Results for 1960s

interviews

Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

It's always interesting to get the backstory behind our favorite music and hear from producers, songwriters and session musicians. So this week Jim and Greg talk to songwriting duo Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. The husband and wife team made their mark during the Brill Building era of the 1960s alongside other hired guns like Carole King & Gerry Goffin and Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Barry and Cynthia talk about the friendly competition between songwriters during that time and how they came up with classic pop tunes like "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," "On Broadway," and "Kicks." They also wrote "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," but as a single for Barry…not The Animals. Barry and Cynthia recently received the Johnny Mercer Award presented by The Songwriters' Hall of Fame. And Cynthia has got something for the younger set as well: check out her children's book Rockin' Babies.

Go to episode 291

Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

Go to episode 21

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil

This week, Sound Opinions explores the art of songwriting. Jim and Greg talk to some of the biggest pop hitmakers of the past and present. First, a conversation with the legendary songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The husband and wife team were part of the Brill Building era of 1960s New York, and worked alongside writing powerhouses like Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and collaborated with producer Phil Spector. Mann and Weil wrote some of the biggest hits of all time, from "You‘ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'" to "On Broadway" and even "We Gotta Get Out of This Place." In 2011, Mann and Weil received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and since 2013, have been depicted in the Tony Award-winning musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical about the early life and career of their friend and coworker. In this interview, the duo tell Jim and Greg the origins of their famous hits, tell stories and reflect on what could have been had Barry released “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” before The Animals.

Go to episode 561

Robert Wyatt

Jim and Greg are joined by Robert Wyatt in the next segment. While he may not be a household name, Wyatt is one of the most influential musicians of the rock era. As a drummer with 1960s group Soft Machine, Wyatt reinvented prog rock, and was a pioneer of jazz-rock fusion. He was later ousted from Soft Machine, and in 1973 a terrible fall rendered him a paraplegic. But, as his interview with Jim and Greg reveals, Wyatt never ceased to be an innovator. Jim explains that Wyatt's been having a career resurgence in recent years. He was not only up for the prestigious Mercury Prize in England in 2003, but he is releasing a new album, Comicopera, on Domino Records, the label that is also home to Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys.

Greg begins by asking Wyatt about his appeal to a younger generation of musicians, including Thom Yorke and Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip. Wyatt can‘t explain this phenomenon, but he imagines that people respect how he does his own thing and makes music for music’s sake. It's inspirational for young musicians to see that you can maintain artistic integrity and, at the same time, longevity.

Wyatt formed the Soft Machine with three other schoolmates, and he never imagined that they'd eventually be opening up for Jimi Hendrix on his 1968 tour. The music of that time influenced his politics as well as his sound. But while contemporaries like The Rolling Stones looked to the blues, Wyatt and the Soft Machine looked to jazz. After his accident, though, Wyatt was forced to approach drumming differently than other jazz musicians. By eliminating the element of acrobatic virtuosity that jazz drummers often focus on, Wyatt was free to focus on the beats and the sounds. But, listeners shouldn‘t confuse Wyatt’s experimentalism with an anti-pop attitude. He says, "Pop music is the folk music of the post-industrial era, and folk music is the most important music in the world."

Go to episode 100

Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini of Sly & the Family Stone

In the 1960's, Sly & the Family Stone, with its multi-racial, co-ed lineup, broke down barriers of how a band should look and sound. It also bridged rock, funk, R&B, soul and jazz, thanks in large part to its virtuoso musicians: guitarist Freddie Stone, bass player Larry Graham, drummer Greg Errico, keys player Rose Stone, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson and sax player Jerry Martini. Then, of course, you have Sly Stone, one of the most charismatic frontmen in music history. But, once the charming star who stole the show at Woodstock and on Dick Cavett, Sly Stone dropped out of public life in 1975. We've had occasional glimpses since then, but for the most part his legend only lives on in recordings. Luckily fans have a new box set called Higher! Upon its release, Jim and Greg spoke with Cynthia Robinson and Jerry Martini.

Go to episode 431

Spooner Oldham

Despite its location in a relatively obscure part of the South, Muscle Shoals, Alabama was home to some of the greatest studio musicians of the 1960's and 1970's. One of those pros was our guest Spooner Oldham, keyboardist and songwriter at FAME Studios. Spooner played piano and organ on hits like "Steal Away" by Jimmy Hughes and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." Pretty soon, record executives from the North were sending artists down to record with the excellent house band at FAME. Spooner provided the drive behind Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally," and even rescued a stagnating Aretha Franklin session by coming up with the iconic keyboard line for "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)."

