William Wittman is another producer/engineer/mixer whose name may not sound familiar, but who no doubt has worked on scores of songs you know and love. His first major work was on Cyndi Lauper's monumental She's So Unusual. Included on those sessions were the guys from The Hooters, which lead to WW doing their breakthrough Nervous Night. The same team went on to help craft Joan Osborne's smash Relish. From there, the hits just kept coming with albums by The Outfield, The Fixx and Scandal. He's also worked artists like the A's, Graham Parker Mick Jagger and Pat Benatar. In the 90s he played in his own band Too Much Joy, which also paved the way for him to continue as a professional musician. Today you can find him slapping the bass in Cyndi's band as well as serving as her musical director. And finally, a young William once passed up an opportunity to hobnob with rock's ultimate royalty because he was so dedicated to finishing a job, well...that and...he really had to pee. 😂
Mike Peters has a lot going on. His band The Alarm have a brand new album called SIGMA dropping on June 28th and lead single "Blood Red Viral Black" is an indication that the band is as fiery and powerful as ever. They are also kicking off a North American tour in July with Modern English and Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel. Plus he's still running his vital cancer organization the Love Hope Strength Foundation that finds bone marrow matches at Alarm concerts. And he was recently awarded an OBE by the Royal Family. Oh, and he's successfully fighting off cancer, as is his wife Jules. We discuss all of this as well as the prospect of a full Alarm reunion in this open and honest chat. Enjoy!
This week we welcome another music academic, Allmusic.com critic Mark Deming. Mark has been a contributor to the platform for many years and in this conversation we discuss how he became a rock writer, what music criticism even means today, and , of course, we debate a bunch of stuff like why some artists are lionized no matter what they do and why others never get the credit they deserve. As much as I love and rely on music critics for documenting a historical record, I take issue with what I perceive as a "groupthink" mentality among the tribe. Why do they all seem to like the same things? We get into all of it. Is there anything more fun than debating music with smart people? I think not!
Remember in the 90s when electronic music was poised to take over the world? Groups like Portishead, Chemical Brothers, and Olive were doing something so innovative it seemed techno and trip-hop would become the new norm. Well, it didn't really work out that way. Among some of these innovative artists was a duo from Liverpool called Mulu made up of producer Alan Edmunds and singer Laura Campbell. The two only released one album called Smiles Like a Shark in 1997 that featured excellent singles like "Desire," "Filmstar," and one of the greatest singles of the 90s, "Pussycat." Unfortunately, they never got a chance to release that second album. Today they lead pretty normal lives, but occasionally pursue their musical urges, thankfully. This conversation is fun because we start out trying to tell the Mulu story, but mostly end up talking about our favorite music and the many artists they met during their time in the game. We hope you discover some new songs to make you happy and check out the link below to go deeper.
Wang Chung are releasing a special new album today called Orchesography which re-imagines some of their biggest hits and deepest cuts in a classical setting. You may have already seen the video for "Dance Hall Days" which had a real viral moment when it was released about a month ago. Hearing these classic songs in this new context adds a freshness that is sure to delight listeners. Frontman Jack Hues (ep 163) returns to discuss the impetus of the idea, how the songs were recreated, and his recent collaboration with Syd Arthur on a 22 minute version of Beck's "Nobody's Fault But My Own" that will blow your mind and is available for purchase on iTunes. Check it out, it's worth your time!
You might consider South London's Kitchens of Distinction forebears of the shoegazer genre that defined alternative rock in the UK in the early 90s. Fronted by bassist Patrick Fitzgerald, the Kitchens perfected the art of layering swirling guitars into infinity creating some of the most gorgeous noise ever recorded. But, after four albums in 6 years without a major breakthrough, the band called it quits in the mid-90s. Since then Patrick has had numerous side projects including Fruit, Lost Girls, Oskar's Drum, and his solo work under the name Stephen Hero. Oh, and he also became a doctor. Patrick and I discuss the legacy of KOD, the challenges of being an out and proud gay man in those days, the nature of his work in medicine, the new album he's completing, and a disastrous tour they did with Suzanne Vega back in the day. He's just about the sweetest man you'll ever know. And here's a link to the last Oskar's Drum album, 2018's Degenerate Art, which is fantastic. Enjoy!
