features 2017

Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip

Go to episode 622

Hooked On Sonics: Judy Collins

Judy Collins Folksinger Judy Collins has been releasing music continuously since 1961, scoring hits with renditions of "Both Sides Now," "Suzanne," "Amazing Grace," "Send in the Clowns," and more. Her new album is Everybody Knows, a collaboration with Stephen Stills (who wrote "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" about her decades ago). But in the latest installment of our Hooked on Sonics series, Collins goes back to the beginning of her musical life and shares the song that got her into folk music: a version of "The Whistling Gypsy," aka "The Gypsy Rover," from The Black Knight, a 1954 Arthurian film starring Alan Ladd.

Go to episode 620

Hooked On Sonics: Little Dragon

Little Dragon Swedish band Little Dragon has been churning out catchy electronic soul since 2006; but their connection to soul music started much earlier. Lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano and drummer Erik Bodin told us about the song that helped Yukimi to embrace her own unique voice in the latest edition of Hooked on Sonics. A fan of American soul music, it was the voice of Aaron Neville of The Neville Brothers singing Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" that blew her mind.

Go to episode 616

Instrumental: The Wah-Wah Pedal

Wah-Wah It's time for the next installment of our Instrumental series, where we trace the history of an iconic piece of musical gear. Next up: the wah-wah pedal. The wah has a distinctive sound that became a building block for psychedelic rock, funk, and even reggae – but its creation back in the mid 1960s was the product of a technological glitch. Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange join us to break down the history of the wah and unpack the science behind the pedal and demonstrate what it adds sonically to iconic riffs.

Jim and Greg explore how legendary musicians from Eric Clapton and Earl Hooker to Melvin“Wah-Wah”Ragin and Mikey Chung used the pedal. They ultimately note that, despite getting a bad rap for being gimmicky, the wah-wah pedal plays a critical role in a number of genres of music.

Go to episode 610

Hooked On Sonics: Neil Halstead of Slowdive

Neil Halstead Our latest installment of our Hooked on Sonics series features Neil Halstead – singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the English shoegaze band Slowdive. Slowdive recently reunited and released their first album since 1995. Halstead describes being blown away when he heard the leadoff track from an EP by a shoegaze progenitor: My Bloody Valentine's "You Made Me Realise." Combining Byrds-like harmonies with a sonic assault, the song forever changed his musical life.

Go to episode 608

Hooked On Sonics: Jody Stephens of Big Star

Hooked on Sonics is a segment where musicians share the songs that made them fall in love with music. Drummer Jody Stephens helped form pivotal Memphis rock group Big Star, alongside vocalist and songwriter Alex Chilton. Big Star, is, in many ways, more famous now than they were during their first 1970s incarnation. In the 1980s and 1990s, a whole new generation discovered the group after The Replacements and REM cited them as influences. Today, Jody works at the famous Ardent Studios down in Memphis; but as a kid, it was music from a completely different part of the world that got him Hooked on Sonics. That song was I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles. But, as you'll hear, it all came around full circle.

Go to episode 606

Instrumental: Rickenbacker Electric 12-String Guitar

Rickenbacker 12-string This week, we kick off a new feature called Instrumental where we examine the history of iconic instruments of rock. We start with the electric 12-string guitar and its most famous manufacturer, Rickenbacker. After the acoustic 12-string guitar was popularized by blues artists like Lead Belly and by the '60s folk revival, Rickenbacker began making an electrified version. After George Harrison used it on The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," a 12-string craze began. The most notable adopter of the instrument was Jim (later Roger) McGuinn , who used it to define the sound of The Byrds on tracks like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" The Beatles and The Byrds set the template for countless bands in the ensuing decades who used 12-strings, from power pop acts like Raspberries and Big Star, to jangle pop bands like R.E.M. and The Bangles, to contemporary artists like Temples.

To help discuss and demonstrate the Rickenbacker electric 12-string, we're joined by Daniel Escauriza and Shelby Pollard of Chicago Music Exchange. Jim and Greg also offer their favorite examples of Rick-heavy songs: "Awaken" by Yes and XTC's "All of a Sudden (It's Too Late)."

