Results for soul

interviews

Neko Case

This week's guest is singer/songwriter Neko Case. It's hard to categorize Neko's music. Some call her "alt-country." Others throw the word "soul" in there. But whatever you call it, fans and critics alike are happy to hear it. In addition to making her own music, Neko records and performs with Canadian pop band The New Pornographers. After wrapping up her current tour, Neko will go out on tour with the New Pornographers in support of their new album.

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is Neko's most successful album to date. It's also one for which she did much more of the songwriting. Neko credits that songwriting with learning to play the tenor guitar. Greg compares Neko's guitar playing to that of Steve Howe, but she likes to think of herself as more of a Paul Butterfield.

Neko calls Fox Confessor Brings the Flood her most“smart-ass”album. The way in which the songwriter tells stories on the record is in large part inspired by Eastern European folktales. Neko grew up listening to this style of storytelling from her Ukrainian grandparents and appreciated how open-ended and non-judgmental the tales were.

Two of the songs Neko performs for the show have unique inspirations. The first, "That Teenage Feeling," was written after her guitarist, Paul Rigby, exclaimed that he didn't feel the need to get married for the sake of getting married. Rather, he desired that simpler, no-strings feeling that love gives you when you are a teenager. The second song, "Margaret vs. Pauline," is based on a book by Beat novelist and poet Richard Brautigan called In Watermelon Sugar. Jim's relieved to hear the song has a far less ominous meaning than he thought. You can also hear a bonus performance of "Sometimes When I Get To Thinking" by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Go to episode 71

Mavis Staples

Earlier this year, we aired part one of an interview that Jim and Greg did with gospel and soul legend Mavis Staples. Mavis was such a fantastic guest that we had plenty of extra tape that we haven't been able to broadcast until now. Greg literally wrote the book on Mavis Staples, titled I'll Take You There. As he details in the book, activism is nothing new to Mavis. The theme of social consciousness is something that started for Mavis as a part of The Staple Singers, and it continues to run through Mavis‘ solo career. It’s a major theme of her upcoming record If All I Was Was Black. In the 1950s and 60s, the Chicago-based Staple Singers toured the Jim Crow South extensively. It was a learning curve in many ways for the young Mavis, along with her siblings Cleotha, Yvonne, and Pervis.

Go to episode 618

Mavis Staples

It's not often we get to share a room with a genuine national treasure. Jim and Greg were honored to speak with gospel and soul legend and Civil Rights icon Mavis Staples. (Greg is also the author of Mavis's 2014 biography I'll Take You There). Beginning her career at age eleven as the lead singer of her family band The Staple Singers, Mavis has inspired countless artists over the past half century.

Her father Pops Staples learned guitar at the feet of Charley Patton in Dockery Farms, Mississippi before moving to Chicago. There, he formed The Staple Singers, a gospel vocal group featuring his children – Pervis, Cleotha, Yvonne, and Mavis taking the lead. The combination of Pops's blues guitar, Cleotha's counterpoint, and Mavis's precociously powerful voice launched them into national attention with their 1956 hit "Uncloudy Day." Soon, the Staple Singers were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, often serving as the opening act to Martin Luther King, Jr. (We'll cover that period in more detail in a second episode with Mavis).

The group had its greatest success once it signed to Stax Records and began recording with the famed session musicians in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on hits like "I'll Take You There." That's also when Mavis began her solo career – reluctantly at first, but still going as strong as ever today. Her latest album Livin' on a High Note found her working with songwriters like Nick Cave, tUnE-yArDs, and Neko Case. Mavis offers Jim and Greg an intimate look at growing up on Chicago's South Side, forming the Staple Singers' signature sound, meeting Mahalia Jackson, and collaborating with Curtis Mayfield and Prince.

Go to episode 593

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

Ernie Isley

Few groups can claim the sustained success of The Isley Brothers, in no small part due to the contributions of our guest Ernie Isley. The Isley Brothers formed in the 1950s as a doo-wop vocal group in Cincinatti, scoring huge hits with the wedding staples "Shout" and "Twist and Shout." They managed to survive the British Invasion, assisted by the incredible playing of their young guitarist Jimi Hendrix. With the addition of two more brothers, Ernie and Marvin, the band started to branch out into funk, soul, psychedelia, rock, and disco. It's this willingness to defy categorization that's led to the Isleys' longevity – the band scored the rare feat of charting in six consecutive decades.

Ernie Isley picked up where Hendrix left off on guitar, creating an unmistakeable tone featured on hits like "That Lady" and "Summer Breeze." But his contributions as a songwriter were just as vital, including a pair of sociallly conscious anthems in 1975: "Harvest for the World" and "Fight the Power," which Ernie penned in the shower before a trip to Disneyland. The Isleys' influence continues to be heard today in the hip-hop realm. Artists from Ice Cube to Notorious B.I.G. to Kendrick Lamar have crafted iconic songs from Isley Brothers samples. The band is now being honored with a massive boxset called The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983), and even that just scratches the surface of the Isleys' long career.

Go to episode 509

Joan As Policewoman

Joan As Policewoman, otherwise known as Joan Wasser, stops in for a visit this week. The singer/songwriter has many fans, including Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, and of course Jim and Greg. It's easy to hear why after her live performance, which includes songs from her latest album, Real Life. Joan, who began as a classically trained violinist, describes her music as "American Soul."

Go to episode 148

Nelson George

Music critic, author and screenwriter Nelson George joins Jim and Greg on the show this week. His many books have become cornerstones on American thinking about hip hop, soul and pop music. Now he has a new book out called City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success. After years of exploring the lives of others, including Chris Rock, James Brown and Russell Simmons, Nelson took himself on as a subject. He relays his experience growing up in Brownsville. Music and art gave him a way to experience the outside world and later became his ticket to success. He even made his way to Hollywood, writing and producing the hip hop parody film CB4.

Go to episode 182

The Alabama Shakes

The Alabama Shakes have only just released one full-length album and its members are only their early 20s, but already they are receiving a staggering amount of praise. Their fans include critics as well as Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers and Jack White. Jim and Greg think they deserve every accolade they get for successfully bringing back and updating that great soul and rock sound of the south in the '60s and '70s. The quartet includes lead singer Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson, plus touring keyboard player Ben Tanner. And Brittany and Heath explain to our hosts that they have diverse musical tastes, but are certainly very influenced by the Muscle Shoals sound. Another key to loving the Alabama Shakes? Brittany's voice, of which she's too modest.

Go to episode 333

Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker has caused a stir in the indie rock world by melding the blues, punk and soul with a signature rasp. Fresh off the heels of his national television debut on Late Night with David Letterman, Booker visits the studio to perform songs from his first major label release on ATO records. He also tells Jim and Greg about transitioning from being a barista at Starbucks to touring with Jack White all in one year. He can also count influential label head Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records as a fan. Despite all this, Booker's parents are still not quite sold on this whole music thing.

Go to episode 457

Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini of Sly & the Family Stone

In the 1960's, Sly & the Family Stone, with its multi-racial, co-ed lineup, broke down barriers of how a band should look and sound. It also bridged rock, funk, R&B, soul and jazz, thanks in large part to its virtuoso musicians: guitarist Freddie Stone, bass player Larry Graham, drummer Greg Errico, keys player Rose Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson and sax player Jerry Martini. Then, of course, you have Sly Stone, one of the most charismatic frontmen in music history. But, once the charming star who stole the show at Woodstock and on Dick Cavett, Sly Stone dropped out of public life in 1975. We've had occasional glimpses since then, but for the most part his legend only lives on in recordings. Luckily fans have a new box set called Higher! Upon its release, Jim and Greg spoke with Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini.

Go to episode 431

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15

Gene Chandler

Hosts Jim and Greg interview Chicago Soul singer Gene Chandler, who is best known as the“Duke of Earl.”Jim thinks 1961's“Duke of Earl”is one of the best pop or rock songs of that era. Gene Chandler came out of a tradition of Doo Wop in Chicago that included groups like the Flamingos and the Spaniels. He worked closely with fellow Chicago Soul legends Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler. Later in his career, he transitioned into producing other artists, even running his own label,“Mister Chand.”The epitome of a“soul survivor,”Gene scored hits during the Doo-Wop, Soul, and Disco eras.

Go to episode 588
specials

Xmas Spectacular 2011

Holiday music maven Andy Cirzan joins Jim and Greg every Christmas to share a new collection of unique tunes for the season. By day Andy runs Jam Productions in Chicago. By night he searches through record stores, dustbins and basements to find gems for his annual compilation. And he shares a few favorites during this episode. Andy describes the first set as poppin' soul music from the '60s and '70s. Then he brings in the straight ahead uptempo jazz featuring songs from his 2011 compilation "Swingin' Snowflakes: Jingle Jangle Jazz Party." Finally, we go off into the wild blue yonder and get some truly weird and wonderful Christmas songs.

