Everybody remembers Ray Parker Jr. taking over the world in 1984 with the Ghostbusters theme. But, there is so much more to his story. He was one of the most sought after session guitarists of the 70s playing with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Marvin Gaye to Seals and Crofts. He also wrote hit songs for artists like Leo Sayer and Rufus with Chaka Khan, not to mention racking up a bunch of his own hits like "The Other Woman" and "A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do)" as both a solo artist and as the frontman for his funk band Raydio. As he says in this conversation, "Ghostbusters" was just "gravy on the steak". Here we talk about his whole career, but the big news is that Fran Strine, director of the acclaimed Hired Gun documentary, has begun work on a Ray doc called Who You Gonna Call, which launched an Indiegogo campaign last week. Here is the link to donate. Enjoy!
Jon once again joins Steve and Drew from Suburban Underground to play great songs (Jon's are, anyway) from the side projects of prominent alternative rock stars. We also rip each other new ones in the process. Who do you think comes out ahead with the best taste? And be sure to subscribe to SU on your favorite podcatcher for your weekly alternative mix tape.
In the states, Level 42 may only be seen as two-hit-wonders thanks to the massive success of "Something About You' and "Lessons in Love" in the mid-80s. But around the rest of the world, Level 42 were viewed as a seriously complex group merging funk, r&b, jazz and rock in ways few others have ever done. Founding members bassist Mark King and keyboardist Mike Lindup finally closed up shop in the mid-90s, but reunited in 2006 and have steadily toured the world ever since. In this deep chat, Mike and I go over the band's history, the stories behind some of their songs, his excellent, but under-heard solo album, and what he's up to now. There's also a hilarious Bill Murray story at the end. On a personal note, this is a big one for me as Mike owns my all-time favorite singing voice.
Earth Wind and Fire are one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of music. It's more than just having hits - they established a level of greatness, of what is possible musically and spiritually, that many have aspired to, but few have reached. Lead by the vision of the late-great Maurice White, the group has torn through the last 45 years leaving a near perfect track record in their wake. Here we have a brief chat with bassist and founding member Verdine White about some of the seminal moments in the band's history, people they've worked with and what they're up to now. Believe me, life's too short to be a casual EWF fan!
Australian rock legends the Church have been an active part of the alternative scene for over 35 years. Their biggest global success may have been when "Under The Milky Way" reached #24 on the US pop charts in 1988, but they've never gone away and even released their 25th album, also one of their best, Man Woman Life Death Infinity last year. Steve's one of the most unfiltered guests we've ever featured on this show and is brutally honest when it comes to his drug addiction, financial state, and opinions about other Aussie bands. You won't believe what you hear!
Seventies rock icons Bad Company received a much-needed shot in the arm when founding members Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs recruited relative newbie Brian Howe to replace the great Paul Rodgers. By that point, Brian had recently started to breakthrough when he sang on Ted Nugent's Penetrator record. With Brian's help, Bad Company reached a whole new audience and kept the name alive throughout the late 80s and early 90s with Howe-penned hits like "No Smoke Without Fire", "Holy Water" and "How About That". Unfortunately, as is often the case, tensions between Brian and the Mick and Simon duo brought an end to this version of the band and it isn't pretty. Since then, Brian has continued to tour singing the songs he made famous. And, thankfully, he is currently on the mend after a massive heart attack a few months ago. This is a fascinating story behind one of the greatest voices in rock history. Enjoy!
The name Ambrosia has become synonymous with 70s soft rock gold thanks to enduring hits like "How Much I Feel" and "Biggest Part of Me". In truth, the band covered all genres - from prog to pop - during their 5-album run in the late70s - early 80s. Ambrosia's success can largely be contributed to the talent of former lead singer and primary songwriter David Pack. Unfortunately, he and the rest of the guys parted ways some time ago the band is now fronted by the supremely capable Ken Stacey. In this conversation, drummer Burleigh Drummond dispels the golden aura of Southern California rock in the 70s, details the confusion some people have had about their diverse sound, and expresses gratitude for his wife, Ambrosia keyboardist Mary Harris. They also have a wonderful side project called Tin Drum that's worth checking out. Enjoy!