Go to episode 601

In Memoriam: Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman Musician Gregg Allman died May 27 at the age of 69. Gregg was a crucial member of The Allman Brothers Band, a group at the forefront of the southern rock genre, though they didn‘t like to be labeled as such. The band’s combined the blues, jazz, rock and psychedelia to make for a original sound. Gregg was the voice of the band, the organ player and the primary songwriter, writing hits like "Midnight Rider," "Whipping Post" and "Melissa." Greg Kot pays tribute to Gregg Allman with a track that's actually a demo called "Dreams."“Dreams”was the song that first helped the band take him seriously as a songwriter.

Go to episode 601

Sample Platter: Voices of Conquest's "O Yes My Lord"

Jim and Greg explore how a 1960s gospel track out of Detroit found new life recently in two contemporary tracks. Both pop duo Phantogram and Chicago rapper Common sample "O Yes My Lord" by Voices of Conquest on their respective songs "Same Old Blues" and "Kingdom." The sample features a large church choir and John Bonham-like drumming. J&G discuss the origins of all three songs, and how both artists use the sample to enhance their tracks.

Go to episode 600

Hooked On Sonics: Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless At age 14 Lydia Loveless was living in Columbus, Ohio, trying to find her way around a bass guitar as she played in bands with her sisters. The song "Put It On You" from the now defunct New York rockers The Fever changed all that. For our segment Hooked on Sonics, Lydia tells us how that song changed her approach to playing bass, inspired to her to start writing songs, and ultimately led to a career singing about“miserable, unrequited love.”

Go to episode 599

C.W. McCall's "Convoy"

Convoy C.W. McCall had a surprise #1 hit in 1976 with the novelty country song "Convoy," sparking a global C.B. radio craze. But C.W. McCall was, in fact, a fictional creation. Producer Evan Chung tells the strange story of how“Convoy”became a cultural phenomenon. He speaks with the songwriters behind“Convoy”– ad executive-turned-lyricist/vocalist Bill Fries and composer Chip Davis (later of Mannheim Steamroller fame) – who reveal the origins of C.W. McCall in a series of Nebraska bread commercials. With its tale of trucker rebellion told through C.B. radios,“Convoy”reflected actual nationwide strikes by truck drivers in the '70s. Historian Meg Jacobs, author of Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s, explains how the oil crisis of 1973 upended Americans‘ self-perception as consumers and led to turmoil across the country. Like the song“Convoy”itself, it’s an odd, rollicking tale that takes many surprising turns.

Go to episode 598

Sample Platter: James Brown's "Funky Drummer"

Stubblefield's drumming also formed the rhythmic basis of hip-hop, with his breaks being sampled hundreds of times. Most famously, a few bars of his playing on "Funky Drummer" from 1970 has become one of the most sampled pieces of music of all time. Jim and Greg do a Sample Platter, charting the track's use in dozens of rap and pop hits, from Public Enemy to LL Cool J to George Michael.

Go to episode 587

Hooked on Sonics: Jason Narducy

This is the first of our new series called Hooked on Sonics, where we ask a musician to talk about a single song that turned music into their passion. For this installment, we hear from Jason Narducy. Jason tours as part of Bob Mould's band, he plays bass for Superchunk, and has his own band Split Single. The song that got him Hooked on Sonics was "Ramones Medley" from the Ramones' Rock n Roll High School soundtrack.

Go to episode 587

Sample Platter: Lupe Fiasco's "Kick, Push"

In 2006, Lupe Fiasco released the song "Kick, Push" which introduced Lupe to a national audience. According to Jim, the song accomplished for skateboarding what the Beach Boys did for surfing. In this installment of Sample Platter, Jim and Greg talk about the unconventional sample that drives "Kick, Push". The sample is pulled from Philipina singer Celeste Legaspi's early 1980s song "Bolero Medley." Plus, we hear Lupe's take on the sample, and how it created inroads for new audiences.

Go to episode 586

Sample Platter: Kraftwerk

Often overlooked is Krautrock's influence on hip-hop. So and Jim and Greg present another installment of Sample Platter, where Jim and Greg take a look at chart toppers that prominently feature a unique sample. This week, they analyze how Krautrock has influenced hip-hop artists for decades. Jim and Greg discuss how artists from Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force to Kanye West have sampled Kraftwerk and Can to create new pieces of music that still evoke the industrial rhythm of the streets.

Go to episode 583