim and Greg talk about their favorite Dylan tracks from 1961-1964. Jim chooses a protest song that has remained timeless, and one that Dylan continues to perform, "Masters of War." He fell in love with this song, which was released on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in 1963, through the many covers of it. Greg goes with a song that is less well-known, but no less impactful. And it showcases Dylan's strengths as a singer…yes that's right, singer. "Moonshiner" is Dylan's take on a traditional folk song, and as Greg explains, features a sound he would return to in later years. A version was released on The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3.

Want more Dylan? Check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this special series.

Go to episode 279

Bob Dylan

moderntimes During this episode Jim and Greg wrap up our series on Bob Dylan and bring it up to "Modern Times". How, you may ask, can they gloss over the '70s and '80s so cavalierly? Trust that it was difficult to narrow down Dylan's entire canon to three episodes. And it's important to note that Dylan is one of those rare artists who emerged in the '60s and was still making great, new music into his sixties. So that's why our hosts decided to bring it up to Act III: 1989-2006. Dylan was in amazing form live and released a string of impressive albums including Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind and Modern Times. He collaborated with producer Daniel Lanois and also worked with Jim and Greg's guest this week, engineer Mark Howard. Howard gives us a sneak peek into what it's like to record with Dylan.

As always Jim and Greg like to round out these features by highlighting significant tracks. Greg chooses an unreleased version of "Mississippi," later put out on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8. A highly produced version appears on 2001's Love and Theft, but Greg prefers the more stripped down recording, calling the performance fascinating. And he notes that Dylan draws from older material for inspiration just like he did when he was starting out as a folkie.

Jim admits that he prefers Dylan live during these years. But "Ain't Talkin'" from Modern Times in 2006 is perfectly simple and spooky–just a fiddle, percussion and that signature voice. This is a song Dylan couldn't have given justice in his younger days.

Go to episode 288

Bob Dylan

alkooper Today is Part 2 of our appreciation of Bob Dylan. During this episode, Dylan plugs in. Jim and Greg discuss how and why Dylan went electric in 1965, and get a first-hand account of his famous, or infamous, concert at the Newport Folk Festival from musician, songwriter and A&R man Al Kooper. Al performed with Dylan onstage at Newport, and he explains to Jim and Greg that there has been a lot of misinformation when it comes to the“boos.”He also lent his signature organ playing to tracks like "Like a Rolling Stone," which really changed the game in rock ‘n’ roll.

In the second half of Jim and Greg's discussion with Al Kooper, they focus on the masterful double album Blonde on Blonde, which turns 45 this year. Al shares memories from the recording sessions in Nashville where he, Dylan and Robbie Robertson were joined by harmonica player, guitarist and bassist Charlie McCoy, guitarist Wayne Moss, guitarist and bassist Joe South, and drummer Kenny Buttrey. Al recalls being truly impressed with the musicians, and describes the vibe as much more refined than during the chaotic sessions of Highway 61 Revisited. He compares Blonde on Blonde to a finely manicured lawn. To go out, Jim and Greg play their two favorite tracks from the album. Jim goes with "Leopard Skin Pill-box Hat," which illustrates Dylan's sense of music history and also his great use of humor. Greg plays "Visions of Johanna" which he describes as the quintessential song from the quintessential Dylan album.

Check out Part 1 and Part 3 of our Dylan appreciation.

Go to episode 283

Desert Island Jukebox

Frequently at the end of Sound Opinions, Jim and Greg add songs to the Desert Island Jukebox. This jukebox is filled with tracks that Jim and Greg would take with them if stranded on a desert island. They‘ve posed this same age-old rock question to many of their guests. In this episode you’ll hear the music that these artists say they can't live without:

  • Saul Williams: James Brown, Live at the Olympia
  • Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand: Leonard Cohen, The Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • Nick McCarthy of Franz Ferdinand: Neil Young, "Ohio"
  • Peaches: Prince, Purple Rain
  • Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix: Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire de Melody Nelson
  • Thomas Mars of Phoenix: D'Angelo, Voodoo
  • Craig Finn of The Hold Steady: The Replacements, "I Will Dare"
  • Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady: Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • Franz Nicolay of The Hold Steady: American Music Club, Mercury
  • Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: The Hold Steady, Stay Positive
  • Grant Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit: Bob Dylan, Planet Waves
  • Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips: John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"
Go to episode 213

Remembering Tom Petty

Tom Petty

Through four decades of success, Tom Petty entertained audiences around the world. Jim and Greg now pay tribute to a man who defined classic rock. Petty died at age 66 after suffering cardiac arrest in his Malibu home. Throughout the show, Jim and Greg play excerpts from an exclusive Sound Opinions interview with Tom Petty from 2003.

In the interview, Tom Petty discusses meeting Elvis Presley as a child in Florida and falling in love with rock ‘n’ roll. He also reminisces about hanging out with Bob Dylan and George Harrison, his idols and future bandmates in Traveling Wilburys. Jim and Greg make a case for Petty's underrated songwriting abilities and share some of their favorite of his songs. Plus, we hear from recent Sound Opinions guest Benmont Tench, founding keyboardist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, about hearing "American Girl" for the very first time.

Go to episode 619

Live Albums

The concept of a Live Album is a controversial one for many rock fans. Some see these releases as merely filler between proper new albums. And some see these records as a way to experience a specific musical moment again. For Jim and Greg, the following are great albums because they either bring something new to an artist's work, or capture a time worth remembering. As you gear up for the summer concert season, enjoy the following live albums:

Go to episode 179
genre dissections

Electronic Dance Music

Robert F.X. Sillerman's favorite artists are Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, but lately the entertainment mogul's been in a dancing mood. The man who helped create Clear Channel by buying up radio stations and concert venues is investing in electronic dance music in a big way. Starting with Louisiana's Disco Productions, Sillerman has started buying up regional dance music promoters, with the intention, Jim supposes, of selling the genre's collective neon-tinted audience to advertisers. He says it's just the latest example of the corporatization of this booming corner of the music industry. Speaking of which…

Go to episode 341
reviews
Shadows In the NightShadows in the Night available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Shadows in the Night

One of Bob Dylan's strengths is his ability to reinvent himself, especially in the '90s when he became his own producer under the pseudonym Jack Frost. Now in his seventies, he consistently takes his touring band into the studio every few years, giving his career a new surge of energy. So it's with that goal that he gives us Shadows in the Night, which is built around songs recorded by Frank Sinatra. Jim recognizes that while Dylan and Sinatra are two of the most important voices in the last half-century, they don't go well together. Dylan is great when he sings songs that suit him (folk, country) but it just doesn't work here; he gives it a Trash It. Greg believes that the production of this album and the choices Dylan made saved the record. He said if you care for Bob Dylan at all you should take a listen, giving it a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 480
Because of the TimesBecause of the Times available on iTunes