Go to episode 316

Remembering Prince

Prince Remembered

"Life is just a party, and parties weren't meant to last." Yet the party ended much too soon for music legend Prince, who died on April 21 at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Volumes have been said about the late Prince Rogers Nelson in the past week, but Jim and Greg draw attention to aspects of his music and career that aren't acknowledged enough. Growing out of the Minneapolis funk scene, Prince refused to be boxed into a single genre, fearlessly blending funk, pop, rock, soul, new wave, and R&B to create a sound all his own. He was known as a guitar god, but could really play any instrument he touched and often was the only musician on his recordings. Prince carried on the Marvin Gaye and Al Green tradition in R&B of mixing the sacred and the profane, sex and salvation. On records like The Black Album, he created some of the most lascivious music ever, but at the same time, Jim and Greg argue he showed a deep respect for women. Not only did he mentor and collaborate with up-and-coming female stars, but he also was eager to help out his idols like Chaka Khan and Mavis Staples.

Prince was unafraid to explore psychedelia, especially in the crucial three album run of Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Parade in the mid-80s. He spent the rest of his life toiling away at Paisley Park, churning out recording after recording – not without quality control issues. But in the past couple decades, Prince was defined by his unpredictable and often transcendent live performances. Prince was ahead of his time in recognizing the internet as a way to sell music directly to his fans without a label. But his greatest legacy will of course be his music, and his influence on generations of artists is immeasurable.

Go to episode 544

Holiday Spectacular 2016

Warblings from the Enchanted Forest

There's a whole world of holiday music out in the universe besides the tired recordings you hear endlessly year after year. Nobody knows that better than holiday music collector and expert Andy Cirzan. Each year, Andy joins Jim and Greg for our Holiday Spectacular, sharing an hour of incredible unknown Christmas records he's picked up over years of scouring bargain bins throughout the country. This year, Andy presents a mix of obscure holiday soul, pop, disco, and more titled Warblings from the Enchanted Forest.

As a special bonus, listeners are invited to download Andy Cirzan's accompanying holiday compilation for FREE at christmas.soundopinions.org. The mix will only be up until the end of 2016, so get it while the yule log is hot! And happy holidays from Sound Opinions!

Go to episode 577

Sub Pop Records

Sub Pop Records, the label that made "grunge" a household word, is turning 20. Since its inception the small Seattle outfit has exploded internationally, giving music fans a dose of the Northwest punk sound with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. Now Sub Pop is home to indie phenoms The Shins and The Postal Service, as well as comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. Jim and Greg speak with Jonathan Poneman, who started the label in 1988 with former fanziner Bruce Pavitt. Poneman explains that there was so much great rock in that area at the time that they were compelled to document it. But their ambitions didn‘t stop there. Poneman discusses Pavitt’s assertion that the most vital culture happens outside the big media centers. This kind of big thinking paved the way for the breakout of regional music scenes and the idea that indie bands can be as big as major label ones.

To celebrate Sub Pop's anniversary Jim and Greg both pick their favorite tracks from the label. Greg starts with a song by The Afghan Whigs. He explains that the tradition of signing non-Northwest bands began with the Whigs. They started out as a faux-grunge band but became more distinctive when they brought in elements of soul. You can hear that in the track "Miles Iz Dead" off the album Congregation.

Jim also wanted to pick a song that showcased the diversity of Sub Pop. It's more than just a grunge label. Jim looks to Cardinal, a band that represents much of what's happening in the indie world today. The duo gave birth to orchestral pop, and one of its members, Eric Matthews, put out a terrific debut on Sub Pop in 1995 called It's Heavy In Here. Jim chooses to play that album's opener, "Fanfare."

Go to episode 137

Ask the Critics

To kick off the first show of the new year, Jim and Greg answer some of your questions.

Mark from Chicago and John from Lexington, SC want to know how Jim and Greg choose reviews and how they listen to those albums? Jim explains that we first narrow down a list of albums that are either interesting or making news. Then it comes down to what would make a good mix for the show. So if the feature segment is all about soul, we might like to get a little punk at the end. Greg answers part two, and explains that he tries to listen to an album as many times as possible and, most importantly, in as many different scenarios as possible. He hears music very differently whether he is driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago or doing dishes at home.

This leads to question #2. Nathan in Chicago is looking for suggestions on how to heighten the digital music experience. Can we do better than just headphones in an iPod? Jim and Greg admit they are not always seeking the most hi-fi experience, so they turn to Bob Gendron, copy editor for Music Direct and contributor to the Chicago Tribune. Bob recommends Nathan get a pair of Grado SR-60i headphones. Priced at $79, they give nice bang for the buck. But if Nathan is a high roller who wants his mind blown, Bob refers him to the Audeze LCD-3.

Chris from Corvallis, OR emailed interact@soundopinions.org for recommendations on songs to learn to play on ukulele. All the uke players around Sound Opinions H.Q. say that Paul McCartney is a great place to start; the simple pop melodies are perfect for the four-stringed instrument. Greg adds a vote for Weezer. YouTube is filled with ukulele love. Check out the footnotes below for some more of our favorites:

Got a question for the critics? Call 888.859.1800 or email interact@soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 371
classic album dissections
The Belle AlbumThe Belle Album available on iTunes

Al Green The Belle Album

Al Green is known for archetypal soul hits like "Love & Happiness," "Let's Stay Together," and "I'm So Tired of Being Alone." But, while Al's songs are known around the world, the man himself is a bit of an enigma. To get a better sense of who Al Green is, Jim and Greg sat down with Jimmy McDonough, author of a new biography called Soul Survivor.

They also unpack a lesser known album from Al Green's catalogue: The Belle Album. The album, released in 1977, came out at a crucial period in Green's life. He had just left a lucrative career in soul music for the ministry. The album was his first gospel album, one that blended funk, disco, and according to Jim, even elements of punk. It was also Al's first dip into self-producing an album. His previous work had been produced by the legendary Willie Mitchell at Hi Records in Memphis. The album with its rough, almost garage-gospel sound is an outlier among Green's earlier works. The Belle Album means a lot to both Jim and Greg. Greg calls it "a transitional album that was also a masterpiece."

Go to episode 625

James Brown Live at the Apollo

Before he was America's Godfather of Soul, James Brownwas the king of the South's segregated chitlin' circuit. It took Live at the Apollo - an album recorded fifty years ago last month on Brown's own dime- to catapult him onto the national stage. In honor of its fiftieth, Jim and Greg give Brown's Live at the Apollo a well-deserved Classic Album Dissection with help from music writer RJ Smith. RJ's biography of Brown, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, came out earlier this year. As RJ explains, James Brown was all about the live experience. He knew if radio listeners could just hear his live show, he could be“Gary Cooper big.”He was right. High-energy numbers like“Night Train”and“Think”propelled Brown onto the pop charts and super-charged his career. But as Greg notes, Live at the Apollo wasn't just a turning point for Brown personally, it was a turning point for music. Suddenly doo-wop and soul was starting to sound…funky.

Go to episode 362

Big Star Radio City

Jim and Greg celebrate the 40th anniversary of Big Star's debut album by revisiting their Classic Album Dissection of the band's first two records, #1 Record and Radio City. #1 Record might be nearing middle age, but the pop sound Big Star pioneered in the seventies is as vibrant as ever. As Jim and Greg discuss, the band changed the history of American music, without selling very many records. With a sound that combined Memphis Soul with British Invasion rock, they laid the groundwork for American“Power Pop”and influenced bands including R.E.M., Wilco and The Replacements. The original Big Star lineup included former Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jim and Greg's guest this week, drummer Jody Stephens.

Following their discussion with Jody Stephens, Jim and Greg each discuss and play a song. Greg chooses to highlight the opening track from #1 Record called "Feel." The song was written and performed by Chris Bell. While Alex Chilton is the name most people associate with Big Star, Bell really created it. Most of his incredible work didn't see the light of day until after his death at age 26, but Greg thinks songs like“Feel,”illustrate the power of his voice and lyrics-many of which convey the problems he faced in his short life.

Jim plays a song written and performed by Alex Chilton from the second album called "September Gurls." As he discussed with Jody earlier in the show, this was a breakout song for the band and one that was immediately adored by critics and fans including The Bangles, who later covered it. Jim's not sure what the song means, but for him it's more about the mood that Chilton created. With its sweeping melodies and“pan-sexuality”it's a power pop classic.

Go to episode 365

James Brown Live at the Apollo

Before he was America's Godfather of Soul, James Brown was the king of the South's segregated "Chitlin' Circuit". It took Live at the Apollo - an album recorded over fifty years ago on Brown's own dime - to catapult him onto the national stage. With the success of the Mick Jagger-produced biopic Get On Up, we decided to revisit our Classic Album Dissection of Brown's Live at the Apollo with help from music writer RJ Smith. He's the author of The One: The Life and Music of James Brown. As RJ explains, James Brown was all about the live experience. He knew if radio listeners could just hear his live show, he could be "Gary Cooper big." He was right. High-energy numbers like“Night Train”and“Think”propelled Brown onto the pop charts and super-charged his career. But, as Greg notes, Live at the Apollo wasn't just a turning point for Brown personally, it was a turning point for music. Suddenly doo-wop and soul was starting to sound…funky.

Go to episode 459
reviews
Back to BlackBack to Black available on iTunes

Amy Winehouse Back to Black

This first album up for review this week is of Back to Black, the second album by British import Amy Winehouse. The singer/songwriter was one of the most buzzed about acts at this year's SXSW Festival, and her off-stage antics are getting her a flurry of attention in the British press. Jim and Greg, however, aren't sure the phenomenon will translate overseas. Winehouse prides herself on being influenced by jazz and the R&B and soul singers of the 1960s. But, both critics find her music to be a retro parody more than an authentic homage. In fact, Jim outright hates this album and gives his Trash It rating right up front. Greg didn‘t dislike the album as much as he thought he would, but was still unimpressed by Winehouse’s pale imitation of artists like Donnie Hathaway and Nina Simone. He also gives Back to Black a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 71
New Amerykah, Pt. 1 (4th World War)New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War available on iTunes

Erykah Badu New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War

Ever since 2000's Mama's Gun, Erykah Badu fans have been waiting for a follow-up. Jim and Greg are included in that anticipatory group. She's finally back with New AmErykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, but Jim and Greg warn that listeners should not expect the same sound. Badu has taken "neo-soul" to an even more neo level. Greg describes it as a murky, psychedelic sound that owes as much to Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock as it does traditional soul artists. While it's not an easy listen, it's worth your effort according to Greg. Jim asks the listener to imagine Badu jamming with George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield and a psychedelic band somewhere in New Orleans. If that sounds like something you'd like to hear, both hosts urge you to Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 118
On the Jungle FloorOn the Jungle Floor available on iTunes

Van Hunt On the Jungle Floor

R&B/soul singer Van Hunt also has a new album out. His 2004 self-titled debut album was very well-received — listeners could hear the funk influences of bands like Sly Stone and Curtis Mayfield, as well as the more romantic, slow jams of singers like Marvin Gaye or D'Angelo. (And with a pimp for a father and a nurturing caregiver as a mother, Greg muses, Van Hunt's own family parallels his musical influences'.) On On the Jungle Floor, Van Hunt stretches himself more. He makes the surprising choice to cover "No Sense of Crime," a punk classic by The Stooges. And, fans will hear the influence of yet another R&B/funk idol: Prince. However, both Jim and Greg assert that with this release, the grasshopper has surpassed the master, and rate On the Jungle Floor higher than Prince's new album 3121. It's a Buy It for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 21
PopularPopular available on iTunes

Van Hunt Popular

The first album up for review this week is Popular by soul singer Van Hunt. Jim and Greg both received their review copies, and were excited to talk about the album on the air. Then, they saw a post on Van Hunt's blog. The singer announced that he had been cut from the Blue Note roster and wasn‘t sure if the album would ever see the light of day. Both Jim and Greg agree that this is a shame. Jim admits that Van Hunt isn’t reinventing the wheel, but he borrows from all the right places. He thinks the singer has great style and great taste and loves this record to pieces. Greg calls the album lean and sparse, and says that it will be jarring to most R&B fans. But, he hears more of Van Hunt himself in this album, rather than just Prince and Sly Stone. Both Jim and Greg urge listeners to seek the music out online, and if they could give it a Buy It, they would.

JimGreg
Go to episode 114
FutureSex/LoveSoundsFutureSex/LoveSounds available on iTunes

Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds

The final bit of news is the release of Justin Timberlake's second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. The ex-teen heartthrob is all grown up and has aligned himself with producer Timbaland, as well as Rick Rubin and will.i.am, for a darker, more cutting-edge — and yes, sexier — sound than 'N Sync fans are used to. He's also launched an impressive live show that has the charismatic singer fronting an 11-piece band. It's just one of many adventurous moves that are impressing our hosts. Jim explains that with the exception of one bum track which tells the sad story of“a life ruined by meth addiction,”the diverse array of songs on FutureSex/LoveSounds all succeed. He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg agrees, explaining that the songs are fairly avant-garde and hook-less for a pop record. He does not think Timberlake is the best singer in the world, but he pulls off dance music as well as old-school soul. He also gives the album a Buy It. (By the way, Timberlake is not the only former Mouseketeer“dropping”a project this week. We want to extend hearty congratulations to his former girlfriend, Britney Spears, now the mom of two.)

JimGreg
Go to episode 42
Ghetto ClassicsStill Ghetto available on iTunes

Jaheim Still Ghetto

Our hosts also tackle the new album by soul singer Jaheim. Ghetto Classics is the last installment in a "ghetto" trilogy, after Ghetto Love and Still Ghetto. Following in the footsteps of smooth singers like Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass, Jaheim loves to sing about love. In his ballads, he is never the player, and prides himself on being respectful of women, even when he is being used and abused. Jim can't imagine that Jaheim ever gets played in real life, but appreciates his old-school, down-to-earth approach to R&B. He and Greg both recommend listeners Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 14
CurrentsCurrents available on iTunes

Tame Impala Currents

On the heels of their 2013 appearance on Sound Opinions, listeners will hear a new sound with the new Tame Impala album Currents. Lead singer Kevin Parker has taken the band in a new direction laden away from classic psychedlia and towards sounds that previous albums didn't touch upon, namely Soul and R&B. Greg thinks this change in sound along with more pointed, introspective lyrics has led to a step forward for the band, especially in a live setting. He gives the album a Buy It. Jim agrees and compares Parker to another pop auteur, Brian Wilson. Jim thinks that the album displays Parker's ability to take different elements across the musical spectrum and make them orchestral and moving. He too gives Currents a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 503
Love & HateLove & Hate available on iTunes

Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate

British soul artist Michael Kiwanuka first came to public attention after opening for Adele in 2011. Five years later, he's released his second album called Love and Hate. While his first record had a vibe that resembled classic soul folk artists like Bill Withers, he went in a different direction the second time around. Greg loves Kiwanuka's sophomore effort because of his departure from his initial style. He thinks that Kiwanuka has found his voice as an artist, speaking out about his experiences as a "black man in a white world" as he sings in a track with the same name. Greg thought his collaboration with Danger Mouse really elevated his music to another level, he gives this album a Buy It. Jim also thought very highly of Love & Hate. He admires his willingness to speak openly about issues he is passionate about, and appreciates Kiwanuka's melding of different genres. Jim also gives the album an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 557
B'day

Beyoncé B'Day

One of pop's reigning divas, Beyoncé Knowles, is releasing a new album the day after her 25th birthday. The aptly titled B'Day (not to be confused with this), is Beyoncé's second solo effort since splitting from girl group Destiny's Child. This is a big year for Beyoncé—besides the new album, she is also starring in the forthcoming movie-musical Dreamgirls and still going strong in the role of Mrs. Jay-Z. Jim suspects that all of Beyoncé's other concerns overshadowed her interest in the music on B'Day. With the exception of soul-sampled songs like "Sugar Mama," Jim thinks the album is an unfocused mess and gives it a Trash It. Greg had high hopes for Beyoncé (who can boast singing and dancing ability as well as a pretty face) but her current message is lost on Greg. He can't understand why the former "Independent Woman" would decide to play such a victim. Therefore, despite some good beats and good singing, he has to give B'Day a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 40
Donnie Trumpet

Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment Surf

Out now is a debut for the new collective Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment. Surf smoothly combines rap, soul and pop as well as it seamlessly blends its different musicians. Chance the Rapper's childhood pal Donnie Trumpet fronts the band. Although Chance is the big name, he appears on fewer than half the tracks. That's not a problem for Greg. He thinks the record's sonics showcase a variety of sounds, musicians and friendships. Greg is even inticed by the fact they have big name rappers laying down rhymes over a harp. He gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees, adding that Surf showcases light and positivity present in neighborhoods where violence is all too prevalent. He calls it“inspired and brilliant,”and says Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 498
kink khan and the shrines

King Khan and the Shrines The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines

