Results for R.E.M.

interviews

Robyn Hitchcock, Peter Buck, and Scott McCaughey

Robyn Hitchcock, the man who Jim and Greg call a cross between Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett, visits the show this week. He is joined by his Venus 3 band mates, Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey, whose day jobs as members of R.E.M. aren‘t too shabby. All of the band members share a deep love of music, and a history of finding inspiration in record stores. Peter and Scott explain that this is how they initially became familiar with Robyn’s music. Greg remarks that they're all just a buncha rock geeks — our kind of guys!

Robyn and the Venus 3 have a new album out entitled Olé! Tarantula. According to Jim, it's a return to an earlier Hitchcock sound full of jangly melodies and multiple harmonies. And of course, you can count on the singer/songwriter for inventive lyrics. Sound Opinions H.Q. won't attempt to summarize his explanation of the concept behind Olé! Tarantula and the album's artwork, but offers this and this as reference points. You can hear the band perform this song, as well as "Adventure Rocket Ship," Syd Barrett's "Dominoes", and the bonus track, "N.Y. Doll" written about deceased New York Dolls member Arthur Kane.

Jim and Greg don‘t neglect to ask Peter Buck about his other gig. The R.E.M. guitarist and songwriter explains that he has written a lot of material and hopes to get together with some of the other band members soon to work on songs for their next album. Ideally he’d like to avoid spending“a lifetime.”An example of the band's more immediate work is the song "Final Straw." Buck wrote that piece of music while they were working on Automatic for the People, but he continued it to use it as a guitar warm-up. Lead singer Michael Stipe was struck by the tune and inspired by in the Middle East, and within a day it was recorded and put on the web.

Go to episode 59

The Baseball Project

TheBaseballProject3rd Summer has finally arrived, bringing us sunshine, days spent lounging on the beach—and, of course, baseball. While the game is America's official national pastime, some Sound Opinions listeners may think rock n'roll deserves that title… Thankfully, five baseball-obsessed musicians are bringing the two together. In 2007, Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M., Scott McCaughey of Minus 5 and The Young Fresh Fellows, Linda Pitmon of Zuzu's Petals, and her husband, The Dream Syndicate founder Steve Wynn created The Baseball Project, a supergroup devoted to making music about the sport. Steve and Scott tell Giants-fan Greg and baseball-ignorant Jim about why they love the game, their favorite baseball tunes, and how they're exploring the unsavory side of the sport.

Go to episode 445

Keven McAlester

One of rock's most influential and interesting figures is former 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson. After performing with the psychedelic band in the '60s and as a solo artist in the '80s, the singer's mental and physical health took a severe decline. But in the past couple of years, Roky's sights have improved, and Jim and Greg took this opportunity to celebrate his legacy. During this you'll hear their discussion with Keven McAlester, the director of the film biography You're Gonna Miss Me. McAlester spoke to Jim and Greg after a special screening of the film at Chicago's Music Box Theatre.

Jim and Greg highlight two of their favorite Roky Erickson tracks from different points in his career. The first is a 13th Floor Elevators song called "Reverberation Doubt," which Jim explains is an example of how psychedelic the band was. The song was not only influenced by psychedelic drugs, but it conveys the experience of using them. Jim discusses the term“synesthesia,”which refers the drugs' ability to allow you to actually see musical notes, and“Reverberation Doubt”has a similar effect. As he states, it gives you the "sense that the entire world is vibrating."

The second is a solo track from a later period in Roky's career. "Red Temple Prayer (Two-Headed Dog)" was recorded after Roky came out of Rusk State Mental Hospital in Texas, and wasn't in very good shape. But, musically he was very productive, and became one of the American artists to really lay the groundwork for punk music. Roky's songwriting at this time was influenced greatly by horror movies, and the title of this song gives a sense of where his mental state was. Greg describes“Two-Headed Dog”as a brutal, but wonderfully hard-hitting song.

