Rust Never Sleeps & Opinions on Stephen Malkmus

Jim and Greg conduct a Classic Album Dissection of Neil Young’s 1979 part acoustic/part electric masterpiece, Rust Never Sleeps.

Neil Young
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We’re going to be honest. Deaths in the musical world are a mixed bag. On one hand, you’re sad about the loss of a great figure and sad for their friends and family. But on the other hand, sometimes it takes a loss to make you stop and reconsider that person’s contributions. This week Jim and Greg look back at two wonderful songwriters that died on Monday: Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford. Leiber is best known as one half of the duo Leiber & Stoller. Ashford, too, was in a duo with his wife Valerie Simpson. Leiber wrote lyrics for a number of hits in the 1950’s and 1960’s including Stand By Me and Hound Dog, though not originally for Elvis. Ashford & Simpson penned the tunes Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Let’s Go Get Stoned, and their own hit Solid. Greg particularly likes the song California Soul by Marlena Shaw.

Rust Never Sleeps

Rust Never Sleeps

For our 300th episode, Jim and Greg wanted to do a Classic Album Dissection of one of their favorite records of all time: Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young. The 1979 release was mostly recorded live during Young’s 1978 tour, save some overdubs. As Jim and Greg discuss, it was in large part a response to the emerging punk music. How does a classic rocker from the ‘60s grow and evolve? This is how. As Young sings in My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue), It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.

That song bookends the album, with the middle tracks broken into an acoustic section and an electric one. Jim remarks how brave it was for Young to come out with nothing but an acoustic guitar. He particularly loves the song Pocahontas, which makes reference to the Native American icon in addition to the Hollywood icon Marlon Brando. Greg chooses to highlight the hard-stomping electric Powderfinger, which attempts to reconcile America’s complicated identity.

Mirror Traffic Stephen Malkmus

Mirror Traffic

Pavement fans eagerly awaited the band’s 2010 reunion. And Jim and Greg think they’ll be happy to hear Stephen Malkmus’ new solo effort Mirror Traffic, as well. It’s a return to form in many ways. You’ll hear that signature smirk, the short, bursting pop songs and the quizzical lyrics. It was produced by fellow alt-rock idol Beck, and despite Malkmusslacker rep, there’s a great deal of pop craftsmenship on the album. Both hosts say Buy It.

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