Hal Blaine and Opinions on Courtney Barnett

Drummer Hal Blaine has played on countless hit records as part of the famed group of studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. He speaks with Jim and Greg about recording with Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, and more. Plus, Australian up-and-comer Courtney Barnett.

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Music News

Jay Z just launched his music streaming service, Tidal, to the public. Kanye West, Madonna and Daft Punk were just a few of the artists who attended a press conference to announce their support for the service. According to emphatic speaker Alicia Keys, Tidal's mission is to give artists more control over how their music is distributed while taking some of the authority out of the hands of tech companies. The basic monthly fee is $9.99, while the premium, hi-fi subscription is $19.99. It will be interesting to see how the service will compete with giants like Spotify and Beats, or fellow artist Garth Brooks' brand Ghost Tunes.

This year Lollapalooza Festival is being anchored by a Beatle. Paul McCartney is one of the Lolla 2015 headliners, which also includes Metallica, Florence + the Machine, Sam Smith, Alabama Shakes and The Weeknd. This will be McCartney's first stint at Lollapalooza, though he previously played at Bonnaroo in 2013.

In other festival news, if you're planning on getting a pass, don't bring your selfie stick. Lollapalooza and Coachella have banned the photographic aids from the grounds as the monopods often block the views of other concertgoers and could be potentially dangerous. However rest assured, you can still take pictures and selfies as long as you use your arms like a normal person.


Hal Blaine of The Wrecking Crew

halblainealbum Hal Blaine may not be a household name, but if rock ‘n’ roll is all about the beat, then the 86-year-old drummer is arguably one of the biggest rock stars alive. It's his stamp you hear on some of the biggest records of the 1960's and early '70s. He recorded with Elvis, The Mamas and the Papas, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Jan and Dean and even Barbra Streisand. That's 38 chart-toppers to be exact, and over 5,000 songs. So if we're comparing successful outputs, that really makes his only rival The Beatles!

Of course the idea of a session musician is something we're familiar with today, but many listeners can probably still remember their own revelation that their favorite acts might not have played their own songs. You expect that of The Monkees, but The Beach Boys? The Byrds? Many of their songs were actually recorded by Hal Blaine and The Wrecking Crew – a loose organization of California studio players whose members included Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Earl Palmer and more. There was an unspoken pact to keep their hit-making machine a secret, but as time has gone on, they've gotten their due. Hal Blaine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and last month saw the release of The Wrecking Crew, a new documentary directed by Denny Tedesco, son of crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco.

reviewSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just SitSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit available on iTunes

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has garnered attention over the last few years on the strength of a few buzzed-about EPs. She made a big splash at this year's SXSW and now has a proper album out called Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Greg loves how Barnett takes everyday details and turns them into incisive songs filled with fleshed out characters. She's also a fantastic guitar player with a distinctive rhythm/lead style. It's one of the best collection of songs Greg has heard in years. Jim compares Barnett to Kurt Cobain in her ability to mix the power of rock with the intricacy of pop melodies. Like Greg, he proclaims it one of the best albums of the year so far. Both critics give Courtney Barnett a Buy It.



“Losing True”The Roches

Greg was inspired by a conversation he had at SXSW with a fan of The Roches, a sister group from New York City in the late '70s/early '80s. While British female-led post-punk bands like The Slits and The Raincoats are celebrated, their American counterparts like The Roches are often overlooked. Sisters Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche began singing Christmas carols door-to-door, but were later recruited by Paul Simon to sing backup vocals. They had an artier, weirder strain than most others in the folk scene, with lyrics that could be very funny or extremely poignant. Robert Fripp of King Crimson became a huge fan and produced two of their records. Fripp's guitar line on "Losing True" combines with the sisters' rich vocals to create what Greg calls a celestial sound, landing it a spot in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Featured Songs

  1. Paul McCartney and Wings, Band on the Run, Band on the Run, Apple, 1973
  2. Sonny & Cher, I Got You Babe, I Got You Babe (Single), Atco, 1965
  3. Elvis Presley, Can't Help Falling in Love, Can't Help Falling in Love (Single), RCA Victor, 1961
  4. Sam Cooke, Another Saturday Night, Another Saturday Night (Single), RCA Victor, 1963
  5. The Carpenters, (They Long to Be) Close to You, (They Long to Be) Close to You (Single), A&M, 1970
  6. The Mamas & the Papas, Monday, Monday, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, Dunhill, 1966
  7. Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, A Taste of Honey, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, A&M, 1965
  8. The Ronettes, Be My Baby (take 20), Phil Spector: Gold Star Sessions 1962-66, bigO, 2011
  9. The Crystals, Then He Kissed Me, Then He Kissed Me (Single), London, 1963
  10. The Beach Boys, Wouldn't It Be Nice (highlights from tracking date), The Pet Sounds Sessions, Capitol, 1997
  11. The Beach Boys, God Only Knows (highlights from tracking date), The Pet Sounds Sessions, Capitol, 1997
  12. The Beach Boys, God Only Knows, Pet Sounds, Capitol, 1966
  13. The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man (take 5), Journals, Cedrem, 1994
  14. Frank Sinatra, Strangers in the Night, Strangers in the Night, Reprise, 1966
  15. Nancy Sinatra, These Boots Are Made for Walking, These Boots Are Made for Walking (Single), Rockabilly, 1966
  16. Simon & Garfunkel, The Boxer, The Boxer (Single), Columbia, 1969
  17. Simon & Garfunkel, Mrs. Robinson, Bookends, Columbia, 1968
  18. Courtney Barnett, Pedestrian at Best, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Mom + Pop Music, 2015
  19. Courtney Barnett, Dead Fox, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Mom + Pop Music, 2015
  20. The Roches, Losing True, Keep on Doing, Warner Bros., 1982
  21. The Marketts, Out of Limits, Out of Limits (Single), Warner Bros., 1963
  22. Kelis, Bless the Telephone, Food, Ninja Tune, 2014
  23. The Mystery Lights, What Happens When You Turn the Devil Down, The Mystery Lights EP, N/A, 2014
  24. Wolf Alice, Moaning Lisa Smile, Creature Songs, Dirty Hit, 2014
  25. The Doobie Brothers, Black Water, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, Warner Bros., 1974


nytimes.com Jay Z Reveal Tidal chicagotribune.com Greg's Lollapalooza 2015 Preview time.com Lolla and Coachella Ban Selfie Sticks rockhall.com Hal Blaine in the Hall of Fame wikipedia.org Hal Blaine credits wreckingcrewfilm.com The Wrecking Crew doc courtneybarnett.com Courtney Barnett chicagotribune.com Greg's Courtney Barnett review wbez.org Jim's Courtney Barnett review roches.com The Roches soundopinions.org Best Family Bands