Along with his collaborator Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham wrote huge hits like "Cry Like a Baby" by The Box Tops and "I'm Your Puppet" by James & Bobby Purify. After leaving Muscle Shoals, he played with Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bobby Womack, and more, and continues to perform with acts like Cat Power and Drive-By Truckers. In 1972, Spooner recorded his own album Pot Luck. It was largely forgotten except by cult record collectors, but now is being honored with an overdue reissue from Light in the Attic.

Go to episode 515

Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson is a rock survivor, and with each decade comes a new successful era—whether it's Fairport Convention in the 1960's, with Linda Thompson in the '70s or as a solo artist. (You can check out producer, Joe Boyd, talking about Thompson & Fairport Convention here.) In fact, he's one of only a handful of artists, along the likes of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, who have sustained a high level of artistic intensity and integrity since the '60s. And to further set him apart, he's one of few guitar heroes from that generation without an obvious debt to the blues. Instead, you'll hear blends of Eastern tones, jazz, Scottish balladry and Celtic folk. Jim and Greg agree he's one of the most underrated guitarists and songwriters in folk history and would urge acts like Mumford & Sons to“Listen and Learn.”The first step would be to study his live performance, which includes a gem from the "Capitolyears," the yet to be released "Fergus Lang," and the Richard and Linda classic "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight." Plus, check out the bonus track, Greg's request, "Dimming of the Day," which may be his most beautiful love song to date.

Go to episode 446

Mike Heidorn of Uncle Tupelo

You can trace alternative country's roots to the 1960's when rock musicians such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds and the Flatlanders began dabbling with and reinvigorating country music. It was part of a wider investigation of American roots music in rock, a move toward more“authentic”styles. These rockers looked to country greats like Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard for inspiration — Bob Dylan famously collaborated with Cash on "Girl From the North Country." In the '70s and early '80s, a new generation of punk rockers started digging into traditional country for inspiration, including X, The Mekons, Rank & File, Jason and the Scorchers and the Long Ryders. Then third wave of alt country hit in the late '80s and early '90s, led by The Jayhawks out of Minneapolis and Uncle Tupelo, the trio of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn, out of Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. Uncle Tupelo's debut album,“No Depression,”took its name from a Carter Family song, "No Depression in Heaven," and it's one of many the key albums in defining the alt-country movement of this era. We have this band to thank for groups like Farrar's Son Volt, Tweedy's Wilco, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown, the Drive-By-Truckers and the Old 97's …and not to mention No Depression Magazine. Legacy Recordings recently reissued No Depression, complete with some never before released demo tracks from 1987 to 1989. And to talk about it, Jim and Greg are joined by Uncle Tupelo's founding drummer Mike Heidorn.

Go to episode 442
reviews
We'll Never Turn BackWe'll Never Turn Back available on iTunes

Mavis Staples We'll Never Turn Back

Mavis Staples' new album, We'll Never Turn Back, is up next. Inspired by current racial violence and tension, the Staples Singers vocalist was joined by Ry Cooder, Jim Keltner, and members of The Freedom Singers to make an update of the civil rights music of the 1960s. This is a perfect fit for Mavis. Her father, Pops Staples, steered their family toward freedom songs, and eventually the Staples Singers became Martin Luther King, Jr.'s favorite group. The result is something that pays respect to the past, but is very relevant in the present. Jim gives the credit to Mavis. He thinks she is completely underrated and calls her a“national treasure.”He wishes that Mavis and the band were doing more shows in support of the album and gives it a Buy It. Greg goes even further by naming We'll Never Turn Back the best album of 2007 — and it's only May! He commands listeners to Buy It for themselves and everyone they know.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
Back to BlackBack to Black available on iTunes

Amy Winehouse Back to Black

This first album up for review this week is of Back to Black, the second album by British import Amy Winehouse. The singer/songwriter was one of the most buzzed about acts at this year's SXSW Festival, and her off-stage antics are getting her a flurry of attention in the British press. Jim and Greg, however, aren't sure the phenomenon will translate overseas. Winehouse prides herself on being influenced by jazz and the R&B and soul singers of the 1960s. But, both critics find her music to be a retro parody more than an authentic homage. In fact, Jim outright hates this album and gives his Trash It rating right up front. Greg didn‘t dislike the album as much as he thought he would, but was still unimpressed by Winehouse’s pale imitation of artists like Donnie Hathaway and Nina Simone. He also gives Back to Black a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 71
Ce available on iTunes