You'll also hear a montage of covers from the tribute album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye:

  • R.E.M., "I Walked with a Zombie"
  • ZZ Top, "Reverberation"
  • T-Bone Burnett, "Nothing in Return"
  • Butthole Surfers, "Earthquake"
  • Julian Cope, "I Have Always Been Here Before"
Go to episode 91

Teenage Fanclub

Few bands from the early '90s are still going strong. But Teenage Fanclub is an exception. The Scottish power pop band formed in 1989, and, for most of its existence, has maintained the same lineup: guitarists and songwriters Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, Gerard Love and Francis McDonald. Now they're also joined by keyboardist Dave McGowan. Jim and Greg talk to the band about their roots, their longevity, and the rarity of a band having three chief songwriters. They also ask them about the recording and reception of Bandwagonesque, the band's third record and the one that brought Teenage Fanclub its first taste of success in the States. In fact, Spin Magazine voted Bandwagonesque the #1 album of 1991 - favoring it over Nirvana's Nevermind, R.E.M.'s Out of Time and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. While in the Sound Opinions studio, Teenage Fanclub performs songs from its new album Shadows, plus an oldie from 1995's Grand Prix.

Go to episode 260

The Feelies

Sound Opinions doesn't take field trips very often, but when presented with the opportunity to talk to the recently reunited Feelies, AND see the band take the stage for the first time in 17 years, AND do it on their home turf at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, we really couldn‘t pass it up. If you haven’t heard of the Feelies, you've certainly heard their influence. The Strokes, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth all count themselves as fans, as does director Jonathan Demme who featured the band in Something Wild. Jim, who also hails from Hoboken, points to The Feelies and Maxwell's as pivotal in shaping his love of music.

Greg and Jim spoke with the band about their decision to reunite just shortly before they performed in front of their friends, family and a group of listeners from WFUV. You can hear some live songs from that night here, including the title track from their debut album Crazy Rhythms and a cover of Wire's "Outdoor Miner."

Go to episode 138

Kate Pierson

In 1976, Kate Pierson joined the genre-melding music powerhouse, the B-52s, and the rest is history. The Georgia-based band started out playing at local parties, then clubs in New York and eventually in venues around the world. Their self-titled first album showed their innovation, kitsch and creativity with hits like "Rock Lobster." However, the group reached the peak of their fame in 1989 with the release of their album, Cosmic Thing. Outside of the band, Pierson has collaborated with talented artists like R.E.M., Iggy Pop, The Ramones and most recently, Sia. Finally over 30 years after the inception of the B-52s, Kate Pierson is releasing her first solo album, Guitars and Microphones. She talks about the past, present and future of her career in music.

Go to episode 504

Gang of Four

When your musical heroes have their own musical heroes, you know it's worth checking out. And one name that always gets checked by everyone from Franz Ferdinand to REM is Gang of Four. The British band debuted in 1979 with Entertainment!, an album that showcased Andy Gill's unorthodox guitar style, Jon King's smart lyrics, and a whole lot of danceable groove. The band is still going strong on its latest release Content, and Jon and Andy sat down with Jim and Greg while they were on tour.

Go to episode 274

Joe Boyd

nickdraketributecover

For the most part we think that rock ‘n’ roll artistry and commercials don't mix, but in the case of Nick Drake, it worked out. A 1999 TV commercial featuring his 1972 track "Pink Moon," made the English singer/songwriter a household name. It was success Drake couldn‘t enjoy in his lifetime. He died at age 26 of an overdose on anti-depressants after only releasing three albums. But the small catalog lives large today, with Drake’s work influencing R.E.M., Elliot Smith, Beth Orton and many more. He's remembered on the new tribute album Way to Blue, produced by the man who discovered him, Joe Boyd. In addition to working with Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and the Fairport Convention, Joe Boyd produced Nick's first two albums, Five Leaves Left in 1969 and Bryter Layter in 1970. Jim and Greg talk to him about Nick Drake's own influences, his style and his legacy.

Go to episode 387
specials

R.E.M.