Kings of Leon Because of the Times

Southern rockers Kings of Leon have a new album out called Because of the Times. The members of the Nashville quartet were just in their teens when they first got signed to a major label, and now they're on to their third album. Jim comes right out of the gate with his opinion. He explains,“I loathe this album with a bile I reserve for very special occasions.”He thought the band was fairly harmless when they were just a hipper take on The Black Crowes. But, after receiving much hype from their label and being brought on large scale tours by Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and U2, they've added an echo-drenched, reverb-laden arena rock sound that even U2's The Edge has moved on from. Because he finds the album retro, sexist and stupid, Jim gives it a Trash It rating. Hearing Jim's review of the record makes Greg like it even more. He describes Kings of Leon as sloppy Southern rock to the core, and really likes their guitar sound. It's retro, but unapologetically so for Greg. He gives Because of the Times a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 72
TempestTempest available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Tempest

Jim and Greg wrap up the show with a review of Bob Dylan's 35th studio album Tempest. After fifty years of recordings, do they even have to introduce the inimitable Robert Zimmerman? Tempest is Bob's first album since 2009's widely panned Christmas in the Heart, and it continues the trend of him producing his own albums. So what do we get on Tempest? Dylan's voice, Greg notes, has always been unconventional, but fifty years has added considerable gravel and dirt to it. Nevertheless, it's the voice, Greg says, the really carries this album. It's perfect for the spur-of-the-moment, rough and rowdy honky-tonk feel Dylan is going for. Greg gives Tempest a Buy It. Jim agrees. Dylan has always been interested in pop culture figures - he's sung about everyone from Rubin“Hurricane”Cater to Joe Gallo - so he wasn't too surprised to hear a Leonardo DiCaprio cameo on Tempest's title track. What can he say? Bob's still got a sense of humor. Tempest gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 356
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 (Bonus Track Version)Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006

Bob Dylan has added another album to his“Bootleg Series”called Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006. Its songs were primarily from the recording sessions for three albums: Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind and Modern Times, but for Jim and Greg it's almost like a brand new Dylan album. Greg explains that these new versions give a fresh perspective that isn't bogged down by Daniel Lanois' original production. Jim was not a huge fan of this Dylan period, but he loves that he can hear the singer/songwriter having fun with the songs. Both critics give Tell Tale Signs a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 151
DylanesqueDylanesque available on iTunes

Bob Dylan & Bryan Ferry Dylanesque

First up is Dylanesque, Bryan Ferry's new collection of Bob Dylan covers. Ferry is one of rock's quintessential cover artists, having brought his own spin to songs like "Jealous Guy" and "Like a Hurricane." In fact, Dylanesque is the former Roxy Music front man's fifth covers album. But, this time around, Jim and Greg don't think that Ferry fares as well. Greg explains that he isn‘t really taking the songs anywhere new, though he appreciates how Ferry has keyed into the strengths of Dylan’s melodies. He gives it a Burn It. Jim was also disappointed in Dylanesque, but thinks that fans of Ferry should definitely Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 79
Christmas In the HeartChristmas in the Heart available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Christmas in the Heart

After thirty-four studio albums over a career spanning decades, Jim and Greg didn't think that Bob Dylan could still surprise them. This week, he did. Dylan has released an album of Christmas classics called Christmas in the Heart. Both Jim and Greg preface their review with praise for the American folk icon. Greg calls him“the most important artist of the past fifty years.”For Jim, Dylan is a“living American treasure.”But, at the risk of sounding like Grinches, both critics agree Christmas in the Heart is abysmal. The arrangements are awful, the delivery bizarre, and nothing sounds like anything you‘d want to play for the family. It’s a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 203
Modern TimesModern Times available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Modern Times

As fall approaches, record companies begin to roll out some of the year's biggest albums in time for the holidays. This week, Jim and Greg review some of the most notable, including the 44th studio release from rock veteran Bob Dylan. Modern Times is actually not a very modern album at all. In fact, Dylan recently dissed all of the music of the past 20 years, including that made by his son. Rather, he opted to record this music in a lo-fi style reminiscent of the music of the '30s and '40s. Jim appreciated Dylan's ever-growing sense of humor and irony, but couldn‘t take some of the tracks’ Bing Crosby/Rudy Vallée style of crooning. He gives it a Burn It. Greg doesn't think that Modern Times is as good as Dylan's previous two releases, possibly because the band seems to be intimidated by their leader, but this effort still merits a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Some People Have Real ProblemsSome People Have Real Problems available on iTunes

Sia Some People Have Real Problems

After releasing albums by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, Starbucks' Hear Music label is finally putting out music by someone under 40. Sia is an Australian singer/songwriter who made a name for herself by appearing on various TV soundtracks and providing vocals to groups like Zero 7. Now she's released her third album Some People Have Real Problems. Greg is very impressed by the artist's soulful singing, but he has major problems with her songwriting. He describes the record as a boring, overproduced, tarted-up pop record with one of the worst covers he's ever seen. He gives the music and the art a Trash It. Jim completely disagrees and can't believe that a Feist fan wouldn't get Sia. He finds her lyrics to be filled with smart social commentary and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 118
Lost On the River (Deluxe Version)Lost on the River available on iTunes

The New Basement Tapes Lost on the River

Who knew that one summer in a basement in upstate New York in 1967 would become such a big deal? But fans of Bob Dylan and The Band are still poring over the material that came out of those musicians‘ one-take, slapdash recording sessions, decades later. It’s amazing considering that those Basement Tapes weren't even supposed to go public. Now, more lyrics from that time have surfaced and have been turned into new music produced by T. Bone Burnett and performed by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons. The result is Lost on the River by The New Basement Tapes. Greg particularly admires the bluesy, pre-rock sound contributed by Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. But, for the most part, he doesn't hear any of the magic of The Basement Tapes. And that's not surprising considering it was a contrived project with the manufactured setting of the basement of Capitol Records in L.A., not rural New York. He can only say Try It. Jim thinks Greg is being kind. He doesn‘t think you can separate Dylan’s lyrics and poetry from Dylan's music and voice. This collaboration is nothing like the successful Wilco/Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie project Mermaid Avenue. He says Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 468
Babel (Deluxe Version)Babel available on iTunes

Mumford & Sons Babel

Mumford & Sons' sophomore album Babel has done gangbusters on the album charts, but how will it fare on Sound Opinions' Buy It, Burn It, Trash It scale? Mumford & Co. emerged from London's thriving folk-rock scene in 2009 with a breakout album Sigh No More that landed them a slot performing with Bob Dylan at the Grammys. With their vests, beards, banjo, and dobro, the band sticks out in the mainstream rock scene, but as Greg explains, the difference is only skin deep. The boys' folky instruments and wardrobe are just signifiers of folk. At its base Mumford & Sons are a sadly conventional arena rock band. Jim could not agree more. The band's lyrics are vague and bland-the complete opposite of the biblical stories that they claim as inspiration. Babel gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 358
Together Through LifeTogether Through Life available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Together Through Life

Another rock icon, Bob Dylan, has a new album out this week called Together Through Life. This is Dylan's 33rd studio release, and for this effort he's enlisted some help including David Hidalgo of Los Lobosand lyrics writing partner Robert Hunter. The release of this record took Jim and Greg by surprise, and to Greg it feels a bit tossed off. The lyrics especially don‘t feel as important as what you’d expect from this legendary wordsmith. Greg calls the album“mid-tier”Dylan and gives it a Try It rating. Jim admits that the lyrics aren't full of gravitas, but to hear the rocker jamming for pure joy at the age of 68 is wonderful, especially with the squeezebox stylings of Hidalgo. He gives Together Through Life a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 180
Sky Blue SkySky Blue Sky available on iTunes