In 1986 David Bowie did his buddy Iggy Pop a solid offering to help produce a new album and bring him the commercial success he so richly deserved. Bowie threw together a crack team including guitarist Kevin Armstrong and recorded Blah Blah Blah. The album featured the hit “Real Wild Child” and brought Iggy some mass success. But was it art? Kevin returns (ep 187) to go deep on the recording process. We also chat about his new excellent solo album Run. Enjoy!
Whether you know the name or not, chances are you've rocked out to scores of songs produced by the legendary Ron Nevison. Can you believe he first got his feet wet engineering The Who's Quadrophenia? And then Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti? From there he applied his genius to albums by the likes of Bad Company, Thin Lizzy, UFO and the Babys. And that was just the 70s! In the 80s he produced the finest pop rock available, guiding smash hits by the likes of Heart, Jefferson Starship, Survivor, Europe, Eddie Money, Chicago, Ozzy and, of course, Kiss. The 90s featured quality work by Meat Loaf, Vince Neil, Bad English and Damn Yankees. We get into ALL of them! Ron's in the process of writing a book, so the stories come fast and loose. If you like rock and roll, you will love this conversation with a true icon.
If you looked up New Wave or Power Pop in the dictionary, one of the skinny-tied artists you'd see next to The Knack would be the great Greg Kihn. He's practically the poster boy for that unmistakable sound bubbling up in the late 70s when long-haired rockers were cutting their hair and their songs shorter and embracing the new wave. This transition scored him some huge hits like "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)", "Jeopardy" and "Reunited", but then he sort of disappeared. What happened was a temporary stop doing morning radio turned into a couple decade long new career. In 2017 he released his first album in many years, Rekihndled, and now he's back on the road playing the hits. It's been quite a ride!
After breaking out as a member of Rick Springfield's band in the early 80s, guitarist Tim Pierce went on to become one of the most sought after session guys in the business. He has literally played on over 1000 recordings in his long career. Some of the big collaborations that we talk about in here are Bon Jovi, John Waite, Crowded House, Michael Jackson, Kenny Loggins, Bruce Springsteen, Seal, Roger Waters, Meat Loaf, and Rod Stewart. But, what's more interesting is the online guitar instruction business he's built for himself as the music industry has dried up. Through his site www.timpierceguitar.com he has posted hundreds of videos educating guitarists on the secrets of the trade. Tim may have created the best second music career for himself of anyone we've ever had on the show! It's fascinating to learn all about it. Enjoy!
We're turning four this week! And to celebrate we present this very rare interview with one of our most requested guests, Sandi Saraya! Saraya were an excellent, but short-lived hard rock band that only released two albums - the self-titled in 1989 featuring the mild hit "Love Has Taken Its Toll" and the much heavier and darker follow up, When The Blackbird Sings in 1991 - before mysteriously disappearing. Fans have wondered for years where Sandi went and why. We answer those questions here which includes finding God, getting remarried, and raising five kids. Believe it or not, the band is currently working on new music for the first time in almost 30 years! Enjoy and Happy Birthday to us!
Oscar-winner Franke Previte basically won the lottery in 1987. He first rose to mild fame fronting the early 80s melodic rock band Franke and the Knockouts where he recorded three great albums and scored three top 40 hits you may remember like "Sweetheart" and "You're My Girl." While their "Foreginer by way of Jersey" sound was solid, it wasn't taking over the world. And then everything changed. Franke was asked to contribute a couple songs to a movie called Dirty Dancing (he worried it was a porn) a friend was involved with. He wrote and recorded "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and "Hungry Eyes" and then sat back and watched as the movie and his songs became a cultural phenomenon that has never gone away. Here we talk about how it all came to be, what it has freed him up to focus on, and the recent release of a killer Knockouts boxset called The Complete Collection that tells the band's entire story. It's a tale unlike any other!
The release of Dare by the newly reconstituted Human League in 1981 changed everything. Suddenly, synthesizers weren't just these cold machines producing frosty sounds from the back of the room. Phil Oakey and company showed how they could be used to create pop songs with hooks and choruses that sounded great on the radio, something no one else had done as well to that point. In this month's Deep Dive, Human Leaguer and former guest Ian Burden (ep 194) returns to talk about the creation and recording of that album, the invaluable work of producer Martin Rushent, and it's lasting legacy. Please enjoy!
