Results for Louis Armstrong

interviews

Dean and Scott Blackwood

One of the most curious stories in the history of American music is documented in a box set called The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1927, Volume 1. The set includes 800 songs, 2 books, 6 vinyl LPs, 200 original hand drawn ads of the period, all housed in an oak case modeled after phonograph cases of the 1920's. This collection is produced by Jack White's Third Man Records & John Fahey's Revenant Records, and brothers Scott and Dean Blackwood joined us to talk about the set which documents how a Wisconsin chair company, producing records on the cheap and run by men with little knowledge of the music business, built one of the greatest musical rosters ever assembled under one roof. Paramount had an amazing roster of performers including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Son House, & Ma Rainey.

Go to episode 422

The Flaming Lips

This week's guests are two of the members of Oklahoma's Flaming Lips, co-founder Wayne Coyne and long-time member, multi instrumentalist and co-songwriter Steve Drozd. Wayne chimes in that their two other current band members, Michael Ivins and touring drummer Clifford, couldn‘t make it to the interview. Ivins was too preoccupied erecting the UFO for that night’s live gig in Chicago. Greg points out that Wayne at one time admitted he was part of a band that couldn‘t play, had a singer that couldn’t sing, and heralded from an unknown town. Yet, here they are 25 years later, still going strong. As someone who wrote a book about The Flaming Lips. Jim continues to be astounded by the extensiveness of their career. He feels it parallels the career of Pink Floyd who had at least four different incarnations over 30 or 40 years. The Lips' first era was their '80s psychedelic era with it's key album In a Priest Driven Ambulance from 1990. On this album, former Lips drummer Jonathan Donahue replaced Nathan Roberts and the band collaborated for the first time with producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann, who would go on produce many other Lips‘ albums, brought a higher level of musicality and production to the Lips’ sound. In a Priest Driven Ambulance was also the album that introduced Steve Drozd to the Flaming Lips (he did not join the band until almost a decade into the band's career). Drozd loved the album's“loud psychedelic rock guitar”with "hokum balladry". Greg also adds that the record contained a non-ironic cover of Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" amidst the cynical and cooler-than-thou indie rock community.

Even though the band started in 1983, it wasn't until 1992 that The Flaming Lips signed to a major label. The first album for Warner Brothers Records was Hit to Death in the Future Head. Wayne and the band saw this as an opportunity to make a record that's worth the“billion dollars”major labels can spend on albums. Greg feels that their new ambition really exceeded the ambition they had with their previous work. He feels it's clearly evident in 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. To Jim this album marks the moment when Wayne's songwriting started to rise from the background and move towards the caliber of the Lips' sonic density. Transmission from the Satellite Heart's, "She Don't Use Jelly" is such an example. Even though the song became their breakthrough“wiggy, novelty hit.”it was a "beautiful bubble gum song with a poignant lyric" wrapped inside an amazing musical production. Wayne and the band knew almost from the beginning that the song could be a hit. The song's hook was created from the lyrics which Wayne got from equating smearing chapstick on your lips to buttering your toast. Wayne's story dispels the rock critic myth that these lyrics were a code for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Greg brings everyone back to the dense sound of Transmissions From the Satellite Heart. He wonders how Steven came upon the idea layering the heavy“Bonham-esque”drums underneath pop songs. Steven admits that the sound was inspired by Larry Mullen's drums on U2's War.

Greg wonders if the band's next transformation happened after guitarist Ronald Jones left the band in 1996. Wayne agrees that Ronald's leaving changed the band. Although, Steve adds that he himself was burnt out and heavily into drugs at the time. At this point the Lips re-tooled into the era of their parking lot experiments, boom box experiments and the 1997 release of the four-CD album Zaireeka — an album designed for the listener play all four CD's simultaneously on four different sound systems in the same room. Each project was an orchestration of random sounds, a symphony of noise. Wayne wanted to try something new and take a chance.

