Episode 3.6: Jobriath

jobriath-album-cover

Jobriath – Jobriath – Elektra – 1973

Bowie. Bolan. The Dolls. These are the names that we have hallowed through the decades as bastions of glam rock, the genre that defined the early ‘70s urban rock scene. Simultaneously swirling around the glam galaxy was a soft-spoken, fair-featured piano prodigy who called himself Jobriath, and though he is less featured in the annals of music history, his influence is no less felt by generations of flamboyant, theatrical rock performers who came after him.

Often cited as the first openly gay rock star, Jobriath rocketed from musical theatre actor and folk songwriter to full-on glam star in seemingly no time at all, thanks to aggressive marketing strategies from his Svengali-like manager, Jerry Brandt. Jobriath burned hot and bright for a few years, but his star fell just as quickly as it rose, and he spent the remainder of his days living out of the pyramid apartment on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel before his premature death in 1983. 

In this episode, we unpack the many ways Jobriath’s story — though shorter than his glam peers — has volumes to teaches us about the genre, changing social norms between the last decades of the 20th century and now, gender and sexuality, and why in the h*ck someone would even want to be famous in the first place.

Listen to Jobriath: iTunesSpotify 

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • If you know Jobriath, welcome. If you’re new to the party, there’s room for you here, too.
  • Listen, we know Spotify is mostly shady. But, man, we’ve discovered — and re-discovered — so many awesome artists through our Discover Weekly playlists, and that’s worth a shout.
  • The hype machine behind Jobriath is very much of its time. We had a lot to say about how we look at it now, and whether or not that could happen today. Have thoughts? Get at us.
  • Shoutout to the collapse of the American Dream and its reverberating effect on how we consume culture as a whole!!!
    • If you are any kind of sociologist, anthropologist, historian… in that general realm… and want to talk to us about this for show purposes, YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND US!
  • VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: Is Richard Gere a zaddy!?
    • Ya we know, totally random that he was at the recording sessions for this album but, hey, the ‘70s.
    • If you are like “tf is a zaddy…” please pause what you’re doing and take a look at our updated glossary page. We’ll wait.
  • Needless to say, the album bombed and music journalists — mostly men, duh — had a field day writing “you’re a cheap Bowie impersonation” takedowns.
  • We stan a good, hit-the-ground-running album opener!
  • Revisit our episode on the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls to get an idea of what we’re talking about with this whole Mick Jagger comparison and ~circle of influence~
  • Jobriath made great strides as the first openly gay rock star, but it’s interesting to see how much he kept private at the same time.
  • Carly is ABSOLUTELY that Theatre Girl who will reference obscure cast recordings, do not @ us!!!
  • Again, maybe Carrie’s 21st century cynicism speaking but: When an artist candidly states their desire for fame and a glamorous life, how do you tell what’s authentic? When does their art transcend being something they love and becomes something they do because it gets them fame?
  • Okay but seriously, peep the lyrics to “World Without End” and try to tell us culture isn’t cyclical af.
  • Is “Space Clown” just generic brand “Starman”?
  • Late-60s/early-70s pop culture was truly wildin’ for space and an abstract view of the future and we love how endearingly dated it ends up being
  • Shoutout to songs that have shoutouts to other people and influences — we love a good fangirl/fanboy moment!!!
    • ICYMI here’s our Tom Tom Club episode we dropped a silly reference to.
    • @ drag queens: seriously consider doing “Movie Queen” in your act. You’re welcome!
    • More info about Jobriath’s alter ego Cole Berlin in our further reading notes below.
  • “I’m a Man” is an ahead of its time jam and a half, thank you for coming to our TED Talk
    • We’ll do an episode on John Cale eventually. We know we bring him up too often for not having given him his own episode to shine.
    • Masculinity is so complicated and we cannot believe this song about the ways it can be both aggressive and fragile came out in 1973.
    • Like, seriously, we’re only now starting to seriously talk about gender and toxic masculinity and just now see more inclusivity for pop stars challenging gender norms. Shouts to Jobriath for bringing this up decades ago.
    • Here’s a quick guide to androgyny in rock — which shows its male privilege and begs us to question: Why weren’t women afforded the same opportunities — or as many opportunities — to gender-bend as their male counterparts?
    • In the end, it’s all a flex.
  • Once again, we LIVE for the way ‘70s music referenced rock of the ‘50s and how much glam influenced punk.
  • It’s incredible see how much Jobriath’s legacy lives on, particularly in very recent history. You know we’ve got a bunch of examples for you in our new and improved master playlist.
    • We’ve split our playlists up by season because the one got too big. You’re so welcome!
    • Follow season one, season two, and season three (we’re on season three now).
  • As always, find and follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you don’t already.

