Results for rock and roll

interviews

Josh Homme

While only just 40, Josh Homme is already a rock ‘n’ roll veteran with a ton of projects under his belt. The most famous of those is Queens of the Stone Age, the Palm Desert band who is touring behind its most recent release, Like Clockwork. But before Queens, there was the pioneering stoner rock band Kyuss. That band broke up in 1995, and Josh quit music altogether. But, it was The Screaming Trees and his stint as“youth pastor,”that brought him back to his fans. One of those fans is none other than Dave Grohl. And, while celebrating Grohl's 40th birthday at, where else, Medieval Times, he linked up with John Paul Jones. The trio formed Them Crooked Vultures over a turkey leg, and thus was born one of the greatest rock creation myths ever.

Go to episode 403

Rob Reiner on This Is Spinal Tap

Up there with The Ramones in the“Rock Canon”is this band: Spinal Tap. Fans first met the heave metal trio in 1984 upon the release of Rob Reiner's mock rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. Now, those aging headbangers are even older—30 years older to be exact. But, This is Spinal Tap remains, without a doubt, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll film, ever. This is because, fictional or not, it's the truest. From the arenas to the airplane hangars, all of the clichéd moments of excess and gladhanding, of sexism and machismo and utter stupidity…they all ring very true! There are real“Black”albums and real drummer tragedies. And this authenticity was thanks to its music-loving stars and writers, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, and their fair leader and fellow writer Rob Reiner. The man many of us came to know as“Meathead”in All in the Family plays the fake director Marty DeBergi in the movie. But in real life, he's directed classics like Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men. His latest, And So It Goes, stars Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas and is out July 25th. But Rob was kind enough to indulge all of Jim and Greg's burning Spinal Tap questions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyck_yynhF4&list=UU6GwezQ7oE0-FdVOMwgzFnA

Go to episode 451

Julie Klausner

Julie Klausner Our guest this week is writer, comedian and actress Julie Klausner. Julie is the creator and star of Hulu's snarky comedy Difficult People. Klausner hails from New York City and grew up listening to heavy doses of both rock and roll and musical theatre. She also attended NYU where she was a first person observer of the exploding early 2000s rock scene which featured bands like The Strokes and TV on the Radio, and she later wrote a book about her experiences with people in the music industry. Julie has gone on to create and star in Difficult People, a comedy about two best friends pursuing careers in the entertainment industry in NYC with varying degrees of success. Julie talks with Jim and Greg about how she uses music in her show, her surprising love of Jethro Tull and tries to convince Jim that musicals are not always Trash Its.

Go to episode 621

Low Cut Connie

Philadelphia rock ‘n’ rollers Low Cut Connie was founded in 2010 by lead singer and pianist Adam Weiner and drummer and guitarist Dan Finnemore. They later added musicians James Everhart, Will Donnelly and Larry Scotton to round out their 1950s-influenced, signature sound. A key element of their music is the use of a piano to pound out some raunchy, rock tunes and make people get up and dance. They've released three albums so far: Get Out the Lotion, Call Me Sylvia and Hi Honey. Even President Obama is a fan, he put the group's song "Boozophilia" on his summertime Spotify playlist alongside artists like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. The band visited our studio a few weeks ago where Greg and Jim asked them about how they first formed, their career ups-and-downs and singer Adam Weiner's experience with the TV show The Voice.

Go to episode 519

Nick Mason

Pink Floyd In the annals of rock ‘n’ roll there are few bands cited for both their critical acclaim and commerical sales. One is Pink Floyd. Its drummer, Nick Mason, joins Jim and Greg to talk about the U.K. band's history and recent decision to reunite to release what many believe will be its final album, The Endless River. Mason is the only member of the band to survive all of its squabbles and play on each studio album. He explains how The Endless River is a tribute to the Pink Floyd's iconic keyboardist Rick Wright. He also recalls the early dynamics between David Gilmour and Roger Waters and how he feels about the band's legacy with its 15th (and final?) release.

Love Pink Floyd? Check out this dissection of The Wall

Go to episode 483

Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew

halblainealbum Hal Blaine may not be a household name, but if rock ‘n’ roll is all about the beat, then the 86-year-old drummer is arguably one of the biggest rock stars alive. It's his stamp you hear on some of the biggest records of the 1960's and early '70s. He recorded with Elvis, The Mamas and the Papas, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Jan and Dean and even Barbra Streisand. That's 38 chart-toppers to be exact, and over 5,000 songs. So if we're comparing successful outputs, that really makes his only rival The Beatles!

Of course the idea of a session musician is something we're familiar with today, but many listeners can probably still remember their own revelation that their favorite acts might not have played their own songs. You expect that of The Monkees, but The Beach Boys? The Byrds? Many of their songs were actually recorded by Hal Blaine and The Wrecking Crew – a loose organization of California studio players whose members included Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer and more. There was an unspoken pact to keep their hit-making machine a secret, but as time has gone on, they've gotten their due. Hal Blaine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and last month saw the release of The Wrecking Crew, a new documentary directed by Denny Tedesco, son of crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco.

Go to episode 488

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

She & Him

This week's guests are She & Him, the“she”being Zooey Deschanel and the“him”being Matt Ward, known to fans as M. Ward. The two met during the making of the movie“The Go-Getter”and quickly learned they were successful collaborators. She & Him's first album Volume One, is a collection of songs written by Zooey, as well as a couple of covers. Zooey explains that she's most influenced by classic pop songwriting, much of which pre-dates rock and roll. You can hear the country, doo-wop and Brill-building influence on the duo's music as they perform their songs "Take It Back" and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" as well as two bonus tracks.

Zooey and Matt's visit to the show prompted Jim and Greg to think about other Hollywood crossover attempts — both hits and misses. Here are some other musical actors:

  • Eddie Murphy
  • Ricky Nelson
  • Brandon Cruz
  • Will Oldham
  • Scarlett Johansen
  • William Shatner

And many more…

Go to episode 142

Anthony Bourdain

Many people know Anthony Bourdain from his many books, his TV show "No Reservations," and his successful restaurant Les Halles. But, you may not know that he's a die-hard rock and roll fan. In 2007 Bourdain chronicled his punk past in the Spin essay“Eat to the Beat,”and when he was in town on a book tour, Jim and Greg invited him into the studio to talk turkey (and rock).

Anthony, or Tony as he likes to be called, explained to Jim and Greg that there are a lot of connections between members of the food world and the music world, the first of which is simply the hours. Both subcultures are nocturnal pleasure-seekers who often frequent the same greasy spoons and the same dive bars. But on a more cerebral level, music geeks and foodies are both obsessed, both opinionated, and both hate Billy Joel. Tony explains that when he's serving up grub to guests he prefers the tunes of Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, and even Connie Francis.

During this episode we also hear from other music-loving chefs from around the country including:

  • Wesley Genovart of Degustation in New York
  • Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's in Chicago
  • Brenda Langton of Spoon River and Café Brenda in Minneapolis
  • Craig Serbousek of Crow and Bette in Seattle
  • Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues in Chicago
Go to episode 187

Peter Guralnick on Sam Phillips & Sun Studios

Samphillipsbook Peter Guralnick has written extensively about American music for decades including a two-part biography on Elvis Presley, the biography Searching for Robert Johnson and an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music. Now he's back with a comprehensive look at Sam Phillips called The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll: How One Man Discoverd Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and How His Tiny Label Sun Records of Memphis, Revolutionized the World. If Sam Phillips, Sun Studios or Sun Records are new names to you, Peter wants to take you back to 1950s and 60s for what many historians call the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Sun was home to black and white artists of the era who were merging genres like country, gospel, and R&B in ways unthinkable at the time. And that kind of freedom of spirit and enthusiasm, in addition to the idea that everybody has a song to sing, were the tenants of the Sun sound, even more than sonic hallmarks like "slapback echo."

