Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono & Opinions on Prince

Yoko Ono, once the most vilified woman in rock music, has recently become an underground heroine. This week on the show Jim and Greg will examine the strange musical path of Yoko Ono and talk to the legendary figure herself.

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Jim and Greg talk about some surprising numbers Nielsen SoundScan recently released. According to the sales trackers, 40% of the albums old in 2006 were catalog sales. While there were a number of successful new releases from acts like Mary J. Blige, The Dixie Chicks and High School Musical, it seems that music fans still have a lot of nostalgia for the hair metal era of the 1980s. AC/DC's 1980 album Back in Black sold 444,000 copies last year, a figure that would make a contemporary CD a success. Also faring well was Metallica's 1991 self-titled album, Guns 'N Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits collection. The New Jersey band is also having success with their new release Lost Highway, though this is one figure Jim really can't wrap his head around.

Next the hosts discuss their recent experiences at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. The three day festival organized by the Chicago-based Internet music magazine pitchforkmedia.com and indie music promoter Mike Reed was attended by 48,000 people in Chicago's Union Park. In fact, both Jim and Greg worry that the concert is getting too big for its britches, and the park. There were a number of highlights including performances by Yoko Ono, Mastodon and Clipse and full-album performances from Sonic Youth, Slint and GZA. But, one of the problems with a festival that celebrates the underground is that eventually things move above ground. Even Third Stage acts like electronic artist Dan Deacon demanded a huge crowd. In addition a number of artists from previous Pitchfork Festivals are appearing at this year's Lollapalooza. One thing this proves is how big the Pitchfork tastemakers are now. More than MTV play or radio play, it's coverage on indie sites like pitchforkmedia.com that thrust an artist into the spotlight.

interview

Yoko Ono

This week Jim and Greg welcome music legend Yoko Ono. While many know her simply as John Lennon's widow, Yoko is also an accomplished artist in her own right. Since coming into the spotlight, Yoko has often been reviled her for her radical views and radical music (and for "breaking up the greatest pop group in the world"), but she recently found a new role as a heroine in the indie rock underground. A new generation of musicians who didn't grow up with the same kind of reverence for The Beatles have claimed Yoko as their own. This was especially evident at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where she headlined Saturday's show. Yoko not only played to an audience of thousands people — young and old — but she invited Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Cat Power's Chan Marshall on stage with her to perform.

Recently Yoko has been busy working on some new albums. The first is Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which features two discs of artists covering songs by John Lennon. She's also released a couple of disc of her own work. Yes, I'm a Witch is a collection of remixes of Yoko's songs by artists such as Peaches, Le Tigre and The Flaming Lips. This was followed by Open Your Box, a collection of dance remixes. The title is a testament to the artist's strong will. It stems from her song "I'm a Witch," which she was reluctant to officially release when she penned it years ago. She explains to Jim and Greg that it wasn‘t as acceptable at the time to come out with such strong lyrics. But, it’s much easier in 2007 to proclaim yourself a bitch.

John and Yoko both influenced each other's music greatly. Greg explains that Yoko's collaboration with her husband brought out the“beast”in him as a guitar player But, Greg wanted to know what Yoko first thought of John's“simple”pop songs considering how avant-garde her compositions were. Yoko explains that she actually found that approach quite refreshing. He helped her to understand how beautiful even the most simple, fun songs can be.

It would be unfair to categorize Yoko strictly as avant-garde. In addition to influencing John's undoubtedly mainstream music, she's also influenced contemporary bands like Cibo Matto and Deerhoof. Jim and Greg talk to the artist about hearing elements of the song "Why" in The B52s' pop hit "Rock Lobster." Yoko explains that she never looked at this as any kind of vindication, but that John actually found great joy in hearing "Rock Lobster" for the first time.

