Episode 2.11: A NEW WORLD RECORD

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A New World Record – Electric Light Orchestra – United Artists – 1976

Get out your cargo shorts and fire up the grill, because this week we’re going back to Dad Rock territory with ELO’s landmark 1976 album A New World Record. Often thought of as the best representation of ELO’s sound — and the pinnacle of Jeff Lynne’s arrangement, writing and production — this set of songs draws from a bevy of richly melodic influences, from the Beatles to the Beach Boys to ‘50s street corner doo-wop to possibly even John Cale.

With such perennially loved sounds baked into its foundation, what makes A New World Record sound dated to modern ears? How could arrangements and orchestrations of such timeless origin be connected so deeply to one decade? Is it possible, in 2018, to genuinely love this album for what it is, with no trace of irony? Join us for a discussion about that, musical legacies and evolution, and song connections — and maybe, if you listen closely, you’ll hear a dad joke or two.

Listen to A New World Record: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hello, and welcome to another episode with your sensitive and feels-feeling hosts!
    • We are highkey passionate the concepts of legacies, preserving history and learning from it, keeping stories and traditions alive, and, as millennials, carrying the torch. As always, we would love to talk to you about how we, as millennials, can carry the torch.
  • We’ve discussed the broad landscape of music that came out in this same time period on several occasions. For more historical context or further discussions, check out our episodes on Television’s Marquee Moon, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ self-titled debut, Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty, Rolling Stones’ Some Girls, Blondie’s Parallel Lines, and/or Patti Smith’s Easters.
  • Seriously, though, when is the last time Jeff Lynne was seen without his sunglasses?
  • Take: “Dated” doesn’t always necessarily mean bad or unenjoyable.
    • And we don’t care if it’s not cool, among millennials especially, to like ELO. We super don’t care. We know we are not cool.
  • Shoutout to Kelly Groucutt and Bev Bevan for being underrated groove champs on this album.
  • “Tightrope” is really just a Beatles song with classical embellishments. Don’t be like this guy and tell us we’re drunk for thinking there’s a connection.
    • It’s also a great ~welcome to the album song~
    • We are highkey here for all of Grace Spelman’s music nerd playlists, but Welcome to the Album, a playlist comprised solely of excellent opening tracks, is truly fantastic.
    • A friendly reminder that at the end of the day, all of the songs have been written. Originality comes when you incorporate past influences and build upon them to make something new and unique. All good art is stealing, and appropriation is the sincerest form of robbery.
  • Shoutout to the Traveling Wilburys. Again. We love those guys.
  • Telephone songs are so cool in that times change, but sad phone calls have stayed relevant.
  • Shoutout to songs that namecheck influences.
    • Question: What would “Rockaria!” sound like if it got “Genius of Love”-d tho? Or if “Genius of Love” got Jeff Lynne-d?
  • “Yerffej Ennyl.” Bruh.
  • @ people who grew up with great expectations for the 21st century: we are sorry. We wish we had robots and stuff like that, too.
  • Yeethoven (pronounced YAY-to-ven, sorry) is an absolutely brilliant orchestral mash-up project by the Young Music Foundation that saw their debut orchestra performing Beethoven interspersed with tracks from Kanye West’s Yeezus. Trust us, it’s fascinating to hear the similarities and see how classical music is very much still relevant in modern music today.
    • It was such a banger that they did it again with songs from The Life of Pablo and it slammed.
    • (Carrie hardcore stans for appreciating Kanye West as an extremely talented producer and  musician, if you’re new here.)
  • Here’s more about how the band used a Moog in a really awesome, early-adaptive way.
  • This video of James Jamerson basslines, animated, from our fave millennial funk torchbearers Vulfpeck is DOPE.
  • SOIP = summer of infinite possibilities. Any song that evokes a feeling of infinite, electric, so-young-and-alive feelings — no matter your age — is a SOIP song.
    • Shoutout to Fanny, again, for those slamming backing “higher and higher” vocals!
    • Seriously, someone please make us a mash-up of “Livin’ Thing” and “Love Train.” HOW does one not exist already?
    • Will we somehow find a relevant way to shoutout Christine McVie in every podcast episode? Stay tuned to find out.
  • If anyone can find us OG versions of “Above the Clouds” and “Do Ya” by The Move, we would really, really love that.
  • Gonna go ahead and file “Do Ya” under “Songs You’d Have To Have Your Head Buried In The Sand To Have Never Heard Before”
  • We promise we’re going to do an episode on the Wilburys at some point. Swear.
  • End of the night songs are great songs. Check out our Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers episode or our T. Rex episode to hear more what we have to say about them.
  • As always, hit up our master playlist on Spotify for all the songs we mentioned today in one place.

Favorite track(s): So Fine and Livin’ Thing (Carly) | Tightrope and Livin’ Thing (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Rockaria! (Carly) | Shangri-La (Carrie)

 

Album credits:

  • Jeff Lynne – Vocals, lead, rhythm, and slide guitars, percussion, Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano
  • Bev Bevan – Drums, Minimoog drum, percussion, backing vocals
  • Richard Tandy – Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano, Minimoog synthesizer, Micromoog synthesizer, SLM Concert Spectrum, Electra x320 guitar, Hohner clavinet, Yamaha C7 grand piano, Mellotron M400, Maestro phase shifter, percussion, backing vocals, Systech flanger
  • Kelly Groucutt – Vocals, bass guitar, percussion, backing vocals
  • Mik Kaminski – Violin, Maestro echoplex, Univox univibe
  • Hugh McDowell – Cello, Systech phaser, Mu-Tron III, Mu-Tron phasor, Maestro echoplex
  • Melvyn Gale – Cello, Maestro echoplex
  • Mary Thomas – operatic vocals
  • Patti Quatro – uncredited backing vocals
  • Brie Brandt – uncredited backing vocals
  • Addie Lee – uncredited backing vocals

Further watching:
Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust trailer | 2017 
“Livin’ Thing” live at Glastonbury | 2016 
Saturday Sessions: Jeff Lynne joins CBS This Morning | CBS (2015)  
“Tightrope” live on Zoom Tour | 2001  
“Tightrope” music video | 1976  
“Livin’ Thing” music video | 1976
Classics Album Interviews: Jeff Lynne on ELO’s A New World Record (radio interview) | BBC (August 1990)
Jeff Lynne and George Harrison Play Banjos | Date unknown, but appears to be from a documentary on George Harrison. Reach out if you know which one it is! 

Further reading: 
ELO’s Bev Bevan Talks Rock Hall Induction, Jeff Lynne Rift | Rolling Stone (December 2016)
ELO’s Jeff Lynne: My Life in 15 Songs | Rolling Stone (January 2016)
It’s A Livin’ Thing (Jeff Lynne interview) | The Quietus (June 2015)
ELO’s Jeff Lynne: ‘All those hipsters with beards are copying me!’ | The Guardian (October 2014)
In Defense of ELO | Square Zeros (June 2014)
Jeff Lynne revisits his roots with ELO and classic covers projects | Goldmine Mag (June 2013)
Electric Light Orchestra, “Telephone Line” | American Songwriter (April 2013)

Episode 2.8: AFTER THE GOLD RUSH

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AFTER THE GOLD RUSH – Neil Young – Reprise – 1970

After the March 1970 release of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s Deja Vu album, each member of the group embarked on their own solo work. Neil Young’s output was After The Gold Rush, an introspective, sometimes controversial, but ultimately hopeful collection of songs. The album presents its themes of heartbreak, loss, environmentalism, racism, and ambivalence without affectation; Young is simply offering points to consider, and it is up to us how we choose absorb and interpret them.

Initially met with mixed reviews by critics, After The Gold Rush grew to become one of Neil Young’s most beloved albums, laying a foundation that numerous artists in the subsequent decades have built upon. In this episode, we discuss the political themes of this album that are still relevant today, dissect Neil Young’s versatility as a songwriter, connect the Laurel Canyon sound to today’s Americana artists, and, bewilderingly, manage to reference DJ Khaled once again.

Listen to After The Gold Rush: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

(ps — while you’re there, please rate and review us in the iTunes store so more people can discover us and we can all be friends who talk about music together!) 