Remember that 2002 movie starring Hugh Grant called About A Boy? You know, the one where he plays a bachelor able to live comfortably on royalties he receives from a single Christmas song? Just wait till you hear the story on "Christmas Wrapping"!
Meet Chris Butler, guitarist and primary songwriter for The Waitresses. Chris is just your run-of-the-mill artist who…wrote his biggest hits from a woman’s perspective, records music without the benefit of electricity and lives in a serial killer’s house. If that’s not enough, he also grew up in Ohio in that late 70’s music scene that gave us Chrissie Hynde, DEVO et al. And while attending college at Kent State, he took part in that infamous Vietnam War protest that resulted in the death of a close friend.
I hope you’ll find this emotional roller coaster episode with the witty Chris Butler as fascinating to listen to as I did to record.
The 90s were good to Royston Langdon. His band hit it big in 1996 with their #1 smash "In The Meantime" off their debut album Resident Alien. He also married actress Liv Tyler. But after two more Spacehog albums, the band came apart and was never the same. Over the years there have been a couple reunions, but today Royston is focusing on his solo career and released his first solo album Everything's Dandy under the moniker LEEDS (the album we be re-released under his own name soon). And, congratulations are in order as he was recently selected as the opening act for the Psychedelic Furs on their upcoming US tour! Here we talk about what rock stardom really means, the influence of Bowie on Spacehog's music, and how he almost replaced Scott Weiland in Velvet Revolver. It gets deep!
Noel and Jon had so much fun counting down their Top 10 soundtrack songs of the 80s, and so many leftovers, that they decided to do a part 2! This is us counting down another 10 songs - call them top 11-20, top honorable mentions, top obscure tracks, or whatever you want, as long as you listen, enjoy, and speak up!
Imagine you have Ronnie DeVoe's life. You're plucked in your early teens to round out New Edition and you never look back. Then, after several huge hits, you veer off with Ricky and Mike and invent New Jack Swing (and eclipse the success of New Edition) with Bell Biv DeVoe. Hits like "Poison" and "Do Me" were revolutionary. The core of New Edition - Ronnie, Ricky, Mike, Ralph Tresvant, Bobby Brown, and Johnny Gill - has never changed even if the guys float in and out depending on availability and the level of drama among them, but a new offshoot is about to make news again. RBRM is Ricky, Bobby, Ronnie and Mike and they're embarking on a two month tour at the end of April. The shows will incorporate classics from all iterations of the band, as well as Bobby's solo hits. In here Ronnie and I talk about all of it including the current state of New Edition as well as r&b in general, his real estate business, and what it's like having his wife Shamari featured on the Real Housewives of Atlanta. You won't want to miss this one!
We've all seen Back to the Future multiple times, but have you ever watched Marty McFly singing "Johnny B. Goode" at the dance and wondered whose voice was actually coming out of Michael J. Fox's mouth? Well, it was none other than Mark Campbell, front man for the excellent soul outfit Jack Mack & the Heart Attack! Here we go deep on all the minutia you could want regarding his involvement in that movie. 1985 was a big year for Mark as Jack Mack also appeared in the teen angst drama Tuff Turf so we hear all about that as well. Mark tells stories of his many years in Hollywood, how he's made a living, and we discuss the Mack's most recent album, Back to the Shack. This is a fun one!
We've got some big news to share! Plus, Jon and Jan recap the episodes of 2019 so far including MJ controversies, more rock star deaths, why 90s artists under-perform, and what's the deal with so many bassists lately. We also answer a few listener questions.
Links to our listener-recorded song.
The Fabulous Poodles were a band that merged humor with rock n' roll at a time when all bets were off. Part pub rock, part new wave, part power pop and part comedy act, the Fab Poos may not have earned major hits, but they had a blast trying during their short existence. They recorded three albums during the late 70s (their '77 debut was produced by the Who's John Entwistle), toured the states with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Ramones, and backed up Chuck Berry. But, when it ended frontman Tony De Meur adopted the stage name Ronnie Golden and turned his attention to comedy writing and performing. He and writing partner Barry Cryer forged a successful career for many years, he appeared in a famous episode of the Young Ones, and he continued to make music as the urge hit. Here, Tony shares all his best stories with us!