Wilco Sky Blue Sky

After much anticipation, Sky Blue Sky, the new album by Wilco, has finally been released. As always band members Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt are on board, and this time they're also joined by Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline, Mike Jorgensen and Pat Sansone. While their last album, A Ghost Is Born, was fairly experimental, this release is more of a return to form. In fact, Greg describes the record as kind of a“one-trick pony,”but it's a trick he really enjoys. Because the record has been streaming at Wilco's website, many fans have already formed their opinions and are not over the moon about Sky Blue Sky. But the music is so quiet, so intimate that Greg urges listeners to let it sink in more. One might expect musical acrobatics from a guitar wizard like Cline and a master percussionist like Kotche, but their performance is intentionally subtle in order to serve the song. Greg gives Sky Blue Sky and its message of consolation a Buy It. Jim also came to this conclusion, but much later in his listening experience. It took 12 times through for this critic to overcome his expectations of a ferocious, rocking record. But, as he explains, if any artist has earned the right to ask us to listen to something 12 times, it's Jeff Tweedy. Jim notes that this album is representative of a specific time and space for Tweedy and company, one that was very introspective. He wishes that Tweedy had responded more to what's happening in the world around us, and admits that at times, some of the songs can border on tedious. But, because Tweedy is as important an artist as someone like Bob Dylan or Neil Young, Jim thinks it's worth going on any journey the musician invites you on. He also gives the new Wilco a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 76
MomofukuMomofuku available on iTunes

Elvis Costello Momofuku

Elvis Costello has a new album out called Momofuku, which is named after the creator of instant ramen. Costello made news after he decided to release a vinyl record a month before the digital/CD release, but Jim thinks the real news is the speed at which the singer/songwriter made it. Costello has released a number of albums and dabbled in a number of genres, but he isn‘t known for his expediency. Greg wishes that Costello didn’t dabble so much and would stick to his stripped down rock roots. Jim agrees, citing Costello's fantastic, pared down performance during his tour with Bob Dylan. Both critics wish this Ramen concoction had fewer ingredients. Greg gives Momofuku a Try It, and Jim gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 128
A Musical History (Remastered)A Musical History available on iTunes

The Band A Musical History

A Musical History from folk-rock group The Band is one of the most comprehensive sets featured on the show. It contains five CDs with more than one hundred songs, as well as a DVD and a book. Greg suspects that the release of this set is lead singer Robbie Robertson's attempt to set the record straight on The Band's history. The many disputes over songwriting credits have been made quite public by some recent biographies, as well as Martin Scorsese concert film The Last Waltz. This set follows the long chronology of this group from its initial incarnation as The Hawks to their role as touring band for Bob Dylan on the 1966 Electric Tour. It also features tracks from The Basement Tapes, a famous bootleg of songs Dylan and The Band recorded while living in Woodstock, New York. Jim and Greg are both really impressed with how packed this set is, and are careful to point out that although Robertson has painted himself as the“auteur”of the group, The Band had many great vocalists including Richard Manuel and Levon Helm, the group's drummer. Pressed to come up with another singing drummer, Jim can only think of Genesis' Phil Collins.

JimGreg
Go to episode 3
Cassadaga (Remastered)Cassadaga available on iTunes

Bright Eyes Cassadaga

Up next Jim and Greg review Conor Oberst's latest Bright Eyes album, Cassadaga. The Nebraska artist is only 27 years old, but has been making music for almost half his life. His last two Bright Eyes albums, which were released by Saddle Creek Records on the same day, sold a combined 642,000 copies — a major feat for an artist who gets no commercial radio or MTV play and who won't play at Live Nation venues. Jim jokes that many people have branded Oberst "the new Bob Dylan," a terrible cliché in rock criticism. If that's the case, this is Bright Eyes' Basement Tapes album. Oberst's lyrics are entirely too earnest and "emo" for Jim, but he really enjoys the beautiful, well-constructed melodies on Cassadaga. Therefore, he gives the album a Burn It. Greg agrees that Oberst can be a“drama queen”at times, but notes that the singer did bring down the vocal ticks and histrionics a notch on this collection of songs. He seems more at ease on these songs and agrees with Jim's Basement Tapes analogy. But, for Greg, the lyrics have not improved and are as clich'ed and overwrought as ever. He can only give it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 73
Family TreeFive Leaves Left available on iTunes

Nick Drake Five Leaves Left

Finally, comes Family Tree, a compilation album of home recordings by the late British singer/songwriter Nick Drake. The songs were recorded before the release of Drake's first album Five Leaves Left, and Greg thinks there are a lot of gems here. He would not recommend new listeners start out with the album, but thinks that Drake fans will get a lot out of Family Tree. He gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees the album allows you to hear another side of Drake that is less depressed and morose and sample some interesting covers by people like Bert Jansch and Bob Dylan. But, as a major Nick Drake fan, Jim was disappointed and doesn‘t think this release holds up as a proper album that the musician himself would’ve released in his lifetime. He can only give it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 78
dijs

Greg

“One by One”Wilco

One of Dylan's motivations for moving to New York was to meet his hero Woody Guthrie. And decades later, Guthrie continues to inspire musicians. In fact, Greg says one of the best performances of Wilco's entire career is their cover of Guthrie's tune "One by One" from the 1998 album Mermaid Avenue. And that's saying something, since Greg literally wrote the book on Wilco. As a result,“One by One”goes into the Desert Island Jukebox this week.

Go to episode 279

Greg

“This Wheel's On Fire”Dylan and The Band,Bob Dylan

A lot of people, including Jim and Greg, have brought up Bob Dylan's The Basement Tapes when discussing Sky Blue Sky. Dylan and The Band recorded those songs in upstate New York in 1967 after Dylan retreated from music. The musicians gathered in the basement of a house they called“Big Pink”and started jamming, much as the men of Wilco did in their practice space on Chicago's Northwest side. Dylan describes the kind of music they played as something you can sit down to play, but also something that makes you lean forward a little. It's subtle and intimate, but not without a sense of urgency and passion. You can really hear this in the song, "This Wheel's On Fire," making it Greg's Desert Island Jukebox pick for this week.

Go to episode 77

Greg

“Nadine”Chuck Berry

Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize for Literature got Greg thinking about other great rock lyricists and the people who influenced them. Chuck Berry is often thought of for his pioneering work with the guitar but he's also a masterful lyricist. Greg points specifically to the 1964 song Nadine and the vivid imagery that Chuck conveys.

Go to episode 569

Jim

“The Minotaur's Song”The Incredible String Band

It is Jim's turn to drop a song into the Desert Island Jukebox, and he wants listeners to hear some "freak folk" that is truly freaky. He chooses to add "The Minotaur's Song," by The Incredible String Band. This '60s folk act played at Woodstock, but, as Jim explains, was too freaky to be included in the movie. Like Bert Jansch, band members Mike Heron and Robin Williamson fused Scottish and Celtic folk music with Eastern European drones and the newer folk of artists like Bob Dylan. The Incredible String Band also had an incredible lifestyle, which also affected their sound. Jim thinks that freak and folk never meshed so well, and that's why he's bringing it with him to the Desert Island.