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • We’ve officially been a podcast for a full calendar year! Here’s a video from the early MTV days that reflects our mood.
  • Hey, sorry not sorry for spamming you with this. We had a ton of fun on Chris Frantz’s Talking Head radio show at WPKN. You will have fun listening (if you have not already). Listen to it in the archive here.
  • We’re doing #MWE! AKA, a Twitter thing where, every day for the month of February, music writers, fans, etc. pick an album they’ve never heard before, listen to it, and tweet a review. Follow us on Twitter to see our diverse picks so far.
  • We turn tf up for dad rock, if you haven’t noticed already.
  • Seriously, though, why do so many songwriters compare the turbulent changes of life to sailing or the sea?
  • We’re going to be dropping references to SO. MANY. SONGS. in this episode, including a bunch of great covers of “After The Gold Rush.” They’re all collected in our master playlist on Spotify for your listening pleasure.
    • Just gonna leave one more shoutout for those Trio harmonies here tho
    • If anyone has any more information about that screenplay Neil was making music for, hit us up.
  • We discussed the Great Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell Breakup of 1970 at length in our Songs For Beginners episode. If you need to catch yourself up, re-listen to it here.
  • Someone please remind Nikki Haley that music has always been political, FFS. (Like, girl. You’re the former governor of South Carolina. You’ve definitely heard “Southern Man” in your lifetime, for starters.)
    • This 👏 song 👏 is 👏 complicated!  👏
    • Unlike Patti Smith and “Rock and Roll N****r,” Neil Young actually admitted it’s problematic, which we appreciate.
    • See our further reading notes below for a must-read story about how Merry Clayton — who did a fire cover of this song — ended up grudgingly doing backing vocals on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” It is essential.
    • There are a lot of different viewpoints to be had when it comes to this song. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Get at us on email or slide into our DMs on Facebook or on Twitter if you’ve got opinions you’d like to share.
    • At the end of the day, culture is cyclical, as we’ve said many times before, but not always in a good way. It’s embarrassing that this song is still relevant nearly 50 years later.
  • If you’re new here: we stan sequencing. Get used to it.
  • See our further reading links below for more about Jack Nitzsche’s storied musical history.
  • RIP Webster Hall. We won’t speak of what’s to become of you, but it cannot be good.
  • See our further reading links below to read Rolling Stone’s early review of After The Gold Rush that will make you scratch your head and say “…wut?”
  • Carly has a special classification of songs that are “breakfasts of songs.” Ask her about it.
  • A huge slew of musicians past and present have been influenced by Neil Young. Check out our playlist for a bunch of references (including ones that will definitely make you think “Wait, is Ryan Adams… cosplaying… as Neil Young?”)
  • Neil is still going strong. He just starred in a weirdo Western movie directed by his girlfriend Daryl Hannah and recently put his enormous archive online. So, um, yeah.
  • First time here? Miss an episode? Just feel like listening to something again? Visit our episode archive to dig through all the albums we’ve covered so far.
  • Oh, and here’s a bonus outtake from the episode as a special birthday gift for you all. You are so welcome.

Favorite track: Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Carly) | Southern Man (Carrie)
Least favorite track(s): After The Gold Rush (Carly) | Birds (Carrie)

Album credits

  • Neil Young — guitar, piano, harmonica, vibes, lead vocals
  • Danny Whitten — guitar, vocals
  • Nils Lofgren — guitar, piano, vocals
  • Jack Nitzsche — piano
  • Billy Talbont — bass
  • Greg Reeves — bass
  • Ralph Molina — drums, vocals
  • Stephen Stills — vocals
  • Bill Petrson — flugelhorn

Further watching:
Neil Young: Don’t Be Denied (Fantastic BBC/PBS American Masters documentary) | 2009
Neil Young: Heart of Gold | 2006
VH1 Legends: Neil Young | 2000
“After The Gold Rush” live at Farm Aid | 1998  
Neil Young goes record shopping and finds bootleg Neil Young albums | 1972 (?)
“Southern Man” live with CSNY at the Fillmore East | 1970

Further Reading:
Neil Young: Heart of Gold | 2015
Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life and Cars (Neil Young’s latest memoir) | 2014
Waging Heavy Peace (Neil’s first memoir) | 2012

The Story Behind The Song: “After The Gold Rush” | Team Rock (November 2016)
Watching Neil Young Movies With the AARP | Pitchfork (March 2016)  
Retrospective Reviews: Neil Young After The Gold Rush | Noisey (October 2014)
Merry Clayton on 20 Feet From Stardon, Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and “Gimme Shelter” | AV Club (August 2013)
After The Gold Rush: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time | Rolling Stone (May 2012)  
After The Gold Rush rerelease review | Pitchfork (December 2009)  
In Memoriam: Jack Nitzsche | The Guardian (August 2000)
After The Gold Rush review | Rolling Stone (October 1970)

Episode 2.4: TANGO IN THE NIGHT

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TANGO IN THE NIGHT – Fleetwood Mac – Warner Brothers – 1987

The year is 1986. Fleetwood Mac had not released a new album in four years. And, with the radio favoring younger and more heavily pop hits like “How Will I Know” and “Papa Don’t Preach,” they were considered middle-aged and washed up, like most of their late-60s and ‘70s breezy, FM rock peers, barely a blip on anyone’s radar.

The band members themselves were fractured. Stevie Nicks checked into rehab to deal with a cocaine addiction that, over the course of the past decade, had created a hole in her nose — by the end of the year, she would be in the early stages of a long addiction to Klonopin, the drug meant to keep her off the coke. Drummer Mick Fleetwood, who had declared bankruptcy two years earlier, was in the midst of an outrageously expensive cocaine addiction, while bassist John McVie was drinking heavily, and keyboardist Christine McVie was celebrating her new marriage. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham was holed up in his home studio, obsessively at work on his next solo album.

The end result would not be Buckingham’s third solo album, but Fleetwood Mac’s fourteenth. A shimmering, painstakingly crafted labor of love produced by Buckingham over the course of 18 months, 1987’s Tango in the Night would become a sort of sister album to the impossible-to-top Rumours: a monolithic story of a band in the throes of self-destruction. Only this time, they weren’t all stubbornly persevering together; they were being held together, puppeted, even, by Buckingham as he coaxed an album from a band that, mostly, just wasn’t there. It would be the last studio album the iconic quintet ever recorded together.

In this episode, we discuss the qualities each distinct songwriter brings to the collective group, how Buckingham’s experimental production style helped make Tango so reflective of its time, and why we will never tire of this crazy family and all of their drama.   

Listen to Tango in the Night: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

(ps — while you’re there, please rate and review us in the iTunes store so more people can discover us and we can all be friends who talk about music together!) 