In 1969 alone, Creedence Clearwater Revival released three of the greatest rock albums in history. The third, and arguably the best, was Willy and the Poor Boys. Landmark hits like "Down on the Corner" and " Fortunate Son" have cemented its place on pretty much every list of the best albums ever, deservedly so. This month we bring back one of our favorite guests ever, CCR bassist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stu Cook (ep100) to discuss the making of the album, his favorite moments, and the dynamic in the band at the time with songwriter John Fogerty. And don't forget to catch Creedence Clearwater Revisited on tour this summer
You can certainly be forgiven if all you know about today’s guest is that he was the "Bourgeois" in Bourgeois Tagg and they had that great song “I Don’t Mind At All”. Surprisingly, Brent Bourgeois is fine with that too. In fact, he gets much more excited these days talking about his work behind the mixing board than those days spent in front of it.
His career has taken more turns than Lombard Street and in doing so, has intersected with an odd variety of fame. How odd? Well, allow me to name-drop: Julian Lennon, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael W Smith, Christine McVie, Johnny Carson and Todd Rundgren. We spend a good bit of time on the latter as Brent offers up his reverence while also reinforcing Todd’s rather indifferent studio reputation. It’s a laugh out loud moment for sure!
In fact, we laugh a lot on this episode and also get serious for just a few minutes with his faith. Brent’s soul searching journey is different than you might expect and I for one find his perspective fascinating.
And last but not least is the music. I hope you enjoy rediscovering those mid 80’s collaborations with Larry Tagg as well as his sadly overlooked solo work of the 90’s.
Michael Jackson is once again a very hot topic. In the recent documentary "Leaving Neverland" Wade Robson and James Safechuck make very serious claims that Michael sexually abused them for many years when they were young. If you've seen the movie, you no doubt have very strong feelings about it. Brad Sundberg worked alongside Michael for 18 years, including technical direction and being part of the engineering team on the Bad, Dangerous, HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor albums, and these accusations don't jive with the MJ he knew and worked closely with. In this candid conversation Brad lets us know from his perspective what MJ was like, both to work with and as a person. We discuss some of the claims and work through some of our own feelings. Brad gives seminars around the world educating people on what it was like being "in the studio with MJ." We hope you listen to this with an open mind. Let us know what you think.
Producer Michael Beinhorn has worked the boards for some of the biggest albums of the last 30 years. Just look at this list - the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Mother's Milk, Soul Asylum's Grave Dancer's Union, Soundgarden's Superunknown (which just turned 25 last week), Marilyn Manson's Mechanical Animals, and Hole's Celebrity Skin. And there are many others where that came from (the Violent Femmes, Ozzy Osbourne, Social Distortion, and the Verve Pipe are some of the others we talk about). But, did you know his first major work was writing and producing the game-changing "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock?! Can you believe the same guy did all of this? These days he's entered a new phase of his career which focuses on the pre and post production process and one of the first fruits of this is Weezer's brand new Black Album. Hear Michael tell stories about all these artists, like when he had to fire Anthony Kiedis and what the late-great Chris Cornell was like to work with, as well as many others. Enjoy!
Have you heard the news? Rock legends Styx are about to embark on a mini-tour with comedian Larry the Cable Guy as the opener (begins March 21st in Fargo, ND). What a unique pairing! It's being billed as the "Laugh. Rock. Seriously." tour and is expected to bring smiles to all in attendance at a time when we all need them. Lead singer Lawrence Gowan and I discuss how this happened as well as the band's most recent album, 2017's The Mission, which is the best Styx album released since their imperial 70s period. We also touch on Gowan's solo career and how he's been a big deal in Canada long before he joined Styx. We packed as much as we could in the short time we had!
