Author and professor Jonathyne Briggs joins Bill and Brian to discuss Blondie's breakthrough third album Parallel Lines (1978, Chrysalis). Jonathyne talks about underestimating the band as a singles band in his youth before really digging into their catalog after they reformed in the late 90s. Then Bill, Brian, and Jonathyne discuss sexism in the NYC punk scene, Mike Chapman's dictatorial production, Debbie Harry's voice, the excellent rhythm section - Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison, Robert Fripp's guest spot, disco and racism, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Musician Nick Palmer joins Bill to talk about iconic, landmark "punk" album London Calling (CBS/Epic, 1979) by the Clash. Nick describes working his way back from Green Day to picking up Combat Rock and not understanding how anyone could call it punk. Then Bill and Nick talk about Nick's fandom forming fully, the important dichotomy of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, Paul Simonon's surprisingly good bass despite his own self-deprecating description of it, Topper Headon's killer drums, some left wing politics, the Spanish Civil war, Guy Stevens throwing chairs, and much more as we make our way through the album (mostly) track by track!
Podcaster Matt Kelly (hmnpodcast.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Norah Jones' massive breakout debut Come Away with Me (2002, Blue Note). Matt shares how Jones' blend of melancholy jazz and country helped him process the death of an important family member who passed shortly before this album was released. Then Bill, Brian, and Matt discuss the possible influence of Willie Nelson, Starbucks albums, how Jesse Harris may be the luckiest guy, Lee Alexander's soft country style, Jones' own songwriting, a genius idea for a dramedy film starring Paul Rudd and featuring these songs, summer romances, a bit about Ryan Adams, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill takes the weekend off, leaving the program in Brian's questionable hands. But he recruits solo artist, bandleader, and Yarnspinners Podcast maestro Brian Rothenbeck (http://rothenbeck.com) to be the guest co-host. Together, the two Brians and special guest Jay Gogel (of The Adventuring Party) dig deep into Ben Folds Five's final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999, 550 Music). Brian recalls a sad breakup that echoes "Don't Change Your Plans," while Rothenbeck recounts his futile attempts to turn his old Sam Goody customers on to the music of The Promise Ring. Gogel breaks down the level of difficulty of some of Ben Folds' music while all three marvel at the writing contributions of drummer Darren Jessee and Moog-playing of bassist Robert Sledge. All this and more as we break this lost classic down track by track!
Multi-instrumentalist Mike Noordzy of psychedelic afro-cuban surf jazz band El Noordzo (nachtrecords.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss the eponymous album The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967, Verve). Mike talks about falling in love with a Velvets' best of he found at a random used record shop, before we get into talking about Nico's contributions as a vocalist, Tom Wilson punching up the sound, the effect Andy Warhol had on the band, John Cale vs. Sterling Morrison on bass, Lou Reed's version of a Manhattan Bohemian, Mo Tucker's primal rhythms, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Welcome to the first ever Liner Notes edition of the Great Albums podcast, a semi-monthly version of the show where Bill and Brian get to relax a little, read some listener emails, make corrections, and possibly chat about some new topics. In this episode we read some listener emails about loving Boston as a kid, giving the podcast a second chance, some top songs of 2017, guests helping the podcast get some context, and some cool local bands from other parts of the world.
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Bill and Brian dive into Heatmiser, a band that might be familiar to some as "Elliott Smith's band," and their final album Mic City Sons (1996, Caroline). Bill and Brian discuss picking this album up from the Princeton Record Exchange used section, Elliott Smith's value as a band member, co-songwriter Neil Gust going song for song in quality alongside Elliott, Tony Lash's contributions to the Pacific Northwest sound as a producer, Sam Coomes subtle arrangements on bass and keys, beets, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian are joined by guitarist and certified luthier Mike Virok (bordentownguitarrescue.com) to discuss Boston's self titled debut album (1976, Epic). Mike talks about discovering this music while his dad played side one on the tape deck while driving to his bowling league. Then Bill, Brian, and Mike get into near one-man-band Tom Scholz production, Brad Delp's important contributions as vocalist, the band's status as "corporate rock," the Real World Boston, rocking out to these songs on Guitar Hero, an elaborate scheme that resulted in a new Taylor acoustic for Delp, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
And for all your hiring needs, check out this week's sponsor ZipRecruiter. Our listeners can try ZipRecruiter for free by visiting ziprecruiter.com/album!
Bill and Brian close out the year by discussing an all time classic song, "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys (1966, Capitol). We get into Brian Wilson's arrangements and composition style, Mike Love's lyrical contributions, Dennis Wilson's musicianship, whether it's Carol Kaye or possibly Carl Wilson on bass, where the song belongs amongst other great songs from the 60s and 70s, just how many song parts there are, a little music theory [listener, be warned], and a listener email about struggling to become a fan of the Beach Boys.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian are again joined by .com blogger Jeff Fiedler to discuss some musical Christmas memories. We chat about some odd albums we've received as gifts, some of our favorite gifts, and a little about Jeff's favorite Christmas tune!
Bill and Brian are joined by thegreatalbums.com blogger and resident bin-diver Jeff Fiedler to count down his top 10 albums of 2017. Listeners are in for a treat as we get into an all new, all different list of great albums that were released in the 2017 calendar year!
*Note: there is an early discussion about this year's hit of the summer "Despacito," and it being attributed to Justin Bieber. It's worth pointing out that, although the remix version that featured the Biebs as a guest vocalist helped it gain traction as a hit, the song is actually by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and features rapper Daddy Yankee.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian continue talking about our favorite albums of 2017 by highlighting a release from a local NJ band, Ruby Bones! We talk about what a great guy band leader Chris Nova is and his dedication to the scene and how Brian obtained an early copy of the album through some underhanded means. Then we read some listener emails about Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper and Jules Shear, and some possible changes coming to the Great Albums in 2018.