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • In case you didn’t have enough family drama this holiday, here’s an episode about your favorite lives-for-the-drama rock and roll band!
  • We don’t have 300 hours for our podcast, and the history of Fleetwood Mac, with all its various lineup changes and love affairs and stuff, is so long and complicated that it might take that long to explain. If you want to learn more history, there’s a really cool website called Google dot com.
  • Obviously, we recommend you revisit our very first episode on Buckingham Nicks, the album Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham made two years prior to joining Fleetwood Mac. It would be quite useful for your understanding of this album.
  • Speaking of Tusk, here’s the very earliest version of ‘77 Music Club, the first and only episode of Drunk Album Reviews.” You can probably guess why we didn’t continue it.
  • Poor Lindsey Buckingham. He’s always tryna make solo albums and then they end up getting incorporated into Fleetwood Mac projects.
    • In addition to Tango, see: The Dance, Say You Will, and Extended Play.
  • Banger? Bop? Wut? In case you’re new here, or in case you’ve forgotten, we have a glossary that will fill you in on pretty much any millennial slang (or our own made up slang, let’s be real) we use in the episode.
  • Lindsey Buckingham is a crazy mad scientist studio rat who loves to play with his toys and control almost everything about the production of anything he touches. See our further reading links below for more.
  • Discuss: Do the “oohs” and “aahs” that are really Lindsey pretending to be Lindsey and Stevie convince you that it is Lindsey and Stevie, or do you think it just sounds like Lindsey with a weirdly tuned voice?
  • Okay, honestly, you HAVE to watch this video of “Big Love” done acoustically. Warning: Your head might actually explode.
    • Still thinking “How the actual eff does one man do all that?” Watch this short interview where he explains his playing style and does “Big Love” ever so slightly slower so you can really see what’s happening. IT IS INSANE.
  • Sorry not sorry, but we’ve gotta say it. This album is some of Stevie Nicks’s absolute worst when it comes to both singing and songwriting. We just have to be honest and objective here.
    • (Street Angel is also very, very bad, but we pretend it doesn’t exist, so we won’t talk about it any further here.)
  • “Everywhere” is an undeniable bop that will play about nine out of the ten times you are ever in a CVS anywhere. This is a fact.
    • Check out our master playlist on Spotify to hear examples of how “Everywhere” really does harken back to Fleetwood Mac’s early blues-rock days, if you think about it.
  • Carol Ann Harris = “Caroline.” She wrote a book about her experience with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac. We don’t recommend it. It’s been proven to be full of fallacies many times over. Ugh.
    • But lolol Lindsey, YOU DIDN’T EVEN TRY.
  • Go ahead and file “Little Lies” under “Songs You Always Hear In Drug Stores,” too.
  • Okay, hear Carrie out. “Family Man” is Lindsey Buckingham trying so hard to be Talking Heads.
    • Funky bass-driven melody? Check. Hella danceable drum beat? Check. Basic lyrics about the mundanity of everyday life? Check. I mean, come on.
    • Granted, Lindsey is influenced by a multitude of sources (see: the Spanish-style guitar solos sprinkled throughout, the Beach Boys-esque harmonies), but his affinity for punk and new wave, and for boundary-pushing, has never been a secret.
      • This excerpt from a 1980 Rolling Stone cover story on Fleetwood Mac — in which Lindsey talks about his love of Fear of Music and John McVie is shocked to hear that there’s a married couple in Talking Heads — will never not be funny.
      • And here’s a 1987 review of Tango in Spin where the critic compares it to Talking Heads ‘77. So.
    • Again, hit up our Spotify playlist to hear some similar grooves back to back. Musical walks are fun.
    • Agree? Disagree? Drop us a line. We love to nerd out about this stuff with others.
  • Stevie Nicks self-references and recycles lines in multiple songs all the time and we have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS, but it seems like there are so few answers. So, if you wanna get all English class analytical with us about it, you know where to find us.
  • See our further reading links below for more about how Lindsey salvaged “When I See You Again” and other really terrible Stevie takes in an effort to get something good from her on the album instead of nothing.
  • Lindsey’s shoes were filled by Billy Burnette and Rick Vito on the Tango in the Night tour. There’s a full video of it that we’ll link to in our further watching section. It’s… interesting.
  • Stevie and Christine would later leave the band in the early ‘90s, although the classic, 5-piece Fleetwood Mac lineup reunited in 1997 for a TV special, tour, and live album.
    • Christine McVie left after this tour, due to severe anxiety, and didn’t rejoin the group until 2014.
  • Since 1987, Fleetwood Mac has produced only one new album of original material (2004’s Say You Will) and one four-track EP (2013’s Extended Play). Though Lindsey and Christine released an album as a duo this spring (it’s good, we recommend it), and the band continues to tour, it seems highly unlikely that we will ever see a final album from Fleetwood Mac, and we think, truthfully, that that is quite sad and disappointing.

Album credits:
Lindsey Buckingham — Guitars, keyboards, Fairlight CMI, lap harp, percussion and drum programming, vocals
Christine McVie — Keyboards, synthesizers, vocals
Mick Fleetwood — Drums, percussion
John McVie — Bass guitar
Stevie Nicks — Vocals

Favorite track(s): “Big Love” (Carly) | “Everywhere” and “Family Man” (Carrie)
Least favorite track(s): “When I See You Again (Carly) | “When I See You Again” (Carrie)

Further Watching:
Destiny Rules (truly the best Fleetwood Mac doc out there) | 2004
“Big Love” (acoustic, The Dance) | 1997
“Everywhere” (acoustic, The Dance) | 1997
“Seven Wonders” music video | 1987
Tango in the Night full concert | 1987
Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks Tango interview | 1987

Further Reading:
The real story behind Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night (interview with co-producer Richard Dashut and engineer Greg Droman) | Salon (April 2017)
Tango in the Night re-release review | Pitchfork (March 2017) (ed note: this is one of Carrie’s favorite pieces ever written for Pitchfork and/or on Fleetwood Mac, so it comes highly recommended.)
Stevie Nicks: Recording Tango in my ex-boyfriend’s bedroom was ‘extremely strange’ | Miami Herald (March 2017)
Fleetwood Mac: ‘Everybody was pretty weirded out’ (scroll midway to get to Tango stuff) | Uncut (January 2013)  
Lindsey Buckingham Leaves Fleetwood Mac | Rolling Stone (September 1987)
Tango in the Night review | Rolling Stone (May 1987)
Lindsey Buckingham, Lonely Guy | Rolling Stone (October 1984)

Episode 2.3: MOONDANCE

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MOONDANCE – Van Morrison – Warner Brothers – 1970

Sequestered away in Woodstock, New York, at the end of the 1960s, Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison was on a quest. His previous album, Astral Weeks, was floundering commercially, and no one knew quite what to make of this Celtic troubadour who sang of mysticism and “gardens all misty wet with rain.”

Out of this artistic sabbatical came 1970’s Moondance, an album that drew influences from blues, pop, and jazz to create a through line of music that was at once inherently accessible, and, as the ensuing decades would prove, universally relatable. Within these melodies, Morrison used imagery of his trademark gypsies and mists and dreams and stories, while placing them within frames of groove-able basslines, wistful guitars, and even trendy (for the period) flutes. This amalgamation of influences proved to be just the right combination that Morrison needed to cement himself within the lexicon of great singer-songwriters, and why Moondance has since gone on to become one of the best-loved albums ever recorded.

Listen to Moondance: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

(ps — while you’re there, please rate and review us in the iTunes store so more people can discover us and we can all be friends who talk about music together!) 

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • We spared you a bunch of background info about Van Morrison’s pre-solo career and what happened when Astral Weeks was released, but if you want to learn more, there’s this cool thing called Google that will tell you all about it.
  • We love to call out when a certain album feels like a certain season to us, and although we often disagree, we both definitely think Moondance is a perfect fall album. Even better are albums you can identify as “rainy day albums” (fall rainy days are bonus), which this one most definitely is. (Sidenote, thank god we’re done with hotumn.)
    • Disagree? Agree? Hit us up and tell us your thoughts.
  • See our further reading notes below for more about that childhood memory that informed “And It Stoned Me.”
    • For a refresher on our feelings on saxophones in rock, revisit our Hall & Oates episode.
    • Here’s that gorgeous John Mayer cover we mentioned. You’re welcome.
  • We’ve discussed our distaste for the flute before. IT RARELY WORKS.
    • Benmont Tench agrees with us. Here’s his opinion on the “Moondance” flute.
    • So, yeah. If someone could please get us and Benmont Tench a mix of “Moondance” done without the flute, we’d love you forever.
  • Check out our master playlist on Spotify to hear the similarities between “Crazy Love,” “Waiting on the World to Change,” and “People Get Ready” side by side.
  • Shoutout to John Klingberg, who is a true MVP on this album.
    • See our further watching links below for the can’t-be-missed performance of “Caravan” from The Band’s iconic 1978 concert film The Last Waltz
    • “Caravan” clocked in at 181 on Pitchfork’s 200 Best Songs of the 1970s list. We’ve discussed our displeasure with this list countless times throughout our episodes, but add the fact that only one Van Morrison song makes an appearance on it to the list of reasons why we think it needs an overhaul.
    • Fun fact: Nick Hornby wants the version from The Last Waltz played at his funeral. Here’s some great writing on how great this version is.
  • To really see how Morrison’s use of homophones can change the meaning of “Into the Mystic,” take a peek at the Genius lyrics.
  • Also check out our further watching links for the live cover version of “Into The Mystic” by Zac Brown Band and Clare Bowen.
  • For a refresher on how we each feel about non-sequitur, surprise songs in albums, revisit our discussion on “Before They Make Me Run” from the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls.
  • Correction: Carly does, in fact, know that Northern Ireland is part of the UK. Our bad for the slip-up.
  • Shoutout to that transatlantic music trade. We dig how cool it is that so many iconic UK/Irish bands and artists have been able to take old American blues and turn it into something of their own.
    • See our further watching links for this cool documentary where Van Morrison talks about and plays with John Lee Hooker, as well as that Fillmore East show.
    • And if anyone can get us more info about John Klingberg, that would be super cool. Thanks!
  • Okay, special exception to the flute thing with “Everyone.” It works there.
  • Again, hit up our Spotify playlist to hear all the side-by-side comparisons between modern artists like John Mayer, Ryan Adams, and Father John Misty and Van Morrison.