Go to episode 523

Glyn Johns

soundman One day in February 1969, engineer and producer Glyn Johns disembarked a flight from Los Angeles to London. He went straight to a studio to work with the Beatles on what would eventually become Let It Be. That was followed by an all-night session with the Rolling Stones for Let It Bleed. And after that, he rejoined the Beatles and jutted on over to Royal Albert Hall to record Jimi Hendrix live. Just“a day in the life,”eh? Those legendary recordings are just beginning of Johns tremendous list of credits which includes Led Zeppelin, the Faces, the Kinks, The Who, the Eagles and more recently Band of Horses and Ryan Adams. He relays this life spent recording in a new book called Sound Man. And he is as candid in his conversation with Jim and Greg, as he is in print. The aforementioned Let It Be? Johns remarks that Phil Spector“puked”all over it. Of Eric Clapton, Johns admits he initially refused to bring him into a session with Pete Townshend due to his drug-addled personality. And he talks about parting ways with the Eagles after they wanted to go in a more rock ‘n’ roll direction—something Johns says the band wouldn't know if they fell over it.

For more behind-the-booth conversations, check out Jim and Greg's interviews in the Footnotes section with Stephen Street, Butch Vig, Bob Ezrin, Tony Visconti, Mark Howard, Giorgio Moroder, Joe Boyd and of course, Brian Eno.

Go to episode 528

She & Him

This week's guests are She & Him. The“she”is actress Zooey Deschanel and the“him”is musician Matt Ward, known to fans as M. Ward. The two met during the making of the movie“The Go-Getter,”and quickly learned they were successful collaborators. They visited the show in 2008 after the release of their first album Volume One. The record is a collection of songs written by Zooey, as well as a couple of covers. Zooey explains that she's most influenced by classic pop songwriting, much of which pre-dates rock ‘n’ roll. You can hear the country, doo-wop and Brill Building influence on the duo's music as they perform their songs "Take It Back" and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" as well as two bonus tracks.

Go to episode 196

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

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

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead celebrated its 50th anniversary in July with a series of farewell shows at Soldier Field in Chicago. We're using that as an opportunity to reexamine the legacy of the controversial band. The Dead formed in the Bay Area in the 1960s and featured a core membership of guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, keyboardist Ron“Pigpen”McKernan, bassist Phil Lesh, drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, with important contributions from lyricist Robert Hunter. Though it was the prototypical "jam band," The Dead's sound was much more eclectic and harder to pin down than that sometimes derisive term indicates, incorporating free jazz, psychedelia, bluegrass, blues, early rock ‘n’ roll, and more.

The Dead built a community of devoted fans who would travel with the band from town to town, some of whom would tape the performances and share the recordings, which the band encouraged. Though Deadheads contend the true essence of the band was experienced in its experimental live shows, Jim has little patience for the erratic performances and instead prefers the band's early studio recordings. Greg argues that The Dead was a consistently great live band during its peak in the '70s, before drugs took their toll and the surprise 1987 chart hit "Touch of Grey" altered the fanbase. Garcia, who died in 1995, was an irreplaceable musical genius, and the band leaves behind a legacy of experimentation, eclecticism, and an unparalleled musical community.

Go to episode 505

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

1967

Recently Jim and Greg began an exploration of one of the great watershed years in Rock and Roll: 1967. First up was the birth of the album as art. Now, they look at the growth of the live music business and the industry, for better or worse, growing up. There's no better example of this maturation than the Monterey International Pop Festival. For 3 days in June, thousands of music fans descended on Monterey, California to see The Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane, The Who and the spectacular debuts of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. They worked for free, with ticket proceeds going to charity, but the capitalist machine was not far behind. As Jim and Greg discuss with writer Harvey Kubernick, managers, promoters and label executives took notice of the festival's popularity and media attention, leading to new signings and savvy marketing plans. In terms of sound, the Monterey performers encapsulated the diversity of the psychedelic era. Rock, funk, jazz, country-it was all up for grabs. And artists like Otis Redding introduced a southern sound to white audiences, paving the way for landmark recordings like Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.

Go to episode 325

Remembering Chuck Berry

Born in St. Louis in 1926, Chuck Berry began his professional music career fairly late in life. In fact, his breakthrough hit, 1955's "Maybellene" was recorded when Berry was 28 years old.

Jim says that Berry helped craft the very identity of rock and roll, often name checking the burgeoning genre in his lyrics. Berry's songwriting on tracks like "School Day" and "Roll Over Beethoven" deftly expressed the angst and rebelliousness of youth culture; and his guitar-led sound influenced rock outfits for generations to come. According to Jim, the Berry attitude:“sly, sarcastic, risque… conspiratiorial”is an element of his persona that has served as a template for rockers, as well. Greg notes that in addition to teen anthems, Chuck Berry's catalogue also contains sophisticated lyrics, like those found in 1959's "Memphis, Tennessee", a song about a father estranged from his 6 year old daughter, Marie.

To learn more about Chuck Berry's life and legacy, Greg and Jim spoke with Ed Ward, a writer and author of The History of Rock & Roll Volume 1: 1920 - 1963. Ed also wrote the seminal rock criticism book "Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll." The hosts also sat down with drummer Steven Gillis. Steven played with Chuck Berry at a 2011 Chicago concert that made headlines when the then-84 year old rock legend had to be rushed to the hospital mid-show. Steven shares his memories of sharing the stage with Berry that night.

Go to episode 591

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
classic album dissections
Rocket to Russia

The Ramones & the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen

Jim and Greg have mastered the art of the album dissection. This week they try their hand at Rocket to Russia by The Ramones. This was the punk originators' third album, released in April of 1977. Jim and Greg picked this album because of how revolutionary it was at the time. This was the era of Yes, James Taylor and KC and the Sunshine Band. Now that radio playlists are full of songs by bands like Fall Out Boy and Green Day, it's easy to forget a time before punk music. But, until four high schoolers from Forest Hills, NY merged their love of Brill-Building pop and British invasion rock with a big dose of speed and attitude, the sound as we know it didn't exist.

Joey Ramone, born Jeffrey Hyman, sang vocals, Johnny Ramone, born John Cummings, played guitar, Dee Dee Ramone, born Douglas Colvin, played bass and Tommy Ramone, born Tom Erdelyi, played drums. The four began to record Rocket to Russia after recently releasing two other albums and touring the US and Europe. Today, Tommy Ramone is the only living member of that original group. Tommy co-produced Rocket to Russia and wrote many of the songs, and Jim and Greg invited him on to talk about making the album.