Favorite track(s): I’m A Man (Carly) | I’m A Man (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Space Clown (Carly) | Blow Away (Carrie)

Album credits:
we couldn’t find anything further detailed than “performer” for many of the talent credited

  • Jobriath — writer, performer, producer
  • Steve Love — guitar
  • Billy Schwartz — guitar
  • Andy Muson — performer
  • Ken Bichel — performer
  • Peter Frampton — performer
  • Carl Hall — performer
  • Tasha Thomas — performer
  • Heather Macrae — performer
  • Peggy Nestor — performer
  • John Syomis — performer
  • Gerhard — performer
  • Zenobia — performer

Further watching:
Jobriath A.D. – Glam Rock’s Lost God trailer | 2012
“I’m A Man” live on The Midnight Special | 1974
“Rock of Ages” live on The Midnight Special | 1974

Further reading:
Music’s Unsung LGBTQ Heroes | Rolling Stone (June 2018)
The Tragedy of Jobriath, the World’s First Openly Gay Rock Star | Gay Times (May 2018)
The Unbelievably True Story of Jobriath, Music’s First Openly Gay Rock Star | Highsnobiety (April 2017)
The Rise and Fall of Jobriath, Pop’s First Openly Gay Star | AnOther (January 2017)
A Life Story of Glitter and Tragedy | The New York Times (May 2014)
Cole Berlin: An Elegy | The Spectacled Avenger (July 2012)
Jobriath: The Man Who Fell To Earth | The Guardian (March 2012)

Episode 3.4: The Marble Index

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The Marble Index – Nico – Elektra – 1968

Although she had been a presence in the New York’s downtown music scene in the ’60s, Nico didn’t begin writing her own songs until late 1967. Dismayed at the finished product of her first solo album, 1967’s Chelsea Girl, she started to pen her own poems, exploring the truth of her own experiences and putting it to haunting harmonium music. Rejecting the Warhol Factory persona that had given her fame, if not artistic satisfaction, Nico allowed herself to outwardly display her inner darkness: she stopped dying her hair platinum blonde, opting for dark red instead, and took to wearing all black. Though many critics believed this was a character she was adopting to make the album seem more authentic, what they were actually seeing, along with the rest of the world, was a free woman. Here was an artist giving herself the room to turn her own reality into art, no matter how messy, dark, and frightening that reality could be. For a woman in 1968, this wasn’t just an odd rarity; it was trailblazing.

Cited by many as the first goth album, The Marble Index went on to influence a number of artists in the goth rock movement that grew out of late-1970s post-punk, including Siouxsie and the Banshees and Bauhaus. Within her strident, discordant, and atonal sounds, Nico created an album that carved out a place in mainstream commercial music for artists, notably female artists, who express because they have to — even if you’re not sure that you like what you hear.

In this episode, we unpack the album’s influences and lasting influence, both Nico’s triumphs and and her myriad problems, and just what makes this album so difficult for many to listen to.