This week it's frontman for THE quintessential "yacht rock" band Pablo Cruise. These days that type of 70s rock has been given that yacht rock label, but back in the day Pablo Cruise just recorded great breezy songs that reminded you of warm nights in the sun and sounded great on the radio. They racked up a bunch of hits between '77 and '81 like "Love Will Find a Way" and "Whatcha Gonna Do" before eventually calling it quits. Thanks to the never-ending thirst for their sunny sound, Pablo Cruise remain a popular live draw to this day. David also works closely with his wife, the excellent singer-songwriter Jaime Kyle. In this chat we learn about where the name of the band came from, what Dick Clark is like when the cameras are off and what former guests he knows well. Also, I need you to help me clarify whether or not Ben Stiller wore a Pablo Cruise shirt in the movie Greenberg. Enjoy!
Do we really need to list the accomplishments of John Oates? No way, he's been omnipresent in the best way for over 40 years. But, this last year he's really stepped out on his own. First off, he's releasing a new solo album, Arkansas, this Friday, Feb. 2nd! His recent move to Nashville has greatly influenced this latest offering which is a charming gumbo of rustic Americana and blues and bluegrass music. Also, last year he published his memoir, Change of Season, a wonderfully engaging read for all Hall and Oates fans. In this engaging chat we cover the album, the book, some Hall and Oates, and the stories behind some of his best H&O tunes. Enjoy!
Buffalo Tom were (and remain) one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the last 30 years. Starting out in Boston in the late 80s under the tutelage of J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Buffalo Tom really hit their stride in the early 90s with hallmark albums like 92's Let Me Come Over and 93's Big Red Letter Day featuring classic tracks like "Taillights Fade" and "Soda Jerk". Unfortunately, despite appearing on the TV show My So-Called Life, racking up a devout following and attracting a host of famous fans, they never quite crossed over. Frontman Bill Janovitz spends the first part of this conversation discussing why that is and what the arc of the band has been. His deep education on rock history contextualizes that arc in unique ways. But, then we start debating the current state of rock music criticism, the enduring mystique of Exile on Main St. (he wrote a book on the subject) and even the Red Sox. It's a little bit of everything! Oh, and they have a new album coming out in a few weeks - Quiet and Peace. Check it out!
The Dazz Band were one of the best and most innovative funk and r&b acts of the 70s and 80s. They started out in Cleveland as Kinsman Dazz ("danceable jazz") putting out two successful albums produced by EWF's Philip Bailey (who stepped in when Marvin Gaye had to back out). They shortened their name when they signed with Motown and kicked off a string of hits on the r&b charts over the next decade. The band only crossed over to the pop Top 40 once when "Let It Whip" rose to #5 in 1982. That track still cooks! Eventually, success slowed down, but the Dazz Band has always been in play and they still perform many shows a year. Through it all, founding member and musical director Bobby Harris has been at the helm, absorbing every up and down. Here's his story!
Danielle Dax was an artist in the truest sense of the word. Yeah, she had a successful music career during the 80s, but that was just one facet of her boundless creativity. Her career started with an avant-garde group called the Lemon Kittens when she didn't even know how to play an instrument. Experimentation and performance art remained her guiding force as her solo career took off and she garnered radio play on alternative stations with tracks like "Big Hollow Man", "Cat House", and "The Id Parade". Unfortunately, at the dawn of the 90s she largely disappeared from the spotlight and has never really come back. We learn in this conversation what happened (it's a hot current topic), as well as what motivated her creativity and how she experiences music. It's fascinating to hear from such a strong female artist.
Sadly, we learned last week that the listener that requested Danielle, Brian Jenson, took his own life on New Year's Eve, bringing a tragic tone to an otherwise uplifting conversation.
For a duo with a hit as big as "Let's Go All The Way" was in 1986, there should be more to the Sly Fox story than there is. Brought together in an almost "boy band" fashion, Michael Camacho and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper only managed one album that featured one giant hit (#7 in 1986) and that was all she wrote. To this day, their one album, also titled Let's Go All the Way, has never been released on cd. This week Michael tells us how the band came together, what that brief moment in the spotlight was like, and what he's been doing since, which includes his solo jazz album Just For You from 2006.