It was a treat to get a first-hand account of recording Rocket to Russia from Tommy Ramone. He revealed a number of interesting facts, some of which surprised even our hosts. Here are some of the noteworthy points:

  • Johnny is known for being a speed demon. Tommy credits this with his desire to be a baseball player and his love of the fastball.
  • Joey is the band's original drummer, and Tommy acted as their manager. Tommy took over on drums in order to keep up with Johnny's pace. He had never played drums before, and sometimes outpaced the studio's click track.
  • Seymour Stein was the label executive behind the band. Despite the fact that their sound wasn't popular, he believed in The Ramones enough to boost their recording budget up to a whopping $25,000.
  • The Ramones heard God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols during the recording of this album. Despite not having nearly the same amount of money to work with, Tommy explains that there was definitely a sense of competition. The feeling wa — they ripped us off, and now we want to sound better.
  • The Ramones were famous for being anti-guitar solo. But, there is one on the track "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow." Tommy reveals that this was actually him playing guitar, and assures Jim and Greg that Johnny wasn't miffed by the choice. Tommy was inspired by the guitar solo in "Tell Me" by the Rolling Stones.
  • A number of the songs on Rocket to Russia begin with Dee Dee counting off. The band encouraged their bassist to do this, despite the fact that those counts had nothing to do with the actual speed of the song.
  • Tommy struggles to name his favorite tune on the album, but includes "Rockaway Beach" as one of the best. Jim and Greg agree that the sunny, pop track is a great one, made even better by the fact that the actual Rockaway Beach was not a very sunny place. Juxtapose the sound of the song with the idea of trash in the sand and a syringe in your foot.

Jim and Greg also struggle to pick just one song to highlight from Rocket to Russia. Each one is great, and only clocks out at around two minutes. But, Greg was inspired by something Tommy said during their interview. He explained that the Ramones were ahead of their time, and were perhaps too dark and too subversive for mainstream culture. The song that best exemplifies this is "We're a Happy Family." While Happy Days showed one kind of family life, The Ramones wanted to show another, more realistic one. The Ramones were fans of Todd Browning's film Freaks, and celebrated the idea of being different and freaky in this song.

Jim's song choice also celebrates that freak spirit. "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," only has a few words, but it's a definitely an anthem. The term punk previously had a negative connotation. In this song, the Ramones reclaim the word and give a big finger to anyone who judges them (or Sheena). Musically, the song is also quintessentially rock and roll, quintessentially American, quintessentially Ramones. Jim explains that if he had to choose one track to shoot into outer space and represent what rock music is, he'd choose "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker."

Go to episode 64
At Folsom Prison (Live)Live at Folsom Prison available on iTunes

Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison

Live at Folsom Prison has been regarded as one of the greatest live recordings in rock and roll history and marks a point of redemption in Johnny Cash's long career. As Greg explains, he was considered by many to be a has-been. But, in 1968 Columbia producer Bob Johnston took Cash up on his long-time idea of recording at a prison. The singer had previously played shows in prisons, but had not recorded. It's a fitting location for the“man in black,”since he had flirted with trouble and had spent some time in jail. He also went through a divorce, developed a drug problem, and seemed to be all but finished in the music industry. But one of Folsom's guest vocalists, June Carter-Cash, played a huge role in helping Johnny Cash get his life back on track. Cash won the Album of the Year at the 2nd annual Country Music Awards for Folsom Prison, and it helped make him a huge star again.

The location of the recording was a key factor to the album's success. Folsom Prison was not a friendly place. As Jim describes, it was an ugly, smelly, scary“dungeon”where law-abiding citizens would not feel very comfortable. But Cash wanted to record an album there because he showed empathy toward the prisoners, and the performer's cool demeanor brought out an energy and excitement in the audience that hadn‘t been heard in live recordings before. In addition to June Carter, Cash’s band at Folsom consisted of the Tennessee Three, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers.

Jim and Greg pick out the key songs on At Folsom Prison to wrap up the dissection. Greg goes with "25 Minutes to Go". It was written by Shel Silverstein from the perspective of a convict on Death Row who is counting down the minutes of his life. You can hear the crowd's enthusiastic response throughout the song.

Jim discusses "Greystone Chapel", the last song on the album. It was written by Glen Sherley, a former inmate at Folsom. The Reverend Gresset introduced Cash to the song the night prior to the performance, and it moved Cash so much so that he decided to make it his closing song.

Throughout Johnny Cash's entire career, he walked a line between sinfulness and redeeming grace. At Folsom Prison highlights Cash's artistic intentions, not to preach at the prisoners of Folsom, but to relate to their situations. He was singing as one of them, a sinner, who would rather hang out with prisoners than "some of the 'saints‘ he’d met."

Forty years later the album is still inspiring artists such as Reverend Horton Heat, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, and Uncle Tupelo.

Go to episode 141
At Folsom Prison (Live)At Folsom Prison available on iTunes

Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison turns 45 this month, and Jim and Greg celebrate its birthday by revisiting their Classic Album Dissection. Considered one of the greatest live recordings in rock ‘n’ roll history, At Folsom Prison marks a turning point in Johnny Cash's long career. As Greg explains, by the late sixties Cash was considered a has-been. He'd been through a divorce, developed a drug problem, and was releasing albums of questionable taste. But in 1968, Columbia producer Bob Johnston took the "Man in Black" up on his long-time idea of recording at a prison. It's a fitting location, Jim notes, for an artist who'd spent time in the slammer himself. At Folsom Prison captures Cash's moment of redemption. Backed by Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three and joined onstage by June Carter, Cash sang about the prison experience in songs like "Folsom Prison Blues," "Dark as a Dungeon," and "Greystone Chapel." At Folsom Prison swept the Country Music Awards that year, cementing Cash's comeback.

Go to episode 392
reviews
OlympiaOlympia available on iTunes

Bryan Ferry Olympia

There are few figures in rock as cool as Bryan Ferry. This remains the case even 30 years after the break-up of Roxy Music. Now Ferry is back with a new solo album, Olympia, which is comprised of mostly original material - a rarity for a singer who takes such command of covers. Greg explains that it would be no overstatement to say that Roxy Music changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll. But there hasn‘t been a lot of changing of Ferry’s sound since then. Jim agrees. He's still combining sly humor, sex appeal and lounge singer style. But this consistency is still great, and Olympia gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 258
ChuckChuck available on iTunes

Chuck Berry Chuck

When Chuck Berry, one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll, died in March, he had completed work on what would be his final album. Chuck, his first record since 1979, has finally been released. Jim warns that critics need to evaluate posthumous albums on their own terms when they come from beloved artists. In the case of Chuck, Jim says, the record features some of the worst songs in Berry's history – from the Caribbean pastiche of "Jamaica Moon" to the talking blues of "Dutchman" and "Eyes of Man." Berry's lyrics, voice, and guitar playing are not what they were in his prime. Greg is charmed that Berry is including family members and talking about his family for the first time on record. He's also intrigued by the insight into Berry's odd personality that comes though. But he agrees that it's not much of a musical accomplishment. Chuck, sadly, gets a double-Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 603
lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roarlullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar available on iTunes

Robert Plant lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar

For over half a century, Robert Plant has been making music and pushing the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll. But despite being known as the Golden God of Led Zeppelin, most of those years were actually spent doing solo work and special projects, many of which incorporate wide range of American and international folk sounds, from Appalachia to the Middle East. Now he's back with his backing band the Sensational Space Shifters with the release lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar. Again you can hear West African poly—rhythms, Southern blues tones, and country music influences, proving that, as Jim put it,“Plant does whatever he wants.”Despite his respect for Plant's never-ending pursuit of the new, Jim wonders how much of this adoration should be credited to the 17-year-old Zep fan version of himself. So he says Try It. Greg, on the other hand, truly enjoyed the contemplative and quiet side of the“more tender Plant”displayed on this record and gladly prescribes a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 457
Broken Boy SoldiersBroken Boy Soldiers available on iTunes

