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interviews

Pere Ubu

Pere Ubu live It is rare that true pioneers grace the Sound Opinions studio, but this week Jim and Greg are joined by punk progenitors Pere Ubu. Many credit the famous (and often infamous) Cleveland band for being on the ground floor of the punk movement, but band leader David Thomas doesn‘t really buy into that label. In pure Thomas form, the singer/songwriter grouses about punk’s corporate co-opting, and prefers to think of himself as a folk singer. Whatever you want to call it, Sound Opinions thinks it rocks. Check out their performances of songs "Babylonian Warehouses" and "Caroleen," off their new album Why I Hate Women.

The title of Pere Ubu's new album, Why I Hate Women, is certainly a conversation starter. But, as discussed, these views don‘t represent those of David Thomas or Pere Ubu. Like many of Thomas’ songs, the tracks on this album are written from the perspective of a character, in this case inspired by the fictional writings of pulp novelist Jim Thompson. Thomas explains that most songs are just stories, defying the notion that 20-year-old rock stars have any true angst.

Go to episode 51
dijs

Jim

“Sylvia Plath”Peter Laughner

Recently, our own Jim's mood was descending into Bell Jar territory, so his wife told him to "Snap out of it, Sylvia Plath!" So, he looked to another "Sylvia Plath," to cheer himself up. That would be the 1982 track by Peter Laughner. The Cleveland singer/songwriter worked in the same scene as Pere Ubu, and it's a welcome addition to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 381

Greg

“Salty Dog”Procol Harum

It seems that Jim and Greg have been in a progressive rock mood of late, at least when it comes to their trips to the tropical isle. This week Greg looks to Procol Harum, a pioneer in the British prog scene. You of course know this song. But the track that Greg adds to the Desert Island Jukebox is 1969's "Salty Dog." It evokes desperation, drama and fear. Amazing considering it began in a bathroom in Cleveland.

Go to episode 393
news

Music News

Changes are afoot at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only will Donna Summer, Rush, and Public Enemy take their places in the Hall this April, but the institution also has a new CEO. Greg Harris started his career at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and assumed the Rock Hall's top job this January. The appointment earned him a shout-out from none other than The Roots' drummer Questlove, who whiled away his youth combing the bins at Harris's record store, the Philadelphia Record Exchange. Harris talks to Jim and Greg about the Rock Hall's notoriously-secretive induction process, why he doesn't mind Johnny Rotten bashing the Hall, and why Rush fans are the most polite fans in rock.

Go to episode 381

Music News

This year's crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated last week at a ceremony in Cleveland. 2009's class includes Metallica, Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. While Metallica is getting its props, heavy metal is consistently unrepresented. Greg would vote to nominate Slayer. Jim agrees and adds that progressive rock music is also due for some representation. Love ‘em or hate ’em, Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull are certainly as influential, if not more, than Little Anthony.

On the same day that U2 released a second set of tickets for their highly sought-after fall tour, New York Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled new legislation to crack down on the secondary ticket market, or scalping. Schumer is riding the wave of popularity he got after criticizing Ticketmaster for sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, but Jim and Greg don't blame him. Jim calls scalping“a plague”on the music industry, and both critics urge reform.

They may have stopped making music decades ago, but The Beatles' output is still going strong. This fall Apple Corps and EMI will release the band's entire catalog remastered digitally on CD. This is long overdue; their music hasn't been upgraded since songs were first put on CD twenty years ago. But, while fans might be excited for a new model, Jim and Greg see this as a very transparent attempt to keep dipping into the same profit pool year after year.

Go to episode 176

Music News

The list of possible inductees for next year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony has been announced. Among the first-time nominees are Kiss, LL Cool J, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Genesis. But there are some old faces, too. ABBA, The Stooges, and Donna Summer have all been up for induction before. Jim and Greg think they deserve recognition, but also have a healthy dose of skepticism whenever they talk about the Hall of Fame. It's notoriously conservative and often overlooks more fringe genres. Plus, as Jim explains, winners always run the risk of being encased in glass and wax in Cleveland.

A heavy debate on piracy and the internet is brewing in Europe. First, the controversial“Three Strikes”law in France has passed in the French assembly. This means that if a French citizen is caught downloading illegally three times, he or she will lose internet access and be subject to fines up to $450,000. Their neighbors in the U.K. are also concerned about this issue. British pop stars like Radiohead, Annie Lennox, and Robbie Williams are members of the Featured Artists Coalition, which recently released a statement coming down firmly on the side of the consumer and defending internet file-sharing as a promotional tool for up-and-coming artists. But artists like Lily Allen and James Blunt have taken the other side. Jim and Greg find this to be a bit ironic considering Allen's use of MySpace early in her career.

Before they launch into reviews of new fall albums, Jim and Greg take a look at how things are going on the charts. The Beatles are still the big winners, selling more than 2 million albums worldwide in just five days. But, as Jim points out, this is a fraction of what they might have sold back in the CD heyday of 1992, and a fraction of what they might have sold digitally. Another big chart winner is Jay-Z, who sold almost 300,000 albums of The Blueprint 3. Hip hop still dominates the charts, with big-selling albums by Drake, Lil Boosie, and Kid Cudi, whom Jim and Greg discuss later in the show.

Go to episode 200

Music News

Since August of 2005, the Rolling Stones have pulled in a whopping $437 million from their most recent tour, "A Bigger Bang." They played 110 concerts in front of 3.5 million fans. It is not much of a shocker they are #1, considering the average ticket price is $135. Greg points out that fewer people are seeing shows by big acts, but bands are making higher profits. He feels we should be championing acts that still charge reasonably priced tickets like the Dave Matthews Band did on their recent tour. (Their average ticket price was $47.) This is really saying something, considering neither Jim nore Greg is exactly crazy about the DMB. Jim is amazed that the Stones still came in at #1 despite Keith's palm tree mishap, Ronnie checking in to rehab, Mick catching laryngitis, and Mick's father passing away. Mick's laryngitis even prompted a class action lawsuit from a disgruntled fan.

Axl Rose is back on tour this fall fronting the latest incarnation of Guns N' Roses. Greg went sans Jim to the Chicago leg of GN‘R’s tour. After having Sebastian Bach and burlesque troupe The Suicide Girls warm up the crowd, Axl and his new gang came on stage to play a smattering of songs from the much delayed Chinese Democracy album, as well as the GN'R standards. Greg feels that Axl has created a brand more than a band, and thinks the songs from Chinese Democracy already sound dated. Apparently the GN'R brand wasn't so friendly with The Eagles of Death Metal who were originally slated to open prior to last week's Cleveland gig.

Go to episode 53