Listen to The Marble Index: iTunesSpotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • PSA: This episode deals with dark and heavy subject material. If you’re not feeling your best right now, take care of you and listen with discretion.
  • If your only familiarity with Nico is her work with the Velvet Underground or Chelsea Girl, brace yourselves, because you are in for one bizarre ride.
  • Women 👏 owe  👏 Nico 👏 a 👏 heck 👏 of   👏 a 👏 lot 👏
    • TBH Nico often expressed a problematic lot of internalized misogyny (among many more Not Good views) but that doesn’t negate the inroads she made as a woman herself.
    • It’s cool as heck that she was able to have agency and take control of her career and desired sound and aesthetic in *1968*
    • Also cool as heck that she rejected traditional gender and beauty norms.
    • We are never not on our bullshit yelling that women are complex as heck and can be beautiful and smart and talented at the same time!!!
  • This difficult album is a clear example that art isn’t always entertainment — just like entertainment isn’t always art.
  • The Marble Index is pointed to as the first goth album by several goth rock bands from the ‘80s
  • Forreal, if you like biopics or music movies or Nico or just good filmmaking in general, go see Nico, 1988 if you can. It set Carrie off on a “I must know everything” spiral that led to this episode being done this week and deeply affected us.
    • Peep our further watching links below to see the trailer.
    • We love a good music spiral!!!
  • We just added “heart-sad music” and “head-sad music” to our glossary, check it.
    • Yeah maybe don’t listen to this album during peak SAD season.
  • Check out our further reading links below for Lester Bangs’ take on The Marble Index. If *he* was scared of it, you know it’s some heavy stuff.
  • Sad girls of tumblr = Chelsea Girl. IRL depression = The Marble Index.
  • Shoutout to medieval stan John Cale.
  • “Women are poison. If I wasn’t so special, I could hate myself.” — Nico. Eeeeee she is such a problematic binch!
  • We never really reached a conclusion about how to feel about “Ari’s Song” and Nico’s complicated relationship with her son. Hit us up and share any thoughts you may have.
  • Here’s the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner that Carly was reminded of by “Frozen Warnings”
  • A thought: very few women were making “dark” music in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s — and certainly none in the vein of Nico — but women were exploring depression and anxiety and bleak themes in literature.
    • Read some of Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays while listening to this album if you wanna get fuqd up.
  • No, seriously, Nico told so many lies about herself that someone named a biography of her The Life and Lies of an Icon
  • An enormous shoutout to Danny Fields, Jac Holzman, and John Cale for being awesome men who championed Nico and pushed for this album to be made, regardless of whether or not it would sell.
  • As alway, check out our master playlist on Spotify to listen to all the tracks we talked about in this episode, including a slew of legacy influences.
    • Here’s Carly’s goth rock playlist
    • Also, Carrie forgot to mention it, but Body/Head is HELLA Nico. Weird, avant garde, crack-your-skull-open music.
    • Nico : The Marble Index :: Kim Gordon : Body/Head. Even though Sonic Youth got their start more rooted in noise and no wave, it was a huge change for Kim Gordon after the more melodic music she made in Sonic Youth’s final days.
  • Share all your thoughts with us!

Favorite track(s): Frozen Warnings (Carly) | Frozen Warnings and Ari’s Song (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Facing the Wind (Carly) | Julius Caesar (Memento Hodié) (Carrie)

Album credits:

  • Nico — Words, music, harmonium, vocals
  • John Cale — Arrangements
  • John Haeny — Engineer
  • Frazier Mohawk — Producer
  • Jac Holzman — Production supervisor


Further watching:

Nico, 1988 trailer | 2018  
Nico, Icon (documentary) | 1995  
Unknown New Zealand TV interview | 1985
“Evening Of Light” short film | 1969 

Further reading:
Made You Look: On Beauty, Ugliness, and Nico (ed. note: If you only read one of these pieces, wowwowwow make it this one) | The Ringer (August 2018)
7 Musicians Reflect on Nico’s Enduring Influence | New York Times T Magazine (August 2018)
Thirty Years After Her Death, Nico Finally Comes Into Focus | Pitchfork (April 2018)
The influence and tragedy of Nico | i-D (March 2017)
Nico and The Marble Index: “She hated the idea of being beautiful” | Uncut (October 2015)
Nico: Facing The Wind – The Marble Index trilogy | The Quietus (January 2013)
You won’t enjoy Nico’s album, but it’s good for you | The Guardian (October 2008)
The Frozen Borderline: 1968-70 deluxe reissue review | Pitchfork (March 2007)
Your Shadow Is Scared of You: An Attempt Not to Be Frightened By Nico (ed. note: This is some Lester Bangs goodness) | New Wave Rock (1978)

Episode 3.3: The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get

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The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get – Joe Walsh – ABC-Dunhill – 1973

In the 2013 documentary History of the Eagles, the late Glenn Frey describes his bandmate Joe Walsh as “an interesting bunch of guys.” The statement is meant to be comedic relief, there to set up the story of how the wild, unpredictable Joe Walsh — the one famous for hotel room trashing antics — ushered in a new chapter of the Eagles’ late-70s hedonism. But, if you take a closer look, the description rings true for his musical sensibilities, as well.

