The Monkees & Opinions on PJ Harvey and Drive-By Truckers

Jim and Greg dive into the history and legacy of the Revolutionary Made-for-TV Band The Monkees with writer Eric Lefcowitz.

The Monkees
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The Grammy Awards are usually, let’s face it, kind of a snooze, and often a head-scratcher. But this year our hosts are excited about Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year. Most people, Greg included, were certain Eminem would take home the award. It was an upset, and for once, the Grammy voters honored excellence over sales. In fact, indie bands won 45 out of 108 categories, but that isn’t reflected in the market. Greg also applauds the Grammys for shedding light on artists like Janelle Monáe and Esperanza Spaulding.

Guitar Hero has played its swan song. Or should we say swan riff? After a huge five year run, Activision has decided to pull the plug on the video game. This signals a decline for the music video game genre, including Rock Band, whose Beatles game didn’t perform as well as expected. What’s the next trend? Dance!

The Monkees

Hey, hey, it’s The Monkees! Jim and Greg go ape on this episode with Eric Lefcowitz, author of Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made For TV Band. The three men talk about the band’s history as a group manufactured to tap into Beatlemania. TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider brought bandmates Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones together, and their music was supervised by record producer Don Kirshner. This was the original pop model, giving way to NSYNC, Justin Bieber and Glee. But eventually, as often happens, The Monkees began to itch for independence. They went on to write and produce more of their own music and make the trippy cult classic Head. But for those who want to relive the golden age, rumor has it The Monkees will be reuniting (sans Nesmith) this year.

Let England Shake PJ Harvey

Let England Shake

Next up, Jim and Greg review the new album by PJ Harvey called Let England Shake. The British singer, who came out in the ‘ 90s with a series of critically acclaimed albums, never repeats herself. And on this record she uses autoharp and finds inspiration in war. But sometimes change doesn’t do you good. Jim wishes Polly Jean Harvey sounded like herself. He can’t stand her little girl singing voice and the pretentious sound. He gives Let England Shake a big Trash It rating. Greg is not as let down, but admits the album is a disappointment. He misses her first person perspective and says the music is not at all well-defined. Some parts are just plain annoying, but a few tracks stand up. So Greg says Burn It.

Go-Go Boots Drive-By Truckers

Go-Go Boots

We’ve gotten a number of emails and calls from listeners asking, why no Drive-By Truckers? Jim and Greg admit this group often gets overlooked because they are so darn consistent. They recently released their tenth album, Go-Go Boots, and it’s another winner. Greg attributes this to the fact that there are two solid songwriters. They create scenes and characters that a novelist would envy. Jim agrees, and encourages Kings of Leon fans to pick up this more authentic southern rock record. Go-Go Boots gets two Buy Its.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!