Results for Rick Rubin
Many fans know Tom Morello through his electric guitar innovations in Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. So it was a surprise to hear he had unplugged and donned a new guise as The Nightwatchman. The Chicago native has a new solo album out called One Man Revolution, and during a visit home he stopped by the Sound Opinions studio to show off his new incarnation. During his discussion with Jim and Greg it starts to make more sense why the famed electric guitarist would go acoustic. Tom has always been a fan of folk rockers like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. And, the one man + guitar formula lends itself to the political content Tom has always been known for.
Tom explains that he was seeking a political and musical outlet that would fulfill that side of his personality. The hard rocking side gets fulfilled by the arena rock group Audioslave. However, Tom reveals that the band might be no more. He and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell were both in Chicago at the same time, but haven't communicated in a while. Luckily friend and producer Rick Rubin encouraged Tom to branch out on his own with this record. And of course, Jim notes that the guitarist always has a political career to fall back on. Like his mother Mary Morello, Tom has always been a social activist. He also worked for Senator Alan Cranston for a number of years.
One person Tom Morello did hook up with while he was in town is fellow Rage Against the Machine member Zack de la Rocha. The Rage frontman joined Morello in a couple of protest rallies in support of low-wage immigrant farmworkers. And of course, as fans have been anticipating, the two will appear with Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk for Rage Against the Machine's first performance in seven years at this weekend's Coachella Music Festival. For a sneak preview, check out Morello's rendition of the band's song "Guerrilla Radio," as well as an exclusive bonus track.Go to episode 74
In the 1980's Slayer redefined the metal genre, bringing more speed and intensity than many had ever heard. But the musical virtuosity of members Tom Araya, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King and Dave Lombardo was often overshadowed by their lyrics and imagery, which at times referenced violence and satanism. That made them the target of groups like the Parents Music Resource Center, which was co-founded by Tipper Gore. But despite critics, they've been going strong for over three decades and are currently out on tour. Drummer Dave Lombardo and guitarist Kerry King sit down with Jim and Greg to talk about their favorite Slayer moments, working with Rick Rubin and what they'd say to parents concerned about their music.Go to episode 250
In the 1980s, Slayer redefined the metal genre by bringing more speed and intensity than many had ever heard. But the band's musical virtuosity was often overshadowed by their lyrics and imagery, which at times referenced violence and satanism. That made them the target of groups like the Parents Music Resource Center, which was cofounded by Tipper Gore. But despite critics, they've been going strong for over three decades, despite personel changes and the tragic death of Jeff Hannenman earlier this year. In 2010, founding members Dave Lombardo (who has since left the band) and Kerry King sat down with Jim and Greg to talk about their favorite Slayer moments, working with Rick Rubin and what they'd say to parents concerned about their music.Go to episode 421
Trey Parker and Matt Stone
It's time to "Man Up" for a visit from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They are the dynamic duo behind South Park and the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.“What are they doing on our rock and roll show?”you ask. Well, some of the greatest moments of satire (see last week's show) on South Park are musical. In fact, check out our favorites here.
Plus, you could argue the show itself is quite punk rock with it's no holds barred attitude and lo-fi animation. The show even spawned a Rick Rubin-produced album. Now we have an equally outrageous musical, The Book of Mormon. It tells the story of two Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda. It's even“bluer”than South Park, but despite this, or perhaps because of it, it's a smash hit. Trey, Matt and collaborator Robert Lopez have won a slew of Tony Awards and a record-breaking slot on the Billboard chart. So, how'd two Ween, Primus and Prog Rock fans from Colorado end up the toast of Broadway? Trey and Matt explained this and their songwriting philosophy during their visit to our studios. They were in town for the Chicago opening of the play.Go to episode 374
The Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium
The Red Hot Chili Peppers also released a highly anticipated album this week. Their 28-song double album was produced by superstar producer Rick Rubin. Rubin previously worked with the Southern California natives on their big mainstream breakout album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, as well as later hit Californication. As the co-founder of Def Jam Records with Russell Simmons, Rubin produced albums for The Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C. He's also acted as producer for Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down, and the late Johnny Cash. It's surprising then, say Jim and Greg, that Rubin would be such a poor editor on this latest effort. Both critics agree that this album doesn‘t deserve to be nearly as long as it is, especially since more than half of the songs can be considered ballads — a far cry from the Chili Peppers’ punk-funk roots. Those ballads are evidence of lead singer Anthony Kiedis' self-proclaimed spiritual transformation, but Jim and Greg are not quite moved. They can still hear a few moments when Kiedis' former, party-loving self comes through. The album, which was recorded in Harry Houdini's former home, is worth hearing for John Frusciante's guitar playing, but not worth a purchase. Stadium Arcadium gets a Trash It from both hosts.
Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways
This Independence Day also marked the release of a new posthumous album from country legend Johnny Cash. American V: A Hundred Highways is the latest in a series of collaborations between Cash and producer Rick Rubin. As Jim and Greg explain, this was an unlikely partnership resulting in extraordinary music. Rubin, who has mostly worked in the rock and rap arenas with such acts as Run DMC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, brought a new perspective to Cash's music. He highlighted the strength of Cash's vocals and introduced him to songs by Roberta Flack and Nine Inch Nails. But, both Jim and Greg agree that the collaboration was less than amazing this time around. Cash began recording these songs in 2003, after the death of his wife June Carter and shortly before his own, and you can hear his failing health in his voice. Greg likens the experience to that of listening to Billie Holiday's final recording, Lady in Satin. Both albums leave the listener feeling like a voyeur intruding on the singer's pain and sadness. Jim misses the sense of joy and triumph that Rubin helped bring to Cash's work in the last few years. He wishes that the music had a little more“middle finger”in it, referring to the team's famous Billboard ad in which Cash gives the country music establishment the bird. Therefore, both critics can only give American V a Burn It rating, and instead direct fans to two other releases: Personal File and the American Records box set, Unearthed.
Johnny Cash American VI: Ain't No Grave
Despite having passed away in 2003, Johnny Cash is still releasing new albums. Case in point: American VI: Ain't No Grave, the latest in Rick Rubin's American Recordings series. Rubin and Cash seemed like an unlikely pairing, but the partnership has resulted in some of Cash's most memorable performances. Greg finds the 6th album somewhat disturbing to hear; you can tell he was deteriorating. The songs have a psychedelic quality, nodding at the world Cash would soon be moving on to. Greg gives Ain't No Grave a Buy It rating. Jim heard three excellent tracks, but found the remaining either embarrassing or painful. He feels this material should've stayed private or been released as outtakes and gives the record a Try It.
Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way
Three years after telling a London audience, ""We're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," Natalie Maines and her fellow Dixie Chicks are making headlines again with a new album. And, with singles like "Not Ready to Make Nice," the statement they want to make is clear. Some of their critics might have desired an apology, but on Taking the Long Way, they receive no such thing. Because of this, the band is again being rejected by certain country radio programmers. The real issue, however, is whether or not audiences will embrace the album, which is not a straight-up country record. Produced by Rick Rubin, and written with help from Sheryl Crow and members of Semisonic and The Jayhawks, it has more of a California-rock feel. Jim appreciates that they moved away from the Top 40 Country, but wishes they had taken it even farther, towards a more authentic, alt-country roots sound like Jenny Lewis or Neko Case. He gives it a Burn It. Greg is most taken with Natalie Maines‘ vocals, but also can’t recommend that people buy the album. However, he does think that anyone interested in music should hear it and gives Taking the Long Way another Burn It.
Black Sabbath Never Say Die
For the first time since 1978's Never Say Die, three of the four OG's of metal are back in the studio. Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and Bill Ward practically invented heavy metal in the seventies, Jim says, and on the group's 19th studio album 13, Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony are re-united (Bill's on the outs for business reasons). Do the boys still rock all these years later? Greg's answer is a tentative“yes.”Iommi still brings those ten-ton riffs, and the onset of old age means that for once, Ozzy has something substantive to sing about (death). Most important, Black Sabbath doesn‘t embarrass itself, and for Greg that’s worth a Burn It rating. Jim is not as kind. He faults producer Rick Rubin's over-compression for drowning out Geezer's bass, and whatever the subject matter, Jim insists Ozzy just sounds awful. He suggests Greg take off his rose-colored glasses and see 13 for what it is: a Trash It record.
The Gossip Music for Men
Next up is a review of Music for Men, the major label debut from The Gossip. The underground trio is fronted by Beth Ditto, whom Jim describes as a feminist and gay activist, as well as a "Fat-Activist." Her onstage persona caught the attention of superstar producer Rick Rubin, who brought the band to Columbia. Unfortunately, as Greg relays, Rubin did the band no favors. The drumming sounds crisp and precise, but Ditto's voice has been stripped of its bluesy passion. A disheartened Jim agrees. If he weren‘t married, and Ditto weren’t gay, Jim says he'd want to marry her. But you get none of her life force on this album. Both critics give Music for Men a Trash It.
Red Hot Chili Peppers I'm With You
Once fresh faces in the frat punk world, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a heritage act at this point. Their 10th album I'm With You is one of many collaborations with superproducer Rick Rubin. And it's the first with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis considers this a reboot, but Greg's having a hard time buying their new identity as a stadium ballad band. He misses the guitar virtuosity of John Frusciante, who quit in 2009. Flea remains an all-star bass player, but he can‘t save I’m With You. Greg says Trash It. Jim agrees with that sentiment, pointing to the lousy, mush-mouthed lyrics of Kiedis as his primary hurdle. This is not a sensitive band, and he would welcome a return to funk rock. Until then…Trash It.