 

Album credits:
Van Morrison — Rhythm guitar, vocals, tambourine
Jack Schrorer — Alto and soprano sax
Collin Tillton — Tenor sax and flute
Jeff Labes — Piano, organ, and clavinette
John Platania — Lead and rhythm guitars
John Klingberg — Bass guitar
Garry Malabar — Drums and vibraphone
Guy Masson — Congo drum
Emily Houston — Backing vocals
Judy Clay — Backing vocals
Jackie Verdell — Backing vocals


Favorite track(s): “Into the Mystic” (Carly) | “Caravan” and “And It Stoned Me” (Carrie)
Least favorite track: “Brand New Day” (Carly) | “Come Running” (Carrie)

Further watching:
John Mayer – “And It Stoned Me” | 2014  
Zac Brown Band ft. Clare Bowen – “Free >> Into the Mystic” | 2013
Van Morrison: Another Glorious Decade | 2003
Van Morrison Cue The Music TV documentary | 1991
Van Morrison and The Band – “Caravan” | The Last Waltz (1978)
Van Morrison live at Fillmore East | 1970

Further reading:
The Words and Music of Van Morrison | 2009
Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison | 2003   

Moondance re-release review | The Au Review (October 2013) 
500 Greatest Albums of All Time – Moondance | Rolling Stone (May 2012)
Van Morrison: The Poet | Rolling Stone (November 1978)
Moondance review | Rolling Stone (March 1970)

 

Episode 12: RUNNING ON EMPTY

runningonempty11

RUNNING ON EMPTY – Jackson Browne – Asylum Records – 1977

Running on Empty was an album that wasn’t supposed to work. Ten new cuts, all recorded live, in various parts of the country, over the course of two months? To his label, this sounded like pure folly, but Jackson Browne knew this was not just a way to fill time between studio albums; it was to be his labor of love.

Since becoming a recording artist at the age of 18, Browne had experienced life both as Greenwich Village bohemian in the ‘60s with the likes of the Velvet Underground, and as an essential contributor to the emerging Southern California rock sound in the early ‘70s. By 1977, he was looking for something new to try, something he hadn’t yet done — so in August of that year, he took his favorite sessions players on the road and hit “record.”

The collection of recordings that became Running On Empty would be Jackson Browne’s greatest commercial success, going platinum within months of its release. Today, it remains a strikingly fresh portrait of the realities of touring life, and whether referencing the road to the next gig or the road to the next phase of life, it’s the album’s universal displays of humanity that keeps the songs in your head long after the needle hits the runout grooves.

Listen to Running on Empty: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

(ps — while you’re there, please rate and review us in the iTunes store so more people can discover us and we can all be friends who talk about music together!) 

Episode notes and postscript corrections

    • We had a crazy busy two weeks full of music and things, so a quick debrief of stuff you should check out that we saw and did and loved:
      • Lulu Lewis — If you’re in the New York area, we highly recommend you come see them. We’ll probably be there, because we’re stans, but, also, they’re just a really good band out there making Harlem punk a thing.
      • Bowery Electric has been serving all summer long, from the Max’s Kansas City festival we hit up last month to the Johnny Thunders Birthday Bash. Check it out if you’re in the New York area — you’ll probably find something you like (and, also, you’ll probably run into us at some point).
      • Pitchfork Music Festival gets a solid two thumbs up from Carrie (which she can not say for every music festival she’s been to), so maybe check it out next year if you’re in the Chicago area or looking for a music adventure.
    • We got a little sidetracked this week by a Pitchfork-induced momentary rabbit hole of reasons why LCD Soundsystem is what we’ll call a “future classic” band. This included a nerd-out over their similarities to Talking Heads that resulted in this peak extra nerd playlist, because while we celebrate the past, we also think about the future.
    • Heyyyyy, here we are with another album from 1977 — you might notice its stark difference from our previous ‘77 episode on Marquee Moon.
      • The amount of iconic outputs from multiple musical genres in the ‘70s, but particularly 1977, never ceases to amaze us. Best year in pop culture. Fight us on this.
      • You can break down the differences and the reasons why they resonated with particular audiences in a million different ways, but at its most broad, let’s just say that Marquee Moon very much exemplified the East Coast/New York punk aesthetic, while Running On Empty can be held up as an example of the West Coast/Laurel Canyon/Cal Rock soft scene.
    • JB’s “These Days,” which was written when he was just a baby 18-year-old, will never cease to give the feels, and has been covered by everyone from Nico to, most recently, Drake. (Yeah.)
    • Let’s all get in a time machine and move to Laurel Canyon and hang out with the Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey/JD Souther crew, please and thanks.
    • Peep our further reading section to read that really well-written original review of Running on Empty from Rolling Stone in 1978 we talked about.
    • Running on Empty was initially just a way to buy time to conceive new material for another traditional LP, but it became a way to break the repetitive record-making pattern success brings. JB has said: “You go, ‘OK, great, let’s try to do something more like that.’ But that’s not what you were doing when you did it in the first place. You were just doing what you wanted to do next.”
    • Here’s that gorgeous Cameron Crowe essay from the 2005 re-issue that Carrie read an excerpt from. Read. Feel the chills. He’s the best.
    • Quick background info about the session players on this album:
      • The Section (Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, Craig Doerge, Leland Sklar, and Russ Kunkel) were Asylum’s de facto house band and have played on a slew of ‘70s soft rock albums for everyone from Carole King to Linda Ronstadt to Warren Zevon. There’s a great article about them in our further reading section.
      • David Lindley and Jackson Browne have been long, long, longtime collaborators. You can read more about him in the links below, too.
    • Our bad. The author of that rad review comparing circa-1977 culture to “feeling like a trashed Holiday Inn room” was actually RJ Smith for Blender Magazine in a review of the 2005 reissue, not, as we cited in the pod, Robert Christgau.
      • Unfortunately, we can’t seem to find a working link for the full review — not even using Internet Archive’s Wayback machine — because Blender folded in 2009 and, apparently, took its archive with it.
    • Interested in the Nick Drake comparison “The Road” brings up? Follow us on Spotify, where we will lay it all out for you.
    • Sorry, parents. We couldn’t be a credible podcast if we didn’t bring up the “huh? really?” and not-so-PG-13 meaning behind “Rosie.” It’s not an internet theory we’re indulging in — it’s JB’s own words.
    • David Lindley is the real MVP on “You Love the Thunder,” bringing that gee-tar rock and roll edge to Jackson Browne’s soft piano rock.
    • @ Haim: Please cover “You Love the Thunder.” Thanks, bye.
    • Alright, buckle up. “Cocaine” has a LONG history.
    • CRAZY, right?
    • Wait, wait, wait. What’s this “bub” nickname? Welllll…. You can get a great little explainer of all the slang words and terms of endearment we throw around quite often on the pod in our handy, ever-evolving glossary.
    • They just recorded “Nothing But Time” in the tour bus and left in all the background noise from the road and the bus engine. Peak IDGAF goals.
    • If you have Running on Empty on vinyl, flip it over for some great Easter eggs in the track-by-track notes. Pro-tip: always read the liner notes.
    • If “The Load Out” doesn’t give you some feels, there’s a high possibility that you have an empty cavity in your chest where your heart is supposed to be.
      • Shoutout to roadies: we know you, we see you, we love you, we appreciate everything you do. Once again — bands are a sum of their parts, and that continues after the music is recorded and the performance begins.
      • Shoutout to Roadies, our beloved, now-canceled Cameron Crowe series. It wasn’t perfect, but it was earnest, and it had bucketloads of heart. Give it a watch if you haven’t seen it, and maybe give it a second watch (or even a second chance) if you already have.
    • “Stay” makes us the human version of the heart-eyes emoji, just so you know.
      • Head over to our master playlist on Spotify to hear the original Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs version that this is a reworking of.
      • Watch this fantastic version where JB and David Lindley perform it as a mashup with the Mickey and Sylvia song “Love Is Strange.” Swoon a little.
      • For the people in the back: We love concerts! We love live music! There are few feelings more magical and captivating.
      • We’ve experienced first hand — both as audience members and as performers — how integral the energy of an audience is for generating a great, on-fire performance. It’s a symbiotic relationship, and when you both give, MAN, is it good. MAN, do you want to ~stay just a little bit longer.~
      • Shoutout to JB for an almost too-perfect album closer, recognizing the under-recognized people on tour: roadies and good bub audiences.
    • Jackson Browne’s — and this album’s — legacy is long and ongoing.
      • Running On Empty, initially thought to be a crazy idea, ended up being his best-selling album and is on too many lists to count of the best live albums, best albums of the ‘70s, etc.
      • Some current artists who have Jackson Browne’s fingerprints all over them: Dawes, Wilco, Jim James, Jenny Lewis, Tristen… the list goes on and on.
    • Anyway, we love you JB Homie. You’re a good bub.

