Steve Earle & Opinions on Gnarls Barkley and The Raconteurs

Jim and Greg welcome the always outspoken and political singer-songwriter Steve Earle. He’s joined by wife Allison Moorer for a conversation and live performance. Then the critics will review the second effort by Crazy duo Gnarls Barkley and the Jack White side poject, The Raconteurs.

Steve Earle
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Music News

First up in the news is the passing of longtime Beatles friend, manager and business associate Neil Aspinall. The man who many called the fifth Beatle, died earlier this week at the age of 66. He grew from childhood friend of the Paul McCartney and George Harrison to CEO of Apple Corps, and was known for his fierce loyalty to the band. But, as Jim and Greg explain, many fans blamed Aspinall for the slow release of Beatles archival materials, as well as Apple Corps’ resistance toward moving into the digital age. But, as Jim points out, before launching any new Beatles venture, he had to get Paul, George, Ringo and Yoko on board—no small feat.

The Odd Couple 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.

Steve Earle

Steve Earle is Jim and Greg’s guest this week. The singer/songwriter who can also add actor, novelist, radio show host and playwright to his credits visited the show with his duet partner, muse and seventh wife Allison Moorer. That’s right: seven. But Steve is obviously not a man who is afraid of risks. After years living and working in Nashville, he moved to New York. And after years making rock music, he decided to incorporate hip hop beats and electronic elements on to his most recent record Washington Street Serenade. You can hear stripped down versions of the tracks, Tennessee Blues, Days Aren’t Long Enough, and Sparkle and Shine during the show.

Consolers of the Lonely The Raconteurs

Consolers of the Lonely

Like Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs had a successful debut album in 2006. Now, Jack White, Brendan Benson and company are back with a follow-up called Consolers of the Lonely. From the start this project was clearly an opportunity for Jack White to step outside of the boundaries of minimalism that contain the music of The White Stripes. But at the core of all the instrumentation and experimentation of the first Raconteurs record were strong melodies. And for Greg, that’s where the second album falls short. In addition to missing the great songs of the White Stripes, he found himself longing for their humor and eroticism. There isn’t really anything appealing to Greg on Consolers of the Lonely, and he’s not sure why the band rushed it out. Jim, who is an admitted fan of the art rock genre, says there is nothing worse than a bad art rock record—and this is a really bad art rock record. He notes that the band has made a point to encourage listeners to take in the album as a whole, but thinks this is terrible advice. There are only a couple of good tracks on the album, so listening to it as a whole was not an enjoyable experience for Jim. He calls it awful and depressing. Looks like our two hosts need the consoling. They both give the new Raconteurs a Trash It.

Greg

Greg’s Desert Island Jukebox pick this week was inspired by the odd, but successful, pairing of Gnarls Barkley members Cee-Lo Green and DJ Danger Mouse. He believes that the tension between opposites can often make for great rock music, even if it doesn’t lead to longevity. An example of this good tension can be heard in the music of The Pixies. Black Francisserial killer vocals mixed with Kim Deal’s beautiful harmonies created a sound that was both punk and pop. And one of Greg’s fondest concert memories is of the band reuniting in 2004 to perform Where Is My Mind? That’s why he decided to take the original version with him to the Desert Island Jukebox.

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