Caetano Veloso

Legendary Brazilian composer Caetano Veloso has a new album out this week called . Veloso first emerged as a member of the Tropicália movement in Brazil in the 1960s. Now he's back with his 40th album, but is proving to be as experimental as ever. is Veloso's version of a rock album; He is backed by musicians three generations his junior, and his son is the album's co-producer. While neither Jim nor Greg speak Portuguese, both critics are impressed with the lyrics' translations. Jim, however, does not think this is a success from beginning to end. Greg, on the other hand, doesn't think Veloso has ever sounded better. He finds the artist to be improving with age. Therefore, gets a split vote of Burn It and Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 65
Livin' on a High NoteLivin' On a High Note available on iTunes

Mavis Staples Livin' On a High Note

Mavis Staples had a legendary career with her family's gospel and soul band The Staple Singers, which was a major part of the protest movement of the 1960s and scored huge hits for Stax in the 1970s. Mavis reinvented herself as solo artist in 2000s, collaborating on records with Ry Cooder and Jeff Tweedy. For Livin' On a High Note, she and producer M. Ward as a producer asked a variety of contemporary songwriters to write material for her to sing, including Neko Case, Nick Cave, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Jim loves how the best songs bring Mavis full circle by referencing on the Black Lives Matter movement. While the other songs are hit and miss, Mavis Staples is a“national treasure”and her voice is as powerful as ever. Jim is still waiting for her end career masterpiece, but this album is a definite Buy It. Greg – who literally wrote the book on Mavis Staples – points to We'll Never Turn Back as her masterpiece, but says this album is very good too. He loves what she does even with the lesser songs, like Vernon's generic love song, which she transforms into a moving address to her sister Yvonne Staples. In the middle of her 70s, Mavis Staples is doing some of the best work of her career.

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
Lasers (Deluxe Version)Lasers available on iTunes

Lupe Fiasco Lasers

Next up, Jim and Greg review the new album by Lupe Fiasco called Lasers. The Chicago hip-hop artist debuted in 2006 with Food and Liquor, showcasing a sensibility unique in rap. This third album was a labor, and not necessarily of love. Lupe has admitted to having real difficulties with his record company – difficulties that led to compromises on a lot of tracks. That said, Jim loves Lupe's lyrics and "1960s message." There are inflated choruses and too many guest stars, but his words trump it all. Jim says Buy It. Greg wishes he could agree, but it's too clear which tracks he was less involved in. He looks forward to the next effort, but for now says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 276
dijs

Greg

“Teenage Head”The Flamin' Groovies

All this Grateful Dead news has Greg thinking of San Francisco in the 1960s. And in the era of peace and love, The Flamin' Groovies were wildly out of step. In the midst of psychedelia, the group drew on '50s rockabilly and garage rock. The band has also often been called a progenitor of punk. The Flamin' Groovies even had a song about sniffing glue years before The Ramones did. The title track "Teenage Head," from their third album, channels teenage angst into three minutes. The song cites how they are the children of“atom bombs and rotten air and Vietnams.”Greg notes that in a predominately "hippy" music scene, the Flamin' Groovies were doing something completely unique both lyrically and sonically.

Go to episode 497

Jim

“Her Head's Revolving”The Three O'Clock

During his most recent adventure on the desert island, Jim took comfort in a Paisley Underground classic called "Her Head's Revolving" by a band that truly exemplifies the genre. The Three O'Clock* came up in Los Angeles at the start of the 1980's alongside similar sounding groups such as The Dream Syndicate, Green on Red and The Bangles. The band's mix of 1960's psychedelic harmonies and 1980's pop flavor produced a new distinct twist on a classic sound. Lead vocalist Michael Quercio dubbed it“Paisley Underground,”a tribute to the“far out”decade. And none other than Prince took notice.

Go to episode 449
lists

Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Civil Rights Music

When you think about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, perhaps the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr. or the horrific images of Emmett Till come to mind. But, for Jim and Greg, the music equally lingers. Songs by Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke and more captured the mood and inspired action. Here are some that continue to resonate:

  1. "Driva Man" by Max Roach & Oscar Brown Jr. featuring Abbey Lincoln, 1960
  2. "How I Got Over" performed by Mahalia Jackson at the March on Washington, 1963
  3. "In the Mississippi River" by the Freedom Singers, 1965
  4. "Mississippi Goddamn" performed by Nina Simone at Carnegie Hall, 1964
  5. "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, 1964
  6. "Keep On Pushing" by The Impressions, 1964
  7. "Freedom Highway" by The Staple Singers, 1965
  8. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" performed by Kim Weston at Wattstax, 1972
Go to episode 534
features

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
news

Music News

Jim and Greg start off the news by discussing the Recording Industry's strategy to end illegal downloading. It was recently revealed that the RIAA spent over $64 million in legal fees on piracy lawsuits and extracted only about $1.4 million in damages. France has been equally unsuccessful in their anti-piracy campaign. Their“3 Strikes”law hasn't resulted in any actual penalties. Now legislators are backing away from the policy. Jim and Greg wonder if all this money and effort would be better spent paying back royalties to the likes of Robert Johnson.

