Jac Holzman of Elektra Records & Opinions on Adele and Lucinda Williams

Jim and Greg talk about the birth of rock and roll and the modern label system with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman. Later in the show, they review the new hit album by British singer Adele.

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Pop music invaded the Academy Awards last week. Veteran singer/ songwriter Randy Newman won the Oscar for Best Original Song. It was Newman’s twentieth nomination, but only second win. Despite that, it is revenue from soundtracks like Toy Story that have enabled him to be so prolific. You can’t count on the music industry alone, which Newman compared to a bank that’s already been robbed. Another rocker, Trent Reznor, went home with the Best Original Score prize for The Social Network. That category is usually dominated by composers like James Horner and Hans Zimmer. Zimmer, for one, was hopeful that Reznor’s win would open doors for more non-traditional musicians in film.

If you’ve never heard of The Seeds, chances are you’ve heard their tunes. The garage rock band’s music has been featured in a number of movies and commercials and covered by tons of artists. But according to lead singer Sky Saxon’s estate, no royalties have been coming in. Saxon died in 2009, and now his estate is suing his former label and music publisher for royalties.

Jac Holzman

Jac Holzman

Before there was a Merge or a Matador there was Elektra Records. The great American label recently celebrated its sixtieth anniversary, and its founder Jac Holzman is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this month. Jim and Greg talk to Jac about launching Elektra as an independent folk label out of his dorm room in 1950. Eventually the roster grew to include every genre of music – blues, rock, funk, world and pop. It became the home to The Stooges, the MC5, Love and Queen, and, Jim adds, some notoriously difficult personalities. But Jac insists no artist was too hard to handle. He did use caution when out drinking with Jim Morrison, however.

21 Adele

21

This week British singer Adele bumps the big names off the Billboard chart. Her new album 21 is currently at #1. The former hairdresser impressed Jim and Greg with her debut 19, and now she’s amped up the production with some big names including Beyoncé, Rick Rubin and Dan Wilson. But bigger isn’t always better. Greg loves Adele’s powerful voice, but the quality of the singing trumps the quality of the songs. He gives 21 a Burn It rating. Jim is even more disappointed. He thinks Adele should know better than to sing some of the nonsense on this record. She’s gone Hollywood, so he’s going with a Trash It.

Blessed Lucinda Williams

Blessed (Deluxe Edition)

Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams also has a new album out called Blessed. Now that she is happily married she’s moved on from woeful bar tales to songs about other people. Jim loves this approach, especially on songs like Soldier’s Song that are from the point of view of a G.I. Greg agrees – Williams has reinvented herself. This goes for the singing as well, and he credits producer Don Was for pulling everything back to make way for that voice. Williams is doubly Blessed with two Buy Its.

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