This week we celebrate our 200th episode with the immortal Marco Pirroni! His partnership with Adam Ant created some of the most unique, catchy and enduring hits of the 80s. Smashes like "Stand and Deliver," "Prince Charming," "Goody Two Shoes," and "Strip" have never been equaled and sound as fresh today as the day they were recorded. These days Marco and Adam aren't on speaking terms, but Marco's kind-hearted, jovial nature makes him a fun conversationalist and he shares stories of their time together. We discuss the creation of some of the hits, his early days with Siouxie and the Banshees, his time working with Sinead O'Connor and everything in between including Bowie, Prince and many others. Sit back, relax and enjoy this sprawling ramble!
Canadian power pop legends The Kings have just released an excellent new single called "Circle of Friends/Man That I Am" that calls upon perhaps their greatest musical legacy, "This Beat Goes On/Switching to Glide." With help from old compadre, the legendary Bob Ezrin, the band polished off a nugget they've had in the vaults for many years and proven they haven't lost a step. Guitarist Mr. Zero discusses the potential for a new Kings album, the challenges of releasing new music in this day and age, and we try to figure the technical term for songs with / in them. These guys are the best and the track is amazing. It's well worth the 99 cents! No excuses!
Phil's journey through the music industry has been one for the ages. At just 21 years old, Phil was brought in to produce The Cure's Pornography album in 1982. That even lead to an 18 month stint as their touring bassist. What it also lead to was a partnership with the late-great producer Alex Sadkin, which had him producing some major albums of the era like Duran Duran's Seven and the Ragged Tiger and the Thompson Twins' Into the Gap (which got him a Grammy nom). We also discuss his work with favorites like Andrew Gold, Robbie Nevil, Prefab Sprout, Bryan Adams (who he also toured with), Johnny Hates Jazz (who he also joined) and even Ricky Gervais! But, what he might be best known for his co-writing the song "Torn" which went on to be one of the biggest singles of the 90s for Natalie Imbruglia. His love of music began when he fell in love with Todd Rundgren and he recently paid tribute to his hero with the release of his second solo album under the name Astral Drive, which is one of the best bursts of sunshine you'll ever hear and borrows heavily from Todd's DIY spirit. Astral Drive is one of the best albums of 2018, you don't want to miss it! Enjoy!
In 1986 this sophisticated pop group with the weird name scored a huge worldwide hit with "Digging Your Scene." Listening to just that song, you probably thought you knew what this band was all about - slick production, loungy horns, and a fey lead singer. But, when you listened to Animal Magic as a whole you heard blues and country guitar licks covered in bongos, saxophones a plenty, and beautiful ladies singing backup. Over the years, Animal Magic has become one of my favorite albums of all time and it deserves some appreciation. This is not a sophisti-pop record. This is a pop/rock record with horns. Front man Dr. Robert (episode 20) returns to Deep Dive the Blow Monkey's second album, express his feelings about it now, and give the stories behind the songs. Hopefully, you get turned on the same way I am every time I hear it!
In my opinion, no group in the history of pop music went on as drastic a journey as the band Talk Talk. Beginning in the early 80s as an excellent and capable synth-pop group in a similar mold as Human League and Duran Duran, Mark Hollis, Lee Harris and Paul Webb's style changed over the course of five albums into something that stymied critics resolved to calling "post-rock." In the beginning of the 90s, the band called it quits with lead singer Hollis retiring into complete anonymity. In 2002 bassist Paul Webb collaborated with Portishead singer Beth Gibbons for an album under the name Rustin Man called Out of Season and just a couple weeks ago, Rustin Man came through with the follow up (17 years later), Drift Code. In this rare conversation, Paul discusses the making of Drift Code, what the Rustin Man project is, and we get some insights on the music of Talk Talk. Enjoy!
It seemed fitting to kick off a new series on The Hustle with the man that kicked off the podcast back in May of 2015. Starbuck mastermind Bruce Blackman was our very first guest and still one of the best. His knack for telling stories infused with southern charm is unparalleled. It's what made Starbuck's music so good and what makes his new memoir The Road to Moonlight Feels Right so entertaining. Bruce has a Faulkner-esque knack for bringing color to his childhood in Mississippi and the many characters that decorate that time. You also get to understand his approach to show business and how he wasn't willing to sell his soul to become a typical rock star. It's a blast of a book and worth a read whether you're a fan of his music or not. But, c'mon, who doesn't love "Moonlight Feels Right"!
