At Folsom Prison & Reviews of Natalie Maines and The National

Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison turns 45 this month, and Jim and Greg celebrate with a Classic Album Dissection. Plus they review new records from The National and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines.

Johnny Cash
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Who said a silly song about being lazy and getting drunk can’t also make you rich? Bloomberg Businessweek recently named Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville the most lucrative song ever. Sure it was a chart hit, but Bloomberg says Margaritaville’s true power lies in its usefulness in branding Buffett’s 100-million-dollar Parrothead empire, which encompasses casinos, resorts, and ridiculously priced frozen drink makers.

Post-Memorial Day, Jim and Greg consider two nuisances bound to rile concertgoers this summer: bots and cellphones. Ticketmaster recently announced they’re stepping up efforts to combat the bot programs that currently snap up 60% of show tickets before fans even have a chance to press purchase. Without improved technology ,Ticketmaster admits it’s a losing battle for fans. But perhaps even more insidious than bots are cell phones and the people who use them to record shows, blocking their neighbors’ views. In an effort to curb the annoying behavior, Jim says British group Alt-J has started offering professional video and sound recordings of its sets to fans. Only time will tell whether this dissuades those amateur Pennebakers. In the meantime, Jim and Greg offer their own guidelines for correct concert etiquette. At #1: No punching.

At Folsom Prison

At Folsom Prison (Live)

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

Trouble Will Find Me The National

Trouble Will Find Me

Indie rock band The National has basically had the same line-up since forming in Cincinnati in 1999. But, according to Jim, they’ve unfortunately also had the same sound with lead singer Matt Berninger expressing the same emotion. There are some fine moments on Trouble Will Find Me, but a little less U2 stadium bombast would be preferred. Jim says Burn It. Greg agrees, although for completely different reasons. He loved their 2003 album Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers. And on this one, he actually wants more bombast. The brooding chamber rock is too subtle. But the result is the same-not enough range... Burn It.

Mother Natalie Maines

Mother

In a show dedicated to a country outlaw, how could we not review the new solo album by Dixie Chick Natalie Maines. She’s certainly earned a reputation as an opinionated sass. But on Mother, she wants to be taken seriously. Why then, Jim wonders, would she tap Ben Harper to produce? Someone like Jack White could’ve given her the unique country soul she seeks. As it is, these songs belong as much on Nashville as they do in Nashville. Greg admires covers like Pink Floyd’s Mother, but she’s out of her depths with many of the tracks. Ms. Maines gets a double Burn It.

Jim

Jim recently contributed to a new book on Prog Rock, so he’s got the experimental pop of the 1970’s on the brain. And no band from that era is sillier than Emerson, Lake and Palmer. If it could be done over the top, they did it. Take the track Lucky Man for example. It features one of rock’s earliest Moog solos and made it possible for keyboard nerds to imagine themselves guitar shredders. So of course, Jim wants to add it to the Desert Island Jukebox.

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