The day after The Hold Steady took the stage, Pitchfork fans were wowed by the antics of King Khan and the Shrines. Jim was less wowed with Khan's own wardrobe malfunction, which he felt distracted from the music. He's impressed with Khan's collection of past recordings, The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines, which is almost like Iggy Pop meets James Brown. Greg hears Nuggets-era soul, and thinks The Supreme Genius is a great introduction into Khan's music. Both critics give the album a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 139
The Odd CoupleThe Odd Couple available on iTunes

Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple

Next up is a review of an album that's sure to make news in 2008. Gnarls Barkley has released their highly anticipated second album The Odd Couple. This is the follow-up to 2006's successful release St. Elsewhere, which featured the hit single "Crazy." The genre-blending duo consisting of singer/songwriter Cee-Lo Green and DJ Danger Mouse went for an even darker mood on this album, and both Jim and Greg think it's a success. Jim loves the psychedelic universe Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse created-one that's part soul, part rock, part hip-hop. He admits that there are no "Crazy"-style singles, but gives The Odd Couple a big Buy It. Greg was impressed by how the two men take traditional pop genres like British invasion and Motown, and update them for the 21st century. And beneath the psychedelic swirl of sounds are great melodies and complicated lyrics. Greg seconds the Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 122
The ArchAndroid (Deluxe)The ArchAndroid available on iTunes

Janelle Monáe The ArchAndroid

On the other end of the rock spectrum is Janelle Monáe. The alternative R&B singer's debut album is called The ArchAndroid. It's a dense science fiction concept record that incorporates hip hop, soul, funk, rock and big bandsounds. Jim hears the most ambition from an R&B singer in a long time. He loves Monáe's universe and gives The ArchAndroid a Buy It. Greg goes even further, calling this record the best he's heard this year. Spend time with it and you will love it. The ArchAndroid gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 234
Love YesLove Yes available on iTunes

TEEN Love Yes

Alt-rock group TEEN is made up of sisters Katherine, Lizzie and Kristina (Teeny) Lieberson and Boshra AlSaadi. But in 2010, TEEN was a mere home recording project by Teeny. TEEN's third full-length album, Love Yes, introduces them to their widest audience yet. Greg has loved TEEN since the beginning because of what they set out to do, but their execution always fell short. In Love Yes, the band has improved at crafting their quirks into tight pop songs. Still, Greg takes issue with the lack of editing here. The album is full of great ideas, but having four tracks end with too-long horn solos is not one of them. Despite that, this is the band's best album yet. Love Yes is a Try It for Greg. Jim thinks Greg is being stingy and gives kudos to TEEN's ambition. They combine shoegaze, funk and soul in a way that really works. Plus Love Yes lays out a new perspective on love, steering clear of sappiness typical of love songs, while still ringing hopeful. Jim goes so far as to call this record a masterpiece and undoubtedly a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
Jamila Woods

Jamila Woods HEAVN

In the last few years, Chicago poet and soul artist Jamila Woods has made memorable cameos on tracks by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, and more. Now, she's breaking out with her debut album HEAVN. Jim loves how Jamila effortlessly blends genres like soul, R&B, and hip hop. He also finds her lyrics to be powerful and effective in painting a picture of her life as a black woman. Jim thinks Woods is elevating the neo soul genre to the next level and gives HEAVN a Buy It. Greg wholeheartedly agrees, and thinks this album is another great release coming from the Chicago hip hop and R&B scene. He greatly respects Jamila's ability to poetically articulate her struggles against society's perceptions of black beauty and womanhood. Overall, Greg thinks this is one of the best albums of the year so far, and gives it an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 558
Livin' on a High NoteLivin' On a High Note available on iTunes

Mavis Staples Livin' On a High Note

Mavis Staples had a legendary career with her family's gospel and soul band The Staple Singers, which was a major part of the protest movement of the 1960s and scored huge hits for Stax in the 1970s. Mavis reinvented herself as solo artist in 2000s, collaborating on records with Ry Cooder and Jeff Tweedy. For Livin' On a High Note, she and producer M. Ward as a producer asked a variety of contemporary songwriters to write material for her to sing, including Neko Case, Nick Cave, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Jim loves how the best songs bring Mavis full circle by referencing on the Black Lives Matter movement. While the other songs are hit and miss, Mavis Staples is a“national treasure”and her voice is as powerful as ever. Jim is still waiting for her end career masterpiece, but this album is a definite Buy It. Greg – who literally wrote the book on Mavis Staples – points to We'll Never Turn Back as her masterpiece, but says this album is very good too. He loves what she does even with the lesser songs, like Vernon's generic love song, which she transforms into a moving address to her sister Yvonne Staples. In the middle of her 70s, Mavis Staples is doing some of the best work of her career.

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
PopularPopular available on iTunes

Van Hunt Popular

Soul-rocker Van Hunt's album Popular, originally slated for release back in 2008, is finally seeing the light of day. According to Greg, the record is“totally contemporary, and totally of the moment… still.” The album, a stylistic diversion from Van Hunt's previous efforts (Van Hunt [2006] and On the Jungle Floor [2007]), was shelved by Blue Note Records after promotional copies had been distributed to critics. Jim and Greg received copies of the album back then and gave the album an "enthusiastic double Buy It" – despite listeners not being able to purchase the music at the time. Now that Blue Note has given the record a proper release, Jim and Greg revisited the record. Greg calls it a Freudian, avant-garde take on Prince's Dirty Mind. He adds that the record has an“adventurous”blend of sonic elements like the mix of punk with falsetto soul vocals in "Turn My TV On." Jim says the record was ahead of its time in 2008 and still sounds absolutely fresh and current beside "other genre-bending maestros of R&B like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar." Both Greg and Jim give Popular another double Buy It (and this time you can actually buy it).

JimGreg
Go to episode 614
I See YouI See You available on iTunes

The xx I See You

When The xx were guests on the shows in 2010, Jim & Greg had no idea the British trio's blend of modern soul with minimalist '80s alternative sounds would prove so influential. Greg says that the band has subtly expanded its sound on its third album I See You, but hasnn‘t taken any big musical leaps. Because he feels the group hasn’t quite got there yet, Greg gives the album a Try It. Jim, however, loves the contrast between the album's celebratory sounds and its hints of darkness under the surface. Jim says The xx have grown and are pointing toward something exciting, proving they're a career band. For him, I See You is a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 582
RevelationsRevelations available on iTunes

Shamir Revelations

Singer-songwriter Shamir is back with a new album called Revelations. While his debut Ratchet sported a lot of house music and festival hooks, Revelations is a much more mid-fi effort that mixes genres like folk, soul and rock. Jim finds the record to be a shocking departure but in a good way. Shamir is singing about what's on his mind: racism, sexism, gender, sexuality, etc. He articulates his thoughts wonderfully with a sonically interesting blend of musical styles. Jim is a fan of Revelations and gives it a Buy it. Greg agrees, and loves that Shamir is asserting his independence and uniqueness as an artist. He also loves Shamir's allusions to other artists he admires, like the Ronettes and the Pixies. Greg finds this album to be inspired and interesting, and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 624
I'll Sleep When You're Dead

El-P I'll Sleep When You're Dead

Rapper and producer El-P's new album is I‘ll Sleep When You’re Dead. This is the second solo release for the Brooklyn artist, who made his dent as the founder of hip hop group Company Flow and indie label Definitive Jux. El-P prides himself on making hip hop that is in keeping with the genre's roots: two turntables and a microphone. But, rather than rely on beats and soul samples, El-P's collages are futuristic, and according to Greg,“skuzzy.”So much so, that he compares the rapper to Trent Reznor, who also makes an appearance on the record. As Jim explains, the dark, complicated soundscapes match the verses, which talk about violence and paranoia in the post-9/11 world. The songs are political, but not preachy, and Jim recommends them to anyone who is a fan of hip hop, or just a fan of interesting music. Greg praises El-P for being a classicist who can also look to the future. There's nothing stale or nostalgic here, but Greg warns that I‘ll Sleep When I’m Dead could be a little too challenging for some people's ears. With that small advisory, El-P gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
GraduationGraduation available on iTunes

Kanye West Graduation

Another album to be released on the same day as Curtis is Graduation from Kanye West. 50 Cent has publicly challenged West in the sales department, but when it comes to the music, Jim and Greg think there's no contest. The rapper/producer's third album and“dissertation”shows that not only has he grown as a rapper, but also as a producer. Jim calls the album a smorgasbord of sounds and a departure from the traditional Kanye West soul sample formula. He thinks Graduation is musically brilliant, and definitely recommends listeners Buy It. Greg is also impressed with this album. Kanye is an innovator sonically, but also demonstrates a complexity in his lyrics. Where 50 Cent denies he has any weaknesses, Kanye broadcasts them. This is evident in the album's closing track, "Big Brother," which Greg calls one of the best songs Kanye has ever done lyrically. He also gives Graduation a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 93
The Real Thing - Words & Sounds, Vol. 3The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3 available on iTunes

