Bill and Brian have finally decided to do it! Here it is, us talking about the Beatles. But how could we do just a single album? Where would we start? Every album they put out could be featured on the podcast, so now they will be. This is part 1 of 4 in which we discuss every single Beatles album (UK versions). In this episode we discuss Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and A Hard Day's Night. We are joined by several guests (and will continue to be as we make our way through all the albums) including musician Chris Nova of Ruby Bones (ruby bones.bandcamp.com), musician Ben Resnick from We're Ghosts Now (wereghostsnow.com), journalist Ed Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com, musician Brian Stabile of Casino Sundae (casinosundae.bandcamp.com), and singer/songwriter Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com).
Bill and Brian close out Massive Album November with Bruce Springsteen's Oscar winning ballad "Streets of Philadelphia" from the Tom and Hanks/Denzel Washington film Philadelphia soundtrack. We talk about how this helped close the second chapter of Bruce's career before reforming the E Street Band a few years later, revitalizing his tours and studio albums. We also read some more listener emails about great album opener/closer combos and Dark Side of the Moon and drugs. We discuss our own experiences with music and 'gummy bears' before giving a quick Tom Hanks career retrospective!
Bill and Brian close out Massive Album November with singer songwriter Jack Linden of Rose Boulevard (roseboulevard.bandcamp.com) talking about Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA (1984, Columbia). Springsteen was a good ways into his career, but with this album and its 7 top 10 singles, he became a household name. Jack talks about growing up having been "born into Bruce" and not really remember when he first heard these tunes. He also shares how his fandom ebbed and flowed, cementing itself as he reached adulthood. Brian, Bill, and Jack also discuss synthesizers, the E Street Band, Springsteen's effect on Jack's writing, how Bruce synthesizes his influences to be unrecognizable, Bruce's falsetto and (in)ability to harmonize with himself, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Happy Bonus Song Thanksgiving! Bill and Brian celebrate by talking about Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play." Brian breaks down a bit of the story of Syd Barrett and his time in the Floyd. Then we jump into a whole bunch of listener emails, spurred by our conversation of what could be the best album openers and closers. We got a bunch of cool suggestions and maybe threw out some controversial statements about the White Stripes and the Beatles. Also, Bill and Brian talk about what they are thankful for!
Massive Album November continues as Brian and Bill welcome podcaster Andrew James (rowthree.com) to talk about Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1974, Harvest). Although their 8th studio album, the band finally 'broke through' in a big, bad way with Dark Side, spending 741 weeks (that's nearly 15 years) on the Billboard charts! Andrew talks about unlocking the magic of the Floyd thanks to the confluence of a friend's parents being out of town, some "gummy bears," and a sublime saxophone. Then Bill, Brian, and Andrew discuss how cool VH1/s Classic Albums program is, madness, the universal themes of the album, synthesizers, how annoying it is that Roger Waters is just better than everyone at everything (except singing), 7/8 time signatures, David Gilmore's gorgeous vocal tones, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian fast forward in the Who's career to discuss the last song off their last album (so far), "Tea & Theatre" from 2006's Endless Wire. Brian fills in the events on the band's timeline, including the deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwhistle and the bands reformation. We discuss how the band has aged gracefully and progressed into this next step in their career. The we read some listener tweets, correcting a Madonna fact and sharing some great Canadian music.
Editor in Chief for Speak Into My Good Eye (speakimge.com) Mike Mehalick joins Bill and Brian for another installment of Massive Album November as we discuss the Who's Who's Next (1971, Decca). Emerging from the 60s mod scene into their own sound with 1969's Tommy, the Who, especially primary songwriter Pete Townshend, were struggling with the next step in their career. Hoping to continue pushing boundaries, the band began work on the multimedia project Lifehouse but abandoned its grandiose ideas, leaving engineer Glyn Johns with the task of assembling the album that became Who's Next. Mike talks about his father bringing him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where the Tommy exhibit captured his imagination. Bill, Brian, and Mike then discuss commercialism, the Who vs. Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry's complementary voices, synthesizers, Borat impersonations, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill speak to you from the optimism of the past as we break down what make's Madonna's "Into the Groove," released as part of the Like a Virgin single cycle, pretty cool. We talk about the song's inclusion on the international release of the album and a bit about David Bowie before reading some listener emails about Randy Newman and the 33 1/3 series!
Massive Album November is here! Each episode this month will be a different artist and record that has attained huge sales numbers that we've somehow missed so far. To get us started, thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler joins Bill and Brian to discuss Madonna's sophomore effort Like a Virgin (1984, Sire). Although a success on the dance scene, Madonna had yet to make herself a household name prior to this release. With the help of producer Nile Rodgers and an excellent set of tunes, Madonna became the icon she has continued to be today. Jeff talks about becoming a record collector at a very young age and how it helped him cut through the production of 80s pop as a listener. Bill, Brian, and Jeff then discuss the contributions of Rodgers' bandmates in Chic, the songwriting talents of Stephen Bray, Madonna's early bands Breakfast Club and Emmy, how the controversy over the sexuality on the album is a bit overblown, how pop songs were songs in the 80s, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian take some time out to cover a little bit of Neil Young's weaker output by discussing "Transformer Man" off 1982's Trans. We discuss Young's rationale for incorporating electronic instruments into his music, the sincerity of his experimentations at the time, and how some better songs may have helped him in this period. Also, we read a listener email that takes back down the path of Pearl Jam as Bill attempts to defend Yield, "Wishlist," and his opinions about Ten!