The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers

The next album up for review is Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs. The Raconteurs is a side-project for Jack White of The White Stripes. He is joined by power popster (and fellow Michigan native) Brendan Benson as well as members of garage band The Greenhornes. This marks a bit of a departure for White, who favors a much more minimalist approach with the White Stripes, and Greg is not entirely impressed. He feels that too much of the record is merely a classic rock imitation. Greg suspects that White ceded too much power to Brendan Benson, and wishes that he made more innovative musical choices, as he did on the album he produced for country star Loretta Lynn. Broken Boy Soldiers gets a Burn It from this critic. Jim, however, cannot stop listening to The Raconteurs, and for him that's all that matters. Rock and roll has never been about originality, and according to Jim, every song is catchy and energetic. Jim would Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 25
Man On the Moon, Vol. II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (Bonus Track Version)Man on the Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager available on iTunes

Kid Cudi Man on the Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager

Bringing us full circle, we again think of Kanye West. But this time, we don't ponder his dismissal of Taylor Swift, but rather his influence on a new movement of introspective hip hop. Drake, Lupe Fiasco and now Kid Cudi are all embracing self-examination, as well as rock and roll. And, explains Greg, Cudi is the great existentialist. His new album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, is a continuation of his last concept album. It is full of interesting narratives, wordplay, rock instrumentation and cameos. Both Jim and Greg are hugely impressed and give the record another double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 258
Burn Your Fire For No WitnessBurn Your Fire for No Witness available on iTunes

Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire for No Witness

From Missouri to Chicago and now Asheville, NC, singer/songwriter Angel Olsen has been quietly making a name for herself. Now, with her second full LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, she's being compared to Leonard Cohen and Patsy Cline. Jim and Greg agree that this release is a huge step forward, combining wan, contemplative lyrics with truly rock ‘n’ roll backing band. While she may not be a Leonard Cohen just yet, both Jim and Greg think that Olsen's lyricism alone deserves your cash: Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 429
dijs

Jim

“My White Bicycle”Tomorrow

Jim uses his turn with the Desert Island Jukebox to pay homage to a man who changed the face of rock and roll. Albert Hofman, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD, died last week at the age of 102. After LSD hit the music scene, bands that were once R&B and pop became experimental, psychedelic acts. One of the best examples of rock's psychedelic era is Tomorrow. Jim always interpreted their song "My White Bicycle," as a tribute to Hofman's famous bike“trip,”and he thinks that listening to the tune is the best way to remember the scientist.

Go to episode 128

Greg

“Viet Nam War Blues”Oblivians

Memphis garage rockers Oblivians recently released their first record in fifteen years, Desperation. Greg's had it on heavy rotation along with the group's post-punk-inspired back catalogue. With two guitars, two chords, and a stripped down drum kit, Greg says Oblivians married punk's“last moment on earth intensity”with Memphis's rock ‘n’ roll tradition. He chooses "Viet Nam War Blues" off the band's 1995 debut album Soul Food for his Desert Island Jukebox pick. It's a Lightnin' Hopkins cover about a mother whose son goes off to war. Whereas Hopkins brings a jazzy, poetic sensibility to the track, Greg says Oblivians bring rage.

Go to episode 397

Greg

“Ready Teddy”Little Richard

The Desert Island Jukebox pick this week marks another passing of a musical great. Legendary drummer Earl Palmer passed away this week at the age of 83. Like Buddy Harman, who was discussed on the show a few weeks ago, Palmer was an unsung hero. Greg credits him with establishing the sound he defines as rock and roll. You can hear this primitive, brutal style of early rock in the Little Richard track "Ready Teddy."

Go to episode 148

Jim

“I Put a Spell on You”Screamin' Jay Hawkins

The life and death of John Lennon has been on a lot of our minds these days, Jim included. He recently watched the film Nowhere Boy, which depicts Lennon in his teen years. One of the scenes shows Lennon first discovering a vinyl record by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. As Jim explains, Hawkins was one of the first people to bring“fear and loathing”to rock ‘n’ roll. His 1956 track "I Put a Spell on You" is a classic. It was banned from a number of radio stations at the time, but if it was good enough for John Lennon, it's certainly good enough to add to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 260

Jim

“The Bulrushes”The Bongos

To conclude this week, it's Jim's turn to drop a track into the Desert Island Jukebox. Jim becomes a bit nostalgic and recalls fond teenage memories of the thriving music scene of Hoboken, New Jersey, the hometown of classic power-pop outfit, The Bongos. Taken from the seminal album, Drums Along the Hudson, which has just been reissued, the track "The Bulrushes" connotes a“messianic”rock and roll coming of age. Jim calls this The Catcher in the Rye of power-pop, and an essential choice in his Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 85

Greg

“If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day”Robert Johnson

To cap off the show, Greg pays tribute to Robert Johnson. The 100th anniversary of the bluesman's death is this year. Although he died at the age of 27 and didn't get to record much in his lifetime, he nonetheless became so influential many regard him as the godfather of rock and roll. With his unique vocal and guitar performances and complicated narratives, it's easy to understand why Johnson resonates today. Greg chooses to add the song "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 291
lists

Guitar Riffs

Does anything define rock and roll more than its basic element, the guitar riff? Rock solos can be overblown and overrated, but a riff, when done right, can rule a song. It it in many ways, the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. So, inspired by Greg's recent BBC essay, Jim and Greg run through their favorite examples of guitar riffs in rock history, and they hear some picks from listeners across the country. But first, a definition. A riff is a brief statement – sometime only a handful of notes or chords – that recurs throughout the arrangement and can become the song's central hook. And for a guitarist like Nile Rodgers, it's not just a static foundational element, but like a river moving through the song. Now onto the goods.

Go to episode 462

Devil Songs for Halloween

Whether or not you agree rock ‘n’ roll is the devil's music, Lucifer sure is a major player in pop. From Robert Johnson to "Sympathy for the Devil," beelzebub gets name dropped as much as the latest hip-hop sensation. Here are Jim and Greg's favorites to get you in the Halloween mood:

Go to episode 517

Songs About Dad

Rock and roll is filled with father figures–some dear dads and some deadbeat dads. But the male parent doesn't get nearly as much song time as Mom. So in honor of Father's Day, Jim and Greg decide to give the fathers some. Here are their favorite Songs About Dad.

Go to episode 289

Guitar Riffs

Does anything define rock and roll more than its basic element, the guitar riff? Rock solos can be overblown and overrated, but a riff, when done right, can rule a song. In many ways, it's the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. Jim and Greg run through their favorite examples of guitar riffs in rock history, and they hear some picks from listeners across the country. But first, a definition. A riff is a brief statement – sometime only a handful of notes or chords – that recurs throughout the arrangement and can become the song's central hook. And for a guitarist like Nile Rodgers, it's not just a static foundational element, but like a river moving through the song. Now onto the goods.