Jill Scott The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3

Next up is another female singer/songwriter, Jill Scott. After her successful 2000 debut Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds, Vol. 1, Scott established herself as one of the most powerful voices in R&B and soul. Now she's back with The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3, which Greg describes as having two stylistic poles, strong and sassy and soft and soul-searching, with a whole lot of“boot-knocking”music in between. Both Jim and Greg are fans of Scott, but wish there was more spunk and more hooks on this record, since they know she is capable of it. The Real Thing is a real Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 96
44 available on iTunes

Beyoncé 4

Beyoncé's got her fourth album and her fourth number one…aptly named 4. With this record, she's earned her stripes, so rumors swirled that she was indulging her whims production-wise by collaborating with Diplo and Fela Kuti and recording upwards of seventy songs. But,rumors were just that, and of those seventy tracks, Beyoncé picked some doozies. Greg hears more soul on the ballads, but otherwise is disappointed by the hodge podge of bad choices. Jim can't even get behind the ballads and calls 4 the epitomy of factory-made pop product. 4 = 2 Trash Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 293
Lay It DownLay It Down available on iTunes

Al Green Lay It Down

Lay It Down is the latest release from Reverend Al Green. The Memphis-based soul singer collaborated with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of The Roots for the album, which also features guest spots from Anthony Hamilton and Corinne Bailey Rae. Jim notes that Green could sing the phone book and make it compelling… and his lyrics are about as interesting as that. He's trying to sing love songs, but whether they are about earthly or divine love is unclear. Greg agrees that the material is not very strong, but Green's amazing voice overcomes it. Both Jim and Greg think Lay It Down is worth a listen and give the album a Try It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 130
Potato HolePotato Hole available on iTunes

Booker T. Jones Potato Hole

Multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones also has a new album out called Potato Hole. It's a rare solo release from the man behind much of the Stax Records sound. This time around he's joined up with Neil Young and the Drive-By Truckers for a more guitar-centric record. That was problematic for Jim, who wished there was more of a focal point. He gives Potato Hole a Try It. Greg was impressed when he heard about the project's esteemed line-up. But, for him it didn‘t translate to the music. Greg didn’t hear anything persuasive and thinks Booker T. should stick to soul. He gives the album a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 178
Interpretations: The British Rock SongbookInterpretations: The British Rock Songbook available on iTunes

Bettye LaVette Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook

What happens when a veteran soul singer takes on classic British rock tunes? The answer is actually not as exciting as one might think. Both Jim and Greg were really looking forward to Bettye LaVette's Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. The album came out of LaVette's Kennedy Center Honors performance of "Love Reign O'er Me," by The Who. She put her unique, alto rasp to use on subsequent covers of songs by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. But, as Greg explains, the album's sleepy, slow-burn pace didn't do her voice or the songs justice. Jim agrees, and also wishes LaVette had chosen more original songs by these famous artists. They both regrettably give the record a Trash It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 235
You Are Not AloneYou Are Not Alone available on iTunes

Mavis Staples You Are Not Alone

During this show Jim and Greg review some of this season's big new releases. First up is the latest from Mavis Staples. The iconic Chicago soul singer turned to neighbor and fan Jeff Tweedy of Wilco to produce You Are Not Alone. Greg calls Staples one of America's great singers. And all of the facets of her sound and personality are represented here. He gives the album a Buy It rating. Jim has been waiting for Mavis to make her masterpiece record that would tell the world how great she really is. You Are Not Alone is a fine effort, but the songs are nothing special, according to Jim. He worries that Tweedy was intimidated by Staples and didn't push her enough. For that reason Jim tells listeners to Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 249
Wounded Rhymes (Deluxe Version)Wounded Rhymes available on iTunes

Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes

Swedish singer Lykke Li has a new album out called Wounded Rhymes. She has again teamed up with fellow Swede Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John. The maturity is leaps and bounds above her previous effort. Greg was impressed with the“oomph”of her voice and her interesting source material. It's Phil Spector and doo-wop, but with a wicked tinge. Jim agrees, adding gospel and soul influences to that pot. Wounded Rhymes gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 279
Sound & ColorSound & Color available on iTunes

Alabama Shakes Sound & Color

Alabama Shakes has the sometimes difficult task of topping a great debut album. With its new release, Sound & Color, Jim and Greg both think Shakes cleared the hurdle with flying colors. Greg says that the band has really utilized the studio to offer a multitude of soundscapes and Brittany Howard's deeply personal lyrics are a great compliment to the sound which mixes soul, rock and blues. Jim thinks the sound of this album is kaleidoscopic, and, like Greg, gives this album a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 496
In RainbowsIn Rainbows available on iTunes

Radiohead In Rainbows

While there's a lot of buzz about Radiohead's release experiment for In Rainbows, Jim and Greg believe that the album is actually one of the band's more subtle and modest efforts. It's 10 songs, 42 minutes of beautiful music, all of which feature the band's characteristic electronic elements, guitars and strings, but it's less straight-up rock than fans are used to. And, as Jim pointed out in his review of Thom Yorke's solo album Eraser, the Radiohead frontman has really refined his singing in the past couple of years. The result is almost a soul record according to Greg. It investigates human beings‘ need for love, despite the heartache it can bring. And, Jim adds, like almost all of the band’s releases, it also investigates the good and bad that can come from increased technology. Whatever themes you take from the record, Jim and Greg are confident that you will be happy to own this record — whether you pay for it or not. In Rainbows gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 99
Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (5th Anniversary Edition)Food and Liquor available on iTunes

Lupe Fiasco Food and Liquor

After being leaked and speculated about for months, the final version of Lupe Fiasco's debut solo album Food and Liquor was released this week. Lupe, or Wasalu Muhammed Jaco, has previously worked with fellow Chicagoan Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z, who executive produced this album. The first single off the album, "Kick Push," is a modest hit, but both Jim and Greg think the song and the entire album deserve more attention. They love how Lupe weaves stories in such a unique way. He's a self-professed geek ("Kick Push" is about skateboarding and the album cover shows an image of the rapper floating through space with his trapper keeper) and you won't hear any typical hip-hop fare on this record. The music digs deep for its jazz and soul samples and doesn't depend on a plethora of cameo star producers. Both critics give Food and Liquor a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 43
Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959) [Remastered]Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959) available on iTunes

Ray Charles Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959)

Ray Charles is another deceased musician who has recently been brought back to life in the media. Last year, Charles was profiled in his own biopic, Ray, and this year his music was featured in a song that was number one for most of 2005Kanye West's "Gold Digger." Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959) is a six-disc overview of Charles' early period. Charles was signed to Atlantic Records by Ahmet Ertegun in the 1950s, and according to Greg, these Atlantic recordings came to be what we now know as R&B music. The music, originally produced by Jerry Wexler, will appeal to the soul aficionado, but neither Jim nor Greg can recommend this set as a Buy It for a casual listener. Both say it's a Burn It. The song Greg chooses is Charles' original 1954 performance of "I've Got a Woman," as opposed to Jamie Foxx's rendition you hear on "Gold Digger."

JimGreg
Go to episode 3
Come Around Sundown (Extended Version)Come Around Sundown available on iTunes

Kings of Leon Come Around Sundown

A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg discussed the career trajectory of U2. Kings of Leon seem to be on a similar path. The southern“band of brothers”(and cousin) are opening for the Irish band on their 360 tour, and Jim and Greg hear a lot more stadium bombast with their latest release Come Around Sundown. Lead singer Caleb Followill has turned on the rawk singing, and no funky or soul blues cliche was left unturned, according to Jim. It's way too over the top to him and lacks any experimentation or originality. Jim gives it a Trash It rating, adding that this might be one of the worst records of the year. Greg calls that a ridiculous statement, but agrees that he doesn‘t like the direction the band is headed. They’ve lost much of the rhythm and distinctiveness from their 2003 debut. But still, Greg wouldn't throw it in the bin. Kings of Leon gets a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 256
dijs

Jim

“Sour Times”Portishead

It's Jim's turn to select a song to take with him to the desert island this week. His DIJ pick was inspired by the two albums reviewed in the show. Amy Winehouse considers herself a modern day Nina Simone, and Timbaland uses a Nina Simone sample in his song "Oh Timbaland." Jim is in favor of referencing the past, but wanted to go back to a band that was able to bring a hip hop attitude to classic '60s soul and jazz much more successfully than Winehouse ever could. That band is Portishead. Portishead came out of England during the 1990s as part of the "trip-hop" movement. While their tenure was short (though word is they are making music again), Jim is still impressed by the group's ability to merge American hip hop with British psychedelia with early soul and R&B. The album he urges listeners to go back to is 1994's Dummy, and the track he wants to add to the Desert Island Jukebox is "Sour Times."