Bill and Brian welcome WXPN music director and podcaster (soundcloud.com/ddmusicpodcast) to discuss the final chapter of Neil Young's so-called "ditch trilogy," Tonight's the Night (1975, Reprise). Still reeling from the drug related deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, Neil Young cast off the folk and country tinged sound he was known for with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and his own chart topping album Harvest in favor of a more raw rock and roll sound. Dan talks about discovering the depth of Young's music through a friend before diving into his entire catalog (including the Geffen years!) during his time at college. Brian, Bill, and Dan then discuss how "raw" might be describing the audio quality instead of the emotions on the album, camping, Nils Lofgren's excellent guitar (and piano), which Neil Young song should never be covered by anyone, what alcohol the band was drinking for the sessions (it was tequila), which Neil albums we love the most (other than this one), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian decide to continue the conversation about Pearl Jam by focusing on a song from guitarist Stone Gossard's 2001 solo album Bayleaf called "Pigeon." We talk about how Stone's songwriting fits in with Pearl Jam's sound and why this is a great power pop song with a cool power chord based riff. Also, we get into some listener emails that include listener lists of top 5 Pearl Jam albums, cool untitled songs from Live on Two Legs, and a bit about Todd Rundgren!
Podcaster Jim Hanke (vinylemergency.com) makes his second appearance on the podcast to help Brian and Bill talk about Pearl Jam's Yield (1998, Epic). Coming off a bit of a downturn in their career, some would say creatively as well as commercially (but not us), Pearl Jam went into the studio looking to use each member's songwriting contributions and came out re-energized with one of their best albums. Jim talks about the ubiquity of the band's music in his life before Bill, Brian, and Jim then discuss how Bill and Jim are mirror images as PJ fans, ripping off Led Zeppelin, Eddie Vedder getting precious lyrically, Brendan O'Brien's excellent production, the Dismemberment Plan, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! With Brian jet setting about the globe (aka taking a long weekend trip to Chicago), Bill tackles some more Amy Winehouse by taking a listener suggestion and talking about her duet with Tony Bennett, "Body and Soul" from his 2011 album Duets II. Bill talks about the scene in Amy documentary where she has to overcome some initial nerves to create a wonderful performance. Also, Bill reads some lister emails about great track sequencing, the Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin, and Fran Zappa v. Tom Waits!
Bill and Brian welcome future podcasters (Indie Heroes, available soon) David Hillier (also a journalist) and Chris Barrett (who works in the West End) to the podcast to talk about Amy Winehouse's Back to Black (2006, Island). British singer songwriter Amy Winehouse was immediately noticed by the public, as much for her music and voice as for her tabloid escapades. With producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, she hit the charts in a big way with her second and final album before her untimely death at the age of 27. David and Chris talk about what it was like watching the British tabloids take hold of her before they really got to appreciate her music. Then Bill, Brian, David, and Chris make their way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Brian and Bill continue discussing Tom Waits by...talking about Norah Jones? That's right, Norah Jones covered an obscure Waits song on 2004's Feels Like Home. We talk about how Jones tried to pull away from the glut of female singer-songwriters that dominated the early aughts as we analyze what makes this song cool. We also read some listener emails that help fill in some info we missed way back when we talked about Guns'n'Roses on the show. And we get talking about what albums we think are well-sequenced, prompting Brian to discuss the many virtues of the Beatles' Abbey Road!
Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster and musician Joe Galuppo (diningroomradio.net and joegaluppo.bandcamp.com) to talk about Tom Waits' Bone Machine (1992, Atlantic). Waits, with his idiosyncratic musicianship and distinctive voice, emerged from a 5 year hiatus to create one of the tentpole albums of his career. Joe talks about how his cool dad, noting his son's taste for the unusual, pointed him toward Tom Waits. Brian, Bill, and Joe then discuss how death permeates the album as a theme, the echo-filled concrete studio it was recorded in, Wait's unique vocal performance, a train made of bones, Fight Club and masculinity, Frank Zappa, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill talk about Scott Weiland and Dean DeLeo's acoustic performance of "Plush" off their 1992 debut Core. We talk about the song's structure, Dean's chord style, Scott's excellent vocal skills, and whether or not Led Zeppelin was cool in the 90s. We also read some listener emails about our mind reading prowess while discussing Ben Folds and what musicians play like Elliott Smith.