After over three decades, R.E.M. announced it was breaking up a couple of weeks ago. So during this episode Jim and Greg look back at its career highlights and lowlights, and discuss its legacy in the years to come. R.E.M., along with U2, is unique among bands from the indie rock '80s. It not only achieved career longevity, but, for better or worse, skyrocketed to arena status. Jim and Greg also have a unique relationship with the Athens, GA musicians. Both remember covering the band as mere fanzine writers, maturing as critics the same time R.E.M. was as a band.

Greg talks in-depth about R.E.M.'s I.R.S. years with landmark albums like Murmur and Fables of the Reconstruction. His favorite track from this 1st era is "Pretty Persuasion" from Reckoning in 1983. Jim goes on to discuss its transition to a major label. Their Warner releases Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People didn't let their loyal fans down. But, things fell off after that. Greg makes an argument for New Adventures in Hi-Fi from 1996, and both critics agree that drummer Bill Berry's departure marked a great loss in terms of sound and connection. But when it comes to R.E.M.'s legacy, they're sure new generations of listeners will focus on the good years, rather than the bad. And its model of building grassroots fans that transitioned with them from label to label, club to arena is one new indie bands would be wise to follow.

Go to episode 306

When Jim and Greg Were Wrong

Music fans tell Jim and Greg they are wrong all the time, but the critics are not too big to admit it themselves. This week they come clean with some of their critical errors. Here are Greg's self-confessed mistakes:

Go to episode 139

Touch and Go Records

This week Jim and Greg wanted to take a look at one of the music industry's most important independent labels: Touch and Go Records. Touch and Go recently turned 25 and celebrated with a three-day bash at Chicago's Hideout Block Party. Over the course of the show, you‘ll hear why Jim and Greg wanted to focus on this modest Chicago label. You’ll also hear from the founder himself, Corey Rusk, and a number of the label's artists, including Scott McCloud from Girls Against Boys, Janet Weiss from Quasi (and formerly Sleater-Kinney), Ted Leo, David Yow from Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard and recording engineer and musician Steve Albini of Big Black and Shellac fame.

Touch and Go's founder Corey Rusk is known not just as a tastemaker with an incredible ear for talent, but also as one of the most honest businessmen in the biz. This is what separates Touch and Go from other labels, major and independent alike. Rusk's business model, which doesn't shy away from the Internet and which relies merely on trust and a handshake, has kept it going for 25 years, helping it to outlive its peers. Labels like Twin/Tone in Minneapolis, which launched The Replacements, SST in California which launched Black Flag and Hüsker Dü, and I.R.S. in which launched R.E.M. and The Go Go's, all emerged in the early '80s after punk's mainstream explosion and before alternative's reign. However, Touch and Go is the only one of the bunch not only to stay in business, but to do so successfully and independently.

The best way to understand the label's significance is to sample some of the music. You'll hear these songs in our short-but-sweet montage of Touch and Go music:

  1. Killdozer, "Hi There"
  2. Girls Against Boys, "Kill the Sexplayer"
  3. The Dirty Three, "Doris"
  4. Jesus Lizard, "Mouth Breather"
  5. TV on the Radio, "Dreams"
  6. Butthole Surfers, "Fast"
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Art Star"
  8. Calexico, "Cruel"

Touch and Go has put out a lot of music over the past quarter century, but Jim and Greg both manage to pick their single favorite T&G tracks. Greg goes first and chooses "Stage 2000" by Seam. Touch and Go is often thought of as the place to go to for loud, hard-edged punk music, and that is certainly true. However, their roster is actually quite diverse, and there are a number of bands like Seam, who are making beautiful, soft, melodic music.“Stage 2000”is on Greg's favorite Seam album, The Problem With Me. That album was recorded with Chicago producer Brad Wood, best known for producing Liz Phair's classic Exile in Guyville.