Go to episode 71

Greg

“A Woman Needs to be Loved”Tyrone Davis

Greg Kot's Desert Island Jukebox selection for this week is "A Woman Needs to be Loved" by Tyrone Davis. Greg notes that three great soul singers died in 2005; Eugene Record, Luther Vandross, and Tyrone Davis, with Tyrone being the most overlooked and versatile of the three. Greg points out that you can hear the resentment and pain in Tyrone's voice, over the knowledge that he was wrong. This pain makes this track the standout in his discography.

Go to episode 5

Greg

“The Look of Love”Dusty Springfield

The Annie Lennox review prompted Greg to think about other UK soul singers. Of course there's Amy Winehouse now, but the mother of them all was Dusty Springfield. Many people know Dusty for her song "Son of a Preacher Man," which was featured in the movie Pulp Fiction. But the track Greg wants to take with him to the desert island is "The Look of Love," which was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. For Greg it highlights Dusty's subtle sexy voice, one that is almost doing a duet with the saxophone. And it also summed up, at one time, what Greg thought marriage was going to be all about: lust, romance and glamorous hair.

Go to episode 98

Jim

“Stranger to My Happiness”Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

This week, Jim pays tribute to Sharon Jones, a huge figure in the neo-soul revival, who died November 18 after a battle with cancer. With her powerful voice and electric stage presence, Jones was, according to Jim, the true inheritor of the legacy of fellow Augusta, Georgia native James Brown. She moved to Brooklyn where she ended up teaming up with The Dap-Kings, the finest soul / R&B backing band since Stax. Their 2013 song "Stranger to My Happiness" exemplifies her bravery against her illness. Ostensibly a love song, the lyrics also find Jones reckoning with mortality. She didn‘t wear a wig after losing her hair from chemotherapy, refusing to pretend to be anything she wasn’t. You can see that in a powerful video Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings recorded for“Stranger to My Happiness,”which is Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick of the week.

Go to episode 575

Greg

“Can't Turn You Loose”Otis Redding

Greg's Desert Island Jukebox choice this week was inspired by the passing of Phil Walden. Walden was a major figure in the southern rock scene, and co-founded Capricorn Records, home to The Allman Brothers and Charlie Daniels Band. Greg, however, remembers Walden as the man instrumental in propelling the career of soul singer Otis Redding. He was Redding's manager up until the singer's tragic plane crash in 1967, and helped expand his career into the mainstream. One savvy decision was to put Otis Redding and all of the key Stax Records players on the road in Europe in the summer of 1967. The competition between Redding and Stax acts like Sam & Dave fueled the performer's fire. The result was a high-energy, high-impact performance like the one he gave of "Can't Turn You Loose" — this week's DIJ pick.

Go to episode 23

Greg

“Why”Lonnie Mack

Lost in the global media spotlight on Prince's death was the passing of another important musical innovator – guitarist Lonnie Mack, who died at 74 on April 21. Born an Indiana farmboy, Mack inspired generations of artists by blending country, blues, and soul on his famous Flying V guitar. He was one of the first to turn the whammy bar into a true textural instrument. But Greg feels Mack's vocal style is sadly underrated. He was a true soul singer, and Greg calls his recording of "Why" from the 1963 debut album The Wham of That Memphis Man! one of the great vocal performances of the era. Because of that, it's Greg's Desert Island Jukebox selection of the week.

Go to episode 545

Greg

“He's My Son (Just the Same)”O.V. Wright

This week, Greg takes us to the Desert Island and chooses a classic deep soul record for the jukebox by O.V. Wright. Though the Memphis vocalist never achieved mainstream success in his short life, Greg thinks he is one of the "greatest soul singers of all time."

O.V. Wright had a“lot of experiences with heartache and disappointment”according to Greg. Those experiences helped color his work, including his excellent album Memphis Unlimited, released in 1973. Produced by Willie Mitchell (who most famously worked with Al Green), the album features Greg's desert island jukebox pick "He's My Son (Just the Same)". The song is about a man who came out of prison to find his wife had a child by his own brother. The anguish and the forgiveness communicated through O.V. Wright's performance is "heartbreaking and beautiful."

Go to episode 621

Greg

“Trying to Live My Life Without You”Otis Clay

Greg's Desert Island Jukebox selection this week is inspired by the death of R&B and soul singer Otis Clay on January 8th. It got Greg thinking about his track "Trying to Live My Life Without You." Most people will remember Bob Seger's version of the song. And as Greg explains, Seger was such a fan, he was angry when the Eagles released something similar: "The Long Run." Eagles member Glenn Frey also died this week, but it's the Clay original Greg chooses to remember.

Go to episode 530

Greg

“Devil's Pie”D'Angelo

Recently Greg's been thinking about whatever happened to soul singer D'Angelo. He made what Greg would consider a masterful album in 2000. Voodoo put D'Angelo at the heart of the neo-soul movement, but that's the last we‘ve heard from him. Greg can’t explain the disappearance, but he can relive the singer's glory days with this week's Desert Island Jukebox song "Devil's Pie."

Go to episode 171

Greg

“Midnight Train to Georgia”Gladys Knight

The harmony vocals on Wild Flag's record inspired Greg to give the backup singer some. And there's no better backup singing group than The Pips. Everyone, Jim and Greg included, wanted to be as cool as The Pips. Their music with Gladys Knight epitomized what was great about the golden era of soul music—not just sophisticated songwriting, but sophisticated arrangements that were influenced by the call and response style of gospel music. Greg chooses to add their hit song "Midnight Train to Georgia" to the Desert Island Jukebox, which incidentally is an improvement from the original title "Midnight Train to Houston."

Go to episode 302

Greg

“California Soul”Marlena Shaw

One of the best things about music is it can transport you to a whole other place without ever having to leave the room. Greg's DIJ pick this week is Marlena Shaw's 1969 track, "California Soul." The song was written by Ashford & Simpson and had been covered by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and The 5th Dimension. However Shaw's version is the most definitive, having been sampled numerous times over the years. Her cover combined elements of R&B, soul, jazz and a hypnotizing string arrangement. While Shaw recorded the track in Chicago, it transports the listener straight to California.

Go to episode 495
lists

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
rock doctors

Cassie

Whenever Jim and Greg become the Rock Doctors a different challenge is presented. They've had to consult with couples, families and have even staged an intervention. Now they enter the business world. Cassie is a store owner in Chicago who reached out to the Rock Doctors earlier this year. Cassie's problem: What to play in the shop? She tends to return to the same well of old pop and funk over and over again, and her employees are ready to strike. She wants a dose of new music that will keep customers happy and won't cause any eyerolls from the staff.

Jim's prescription is The Budos Band III. The Budos Band is an instrumental band recording on the Daptone Records label, which is also home to Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse's backing band The Dap-Kings. Jim is confident that Cassie will appreciate their sound, which fuses old-school soul with afro-beat.

Greg prescribes Jim by British singer Jamie Lidell. Greg praises Lidell's vocal style and live performances and thinks that this album will give Cassie the retro R&B she loves, while keeping it fresh.

After playing both albums in her store for a couple of weeks Cassie returns to the show for a follow-up appointment. She has nothing but good things to say about Jim by Jamie Lidell. It's upbeat, feel-good music that impressed her staff and got customers tapping their feet. She also really liked The Budos Band III, and fancied herself in a British spy film. But, Cassie admits it did get repetitive, so she'll be mixing it in a playlist rather than putting the record on beginning to end. All in all, a healthy, happy patient.

Go to episode 259
features

Hooked On Sonics: Little Dragon

Little Dragon Swedish band Little Dragon has been churning out catchy electronic soul since 2006; but their connection to soul music started much earlier. Lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano and drummer Erik Bodin told us about the song that helped Yukimi to embrace her own unique voice in the latest edition of Hooked on Sonics. A fan of American soul music, it was the voice of Aaron Neville of The Neville Brothers singing Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" that blew her mind.