Pops Staples Don't Lose This
Reviewing a posthumous release is a tricky thing. You want to honor a great artist with a glowing review, but inevitably there's always something lacking. Jim and Greg agree on this when it comes to Pops Staples' final album, Don't Lose This, released 15 years after it the music was recorded and after the artist died. Having Pops on record so late in his life is like a gift to music fans, but Jim hears his voice deteriorating and compares it to Johnny Cash's recordings with Rick Rubin. Greg agrees that this isn‘t Pops’ best work or the place to start with The Staples Singers. But, both critics hear standout songwriting moments that still resonate today. Indeed:“Don't Lose This.”The album, produced by Jeff Tweedy, gets a double Try It.
Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds
The final bit of news is the release of Justin Timberlake's second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. The ex-teen heartthrob is all grown up and has aligned himself with producer Timbaland, as well as Rick Rubin and will.i.am, for a darker, more cutting-edge — and yes, sexier — sound than 'N Sync fans are used to. He's also launched an impressive live show that has the charismatic singer fronting an 11-piece band. It's just one of many adventurous moves that are impressing our hosts. Jim explains that with the exception of one bum track which tells the sad story of“a life ruined by meth addiction,”the diverse array of songs on FutureSex/LoveSounds all succeed. He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg agrees, explaining that the songs are fairly avant-garde and hook-less for a pop record. He does not think Timberlake is the best singer in the world, but he pulls off dance music as well as old-school soul. He also gives the album a Buy It. (By the way, Timberlake is not the only former Mouseketeer“dropping”a project this week. We want to extend hearty congratulations to his former girlfriend, Britney Spears, now the mom of two.)
Johnny Cash Cash: The Legend
One of numerous Johnny Cash box sets, Cash: The Legend was released in time for the hoopla surrounding the Cash biopic, Walk the Line. Jim first points out that he doesn't like the way the set is organized. He loves the first disc, but is not sure about the rest of the choices. Greg, the show's resident Cash expert, thinks this box set is better than most, but is still flawed. It lacks many of Cash's Sun recordings, as well as his most recent work with super-producer Rick Rubin. This is a Burn It for both critics. Jim's Buy It picks for Cash fans are Love, God, Murder and Unearthed. Greg gets to pick the song this time around, and, much to Jim's dismay, chooses "The Wanderer," a track written by U2.
This week British singer Adele bumps the big names off the Billboard chart. Her new album 21 is currently at #1. The former hairdresser impressed Jim and Greg with her debut 19, and now she's amped up the production with some big names including Beyoncé, Rick Rubin and Dan Wilson. But bigger isn't always better. Greg loves Adele's powerful voice, but the quality of the singing trumps the quality of the songs. He gives 21 a Burn It rating. Jim is even more disappointed. He thinks Adele should know better than to sing some of the“nonsense”on this record. She's gone Hollywood, so he's going with a Trash It.
U2 No Line on the Horizon
Irish super rockers U2 have a new album out called No Line on the Horizon. It's the band's 12th album, and after a brief stint with producer Rick Rubin, they've returned to working with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Greg was pleased to hear that after a couple of“U2 by numbers”albums, they‘ve returned to emphasizing sound. They’ve restored the sense of mystery and atmosphere on a handful of tracks. But, Greg wishes the entire album was like that. He doesn't feel they quite pulled it off and gives No Line on the Horizon a Try It. Jim is shocked to hear himself say it, but he disagrees. Bono was wrong to suggest this record is the band's best, but Jim thinks they are definitely still relevant. And he finds the good tracks so extraordinarily good that they overshadow the bum ones. Jim gives the new U2…a Buy It!
Each week there are more and more news stories about the failings of the music industry and labels having financial troubles. This week's victim is Bertelsmann, the largest media company in Europe. The German-based company reported a $69 million loss due to legal settlements over the funding of music-downloading service Napster. In 2004, in an effort to stay ahead in the growing digital industry, Bertelsmann invested in the file-sharing company. But, shortly thereafter, the other major music labels sued Napster for copyright infringement. Now Bertelsmann is paying the price.
It's clear that the industry's old model is dying though, and two music veterans think they have the solution. Jim and Greg discuss the much talked-about profile of Rick Rubin in last week's New York Times Magazine. Rubin, who co-founded Def Jam and launched the careers of artists like The Beastie Boys and Slayer, was recently appointed the co-head of Columbia Records. In the article, writer Lynn Hirschberg talks to Rubin about how he plans to save Columbia, and possibly the entire music business. In addition to implementing a subscription-based music service, the crux of Rubin's grand scheme is to put the focus back on quality and back on quality and the art. Jim and Greg completely agree that the key to pleasing music consumers is having better music, but they question Rubin's role as tastemaker. The man has had a golden ear at times, but, as Jim explains, he's also produced a lot of "crap."