Jim's Touch and Go pick is "Kerosene" by Big Black off their 1985 album Atomizer. Though Atomizer was initially released by Homestead Records, Big Black moved to Touch and Go a year later, and the label reissued the band's entire catalog. So we'll let Jim slide on this one — especially since no one has been as closely associated with Touch and Go as Big Black founder Steve Albini. Albini came to Chicago to study journalism at Northwestern, and Jim can hear this sensibility in his lyrics. Songs like "Kerosene" are essentially sensationalistic tabloid stories backed with thrashing noise-rock.

Go to episode 43
classic album dissections
Pet Sounds (Mono Version)Pet Sounds available on iTunes

The Beach Boys Pet Sounds

On May 16, 1966, The Beach Boys released their 11th studio album, Pet Sounds. It was a relative commercial failure for what was the biggest American band of the '60s. However in the ensuing 50 years, the album's stature grew. Today, its influence pervades to the point that it is almost universally acknowledged as one of the greatest albums ever released in the rock era. With Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson taking the album on tour again this summer, Jim and Greg feel it's the perfect time to give Pet Sounds a Classic Album Dissection.

Due to a great deal of pressure, emotional turmoil, and mental health issues, Brian Wilson quit the Beach Boys as a touring entity at the end of 1964. While the rest of the band was on the road, Wilson spent ten months in the studio crafting one of the most intricate and expensive pop records ever made. Working with the famed session musicians of the Wrecking Crew, Wilson took a classical composer's approach, layering instrument upon instrument to create lush, unique timbres. He collaborated with Madison Avenue writer Tony Asher on heartbreakingly earnest lyrics about his struggles to find his place in the world. The audience, the label, and his own bandmates didn't quite know what to make of Pet Sounds when it came out. But artists from The Beatles to R.E.M. to Radiohead picked up on its brilliance and modeled their own music on Wilson's ingenious arrangements. God only knows what rock would be today without Pet Sounds.

Go to episode 546

Big Star Radio City

Jim and Greg celebrate the 40th anniversary of Big Star's debut album by revisiting their Classic Album Dissection of the band's first two records, #1 Record and Radio City. #1 Record might be nearing middle age, but the pop sound Big Star pioneered in the seventies is as vibrant as ever. As Jim and Greg discuss, the band changed the history of American music, without selling very many records. With a sound that combined Memphis Soul with British Invasion rock, they laid the groundwork for American“Power Pop”and influenced bands including R.E.M., Wilco and The Replacements. The original Big Star lineup included former Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jim and Greg's guest this week, drummer Jody Stephens.

Following their discussion with Jody Stephens, Jim and Greg each discuss and play a song. Greg chooses to highlight the opening track from #1 Record called "Feel." The song was written and performed by Chris Bell. While Alex Chilton is the name most people associate with Big Star, Bell really created it. Most of his incredible work didn't see the light of day until after his death at age 26, but Greg thinks songs like“Feel,”illustrate the power of his voice and lyrics-many of which convey the problems he faced in his short life.

Jim plays a song written and performed by Alex Chilton from the second album called "September Gurls." As he discussed with Jody earlier in the show, this was a breakout song for the band and one that was immediately adored by critics and fans including The Bangles, who later covered it. Jim's not sure what the song means, but for him it's more about the mood that Chilton created. With its sweeping melodies and“pan-sexuality”it's a power pop classic.

Go to episode 365
Radio CityRadio City available on iTunes

Big Star Radio City

During this episode Jim and Greg celebrate the legacy of Big Star with a Classic Album Dissection of their first two records, #1 Record and Radio City. Both albums have recently been re-released as a double album, and a new Big Star box set is due out next week. As Jim and Greg discuss, the band changed the history of American music without selling very many records. With a sound that combined Memphis Soul with British Invasion rock, they laid the groundwork for "Power Pop" and influenced bands including R.E.M., Wilco and The Replacements. The original Big Star lineup included former Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Chris Bell, Andy Hummel and Jim and Greg's guest this week, drummer Jody Stephens.