Chicago's Brad Elvis is both a power pop legend and a lifer. His career goes back 45 years and has passed through several excellent bands along the way. After coming up through the local ranks with piers like Cheap Trick, his first brush with greatness was drumming for the tragically short-lived Screams. After the band ended in 1980, he went on to form and play in the Elvis Brothers throughout the 80s, Big Hello in the 90s and has been focused on the Handcuffs with his wife, lead singer Chloe Orwell, for most of the 2000s. In addition, his "day job" has been drumming for the Romantics for the last 15 or so years. He's seen and been through a lot and has managed a reputation as one of the best drummers in power pop along the way.
There was a New Wave revolution happening in rock music in the late 70s and the poster boy for it was the bespectacled Elvis Costello and his band of Attractions, which included our guest this week bassist Bruce Thomas. While the band was leading a new charge, the various members were also sorting out a dynamic that saw Elvis rise as their clear leader, a move that never sat well with Bruce. Over the years, tensions mounted and Bruce eventually left the band. All of this, as well as his own musical and personal history, are included in Bruce's book Rough Notes which came out last year. Here we talk about what's at the heart of the dysfunction, our conflicted feelings about Elvis, and Bruce's new career as a prolific writer. Also, he's one of the world's experts on Bruce Lee of all people! Pick up the book and enjoy the ride!
Regular listeners know how much the Smithereens mean to me. Sadly, frontman Pat DiNizio passed away at 62 on Tuesday night after suffering through poor health for many years. To discuss what the band meant to us we bring on musician John Montagna and share stories, interactions, and impact. What was supposed to be a 30 min chat turned into a 75 min discussion! It's hard to stop when two guys talk about what means most to them. And please check out John's podcast Radio 418. It's very similar to ours - conversations about music, careers, and stories with other professionals.
The 80s were the decade of the movie montage. And one of the classics is from Revenge of the Nerds when the guys find a frat house and begin fixing it up to the tune of "One Foot in Front of the Other" by a band called Bone Symphony. Our guest this week, Scott Wilk, was the lead singer of Bone Symphony and before that he fronted his own New Wave rock group called Scott Wilk + the Walls, where his sound drew regular comparisons to Elvis Costello. Later on that decade he partnered up with a young Charlie Sexton and became his keyboardist during those formative years. Today he makes a living scoring movies and TV as well as other kinds of media and corporate production. If you find 80s movie soundtracks as fascinating as I do, you won't want to miss this chat!
Mega-producer Steve Thompson's career goes back 40 years and includes every genre of music from disco to heavy metal to alternative to hip-hop. Along the way he's collected 7 Grammy Awards for his work with artists such as Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Blues Traveler and Korn. The two notorious projects he gets asked about the most are GnR's Appetite for Destruction and Metallica's ...And Justice For All. But, I wanted to chat with Steve about the alternative and pop side to his career. We hear stories about artists including Tears For Fears, Talk Talk, David Bowie, and the Psychedelic Furs, as well as interesting tidbits on legends like the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin and Mick Jagger. He even plays us some new stuff he's working on. This one's packed to the gills with music he either produced, mixed, or remixed. Plus, he's quite a character. Enjoy!
This week we are going deep on one of the most iconic songs ever. "867-5309/Jenny" hit #4 on the US charts back in 1982 and has never left the public consciousness. It has to be the most famous phone number in history. First up this week we talk to the man who wrote that song, Alex Call. Alex began in the band Clover dating back to the height of the Haight/Ashbury days in San Francisco. Also notable about Clover is this is where a young Huey Lewis begins his career as well. By the early 80s, the band was over, Huey had moved on, and Alex was desperate for some success of his own. Luckily, he wrote this track, as well as hits for Pat Benatar, Southside Johnny and his old pal, Huey. He's still making music today. After Alex we hear from Tommy Tutone himself and how that song has affected his life. Tommy was never able to reach those heights again and has had a primary job in computers for around 25 years now. These days he plays the occasional nostalgia show and is brutally honest about the ups and downs of his life. These two are pretty fascinating!