Go to episode 51

Greg

“Vietman”Jimmy Cliff

For his DIJ pick, Greg goes with Reggae all-star Jimmy Cliff's anti-war song "Vietman." While Cliff's legacy is sometimes overshadowed by those of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Greg says Cliff was instrumental in popularizing reggae in America. Not only did he star in The Harder They Come and pen that movie's most enduring tracks, he also wrote“Vietnam,”a tune which none other than Bob Dylan called the best protest song ever written.“Vietnam”tells the story of a soldier's death in two letters home. For Greg, it's the song that proved once and for all that Reggae was much more than just a fad and a rhythm. This genre was here to stay.

Go to episode 344

Greg

“I'll Keep it With Mine”Sandy Denny

Greg gets to pop a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox this week, and his choice is Sandy Denny's cover of "I'll Keep it With Mine" by fellow folk rocker Bob Dylan. Greg explains that Denny is best known for her appearance on the Lord of the Rings-inspired Led Zeppelin track "The Battle of Evermore." That's a shame, according to Greg. In addition to her work British folk-pop outfit Fairport Convention, Denny composed and performed many great solo songs, including this week's DIJ.

Go to episode 9

Greg

“Sisters of Mercy”Leonard Cohen

This week Sound Opinions welcomed a new station: WHDD-FM, in Sharon, CT. Hotchkiss School in nearby Lakeville produced John Hammond, one of the most important music industry figures in the 20th century. So Greg decided to take his turn at the DIJ as an opportunity to honor the man who discovered Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, and even Bruce Springsteen. But it was his signing of Leonard Cohen at Columbia Records that Greg wants to highlight. It was brave of Hammond to bring the Canadian poet to the label. His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, never achieved much commercial success, but it served as inspiration for Robert Altman's 1971 film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Greg chooses to add that album's track "Sisters of Mercy" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 129

Greg

“Angel From Montgomery”John Prine

Dylan is not America's only great literary songwriter. John Prine, now 70, has been championed by legendary figures from Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, and Dylan himself. Born in Maywood, Illinois, Prine moved to Chicago as a young man, performing three times a week at an open mic night at a club called The Fifth Peg where he was discovered. Even at that young age, Greg feels his songs featured an astounding amount of empathy. That's best seen in "Angel From Montgomery," written from the perspective of a 47-year-old woman trapped in a marriage. Greg nominates Prine's 1970 live performance at the Fifth Peg, when he was still an unknown, to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 571

Jim

“Raymond Chandler Evening”Robyn Hitchcock

Although Jim is no fan of his new record, Sufjan Stevens got Jim thinking about rock music that has a literary vibe. Taken from his 1986 album Element of Light, "Raymond Chandler Evening" by Robyn Hitchcock is an excellent example of a novel in song form. Not only is the title a reference to the great American crime writer Raymond Chandler, but the general mood of the song also evokes the mysterious atmosphere of noir fiction. Some Hitchcock fans who were expecting more of his trademark surrealism might have been surprised by the lack of humor in the song, but Jim thinks it ranks right alongside the best of Dylan.“Raymond Chandler Evening”is his pick this week for the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 496

Jim

“It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”R.E.M.

In true rock and roll style, Jim makes a cheeky Desert Island Jukebox pick this week. As discussed above, this week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Many people would have gone with a solemn, or even political track — but, as listeners know, Jim is not many people, and he can't resist choosing R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." Jim likens the Dadaist song to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a similar surreal expression of social discontent. The song comes from R.E.M.'s pre-major label era, which Jim believes is their best time period. He also offers bit of insight into one of the song's most famous lines: "Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!" Jim wrote the biography of rock critic Lester Bangs, and learned that this line was written after Michael Stipe and Peter Buck attended Bangs' birthday party. Hungry and poor, the young band members were hoping to get a meal out of the event, but were only offered birthday cake and jelly beans. Then an over-served Bangs insulted his fan Stipe and started a food fight. Make sense now?

Go to episode 40
lists

Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

Go to episode 79

Anti-Love Songs

This year, we're celebrating Valentine's Day as only Sound Opinions can, with some anti-love songs! Greg and Jim share their favorite tracks that convey how much love can really stink sometimes. Then they chat with some listeners to hear what they have to say.

Go to episode 532

Turkey Shoot 2015

It's time for the annual Sound Opinions Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot! Each year, Jim and Greg serve up their biggest musical turkeys of the year with a hefty glob of cranberry sauce. They share the albums that they had high hopes for, but ended up letting them down.

Go to episode 521

Anti-Love Songs

With the ghost of St. Valentine looming over us all, this week's show is dedicated to those music fans for whom "Love Stinks." Jim and Greg discuss their favorite anti-love songs and hear some listeners' picks. Here are some songs to get you out of the mood for Valentine's Day.

Go to episode 11

Turkey Shoot 2009

Every year Jim and Greg celebrate Thanksgiving with the Sound Opinions Turkey Shoot. They take out the year's biggest musical turkeys-albums from normally great artists that fell flat. Hope you're hungry…here are six turkeys for your feast.

Go to episode 209

The Best of 2009… So Far

Lists are just too much fun to do them only once a year. Here are Jim and Greg's mid-year best album lists.

Greg

  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • Amadou & Mariam, Welcome to Mali
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Maxwell, BLACKsummers'night
  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz

Jim

  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You
  • Morrissey, Years of Refusal
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
  • PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman a Man Walked By
  • Moby, Wait for Me
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz
  • Passion Pit, Manners
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Metric, Fantasies
  • K'Naan, Troubadour
  • Cursive, Mama, I'm Swollen
  • Bob Dylan, Together Through Life
  • Leonard Cohen, Live in London
  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Sonic Youth, The Eternal
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon
  • Wilco, Wilco
  • The Handsome Family, Honey Moon
  • Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
  • Peaches, I Feel Cream
  • Screaming Females, Power Move
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst

A message from Jim: The following, LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, is my tally of albums mid-year in 2009 that have all warranted 3.5 stars or more on the Chicago Sun-Times‘ 4-star ratings scale (making them all very enthusiastic“buy its”on the“Sound Opinions”scale). I will mention that these are in no particular order (sorry, but that’s reserved for the year-end list), that this list is not all-inclusive (I will no doubt catch up with quite a few discs released earlier in the year by the time I tally the year-end list) and, also, because this always confuses people, THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. Yet. But they're all really, really, really good albums.

Go to episode 190

The Best Songs of 2008 - Mixtapes

At the end of the year, many music fans take on the challenging task of making a mixtape. And, Jim and Greg are no exception. They've both made compilations of their favorite songs of 2008.

Go to episode 162

Hero Worship

Today's theme is Hero Worship. The genesis of this idea was that we here at Sound Opinions started noticing that a lot of artists have written songs about their own heroes. Think of Bob Dylan's "Song To Woody." It's the kind of love only one rocker could express to another. Though when it comes to name-checking important musical figures, critics like Jim and Greg come a close second. Here are their favorite moments of musical Hero Worship.