Few places can it apply more aptly than 1973’s The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, Walsh’s second solo album in collaboration with his band Barnstorm. Though the album would come to be remembered mostly for its lasting arena rock hit “Rocky Mountain Way,” Walsh explores all of his musical personalities, from the dad rock shredder to the softer, more introspective, singer-songwriter to the psychedelic-influenced long-winded jammer. In this episode, we dig through the varied influences Walsh pulls from, discuss Barnstorm members’ individual contributions, unpack the multitudes Joe Walsh contains, and more.

Listen to The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get: Spotify *
*at this time, The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get is not available in the US on iTunes, nor is it in full on YouTube.

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript corrections

  • Hello, and welcome to a fun and chill and casual summer episode. Think of this as a not-so-guilty-pleasure beach read, but let it also be a lesson in not judging books by their covers!
  • Joe Walsh has had quite a career, from the James Gang to Barnstorm to the Eagles, and, wow, quite a life. When we getting the biopic, Hollywood?
  • Peep our further watching links below to watch Joe Walsh’s apology to millennial audience members because l o l.
  • Shoutout to Joe Walsh for embracing different technology on this album, particularly on this track.
    • For real, you would never associate an ARP synth with early-70s Cal rock.
    • That talk box tho. Here’s a more in-depth explainer of what it is and how Joe Walsh came to use it.
  • We love The Parent Trap  (1998) do not @ us.
  • If you love our love of sister songs, get ready for our discovery of cousin songs!
  • Isn’t it cool how centuries-old styles can influence modern classic rock? Here’s a little explainer on what a pastoral is, if you’re curious.
  • Friendly reminder to hit up our master playlist on Spotify to listen to all these similar and influential tracks we’re dropping.
  • Shoutout to Joe Walsh for letting all members of Barnstorm collaborate and write tracks or sing them on this album. It’s not your typical solo venture.
  • Sorry not sorry we seem to say “Jenny Lewis should cover this” in multiple episodes. She’s just guud.
  • Check out our further watching links below to see Joe Walsh continue to shred tf out of “Meadows” in this century.
  • Friendly reminder that we have a glossary to check out, if you’re unfamiliar with some of the millennial or ‘77MC-native slang we throw around from time to time (from who JB Homie is to what we mean by RihannaMagic.gif)
  • You know we like to stand up on our “bands are a sum of their parts” pedestal, and this is no different — all members of Barnstorm had their own unique contributions. Positioning Joe Walsh as a solo star was very much a label-head marketing move (and one that ultimately worked to his benefit).
  • Hi, the Eagles love they money, bye.
  • Legacy is such a weird thing, and because Joe Walsh, and this album, have such eclectic styles (aside from his distinct guitar playing style), how do you trace their lineage to this generation? We have some of our thoughts in our master playlist, but we’re still thinking about it.
  • Let us know what you think:
    • Does this album have stand-out elements that make it immediately identifiable with Joe Walsh, or does it sound like a pleasant, but “could be anyone” vibe? Is that even necessarily a bad thing?
    • Did we miss anyone? Who today shows strong Walsh and/or Barnstorm influence?
  • Share all your thoughts with us!

Favorite track(s): Rocky Mountain Way and Dreams (Carly) | Rocky Mountain Way (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Midnight Moodies (Carly) | Wolf (Carrie)

Album credits:

  • Joe Walsh — Lead and backing vocals, lead and slide guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, synthesizer
  • Kenny Passarelli — Bass guitar, guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (“Happy Ways”)
  • Joe Vitale — Drums, percussion, piano, keyboards, electric piano, flute. backing vocals, lead vocals (“Book Ends”, “Days Gone By”)
  • Rocke Grace — Keyboards, backing vocals
  • Joe Lala — Percussion
  • Venetta Fields — Backing vocals
  • Cydie King — Backing vocals

Further watching:
“Meadows” live | 2017
Joe Walsh survived some serious good times as a young rocker (Stephen Colbert interview) | 2017
Joe Walsh’s apology to millennials / “In The City” live 
NAMM Q&A | 2016
Joe Walsh Les Paul Set-Up (ed note: ohmygod this is just delightful) | 2015
60 Minutes Australia interview | 2014
Joe Walsh on Letterman talking about an earthquake (ed note: oh my god) | 1987 

