Bill and Brian welcome Jack Sullivan as a guest to talk about the Cure's Disintegration (1989, Elektra/Asylum). Released after a series of songs that helped the band break into the mainstream, principal songwriter and poorly-applied-makeup enthusiast Robert Smith wanted to create a great album that solidifed how the band was perceived amongst both fans and critics. Written and recorded shortly before Smith's 30th birthday, a sense of doom and gloom dominated the album's new wave/alternative music and the lyrical content. Bill, Brian, and Jack discuss how this album became a soundtrack to breakups, 80s schlock, how Robert Smith spends his day to day life, how Jack would resequence the album, the metaphorical impact of Christmas, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday, which means Brian and Bill tackle a single song from the artist featured on the previous episode! This week, we take a look at Rod Stewart's version of "Corrina Corrina," a bonus track from his 2013 album Time. A traditional blues tune, based on the version by Bob Dylan, it's a bit of a return to the sound Stewart perfected in the early 70s. Brian and Bill also discuss Stewart's return to songwriting and read some fan mail!
Bill and Brian get together to discuss Rod Stewart's third in a series of five wonderful solo albums for Mercury records that he released early in his career, Every Picture Tells a Story (1971, Mercury). After working with the Jeff Beck Group and running concurrent to his output with the Faces, Stewart found success with the b-side "Maggie May." With a unique rock-and-roll-meets-folk-with-a-little-soul songwriting and production style, this album stands out. Brian and Bill discuss how they were able to move past their own prejudices toward Stewart, why more people don't discuss the importance of Rod's early solo career, why unique sounds and instrumentation sound so good, and a track by track review of the entire album!
It's Bonus Song Thursday on the Great Albums Podcast! In our previous episode we talked about Tom Waits and the impact he's had on others' careers thanks to their covers of his songs. So Bill and Brian take a closer look at the Eagles version on "Ol' 55," originally released on Waits' debut album, Closing Time, in 1973. We discuss the Eagles as a dad band, their use of harmony, soft rock radio, and how covering other's songs fits in the world of rock and roll.
Bill and Brian welcome cohost of the Pruning Session podcast (from audiobonsai.com) Moksha Gren to help us talk about Tom Waits' Rain Dogs (1985, Island). The successor to the album where Waits left his balladier days behind him, the experimental Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs found universal critical acclaim as it solidified the eclectic music mixed with found sounds and a raspy vocal that Waits became synonymous with. Bill, Brian, and Moksha discuss how they first came to be fans of Toms Waits, the production of the album, and then a track by track review. Along the way, we also find room for a lot about Rod Stewart, how Moksha is raising his kids with the right kind of music, a bit about the state of country music, and more!
Get ready to be sad on this week's Bonus Song Thursday as Brian and Bill welcome back singer-songwriter, musician, and podcaster Brian Rothenbeck (rothenbeck.com) to talk about the Weakerthans' "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure" from their 2007 album Reunion Tour. Bill and the Brians share stories about lost pets and Rothenbeck explains why this song makes him cry. Also, in a new ongoing segment, we explore some some yacht rock!
Bill gets to play the "Hey, Brian!" game as Brian returns from touring with his band, the Paper Jets, and welcomes singer-songwriter, musician, and podcaster Brian Rothenbeck (rothenbeck.com) as a guest. In this episode, we discuss the Weakerthans' Reconstruction Site (2003, Epitaph). Their first record with major label distribution behind it, the Weakerthans broke through to a wider audience with their infectious pop hooks, intelligent lyrics, and fantastic guitar tones. As we discuss the album with a track by track analysis, we also talk about sonnets, the difference between a pedal steel and a lap steel, the philosophy of Cream, a theory about pet ownership and relationships with fathers, how to write songs in a single key, rhyming, and more!
Bonus! Song! Thursday! It's what it is! Brian is still away, touring the Northeast with his band The Paper Jets (thepaperjets.com), so Bill enlists the help of his own bandmate, Andrew Kolbenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com), to fill in as guest host. Returning from Monday's episode is guest Eric Nelson, guitarist and songwriter for The Lights Beneath (thelightsbeneath.com), to talk a little bit more about Bright Eyes. This time, we focus on the song "Poison Oak" from the 2005 album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.