Another music man who commented on the state of the union is Creation Records founder Alan McGee. In a blog in the UK newspaper The Guardian, McGee proclaims that consumers don‘t want to pay for music at all anymore. Period. He recommends that labels invest in the scope of an artist’s career and focus on making money through ticket sales and merchandise, not small worthless discs.
In more news about the money-making of music, BMI announced record-setting royalty distributions to the tune of $732 million. But, while the music performing right organization is reporting its success, another is seeking more funds. Earlier this summer ASCAP announced that it has filed 26 separate infringement actions against nightclubs, bars and restaurants in 17 states. Jim and Greg are curious about the goal of the crackdown, which seems to focus on the little guy. First they talk to Vincent Candilora, ASCAP's vice president and director of licensing. Mr. Candilora explains that ASCAP doesn‘t desire filing lawsuits, but that the organization wanted to remind people that there are laws against playing copyrighted music without a license, whether the song is recorded or performed, and whether the venue is large or a dive bar. He realizes that most of these establishments aren’t specifically music venues, but compares paying for the right to play music to paying for the right to serve parsley; it's not something you order off a menu, but it's something that's included in a business' operating cost.
Mike Miller, owner of the bar Delilah's on the north side of Chicago, gives the other perspective. He explains that as a music fan and a supporter of the local music community, he is totally happy to do his part and pay licenses to all three performing rights organizations. But, Mike is dubious about how his payments get disseminated. He also questions the effectiveness of such lawsuits, and wonders if ASCAP can do something better to support individual musicians and the community-at-large.Go to episode 93
- Elvis Presley, Can't Help Falling In Love, Blue Hawaii, RCA Victor, 1961
- The Flaming Lips, What A Wonderful World, In A Priest Driven Ambulance, Restless Records/Enigma, 1990
- Jonathan Richman, Roadrunner (Once), Beserkley Chartbusters Vol. 1, Beserkley Records, 1975
- Spank Rock, Rick Rubin, YoYoYoYoYo, Big Dada, 2006
- Beach House, Norway, Teen Dream, Sub Pop/Bella Union, 2010
- Dan Deacon, Baltihorse, Bromst, Carpark Records, 2009
- Double Dagger, Luxury Condos for the Poor, Ragged Rubble, Stationary Heart Recordings, 2007
- J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Don't Break The Needle, Don't Break The Needle EP, Vagrant, 2010
- Wye Oak, I Hope You Die, My Neighbor/My Creator EP, Merge, 2010
- Drew Swinburne, Pony Sparks, Whartscape 2009 sampler, unofficial release, 2009
- Ogun, Give It My All, Darkroom Productions - Hamsterdam: The Best of Baltimore, Vol. 1, Darkroom Enterprises, 2005
- The Talking Heads, Road To Nowhere, Little Creatures, Sire, 1985
- Elvis Presley,“Memphis, Tennessee”Elvis For Everyone!, RCA Victor, 1965
- Big Star, September Gurls, Radio City, Ardent, 1974
- Booker T and the MGs, Green Onions, Green Onions, Atlantic, 1962
- Jay Reatard, It Ain't Gonna Save Me, Watch Me Fall, Matador, 2009
- The Magic Kids, Superball, Memphis, True Panther, 2010
- Harlan T. Bobo, Old Man, Sucker, Goner, 2010
- Three Six Mafia, Hard Out Here For a Pimp, Hustle & Flow (soundtrack), Atlantic, 2005
- The Grifters, Maps of the Sun, Crappin' You Negative, Shangri-La Records, 1964
- Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out, Dig Me Out, Kill Rock Stars, 1997
- The Decemberists, Sixteen Military Wives, Picaresque, Kill Rock Stars, 2005
- Blitzen Trapper, Furr, Furr, Sub Pop, 2008
- Soul P, Heart of a Lion, The Layover, unreleased, Liquid Assets/Easy Mccoy, 2010
- Typhoon, Starting Over, Hunger and Thirst, Tender Loving Empire, 2010
- And And And, The Great Tide, We'll Be Better Off With The Plants, Superdream Music, 2010
- The Replacements, Route 66, Pleased To Meet Me reissue, Rhino, 2008
- Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Time of the Season, Hawk, Vanguard, 2010
- Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Come Undone, Hawk, Vanguard, 2010
- Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, Some Velvet Morning, Movin' With Nancy, Reprise, 1967
- Aslope, Close, A Helping Hand EP, Hobby Industries, 2010
- The Nerves,“Hanging on the Telephone,”The Nerves, 1986
- LCD Soundsystem, Losing My Edge, LCD Soundsystem, DFA Records, 2005
- Two Seconds To Midnight, Opt1m1sm, Architecture, Two Seconds To Midnight, 2010