Though Chris McLernon was the bassist for hard rockers Saigon Kick during much of the 90s, his often hilarious story really begins in the late 80s when his first band Cold Sweat threw their hat in the hair metal ring and whiffed. They had it all - the hair, the spandex, the pyro - but it didn't take. Luckily, he got a second shot when he was asked to join Saigon Kick during a tumultuous time in the band's career. Though they never completely broke big, they managed massive success in parts of Asia and continue to play large shows there to this day. Chris tells stories of befriending Eddie Van Halen, getting to know the Kiss guys while playing in a tribute band, and what it's like being a nobody in the US and a somebody on the other side of the world. He's an extremely entertaining, self-aware and intelligent guy, not to mention a laugh-out-loud storyteller. Enjoy!
Hired Gun is one of the best rock docs of the last couple years. It details the realities of life as a struggling musician whose career is dependent on being employed by big artists. Imagine you go from nothing to being someone like Billy Joel's drummer. You now fly first class, stay in fancy hotels, and play in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Then, Billy decides to go a different direction and you're not only out of a job, but unlikely to ever find a gig as good as the one you just had. It's not an easy way to live, supporting the artists that get all the perks. In this conversation with the film's director Fran Strine, we talk about how he stumbled on this topic, how he got so much great access, and elaborates on some of the film's highlights. AND, stay tuned to the end so you can learn how to win your own copy of Hired Gun on Blu-Ray. Enjoy!
The Call were one of the preeminent alternative bands of the 80s and early 90s. They never quite cracked the top 40, but had several hits on college radio like "Let The Day Begin", "Everywhere I Go" and "The Walls Came Down". Regular listeners know of my affection for the Lost Boys soundtrack, well they were the originators of "I Still Believe" which was covered excellently by former guest Tim Cappello (there's a great story about it in here). The band came to an end in the 90s and frontman Michael Been focused his attention on helping his son Robert's band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (one of my favorite bands of the last 20 years) get going. Unfortunately, after a BRMC gig on August 19, 2010 Michael died suddenly of a heartattack, bringing a tragic end to a great band. This week we talk to Call keyboardist Jim Goodwin about life in the band, the aftermath of Michael's death, and what he's been doing since. Enjoy!
To me, the Smithereens are the greatest American band of all time. And while each member deserves credit for being exceptional at what they do, a large part of the magic of the Smithereens is found in the sound and riffs of guitarist Jim Babjak. Here we talk about their flirtation with having hit records ("A Girl Like You" reached #38 in 1989 and "Too Much Passion" hit #37 is 1992), the financial struggles of being a respected niche band, how he survived their long dry spell, his solo material, and the challenges of normal life (Jim lost his wife Betty to cancer last year).
Bottom line - few people mean more to me than this band and their music. Enjoy!
Surely, when Lol Tolhurst was growing up in the English suburb of Horley with his mate Robert Smith and the two decided to start a band, they couldn't have known the cultural impact they would have on millions of people throughout the world. Unfortunately, just as the Cure was cementing its place as alternative rock legends, Lol was spiraling downward with drugs and drink, ultimately getting himself kicked out of the band around the time of the their 1989 masterpiece Disintegration. Lol detailed his rise, fall and recovery in his 2016 memoir "Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys" and agreed to chat with us about it!
Since Halloween is next week and we have a very special guest lined up, I thought I'd repost my chat with Gerard McMahon (G Tom Mac) from 2015 because 1) it seems fitting since he's the man behind "Cry Little Sister" from the Lost Boys soundtrack, 2) the Lost Boys turned 30 this year, 3) there is some very exciting news in the G Tom Mac world happening right now that we might be talking to him about again soon regarding the Lost Boys Musical he's current working on, and 4) it's one of my favorites.
The Trashcan Sinatras have been one of the most respected British pop bands of the last 30 years. Though they've only released six albums in that time, each one is an exercise in perfection and craft including last year's blissful Wild Pendulum. All the accolades in the world, however, don't make it easy being a cult band. Here, guitarist John Douglas and I discuss their current acoustic tour, the bands they came up with, the stories behind each album, and their writing process. If you're not already deeply familiar with them and the joy they provide, your life will change starting now!
Alannah Myles struck gold in 1989 when her gigantic hit "Black Velvet" reached #1 in the US. The song won her a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance and achieved radio spins of over 5 million. It should have been smooth sailing from here, yet it wasn't. While she's mum on some of the details to protect the living, it's clear from her story that she has not had an easy road in the music business. In the wake of shining a light on abusive men in power like Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, you can imagine the kinds of things she may have been subjected to. Basically, this interview has to be heard to be believed.