If there was ever a time to bring back the chill 90’s, it’s now. You saw it in the loose fitting clothes, and you definitely heard it in the music. It was just a laid back time. A calm before the storm, if you will. Duncan Sheik’s blockbuster hit personified that era. With well over a million radio plays, it followed you everywhere; inside your Toyota Camry, on VH1, aisle 7 at Costco and the changing room at Structure.
Perhaps today, as you sang along to it on Nineties On 9, you felt a tinge of sadness for this ultimate one-hit-wonder. Save your barely breathing breath! He’s doing just fine. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find Mr. Sheik where the neon lights are bright than on some legacy tour with Deep Blue Something and Dishwalla. Duncan’s composing for Spring Awakening earned him two Tony Awards and he’s still one of the hottest names on Broadway.
I catch Duncan on a reflective day. We pour over his entire career and I share a handful of my favorite songs that should have received more acclaim. Quite a few are of past relationships and Duncan is as open, honest, funny and self-deprecating as any guest I’ve ever had. And did I mention we’re buddies now? 😂
British rock band Embrace may have come out in the wake of Oasis and Blur during the second British Invasion of the late 90s, but they had a sound that separated them greatly from the pack. Rarely has a Brit-pop group concocted grandiose rockers and epic ballads with more heart, inspiration and beauty.
allmusic.com called them the "Orson Welles of rock" which is about right. While they've had a few #1 albums in the UK, their road to success in the States has been rocked with some of the worst luck imaginable.
Bassist Steve Firth and I discuss the ups and downs, the downside of meeting your heroes, and what motivates their amazing sound. We also celebrate the 21st anniversary of their debut album, The Good Will Out (there's a UK tour happening in March) and their latest release, 2017'sLove Is a Basic Need. I often say a band's music can make your life better - never has it been more true than it is with Embrace. They're probably my favorite band of the last 20 years.
Despite being a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter in his own right, Don Dixon's legacy as an important figure in American rock was cemented when he co-produced the first two albums by R.E.M. (Murmer and Reckoning) with Mitch Easter. Helping to bring their sound to the world changed everything. He would go on to produce other excellent artists like Guadalcanal Diary, the Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw and Matthew Sweet, while also forging his own solo path with excellent tunes like "Praying Mantis" and "A Million Angels Sigh." He's still at it today continuously releasing new albums, producing up and coming artists, and collaborating with his wife, the acclaimed singer/songwriter Marti Jones. In this chat we discuss his long and excellent solo career as well as the stories behind the greats he produced. Enjoy!
In part one of our new series Deep Dive, we've invited back former guest, Matthew Seligman to discuss the recording of Thomas Dolby's underappreciated masterpiece, 1984's The Flat Earth. At a time when listeners were expecting "She Blinded Me With Science Part 2", Dolby delivered a challenging piece of art that still doesn't get enough attention. Matthew played bass on the record and shares his stories and recollections of the era.
Ian Burden was a key member of the revolutionary new wave band the Human League during their imperial 80s period. Philip Oakey was desperate to find band members during the lead-up to the creation of 1981's game-changing album Dare! and called upon Burden to bring his musicianship to the group, which lead to classic singles like "The Sound of the Crowd," "Love Action," and "Mirror Man." After the unpleasant experience of recording 1986's Crash with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Ian decided to leave the group and a music career. Yet, out of nowhere, last year he put out his first solo album Hey Hey Ho Hum, which sounds exactly like the album a former Human League member should make. In this chat we discuss all of it - the albums, the hits, the ups, the downs and the motivations for a solo album at this stage. What an honor to hear from him!
Once again Jon teams up with Noel Fogelman from Reliving My Youth for another music-related topic close to his heart: Top 10 soundtrack songs from the 80s! We discuss our lists and defend our picks. But, we ask you, dear listener, who wins?
Good news - no metronome this time!
Look for a Part 2 in the near future.