Go to episode 596

Halloween Scary Songs

Let's face it. Rock ‘n’ roll can be plain scary to a lot of folks. But there are some songs and artists that go above and beyond and give even our hosts the creeps. Here are some of their favorite Scary Rock Songs to set the mood this Halloween.

Go to episode 257

Unrequited Love Songs

What would rock ‘n’ roll be if not for the thousands of songs about love and heartbreak? Jim and Greg explore this legacy for this week's Valentine's Day episode featuring the best Unrequited Love Songs:

Go to episode 272

SXSW 2011

Music fans and industry insiders have been gathering at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, TX for twenty-five years. While it has gotten too big for its britches in recent years, SXSW remains the place to hear new artists and issues facing the business. Jim and Greg didn‘t have high hopes for this year’s keynote speaker Bob Geldof. What has the Boomtown Rats done for us lately? Well, not much. But he provided one of the most insightful keynotes our hosts have ever heard. Geldof, who brought the world Live Aid, encouraged American musicians to wake up. He explained that rock ‘n’ roll needs to be against something – whether that's in reality or in spirit. Another noteworthy panel featured independent concert promoters from around the country, as well as Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard. The Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger was approved last year, and this panel attempted to find out how that has affected the concert industry. There were no concrete answers; ticket prices have skyrocketed but it's too early to attribute this to consolidation.

It's panels by day and music by night. Jim and Greg always return from SXSW with a truckload of new music. Here are their respective discoveries of artists to watch in 2011.

Go to episode 278

Songs About the Music Business

Rock ‘n’ roll is all about railing against the“man.”And for musicians, there's no bigger man than the record business. Some songs celebrate music's great A&R men and women or label heads. Many more skewer the suits. Here are Jim and Greg's favorites:

Go to episode 418

One Note Wonders

Rock and roll is an art form that traditionally values change and transformation. But, there are a number of terrific artists and bands who have sustained careers by doing one thing really well. The best examples of these one trick ponies are The Ramones, AC/DC and Motörhead. Fans of these bands know that their sounds don‘t change from album to album… but they don’t care! Jim and Greg celebrate these and other One Note Wonders. Here are their nominations:

Go to episode 126
rock doctors

David & Family

The Rock Doctors' patient this week is David from Minneapolis. David's“ailment”is that he has a tough time finding music that both he and his kids will enjoy. As the father of four boys between the ages of three months and 10 years, that's quite a challenge. So far he's had luck with The Decemberists, Earth, Wind and Fire and Sugar — basically anything with great pop vocals and harmonies, as well as a good beat for dancing. And of course, some of his sons have fallen under the spell of tween pop star Kelly Clarkson.

Greg's prescription is New Magnetic Wonder, the latest album from Apples in Stereo. The Robert Schneider-fronted band that emerged out of the Elephant 6 collective offers a perfect mix of sunny, exuberant vocals and sophisticated arrangements. Plus, as Greg explains, Schneider is just a big overgrown kid (something that listeners who heard his interview on Sound Opinions can attest to).

Jim prescribes a dose of Smash Mouth. A couple of years ago the California garage popsters, who Jim thinks of as the male equivalent of No Doubt, released a greatest hits album called All Star Smash Hits. Jim explains that, as a fan of garage rock, David will appreciate their edgy aesthetic and punk covers. In addition, his kids are certain to enjoy the more bubble gum aspects of Smash Mouth's music and covers of songs like "I'm a Believer" (which they might already know from the Shrek 2 soundtrack).

A week later David returns to the doctors to report on his health status. He relays to Greg that he and all his sons really enjoyed the Apples in Stereo. He describes the band's music as fun and upbeat, as well as weird and experimental. David's wife was another story, but these doctors only agreed to please five patients… six might be pushing it.

Smash Mouth was something the whole family could agree on, especially for road trips and casual listening. The six year old described it as "a lot like rock and roll." But, David and his boys found the Apples in Stereo to be“meatier”and more interesting. Perhaps we've got four young rock critics in the making!

Go to episode 76
features

Instrumental: Bass VI

Bass VI In the latest installment of our Instrumental segment, producer Evan Chung takes a look at the history of a lesser-known instrument that doesn't have a proper name – the Bass VI. Once again, we get some help from Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange to demonstrate. The Bass VI is a hybrid six-string instrument that looks and feels like a guitar, but is tuned in the range of a bass. Sonically, the Bass VI features a sharp attack and a distinctive twangy sound.

Fender released the most popular model, but the Danelectro company put out the first version of the instrument in the 1950s. It then became a staple of country, rockabilly, and early rock ‘n’ roll. In a style known as "tic-tac bass," Nashville producers would use an upright bass and a Bass VI simultaneously on recordings by Patsy Cline, Ernest Tubb, Roy Orbison, and more. In the 1960s, it was a favorite tool of the Wrecking Crew sessions musicians in LA, who used it on classic recordings with The Beach Boys and Glen Campbell.

Beginning in the 1980s, artists began to find new spookier uses for the Bass VI. New Order, The Cure, and The Cocteau Twins all incorporated it into their sound. Doug McCombs has been the most prominent Bass VI player of the last few decades, featuring it in his work with Tortoise, Eleventh Dream Day, and Brokeback. McCombs stopped by our studios to discuss his love of the instrument and to perform Brokeback's "From the Black Current" live.

Go to episode 626

SXSW '06

This week on the show, Jim and Greg share their recent experiences at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Our hosts joined over 10,000 other festival registrants to attend music industry panels, conduct interviews, and most importantly, see new bands. In the four days they were there, Jim and Greg heard a lot of music. They share some of the best with you.

  • First is The Dresden Dolls. Jim went to see the Boston group and fell in love with their blend of German cabaret performance style and '80s synth-pop melodies. You can hear a little bit of "Modern Moonlight" off their upcoming release, Yes Virginia.

  • Next up, Greg discusses one his finds: Art Brut. He enjoyed this British band's straightforward melodies, catchy choruses, and witty monologues so much that he saw them twice in Austin. This critic even scrawled“New Kings of Rock”in his notebook following one performance. Jim joined him to see the band at the Pitchfork/Windish party, where they shared a bill with RJD2, Spank Rock, and one of Greg's other discoveries, Swedish indie pop quintet Love is All. Art Brut, who just recently played a sold-out show at the Metro, entertained the entire staff so much that they were invited to appear on the show the week after the festival wrapped. Listen for that interview in the weeks to come.

Beastie Boys at SXSW 2006

  • In between running from show to show, Jim and Greg took a brief moment to sit down with The Beastie Boys. The hip-hop pioneers were down in Austin to promote their recent concert film, Awesome; I Fucking Shot That, and spoke to Jim and Greg about making the movie, sampling, copyright laws, and the longevity of their career.

  • Back to the rundown of our hosts‘ favorite Austin discoveries. Jim’s next pick, The Black Angels, actually hails from the Texas state capital. After reading Jim's book on psychedelic rock, members of the band contacted him and explained that they were right up his alley. They were right. Jim, who caught some of the dark, Velvet Underground-influenced music in the sterile environment of Austin Convention Center, was totally blown away. To describe the band, he quotes their website which begs the listener to "Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again." Whoa, man…

  • Greg loves coming to Austin to see bands that may not get to the States otherwise. One such band is Serena Maneesh. The Norwegian group is one of many contemporary bands compared to My Bloody Valentine. Often referred to as“shoegazers,”these musicians are often literally standing, staring at their shoes, while producing a heavy, overdriven, almost symphonic guitar sound. Serena Maneesh is certainly channeling this influence — however, as Greg explains, this band is also quite performative. Our host describes how the lead guitar player, theatrically dressed as a gypsy showman, was joined by an“Amazonian”bass player. Only during SXSW can you see this in Texas, notes Jim.