Go to episode 307

Hero Worship

Without a doubt, musicians influence one another. Sometimes in subtle ways with a borrowed riff or lyric. Sometimes by overtly name-checking another artist. This week, we look at those obvious examples of Hero Worship - songs written about another musican. Think of Bob Dylan's Song to Woody, or David Bowie's Song For Bob Dylan. Jim and Greg picked some tracks from their musical heroes, that mention other musical heroes.

Go to episode 575
rock doctors

Pat

In the HMO-free universe of the Rock Doctors, everyone is entitled to better musical health. This week's patient is Pat from Chicago, IL. Pat wrote to Sound Opinions H.Q. for advice on how to get better acquainted with hip hop, and we immediately set her up for an appointment with Drs. Kot and DeRogatis. Pat explains that she's generally fairly hip to music, preferring doses of Bob Dylan, Wilco and Galaxie 500. But when it comes to hip hop, she's clueless, and in an effort to expand her musical horizons and have some music in common with her rap-loving nephews, she asks for some guidance.

Greg gives the first prescription. He's not sure if his approach will be too radical, but judging from Pat's tastes, he decides to go out on a limb. He recommends the patient listen to Outkast's fourth album Stankonia. Greg admits to Pat that some moments might be slightly too "gangsta" or misogynistic for her, but he hopes that the first-rate songwriting and bold beats of tracks like "Ms. Jackson" will win her over.

Jim's prescription is 3 Feet High and Rising, the classic hip hop album by De La Soul. Jim thinks Pat will respond well to the creative stories being told by the three geeky hippies from Long Island. He also thinks she will appreciate some of the more recognizable samples, like Hall and Oates' song "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)."

A week later Pat finishes her treatment and reports back to the doctors. She starts off by breaking the bad news to Greg: Stankonia is not for her. She felt there were too many misogynistic moments like the song, "We Luv Deez Hoez," and wouldn‘t feel comfortable sharing this album with her nephews. But, on the brighter side, she really enjoyed the De La Soul album. It’s definitely something she could see herself listening to in the future, and she particularly liked the song, "Eye Know," which samples both Steely Dan and Otis Redding. So, while the treatment wasn't a total success, Pat is on the road to better musical health. And, more importantly, she now has more hip bragging rights with her friends.

Go to episode 90
features

Music of the Beat Generation

If you read On the Road in high school, you know a thing or two about the Beat movement's influence on literature. This week, Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll author Simon Warner wants to get you thinking about the Beat influence on rock. Forget the stereotypical bongos; Warner says Beat fathers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were most inspired by Harlem's avant-garde jazz invention, Bebop. Warner makes the case that the Beats influenced a whole generation of rock lyricists - Bob Dylan and John Lennon among them - to embrace a more surrealist, personal, and politically engaged approach to lyric-writing. Think of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," he says, as Beat poetry with a, well, beat. But while Ginsberg and Kerouac struck a chord with the hippie generation, it was Beat colleague William S. Burroughs who served as guru to the later musical avant-garde. 1970's punks Jim Carroll and Patti Smith, and alternative era stars like Kurt Cobain and Sonic Youth, all made pilgrimages to Burroughs' NYC bunker-apartment to pay their respects to“Old Bull Lee.”Burroughs'“cut up”writing technique may still inspire wordsmiths from Bowie to Thom Yorke, but Jim thinks it's Kerouac whose legacy may ultimately be the most lasting. It's that writer's spirit of adventure, Jim says, that continues to motivate every indie band still "on the road."

Go to episode 398
news

Music News

Adele continues down her path of superstardom by scoring the biggest recording deal in the history of music. After three albums on the British indie label XL, Adele has signed a deal with Sony for around $132 million. She will be on the conglomerate's subsidiary label, Columbia, alongside artists like Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and John Mayer. In the mid '90s and early 2000s, musicians like Prince, R.E.M. and U2 were signing massive recording deals. However in 2016, substantial contracts are much harder to come by due to the large decrease in album sales. Adele seems to be the exception to the rule, which is reflected in her new, record-breaking contract.

Go to episode 548

Music News

A number of artists are making news with novel strategies for promoting their upcoming projects. Taylor Swift, whose newest album 1989 is not out until mid October, has engaged her fans through social media, creating tremendous anticipation for the release. This has been helped by a controversial video for the first single "Shake it Off." Fellow pop princess Ariana Grande has announced a collaboration with with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J and will appear at the MTV Video Music Awards with them. That, along with a relationship wtih Target and a slew of other TV commercials, should push Grande to the top. The reclusive electronic artist Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, has taken the most cryptic approach to announcing an album drop. He let fans know about Syro, his first album in 13 years via blimps! So much for a press release. Finally, Bob Dylan will also be releasing a new album…sort of. A new Basement Tapes album produced by T Bone Burnett features songs partially written by Dylan while recording the original Basement Tapes in 1967. They have been set to new music and will be performed by a handpicked group of musicians including Jim James and Elvis Costello.

Go to episode 456

Music News

North Carolina Congressman Melvin Watt has introduced a bill that promises to shake up the radio world. Known as the "Free Market Royalty Act," it would require broadcasters—online and offline alike—to compensate artists and labels whose music they play. (Under the current rules, only the songwriter and rights holder receive the royalties, and terrestrial radio stations get a free ride.) While artists have come out in support of the bill, The National Association of Broadcasters — the U.S. radio industry's lobbying arm—is making its opposition known, warning that this“performance tax”would burden already-struggling radio stations.

Over on the charts, a string of debuts took top slots. Drake's new album Nothing Was the Same exploded at number one, making it the second best-selling debut week for any artist in 2013 (topped only by Justin Timberlake). And, for the second week running, Miley Cyrus'“Wrecking Ball”is number one on Billboard's Hot 100… but is it really? In February, Billboard began including digital streaming in its tally for the Hot 100. So, Miley has YouTube to thank for her success.

In other weird charts news, the finale of AMC's smash hit Breaking Bad aired last week, and it closed with the forgotten Badfinger track "Baby Blue." Hours after the final credits rolled, 5,000 fans had purchased the 1972 song on iTunes, and its Spotify streams skyrocketed by 9,000%. Greg thought it was a good song choice, but Jim says that he would have preferred Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." (Hey, at least it wasn't as painful as The Sopranos farcical "Don‘t Stop Believin’."

Jim and Greg invite you to "Ask the Critic." This week they answer a question from Kevin, a 15-year-old fan from Chicago. Kevin seeks advice on starting a band. Jim and Greg tell him to play from the heart…never mind those stinkin' critics! Got a question for Jim and Greg? Email interact@soundopinions.org or call 888.859.1800.

Go to episode 410

Music News

Hard to believe, but The Beatles are so old that some of their music is now entering public domain in Europe. While a law is in place to extend copyrights in the E.U. from 50 to 70 years, that won't go into effect until 2014. That means that as of New Year's Eve 2012, early tracks like "Love Me Do" are up for grabs. Early tracks by Bob Dylan, however, have recently been protected. In order to avoid its catalog going into public domain, Sony Music has taken advantage of the law's“use it or lose it”clause. They released a compilation aptly titled, The 50th Anniversary Collection: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol. 1. It's only available in certain European countries though, so American Dylan fans will have to be willing to pay big bucks on eBay.