After building a devoted fanbase in their native Michigan in the early 90s, the Verve Pipe struck gold in 1996 when a song they'd been playing for years called "The Freshman" totally changed the game, catapulting their third album (first on a major label) Villains into platinum territory. The world was their oyster. Unfortunately, the follow-up tanked on an epic level and they never quite regained their footing. Since then their songcraft has only improved over the years, including 2017's excellent Parachute. Along the way, frontman Brian Vander Ark did his very best to stay afloat with solo albums and revolutionizing the house concert. In this chat we discuss all of it including working with producers like Jerry Harrison, Adam Schlesinger, and Bill Szymczyk, what he purchased when he finally hit it big and the impact of constantly being confused for UK band The Verve. Brian's about as down to earth as it gets and the Verve Pipe are currently on tour so catch them while you can!
Jon and Jan recap the episodes from November and December and countdown their top 10 episodes of the year, as well as the listener's top 5. We also answer some listener questions AND we announce a new sidecast for 2019 that listeners should really love. 2018 turned out to be a great year for us thanks to all of you. Hopefully we can keep it going!
It’s time to set the record straight. Liberty DeVitto is not merely the former drummer for Billy Joel. He is a collaborator in the sounds that shaped popular music in the latter 20th century. Here we not only touch on his complicated relationship with the Piano Man; moreover, we showcase “Lib’s” immense talent on tunes that weren’t necessarily the hits.
Things to listen for:
* The song that contains percussion played on Billy’s bare chest.
*The timeless classic that cemented its place on "The Stranger" only after Linda Ronstadt & Phoebe Snow guaranteed it would help the band get girls.
*The “Glass Houses” simplistic ditty that’s covered by other artists more than any in Billy’s oeuvre.
*And finally, a never before told story about these Liberty imagined lyrics for the hit “My Life” that, once heard, can NEVER be unheard!
PS: Check out Liberty’s current gig with The Slim Kings. It’s young, fresh and far from a tired tribute band.
Tower of Power have been one of the landmark r&b outfits for 50 years now. From humble beginnings in the East Bay of Northern California, co-founders and sax players Emilio Castillo and Doc Kupka started something very special that carries on today, arguably better than ever. In fact, TOP put out one of their best albums ever in 2018 called Soul Side of Town. While there have been ups and downs and stops and starts along the way (not to mention too many band members to count!) the quality has never waned and the power has never diminished. In this conversation, Emilio and I discuss all of it including his getting sober, hanging out with Sly and the Family Stone back in the day, his many 80s collaborations, and his spiritual life. We also discuss his relationship with his controversial former band member, Victor Conte. Few have ever done what they do better than TOP. They're national treasures.
City Boy was a band that was almost impossible to classify. Imagine if ELO, Queen and Yes got together and decided to get weird and you're in the ballpark. They did manage to hit the pop charts once when the epic "5705" off their third album Book Early reached #27 in the states in 1978. Unfortunately, that was it in terms of the charts, but then again chart success was never the highest priority. This week we talk to bassist Chris Dunn about what fueled their quirky creativity, as well as what it was like having a young, up-and-coming producer named Mutt Lange produce their first five albums. Chris also brings a unique perspective to the show because once the music career ended, he started a successful music equipment rental business that supplied studios and producers with the exact keyboards, mics, compressors, what have you, they needed. Get to know a congenial guy with some great stories and rediscover City Boy!
Canadian rockers Honeymoon Suite might be the most undervalued melodic rock band of the 80s. Though always maintaining a profile up north, the band deserved more attention in the states and around the rest of the world. Hits like "New Girl Now," "What Does It Take" and "Feel It Again" from their 1986 masterpiece The Big Prize (produced by Bruce Fairbairn) are perfect examples of the very best that genre had to offer. Like most 80s rock bands, the 90s weren't kind to HMS and the spotlight moved on, but guitarist and primary songwriter Derry Grehan explains that today they are able to continue to tour around their native Canada. We also discuss the songs they've had in movies, working with luminaries like Bruce, Bob Rock, and Ted Templeman, and last year's excellent return to form Hands Up. Please rediscover this excellent band!
Jeffrey Osborne is one of the greatest balladeers in r&b history. Who can ever forget his amazing performance on 80s standards like "On the Wings of Love," "We're Going All the Way," and "You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song)." After leaving his first band L.T.D. he teamed with the legendary producer George Duke to become one of the most successful singer of the 80s with additional hits like "Stay With Me Tonight" and "The Borderlines." By the 90s he took a step back, but has never gone away and even released a new album this year called Worth It All. We discuss the stories behind many of his biggest hits, what it was like working with George, why he became a vegan, and what he's up to today. He's one of the best there's ever been!