Tim Fite at SXSW 2006

  • We next hear some audio of Jim recorded down in Austin. He is describing one of his favorite acts: Tim Fite. Some may remember Fite's previous incarnation in Little T and One Track Mic and their one hit, "Shaniqua." But after getting signed to Atlantic and touring with Outkast, Little T went nowhere. Now, Fite has reinvented himself as a 1920s southern preacher/rapper who combines an O Brother, Where Art Thou? sound with irreverent lyrics and hip-hop. Gone Ain't Gone is forthcoming on Anti-/Epitaph, making Fite label mates with Neko Case and Blackalicious.

  • The Swedish band Love is All (mentioned above) is another of Greg's discoveries. This Swedish indie-pop group is one of many European bands who are rediscovering American music. This band is particularly influenced by musicians like James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia Lunch who fused both jazz and punk. Love is All became Greg's go-to CD while he was driving around the city of Austin.

  • Listeners can now hear what Jim and Greg really sound like at SXSW: definitely over-tired, and perhaps over-served. Our hosts caught up with Sound Opinions H.Q. immediately after going to see Rhys Chatham at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, an experience they described as slightly mind-blowing. The avant-garde guitarist has basically been living in exile in Paris for the past decade, but emerged in Austin with a newly-formed guitar army: eight guitarists including Doug McCombs of Eleventh Dream Day and Tortoise, Ernie Brooks of The Modern Lovers and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Jim reports that Chatham recently received a grant allowing him to realize his long-fantasized 100-member guitar ensemble.

  • One of the SXSW events Greg always tries to attend is Alejandro Escovedo's Sunday night show. This year Grady was one of the opening acts. Greg found their huge, overpowering sound on par with that of Chatham's guitar army. He also compares their sound to that of ZZ Top's early days. Listen for yourself as Greg plays a sample of their 2004 release Y.U. So Shady?

  • White Whale is Jim's final discovery. He caught the band at the Merge showcase, a label that usually delivers for this critic. He was again not disappointed. White Whale, whose members have been in a number of other indie rock bands including Butterglory, Three Higher Burning Fire and The Get Up Kids, impressed Jim with more than just its name. He found their sound to be a mix of Nick Drake and Pink Floyd, and also reminiscent of Elephant Six bands like Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. So far their music can only be heard on Myspace.com, but White Whale may turn out to be another SXSW success story.

  • Greg's final pick is a band called Katahdin's Edge. He caught the group after originally trying to see a Finnish band who couldn‘t make it into the country. He was blown away, and despite getting thousands of free CDs for his day job, Greg was compelled to put down his own money for a Katahdin’s Edge album. This trio from Providence is an example of how jazz and rock can fuse in a great way. Rather than take an academic approach to jazz, Katahdin's Edge had a rock and roll, party edge that Greg really appreciated.

  • Greg was also caught on tape before and after seeing the biggest hype of this year's festival: The Arctic Monkeys. This has been quite the year for the young British band. In January they broke records for first-week sales in the U.K. with their debut release Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In addition, they‘ve been proclaimed by many in the press as the greatest band to emerge from the U.K. in years. That’s a lot for a new band to live up to, but Greg was pleased with what he saw. While the Arctic Monkeys may not be what their hype claims, the music was well-rehearsed, packed with rhythm, and downright“ferocious”according to our host. Plus, the lead singer already seems to have the rock and roll attitude down.

Go to episode 18

Rock & The Occult

occultcover Ozzy Osbourne famously serenaded "Mr. Crowley," in his 1980 track. But, poet, novelist and noted occultist Alesteir Crowley has been name-checked, celebrated and explored in hundreds of rock songs. And he's just one example of how the occult has influenced rock and roll, or how it saved it, according to author Peter Bebergal. He talks to Jim and Greg about his new book Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll on this Halloween edition of the show. First off, we're not talking about satanism here. There's no great definition of“occult,”because it carries so much baggage. But Bebergal explains that occult beliefs are a conglomerate of bits of mythology, religion and actual experience, which take the form of mystical or other states of altered consciousness. Despite darker connotations, occult beliefs attempt to understand reality in a way traditional religious practice cannot or chooses not to explore.

Then Jim and Greg get into the music. The occult has trickled into popular music since early blues recordings at the beginning of the last century. That evolved into the hoodoo-inspired sounds of Elvis Presley, the mystical references to the east in the music of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and even the Illuminati imagery of modern hip-hop.

For more great occult tunes, check out Peter Bebergal's playlist by following us at Beats Music.

Go to episode 465
news

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 original manuscript to Don McLean's 1971 hit "American Pie" sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie's for $1.2 million – enough cash to buy a new Chevy and maybe even finally saturate that levee. McLean has always been cryptic about what his lyrics mean, but the 16-page document may offer some clues. Greg reads the song as a crash course in rock ‘n’ roll history of the years between Buddy Holly's death and the writing of the song.

There's still another chance to bid on some pop memorabilia, however: the estate of Davy Jones is putting several items belonging to the late Monkees singer on the auction block in May. If you're lucky, you might be able to snag some of his gold records, guitars, or costumes. But Jim is most excited about the tambourine for sale – after Linda McCartney of Wings, Jones may be the most famous tambourine player in rock.

Go to episode 489

Music News

Rock ‘n’ Roll suffered a great loss last week after the death of punk rocker and standard bearer Tommy Ramone. Tommy, born Erdélyi Tamás, wore many different hats as founder, drummer, producer, and last surviving original member of The Ramones. He and his bandmates leave behind a tremendous influence, one which can be traced to the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and countless others. Greg says of the Ramones‘ musical clout,“If you listened to them, they changed your life,”and that Tommy was truly“the brains of the operation.”A guiding force for the group throughout the years, his break-neck drumming and seasoned hand in the production booth were fundamental in molding the band’s history-making style. He was 65.

Go to episode 451

Music News

Wherever there's youth culture and protest, there's rock and roll. So it's not surprising that heavy metal is at the top of many playlists in Bahrain right now. According to Evolver.fm, the mood of that country is“triumphant”and“warlike”if the music's any indication. Lastmood.fm uses Last.fm's audioscrobbler to monitor people's listening habits and gauge the vibe in almost real time. The most popular song in one hour was "The Ivory Gate of Dreams" by Fates Warning. But, activists and musicians from the region are also popular. A Bahraini activist, Esra'a Al Shafei, started mideastunes.com which highlights everything from Jordanian punk to Palestinian trance.

Fast Company has named its top ten most innovative companies in music, and a the top of the list is Pandora. It's remarkable, considering that Pandora was nearly put out of business by royalty debates a couple of years ago. Now it's valued at $55.2 million and has gone public. The streaming site has also inked a deal with GM. Last year's #1 Spotify didn‘t even make the cut, but it’s been reportedly valued at $1 billion — despite the fact that the digital music service has yet to launch stateside.