Following their discussion with Jody Stephens, Jim and Greg each discuss and play a song. Greg chooses to highlight the opening track from #1 Record called "Feel." The song was written and performed by Chris Bell. While Alex Chilton is the name most people associate with Big Star, Bell really created it. Most of his incredible work didn't see the light of day until after his death at age 26, but Greg thinks songs like“Feel,”illustrate the power of his voice and lyrics–many of which convey the problems he faced in his short life.

Jim plays a song written and performed by Alex Chilton from the second album called September Gurls. As he discussed with Jody earlier in the show, this was a breakout song for the band and one that was immediately adored by critics and fans including The Bangles, who later covered it. Jim's not sure what the song means, but for him it's more about the mood that Chilton created. With its sweeping melodies and“pan-sexuality”it's a power pop classic.

Go to episode 198
reviews
AccelerateAccelerate available on iTunes

R.E.M. Accelerate

One of the most buzzed about events at the festival was the debut of songs from R.E.M.'s new album Accelerate. The band played its first show at SXSW, as well as Austin City Limits. (You can hear their live performance of "Fall On Me" during the show.) Jim and Greg both saw the rock veterans perform and have listened to the new album. So what's the verdict? Jim's feelings are mixed. R.E.M. is a band that has meant a lot to him in the early part of their career, but has disappointed him in the past decade. They've never reached the peaks they did with albums like Life's Rich Pageant, Murmur and Automatic for the People. He thought the ACL live show was better than recent tours, but not amazing. And the same can be said of Accelerate. They've returned to their roots, but not to form, and Jim can only give it a Try It. Greg was actually pleasantly surprised to hear the band re-invested again-for the first time since losing drummer Bill Berry. That was an incredible loss for the other three members, and Accelerate is the first album in years that can stand up to their earlier work, according to Greg. He hears a renewed urgency in Michael Stipe's voice and the emphasis placed once again on Peter Buck's guitar. Greg gives Accelerate a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 121
Collapse Into NowCollapse Into Now available on iTunes

R.E.M. Collapse Into Now

It's hard to believe, but R.E.M. has put out its fifteenth album. The formerly indie quartet from Athens is now a major label trio, and many fans have been waiting for a“return to form.”Well, they get it with Collapse Into Now…sort of. As Jim and Greg explain, the record is full of nods to older R.E.M. material, but nothing as strong. Why not just sit back and listen to the albums from the '80s and '90s? They add that the loss of drummer Bill Berry keeps getting magnified as the years go by. Collapse Into Now gets a double Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 277
InvitationInvitation available on iTunes

Filthy Friends Invitation

The indie rock supergroup Filthy Friends initially formed in 2012 as a cover band. Led by Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, along with Kurt Bloch, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin, the group has released its debut album of originals, Invitation. Jim is skeptical of all supergroups, but thinks that Filthy Friends gels as a real band. He finds the guitar interplay to be a joy and loves the little allusions the band makes to their musical heroes. Jim calls Invitation a fun ride worthy of a Buy It. Greg, however, finds the album to be a tentative effort. Tucker's vocals are uncharacteristically restrained, he says, and the record lacks any musical surprises. According to Greg, the album is pleasant enough, but he can't imagine listening to it a year from now, so all he can give it is a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 616
The King Is DeadThe King is Dead available on iTunes

The Decemberists The King is Dead

Since 2004, The Decemberists have evolved into full-blown theatricality. Now they scale it back with their sixth album The King is Dead. According to Jim, it's with this record that they silence critics of their prog antics and prove at their heart they're simply about great songwriting. Lead singer Colin Meloy and the band looked to American folk and roots music and enlisted R.E.M.'s Peter Buck for a track. Greg finds the results more straightforward. The King is Dead shows that less is more and gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 269
The ObliteratiThe Obliterati available on iTunes