reviewPlanet Earth

Prince Planet Earth

Lastly, Jim and Greg address Planet Earth, Prince's 24th studio album in nearly 30 years. On July 10th, Prince gave away the album as a free cover mount through the national UK paper The Mail on Sunday, stirring considerable controversy in the record industry. Jim and Greg discuss Prince's long disdain for major labels and his history of alternative marketing. Jim notes the sort of "funk-messianism" that precedes each Prince release. However, Planet Earth doesn't seem to offer much promise. Greg finds a decent jazzy ballad here, a good slow jam there, and complete re-write in "The One U Wanna C," but nothing sounds new in Prince's sound. Jim appreciates the old fashioned funk on tracks like "Chelsea Rodgers," but couldn't get past doozies like "Mr. Goodnight," which comes off as Prince imitating Ronald Isley imitating R. Kelly. The album is too inconsistent, so both hosts give Planet Earth a Try It.

JimGreg

Featured Songs

  1. Blotto, I Wanna Be a Lifeguard, I Wanna Be a Lifeguard, PVC, 1987
  2. AC/DC, Back in Black, Back in Black, Atlantic, 1980
  3. Mastodon, Iron Tusk, Leviathan, Relapse, 2004
  4. Sonic Youth, Teen Age Riot (live), Daydream Nation Deluxe Edition, Enigma, 2007
  5. Yoko Ono, Sisters O Sisters, Yes I'm a Witch, Astralwerks, 2007
  6. Yoko Ono, I'm Sorry, Mind Games, Apple, 1973
  7. Ornette Coleman, Lonely Woman, Shape of Jazz to Come, Atlantic, 1959
  8. John Lennon, Well Well Well, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Apple, 1970
  9. Yoko Ono,“Yes, I'm a Witch,”Yes I'm a Witch, 2007
  10. Yoko Ono, Midsummer New York, Fly, Astralwerks, 1970
  11. Yoko Ono, Why, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, Apple, 1970
  12. B-52's, Rock Lobster, The B-52s, Warner Bros., 1979
  13. Yoko Ono, Walking on Thin Ice, Season of Glass, Rykodisc, 1981
  14. Yoko Ono, Rising, Rising, Capitol, 1967
  15. The Beatles, I Am the Walrus, Magical Mystery Tour, Apple, 1967
  16. John Lennon, Give Peace a Chance, Give Peace a Chance, Apple, 1969
  17. The Beatles, Octopus's Garden, Love, Apple, 2006
  18. Yoko Ono, Cambridge 1969/2007, Yes I'm a Witch, Astralwerks, 2007
  19. Prince, Guitar, Planet Earth, NPG, 2007
  20. Prince, Chelsea Rodgers, Planet Earth, NPG, 2007
  21. Prince, Mr. Goodnight, Planet Earth, NPG, 2007
  22. Chromatics, In the City, After Dark, Italians Do It Better, 2007
  23. New Edition, Mr. Telephone Man, New Edition, MCA, 1984
  24. Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary, What You Hear Is What You Get, United Artists, 1971
  25. Mavis Staples, Jesus on the Main Line, We'll Never Turn Back, Anti-, 2007
  26. The Police, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da," Zenyatta Mondatta, A&M, 1980
  27. T.I., Help is Coming, T.I. vs. T.I.P., Atlantic, 2007

Footnotes

washingtonpost.com Vintage AC/DC, Nirvana still big-sellers allmusic.com Metallica's self-titled album pitchforkmusicfestival.com Pitchfork Music Festival pitchforkmedia.com pitchforkmedia.com nytimes.com Sonic Youth Brings Back ‘Daydream Nation’ brooklynvegan.com Photos: Slint at Pitchfork dandeacon.com Dan Deacon allmusic.com Yoko Ono johnlennon.com John Lennon beatles.com The Beatles matadorrecords.com Cat Power allmusic.com John Lennon metacritic.com Yes, I'm a Witch peachesrocks.com Peaches letigreworld.com Le Tigre flaminglips.com The Flaming Lips lyricsfreak.com“Yes, I'm A Witch”lyrics wikipedia.org Yoko Ono's collaboration, The Plastic Ono Band allmusic.com Why theb52s.com The B52s amazon.com Instant Karma The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur