Alejandro Escovedo & Review of Guns N’ Roses

Jim and Greg welcome rocker Alejandro Escovedo for a conversation and live performance. They’ll also review the long awaited album from Guns N’ Roses, and then it’s Greg’s turn to add a track to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Alejandro Escovedo
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For years the RIAA has been using the tactics of lawsuits and intimidation to try to curb illegal file-sharing, but recently both the consumer and the legal world are fighting back. Two prominent legal minds are calling for major copyright reform. The first is Harvard University law professor Charles Nesson, who has come to the defense of a Boston University student targeted in a music industry lawsuit. Nesson argues that as a private group, the RIAA can’t carry out the civil enforcement of a criminal law and has vowed to take this case as far as it can go.

Another legal bigwig asking for reform is Marilyn Hall Patel, the judge who presided over the case that killed off original Napster. Seven years after her landmark decision, she hasn’t seen the music industry make any strides to improve the situation and has proposed a new plan to create a new public/private organization with authority over the licensing and enforcement of copyrighting.

The words Ticketmaster and Live Nation are hard to escape these days, and with good reason. The two monoliths are unavoidable if you go to see concerts, and now that is the case with listening to and purchasing music as well. Jim and Greg discuss two new developments with the soon-to-be competitors. Ticketmaster has decided to be a little more customer-friendly with the next series of Eagles shows. They will reduce the convenience fees and waive delivery and handling fees for customers who print tickets at home. This decision comes after Eagles manager Irving Azoff was named the CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment. Jim and Greg think this is a move in the right direction, but still find the price of Eagles tickets to be ridiculous.

Live Nation has also taken a new step. After inking a number of 360-degree deals with artists like U2, Madonna and Jay-Z, they now have plans to launch artist pages (similar to MySpace) pages where they can sell mp3s. This will essentially make Live Nation the world’s biggest music store, and an even more powerful Live Nation is not something our hosts look forward to.

Alejandro Escovedo

Veteran roots rocker Alejandro Escovedo has dabbled in everything from punk to folk to country, and it shows on his new album Real Animal. He stops by the Sound Opinions studio to talk with Jim and Greg about his long solo career and how after 30 years he’s finally getting more mainstream recognition. But, while he hasn’t always been a household name, Escovedo has always had famous fans, including The Boss himself. You can hear Always a Friend the song he recently performed with Bruce Springsteen, as well as all his live tracks here.

00:43:24 Review: Guns N’ Roses

Chinese Democracy

Some fans thought this day would never come, but Guns N’ Roses has finally released Chinese Democracy, their first album in 17 years. But, perhaps by Guns N’ Roses we should say Axl Rose, since he is the sole surviving member. It would be hard for any album to live up to this many years of expectation, so Jim and Greg try to stick to the music when giving their review. Greg explains that Axl has gone farther on this album than he ever has before, and that is what is most aggravating as well as endearing about the singer. He’s certainly a risk taker, but with great risks, of course, come great falls. Greg was impressed by some of the experimentation, but describes the record as sort of a Frankenstein monster. He recommends listeners Try It. Jim says there are so many elements—Spanish guitars, mellotrons, and even movie clips—that it’s hard to just hear songs. But, he admits that with the exception of the ballads, half of the record isn’t bad at all. He also gives it a Try It.

Greg

One of the things Greg admires most about Alejandro Escovedo is his ability to choose great covers to perform. He reminds his new audiences of great older songs they might not be familiar with. One such song is Sex Beat by The Gun Club. The track was released on the California post-punk outfit’s 1981 debut Fire of Love. Greg describes front man Jeffrey Lee Pierce as a legendary figure of that era and genius guitar player. Put a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox this week to hear his song Sex Beat.

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