Mission of Burma The Obliterati

Post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma have a new album out, their third in twenty years. Shortly after releasing their landmark Vs. in 1982, the group was forced to disband. The signature massive volume of their music took a toll on all of the members, particularly guitarist Roger Miller who developed a debilitating case of tinnitus. In their short run, Mission of Burma became hugely influential; R.E.M. and Moby have both covered their songs. Then, in 2003 the band reunited and later released their second album, OnOffOn. This record was very well-received, something that's almost unprecedented for a reunion album. Now, the band is back with The Obliterati, and Jim and Greg are as impressed as they were twenty years ago. Jim points to the incredible melodies of the songs, as well as their intellectual wit. He also thinks that Chicago-based engineer Bob Weston did an amazing job with The Obliterati. Greg agrees that the band's melodies are as strong as ever, and explains that Mission of Burma's greatness lies in the tension between the melodies and the noise. He still can't believe that a band would make two such great albums in the second leg of their career. The Obliterati gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 26
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

The Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

The Beastie Boys started out as snotty punks fighting for their right to party. But now they have more in common with vets like R.E.M. and U2. Their 8th album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, was much delayed, in part, because of Adam“MCA”Yauch's battle with cancer. But now it's here, and they haven't skipped a beat. The Beastie Boys are hardly boys anymore, but they make no attempt to be up to date. What they lack in edge they make up for in humor. Jim and Greg give this a joyful Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 284
dijs

Jim

“It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”R.E.M.

In true rock and roll style, Jim makes a cheeky Desert Island Jukebox pick this week. As discussed above, this week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Many people would have gone with a solemn, or even political track — but, as listeners know, Jim is not many people, and he can't resist choosing R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." Jim likens the Dadaist song to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," a similar surreal expression of social discontent. The song comes from R.E.M.'s pre-major label era, which Jim believes is their best time period. He also offers bit of insight into one of the song's most famous lines: "Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!" Jim wrote the biography of rock critic Lester Bangs, and learned that this line was written after Michael Stipe and Peter Buck attended Bangs' birthday party. Hungry and poor, the young band members were hoping to get a meal out of the event, but were only offered birthday cake and jelly beans. Then an over-served Bangs insulted his fan Stipe and started a food fight. Make sense now?

Go to episode 40

Jim

“Replenished”Vic Chesnutt

At the end of the show Jim drops a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox. He uses his turn at the DIJ to talk about Vic Chesnutt, a musician who died this past Christmas. Chesnutt, who was a paraplegic since the age of 18, was discovered and championed by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. As Jim explains, music was like a lifeline for Chesnutt, and one of his favorite albums by the singer/songwriter was 1998's The Salesman and Bernadette. To honor the Athens, GA musician, Jim chooses to add "Replenished," a track from that record, to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 216
lists

Turkey Shoot 2008

On Thanksgiving most Americans give thanks for things like their loved ones and their health. But at Sound Opinions we like to take this opportunity to give thanks of a different variety. During this Turkey Shoot segment Jim, Greg and some listeners give thanks that they‘ll never have to hear the year’s most disappointing albums again. These are records that had great potential, but fell flat. Say farewell to the following Turkeys:

  • R.E.M., Accelerate
  • My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
  • Brian Wilson, That Lucky Old Sun
  • The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

Our listeners“shoot”the following:

  • Weezer, S/T (The Red Album)
  • John Legend, Evolver
  • Beck, Modern Guilt

For more Turkeys, check out the Sound Opinions Message Board.

Go to episode 157

Apology Songs

There are a lot of ways to say“I'm sorry,”but what better method than through song. Jim, Greg and a few listeners share their favorite apology tracks.