This is typically the dry season for major album releases, but there have been a lot of buzzworthy singles. Jim and Greg run through some of the big ones. They never thought they'd utter the words "new David Bowie track," but we've got one called "Where Are We Now," with a Tony Visconti-produced album to follow. Then there's JT's new chart-topper "Suit and Tie." A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg made a plea for the gentleman of Outkast to come back together, and now we have both Big Boi and Andre 3000 appearing on a remix of Frank Ocean's "Pink Matter." But, Andre is quick to squash any reunion rumors. Last, but not least, are the ladies of Destiny's Child. There's a new song called "Nuclear" and plans for the three to appear together during the Superbowl Halftime Show. Guess motherhood has made Beyonce nostalgic.

Go to episode 373

Music News

This week MTV launched a new sister — or rather“hermana”— network called MTV Tr3s. The station, pronounced“MTV Tres,”is a bilingual music network aimed at Latino Americans aged 12-34. Considering that the Latino population in the U.S. is estimated to grow 62% by 2020, this is a smart business move. Jim and Greg hope that the opportunity to focus on new, cutting edge Rock en Español acts is not lost. A skim of the programming schedule shows that the MTV Tr3s will not be radically different from the flagship station. In addition to a Latino TRL, which will feature acts like Shakira, Mana and Pitbull, there is a version of "Pimp My Ride" entitled“Pimpeando,”and a version of "My Super Sweet 16" entitled“Quiero Mis Quinces.”Sound Opinions doesn't like to pre-judge, but we suspect that Rock en Español fans might be better off seeking music out on their own. Check out Jim and Greg's interview with Ernesto Lechner for suggestions.

In the latest installment of what Jim and Greg have dubbed the“Pot Calls the Kettle Black”series, Sting recently spoke out against the overly commercial pop music of artists like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake. He says,“Today's music is not designed for me… For me singing is a spiritual journey. I'm devoutly musical.”This statement comes from a man who debuted his single, "Desert Rose," in a Jaguar commercial. Of course, Sting has absolutely NO commercial aims with his next project — a disc full of 16th century music performed on the lute. True music fans can check that out next month. In the meantime, we invite Sting and Bob Dylan and any other cranky old rocker to make an appointment with the Rock Doctors.

After 24 years, legendary rock group The Who are coming back with new material. Remaining members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry will release a new album, Endless Wire, in late October. The two recently launched a tour, along with Ringo's son Zak Starkey on drums and Pino Palledino on bass, and finally, they have new music to perform. Greg caught their Chicago show, and was impressed that after years of trying to recreate what they once were, the band finally understands what they are — a duo. The music focuses on the combination of their vocals, rather than a powerhouse, arena rock sound. Jim thinks that all of Townshend's other projects are a lot more interesting than the new Who material, however. The musician/opera composer is also a publisher and author. Of course, it wasn't any of these things that got Townshend in the headlines in the past few years.

Go to episode 44

Music News

There's no limit to the inspiration Bob Dylan provides in every medium. The latest example? A Brazilian production company has acquired the rights to adapt Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks into an English-language feature film. Whether you subscribe to the theory that the album was inspired by Dylan's marital woes or Anton Chekhov short stories, as Dylan asserts, the producers plan on capturing the“feeling”of the album. Jim and Greg suggest some albums that might make better cinematic adaptations:

  • The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • The River
  • The ArchAndroid
  • Parklife
  • Zen Arcade
  • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  • Funeral

Jim Marshall, the father of loud and the inventor of the Marshall amp died last week at age 88. As Jim explains, nothing beats the power of the Marshall. Its sound was coveted by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana. Only Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel felt the need to improve it.

Go to episode 333

Music News

The biopic film Straight Outta Compton debuted this past weekend to a monster box office earning over $56 million. The movie tells the story of the group N.W.A. and how they created the blue print for west coastand gangster rap in the '80s and early '90s. Jim recently saw the film and thought more about the biopic genre in general. He thought that this was a VH1-type film that largely glossed over many of the important truths of the band's history, including Dr. Dre's misogyny in both his lyrics and his actions. Greg agrees that the story of Dee Barnes, a female journalist covering N.W.A who was physically assaulted by Dre, was excluded from the film. Jim ultimately thinks the biopic doesn't work as journalism or biography, but instead acts as a missed opportunity to tell the whole truth of the story.

Two celebrated '70s producers passed away this week: Bob Johnston, longtime Bob Dylan producer, and Billy Sherrill, creator of the countrypolitan genre and producer of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. As an in-house producer for Columbia Records, Johnston produced some of Dylan's most notable albums, including Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. Johnston also served as the producer for Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison, which only came about after Johnston's persistent efforts. With a similar determination, Sherrill ignited the careers of country artists like Jones and Wynette with hit songs "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Stand By Your Man." However, Greg chooses to honor Sherrill by playing The Staple Singers' "Why Am I Treated So Bad," a track that he produced before entering the country music scene. Sherrill produced songs for early R&B artists when no other producer would, earning him tremendous respect.

Go to episode 508

Music News

Miley Cyrus has gone from Disney star to Flaming Lips devotee. She and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips have released a 23 song long free album called Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz. The album purportedly is a tribute to her dead pets as evidenced in a song like "Pablow the Blowfish." Jim thinks the record is nothing to write home about and is generally a waste of your time. Disagree? Call 888.859.1800.

EMI has stepped into the 21st century by doing something no other record label has done: allowing amnesty for samples. The company says the amnesty was put in place for“the aim of encouraging new sample requests from its broad catalogue as well as ensuring already existing samples are properly licensed.”It'll allow samplers who used EMI samples in the past to declare their samples“without the fear of a royalty back claim.”Too little too late or a big step forward, you decide.

Going Going Gone! We love a good rock auction here on Sound Opinions. Jim covers the auctioning off of rock inflatables by the English company Air Artists which includes inflatable Freddie Mercury and Brian May from Queen's 1986 The Magic tour; two life-size polystyrene and fiberglass casts used to make the inflatable Babylonian woman used on the Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon Tour; and the fiberglass train model used for AC/DC's Runaway Train concert. Also averrable for cold hard cash? A night's stay in the house that Bob Dylan and The Band wrote Music from Big Pink. Asking price per night - $650. Greg covers the auctioning off of the piano used to writeABBA's "Dancing Queen." ABBA cofounder Benny Andersson certified the piano and the asking price is $1.1 million. Finally The Beatles have their first recording contract up for auction. The band served as Tony Sheridan's backing band on the song "My Bonnie" recorded in Hamburg Germany. The asking price on this piece of Fab Four history is $150,000 just a little more than the $80 the band was paid to make the record in the first place.

Go to episode 510

Music News

Jim and Greg have been predicting this shift on Sound Opinions for years, but according to a new study, by 2010 digital sales will have eclipsed physical sales. Right now 65% of music sales are still compact discs, but the trend is going down quickly. Plus most of the CDs are sold at big box stores like Walmart, Targetand Best Buy. Anyone who has shopped at those places recently knows that the selection is not always impressive.