 

Favorite track(s): The Load Out (Carly) | Running on Empty and Stay (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Rosie (Carly) | Love Needs a Heart (Carrie)

Album credits:
Jackson Browne – guitar, piano, vocals
Rosemary Butler – background vocals, co-lead vocal on “Stay”
Craig Doerge – piano, keyboards
Doug Haywood – background vocals
Danny Kortchmar – lead guitar, harmony vocals (on “Shaky Town”)
Russ Kunkel – drums, snare drum, cardboard box, hi hat
David Lindley – lap steel guitar, fiddle, co-lead vocal on “Stay”
Leland Sklar – bass
Joel Bernstein – background vocals (on “Rosie”) & tour photographer

Further watching:
“One time I sued John McCain” interview segment | 2014
Jackson Browne’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction | 2004
“Running on Empty” (2004 induction ceremony) | 2004

Further reading: 
Session legend/producer Russ Kunkel on 13 career-defining records | Music Radar (April 2014)
The Section: Knights of Soft Rock | Rolling Stone (April 2013)
Behind the Song: Jackson Browne, “Running on Empty” |American Songwriter (December 2012)
Jackson Browne on Meeting David Lindley for the First Time | Fretboard Journal (March 2009)
Jackson Browne: The Rolling Stone Interview | Rolling Stone (August 1980)
Running on Empty (album review) | Rolling Stone (March 1978)

Episode 10: TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS

tom-petty-and-the-heartbreakers.jpg

TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Shelter Records – 1976

Before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, classic American rock icons, they were just five kids from Gainesville, Florida who had driven cross country to Los Angeles with $200 and hopes of landing a record deal for their southern rock group Mudcrutch.

Their ascent would be a slow one; the group signed with Shelter Records in 1974 and released a single, only to be dropped from the label. The band broke up. The band got back together and found themselves with a new opportunity to release an album — this time with a better name: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Released in 1976, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ self-titled debut is an amalgamation of styles and influences. It travels from classic blues to swampy country to classic ‘50s rock in songs that are abruptly short and full of anxious, pulsing rhythms that weren’t too deviant from the emerging punk scene. It’s no wonder people didn’t know what to do with them or how to classify them when the album was released.

Though the album contains songs that are now staples of American pop culture, engrained in our collective consciousness — songs like “American Girl” and “Breakdown” — it would be a few years before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cemented their status as household name rock stars — but it’s a status they’ve held onto.

In this episode, we discuss the variety of musical influences on early Heartbreakers work, dive into Tom Petty’s sparse songwriting style, and talk about why Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ enduring, four decade long careers truly inspire us.

Listen to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

(ps — while you’re there, please rate and review us in the iTunes store so more people can discover us and we can all be friends who talk about music together!) 

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hi, hello, welcome. We hope this podcast distracts you from the garbage fire that is the world for at least 50 minutes or so.
  • Shoutout to Bowery Electric for an awesome three night celebration of Max’s Kansas City. We weren’t alive to see it in its heyday, but this was a nice homage.
    • Hi to any new friends we made over the course of the weekend!
    • For real, check out any kind of East Village days-of-yore events Bowery Electric puts on.
  • We love almost anything and everything Tom Petty (with and without the Heartbreakers) has released, but we’re covering the Heartbreakers’ debut, rather an album as iconic as Damn the Torpedoes, because we want to have conversations about albums without just rehashing what everyone else has already said. Check out our FAQ page for more on our philosophy.
  • Here for Dad Rock, always and forever.
    • Traveling Wilburys are peak Dad Rock — just wait until we get to them down the line.
    • No, seriously, just file this picture in the dictionary as the sole definition of Dad Rock and call it a day.
    • You could probably play a drinking game to how frequently we drop the term “dad rock” in this episode, but we don’t recommend it. Podcast responsibly.
  • Peep our further watching and further reading links below for two tomes on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers that we cannot endorse more emphatically.
    • Petty is Warren Zanes’ incredibly in-depth, intimate, and breathtaking biography of Tom Petty that will make you feel all of your feelings and probably love Tom Petty more than you thought you could.
    • Runnin’ Down a Dream is Peter Bogdanovich’s epic, 4-hour long documentary of your dreams. It’s enthralling, candid, and thorough — so worth a binge session.
  • It all starts with Mudcrutch.
    • Listen to some of their original demos here or here.
    • Mudcrutch got back together in 2007 and have released two albums since. Listen to them here.
  • TBH,  we don’t blame the good people of 1976 for thinking Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were punk. It really doesn’t help that there was already a punk band — a staple at CBGB — who were also called the Heartbreakers…
  • We’re not going to get too too deep on lyrical analysis — Tom Petty’s songwriting is often sparse and without a lot of intentional metaphors to unpack; he’d probably roll his eyes and think we were really digging for bullshit if we went that route.
  • “Breakdown” is a fantastic combination of old and new. Seriously.
    • Listen to “Breakdown.” Then listen to Booker T. and the M.G’s “Green Onions.” Note the similarities.
    • Listen to “Breakdown.” Then listen to Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” Boom.
    • Listen to a live version of “Breakdown” where they weave the aforementioned classic into their own song.
    • All that seem like a lot? Follow us on Spotify to listen to all the great songs we just mentioned (and more to come!) in order of discussion for your listening-and-nerding pleasure.
      • Except for Suzi Quatro’s cover. That one you can watch here.
  • We love all the Heartbreakers, but honestly, people don’t talk enough about how MVP Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench are.
  • All roads go back to Gainesville. (Watch this. Trust us on this one.)
  • Sorry, but Carrie’s going to say “I love the way Tom Petty writes” a lot in this episode.
  • And Carly’s going to call people “cats” a lot, too. Just go with us.
  • 500% here for this video of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performing “Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” on Top of the Pops.
  • Want to talk about the symbiotic relationship and pop culture exchange between Britain and America in the mid-to-late 20th century? Talk to us.
  • “Strangered in the Night” could totally be a sister song to “Two Gunslingers.” If you’re a regular listener, you’ll know how much we love sister songs.
  • We went down a musical rabbit hole again, which is fun.
    • Listen to Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.” Then listen to “Fooled Again.”
    • Listen to “Fooled Again.” Then listen to Sheryl Crowe’s “My Favorite Mistake.”
    • Did your brain melt a little bit?
  • Speaking of sister songs: “Luna” could easily be a sister song to “The Wild One, Forever.”
    • Tom made up “Luna” on the spot, which, like, not fair.
  • Listen, “American Girl” is a bop and we don’t have time for any haters.
    • Speaking of the Byrds… Roger McGuinn actually ended up covering “American Girl” in 1977. (It’s in our master playlist, hint-hint, nudge-nudge.)
    • Oh, and on that sister songs note: “American Girl” and “Free Fallin’” could be sister songs:
      • [sings] She was an American girl, raised on promises, loves Jesus and America, too. She’s an American girl, crazy ‘bout Elvis, loves horses and her boyfriend, too
    • Slow this song down and you’ve got a haunting (but good) ballad.
    • Seriously. Don’t be that person who hates “American Girl” just because it’s popular. Just don’t.
    • Also, don’t be that person who wears the band tee-shirt without knowing anything about the band. Follow this trusty rule: Can you name two non-singles and the bassist? Then you can wear the band tee.
  • We love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for myriad reasons. Just let us gush for a minute.
    • Okay, just a few: their never-ending hustle, their supreme musicianship, the fact that they’re just good human beans who got into music — and continue to make music — for all the right reasons, their humility, and total lack of egos.
  • If you missed the last (and only, so far!) Mudcrutch tour, we are truly sorry. (Carly feels your FOMO). If you did, and you’d like to talk about how magical it was with Carrie, hit us up.
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are currently on a North American tour to commemorate their 40th anniversary.
    • No, it’s not a greatest hits tour; it’s full of deep cuts to be stoked about.
    • If you can go: GO. (And say hi to Carrie if you see her at Newark and/or Forest Hills — yes, she knows she has a problem.)
    • If you can’t go: Hit up this awesome live recording of their 30th anniversary tour.
  • Again, come say hi on Facebook, Twitter, or email. We always love making pod friends.