Go to episode 581

Funeral Songs

The complete top five funeral songs, according to the Register:

  • James Blunt, "Goodbye My Lover"
  • Robbie Williams, "Angels"
  • Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley, "I've Had the Time of My Life"
  • Bette Midler, "Wind Beneath My Wings"
  • "Pie Jesu"

We asked our Sound Opinions listeners this same, morbid question. Here are some of the“swan songs”you told us about via email or message board:

  • Santo and Johnny, "Sleepwalk"
  • The Buzzcocks, "Everybody's Happy Nowadays"
  • Curtis Mayfield, "Freddie's Dead"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Corpus Christi Texas"
  • R.E.M., "Try Not to Breathe"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Satisfied Mind"
  • Tom Waits, "Come On Up To The House"
  • Peter Gabriel, "I Grieve"
  • Joy Division, "In a Lonely Place"
  • The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"
  • Alice Cooper, "I Love the Dead"
  • Talking Heads, "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)"
  • Billy Bragg and Wilco, "Remember the Mountain Bed"

Greg

Jim and Greg were forced to think about their final day as well. Greg goes first (since Jim predicts he actually will). He decides he wants Sound Opinions guest John Cale's cover of "Hallelujah" to be played at his funeral. He calls it the 20th century version of "Amazing Grace". Although Cale's version strays from Leonard Cohen's original, Greg thinks the message remains intact: "I made a lot of mistakes, but it was all worthwhile."

Jim

Jim predicts that even at his funeral he won't be able to resist one last chance to be sarcastic. He chooses an irreverent version of Frank Sinatra's classic "My Way." Jim shares Hoboken roots with“Ol' Blue Eyes,”but he feels he shares a lot more with Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious. So all of you Sound Opinions listeners who plan to come out to mourn on that fateful day will get to enjoy this punk cover.

Go to episode 47

Songs About Radio

This week's feature celebrates an important, albeit struggling medium: Radio. Last year national radio revenue fell 18%, and the industry overseas isn't immune either. Even powerhouse BBC has been facing tough economic times. While bands have many other methods of promotion and distribution these days, radio airplay still significantly boosts record sales. Musicians are now looking to radio performances as another source of revenue. Jim and Greg both fondly remember discovering new bands on their FM dials. To honor that legacy, they play these great Radio-Inspired Tracks:

Go to episode 223

Tearjerkers: Songs That Make You Cry

Feel a lump in your throat? Go ahead and let it all out as Jim and Greg play some of the greatest musical Tearjerkers. These weepies make you cry, no matter how strong your disposition.

Go to episode 439
features

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

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
news

Music News

The Nielsen SoundScan numbers for 2006 are in this week, and some members of the music industry would have you believe the sky was falling. This is because total album sales in the U.S. fell 4.9% since last year. But, the fact that is getting buried is that overall music sales still rose to 1.19 billion units in the year. It's hard to think of that as any kind of slump. The reason music is thriving is actually digital music distribution. Digital music sales rose 65% to almost 582 units. Jim and Greg speak with an expert, Chris Muratore from Nielsen Music to make sense of all the numbers. He admits that despite what the record labels would have you believe, digital music could be the best thing that has happened to the music industry in years. Billboard senior analyst Geoff Mayfield echoes this sentiment, and explains that the industry is having to shift its business model. One thing we can all agree on though - music sales may be up, but the quality of the big sellers (High School Musical, Rascal Flatts, Daniel Powter) has plummeted way down.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also made news this week. This year's inductees include The Ronettes, Patti Smith, Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and R.E.M. (listen to Jim and Greg's discussion with the band's guitarist and co-founder Peter Buck in the next segment). While many of those musicians are deserving of honors, Jim and Greg are dubious of the ceremonies themselves. They're more about tuning in to see who will or will not attend and who will and will not reunite than they are about music's great history. Van Halen is not the most important rock act, but fans are anxious to see which front man will show up and play — David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar (or Gary Cherone)? Our hosts wish that bands like Chic, whose music has provide the basis for tons of other songs like "Rapper's Delight," "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," had been inducted. Jim adds The Stooges and Kraftwerk also deserve a Hall of Fame nod.

Go to episode 59

Music News

After 31 years and 15 albums, R.E.M. announced it's calling it a day. Jim and Greg will dive into the band's career in more detail next week, but they point out what a groundbreaking band the Athens, GA natives were. No group other than U2 transitioned so easily from an arty indie band of the 1980's to arena superstars in the new millennium. Perhaps they would've been smart to pack it in after drummer Bill Berry quit in 1997, but their record deal running out gave them the reason now.