“Rocky Mountain Way” live with the Eagles | 1977  

Further reading:  
45 Years Ago: Joe Walsh Barnstorms Through ‘The Smoker You Drink…’ | Ultimate Classic Rock (January 2018)
The Tao of Joe Walsh | The Paris Review (September 2013)
Joe Walsh Discusses His Career, Gear, and New Album | Guitar World (June 2012)
Joe Walsh, Child of the Silent Majority: Ex-James Gangster Tends His Garden (ed note: this is vintage Cameron Crowe goodness) | February 1975 

Episode 3.2: Viv Albertine talks Dionne Warwick, the Slits, feminism, and more

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The Slits now-iconic 1979 debut Cut is an unusual, but delightful, melting pot of sounds: strains of UK punk mix with Jamaican reggae, girlish chants dance with abrasive DIY noise. Slipping between the grooves and finding a home within the mix — perhaps most indecipherably, or even curiously, to the casual listener — is the influence of the early-60s pop standards of Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach.

Growing up in post-war Britain in the 1960s, Slits guitarist Viv Albertine heard plenty of Warwick’s hits while listening to pop radio. Later, as a scrappy young woman running around London with next to no money and not much to do in the early-to-mid ‘70s, she came across a compilation album — Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits, Part One — in a used record shop with her bandmates. It became not just an album that they spent countless hours listening to together, playing it front-to-back over and over again, but one they — particularly Viv and lead singer Ari Up — would study, dissecting songs to their individual parts and taking note of the details, attempting to learn how to emulate Warwick and Bacharach in their own unique way.

For the past 40 years, the Slits have served as touchstones for female musicians, often cited for blazing a necessary trail for the coming riot grrrl movement and beyond. Today, we have the privilege of being able to look to Viv Albertine, and the Slits as a whole, for inspiration and empowerment, and are finally beginning to see their important role in history recognized in more mainstream circles. But in their formative years, female role models, particularly musicians, were much harder to come by; Dionne Warwick was one of them.

In this very special episode, we are so pleased to discuss Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits, Part One with Viv Albertine herself. Join us for a wide-ranging conversation that touches upon Warwick, Bacharach, and Hal David’s influence on the Slits’ music, as well as their own lives as young women in late-70s and early-80s London, the importance of representation, and so much more.

Listen to Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits, Part OneSpotify | YouTube
Listen to the Slits’ Cut: iTunesSpotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes
(and while you’re there, rate and review us in the iTunes store)

Read the full transcript of our interview with Viv Albertine here

Episode notes and postscript corrections

First and foremost: We’ve said this a million times, but we truly cannot recommend Viv’s books more or praise them highly enough. Both have had a tremendous impact on us, and we have yet to meet anyone who has read either and cannot say the same.

Support your local small bookstore or check them out here:
To Throw Away Unopened | 2018
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. | 2014 

Follow our master playlist on Spotify to hear every song we discussed today
Follow Viv Albertine on Facebook and Twitter 

Follow ’77 Music Club on Facebook and Twitter or shoot us an email if you have thoughts

Further watching:
Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits documentary trailer | 2017
Viv Albertine in conversation at British Library | 2016
The Culture Show: Girls Will Be Girls (BBC women in punk documentary) | 2014
“Typical Girls” music video | 1979
The Slits live performance and interview | 1970s; specific year unknown

Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach: Live at the Rainbow Room | 1996
Burt Bacharach… This Is Now
(BBC documentary) | 1996
“Walk On By”
live
| 1965
“Don’t Make Me Over” live | 1963

Further reading: 
On Viv and the Slits
New Doc on The Slits Questions Why These Pioneering Punks Have Been Overlooked | Paper (May 2018)
Viv Albertine Has Used Her Rage to Write Herself into Punk History | Noisey (April 2018)
The Slits Are Refusing to be Written Out of Music History | Noisey (October 2017)
The Slits’ Viv Albertine Defaces Male-Focused Punk Exhibition | Pitchfork (July 2016) ed note: HYFR, BAMF move.
How we made Cut | The Guardian (June 2013)
Like Choosing a Lover: Viv Albertine’s Favorite Albums | The Quietus (April 2013)
Girls Unconditional: The story of the Slits, told exclusively by the Slits | Loud and Quiet (July 2009)
Cut re-release album review | Pitchfork (February 2005)

On Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, and Hal David
Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music (Burt Bacharach’s memoir) | 2014
My Life, as I See It  (Dionne Warwick’s memoir) | 2010

50 Essential Albums of 1967: Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits, Part 1 | Rolling Stone (September 2017)
Burt Bacharach interview: what was it all about? | The Telegraph (June 2013)
Dionne Warwick: ‘I refused a couple of Bacharach and David songs’ | The Guardian (November 2012)
Dionne Warwick sings Hal David’s last lyrics | CNN (September 2012)
Music And Lyrics: Burt Bacharach and Hal David | NPR (May 2010)
Bacharach and David: Reconciled and Honored | LA Times (May 1993)
Singers: Spreading the Faith | Time (July 1967)

 

Episode Credits:
Creator and co-host: Carly Jordan

Co-host, editor, producer: Carrie Courogen
Special thanks to: Becky Kraemer and Viv Albertine

Viv Albertine talks Dionne Warwick, the Slits, feminism, and more (full transcript)

The following phone interview conversation took place on June 24, 2018. It has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Carly Jordan: Thank you so much for talking to us for the show. I was really psyched that you wanted to talk about Dionne Warwick.

Viv Albertine: Oh, Dionne Warwick, yes! You don’t think that was a weird one?

CJ: No, I didn’t think that was weird at all.

Carrie Courogen: No.

CJ: We didn’t think that was weird.

CC: We thought it was really interesting.

CJ: Because in your first book, I remember reading about all of the different artists that influenced you when you were coming up in the ‘70s, and none of them were what I thought they were gonna be, and they were so varied and so interesting. So, I was not at all surprised that you chose Dionne Warwick.

VA: Oh, good! [laughs]

CJ: So, when did Dionne Warwick first come to your attention and what about her voice stuck out to you in particular?

VA: Well, I think I first probably heard Dionne Warwick in the ‘60s when I was just listening to chart music, because she had a couple of hits, but the reason I chose the album was because it was one of about four albums we had within the Slits, when we all sort of lived together and shared everything and had to go everywhere together because just the way we dressed enacted — we were being attacked all the time, so we spent so much time together and we just sort of pulled the few things we had. And, back in those days, you know you had a few albums ‘cause they cost so much. We got Dionne Warwick, I think, Golden Hits, Part One, which is her singing the Burt Bacharach – Hal David songs, from the record exchange shop, so, it was a used copy. And we absolutely sort of studied it, you know?

Continue reading “Viv Albertine talks Dionne Warwick, the Slits, feminism, and more (full transcript)”

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

neil-young-after-the-gold-rush

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 2.7: EASTER

Patti_Smith-Easter

Easter – Patti Smith Group – Arista – 1978

After a debilitating injury stood between her disjointed second album and the imminent recording of her third, Patti Smith wrote a poem that would inform her next collection of songs by taking her physical pain and turning it into sonic glory. The poem “Easter” detailed her own “resurrection,” her journey to triumph over hardship. A concept was born and the album that would share the poem’s title became Smith’s greatest commercial breakthrough.

Containing the monster hit “Because The Night,” the controversial “Rock N Roll N****r,” and raucous, protest-ready “Till Victory,” Easter is a celebration not only of human will, but of female power. Negotiating for complete creative control over her album (a year before 9 to 5 brought gender inequity in the workplace to the national spotlight), Smith made no concessions to how male record executives thought she should present herself. Appearing raw and unpolished on the album cover, growling her desires and bellowing her neuroses in her music, and standing by her artistic convictions, Patti Smith demanded that women be seen on their terms, exactly as they wanted to be.

Forty years on, Easter remains a catalyst for feminism, a stronghold for lyric poetry, and an icon of blood-pumping, heart-racing, hair-raising rock and roll.

