Brian and Bill welcome DJ Wendy Rollins (radio1045.com) and musician Paul Nance (theloudcompany1.bandcamp.com) from the Alter Natives podcast to help us discuss the Violent Femmes' self titled debut album (1983, Slash). Working as an acoustic trio, the band was discovered while busking outside a Pretenders concert. After playing a short set at that show, the band began work on this album, mostly written while primary singer/songwriter Gordon Gano was still in high school. Wendy and Paul share their experiences discovering the band in college (Wendy) and, surprisingly, at an earlier age (Paul) and how it helped shape their lives. Bill, Brian, Paul, and Wendy discuss receiving their copy of this album at college freshman orientation, the band's success in their later years, their dorky image and id-driven rock, the inter-band conflict over selling a song to Wendy's Old Fashioned Burgers, what genre the Femmes fit in and their timeless sound, songs with involuntary physical reactions, Brian and Wikipedia being in agreement, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, any perceived misogyny or sexism on the album, the music literally saving Wendy's life, Beatle-esque harmonies, Jeb!, xylophone vs. marimba, what the heck a tranceaphone is, and the ubiquitous track by track review!
Bill and Brian welcome substitute guest (Ryan Carey unfortunately had to go have Valentine's dinner) Matt Pischl (who you'll be hearing talk about a group with the initials DMB in a couple weeks) to talk about "Dream of the Wild Horses" by Gary Lucas, a song which would have been worked into a collaboration between Jeff Buckley and Lucas if it weren't for the singer's untimely death halting progress on the follow up to Buckley's Grace. Brian, Bill, and Matt discuss how this song would have worked in Buckley's catalog and how they can hear Buckley in the song. We also read a listener email that gives great insight into poetic lyrics, Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg, and Kurt Cobain's lyrics.
Bill and Brian welcome journalist and blogger (The Inappropriate Thesaurus) Ryan Carey to talk about Jeff Buckley's landmark but only album Grace (1994, Columbia). Although critically revered, the album never became a commercial success within his lifetime (he tragically died in a drowning accident in 1997 at the age of 30), but has since gone on to become one of the most respected and well known albums from the 90s. Buckley was the son of folk singer Tim Buckley, who gained attention in the 70s before his own untimely death. Although he tried to distance himself from his father, Buckley ended up following in his footsteps as a skilled musician and uncanny singer. (After a slight detour into a discussion about politics) Bill, Brian, and Ryan talk about how Ryan discovered Buckley's music a little later than others, the epic nature of each song on this complex album, Buckley's start in a New York City coffee house, his perfect hair, Buckley's legacy as an artist with a single album, Gary Lucas' influence, how perfect "Hallelujah" really is, cowrites and covers, William Wordsworth, and as always a track by track review.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill discuss Alanis Morissette's as a continuation of the conversations from our episode on Jagged Little Pill by listening to and reviewing "Thank You" from Alanis' 1998 follow up Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. We talk about how Alanis addressed criticisms about her image by releasing an overtly positive song with a video that featured her singing in the nude. Additionally, we read some listener emails about Jens Lekman, how British bands are received in the US, William Shatner, and what it's like to walk next to Sir Paul McCartney on the streets of NYC.
Singer, songwriter, ukulele player Devon Moore from folk/pop/reggae band Fun While You Wait (fwywmusic.com) joins Bill And Brian to discuss Alanis Morissette's landmark international debut Jagged Little Pill (1995, Maverick). Alanis started her career as a Canadian teen pop idol, but shed that image, incorporating rock, grunge, and folk song styles into the confessional and starkly honest music on this album. Thanks to the success of several hit singles, the album sold over 16 million copies in the US. Devon relates how she discovered the album amidst her elder siblings' CD collection when she entered her early teen years, while Bill and Brian compare and contrast their own experiences hearing Alanis Morissette as a ubiquitous radio presence during their time in middle school. Brian, Bill, and Devon also discuss novice harmonica playing, grunge pop, supposed image-making, Flea being in his own world, Dave Coulier, a bit of a lesson on gating and comp'ing vocals, how Bill doesn't understand references to masturbation, the origins of Buddhism, why Brian's 7th grade was the worst, what irony really is, and a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian welcome back singer, songwriter, and musician Renee Maskin (lowlightnj.bandcamp.com) to continue talking about that guy/historical figure/musical genius Bob Dylan. Because it's Bonus Song Thursday, we focus on a single song, and this time it's "Pay in Blood" off Dylan's 2012 album Tempest. Brian, Bill, and Renee talk about the lyrics, the Christ and war imagery, how the song evokes a little bit of Tom Waits, songs about the Titanic that references the 1997 film, and how that reference is similar to songs about Westerns or political activism of the 60s.
Singer, songwriter, and musician Renee Maskin (lowlightnj.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Bob Dylan's country-tinged Nashville Skyline (1969, Columbia). After becoming a historical icon in the progressive folk movement of the 60s, Dylan broke huge after "going electric" and embracing rock and other popular music. Tired of the spotlight, Dylan took some time off after a motorcycle accident sidelined him a while. He took that opportunity to revamp his sound too, culminating in this classic that eschews his usual rambling lyrics and froggy voice in favor of simple melodies and a lilting vocal tone. Renee, Brian, and Bill discuss Dylan's arrangements, his role as a historical figure, the sound of contentment on this record, arranging in the studio, George Harrison's influence and vice versa, the cult of personality around Dylan and how he interacts with fans, how Dylan maintained his fame without radio hits, and (as always) a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill welcome back singer songwriter and musician Jeff Linden (jefflinden.bandcamp.com) to talk a little more about Queen and their collaboration with David Bowie, "Under Pressure." We talk about which Queen song we're sending to the aliens in outer space, legendary bass lines, "Ice Ice Baby" (briefly), the opening bass line to "Walk on the Wild Side," what the heck the song is about, and who came up with this bass line. Additionally, we have a little bit of a surprise at the beginning of the episode that you can listen to at soundcloud.com/thegreatalbums!
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Linden (jefflinden.bandcamp.com) of Rose Boulevard and his own solo work (backed by the Black Spot Society) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Queen's A Night at the Opera (1975, EMI/Parlophone/Elektra). Probably the definitive album in the band's career, it was a great leap forward both sonically and in composition. With all four members contributing songs, it was an eclectic mix of progressive, hard rock, folk, and vaudeville all anchored by the band's signature harmonies. Jeff talks about discovering Queen at a young age and later coming under their influence again after making his way through a period of listening to serious big songwriters rooted in cars and summer. Along the way, we also discuss how Queen evolved out of a band called Smile, Freddie Mercury's consistent voice, John Deacon's motivations for writing songs, gender roles and sexual identity in songwriting, what a canon is, theremin, Bohemian Rhapsody (of course), and what kind of show we think Roger Taylor and Brian May should be doing curating at Radio City Music Hall.