Last week guitar legend Les Paul died at the age of 94. Paul was a guitar innovator, best known for developing multi-track recording. He and his wife Mary Ford had many hits, and Paul influenced the next generation's guitar greats like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Beck, in particular, was very close with Paul. He was not only influenced by Paul's multi-tracking, but also his tone, which Greg explains was singing, sustained and steeped in melody. You can hear the influence in the 1968 track "Beck's Bolero."

Another obituary in the news is that of producer Jim Dickinson. His death hasn‘t gotten as much attention as Paul’s but Jim and Greg were very sad to hear of his passing. Dickinson recorded such artists as Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder. He grew up in Chicago, but was really known as a Memphis producer. Jim and Greg both talked with Dickinson a number of times, and remember him as a great man and a living encyclopedia of music. To remember him they play Big Star's "Thank You Friends," which Dickinson produced in 1975.

Go to episode 195

Music News

Susan Boye Last week Jim and Greg reviewed the new album by The Black Eyed Peas, and this week they were sure it would be a #1 hit. But if there's anyone that can give the Peas a run for their money, it's…Susan Boyle? The Britain's Got Talent winner is the top seller of the week with her new album The Gift, beating out not only The Black Eyed Peas, but Kanye West and Taylor Swift. This news is further evidence that the physical album chart is dominated by people who still buy physical albums, a.k.a.“older folks.”Which leads to the next story…

Billboard has recognized that its standard album chart might not be a fully accurate representation of what's“popular”in music. In today's world, an artist's tweets, followers, fans, friends and hits are just as important indicators as record sales. So with that in mind they've launched the new Social 50. At the top of Social 50 are artists like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem and Nicki Minaj – all performers who sell records. But the chart also has the potential to recognize non-traditional acts like Widespread Panic, Girl Talk and Robyn, who consistently sell out shows, but don't have a big retail presence. Jim and Greg welcome Billboard to the 21st century.

Still shopping for holiday gifts and got a few thousand to spare? Well, you could get your loved one the original lyrics to Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are a-Changin." And by a few thousand we mean $300,000. That's how much the sheet of unruled notebook paper is expected to go for at an upcoming auction. December certainly seems to be the month of rock memorabilia sales. Johnny Cash's jumpsuit, which he wore during his concert at San Quentin and made famous in this image, went for $50,000. Michael Jackson's glove sold for $300,000, and a decades old legal letter featuring John Lennon's original lyrics to "I'm Only Sleeping" is expected to go for over $500,000.

Go to episode 263

Music News

Legendary singer and preacher Solomon Burke died last week at age 70. While Burke didn't have as many hits as some of his Atlantic Records peers, many, including producer Jerry Wexler, considered him to be the greatest soul singer of all time. And, two of his tracks gained exposure through the movies: "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" in the Blues Brothers and "Cry to Me" in Dirty Dancing. But, one of Greg's favorite Burke recordings was actually released in 2002. Don't Give Up on Me featured songs written for him by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and more. So to pay tribute to Solomon Burke, he plays a song from that record featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama called "None of Us Are Free."

Go to episode 255

Music News

This week saw a major turn of events for the music industry. For almost as long as rock has existed, Elvis Presley has been“The King.”He earned this moniker not just for being worshipped by fans, but also for being the reigning leader in record sales. Well, it looks like the king is about to be overthrown…by Garth Brooks. According to the RIAA, the country star is only 2.5 million copies shy of reaching Elvis‘ record of 118.5 million albums sold. Jim notes that some“fuzzy math”is responsible for this achievement (as is often the case when electing new leaders). Brooks’ recent five-CD boxed set, The Limited Series, has been repackaged and remarketed, and while profits have not been huge, each boxed set actually counts for five separate sales. So at that rate, Brooks (and Gaines?) is sure to catch up to our original down-home legend. Greg is concerned that come Armageddon, when we are judged not by our sins, but by our music purchases, we will all face a very dark fate.

Residents of the Sydney suburb Rockdale face no less dark a fate. It was recently announced that for the next six months, the music of Barry Manilow will be blasted throughout the streets in order to curb the bad behavior of the local riff-raff. The city council hopes that this "daggy" music will send the young "hoons," who enjoy cruising the streets and blasting their own "doof" music, back home where they belong. The idea has been tried before down under with the the un-cool croonings of Bing Crosby. But Jim and Greg have their own ideas of musical torture. Jim thinks that the relentless cacophony of Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, would send citizens running. And for Greg, it's simple—he only needs to hear the opening violin riff in "Ants Marching" by the Dave Matthews Band, and he's gone.

Soul singer and keyboardist Billy Preston passed away this week at the age of 59. Preston is best known as "The Fifth Beatle," because of the recording credit he received for performing "Get Back" with the band. But, as Jim and Greg explain, this title overshadowed his other contributions to music. Preston had his own hits with "Will It Go Round in Circles" and "Nothing From Nothing", and he co-wrote Joe Cocker's chart-topper, "You Are So Beautiful." He also recorded with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Sly & the Family Stone, and earned the distinction of being the first musical guest invited to appear on Saturday Night Live. Greg will particularly remember Preston's pioneering use of the synthesizer in songs like "Outa Space."

Go to episode 28

Music News

Bob Dylan On October 13, American icon Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for“having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”This has generated plenty of controversy over whether Dylan's output is worthy, or if a popular songwriter should even be eligible for a literature award. Jim and Greg are ambivalent. They both certainly think that Dylan is a treasure to the world (evidenced by our multipart episode on his career). But they feel his lyrics can‘t be separated from his music – it’s not just what he says, but how he sings it. Dylan, also, seems to not care much, as he still hasn't even responded to any of the Swedish Academy's calls inviting him to the Nobel ceremony.

Go to episode 569

Music News

It seems like just yesterday that the British first invaded rock and roll. But, many early recordings by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who are so old they were about to fall into public domain. However, the European Union just extended that copyright law from 50 years to 70 years, giving record companies another two decades to collect big revenues. It's being called Cliff's Law after pop singer Cliff Richard, but other artists don't think the law will benefit them. Here in the U.S., copyright law allows for artists to reclaim ownership of their work after 35 years. So, many American musicians who made recordings in the 1970s, including Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Don Henley, are able to file claims. But the big four labels are heavily resisting, claiming that performers were mere employees doing“work for hire,”and thus have no rights.

In other news across the pond, U.K. culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has called on search engines, such as Google, to bar links to websites with pirated material. You expect these kind of restrictions in China, but not necessarily in England. Hunt has rejected suggestions that this is“an assault on the ‘freedom’ of the internet,”but for Google that's exactly what it is. They said they already work with copyright owners to remove infringing materials. So it looks like legislation is the next step.