As is our tradition, in the wake of the shocking death of Tom Petty we bring back our resident Dr. Death - Steve Spears of the Stuck in the 80s podcast to make sense of it all.
In the 80s bassist Matthew Seligman was a part of some of the best alternative music coming out of England. Within the span of just a few months he managed to join the Soft Boys near the end of their run and Thompson Twins near the beginning of theirs. And shortly thereafter he forged longstanding partnerships with Robyn Hitchcock and especially Thomas Dolby, contributing to the excellent music they were producing during that decade. While this was happening, his expertise served additional artists ranging from Morrissey and Peter Murphy to the Waterboys and Transvision Vamp. He even performed with Bowie at Live Aid. As the 90s wore on, Matthew decided to turn his attention to the law and he is now a barrister in London. We discuss some of his biggest collaborations, some of the personalities involved, and his decision to leave music.
Anyone over the age of 40 probably grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood where we learned valuable life lesson's, visited the Land of Make Believe, and interacted with his cast of characters like Mr. McFeely, Lady Aberlin, Chef Brockett and, of course, Joe "Handyman" Negri. What you may not know is that Joe is a highly-respected jazz guitarist in the mold of Django Reinhardt and at 91 years old, continues to perform and collaborate with jazz luminaries like Michael Feinstein. We didn't have much time, but I wanted to get to know him better and learn about what life was like in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, his musical career, and his time in education.
Prior to being the drummer of the legendary Surf Punks, Dennis Dragon earned his bona fides co-producing a little song his brother Daryl was working on with his wife, Toni. Well, that tune became "Love Will Keep Us Together" and Daryl and Toni became the Captain and Tennille. The success from that song propelled him to a long career in production and audio-engineering, but along the way he befriended Drew Steel and the two started the Surf Punks almost as a lark. Their 1980 debut album My Beach became an underground benchmark for teenage boys everywhere. Sadly, we learned the morning this episode is being released, that Dennis passed away on Sept 25th, two months after this interview took place. You'll hear that he was as lively and nutty as ever with no signs of poor health. As of today, the cause of death has not been released. We are glad we did our small part in honoring him before he left us.
Nelson basically owned 1990 and '91. But, despite having four top 40 hits and selling five million copies of their debut album After The Rain, the Nelson twins, Matthew and Gunnar, couldn't get a follow up released for five years and by then tastes had changed and the moment had passed. Still, the brothers have carried on entertaining crowds playing their own music, doing Christmas concerts, and even performances showcasing their famous dad Rick's material. They've never gone away, show business is in their blood after all. Today, After the Rain will be re-released on vinyl, making those songs rife for rediscovery. Matthew discusses how their careers were affected by grunge, how the image overwhelmed their talent at times, and what the plans are for the near future. He's a total pro!
Everyone remembers Kiki Dee for her #1 duet with Elton John, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" from 1976. But, did you know she is approaching 55 years in the music business? After starting out as a teenager with singers like Dusty Springfield, she "rocketed" to stardom when she was signed to Elton's Rocket Records in the early 70s (after a stint at Motown) and eventually topped the charts. Though there have been ups and downs, she's stayed at it all these years. For the last several years she's been collaborating with musician Carmelo Luggeri on a string of soulful albums that incorporate more global textures. She's a sweet lady that doesn't do a lot of interviews, so we're especially lucky to have her!
After bursting out in the early 80s with one of the greatest debuts in modern rock history, and, thus, rock critics falling all over him as the next big thing, Marshall Crenshaw has settled into a career as a sort of highly respected cult artist. He may not be the household name his fans think he deserves to be, but he's forged a steady career playing by his own rules and gaining mounds of street cred in the process. Here we talk about the decision to work with producer Steve Lilywhite on his second album Field Day (which has just been remastered and reissued on vinyl), the tensions between him and Warner Bros., the movies he's worked on like La Bamba and Walk Hard, and some of his collaborators (Gin Blossoms, Was (Not Was), Smithereens). It is not a stretch to say that Crenshaw is one of the greatest songwriters of the modern era and a true national treasure.