Musician Zach Calhoun (from Cadet, cadetcadets.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Stone Temple Pilots transformative sophomore effort Purple (1994, Atlantic). After debuting with the 8 million-selling Core (home to mega-hits "Plush," "Creep," and "Sex Type Thing"), STP fell into grunge's bottom tier as far as critics were concerned. Purple was the band's successful attempt to right the ship and show the world there was quite a bit more to them than just power chords. Zach tells us how he discovered this album via his brother's cassette tape and it helped shape his love of alternative music. Bill, Brian, and Zach discuss the albums cool artwork, how people who say that only one song off an album is good don't get it, Weiland's powerful voice, the negative stigma surrounding the band, Dean's awesome chord voicings, Robert's wild bass playing, a little on Weird Al, Chester Bennington and the band's legacy, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian take a very circuitous route to keep talking about Elliott Smith by discussing Jimmy Eat World's cover of the Heatmiser tune "Half Right." The song was written by Smith and added as a hidden track to the band's last album, 1996 album Mic City Sons, as Smith left to pursue his solo career full time. Brian and Bill talk about how the song is a faithful recreation, the story of the EP that contains it, and how Brian himself covered the song in his first live performance of a complete set. We also read some listener emails about the Grateful Dead, Levon Helm, and the word "timbre."
Centennials and Rose Boulevard drummer Pete Stern joins Bill and Brian to discuss singer songwriter Elliott Smith's major label debut XO (1998, Dreamworks). Coming up in the Portland indie scene of the 90s, Smith eschewed the alt stylings of his band Heatmiser and gained attention with his folksy, DIY home recording. He got his big break when director Gus Van Zant included the song "Miss Misery" on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, and this album followed shortly after. Pete discusses hearing Elliott Smith first on MTVu but not really delving into his catalog until a few years later when his biography was released. Bran, Bill, and Pete then talk about the Oscars performance and Celine Dion, what Elliot's problem with Heatmiser was, Smith's 2003 suicide, the quality production of the album, the criminally underrated Jon Brion, a whole bunch of diving into Smith's dense lyrics, Joey and Lenny Waronker, driving to Nashville on shrooms while listening to Weezer's "Hash Pipe," Brian Wilson's love of "Shortening Bread," how we would shorten the album a bit, and much much more are we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill continue talking about the Grateful Dead via the War on Drugs recent cover of "Touch of Grey" from the Day of the Dead tribute compilation. Brian talks about why he loves this song, the whole collection, and how it's helped him open up to being a fan of the Grateful Dead. Then we read some listener emails including a correction about us confusing Norway for Sweden and an interpretation of an Against Me! tune.
Bill and Brian welcome guitarist Tom O'Leary (whose band, Small Planet Radio, just put out an excellent album* that can be heard at smallplanetradio.com) to talk about the Grateful Dead's American Beauty (1970, Warner Bros.). Known for their live jam sessions that have helped created a devoted following, the Dead sometimes struggled to translate that to their studio work. But with the release of this album (and Working Man's Dead) earlier in that same year, the band gave the world a lasting work of art. Tom talks about discovering the band through his older siblings playing the records, and then really discovering them when he befriended some nice hippies at college. Brian, Bill, and Tom discuss the influence of CSNY, how the band got tricked into having to write pop songs, a deep dive into Robert Hunter's lyrics, how honest moments between parents and children as depicted in media makes Bill cry, hippie culture, Brian sliding into people's DMs, weird chords, what timbre is and how "tambre" is not a thing, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
*note: Host Bill Lambusta is also in Small Planet Radio and wrote this description, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill welcomes Brian back to talk about Laura Jane Grace, Miley Cyrus, and Joan Jett's cover of the Replacements "Androgynous." Brian, having missed out conversation about Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues earlier in the week, share some of his thoughts on trans issues before we get into to talking about how we love this song and all its nonsense lyrics. We also compare and contrast Miley with Justin Bieber and discuss the role of innovation and experimentation in pop music. Then we read some listener emails about misogyny in AC/DC and Guns'n'Roses' lyrics and bands with changing lead singers!
With Brian out on tour, Bill welcomes podcaster Justin Tyler (SongSpotters.com) to talk about the seminal (already) trans punk rock anthem Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014, Total Treble) by Against Me! Formed by then-name Tom Gable as a teenager in 1997, the band went on to become an icon known for their political fueled punk rock anthems. Surprising many, front woman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012 and began transitioning to living her life as a woman. Using her own experiences and that of a fictional transgender prostitute, Grace penned and released this album a couple years later. Justin talks about how this album was his introduction to the band, and how it has factored into a cause that he feels close to. We then jump into discussing gender expression and toys, transgender dysphoria in the DSM V, how these songs are fantastic sing along songs, Atom Willard's awesome drumming, suicide rates in the trans community, how sexual identity and gender expression are troubles for many (including cisgender individuals), how Laura Jane Grace is a hero for taking on the responsibility of being a trans communicator, how even those with good intentions sometimes have trouble with pronouns, sci-fi author Ann Leckie's series that exists in a gender neutral world, and more as we make our way through there album track by track!