Favorite track(s): Breakdown (Carly) | American Girl, Luna (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Luna (Carly) | Mystery Man (Carrie)

Album credits:
Tom Petty – vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards
Mike Campbell – electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Benmont Tench – piano, hammond organ, keyboards
Ron Blair – bass guitar on tracks 1–2, 4–5, 7–10, cello
Stan Lynch – drums on tracks 1–2, 4–10, keyboards

Jeff Jourard – electric guitar on tracks 2, 7
Donald “Duck” Dunn – bass guitar on track 3
Emory Gordy – bass guitar on track 6
Randall Marsh – drums on track 3
Jim Gordon – drums on track 6
Noah Shark – maracas, tambourine, sleigh bells
Charlie Souza – saxophone on track 3
Phil Seymour – backing vocals
Dwight Twilley – backing vocals

Further watching:
Runnin’ Down a Dream | 2007

Tom Petty MusiCares Speech: Rock & Roll Empowers America’s Youth | 2017
Tom Petty Q on CBC interview | 2014
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech | 2002

Further reading:
Petty (biography) | 2015
Conversations With Tom Petty (interview compilation) | 2005

Benmont Tench: The 40th Anniversary Interview | Keyboard Mag (March 2017)
40 Years Ago: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Release Their Debut Album | Ultimate Classic Rock (November 2016)
Tom Petty On Cheap Speakers And George Harrison | NPR (August 2014)
Tom Petty: Rolling Stones Were ‘My Punk Music’ | Rolling Stone (July 2014)
Tom Petty Knows ‘How It Feels’ | NPR (July 2006)
Mike Campbell Is More Than Just the Guitarist For Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Georgia Straight (August 1999)

Episode 9: MARQUEE MOON

marqueemoon

MARQUEE MOON – Television – Elektra Records – 1977

On March 31, 1974, a young band called Television played their first gig at recently-opened Bowery dive CBGB. Not long before, they had helped Hilly Kristal put the CBGB stage together; now, they were performing in the club that they would help to immortalize. Television, comprised of Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, Richard Hell (replaced by Fred Smith in 1975), and Billy Ficca, soon became the de facto house band at CBGB, appearing regularly and becoming a staple of the growing scene that would come to include the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Dead Boys, and Patti Smith, to name a few.

With their popularity growing, the logical next step would have been to record an album, but Television bided their time. They chose to hone their sound, to develop and grow as a band, so by the time they were signed to Elektra Records in 1976, they were more than ready to begin work on what would become the seminal Marquee Moon. Released in early 1977, the album is regarded as one of the greatest of the punk era, containing songs that continue to be referenced today in covers and samples.

We chose this album as the first to be covered from our show’s namesake year because of its grit, its timeliness and timelessness, and its particular way of getting under your skin and making you feel more electrically charged than you were when you began the album. In this episode, we explore how Television’s and CBGB’s beginnings are inextricably linked, dive into Marquee Moon’s darkness and dreaminess, and outline the continuation of the band’s sound, proving that their legacy still thrives today.

Listen to Marquee Moon: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

(and hey, while you’re at it, please rate and review us in the iTunes store so more people can discover us and we can all be pod friends who talk about music together!) 

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • We are 500 percent here for Fairfield Theatre Company’s Emerging Artists Series. It highlights the importance of providing a platform for developing musicians while simultaneously offering opportunities and experiences to expand a community’s interests with alternative live music you might have to take a trip into the city to hear.
    • If you’re in Connecticut: GO.
    • If you’re in New York: GO. It’s well worth the mini-field trip — people there are astoundingly nice (a teenager told Carly she looked “dope” and meant it) and everything is gorgeous and the venue itself is great. Also, the Metro North train ride was way better than any L we’ve been on, so maybe consider bopping up to Fairfield sometime instead of Bushwick. You know we’ll be there.
    • Here’s more information about the series, its upcoming featured acts, how to get tickets, and all that other logistical good stuff, if you’re interested.
  • If you’re into Kraftwerk, or into electronic music that’s less of that club trap stuff and more analog, atmospheric, transportive, and chill, check out Xeno and Oaklander.
  • If you’re into old-school, hip-hop style DJ sets with sick scratching, funky beats, and danceable samples, check out Kid Ginseng.
  • Brooklyn Flea’s annual record fair is a can’t-miss event and a great chance to score some of those albums you’ve been searching high and low for.  But, it’s extremely difficult to exercise self-control at the record fair. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • 1977 was one of the greatest years of our lives and we weren’t even born yet.
    • Marquee Moon and Rumours were released in the same week. Like. The year was stacked, you guys.
  • RIP CBGB. We didn’t know you personally, but we’ve consumed enough (too much) secondhand information to miss you.
    • An anecdote about how long we’ve been the goobiest nerds: when CBGB was closing, Carrie begged her parents to take her to one of the final concerts. Unsurprisingly, they were like “You are 15 years old. No.” Carly, also 15 at the time, cried and moaned “Nooo, I’m never going to get to go to CBGB!!!!” These are very true stories. You can ask our parents.
    • We do not speak of or even look at the men’s designer fashion store (or even use its name) that’s in CB’s place now. It’s offensive.
    • See our further watching section below to feast on some great docs about Hilly Kristal and CBGB. Just don’t watch the CBGB movie. It’s… not good.
    • Our further reading section is also stacked, by the way.
  • You can listen to Neon Boys’ early demos here for a taste of what Television would become.
  • You can listen to the Brian Eno demos here to understand just how developed their final recorded music was.
  • Marquee Moon was a commercial flop in the U.S., but it was a moderate hit in the U.K., and it ended up on countless year-end best-of reviews (not to mention more 10, 50, and 100 Best of All Time lists).
  • 20th Century Women gets early punk so right, but this quote is particularly spot on: “It’s like they’ve got this feeling, and they don’t have any skill, and they don’t want skill, because it’s really interesting what happens when your passion is bigger than the tools you have to deal with it. It creates this energy that’s raw. Isn’t it great?”
    • What’s so fascinating about Television is that they were punks who had both — talent and passion — and were still able to exude raw energy.
  • We’ve discussed this before, but we love how diverse the CBGB microcosm was. Talk to us about it. We weren’t alive to witness it ourselves.
  • This episode goes out to Karin Berg and many, many other women whose histories have been buried. We’re doing our best to make sure their contributions aren’t forgotten.
  • Apparently “Venus” is about LSD? Or falling in love? Or both? Maybe don’t ask Tom Verlaine, because he’s actually said he doesn’t always understand what he’s writing.
  • Shoutout to basslines you can groove to. We love ‘em.
  • Okay, but “Friction” totally sounds like it could be a Zeppelin song, despite sounding authentically Television at the same time. This just shows how complex their sound could be and how many influences Television pulled in.
    • See our further reading section below to check out the NME review of Marquee Moon and an insanely in-depth interview with Richard Lloyd that covers all the bases. Click on that link. Actually read it. It’s good. Seriously.
    • Lawrence Welk? Really? Really.
  • Fasten your seatbelts, grab your pool floaties, do whatever you gotta do to roll safe. We’re about to tackle “Marquee Moon.”
    • What. A. Side. One. Closer. Honestly. “Stairway to Heaven” is possibly the only song that can come close to comparing.
    • “Marquee Moon” has several runtimes: 9:58 on the original vinyl pressing, 10:38 on subsequent rereleases, and 14 minutes or longer live. As much as we lust after having an OG copy of an album, we gotta say: those extra 40 seconds are so necessary.
    • Where were you when you first heard “Marquee Moon?”
    • No, really, someone wrote an opinion piece arguing that “Marquee Moon” is the best after party song ever.
    • Ranking it eighth in their flawed — we’ve mentioned our disdain for this list before (love you, Pitchfork, but cannot with this), but if you want to talk about it, by all means, contact us — list of the 200 best songs of the ‘70s, Pitchfork got something so, so right, describing “Marquee Moon” as: “punk’s contrarian think piece; a 10 minute odyssey for the dreamers and Deadheads inside CBGB.”
    • There is so. much. imagery. in this song. We would be here for hours if we went through it line by line, but here are the lyrics if you want to give it a stab.
    • RihannaMagic.gif = how it feels when “Marquee Moon” hits 9:15.
  • Yes, that’s “Elevation” you hear sampled in “Lovefool.”
    • Appropriation is the sincerest form of robbery, pass it on.
  • Go with Carrie here: Lindsey Buckingham totally appropriated crazy recording techniques off of punk artists while recording Tusk. Let’s imagine he heard the microphone lasso story and gave it a try.
  • Listen to Tennis’s dreamy cover of “Guiding Light” here.
  • Seriously, though, someone make us a mashup of “Heaven” and “Guiding Light” and we will love you forever. Those basslines.
  • Shoutout to Carly for playing music teacher and giving all of us a walk-through of the popular major-major-minor-major chord formula.
  • Musical scavenger hunts are fun — and we might be the ones to bring up Carole King, Ricky Nelson, and Creedence Clearwater Revival all in relation to Television.
  • Hey! Wish you could listen to all the songs we compared to Prove It? Follow us on Spotify, where you’ll get them all in one place on our master playlist.
  • Television’s legacy, though small in recorded output, is vast in influence, from playing an integral role in the incubator community of CBGB to influencing the sound of countless bands to follow them, from Pearl Jam to R.E.M. to the Strokes.
  • Television still plays live dates together, although with guitarist Jimmy Rip in Richard Lloyd’s place.
    • Television is hitting the festival circuit this summer, if you’re interested.
    • Richard Lloyd is performing solo these days, including a set on June 3 in New York at the Bowery Electric. You know we’ll be there, so if you’re in the area, check it out (and come say hi).
  • As always, say hello on Facebook, Twitter, or email. We’ve had some wonderful conversations and made some great friends of the pod so far, and the more, the merrier.