The Sighs were an excellent power pop/rock band in the early 90s with a ton of promise. They released a stellar debut album, What Goes On, in 1992 that was produced by the great Ed Stasium and were starting to get some traction, but ultimately fell victim to almost every pitfall on the "shoulda been" checklist - label was sold, no marketing, poor distribution, internal label politics, etc. Frontman Robert LaRoche has continued to soldier on undaunted, despite it never being easy. Today, he's primarily a sideman for singer Patricia Vonne and does some solo stuff on the side, as well as other odd jobs when necessary. But, these are good days for him and Sighs fans as they just released their 3rd album last week, Wait On Another Day, which deserves to be heard. Robert gives great interview - self-aware, funny stories and talented.
Also, we talk to one of our listeners in Houston who presents an idea on how to provide some relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
Jon was honored to host this panel at the Rock n Pod Expo with four amazing songwriters. Former guests Walter Egan (ep 23) and Robert White Johnson (ep 27), joined future guests Gunnar Nelson and Anthony Corder of Tora Tora each providing a unique glimpse into their individual processes, the stories behind some of their biggest hits, and the influential and big-name collaborators they've worked with over the years. I wish the sound quality was better, but it's still a fascinating historical document of four talented artists.
The story on Oleta Adams is that she was discovered playing piano in a Kansas City hotel bar by the guys from Tears For Fears, who then brought her in to sing on their 1989 album The Seeds of Love, thus launching her stellar solo career. As you'll find from our conversation, it wasn't exactly that simple. Oleta had been toiling away for over a decade on the hotel entertainment circuit before Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith followed through on the promises many before them had made and broken. She did break big duetting on their hit "Woman in Chains" before nailing her own solo hit "Get Here" in 1991. Since then Oleta has had a steady solo career, but despite her success she's never ventured far from her roots. At the end of the day, success has really just given her the freedom to be herself. She also put out a new album this year called Third Set which harkens back to her roots. She still sounds amazing!
Now that the smoke has cleared and most people were fine with what I said, I'll go ahead and put this out even though most of you have heard it by this point. This is the original version, maybe slightly more unfiltered than what came out in the revised version. My only regret is that I forgot to mention a couple of our beautiful fans I got to meet there. Love you guys. I corrected it in the second version, but let's let this original recording be the one that remains.
Russ Ballard is one of the most successful songwriters of the rock era. Artists from Ace Frehley to America have scored with tunes written by the man. Russ has also shepherded a successful solo career which, oddly, never took off quite as strongly as the success others were having recording those same songs. We talk about why that might be as well as his days in Argent and earlier, what makes a good pop song, and we get insight into some of the people he's worked with after over 50 years in the business! He also has some genius career advice for Roger Daltrey. You'll be blown away by how many hits he's responsible for and how diverse his style is!
These days, Gary Corbett may be best known for his time in Cinderella and as the touring keyboard player with Kiss. What everyone may not know is that he actually comes from a pop background. He started out in the new wave band Tom Dickie and the Desires, but his first brush with success was when Cyndi Lauper recorded a little song he co-wrote called "She Bop". That tune went on to be a huge hit and his career has been building ever since. This led to working with artists like Debbie Gibson and the great Lou Gramm and even some of the Marleys! He's seen a lot and had a wide-ranging career and he was kind enough to let us talk to him live at the Rock n Pod Expo.
John Parr was one of the most promising artists of the 80s. He broke out in 1984 with the decent-sized hit "Naughty Naughty" (#23), but then he hit the jackpot when his theme for the movie St. Elmo's Fire, "Man In Motion", topped the charts in 1985. This should have launched him into the stratosphere with other heavyweights like Bryan Adams and Eddie Money, but it didn't. Once again, label politics stifled what should have been a big career. John did carry on for a few more years, recording several more movie themes along the way (Running Man, Three Men and a Baby, American Anthem, Quicksilver), but wasn't given the support he deserved. Ultimately, he's had the last laugh though, as "Man In Motion" has never gone away and he's very active on the 80s tour circuit. He's a wonderful man who's been though a lot and come out the other end victorious. Plus, you'll remember how much fun his music is. Enjoy!
