Phoenix & Opinions on Bettye LaVette

Ultra-melodic French rockers Phoenix join Jim and Greg in the studio to perform songs from their hit 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Plus they review the new album from Bettye LaVette and Greg drops a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox.

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Two of the summer's biggest tours will not be coming to a city near you. Both U2 and Christina Aguilera have announced postponements, and the concert industry, and in particular Live Nation, will be taking a big hit. U2 alone was projected to bring in $200 million.

In other concert news, more cancellations have been announced in Arizona. A number of acts, including Pitbull and Cypress Hill, have taken the southwestern state off their schedule because of its controversial new immigration law. And even more artists are asking others to follow suit. Jim wonders if musicians might make a bigger impact by continuing to perform in Arizona and expressing their outrage live.

In New York, music fans will be experiencing some unique protection in the near future. Governor Paterson recently reminded ticket retailers like StubHub, that now that a 2007 scalping law has expired, a more restrictive law from the 1920s is back in effect. This law prevents ticket re-sellers, or scalpers, from raising the original price by more than $2. Good news for audiences, bad news for Ticketmaster.

Finally in the news, Jim and Greg remark on the absurdity of rock's V.I.P. ticket. Acts like Justin Bieber and The Eagles will be charging fans hundreds and hundreds of dollars for more access. Both our hosts miss the day when the biggest fan got to make it to the front row, not the biggest wallet.


Next up we let the French invade. Jim and Greg are joined by the members of the band Phoenix. *For a while, they were known as "that band fronted by that guy with Sophia Coppola." But now, with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix topping a number of Best Albums lists (including Jim and Greg's), they are more widely known by American audiences. In fact, you've probably heard them in this commercial. But, don't hold that against them. The men from Phoenix are huge music fans, mentored by the members of Air. They may make heady references to 19th century Hungarian composers in their songs, but never lose sight of the goals of great pop music. You can hear that in their live acoustic performance on the show, which includes a cover of the Air song "Playground Love."

*This interview originally aired in October 2009.

Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook Bettye LaVette

Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook

What happens when a veteran soul  singer takes on classic British  rock tunes? The answer is actually not as exciting as one might think. Both Jim and Greg were really looking forward to Bettye LaVette's Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. The album came out of LaVette's Kennedy Center Honors performance of "Love Reign O’er Me," by The Who. She put her unique, alto rasp to use on subsequent covers of songs by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. But, as Greg explains, the album's sleepy, slow-burn pace didn't do her voice or the songs justice. Jim agrees, and also wishes LaVette had chosen more original songs by these famous artists. They both regrettably give the record a Trash It rating.


With France in the air this episode, Greg thinks back to one of his favorite French rock acts: Mano Negra. Co-founded by musician Manu Chao, the band deftly combined rock, reggae, afropop, punk and ska. Their track "Mala Vida," from their 1989 release Puta’s Fever truly gives new meaning to the term "world music," and it's a song Greg wants to groove to on the desert island.

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