Favorite track(s): Marquee Moon and Friction (Carly) | Marquee Moon and See No Evil (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Torn Curtain (Carly) | Torn Curtain (Carrie)

Album credits:
Billy Ficca – drums
Richard Lloyd – guitar (solo on tracks 1, 4, 5, and 6), vocals
Fred Smith – bass guitar, vocals
Tom Verlaine – guitar (solo on tracks 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8), keyboards, lead vocals, production

Further watching:
Richard Lloyd interview | 2013
Punk Revolution NYC (Television comes in around part 4, but all parts are enthralling) | 2011
Rock and Roll Punk | 1995
Tom Verlaine interview | 1992
Hilly Kristal interview (Warning: you will get feels) | 1990
The Blank Generation | April 1976

Further Reading:
Television’s Punk Epic “Marquee Moon,” 40 Years Later | Pitchfork (February 2017)
How Television Made Marquee Moon, the Best Punk Guitar Album Ever | The Observer (February 2017)
1976-1978: CBGB’s House Photographer | Mashable (September 2014)
Friction: The Making of Marquee Moon (aka the brilliant, super long Richard Lloyd interview) | Uncut Magazine (March 2012)
Television’s Marquee Moon (from the 33 1/3 book series) | 2011
The Rise of New York’s ’70s Rock Scene | Vanity Fair (November 2002)
Marquee Moon review | NME (February 1977)
Everything is Combustible (Richard Lloyd’s forthcoming memoir) | October 2017

Episode 6: #1 RECORD

Big-Star-1-Record

#1 Record – Big Star – Ardent Records – 1972

Towards the end of 1971, four young men from Memphis — some established musicians already, some just starting out — came together to record their debut album. Known collectively as Big Star, they delivered a set of songs that were at once intensely intimate and emphatically exuberant. Their music depicted how it feels to have boundless energy with limited places to spend it, coupled with curious, angst-ridden minds in search of kindreds. It is music that encapsulates the essence youth, yet remains universal and relatable at any age. It’s music that is very much of its time, yet still sounds fresh today.

Their debut album, #1 Record, was released in the summer of 1972, and was followed by two more albums in the 1970s before the group disbanded, never reuniting until nearly two decades later. Big Star has since influenced some of today’s most enduring and celebrated artists; publications like Rolling Stone consistently rank the group’s albums among the greatest of all time, so the question must be asked: why is Big Star not a household name?

In this episode, we discuss #1 Record‘s origins, influences, and what kept it from commercial success. We also talk about why it is so personal to us, and why it’s the kind of music that, once found, cannot be forgotten.

Listen to #1 Record: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Yes, we threw some shade at The Classic. Desert Trip — you’re still okay. We are more than open to discussing opinions on the two classic rock festivals with you.
  • Spotify’s Discover Weekly feature may just be the only thing that makes Mondays suck less, and has led to us discovering a wide variety of music, both new and old. Check yours out and let us know how you like it.
  • Certain music evokes seasonal or weather related feelings for us, and we’re sure we’re not the only ones, but question for the crowd (let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or email): What are your favorite “season” albums? Or, do you have some other off-beat way you categorize music? We’re interested.
  • Here’s a more thorough timeline of the formation and evolution of Big Star.
  • Give us a semi-tragic story of a great album getting “lost” and we will probably love it.
  • We highly recommend the documentary Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. See our further watching links below to watch the trailer and where to find it online
    • Here’s that Twitter thread on the rest of our favorite music docs that we mentioned. Check out ones you haven’t seen yet, or just rewatch some perennial faves.
  • Big Star has been called one of the pioneers of “‘70s power pop,” and, a full definition of what exactly that sub-genre is (because, to be honest, we were a little “okay, clarification, please” when we read this) can be found here.
  • “The Ballad of El Goodo” has been seen in some instances as a Vietnam War protest song, primarily due to these lyrics: “They’ll zip you up and dress you down and stand you in a row / But you know you don’t have to, you can just say no.”  
  • Yes, “In the Street” is the That ‘70s Show theme song.
    • Yes, they actually used a Cheap Trick cover version.
    • Again, no offense to any That ‘70s Show fans or anyone who worked on it, but we did not watch that show. So, sorry, this will be a relatively That ‘70s Show-free podcast.
  • Studio banter is the key to our hearts. 
  • If you’re new here: we love sequencing (so much that we’ve started using #RespectTheSequence), and, save for The India Song, side 1 of #1 Record is quite possibly one of the perfectly sequenced sides of any album, ever.
  • Chris Bell’s struggles with depression, anxiety, and sexuality have been speculated upon for years after his death, and “Try Again” can be seen as a window into his “tortured soul.”
  • Honestly, how can you not want to at least try to be a morning person, even if only for one day, when you listen to “Watch The Sunrise”?
    • Here’s Carrie’s mellow running playlist, good for slow runs when you’re still half asleep, long walks, or just chilling.
    • Carly will definitely be making a playlist with songs she considers to be a “breakfasts,” so stay tuned.
  • If someone can make a mashup of ST 100/6 over The Beatles’ “Because,” that would be so welcomed by us.
  • Big Star influenced a host of modern artists, from Elliott Smith and M. Ward to Wilco and REM. Follow us on Spotify — our master playlist has all the songs we referenced in this episode, along with some choice related music to draw out these comparisons.
  • We discovered this album on the internet, through an algorithm’s ridiculously accurate recommendation. Let us know if you’ve ever discovered (or rediscovered) an analog artist through some sort of digital means.
  • Feel free to get in touch with us! We have had some great conversations so far. We have an ever-evolving FAQ page here, but shoot us an email, like and message on Facebook, and follow on Twitter to get at us with your questions, comments, or just a “hello!”

Favorite track(s): Watch the Sunrise (Carly) | Feel (Carrie)
Least favorite track: The India Song (Carly) | The India Song (Carrie)

Album credits:
Chris Bell – vocals, guitar
Alex Chilton – vocals, guitar
Andy Hummel – vocals, bass guitar
Jody Stephens – drums
Terry Manning – electric piano, harmony vocals

Further watching:
Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s THIRD Live trailer | April 2017
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me trailer | 2012 | Currently available to stream on Amazon

Further reading:
Big Star: #1 Record/Radio City rerelease review | Pop Matters (October 2014)
The Ballad of Big Star | Grantland [ed. note: RIP, Grantland. We miss you.] (July 2013)
The 10 Best Big Star Songs | Stereogum (September 2012)
Depression, Quaaludes, and the Wildest TGI Fridays in America: The Real Story of Big Star | Noisey (March 2012)
You’ve Never Heard Big Star’s ‘#1 Record’?! | NPR (June 2011)
Big Star: The Unluckiest Band in America | NPR (February 2010)

Episode 2: THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT

 

bettydavis

THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT – Betty Davis – Just Sunshine Records – 1974

The world was not ready for Betty Davis.

Before Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé were boldly owning race, gender, and sexuality in their music, there was Betty Davis: raw, explicit, and brazenly emancipated from everything expected of women in 1974.

At 16, Davis moved to New York, became a model and scenester, and fell into a crowd of friends and lovers that included Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Miles Davis (whom she later married — for a year). After her debut album underperformed, she took full creative control and produced her follow-up entirely on her own. The result was They Say I’m Different: a bold, unfiltered album that exposes the power of a woman confident with her gender, race, and sense of self.

In this episode, we discuss the impact of this album on society: how it fit into the time it was released, and how it has influenced artists today, both musically and politically.

We recorded this episode on Sunday, just hours before this year’s Grammys. We waited anxiously for Beyoncé’s masterpiece Lemonade to be deservedly rewarded. The album is a clear continuation of Betty’s legacy: aggressively independent, proudly black, profoundly female, and willing to take names of those who object; the words Betty growls on 1974’s “Don’t Call Her No Tramp” are echoed in Beyoncé’s howl on 2016’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself.”

It’s the kind of music that can scare people. Betty’s provocativeness led to her mainstream demise, but she laid the groundwork for women like Beyoncé who came after her. When we recorded this episode, we were excited for this to be a way to say “Look how far we’ve come.” Instead, the results of this year’s Grammy ceremony showed us that, 42 years later, this kind of music still scares people, and we still have a long way to go.