Go to episode 616

Hooked On Sonics: Amber Mark

Amber Mark Amber Mark is a young, up-and-coming singer whose sound is a mixture of R&B, soul and pop. Mark recently made a splash with her EP 3:33am, a record about the sudden passing of her mother. Critics lauded her strong voice and evocative lyrics, and she's currently signed to the British independent label PMR with distribution through the famous Interscope Records. Amber Mark shares that the artist that got her "Hooked on Sonics" is Michael Jackson, and the song that made her love music was the percussive "Working Day and Night" from his Off the Wall album. Listen to Amber tell the story of first hearing the song and the unique experience of sitting in the V.I.P. section at Michael's concert in Munich.

Go to episode 630
news

Music News

Go to episode 618

Music News

This year's Mercury Prize winner has just been announced. The Arctic Monkeys will take home the British music prize, following in the footsteps of PJ Harvey, Dizzee Rascal, Badly Drawn Boy and Pulp. The prize is usually awarded to a non-commercial artist as an alternative to the more mainstream Brit Awards. Jim suggests that the U.S. equivalent would fall between the Grammy Awards and the more-eclectic Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll. The Arctic Monkeys were a surprising choice because they were perhaps the most obvious candidates. To say they were a huge phenomenon in the U.K. is an understatement — their album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, was the fastest selling debut album in UK history. However, despite high profile appearances on Saturday Night Live and at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, they did not wow American audiences on the same level. But Jim and Greg both gave the record a Buy It rating in their review.

Also making headlines is soul legend Ronald Isley. The Isley Brother, also known as“Mr. Biggs,”has been convicted of tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.1 million to the I.R.S — the maximum sentence he could have received. Jim and Greg had hoped that the judge would show some leniency to the musician, who recently suffered a stroke and a bout with kidney cancer, and is expecting a baby in January. Our hosts also cite Isley as one of the great talents of our time, noting that he has had a major hit in every one of his six decades as a performer. They suggest that it is Isley's friend, R. Kelly, who deserves the harsh hand of the law.

While“Mr. Biggs”can stay“Mr. Biggs,”even in prison,“Diddy”can no longer be“Diddy”in the U.K. The artist formerly known as P. Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy, and Sean Combs has agreed to drop the Diddy name as part of a legal settlement with a London-based producer named Richard“Diddy”Dearlove. Diddy became Diddy in 2001, but Dearlove had a hit under the name in 1997. Combs, however, announced that he can now add a new name to the list: Diddy is going to be a daddy.

Go to episode 42

Music News

Go to episode 585

Music News

"All the squares, go home!" Cynthia Robinson, famed trumpeter for Sly and the Family Stone, has passed away at the age of 71 from cancer. Robinson, a former guest on Sound Opinions, moved from flute to clarinet before ultimately becoming one of the great trumpet players in rock. She was childhood friends with Sly Stone and co-founded Sly and the Stoners with him in the mid-'60s. That band would become Sly and the Family Stone, scoring huge hits like "Dance to the Music," "Everyday People," and "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)". According to Greg, not only was the band groundbreaking musically in its mix of rock, funk, and soul, but he also credits its biracial co-ed makeup for embodying the counterculture better than any other band. As tribute to the great Cynthia Robinson, they play "Underdog," an early horn feature from 1967.

Go to episode 523

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Percy Sledge died this week at the age of 74 from cancer. The soul singer was most famous for his hit song "When a Man Loves a Woman." The story goes that as a young man he was working in a hospital when a patient overheard him singing and suggested he record music for a living. His songs have been covered numerous times, most prominently by Michael Bolton, which caused a resurgence of popularity for Sledge in the '90s. He continued making music and performing up until his death.

It's no secret that Ringo Starr is a great drummer but should he be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist? Paul McCartney thought so and worked with Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl to get Starr inducted as a special candidate. Ringo received the“Musical Excellence Award”- only the fourth recipeint in HOF history.

Go to episode 490

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One of the biggest and most shocking news stories this week was the death of Michael Jackson. The pop legend died at the age of 50 in Los Angeles. There was no indication that he was ill. In fact, Greg spoke to the Jackson camp only a few days ago about the singer's big comeback tour. But, nothing about Jackson's life or music was expected. His 1982 album Thriller is the biggest selling of all time. But, for Jim and Greg it's Off the Wall that was really a masterpiece melding of soul, disco and pop. It's hard to talk about Jackson without mentioning his personal scandals. He was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005, but his legacy will forever be linked to those accusations. And unfortunately, as Jim and Greg explain, some may remember the eccentricities more than the music.

Go to episode 187

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Music legend James Brown died earlier this week at the age of 73, so the first part of the show is spent paying homage to the“hardest working man in show business.”Jim and Greg discuss Brown's long-running career from the soul era up through today's hip hop music. In fact, Greg explains that Brown's track "King Heroin" is a rap tune that pre-dates hip hop. And, Brown is one of the most sampled musicians in rock history. To illustrate this fact, our hosts take the track "The Payback" and play some of the major hip hop songs that are built on it.

Go to episode 57

Music News

The first news story this week involves a deal made between the band Korn and the concert promoters formally known as Clear Channel-Live Nation. Korn, its label, and Live Nation, which runs about 70% of venues across the country, have agreed to share profits from record and ticket sales. This kind of synergy helps sell the Korn brand and maintain the idea of music acts as corporations. And, as Greg points out, deals like this could really revolutionize the music industry. Korn is not the first group to operate this way, however. British pop sensation Robbie Williams struck such a deal in 2002. Fellow Brits Radiohead, on the other hand, have chosen to go a completely different route. By not working with corporate promoters at all, they avoid the corporate concert machine entirely. As Radiohead fans in Chicago know, though, this is not an easy task.

Next up in the news is the bankruptcy announcement made by the largest chain of music stores, Musicland. While our hosts now prefer to support independent music stores, Jim (who was once a Musicland employee of sorts) remembers buying his first record, an album by King Crimson, at a similar chain store. For Jim and Greg, and many music fans who grew up shopping for music at the mall, the fall of Musicland is really the end of an era — or the death of a dinosaur.

Also making headlines this week is the always-controversial rapper Eminem. He and ex-wife Kimberly Mathers remarried. Like Sid and Nancy, and Kurt and Courtney before them, Marshall and Kim have a love story for the ages. Kim, both muse and mother, has managed to overlook some of the less kind words Eminem has said about her. Therefore, the romantics on the Sound Opinions staff wishes to congratulate those crazy kids. Mazel Tov, Em and Kim!

The Rolling Stones also make an appearance in the news. The latest all-stars to perform in the Superbowl Halftime Show, the Stones can hope to appeal to all generations of viewers. The Superbowl, however, seems a bit concerned. Despite the fact that the average age of a Stone is 65, halftime show producers initially tried to ban people over the age of 45 from coming up on stage to dance. The ban has since been removed, but sports fans shouldn't expect to see the Ashlee Simpson crowd getting down to "Start Me Up."

Finally, Jim and Greg remember soul great Wilson Pickett, who died Thursday. The singer, often called“Wicked Pickett,”was known for his wicked sound and behavior. Pickett, who grew up on a sharecropping farm in Alabama, fled to the north to make music. He later returned to the south to record some of his most famous songs, including "Mustang Sally," "In the Midnight Hour" and "Land of a 1000 Dances," which was embraced by punk rockers like Patti Smith. Pickett did covers as well. Listen to his version of "Hey Jude," which never ended up on a regular studio release, but can be heard on Pickett compilations.

Go to episode 8

Music News

Jim and Greg discussed the great Kanye West/50 Cent sales battle a couple of weeks ago, and this week the results are in. Kanye took it in a landslide with a #1 spot on the Billboard charts and a whopping 957,000 copies sold. Kanye's album Graduation is the biggest selling album so far this year and is the 15th biggest sales frame since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. 50 Cent's album Curtis only sold 691,000 in the first week, though for a hip hop debut that's nothing to scoff at. As Jim and Greg note, no one should shed a tear for 50 Cent. On Forbes' list of the biggest earning hip hop stars, Fiddy holds the #2 spot behind mogul Jay-Z. So, despite this recent loss, 50 Cent is laughing "Straight to the Bank."

If you've been surfing YouTube recently, you may have noticed Trent Reznor's call for more stealing. The man behind Nine Inch Nails is fed up with his record company's decision to hike prices for his album Year Zero and he let his grievances be known at an Australian concert. While he doesn't legally have the authority to give his music away, he does have a point; HMV in Australia is selling Year Zero for AU $32.99, which converts to about $28 in the States. That's definitely more than a music fan should have to pay for an album, especially one that utilized a web-based marketing campaign.

And while one musician embraces the web, another does not. Pop icon Prince plans to sue YouTube and other major web sites for unauthorized use of his music in a bid to“reclaim his art on the Internet.”In a recent statement his representative wrote:“YouTube … are clearly able (to) filter porn and pedophile material but appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success.”Prince obviously doesn‘t need to use the web to build a fan base, but to Sound Opinions H.Q., he’s beginning to sound like a cranky old man.