Kevin Armstrong has been a go-to guitarist for some of the greatest artists of the last 35 years. After first tasting success playing with Thomas Dolby during the Golden Age of Wireless era, Kevin went on to partner with David Bowie for several years, including backing him at Live Aid and being the "unofficial" 5th member of Tin Machine. This also lead to a partnership with Iggy Pop, which continues to this day. We talk about several other artists he met along the way including Morrissey, Peter Murphy, Propaganda, Sinead O'Connor and Prefab Sprout. He was even asked to replace Johnny Marr in the Smiths at one point! He's seen and done a lot and continues to work with the best around. Also, he has a solo album coming out next month, so follow Kevin Armstrong Guitar X on facebook for details.
In this special bonus episode we chat with Zombies bassist Chris White about the resurgence the band has enjoyed over the last 15 years or so leading to them being nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a fourth time! This rediscovery is largely thanks to generations getting turned on to their excellent 1967 album Odessey and Oracle, which was a bomb at the time (though it did include the hit "Time of the Season"), but is now called out as being one of the greatest albums of all time. Chris talks about how this all has affected his life, the story behind several of his songs, why he made the decision to stop touring and remain behind the scenes, and what being inducted in the Rock Hall would mean to the band. Fans have until Friday, November 30th to vote, so time is running short!
Vote for the Zombies!
Brian James doesn't like to sit in one spot for too long. In the mid-70s he joined up with Rat Scabies and the gang to form the pioneering punk band The Damned. That band holds many firsts - first punk band signed to a major label, first punk band to release a single with "New Rose" in 1976, and the first to tour America. But, after an ill-fated second album, the band broke up and Brian went on to play guitar with his hero, Iggy Pop. After a couple years doing that, he joined forces with the great Stiv Bators to form the gothic pop/rock band Lords of the New Church which kept him busy through the 80s until Stiv's untimely death. Since then he's released solo albums, formed super groups like the Racketeers, and collaborated with everyone from Stewart Copeland to Duff McKagan. In here he tells stories about all of it, what punk means to him today, his gratitude for his family and even how Guns n Roses covering "New Rose" changed his fortunes. Enjoy!
The Buzzcocks remain one of the greatest punk bands in history. Their mixture of punk's aggression with pop's hooks set them apart from their contemporaries with standards like "What Do I Get," "Autonomy," and "Ever Fallen In Love." Co-founder Steve Diggle lays out the history of the band, the effects of punk on his young psyche, the story behind the big hits, how David Bowie influenced male sexuality, and what solo projects he has coming up. Steve is still punk through and through and the band remains as vital as ever. Enjoy!
Translator were one of those great polyglot bands of the early 80s - a little new wave, a little power pop and a lot of genres like "jangle pop" and "college rock" that hadn't even been invented yet. They released four album in the 80s and are probably best known for one of the best singles of the decade, 1982's "Everywhere That I'm Not." Eventually the band went on hiatus and Steve and his impressive songwriting skills lay dormant for a many years until 1999 when he kicked his solo career into gear. That, and the occasional Translator reunion, has been going strong ever since. Earlier this year he released his most ambitious album yet, the 3-disc (!) Tall Tales And Alibis, which shows a much darker, moodier side of this pop master. In here we talk about him starting out in music at 11 years old, the Bay Area scene Translator flourished in, what he did during those down years, and what motivated this new album. If you aren't already familiar with Steve and Translator's work, hopefully you'll hear some stuff you like!
Recap v.5: September and October and Top 3 Songs that Should’ve Been #1s with Special Guest Sonny Pooni
Jon and Jan are happy to be joined by the great Sonny "Hollywood" Pooni of the Growin' Up Rock Podcast Rock City podcasts to recap the last couple months of episodes. We also discuss the Rock n Pod Expo, how he got into podcasting, and the possible future of The Hustle. Sonny has suggested a deliciously fun topic to discuss - Top 3 songs that we wish had hit #1 between the years 1983-1989. Songs get played, names get dropped, and tastes are debated. Enjoy!