While Brian is out on tour with his band, The Paper Jets, Bill invites friend of the podcast, musician, and songwriter Andrew Kolbenschlag to fill in as guest co-host! Joining us is musician/songwriter Eric Nelson from The Lights Beneath (hear their whole debut album at www.thelightsbeneath.com) to talk about Bright Eyes' Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (Saddle Creak, 2005). Released as a companion to the slightly more commercially successful, folk influenced album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, "Digital" took the opposite approach to Conor Oberst's stark, honest lyrics and nestled them amongst computer programming and digital instrumentation. Bill, Andrew, and Eric discuss their reasoning for talking about this album over other Bright Eyes' albums, breathing fetishes, electronic music production, death and drug use as themes on the album, and more as we talk about what makes this album great and then get into a track by track review of it!
It's bonus song Thursday! Bill and Brian discuss a Ryan Adams' version of "Wonderwall" from his 2004 album Love is Hell. Originally recorded and written by 90s British rockers Oasis, Adams turns the song into a haunting ballad. While delving into the music, Brian and Bill also talk about counting in Spanish, a drummer from the Beach Boys, how Beck maybe borrowed a little too liberally from other artists, how Ryan Adams' career lines up with Neil Young's, the Moody Blues, the Pixies, and more!
Brian and Bill sit down to talk about Ryan Adam's first foray away from alt-country and into the world of rock and roll with his appropriately titled album Rock n Roll (2003, Lost Highway). Following the success of his previous album and its single "New York, New York," Adams submitted 5 attempts that his label turned down. As a final "screw you," he made this album as, both a wry nod at their desire for something more marketable and a not-so-subtle response to their request for something less alternative. Bill and Brian talk about what makes this album great despite not changing the face of rock and roll, Brian's college years yearning for a certain girls, how the album neatly separates in to 4 distinct parts, and how the tracklist seems to tell a particular story of a crazy night in NYC.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And it finally happened. We had a technical glitch and the audio is terrible on this episode. Regardless, we forged ahead and decided to release the episode. Bill and Brian talk about U2's "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" from their 1991 album Achtung Baby. We talk about the bands evolution and how intentional it was before reading some listener emails about bands with underated rhythm sections.
This week, Bill and Brian go sans guest to talk about U2's super-massive-megadon hit The Joshua Tree (1987, Island). Recorded after the band had spent years touring the US, alternately falling in love with its ideals and becoming outspoken critics of its international policies, and wanting to create something bigger and better than anything they had done before, U2 released this album to massive sales and critical praise. Brian and Bill talk about their personal connections with the music, how the album got made, and a track by track analysis of each song. Along the way, we discuss religion and secularism, Euler's number, how addiction has touched our lives, the legality of immigration, how music can spur community in the face of tragedy, and more!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! We listen to Beck's "Cold Brains" off his 1998 follow up to Odeley, Mutations and discuss Beck's transformation as an artist, how the aging of a listener helps one appreciate the music of an artist over the years, the politics of labels and releases, and if in fact Van Morrison still perform's "Gloria!"
With his sophomore effort, Beck quieted the critics and pundits who thought he may be a one trick pony by collaborating with production team the Dust Brothers. Known for their work in sampling, the producers helped Beck combine elements of hip hip, rock, soul, jazz, alternative, and R&B to create a nearly undefinable sound. Bill and Brian do their best to analyze and discuss a very dense piece of art. Along the way, they discuss Beck's originality, exactly which samples are being used and how (but we're still not totally sure), positivity, Andy Wharhol, the strange connection betwen Beck and Hanson, Brian's formative years, and more as we talk about the album's production and each song, track by track!
On this week's Bonus Song Thursday, Bill and Brian take a deeper dive into Van Morrison's early career and listen to Them's garage rock classic "Gloria." Along the way, they talk about what the sound of the British invasion entailed, "nuggets," the criteria for being electrocuted by your guitar amp, and Stax v. Motown.
Photographer and artist Amanda Guthrie (amandaguthriephotography.com) joins Bill and Brian to talk about Van Morrison's Moondance (1970, Warner Bros.). With his third (second, depending on who you ask) release, Van "the man" found himself finally shedding his one-hit-wonder status after the initially dissappointing reaction to Astral Weeks in 1968 (the album has since gone on to establish itself as one of the best records of all time). With this album Morrison cemented himself as a gyspy folk icon. As we talk about what went into the album and what made it great, Amanda shares the tale of the magical Moondance CD that found its way into her car, Brian makes an argument for why the title track is his least favorite on the album, and Bill brings up Phil Collins. That and more as we get into a deep dive on the album, analyzing each song track by track!