Listen to They Say I’m Different: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

 

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Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • This is pretty much everything that was happening in music in 1974.
  • Shoutout to ABBA.
  • Shoutout to CBGB’s first year.
  • Betty Davis was married to Miles Davis from 1968 to 1969, and is often credited with introducing him to the emerging psychodelic rock scene (particularly through her friend, Jimi Hendrix), and inspiring his genre-changing album Bitches Brew.
  • Shoutout to Macy Gray. Our apologies for our subpar attempt at singing that song from our childhood to convey similarities between your voice and Betty’s.
  • A clear line from Betty Davis to Beyoncé can be drawn for more than one of their shared characteristics. We are definitely not the only ones who think so.
  • Here are the lyrics to He Was a Big Freak. Maybe don’t open them up on your work computer if your boss is around.
  • Betty Davis and Jimi Hendrix were close friends. So close, that Miles Davis thought they were having an affair, even though Betty was pushing for the two to work together. Ultimately, Hendricks died before any collaboration could take place. 
  • If you know what the instrument from the intro to “Don’t You Call Her No Tramp” is, let us know. Hit us up: @77MusicClub on Twitter or 77musicclub@gmail.com and always feel free to get in touch.
  • Peep the related articles below to read in full what the New York Times had to say about Betty in 1974.
  • Most people had a strong reaction to Betty’s music in her heyday — but not always in a good way. The NAACP wanted radio to ban her songs and called her “a disgrace to her race.” She did not react kindly to this.
  • Peep all the name drops in “They Say I’m Different” with the full lyrics here.

Favorite track: Special People (Carly) | Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him (Carrie)
Least favorite track: 70s Blues (Carly) | 70s Blues (Carrie)

Album credits:

  • Betty Davis – Producer, Vocals
  • Debbie Burrell – Vocals
  • Elaine Clark – Vocals
  • Mary Jones – Vocals
  • Trudy Perkins – Vocals
  • Mike Clark – Drums
  • Nicky Neal – Drums, Vocals
  • Willy Sparks – Drums, Vocals
  • Ted Sparks – Drums
  • Pete Escovedo – Timbales
  • Victor Pantoja – Congas, Percussion
  • Errol “Crusher” Bennett – Percussion
  • Buddy Miles – Guitar
  • Jimmy Godwin – Guitar
  • Cordell Dudley – Guitar, Vocals
  • Carlos Morales – Guitar, Vocals
  • Larry Johnson – Bass
  • Merl Saunders – Electric Piano
  • Fred Mills – Keyboards, Vocals
  • James Allen Smith – Keyboards
  • Hershall Kennedy – Clavinet, Keyboards, Organ, Electric Piano, Trumpet, Vocals
  • Tony Vaughn – Bass (Vocal), Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano, Electric Piano, Vocals
  • Mel Dixon – Photography
  • Bob Edwards – Assistant Engineer
  • Tom Flye – Mixing
  • Ron Levine – Cover Design
  • Bill Levy – Art Direction

Further watching:
Nasty Gal: The Many Lives of Betty Davis — documentary coming soon

Further reading:
Cult heroes: Betty Davis – blistering funk pioneer and female artist | The Guardian (July 2016)
Betty Davis: A Cult Genius Revealed, Once Again | MTV (July 2016)
Sleazy Listening: Betty Davis Rides Again | The New York Times T Magazine (November 2009)
Nasty Gal: Betty Davis | Dazed (July 2007)
A Funk Queen Steps Out of the Shadows | SFGate (May 2007)
The Pop Life | The New York Times (June 1974)

Episode 1: BUCKINGHAM NICKS

HOSTS’ NOTE: This podcast was born from an idea that predates the 2016 election. We kept pushing the release date back, thinking, “Does anyone really want to listen to a music podcast right now?” The answer to that will probably change daily, but the conclusion we came to is this: art is not going to stop. We will not stop auditioning, playing music, writing, or following any of our other passions. We need the arts — the joy, escapism, and enlightenment they bring — now more than ever. The albums we love will play on, so we will continue to talk about them. We are sure there will be times in the future when it feels trite to do this, but as long as music heals and uplifts, we’ve got a podcast to bring to you.

“Does anyone remember laughter?” — Robert Plant

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BUCKINGHAM NICKS – Buckingham Nicks – Polydor – 1973

Two years before joining Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had no idea what lay ahead of them. They were just two kids who wanted to make great music — and they just happened to be in love.

A cult favorite of Fleetwood Mac fans, this album is curiously still only available on vinyl. While bootlegs of the album can be streamed on YouTube, it has never been (officially) released on cassette, CD, or to streaming services like Spotify. This is perhaps part of the attraction to the album — this is music that doesn’t outright present itself; it must be found.

In this episode, we discuss why we both call this album our favorite of all time, what makes it unique, and why it still takes our breath away hundreds of listens later.

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Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Lindsey was already in high school band Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band (later shortened to Fritz) when Stevie was asked to join in mid-1967 to replace the lead singer.
    • From 1968 to 1971, Fritz was Stevie Nicks on lead vocals, Lindsey Buckingham on bass and vocals, Brian Kane on lead guitar, Javier Pacheco on keyboards, and Bob Aguirre on drums.
    • Listen to live recordings of Fritz here.
  • Buckingham Nicks was recorded at the now-iconic Sound City studios in the Valley, working closely with producer Keith Olsen and friend and engineer Richard Dashut.
    • Keith Olsen’s production credits include albums with artists like Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Rick Springfield, Joe Walsh, and more.
    • Richard Dashut went on to serve as a producer and engineer with Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham from 1977 to 1995.
    • The Buckingham Nicks song “Crying in the Night” was the first song ever to be recorded on Sound City’s Neve analog console, known for its rarity, unique, warm sound, and extensive mixing capabilities. (This console now resides in Dave Grohl’s recording studio.)
  • The album cover imagery was shot by guitarist Waddy Wachtel’s brother, Jimmy, and features Stevie and Lindsey topless (but totally safe for work!). Stevie was hesitant to remove the expensive silk blouse she bought for the photoshoot with some of their last money. She was mortified that the final choice was one of the nude photos.
  • Listen to all three versions of Crystal (discussed 20 minutes in) and tell us which one is your favorite: Buckingham Nicks | Fleetwood Mac | Stevie Nicks 
  • A “simmering in the South” is definitely a way they described their cult following in Alabama — on more than one occasion.
  • About that European influence on “Long Distance Winner”… Stevie says it’s Greek, which, like, okay.
  • Buckingham Nicks went on a brief tour in the winter of 1974 before ending their live run with four shows in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Jacksonville, Alabama in January 1975.
  • Stevie and Lindsey joined Fleetwood Mac on New Year’s Eve, 1974, after Mick Fleetwood extended an offer to Lindsey and he replied, “Well, you gotta take my girlfriend, too.” Initially thinking of the gig as a temporary way to make a little money, Buckingham Nicks continued to hold onto their brand, contributing background vocals and production credits on albums like Warren Zevon’s Warren Zevon, Walter Egan’s Fundamental Roll, and John Stewart’s Bombs Away Dream Babies until the success of Fleetwood Mac and Rumours pretty much decided their well-documented fate.

Favorite track(s): Crying in the Night & Frozen Love (Carly) | Frozen Love & Stephanie (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Lola (Carly) | Django (Carrie)

Album credits:

  • Lindsey Buckingham – vocals, guitars, bass guitar, percussion
  • Stevie Nicks – vocals

Additional personnel:

  • Waddy Wachtel – guitars
  • Jorge Calderón – percussion
  • Jim Keltner – drums
  • Jerry Scheff – bass guitar
  • Peggy Sandvig – keyboards
  • Richard Hallagan – string arrangement
  • Monty Stark – synthesizer
  • Mark Tulin – bass guitar
  • Ronnie Tutt – drums
  • Gary ‘Hoppy’ Hodges – drums, percussion

Production:

  • Producer and engineer: Keith Olsen
  • Executive producer: Lee Lasseff
  • Assistant engineer: Richard Dashut

Further watching:
Sound City documentary trailer
Stevie Nicks’s solo performance of “Crying in the Night” in 2016

Further reading:
How the Elusive ‘Buckingham Nicks’ Established Stevie Nicks’s Songwriting Voice | NPR Music (January 2018) ed note: this is by Carrie so we’re a lil biased
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham made a fine pop record pre-Fleetwood Mac | AV Club (Sept. 2015)
How Sound City Rocked Dave Grohl’s World | The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 2013)
Recording Studios May Die, but the False Mythology Around Them May Not[on Sound City] | The Atlantic (Dec. 2012)
Buckingham Nicks reveal future plans in interview | Birmingham After Dark (Feb. 1975)