 

Listen to Easter: iTunes | Spotify | YouTube

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode notes and postscript correction

  • While the cover of Horses was shot by Patti’s close friend and ex-boyfriend Robert Mappelthorpe (who has taken numerous stunning, iconic photos of her as a muse), Easter was shot by Lynn Goldsmith, who is one of our favorite rock photographers. Her Instagram is dope and you should check it out.
  • “How did everyone let Jimmy Iovine have a unibrow for, like, 30 years?” is truly one of the hard-hitting questions that keep us up at night. (No, really, it was just so so so bad.)
  • Turn tf up for feminist activism. The revolution will be soundtracked by Patti.
  • Discuss: who, if anyone, could Patti Smith be compared to, artistically?
  • Hi, we love when women sing men’s songs, bye.
    • Check out our further watching links below to see the rendition of “Because the Night” dedicated to Fred Smith this summer. (Sadly, it’s missing her introduction, but, yes, she really did say that.)
    • Be sure to hit up our master playlist on Spotify for all the song references we just dropped — from Jimmy Iovine’s “hello female singer, you should sing this male singer’s song” tracks to Patti Lupone’s take on “Because the Night” to the Garbage and Screaming Females cover
    • The Angelfish cover of “Kimberly” isn’t on Spotify, but you can listen to it here.
    • Unrelated but sort of related: could we call people on the phone more?
  • Here’s more info about the history of “Ghost Dance” as a Native American prayer song.
  • “Babelogue” is so full of wonderful imagery that you really should read the lyrics to it to fully digest it all.
  • “Rock and Roll N****r” is a prime example of your fave is problematic.”
    • Here’s our friendly reminder that you can — and should — hold people you admire accountable for faults that can be fixed. To look the other way would be idol worship, and we don’t play like that.
    • Patti. Patti, Patti, Patti. WHY?
    • Discuss: Do you think this was a creative, artistic choice for the sake of art, or a deliberate decision made knowing it would push buttons and create controversy?
    • Moral of the story: WORDS. MATTER.
  • To learn more about this “wild woman” theory, check out this book that was recommended to us and we are now recommending to all of you.
  • Here’s a trailer for that movie “Privilege (Set Me Free)”
  • Patti. Girl. With that Sunday night CBGB reference, you super aren’t fooling anyone into viewing the subjects of this song as anonymous people. 
  • This is literally called Art Songs 101
  • Here’s a site that’s definitely not at all from the late-90s era of Geocities site building (nope, no way) about Arthur Rimbaud’s Une Saison En Hell.
  • GO. SEE. PATTI. SMITH. IF. YOU. CAN. AND. HAVE. NOT. DONE. SO.  ALREADY.
    • It will probably maybe definitely change your life.
    • READ. HER. BOOKS. (they’re in the further reading links below). They will gut you emotionally. 

Favorite track(s): Till Victory and Space Monkey (Carly) |Till Victory (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Rock and Roll N****r (Carly) | Privilege (Set Me Free) Carrie)

Album credits:
Patti Smith – vocals, guitar
Lenny Kaye – guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Jay Dee Daugherty – drums, percussion
Ivan Kral – bass guitar, vocals, guitar
Bruce Brody – keyboards, synthesizer

Richard Sohl – keyboards on “Space Monkey”
Allen Lainer – keyboards on “Space Monkey”
John Paul Fetta – bass on “Till Victory” and “Privilege”
Andi Ostrowe – percussion on “Ghost Dance”
Jim Maxwell – bagpipes on “Easter”

Further Watching:
“Because the Night” live in Central Park | 2017   
Patti Smith Interview: Advice to the Young | 2012 (ed note: HIGHLY RECOMMEND) 
Dream of Life (documentary) | 2009 
Patti Smith’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction | 2007
“Because the Night” on Old Grey Whistle Test | 1978 

Further Reading:
Devotion (Why I Write) | 2017
M Train | 2015
Just Kids | 2010
Babel | 1979

Patti Smith, The Godmother of Punk Rock, Shares Her ‘Devotion’ | WBUR (September 2017)
Easter review | Pitchfork (May 2017)
This advice. | Brooklyn by the Book (September 2016)
The Story of Feminist Punk in 33 Songs | Pitchfork (August 2016)
Easter review | Creem (June 1978)  
Patti Smith’s Top 40 Insurrection (the Lester Bangs review) | Phonograph Record  Magazine (May/June 1978)

Episode 2.3: MOONDANCE

van-morrison-moondance

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)