We go in a slightly different direction with this week's guest, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Senior Pop Editor at Allmusic! "Tom" has been with the publication since the beginning making him one of the most frequently read music critics in the world. We break this conversation into three parts - 1) how does Allmusic work, 2) the current state of music criticism, and 3) our personal bests and worsts. We also play a handful of his favorite songs. It's a fascinating look at a writer whose name is to music criticism what Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert are to movies. You'll want to have a notebook handy for this one!
Eddie and the Tide were a great Bay Area rock band of the early 80s that mixed heartland rock with some new wave flair, much like contemporaries Huey Lewis and the News and Greg Kihn. Over the course of the decade, they released five great albums (the second was produced by Eddie Money), but while their sound got sleeker and sleeker, no doubt for commercial purposes, that mass crossover never quite happened and the band called it quit as the decade was ending. These days, they may be best known for the song "Power Play" which was featured on the Lost Boys soundtrack, which turned 30 last week! Today Steve is a normal working man in Nashville, but he occasionally puts out excellent solo albums. One of my favorite discs of the last five years is his 2014 album The Eddie Rice Project, which is a soulful examination of an up and down life in hindsight. Enjoy!
The Escape Club had one of the biggest and most inescapable hits of the 80s with their 1988 number one blockbuster "Wild Wild West". Contrary to popular belief, they are not one-hit-wonders, and cracked the code again in 1991 when their balled "I'll Be There" hit the top 10 as well. Frontman Trevor Steel discusses the effects a number one smash has had on his life and, surprisingly, it isn't the consistent windfall huge hits have been for other guests we've featured on the show. He's had to pivot over the years to other roles within the music industry and Escape Club's fortunes have fluctuated. The band still do their thing occasionally, releasing an excellent album called Celebrity in 2012. He's a really good guy and honest about the ups and downs.
Nuclear Valdez were an excellent and highly buzzed about alternative rock band out of Miami in the late 80s. A lot of the hype centered around what shouldn't be that unique of a thing, but is, the fact that they were all Hispanic. Their debut album, 1989's I Am I with it's debut single "Summer" made a splash and the band was invited to perform on one of the very first MTV Unplugged episodes. Unfortunately, the label never put their full muscle behind the band (even though similar artists like the Alarm and Jane's Addiction were seeing big success) and after a second album, 1991's Dream Another Dream, the guys called it quits. Lead singer Froilan Sosa reflects on this time in his life and how he processed it all. The good news is that they released a new album on Record Store Day called Present From the Past, which is a collection of songs they were working on back in the 90s. And, they are playing a reunion gig in Miami this Saturday (7/29)! Great band - deserved more.
Jon was invited on Suburban Underground this week, one of his favorite radio programs (Bedford 105 in New Hampshire). Hosts Drew and Steve challenged all of us to bring a song from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s that should have been a hit and then defend our choices. We need you to tell us who you think has the best taste!
Suburban Underground is a weekly show that plays excellent alternative rock that's under the radar or hasn't been heard in a while. It's also a podcast! Please subscribe for your weekly slab of great music that doesn't get heard as often.
XTC were one of the most beloved bands of the burgeoning alternative rock era. Armed with catchy and witty songs that leaned to the quirkier side of pop music, they produced a steady stream of excellent records from the late 70s until their demise in the 90s. Guitarist Dave Gregory shares with us some refreshingly honest stories about the challenges of being in the band such as not being able to tour and clashes with famous producers, but also the highs of recording such great music. Today, Dave's main gig is as a member of progressive rock band Big Big Train who released a new album, Grimspound, this year. Such a lovely guy and conversation!
Squeeze were one of the most beloved bands of the modern rock era and sitting at the center of the band was drummer Gilson Lavis. Always looking like a man out of time, looking smart and gentlemanly in the alternative UK underground, Gilson contributed to some of the best and most revered pop songs of the last 40 years like "Tempted", "Cool For Cats", and "Pulling Mussels From a Shell". He's been out of the band for 25 years now, but today he's employed by former bandmate Jools Holland in his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, so the music carries on. He's also begun a successful second life as a sketch artist and has a big show coming up at a gallery in NYC in September. If you're a Squeeze fanatic, you'll love this because we cover it all!