Rock Doctors Return

rock doctors

Jim and Greg put on their white coats once again as the Rock Doctors attend to a patient in need of some musical treatment. This time they attempt to revive a woman bored by rock’s recent formulaic trends.

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The biopic film Straight Outta Compton debuted this past weekend to a monster box office earning over $56 million. The movie tells the story of the group N.W.A. and how they created the blue print for west coastand gangster rap in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Jim recently saw the film and thought more about the biopic genre in general. He thought that this was a VH1-type film that largely glossed over many of the important truths of the band’s history, including Dr. Dre’s misogyny in both his lyrics and his actions. Greg agrees that the story of Dee Barnes, a female journalist covering N.W.A who was physically assaulted by Dre, was excluded from the film. Jim ultimately thinks the biopic doesn’t work as journalism or biography, but instead acts as a missed opportunity to tell the whole truth of the story.

Two celebrated ‘70s producers passed away this week: Bob Johnston, longtime Bob Dylan producer, and Billy Sherrill, creator of the countrypolitan genre and producer of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. As an in-house producer for Columbia Records, Johnston produced some of Dylan’s most notable albums, including Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. Johnston also served as the producer for Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, which only came about after Johnston’s persistent efforts. With a similar determination, Sherrill ignited the careers of country artists like Jones and Wynette with hit songs He Stopped Loving Her Today and Stand By Your Man. However, Greg chooses to honor Sherrill by playing The Staple SingersWhy Am I Treated So Bad, a track that he produced before entering the country music scene. Sherrill produced songs for early R&B artists when no other producer would, earning him tremendous respect.

Jeffrey Brown

Happy Birthday is a song nearly everyone knows, so it seems like it should belong in the public domain. However, for several years now there has been a fight over whether the song is for the public or is the copyright of Warner/Chappell Music. Jeffrey Brown, a prominent trademark lawyer, joined us this week to discuss the case which appears to be wrapping up soon. Jeffrey believes that Warner will actually lose their claim to the copyright, and may have to pay back millions in licensing fees because the song should never have been copyrighted to begin with! Sound Opinions will continue to follow this case and we wish you all a Happy Birthday in the least costly way we can.

Jessica

Once again, it’s time for the Rock Doctors to put on their white coats and stethoscopes. During this appointment, Jim and Greg attempt to treat a fast spreading musical virus. Their patient is Jessica from Montreal. Jessica comes to the Rock Doctors Clinic with a bad case of musical mailase, lyric lethargy, and beat fatigue. Jessica has become uninterested in the rock music of today, which she perceives as redundant and insincere. The doctors’ job is to help her reignite her passion for her favorite genre.

Jessica is well-versed in rock music, and spends a good amount of time listening to independent radio station WFMU with her husband, a rock DJ. Jessica loves rock music’s focus on instrumentation, and her favorite album of 2014 was Brand New Day by The Ugly Beats, a young garage rock band out of Texas.

Greg’s prescription is the album MCII from San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin, while Jim recommends the album Slow Gum from Australian singer-songwriter Fraser A. Gorman. During their follow-up appointment, Jessica shares that she really enjoyed both records. She appreciates the balance of honest, personal lyrics with dynamic instrumentation, and found that both artists avoided the musical cliches that once plagued her. Greg and Jim decide that Jessica’s knowledge of rock music would make her quite the rock critic.

Do you need to see the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out new patient form and send to interact@soundopinions.org.

Compton Dr. Dre

Compton

Dr. Dre’s Compton is the hip hop legend’s first album since 1999, released as a companion to Straight Outta Compton, the new biopic of his former group N.W.A. Dre has been one of the most influential figures in hip hop, equally due to his own albums, his production work for artists like Snoop Dogg, and his history of grooming new talent like Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. Jim always thought Dre was overrated as a producer and is disgusted by the misogny in much of Compton’s lyrics, which takes away from some of the more interesting political tracks. For Jim, it’s a clear Trash It. Greg, on the other hand, praises Dre’s production work, noting that by collaborating with younger producers King Mez and Justus he is reentering the conversation as a relevant figure. But Greg agrees that some of the lyrical content is stomach churning. Still, there are enough brilliant tracks to earn it a Try It rating.

Jim

A listener recently asked Jim for some musical gift advice for her boyfriend’s 30th birthday, leading Jim to dig out a 30-year-old mixtape of his from 1985. One of the artists featured on the tape was Breaking Circus, a forgotten Chicago post-punk band formed by Steve Björklund that fell somewhere in between the pop hooks of Naked Raygun and the abrasiveness of Big Black. Jim particularly loves the weirdness of (Knife in the) Marathon, which tells the strange tale of an athlete from a third world country wrestled to the ground by security for carrying a knife. Jim would never have remembered this song without the mixtape, so he’s grateful for the prompt as he nominates it for the Desert Island Jukebox.

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!