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The Great Albums

Two indie rock musicians, Bill Lambusta and Brian Erickson, dive into the fandom of great rock and pop music and how it connects to their lives through the lens of the medium they care for most, the album. Episodes frequently include guest contributions from musicians, podcasters, and journalists and always culminate in a track by track review.
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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 30, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their conversation on Sam Cooke's Night Beat by discussing one of his last releases ever, "A Change Is Gonna Come." Written after a particularly tense interaction at a motel, Cooke released this song hoping to affect change within the Civil Rights Movement. We talk about how the song's dense arrangement contrasts with what was produced for Night Beat, the difficulty of navigating racism as a pop icon in a time known for its social injustice, how anger can be used to fuel positivity, and a little on race relations and integration in general. Additionally, we read a listener email, asking us to explain some recording processes we often talk about, specifically the art of mixing!

Jun 27, 2016

Joining Brian and Bill to discuss Sam Cooke's landmark and influential Night Beat (1963, RCA) is Randy W. Hall, cohost of our podcast kin That Dandy Classic Music Hour (thatdandyclassicmusichour.com). Night Beat found Sam Cooke enjoying the benefits of his restructured contract, exercising his right to choose his own backing band, go into a studio, show off his skills as the father of soul, and put together one of the first purposely crafted albums. Randy talks about playing hooky from school and heading to his local record shop to discover the reissue of Night Beat on the shelf and then just being blown away when he put it on in his car. Bill, Brian, and Randy discuss the birth of soul, Motown vs. Stax, Cooke's conversational style, Sam's voice being out front, Dylan covering "Freebird," Barney Kessel's excellent guitar work, Billy Preston's excellent organ interplay with Ray Johnson's piano, the unfortunate circumstances of Sam Cooke's death, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Jun 23, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill discuss one of the Ramones most recognizable songs "I Wanna Be Sedated," how the Ramones have become a ubiquitous legacy act without huge hits, and all the bands that have covered the song. Also, we read a listener email about the necessity of separating art from the artist.

Jun 20, 2016

Bill and Brian welcome musician (hellstroms.bandcamp.com), podcaster, and our new resident punk avatar Jack Fitzsimmons onto the podcast to talk about the Ramones' self titled debut (1976, Sire). The four kids who went on to change their names and the landscape of music grew up in the hostile environment of Queens, NY where they decided to embrace themselves as outsiders, turned up the volume, and pretended to be rock stars. Jack shares how he first delved into the band and this album while visiting family in Great Britain and meeting the punks from across the pond who idolized the Ramones. Jack helps us understand, from his perspective, what it means to be a punk and part of that culture. Bill, Brian, and Jack discuss the band's intelligence and their dumb image, the strange mixing choices on the album, the emergence of teenager culture, making mix tapes for former high school girlfriends, Dee Dee's troubles and sexuality, the birth of the punk cover, and much more as we talk about the album track by track!

Jun 16, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian continue talking about Waylon Jennings and his unique brand of "outlaw country" by discussing his duet with Willie Nelson "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." A listener wrote in, giving us a lot of insight on this song and how it shows off Waylon's "big brass balls." We also read some tweets that corrected our British slang, challenged our perception of fandom, and lead us to talking about "who's in" and "who's out." We also read another email in which a listener heartily disagrees with some of our assessments on the La's album!

Jun 13, 2016

Joining Brian and Bill on the podcast this week is trunkworthy.com writer and co-founder  David Gorman to talk about Waylon Jennings' Dreaming my Dream (1975, RCA Victor), a key album at the start of his "outlaw country" years. Tired of the Nashville machinery, Jennings was able to wrestle creative control away from his label and into his own hands, sparking a legendary run of albums. David talks about discovering Waylon through recommendations and his live albums before lauding him with accolades for his DIY ethic and unique vocal delivery. Bill, Brian, and David discuss how Waylon challenge the Nashville industry, his rapscallion ways, David's hatred for harmonicas, a theory for the concept of the record, the greatest cheatin' songs bracket, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Jun 9, 2016

Brian and Bill take a little time to discuss one of the tracks from the deluxe edition of the La's set titled album, "I Am the Key." After Bill tells a wedding story that he forgot to tell on the main episode and Brian fawns over the songs harmonies, the two take a really deep dive into two of Bill's favorite subjects: data sifting and Pearl Jam. A listener challenged our claim that Pearl Jam's Ten outsold Nevermind. We accept the challenge and take it to the mat. We discovered some surprising facts, including how the RIAA and Nielsen Soundscan work, what labels have to do to receive gold and platinum certifications, and of course which album really outsold which (on both US domestic and international levels)!

Jun 6, 2016

Bill and Brian dive into a wonderful, under-appreciated and under-discovered set of songs by Brit-pop forebears the La's with their self titled album (1990, Polydor/Go!). Best known for their single "There She Goes," which is perhaps better known Stateside as the 1999 hit for Sixpence None the Richer, the band has only put out this single album to date. But in the time since its release, the band has gone on to become a cult favorite. Bill and Brian discuss the evolution of this album under the guidance of several producers, how frontman Lee Mavers is still unsatisfied with the eventual Steve Lillywhite helmed version, the economical songwriting, how re-amping basses works, the intelligence and depth imbued into simple lyricism, the conundrum of tracking an album with so many great songs, how the heck to play the lead to "There She Goes," what great British rock band a particular song sounds like, what other great British rock band another song sounds like and how Brian is wrong about not liking a particular song, how a bit of contention and friction helps shape songs to be their best, and more in our track by track review!

Jun 2, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian keeping diving into the vast catalog of great French artists by discussing Daft Punk and their super massive 2013 hit "Get Lucky." With a little help from Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, the electronic duo churned out a danceable tune. While discussing it we talk about tangentially vs. tangentally, Pharrell's career resurgence at about the time this song hit, disco music, we read a listener email that helps us clarify that a slide was indeed used on Foo fights "Oh George," and we discuss which Pavement albums are our favorites!

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