Bill and Brian count down their top 10 albums of 2017. As has become our custom, Bill defers to Brian to give us a list of 10 hip, cool albums that came out in the past calendar year. Stay tuned for next week's episode in which we'll have another all new, all different top 10!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian get a little tangential, finally bringing one of the all time greats to the podcast, as we discuss Phil Collins' very 90s-tastic cover of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors." We talk a little about Phil, Genesis in the 80s, and uilleann pipes before we then read some listener emails in appreciation of horn parts, which leads to a great metaphor comparing song arrangements to cheeseburgers, and a poll of Billy Joel vs. Elton John.
Massive Albums November comes to a close as Bill and Brian chat about Cyndi Lauper's smash debut She's So Unusual (1983, Portrait). Bill and Brian talk about learning to appreciate pop albums, the contributions of the Hooters' Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, how Lauper made this album of cowrites and voters her own, the influence of ska, reggae, and new wave on the album, Brian not saying "motored," Betty Boop, and more as we make out way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thanksgiving! Bill and Brian break out the their Ocean Pacific gear as they remember the 90s and their early experiences hearing Billy Joel's "The River of Dreams." Brian tells a heartbreaking tale of a young man who didn't get to sing the solo at school but redeemed himself at the county fair. Then we get into some listener emails about 90s rap and our plans for April Fool's Day.
Make sure to check out Speak Into My Good Eye's 24 hour songwriting challenge to hear new tunes from past guests like Lowlight, James Harold, Beta Rat, Brian Rothenbeck, and even Brian Erickson. All proceeds benefit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Massive Albums November rolls (and rocks) on into week 3 as Bill and Brian welcome multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Matt Fernicola (Foes of Fern, Avery Mandeville and the Man Devils, the Burns, and many more) to talk about Billy Joel's the Stranger (1977, Columbia). Listener be warned: much to our delight Fern, a Berklee College of Music alum, really dives deep into music theory when describing how Joel's classical training help define his unique pop sound. Also, we compare and contrast the lyrical styles of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, talk about Brian's priest singing some Billy Joel mid-mass, Liberty Devitto's timely (and possibly apocryphal) stick throwing, Phil Ramone getting the producer nod over George Martin, and much more are we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian are joined by special guest cohost - our resident bin diver and .com blogger Jeff Fiedler - to discuss one of his favorite late period Michael Jackson tunes "Butterflies." Jeff talks about how the warmer sounds and throwback vibe of the song are to his liking. Then we take a comparative look at MJ's 90s output before we get to some listener (and reader) emails about top 5 Led Zeppelin songs, Jeff's rating system for Discog Fever pieces, and Prince.
Thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler joins Bill and Brian as special guest cohost along with this week's guest Andrew Kolbenschlag (of indie rockers Small Planet Radio) as get into week 2 of Massive Albums November with Michael Jackson's "other" multiplatinum album Bad (1987, Epic).
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian talk about one of the rock songs of all time. Bill shares how this was his first Zeppelin album gifted to him on an Easter in the late 90s. We talk about how III had hipster appeal and has started to take its place alongside the other great albums in recent years. Then we get into some emails about Jellyfish, "He's My Best Friend" being about masturbation, Jesus' fan club, and klezmer music!
In our first installment of Massive Albums November 2017, Rock on Radio's Danny Coleman (coaradio.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Led Zeppelin IV (1971, Atlantic). Danny talks about his cool older cousin gifting him this album on his 12th birthday and his life being forever changed. Bill, Brian, and Danny then get into John Bonham's influence on Danny as a drummer, Zep vs. the Who, polyrhythms, John Paul Jones' bass keeping the band together, AM/FM radio and music fandom, how Led Zeppelin kind of does in fact have a great live album, Robert Plant's lyricism (and nerdiness), how Jimmy Page is often overlooked as a great producer, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian are feeling the sting of Jellyfish (it's a good thing) as we chat about their cover of Harry Nilsson's "Think About Your Troubles." Brian tells the tale of Nilsson's The Point! Then we get into which pop artists have had cartoons, 90s power pop, listener appreciation, a Smashing Pumpkins tale, experiencing the release of new albums, World Party, and the possibility Jeff January.
Bill and Brian go sans guest (not by choice) to talk about Jellyfish's unique blend of Baroque arrangements and power pop hooks on the band's sophomore and final album Spilt Milk (1993, Charisma). Bill and Brian discuss the band's place amongst other 90s rock bands, how the band has started to carve out its own niche in the canon of great bands, the influence of classic Disney films, where fan clubs fit in with the modern music industry, the confluence of harmony styles from both the Beach Boys and Queen, Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and Andy Sturmer's vocal styles, playing drums while standing, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian keep the Ted Leo train rolling by talking about the time that he and the Pharmacists stopped by the AV Club to cover Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." We chat about when 80s pop went from being admonished to admired, the Val Kilmer vehicle Real Genius, how we don't know much Silicon Valley trivia (for either the place or the TV show), and even Dennis Miller. Then we read some listener emails filling us in on some facts and opinions on the Smashing Pumpkins.
Bill and Brian are joined by WXPN's Mike Vasilikos to talk about Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' Shake the Sheets (2004, Lookout!). Mike explains how working in Baltimore radio lead to his discovery of the band and scoring tickets to a great live show. Then Bill, Brian, and Mike discuss Pitchfork and AllMusic's middling reviews, the band's place in the indie and punk scenes, comparing Leo to the likes of Billy Bragg and Elvis Costello, obliquely political themes, the influence of the Strokes, people being bad a geography, the 2004 presidential election, and more as we make our way through the albums track by track!