Go to episode 303

Music News

The first item in the news is a discussion of last week's Grammy Awards. For Jim and Greg, the Grammy Awards are always about as newsworthy as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameceremonies. It is their job to cover such things, though, despite the fact that the Awards don't really represent the best music of the year. The Dixie Chicks swept the ceremonies, but Jim and Greg suspect that might have more to do with affirming the Chicks‘ politics than it does their music. The other hype surrounding last Sunday’s broadcast was the much-anticipated Police reunion. The band mates looked as distant as ever, and Greg wonders if they have the stamina to handle a large-scale tour.

Jim and Greg think there might be better gauges of the best music of 2006. The first is the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll which takes into consideration the opinions of hundreds of music critics, including our own Mr. Kot. This is the first year that Robert Christgau has not curated the poll, though he was still a voter. The album that reigned supreme with these critics was Bob Dylan's Modern Times. That record did not even make our hosts' top 10 lists. Pazz and Jop's number one single of 2006 was "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.

Other awards and polls that are worth checking out are the Idolator.com critics poll, aptly named“Jackin‘ Pop,”and the heartonastick.blog-city.com, which posts the cumulative picks of a number of music bloggers. These polls are more timely than the Grammys and are much more inclusive. Jackin’ Pop and Heart On a Stick agreed with Greg and put TV on the Radio in the number one slot.

Go to episode 64

Music News

Live Nation/Ticketmaster's practice of reselling, or scalping, its own tickets on the website TicketsNow drew a lot of negative attention from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the New Jersey Attorney General. The company agreed to stop linking and limit advertising for TicketsNow as part of a 2009 settlement, but now they‘ve quietly begun resuming linking. They are trying to be more transparent, but it looks like the secondary ticket market isn’t going away anytime soon.

In an effort to take matters into its own hands, the jam band String Cheese Incident is taking a novel approach to spare its fans from paying Ticketmaster's loathed service charges. Fans and friends recently brought $20,000 in cash to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and purchased tickets to the String Cheese show. They then brought the almost 400 tickets by hand to the group's headquarters in Colorado where they went on sale again, sans extra fees. Robin Hood would certainly approve.

One of the great all-time bass players, Donald“Duck”Dunn, died this week at age 70. Along with high school friend Steve Cropper, Dunn was part of one of rock's best rhythm sections. As a member of Booker T. and the MGs, he played alongside legendary Stax acts like Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. He later worked with everyone from Bob Dylan to Eddie Floyd. To remember Dunn's trademark concision and swing, Jim and Greg play "Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd.

Go to episode 338

Music News

The digital music era began years ago for most music consumers. But, the labels have been slow to catch up. Now Atlantic Records has announced that over half of its last quarter revenues are from digital sales. But, the bad news is that even though digital songs make up more than half the pie, the pie itself is much smaller than it used to be. In just a few years the music industry's total revenues have dropped from $15 billion to $10 billion. Jim and Greg predict these numbers will continue to dip.

One of the most disappointing selling records this year is proving to be Guns N' Roses new release Chinese Democracy. Fans have been waiting 17 years for the album, but it only reached number 3 on the Billboard chart with 261,000 copies sold. Lackluster album sales aren't the only thing on Axl Rose's mind. Now his thoughts are focused on Dr. Pepper. The soda company promised a free soda to everyone in America provided Guns N‘ Roses actually released an abum. They were prepared to make good on this offer, but their web server was a different story. After their site crashed, Axl and company took it upon themselves to act as consumer advocates and are threatening to sue Dr. Pepper. It appears that Axl has a litigious itch that he just can’t scratch.

Next up in the news Jim and Greg discuss the passing of singer and civil rights activist Odetta. The classically trained vocalist found her voice in the folk music movement of the 1950's. She inspired countless musicians including Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and sang at the historic 1963 March on Washington. To honor Odetta's memory Jim and Greg play "Jack O'Diamonds."

Go to episode 158

Music News

Proving the adage that everyone is a critic, the Vatican has released its first official Top Ten List of albums. The official Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, has endorsed records by Oasis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac. And perhaps for the title alone, they also included Carlos Santana's Supernatural. It made a point of not including Bob Dylan, however, on the grounds that generations of less-talented Dylan acolytes have "harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners with their inferior imitations, thinking that their tortured meanderings might interest somebody."

In other music news, rock producer Ian Burgess passed away last week. As Jim explains, Burgess was one of the architects of the hyper-aggressive, yet melodic, indie rock sounds of the 1980's. He worked with a number of Midwest bands such as Naked Raygun, Pegboy and Big Black. He also served as a mentor to Big Black founder-turned producer Steve Albini. To honor Burgess, Jim and Greg play "I Don't Know" off Naked Raygun's 1985 album Throb Throb.

Go to episode 221

Music News

Last weekend was the famous Eurovision Song Contest, the“World Cup”of music. A fixture in Europe since 1968, past winners include ABBA, Celine Dion and Katrina and the Waves. Eurovision never fails to feature weird music and geopolitical controversy, and this year was no exception. Singer Jamala from Ukraine beat out Australia and Russia for the top prize. Russia was irked by Jamala's song choice, a track called "1944," about Stalin's exile of the Crimean Tatar population – with obvious connections to today's crisis in Ukraine. Better the countries fight via silly pop songs than actual guns, Jim argues.

Get your sunscreen, hats, and wallets out for the first Desert Trip! The new music festival will be held in the same location as Coachella, and with its septuagenarian lineup, it quickly acquired the nickname "Oldchella." Desert Trip will feature six major acts from the 1960s rock scene: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. Ticket sales have already exceeded a record $150 million – thanks to ticket prices reaching into the thousands. That's not to mention the $6,500 resort packages. Jim thinks that for that price, they ought to air condition the desert.

Go to episode 547

Music News

Digitally-savvy Deadheads rejoice! Jerry Garcia's official website is getting an impressive makeover which includes a massive archive of 15,000 hours worth of Grateful Dead material to listen to for free, some of them fan recordings. Jim notes that these bootlegs have been circulating around for a long time, usually traded in person. But now with this update, fans can swap in a virtual“Parking Lot.”The website is so comprehensive that Jim and Greg think the only offerings missing are grilled cheese sandwiches and mind-altering substances.

Tweens across the country are raising their tiny fists to self-empowerment anthem "Let It Go" from Disney's latest animated feature, Frozen. The single, sung by Demi Lovato, is flying up the Billboard charts with over a half million downloads sold. But, only six radio stations nationwide have reported playing the song on-air. Jim and Greg say this isn't the first time an album or single has made it big without the help of radio. Just look at Beyonce's latest release or the Les Misérables soundtrack. Both hosts take this as just another sign of the FM dial is loosing its hit making-or-breaking influence.

Ella Fitzgerald is known for her perfect pitch, something long thought to be a skill developed early in life by only a lucky few. But Professor Takao Hensch of Harvard University says that he's got a pill that makes it possible for anyone to gain that skill, regardless of age. The pill is normally used to treat epilepsy by temporarily retiring the brain to a juvenile-like state, which just happens to be the perfect time to learn all kinds of things. Jim and Greg smile at the idea of auto-tune going by the wayside. But, is taking a pill for perfect pitch like taking steroids in sports? Also, if every artist had perfect pitch, the world may never know another Bob Dylan or Lauren Hill whose voices brim with personality. Perfection is overrated, says Jim.

Go to episode 426