Jac Holzman on Elektra Records and Opinions on Cannibal Ox

jacholzman

Jim and Greg talk about the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and the modern label system with Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman. Later in the show, they review the new long-awaited album by Cannibal Ox.

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Recently Jim and Greg saw a flurry of stories in the People Will Buy Anything department. John Lennon’s Gretsch 6120 guitar, which he used to record The Beatles’ classic Paperback Writer, was sold to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $530,000. And that’s not the only famous guitar up for purchase: Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick is starting to auction off some pieces from his massive collection of vintage axes. Some of his guitars have reached prices as high as $8,500.

Meanwhile, the secret buyer of Elvis Presley’s very first recording has been revealed, and it’s none other than Jack White. The Third Man Records honcho paid $300,000 for the 1953 acetate of My Happiness/ That’s When Your Heartaches Begin and plans to reissue it on vinyl for Record Store Day.

Those all may sound like worthwhile purchases, if you’ve got the cash. But the same can’t be said for some other pieces of music memorobilia showing up on the auction block. A plastic bag allegedly full of air from a Kanye West concert reached bids of over $60,000 before eBay shut down the auction. Many copycat listings have followed, including a bag of Ye’s flatulence for the bargain price of $5.

Jac Holzman on Elektra Records

jacholzman

Before there was a Merge or a Matador there was Elektra Records. The great American label is celebrating its 65th anniversary, and so Jim and Greg return to their conversation with Elektra founder Jac Holzman. They spoke with him in 2011 when he was being into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jac talks 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.

The Cold Vein Cannibal Ox

Blade of the Ronin

Back in 2001, Cannibal Ox put out one of the best rap albums of the decade called The Cold Vein. It was produced by Run the Jewels rapper and recent Sound Opinions guest, El-P. Since then, Ox members Vast Aire and Vordul Mega embarked on lukewarm solo careers. But now they are back for the group’s second album, Blade of the Ronin. For Jim, the two MCs are better together than they are apart. The album has elements of psychedelia and Wu-Tang Clan’s style, but for Jim it feels old. It’s not as good as Run the Jewels but better than most, so he gives it a Try It. Greg is a huge fan of the duo, but thinks that the merger of futurism, sci-fi and ancient Egypt is nothing new. While he enjoys the record, it’s no classic. Greg also says Try It.

Jim

We really do read your letters! After we first aired our interview with Jac Holzman, a listener wrote in saying he’d like to hear more about Paul Butterfield. So in response, Jim drops a track by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band into the Desert Island Jukebox. In 1966, on an album of the same name, the group recorded the song East-West written by guitarist/composer Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield was influenced by blues, psychedelia, free jazz and Indian raga music. This track in turninfluenced everyone from the Grateful Dead to Joe Boyd. It’s a landmark in rock, and it’s goin’ with Jim to the island.

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