Jim & Greg’s 2018 Mixtapes & In Memoriam


Sound Opinions closes out 2018 with the year in song. Jim and Greg present a mixtape of tracks that tell the story of the the past year. And we remember some of the many musicians who passed away in 2018.

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In Memoriam

in memorium

We pay tribute to some of the musicians who died this year, but didn't get a proper tribute before. Greg starts with Clarence Fountain, the leader of The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, who died in June at the age of 88. He credits the Blind Boys' "house wrecking" style of gospel as an unsung ingredient in early rock and roll (along with country and blues). They were known for whipping their audiences into a frenzy of spiritual ecstasy, and Greg says you can hear that in the live recording of "I Can See Everybody’s Mother" that was released by Chicago's Vee-Jay label in the late 1940s.

Greg also memorializes Tony Joe White, the "swamp rock" singer-songwriter whose songs were hits for Elvis Presley, Brook Benton and Tina Turner. He died in October at age 75. Greg says his way of depicting Southern life showed more nuance than most, especially when it came to race relations. Greg says the song "Willie and Laura Mae Jones" from 1969's Black and White album is a great example of this.

Jim devotes his memorials to drummers we lost this year, starting with Pantera's Vinnie Paul, who died in June at 54 years old. The Texas  heavy metal band was founded by Paul and his brother, "Dimebag Darrell" Abbott in 1981, but really broke through with the 1990 album Cowboys From Hell. Jim remembers spending a 12 hour day with the band for a story and seeing through their tough on-stage persona.

The Cramps lost their leader, Lux Interior, a few years ago, but their drummer Nick Knox died in June at 60 years old. Jim credits his understated, simple style with making the band's overall psychobilly spectacle work.

D.J. Fontana played drums for Elvis Presley over 14 years and appears on more than 450 recordings with "The King." He also died in June of this year at 87 years old. In addition to his classic recordings with Elvis, Fontana also worked with Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Steve Earle.

One of James Brown's drummers, Jabo Starks, died in May at 79 years old. Starks and drummer Clyde Stubblefield worked in tandem in Brown's band, with Starks holding down the backbeat and Stubblefield adding more funky flourishes. Before joining Brown's band, Starks played in Bobby Bland's blues band. After working with Brown, he went on the play with BB King and in a group with Stubblefield called the Funkmasters. Jim plays "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine" in tribute.


As 2018 comes to a close, Jim and Greg tackle the timeless art of making a mixtape featuring their favorite songs from the past year.

This year, Greg's mixtape is called "Undone", because of the sense of "collective anxiety" that keeps cropping up in popular music. Jim's mixtape was inspired by gentrification's impact on artists and their communities, particularly in our home base of Chicago.

Greg Kot’s 2018 Mixtape

  1. Dessa, "Fire Drills"
  2. Madame Gandhi, "Bad Habits"
  3. Chaka Khan, "Like Sugar"
  4. Parquet Courts, "Freebird II"

Greg also has a much longer mixtape for 2018. You can listen to whole thing here.

Jim DeRogatis’ 2018 Mixtape

  1. Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, "I Hate Chicago"
  2. Chance The Rapper, "The Man Who Has Everything"
  3. Ry Cooder, "Gentrification"
  4. HotLips Messiah, "Let’s Go Swimming at the Waste Treatment Plant"

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!