The Beatles Tune In & Bruce Springsteen Review

Mark Lewisohn

The definitive Beatles historian, Mark Lewisohn, talks about the Fab Four before they were legends. His comprehensive new text Tune In delves into the band’s early years in Liverpool and Hamburg. And Jim and Greg rekindle an age-old Sound Opinions debate: To Bruce or not to Bruce.

Download Subscribe via iTunes

Music News

With the release of Nielsen’s SoundScan year-end sales figures for 2013, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines has officially been crowned the top-selling single of the year with 6.5 million units. Hot on Thicke’s heels were Macklemore & Ryan LewisThrift Shop and Imagine DragonsRadioactive with 6.15 million and 5.5 million respectively. Turning to albums, Justin Timberlake claimed the top spot with 2.43 million copies of The 20/20 Experience sold. Though, Jim and Greg note that the album’s numbers happen to be the lowest sales for a #1 record in Nielsen history.

The report also revealed other interesting trends in the music industry. Vinyl record enthusiasts continued to show the love for LPs in 2013 with sales up 33% over the year before. People loved streaming their music, as well, but digital sales were down 6%. This has Jim and Greg wondering: is the stream going to kill the download?

Speaking of death and downloads... Last week, Jim and Greg reported the loss of pioneering country rocker Phil Everly. Apparently they weren’t the only ones mourning. In the week after Phil’s passing, fans downloaded 18,000 Everly Brothers songs, a whopping 696% increase from the previous week. Dying, it turns out, can be a great career move.

Coachella Music Festival has released its full 2014 lineup. In addition to top headliners Arcade Fire, Muse, and OutKast (who are reuniting for the first time since 2007), the desert super-show will feature Girl Talk, Lana Del Rey, Motörhead, Lorde, plus two bonus reunions: The Replacements and Neutral Milk Hotel.

In other live music news, the NFL has beefed up its plans for the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show. Just in case main act Bruno Mars wasn’t enough to satisfy America’s burning need for overhyped pop spectacle, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be joining him onstage. What a combination, Greg laments.

If the Nielsen numbers were any sign, streaming music is here to stay. And now another big player is hoping to break into that (already crowded) market: Beats Music. Spearheaded by Dr. Dre, Trent Reznor, and record exec Jimmy Iovine, the new streaming service aims to offer a more curated listening experience than its competitors. Rather than using algorithms to help users find music, Beats will rely on experts from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone—and your esteemed Sound Opinions hosts! But Jim and Greg wanted to know how the service compensates artists and labels, something for which Spotify and Pandora have taken flak. CEO Ian Rogers explains that because Beats Music won’t be available for free, the company will pay extra for each song streamed. With the majority of every subscription fee going toward giving rights holders their fair share, Rogers says that what’s good for Beats Music is good for the industry.

Mark Lewisohn

January 10 marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles stateside debut, Introducing the Beatles! This was 10 days before Meet the Beatles!, but whether you were introduced to these lads from Liverpool or you met them, you were hit with a thunderbolt—one that has continued to electrify decades after. So what were these four like before they were fab? Who were John, Paul, Ringo and George as young men, performing in skiffle groups like the Quarrymen and jet setting to Hamburg with Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best? To get insight into these early days, leading up to Beatlemania and their smash debut, we turn to leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. He worked with the band on The Beatles Anthology and now has a new book out called The Beatles All These Years, Volume 1: Tune In. In its 800 pages, Lewisohn reveals who had the biggest row with Stu (Paul), who had the biggest appetite for prellies (John), and most important, who was the biggest stud (Ringo). He also sheds light on John’s complicated relationship with women and why The Beatles were so ahead of its time, even in 1962.

High Hopes Bruce Springsteen

High Hopes

It’s that time again - to Bruce or not to Bruce? The age-old Sound Opinions debate continues with the release of Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album, High Hopes. Greg is generally more favorable to Bruce, but felt that the last two decades of records have been letting him down with overproduction and a lack of energy. He thinks High Hopes continues that trend and gave Bruce a Try It rating on our new ratings scale. Jim says he really wants to like Bruce, but is once again let down by lyrical cliches and bad production. Jim gives High Hopes a Trash It rating.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!