After the band went through their two year sonic experiment they released the album The Soft Bulletin in 1999, which Jim considers a pop masterpiece. Wayne thinks the signature song from that album is "Race For the Prize". The song is in reference to two scientists fighting to cure a disease. Also on the album is "Waitin' for a Superman," inspired by Wayne and his brother jogging around the lake to deal with their father's bout with cancer. These two songs are full of meaningful and heartstung lyrics. Jim pipes in that that Wayne wouldn‘t have been able to write lyrics like this earlier in the Lip’s career. Wayne chalks it up to the experience of life changing you, which changed him and the band for the better.

2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is a continuation of the band's lyrical progression, especially with its song "Do You Realize??" Another key song is "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1." (You can hear their live performance here.)

The critical response to these last two albums was, as Jim puts it,“nothing short of ecstatic.”The latest album, 2006's At War With the Mystics hasn‘t seen the same response (including from our own Greg Kot.) Steve and Wayne kind of expected it. They’re just as happy to win a Grammy for a song titled, "The Wizard Turns On…The Giant Silver Flashlight And Puts On His Werewolf Moccasins."

Go to episode 94
specials

Desert Island Jukebox

All year long, Jim and Greg take turns dropping coins in the Desert Island Jukebox, talking about songs and albums they‘d need with them if stranded on an island. But now, at the year’s end, they're gonna take a break and let some of their favorite past guests do the heavy lifting. Hear what music they can't live without:

  • Lindsey Buckingham: The Beatles, Revolver
  • Trombone Shorty: Louis Armstrong, "On the Sunny Side of the Street"
  • Fred Armisen: Stereolab, "Cybele's Reverie"
  • Trey Parker: Elton John, "Indian Sunset" and Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • Matt Stone: James Brown, "There Was a Time"
  • Peter Hook: Nico, "Chelsea Girl"
  • Kelis: Rhye, "Open"
  • Robert Plant: Low, The Great Destroyer
  • Kerry King of Slayer: Ozzy Ozbourne, Blizzard of Oz
  • Dave Lombardo of Slayer: Amy Winehouse, Back to Black

Plus, check out our 2009 Desert Island Jukebox Special.

Go to episode 474
lists

Desert Island Jukebox

All year long Jim and Greg hog the Desert Island Jukebox and play you songs they can't live without. In this episode, they flip the script and hand over the jukebox quarters to some of their musical guests. Slayer, LCD Soundsystem, Wild Flag and more took on the age-old rock question "What record would you take with you if stranded on a desert island?":

  • Troy“Trombone Shorty”Andrews - Louis Armstrong, "On the Sunny Side of the Street"
  • Alexei Perry of Handsome Furs - Doctor Alimantado, Best Dressed Chicken in Town
  • Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs - Sonic Youth, Sister
  • Sam Beam of Iron and Wine - Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson
  • Naomi Yang and Damon Krukowski of Damon & Naomi - Fairport Convention, Liege and Lief
  • Lily Allen - Squeeze, "Up the Junction"
  • Kerry King of Slayer - Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz
  • Dave Lombardo of Slayer - Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
  • Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag - Bill Withers, Just As I Am
  • Janet Weiss of Wild Flag - The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
  • James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem - Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure
Go to episode 317
news

Music News

What's an ousted prime minister to do with all his free time? Release an album of course. Former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi co-wrote all 11 tracks on the new album of love songs by Mariano Apicella. True Love sounds a little more Spanish than Italian to Jim, but he's mostly amused that a twice-married man who has had his fair share of sex scandals would try his hand at love ballads. In other musical-political crossovers, Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour is giving up his current career to run for office. The man Rolling Stone once named the most famous living African singer hasn‘t announced which office, but many are speculating that he’ll go for the highest one, President.

In other news, Elvis Costello is taking a unique marketing tact in promoting his new album The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook. He says,“Don‘t buy it.”At $200, Costello thinks the box set is overpriced, and he’d instead recommend you invest your money in something more worthwhile-a Louis Armstrong box set priced at less than $150.

Go to episode 314