Go to episode 274

Music News

These days national headlines coming out of Chicago are generally about one thing: gun violence on the south and west sides of the city. So far this year there have been more than 3,200 shootings, more than 530 of them fatal. At the same time the city is home to a vibrant and creative hip-hop movement that continues to grow. Greg recently attended two festivals that highlighted the creativity in Chicago while addressing the city's violence. Chance the Rapper hosted the Magnificent Coloring Day at US Cellular Field on the southside. The next day, Common hosted a festival on the westside. Greg says the two events were Chicago rappers addressing the city's violence while trying to do something positive about it.

Go to episode 566

Music News

Phil Everly died on January 3 at age 74 and as Jim explains, modern music wouldn't be what it is without The Everly Brothers making the connection between country, hillbilly folk and rock ‘n’ roll. It was Phil who hit the high harmony, inspiring countless vocal groups like The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. And you can hear this timeless, forlorn cry in songs like "When Will I Be Loved" from 1960. Don't bother with Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong's tribute to the brother duo, which recently received a Trash It rating from Jim and Greg. But, do check out efforts by The Chapin Sisters and Dawn McCarthy and Bonny“Prince”Billy.

Go to episode 424

Music News

If you‘ve ever felt like a musical pariah because you just couldn’t get into the latest“it”band, you may want to consider a trip to the Netherlands. In the latest issue of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Dutch researchers say that while treating a patient for obsessive-compulsive disorder using an electrical implant in his brain, they inadvertently activated the area that may affect musical preference. Before treatment began, the patient wasn't much of a music fan. But, while receiving electrical stimulation via the implant, he suddenly became one of Johnny Cash's biggest fans, going on to purchase all of The Man in Black's CDs and DVDs. When the implant's battery ran out, though, the patient regressed to his pre-music indifference state. It's fascinating stuff and Jim wonders if the implant could get even him to love Bruce Springsteen?

This year's "American Idol" has been crowned. But beyond winning the TV contest, North Carolina native Caleb Johnson has been winning comparisons to Meat Loaf. In fact, Marvin Lee Aday's Facebook page was flooded with notes of congratulations. Meatloaf was happy to hear that Johnson brought "some real rock ‘n’ roll back on prime time TV." And the new Idol may even star in a possible remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's sure to nail a rendition of "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul."

In other contest news, Russian authorities were are not pleased with the recent crowning of drag singer Cochinita Wurst as the winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest. So put off are they, in fact, that they plan to launch not one, but two alternate Eurovision copycat competitions that will be free of anything "moral[ly] degrading." The Russian people are having a more mixed reaction, with one fan even planning to open upscale beauty parlor named in Wurst's honor.

Go to episode 444

Music News

Hard rock gods Led Zeppelin announced its surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones will perform live for one night only at England's 02 arena. The missing John Bonham drum slot will be filled by his son Jason Bonham. This event is all for charity. It's in honor of the late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegün. All proceeds will go towards the Ahmet Ertegün Education Fund. Robert Plant's altruism and high regard for Mr. Ertegün must be quite substantial considering he had this harsh thing to say back in 2002 about the band reuniting. Jim points out that nowadays no band ever stays broken up and predicts that once the band finishes this gig, they'll launch a world tour. Zep heads everywhere are crossing their fingers.

"Amateur" singer-songwriter Marié Digby rose to pop success this summer from her“DIY”video of her covering Rihanna's "Umbrella" on acoustic guitar. The video has been viewed 2.3 million times and launched her into US radio and iTunes success. It turns out her entire“amateur”marketing campaign was orchestrated by the not-so-amateur Hollywood Records. The Disney owned Hollywood Records signed Digby back in 2005 — well before she/the machine posted her YouTube video. The fact the she was on a major label was kept hidden until only very recently. Greg points out how this shows you how much a sham the major labels have become when Digby herself states she didn't think people would like her if they knew she was on a major label. Greg feels now that the artifice is exposed, her 15 minutes are over.

Pioneering jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul died recently at the age of 75. Zawinul was one of the founding members of the 1970s jazz fusion band The Weather Report. According to Jim and Greg, the band was the pinnacle of the jazz fusion sound, a melding of rock ‘n’ roll and jazz. Zawinul introduced the synthesizer and electronic instrumentation to jazz. He helped pioneer the jazz fusion genre with Miles Davis on Davis's In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Jim and Greg also ask listeners not to blame Zawinul and Davis for where the jazz/rock fusion led to. As a tribute to Joe Zawinul, Jim and Greg play The Weather Report's most iconic song, "Birdland."

Go to episode 94

Music News

Go to episode 622

Music News

After The Beatles finally announced the band would put its catalog on iTunes, Jim and Greg noted that only a few major artists remained holdouts. One such musician is Kid Rock, and according to a recent Billboard article, this might be a smart move if your goal is making money. Kid Rock's recent release Born Free has sold over 612,000 copies, but reporter Glenn Peoples says that he would have only sold 294,000 had digital singles been available. So by forcing consumers to buy whole albums, Kid Rock may have made an additional $3 million.

Next, Jim and Greg play catch up on some big news that broke over the holidays. Rock & roll experienced one of its greatest losses: Don Van Vliet, otherwise known as Captain Beefheart. Jim remembers Beefheart and his band's off the wall performance on Saturday Night Live. It illustrates what a unique performer he was. But, as Jim goes on, Beefheart wasn't just weird, he was an ambitious perfectionist – and one that influenced many and was imitated by none, according to Greg. To honor Captain Beefheart, Jim and Greg play "Ella Guru" from his 1969 album Trout Mask Replica.

Go to episode 267

SXSW 2007

Every March, thousands of music fans come together in Austin, Texas to attend South by Southwest, a four-day music festival in which almost 1,400 music acts perform at clubs, parties and showcases throughout the city. For music fans it's a sonic smorgasbord, for music industry professionals it's a chance to network-but for everyone who partakes in the non-stop rock and roll action, it's an opportunity to discover great new music. During the show Jim and Greg will share some of their favorite bands and moments from SXSW 21. You can also check out last year's wrap-up.

Go to episode 69

Music News

The man commonly referred to as“the fifth Beatle,”Sir George Martin, died Tuesday at the age of 90. Martin, a producer, was originally known for bringing success to Parlophone Records in the 1950s by producing comedy albums by such performers and Peter Sellers, Peter Ustinov, and The Goon Show troupe.

Then, in 1962, Martin met with an unknown band called The Beatles. The group had been rejected by every label they had spoken to prior, and Martin, though not thoroughly impressed by their music, signed The Beatles to Parlophone. Luckily for them—and for the droves of Beatles fans-to-be—Martin had been seeking a new group to represent the rock ‘n’ roll scene emerging from the UK, and he liked their sense of humor. He taught the novice, live band about recording and producing.Between 1962 and 1970, The Beatles produced 13 albums and 22 singles under Martin's guidance. And though he went on to produce several big-name bands after that, Martin is most well-known for bringing The Beatles from obscurity to the forefront of popular music.

Listen to the Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissection of George Martin-produced album Revolver here.

Go to episode 537

Music News

Music legend Ike Turner passed away a couple of weeks ago, so Jim and Greg took this opportunity to discuss how much this controversial figure influenced the development of rock and roll. Most people's image of Turner is taken from the 1993 movie What's Love Got to Do With It, which portrayed his violent relationship with Tina Turner. But, as is the case with countless artists and musicians, even bad people can make great art. Turner was a major music figure long before he met Tina, and many people say that his 1951 recording of "Rocket 88" led to the birth of rock and roll. Listen to the song, and check out Greg's obituary of the musician.