Also in the news is the death of longtime James Brown collaborator Bobby Byrd at the age of 73. One of the chief architects of Brown's trademark sound, Byrd is often referred to as“The Godfather of Soul's Godfather.”You can hear his contribution in tons of early Brown tracks. In fact, the repeating phrase“Get on up,”on "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" was sung by Byrd. Byrd also had a successful solo career, and as Greg explains, his music can be heard sampled in countless late early hip hop songs. To pay honor to the soul/funk/R&B legend, Jim and Greg play his song, "I Know You Got Soul."

Jim and Greg speak with John Jurgensen, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. John recently wrote an article about how US visa procedures are squelching a British pop invasion. Artists like Lily Allen, M.I.A. and recent Mercury Prize winners The Klaxons have had to cancel tour dates and postpone recording sessions due to difficulties obtaining visas. John explains that this is partly due to Homeland Security crackdowns, which now mandate that artists themselves have to go to an embassy in person for fingerprinting and a retinal scan. John also says that artists have to prove that that they are legitimate,“internationally recognizable”acts. Jim and Greg wonder just how much more legit you have to be if Mercury Prize winners are getting hassled. The three reporters understand that these procedures are in place not just to protect Americans from danger but also from a loss of jobs, but unlike in the agriculture and technology industries, you can't sub one musician for another. And a loss of jobs and tour dates for one singer means the loss of many for the hundreds and thousands of promoters, roadies, sound engineers and teamsters here in the States.

Go to episode 95

Music News

AC/DC is following in the path of Garth Brooks, The Eagles and Journey. The veteran hard rock band inked a deal to sell its forthcoming album exclusively at Wal-Mart. This formula has been successful for bands in the past; The Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden sold almost 3 million copies, all without the help of a record company. But, AC/DC is still on Columbia Records, which makes Jim and Greg wonder about their motivation. They'll be curious to see how the profits break down between the band, their label and the retail store when the album is released this fall.

The latest in the line to follow the Radiohead record release model is Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis. The sample-based artist and former Sound Opinions guest is following up his underground hit Night Ripper with a new album due out soon. Like In Rainbows, Feed the Animals will be a pay-what-you-want release. But the real question is if Girl Talk will have to pay. The new album will have over 300 samples — none of which Gillis legally obtained. As more fans take notice of his work it's possible more lawyers will as well.

The godfather of soul passed away two years ago, but James Brown left behind a treasure trove of his earthly goods. Many of these items will be auctioned off at Christie's later this month. Who will reap the benefits of the sale is unclear due to the chaotic state of the singer's estate. But fans can get hold of such artifacts as Brown's Grammy and Kennedy Center Awards, his baby grand piano and Hammond organ, as well as personal notes and photos. Jim and Greg are most interested in all his grooming products though. Just imagine the hair magic Greg could produce with Brown's pick.

Go to episode 133

Music News

Pearl Jam made big news this week after announcing an exclusive deal with Target. The alternative band will release a new album along with the big box chain. And in addition they will allow Target to use a Cameron Crowe-directed video in a series of ads. Pearl Jam has long been known for its anti-corporate and anti-commercial attitude, so this was a surprise to Jim and Greg. But, as Greg says, at least they aren't selling the album exclusively through Target — good news for mom and pop record stores.

The usual record industry story goes like this: Label likes artist, label pays artist, artist makes music. But, in a twist, EMI recording artist Joss Stone has offered to pay her label not to make music. The British pop/soul singer is apparently desperate to get out of her four-album contract, after making only one of those records. This is one of many blows to the label, which has already said goodbye to Radiohead and Paul McCartney.

After a six-year trial, producer Phil Spector was finally sentenced this week. The judge showed no mercy and put him behind bars for 19 to life, with a mandatory 15 years. That means that Spector will not be eligible for parole until he is 88.

Go to episode 184

Music News

Jim and Greg start by discussing news that Alan Ellis, the administrator of the popular UK bit-torrent site Oink.cd was acquitted of charges of conspiring to defraud copyright owners. Usually Jim and Greg are reporting victory for the music industry, so they were surprised to see this verdict. But, the key was that Ellis could not be linked to any conspiracy; he merely provided the ability to search for content. A judge or jury is not likely to be as lenient to the actual downloaders, like Trent Reznor. During its operation Oink facilitated the trading of 21 million music files.

Music fans were hit with lots of sad news last week. First, there was the death of Memphis punk rocker Jay Reatard at the age of 29. Then, there was the death of Wax Trax Records founder Dannie Flesher at the age of 58. And finally, there was the death of soul singer Teddy Pendergrass at the age of 59. Pendergrass first got attention as the drummer, then singer in Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. In fact, many people may not know that it was Pendergrass, not Melvin, who sang one of their biggest hits, "If You Don't Know Me By Now." Pendergrass continued to work with Philadelphia team Gamble and Huff and to become the king of the“slow jam.”But, to remember Pendergrass, Jim and Greg decide to play "You Can't Hide From Yourself," an up-tempo track that shows his diversity as a performer.

Go to episode 217

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

Amazon recently announced its move into the publishing world. Authors like Laverne and Shirley's Penny Marshall have inked deals to have their books published and distributed by the online retailer. These kind of deals are similar to the exclusive releases sold by music retailers like Wal-Mart and Starbucks. So it begs the question: Is Amazon the music label next?

Longtime soul musician Syl Johnson's songs have been sampled by countless other artists. And consequently he's turned into a "serial litigator" according to Greg. The latest people to face his legal wrath: Kanye West and Jay-Z. The hip-hop stars used a sample of Johnson's track "Different Strokes" in their song "The Joy" from Watch the Throne. And now Johnson is seeking an injunction, damages and legal fees.

In other music news, Stone Roses fans will be happy to learn that the Manchester band will hit the stage for the first time in 15 years. Greg compares the group to the Oasis of its time, but wonders if they'll still have the chops. After all, The Stone Roses split after a disastrous show at the Reading Festival in 1996.

Go to episode 308

Music News

Every year it's interesting to look at what albums took the top slots on the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll. This is a much more accurate barometer of any given year in music than the Grammy Awards. However, this year Jim and Greg actually gave negative reviews to a lot of the Pazz & Jop winners including Watch the Throne and Let England Shake. But they were happy to see Tune-Yards' Whokill at #1.

Members of the Velvet Underground including John Cale and Lou Reed have filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts over the famous banana featured on their 1967 album cover. Warhol served as producer of the album and gave the band the image, however it was never copyrighted. And now the Velvets want to prevent the banana from going Apple.

Jimmy Castor isn‘t a household name, but chances are you’ve heard his music, or at least samples of it. He had a pop-funk hit with "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" in 1972, but also a string of funk and soul gems that ended up being sampled by hundreds of hip hop acts. Castor died this week at age 71, so to honor the late musician, Jim and Greg play one of the often-sampled tracks, "It's Just Begun."

Go to episode 321

Music News

Sad news: singer Ben E. King has died at age 76 in New Jersey. After being discovered in a luncheonette in 1956, King scored a string of hit singles as a member of The Drifters and then as a solo artist. With the unique blend of grit and smoothness in his voice, King bridged the gap between the doo-wop and soul eras – he's the rare artist who's charted in four different decades. He'll forever be remembered for his 1961 solo hit "Stand By Me," but Greg also loves his moving performance with The Drifters on the Doc Pomus-penned "Save the Last Dance For Me."

Last month we also lost Jack Ely of the Portland garage band The Kingsmen, who sang lead on their immortal 1963 cover of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie." Rumors spread that Ely's indecipherable singing might be covering up dirty lyrics, outraging then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and even prompting an FBI investigation. The more prosaic truth may have been that Ely's singing was slurred because his braces had just been tightened. While Ely may not be a household name, without those three chords, there would be no punk rock as we know it.

Go to episode 493

Music News

Some interesting chart news this week: Despite being music vets, Tom Petty and Weird Al Yankovic, both just achieved their first #1 in the past month. Over on the Jazz charts, Tony Bennett, who himself took 54 years to produce #1, has reached another hight, this time with strange bedfellow Lady Gaga. Comic book fans are showing their support for Marvel's most recent super-powered adventure, Guardians of The Galaxy. The soundtrack for the flick, an eclectic mix of '70s rock, soul, and pop staples, is the current chart topper, beating out the prolific Now series, Volume 51. Over on the vinyl end of things, Jack White's most recent release, Lazaretto, is making history with its soaring sales. The LP has already sold over 60,000 copies, the most since Pearl Jam's 1994 album Vitalogy.

Go to episode 455