Go to episode 305

Music News

Universal Music, the home to U2, Eminem and Lil Wayne, has decided to drop its CD prices to $10 or less. These new prices will certainly be welcome by both consumers and retailers, but Jim and Greg wonder if this is a case of too little, too late for the music industry. CDs were nearly $20 a decade ago when physical music sales were at a high. Now that those sales are down, $10 may draw some consumers back in, but it's still a heck of a lot more expensive than an mp3.

Alex Chilton Next Jim and Greg remember musician Alex Chilton who died last week at the age of 59. Chilton first came on the scene as the 16-year-old singer of The Box Tops' "The Letter." He then joined Big Star, and as Jim and Greg explain, became hugely significant to musicians in the 1980's. Big Star was never a commercial hit, but everyone from REM to The Replacements has name-checked Chilton and the band's power-pop sound as an influence. The singer and songwriter died only days before a scheduled Big Star reunion at SXSW. The event turned into a tribute, one that Greg describes as one of the most memorable shows he's ever seen. To honor Alex Chilton Jim and Greg play a song from Big Star's third release Third/Sister Lovers called "Thank You Friends." For more Big Star love, check out the Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissections of #1 Record and Radio City.

Go to episode 226

Music News

Adele continues down her path of superstardom by scoring the biggest recording deal in the history of music. After three albums on the British indie label XL, Adele has signed a deal with Sony for around $132 million. She will be on the conglomerate's subsidiary label, Columbia, alongside artists like Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and John Mayer. In the mid '90s and early 2000s, musicians like Prince, R.E.M. and U2 were signing massive recording deals. However in 2016, substantial contracts are much harder to come by due to the large decrease in album sales. Adele seems to be the exception to the rule, which is reflected in her new, record-breaking contract.

Go to episode 548

Music News

First up in the news the sentence handed to Daniel Biechele, the tour manager of the band Great White. Biechele was ordered to serve four years in prison and three years probation for setting a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub in February 2003 — a blaze that killed 100 fans and injured twice that number. This was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. The ruling represents a compromise between the defense and the prosecution, who were originally seeking a ten-year sentence. Meanwhile. victims' families are awaiting the trial of the club owners, to take place later this summer.

Another court case also made news this week. In the battle between The Beatles' Apple Corp. and Apple Computer over trademark infringement and their shared apple logo, the judge ruled against the Fab Four. The band was contending that Apple Computer and its iTunes Music Store had breached a 1980 trademark agreement by expanding onto their turf — the music industry. However, the judge, who does own an iPod, responded that“even a moron in a hurry,”could tell the difference between the two companies. Now we just have to wait and see if the Beatles will finally release their songs to the online music retailer. Hopefully this will not confuse any of the morons in a hurry out there.

There was also an update on Keith Richards' health status, which was discussed last week. After a mysterious fall on the island of Fiji, Richards was admitted to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. On Monday, after complaining of headaches, he underwent an operation, which, according to his publicist, was 100% successful. The Stones' camp has not said how he fell or what the operation was for, but reports speculate that it was to drain blood from his skull. A spokesperson has, however, denied that there was more than one surgery or that Richards suffered any brain damage. Fans can expect to see the guitarist touring in June, and back to his old, randy self in no time.

Grant McLennan, frontman of Australian indie rock band The Go-Betweens, died in his sleep earlier this week. The singer/songwriter was 48. Greg discusses how The Go-Betweens, who were going strong up until McLennan's passing, were not necessarily commercially successful, but were very influential in the 1980s. Musicians like Bono and Morrissey and members of bands like R.E.M. and Coldplay have all sung the praises of McLennan and his partner Robert Foster. Many listeners will only know the band from their hit "Bachelor Kisses," but Greg points out that the songwriting pair penned many wonderful pop songs that were full of emotion and humanity. He chooses to play "Bye Bye Pride," and prompts listeners to pay attention to the oboe solo.

Go to episode 24