Go to episode 109

Music News

Justin Timberlake played a social-media mogul in the movies, but can he do it in real-life? The JT-backed social media site MySpace recently re-launched with a sleeker design and a 50 million-plus song library. The company says it's the internet's largest legally streamable song library. Or is it? A group representing indie labels like Merge, Domino, and Beggar's Group is alleging that MySpace has its members‘ music up without permission. Will MySpace be able to work out a deal? Given the site’s 27 million unique visitors a month, Greg's betting the indie labels will find a way to compromise.

Jim always suspected rock ‘n’ roll was a hazardous occupation. Now experts at Britain's Health Department have weighed in, and guess what? It's true. A study of 1,500 artists across genres concludes that 9.2 percent of rockers die earlier than regular folks. Not only that, but solo artists face twice the death-risk of artists in bands. Researchers speculated that bands provide an extra support network for at-risk stars. Turns out we really do get by with a little help from our friends.

Go to episode 374
world tours

Brazil

Os Mutantes

The excitement of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will soon fade into memory, but the music coming out of Brazil has endured for centuries. Jim and Greg bring the Sound Opinions World Tour to Brazil and explore the country's rich musical heritage. Of course, Brazil is enormous and has produced more genres of music than we could even name. So Jim and Greg focus first on the pivotal period of 1958-1968, beginning with the rise of bossa nova. Our guide is Sérgio Mielniczenko, host of The Brazilian Hour radio show since 1978. He explains how the deceptively minimalistic yet harmonically complex music of João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Sérgio Mendes, and other bossa nova artists revolutionized music in Brazil and around the world.

But in 1964, just as "The Girl From Ipanema" was becoming a global hit, Brazil's government was overthrown in a military coup. Artists like Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque, and Geraldo Vandré turned to socially conscious protest songs in response. This post-bossa nova generation became known as música popular brasileira (Brazilian popular music) or MPB. Meanwhile, the Jovem Guarda (Young Guard) led by Roberto Carlos created an apolitical form of Brazilian rock ‘n’ roll. And in the late '60s, the Tropicália movement blended high art, lowbrow kitsch, traditional Brazilian rhythms, psychedelic rock, and electric instruments into an irreverent mix. Tropicalistas like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Tom Zé, and Gal Costa were curtailed by the government crackdown of 1968, but their music has proved influential for decades.

Jim and Greg also want to acknowledge all of the great new music coming out of Brazil. Chris McGowan, author of The Brazilian Sound and The Brazilian Music Book, calls in from Rio and explains that Brazil is a large country and there are a huge variety of popular musical styles. He runs through some of the most popular genres of the moment, starting with sertanejo, Brazilian country music. They also talk about new avant-garde music, Brazilian hip hop, and electronic dance genres Axé and tecno brega.

Go to episode 560

Cuba

Cuba

After stops in countries like South Africa, Japan, and Sweden, the Sound Opinions World Tour is trekking on. Jim and Greg hop over to Cuba, inspired by the historic changes in U.S.-Cuban relations announced recently by President Obama. Their guide to Cuba's influential rhythms is Ned Sublette, author of Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo. Ned tells us that Cuba has been alive with music ever since the sixteenth century. Drawing upon its unique ethnic history, Cuba developed a polyrhythmic style quite different from what emerged in North America. Innovative artists like Arsenio Rodríguez brought Cuban dance music into maturity during World War II. The unshakeable rhythms of the mambo, rumba, and cha-cha-chá filtered into the United States, particularly in the world of jazzDizzy Gillespie's collaborations with Chano Pozo changed music forever. Rock ‘n’ roll and the blues also adopted Afro-Cuban flavors. Even after Cuba's isolation following the 1959 revolution, the music never stopped, according to Ned. Nueva trova, for example, a movement led by singer-songwriters like Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés, began to fuse revolutionary politics and idealism with traditional song forms. Cuban rhythms also provided the basis for the global salsa phenomenon of the '70s. Today music in Cuba thrives in both traditional genres and in modern ones like reggaeton. Though he's not personally a fan of the hit 1997 Buena Vista Social Club album, Ned was happy to see North Americans reengage with Cuban artists. With the political changes underway, he expects to see an even more exciting cultural exchange between Cuban musicians and the rest of the world.

Go to episode 482

Russia

Last year, Jim and Greg racked up lots of frequent flier miles during the Sound Opinions World Tour with trips to Sweden, Japan, South Africa and Mexico. This year, just in time for the Winter Olympic Games, they grab their passports once again and head for Russia. Moscow-based author and music critic Artemy Troitsky serves as their guide, lifting the shroud of the Iron Curtain to reveal Russia's complicated rock ‘n’ roll history. Up until the mid-1980's, the Communist government heavily censored the media, so listeners eager to hear the latest Beatles or Beach Boys song from the West had to rely on pirate radio stations and an underground market of reel-to-reel tapes. According to Troitsky, the tense environment actually helped push many artists to quietly rebel and make relevant and provocative music right under the noses (and ears) of the government. Inpsired by artists in the West, bands like Aquarium, DDT, and Nautilus Pompilius started making their own music complete with poetic and thoughtful lyrics which fit in nicely with Russia's long, rich literary tradition. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in the mid-1980's, media censorship was relaxed some, and many more underground acts rose to the surface. However, for every topnotch band like Kino, or talented singer like Zhanna Aguzarova that emerged, there were three lackluster pop and chanson (a type of Russian country music) acts which specialize in fun and nostalgia. These musical styles continue to dominate the Russian charts to this day, but Artemy says there's still plenty of non-mainstream Russian music to be excited about with rappers like MC Noize, electro-punks Barto, and agit-rockers Pussy Riot, unafraid to challenge the status quo and explore new sonic frontiers.

Russian artists featured in this episode:

  • Mashina Vremeni
  • Center
  • Nautilus Pompilius
  • Aquarium
  • Natalia Vetlitskaya
  • Lubeh
  • Zemfira
  • t.A.T.u.
  • Pussy Riot
  • Kino
  • DDT
  • Zhanna Aguzarova and Bravo
  • Noize MC
  • Barto
Go to episode 429

Sweden

Jim and Greg have always insisted that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to the world. In our new series, the Sound Opinions World Tour, they prove it by zeroing in on countries that've made big contributions to global rock and pop. Their first stop is the largest exporter of music per capita in the world: Sweden. Swedish DJ and public radio host Stefan Wermelin is our guide through the country's musical history. Stefan explains that in the '50s and '60s, Sweden was a pop music backwater. Musicians churned out cut-rate covers of American and English hits. The '60s hippie“Progg”movement injected some originality and artistic ambition into Swedish music, but things didn't really change until ABBA hit it big with "Waterloo." According to Stefan, ABBA set the template for Swedish success. The band created big hits by co-opting the best bits of global pop music and stitching them together with meticulous production. That tradition of pastiche continues today with Swedish producers like Max Martin, the man behind a hundred-and-one Billboard Top Ten hits (Britney Spears' "…Baby One More Time" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" among them). But today, Sweden's also experiencing an indie renaissance in genres as varied as death metal, dance music, and Americana. Decades after ABBA, artists like The Knife, Lykke Li, Robyn, Opeth, and First Aid Kit are staging a second Swedish invasion.

Go to episode 379