Opinions on Neil Young & Radiohead

This week Jim and Greg review records from two sets of musicians who refuse to play by the rules: Neil Young and Radiohead. Tune in to hear how the albums measure up on the Sound Opinions Buy It, Try It, Trash It rating scale.

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Music News

Miley Cyrus, aka Hannah Montana, recently launched a national tour, but many parents and tweens are finding it impossible to secure tickets through Ticketmaster. The Disney star (and daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus) is being compared to The Beatles because of how hot these tickets are. Even moments after tickets were officially for sale on the Ticketmaster site, secondary market websites like StubHub and Craigslist had scored tickets and were making them available for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. This phenomenon has got everyone from industry analysts to state attorneys general to 12-year-old fans suspecting that something fishy is going on. Ticketmaster has pleaded innocence and recently requested an injunction against RMG Technologies, one of the computer programs that have made it easier for ticket brokers to circumvent its protections. Jim and Greg agree that the issue merits investigation, but they're wondering what has taken so long.

In related news, Live Nation, the country's largest concert promoter and Ticketmaster's current business partner, has announced a $120 million deal with pop icon Madonna. The agreement gives Live Nation a cut of not only her touring revenues, but also record sales, merchandising, web sites, movies, TV specials and so on. With record labels floundering, it's easy to understand the appeal of such a deal-companies can no longer count on traditional revenue streams like selling albums, so why not delve into other arenas? But, Jim and Greg are a little concerned about one large corporation having such a monopoly over every aspect of the industry. Does this mean that in order for a band to get booked at a Live Nation venue, they need to ink a recording and merchandising deal with them? It will be interesting to see who follows Madonna's lead, and who follows the lead of the other newsmakers of the week…

That would, of course, be Radiohead. Last week Jim and Greg talked about the band's revolutionary,“pick your own price”distribution method. Now, only days later they‘ve already seen how successful it has been. In the week following the album’s release, the band sold 1.2 million copies of In Rainbows for an average price of $8. Not a bad debut, especially considering they‘ve done this without the assistance of a record company. There’s been some discussion about the quality of the songs, which are slightly below standard CD rates, but as Jim explains, many music fans are used to even lower quality digital files due to the proliferation of iTunes. The ingenuity of Radiohead's scheme is undeniable, but it always comes down to the music. Jim and Greg tackle that next.

reviewIn RainbowsIn Rainbows available on iTunes

Radiohead In Rainbows

While there's a lot of buzz about Radiohead's release experiment for In Rainbows, Jim and Greg believe that the album is actually one of the band's more subtle and modest efforts. It's 10 songs, 42 minutes of beautiful music, all of which feature the band's characteristic electronic elements, guitars and strings, but it's less straight-up rock than fans are used to. And, as Jim pointed out in his review of Thom Yorke's solo album Eraser, the Radiohead frontman has really refined his singing in the past couple of years. The result is almost a soul record according to Greg. It investigates human beings‘ need for love, despite the heartache it can bring. And, Jim adds, like almost all of the band’s releases, it also investigates the good and bad that can come from increased technology. Whatever themes you take from the record, Jim and Greg are confident that you will be happy to own this record — whether you pay for it or not. In Rainbows gets two Buy Its.

reviewChrome Dreams IIChrome Dreams II available on iTunes

Neil Young Chrome Dreams II

Fellow rock rebel Neil Young has a new record out called Chrome Dreams II. Chrome Dreams I was a 1977 album that Young decided to scrap, despite the fact that it had some early versions of some of his most famous songs. None of those original songs are on this second effort, but you definitely get the sense that the musician is taking stock. This makes sense considering that it's been only two years since Young suffered a brain aneurysm. As Greg describes, it's a patchwork of different eras made with a bunch of different musicians, and many of the songs can be interpreted as prayers. Greg was surprised to hear such spirituality, but he found the album quite moving. He gives it a Buy It. Jim didn‘t hear as much heaviness on the album. He heard goofball moments as well. Young is looking back at his life, but he’s laughing at himself too, and Jim loves it. He also gives Chrome Dreams II a Buy It.


John Fogerty Revival

The final album up for review comes from a fellow classic rock icon: John Fogerty. The Creedence Clearwater Revival leader seems to be coming to terms with his past on his new record, Revival. He's back on Fantasy Records, is performing CCR tunes live for the first time in years, and even has a track on the album called "Creedence Song." In addition, Greg thinks that Fogerty's come closest to reviving his signature CCR sound on this album. He says that the singer is getting back into the groove, but he's not quite there yet. He gives it a Try It. Jim admits that Fogerty is looking back to the past, but it's not a past he wants to hear. His favorite CCR albums were the live ones that hypnotized you with that swampy, groove-filled drone. Jim doesn't hear any of that on Revival, and was further disappointed with the idealized lyrics. He gives the record a Trash It.



“Powderfinger”Neil Young

Jim took his turn at adding a track to the Desert Island Jukebox as an opportunity to hear more Neil Young. He chooses "Powderfinger" from Young's 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps. As Jim explained in the review segment, many of Young's best songs were on the original, never-released Chrome Dreams, and“Powderfinger”is one of those songs. He considers it a standout in the musician's career for two reasons: the powerful, emotional guitar-playing and the fascinating, albeit enigmatic, lyrics. However you interpret the song, Jim is certain it's one you'll want with you on a deserted island.

Featured Songs

  1. Miley Cyrus, Make Some Noise, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, Hollywood, 2007
  2. Madonna, Material Girl, Like a Virgin, Sire, 1984
  3. U2, Vertigo, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Interscope, 2004
  4. Radiohead, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, In Rainbows, XL, 2007
  5. Radiohead, Nude, In Rainbows, XL, 2007
  6. Radiohead, Bodysnatchers, In Rainbows, XL, 2007
  7. Radiohead, House of Cards, In Rainbows, XL, 2007
  8. Radiohead, Videotape, In Rainbows, XL, 2007
  9. Neil Young, Shining Light, Chrome Dreams II, Reprise, 2007
  10. Neil Young, Ordinary People, Chrome Dreams II, Reprise, 2007
  11. Neil Young, Dirty Old Man, Chrome Dreams II, Reprise, 2007
  12. Neil Young, No Hidden Path, Chrome Dreams II, Reprise, 2007
  13. John Fogerty, Creedence Song, Revival, Fantasy, 2007
  14. John Fogerty, I Can'take It No More, Revival, Fantasy, 2007
  15. Neil Young, Powderfinger, Rust Never Sleeps, Rerise, 1979
  16. Bjørn Torske, Fembussen Hjem, Feil Knapp, Smalltown Supersound, 2007
  17. Blondie, Hanging on the Telephone, Parallel Lines, Chrysalis, 1978
  18. Radiohead, Reckoner, In Rainbows, XL, 2007
  19. PJ Harvey, Oh My Lover, Dry, Too Pure, 1992