Bill, Brian, and special guest Colin McDonough continue this week's topic, Otis Redding, by taking a listen to a deep cut from his posthumous releases, "I'm a Changed Man." The guys talk about Otis Redding's evolving sound, what something "swampy" sounds like, and how the soul singer's legacy is treated with respect (no pun intended). The guys also catch up on some fan outreach (that Bill missed because he got too excited when talking about 1980s Philadelphia phenoms The Hooters a couple weeks ago) and read several emails from our listeners!
Musician/guitarist Colin McDonough joins Brian and Bill to talk about Otis Redding's second posthumous release, The Immortal Otis Redding (1968, Atco). Recorded shortly before the soul and R&B singer's death at the end of 1967, the album shows off a lot of what the singer/songrwriter did best, including what the Stax Records house band(s), Booker T & the MGs and the Memphis Horns, could do. Bill, Brian, and Colin get into talking about discovering great music for the first time, Stax vs. Motown, Telecasters, Steve Cropper's signature arpeggiated guitar in 3/4 ballads, and Colin plays a few licks for us as we get into this album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday, and Renee Maskin and Jim McGee are back to talkabout Iggy Pop's "The Passenger." In his second collaboration with David Bowie, Iggy decided to have a little more fun than the dour The Idiot. In this episode we discuss how we all first experienced Iggy Pop, his existence as a pop icon, and Problem Child (the movie)!
Singer, songwriter, and musician Renee Maskin, solo artist and member of Lowlight and the Roadside Graves (soundcloud.com/reneemaskin, lowlightnj.bandcamp.com, and roadsidegraves.tumblr.com), joins Brian and Bill along with guitarist Jim McGee (jesseelliot.com) to talk about Iggy Pop's solo debut The Idiot (1977, RCA). Produced by and written with David Bowie, this landmark album gave a preview of what was to come in Bowie's "Berlin years." Recorded several years after the Stooges disbanded and Iggy did a stint at a mental institution, both he and Bowie went to Germany to kick their heroin habits and create new music. They ended up making this weird proto-industrial mood piece. Brian, Bill, Renee, and Jim talk about how this album affected them, what happens if future paleontologists discover The Idiot, and what to do when you "missed it" as they make their way through the album track by track.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Unfortunately, Brian couldn't make it for this episode, but we got friend of the show and Hooters afficionado Jeff Fiedler (singer, songwriter, and musician for sleepingsatellites.bandcamp.com) to come on and share his expertise. Since there was no "album" for Monday's episode, we continued down a thread we touched on by exploring more of the Hooters and their work. In addition to finding about the band's origins writing for Cyndi Lauper and opening Live Aid in Philadelphia, we discuss their album Nervous Night (1985, Columbia). And, it turns out some of Cyndi Lauper's music makes a cameo!
Musician and luthier Mike Virok (of the Paper Jets and Bordentown Guitar Rescue, bordentownguitarrescue.com, respectively) joins Bill and Brian to discuss some great songs off of some not-so-great albums. In a reprise of the format we introduced back in our "10 Great Songs," we push the limits by adding one more song! We talk about the Hooter's influence over all great music, Father's Day, whether or not one should date a person who has traveled the country for John Mellencamp, the value of Michael Jackson's songwriting, and the difference between Joe Dante and Joe Johnston! Songs by the following artists are discussed on this episode: The Police, Joan Osborne, Boston, Butthole Surfers, John Mellancamp, Michael Jackson, Todd Rundgren, Fleetwood Mac, The Gaslight Anthem, Modest Mouse, and Jimmy Eat World.
It's bonus song Thursday! In our follow up to Monday's Pet Sounds episode, we examine The Beach Boys' (or is it Jesse and The Rippers'?) "Forever" off of their 1970 album Sunflower. Featuring drummer Dennis Wilson's lead vocals after he took pen to paper to craft this song, the song helped bring the band back to minor chart succes and critical good graces. Luthier and musician Mike Virok (a preview of next week's episode) helps Bill and Brian break down the song, figure out how The Beach Boys fit into the annuls of 90s sitcoms, and develop a morning zoo-esque terrestrial radio program!
If we're talking about great albums of music, it's hard to escape the influence of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (1966, Capitol). Part of a group of LPs that helped usher in the "age of the albums" (c. 1964-2007), The Beach Boys' 11th studio album in under 4 years heralded a sea change in music fandom and criticism. Eschewing their "fun in the sun" image, band leader Brian Wilson attempted to create something personal and beautiful and musically dense amidst the culture and technology of the mid 60s. Bill and Brian break down this masterpiece of art track by track as they try to share what makes this album great.