There were a couple of deaths in the rock world last week. Big Star bassist Andy Hummel died at the age of 59 just four months after his band mate Alex Chilton died. Chilton and Hummel were to reunite at this year's SXSW Festival.

Also, poet and musician Tuli Kupferberg died at age 86. Kupferberg founded The Fugs in the 1960s and laid the groundwork for punk and underground bands to come. To honor the Beatnik activist Jim plays one of his“davening”style tunes, "Nothing."

Go to episode 243

Music News

PFSloan P.F. Sloan, singer and songwriter responsible for the classic 1960s protest anthem "Eve of Destruction," died November 15th at his home in Los Angeles. He was 70 years old. Sloan grew up in New York and moved to Hollywood as a teen. At 13, he sold his first song and soon became one of the many prominent West Coast writers of the 1960s. Sloan wrote for such musical giants as The Turtles, Herman's Hermits, Fifth Dimension, The Searchers, and Johnny Rivers, whose hit, "Secret Agent Man," was penned by Sloan.

The world of music lost another figure as former Motörhead drummer Phil“Philthy Animal”Taylor died November 11th at age 61. Taylor was known for executing double-bass drum tracks with“superhuman speed,”and in so doing he helped set the template for the thrash metal sound. Taylor joined Motörhead shortly after it was formed in 1975, replacing the original drummer. He played with the band from 1975 to 1984, then again for five years beginning in 1987. He drummed on such hits as "Overkill" and "Ace of Spades."

Go to episode 521

Music News

This week, successful solo singer Lesley Gore died from lung cancer at age 68. The "You Don't Own Me" and "It's My Party" singer was best known for her work as a teen, singing about heartbreak and female empowerment. But, while the height of her popularlity hit in the 1960's, later artists like Dusty Springfield, Joan Jett and Klaus Nomi covered her work. Gore also became very active in the LGBTQ community and was working on a Broadway show and a memoir before her death.

Go to episode 482

Music News

Lyricist Gerry Goffin, whose songwriting partnership in the early 1960's with then-wife Carole King resulted in some of the biggest hits of the era, died this week at age 75. Broadway fans may have recently seen this creative and romantic relationship fall apart on stage in the musical "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." But, the songs endure, including "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Up on the Roof" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday," performed by The Monkees.

For more on the Brill Building era, check out Jim and Greg's interview with another famous songwriting duo, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

Go to episode 448

Music News

Last weekend was the famous Eurovision Song Contest, the“World Cup”of music. A fixture in Europe since 1968, past winners include ABBA, Celine Dion and Katrina and the Waves. Eurovision never fails to feature weird music and geopolitical controversy, and this year was no exception. Singer Jamala from Ukraine beat out Australia and Russia for the top prize. Russia was irked by Jamala's song choice, a track called "1944," about Stalin's exile of the Crimean Tatar population – with obvious connections to today's crisis in Ukraine. Better the countries fight via silly pop songs than actual guns, Jim argues.

Get your sunscreen, hats, and wallets out for the first Desert Trip! The new music festival will be held in the same location as Coachella, and with its septuagenarian lineup, it quickly acquired the nickname "Oldchella." Desert Trip will feature six major acts from the 1960s rock scene: The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who. Ticket sales have already exceeded a record $150 million – thanks to ticket prices reaching into the thousands. That's not to mention the $6,500 resort packages. Jim thinks that for that price, they ought to air condition the desert.

Go to episode 547

Music News

We're going to be honest. Deaths in the musical world are a mixed bag. On one hand, you're sad about the loss of a great figure and sad for their friends and family. But on the other hand, sometimes it takes a loss to make you stop and reconsider that person's contributions. This week Jim and Greg look back at two wonderful songwriters that died on Monday: Jerry Leiber and Nick Ashford. Leiber is best known as one half of the duo Leiber & Stoller. Ashford, too, was in a duo with his wife Valerie Simpson. Leiber wrote lyrics for a number of hits in the 1950's and 1960's including "Stand By Me" and "Hound Dog," though not originally for Elvis. Ashford & Simpson penned the tunes "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Let's Go Get Stoned," and their own hit "Solid." Greg particularly likes the song "California Soul" by Marlena Shaw.

Go to episode 300

Music News

This week, Left Banke keyboardist and songwriter Michael Brown died at the age of 65. While the Left Banke didn‘t have a long or illustrious career, it’s one of the great, underrated bands of the 1960's that explored baroque pop. Brown was the key musician in the group, penning its hit songs "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina." He later went on to do work with Montage, The Cherry People, Stories and the Beckies.

Go to episode 487