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U2 Considered and Opinions on Neil Young & Black Mountain

Jim and Greg trace U2's path from Dublin kids to stadium giants to Broadway darlings.

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Greg Kot attended the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit this week, so he begins the news by reporting back some interesting tidbits. First he heard Intellectual Property“Czar”Victoria Espinel's presentation in which she outlined her 33-point strategy for dealing with internet piracy. She wants the private sector to do more to police illegal activity. But when questioned by Greg, she didn‘t seem concerned about the fact that 95% of Americans are engaged in illegal internet activity. Greg wonders if we’re "back to suing consumers."

Greg also hosted the keynote address featuring T. Bone Burnett. The iconoclastic producer, who is known for his work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and Robert Plant's Raising Sand album, again stood apart from the crowd when he announced that he advises young musicians to stay away from the internet. While this may sound like a luddite talking, Greg explains that Burnett is wisely suggesting that musicians worry more about their art than their distribution. Once that's figured out, everything else comes into place.

Next up are two chart curiosities. First, for over 50 years The Beatles have held the Billboard singles chart record for most appearances by a non-solo act. Now, they are dethroned by…Glee. The Fox cast recently paid homage to another chart-topper, Britney Spears, and those 5 covers, including "Toxic" sold over 400,000 downloads.

In the U.K. another hot young star is climbing the charts: Winston Churchill. The wartime Prime Minister ousted The Killers' Brandon Flowers from the top five, and he's now neck and neck with Phil Collins and KT Tunstall. Two of Churchill's most famous speeches appear on the RAF's Central Band's new album Reach for the Skies, marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.


U2's Legacy

U2 recently debuted a song from the forthcoming Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical. Reeve Carney, the actor playing Peter Parker, performed "Boy Falls from the Sky" on Good Morning America. And the Irish rockers played their own version in concert this week. Jim and Greg couldn't help wonder how a bunch of Dublin art-punks became stadium giants and now Broadway darlings.

Jim and Greg discuss U2's unique place in music history. With 12 albums, 22 Grammys and over 150 million records sold, very few rock bands from the '70s and '80s are at their level. And they are still selling out stadiums around the world. But they didn‘t begin on such a large scale. Jim and Greg trace U2’s journey to this blockbuster point and discuss the band's different artistic phases and career highs and lows. They agree that Achtung Baby is U2's masterpiece, and can't stomach some of the righteousness and bombast of records like The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. But each has a unique favorite. Jim chooses to highlight "An Cat Dubh" from the 1980 album Boy, and Greg plays "Your Blue Room" from the 1995 Brian Eno-produced album Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1.

reviewLe NoiseLe Noise available on iTunes

Neil Young Le Noise

Another musician with impressive career longevity is Neil Young. At 64, he's still trying to reinvent his sound, and with Le Noise he comes out with a "folk-metal" sound. This is a true solo effort, though he did get help from super-producer Daniel Lanois. It's Young's voice and guitar + Lanois‘ effects, and Greg loves the result. While the lyrics are simple, they are really powerful and emotional. It’s one of his best, according to Greg, and deserves a Buy It rating. Jim admits that much of the lyrical content isn‘t new, but it’s done beautifully. And the sound is beautiful. He commends Young's courage and seconds that Buy It.

reviewWilderness Heart (Bonus Track Version)

Black Mountain Wilderness Heart

Vancouver quintet Black Mountain also has a new album out called Wilderness Heart. Don't let the name make you think this is another folky, beard rock band. Black Mountain is straight up classic stoner rock ala Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and they make no bones about it. Jim describes it as heavy, psychedelic, sultry, trippy-how could he not like it? Greg is happy to hear Black Mountain bringing their sound and influences forward. The songwriting is great, not to mention the mellotron. It's a double Buy It.


Featured Songs

  1. The Sex Pistols, God Save the Queen, Never Mind the Bollocks, Warner Bros., 1977
  2. Glee cast, Toxic, Toxic (Glee Cast Version), Columbia, 2010
  3. Central Band Of RAF, Never in the Field of Human Conflict, Reach For The Skies, Decca, 2010
  4. U2, Boy Falls From The Sky, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark original score, unreleased, 2010
  5. U2, Out of Control, U2 Three, CBS, 1979
  6. U2, I Will Follow, Boy, Island, 1980
  7. Public Image Ltd, No Birds, Metal Box, EMI/Virgin, 1979
  8. U2, An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart, Boy, Island, 1980
  9. U2, New Year's Day, War, Island, 1983
  10. U2, Sunday Bloody Sunday, War, Island, 1983
  11. U2, Pride (In the Name of Love), The Unforgettable Fire, Island, 1984
  12. U2, Elvis Presley in America, The Unforgettable Fire, Island, 1984
  13. U2, Where the Streets Have No Name, The Joshua Tree, Island, 1987
  14. U2, Helter Skelter (live), Rattle and Hum, Island, 1988
  15. U2, Zoo Station, Achtung Baby, Island, 1991
  16. U2, Discotheque, Pop, Island, 1997
  17. U2, If You Wear that Velvet Dress, Pop, Island, 1997
  18. U2, Your Blue Room, Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1, Island, 1995
  19. U2, Even Better Than the Real Thing, Achtung Baby, Island, 1991
  20. Neil Young, Walk With Me, Le Noise, Reprise, 2010
  21. Neil Young, Hitchhiker, Le Noise, Reprise, 2010
  22. Neil Young, Peaceful Valley Boulevard, Le Noise, Reprise, 2010
  23. Black Mountain, Let Spirits Ride, Wilderness Heart, Jagjaguwar, 2010
  24. Black Mountain, Buried By The Blues, Wilderness Heart, Jagjaguwar, 2010
  25. Black Mountain, Radiant Hearts, Wilderness Heart, Jagjaguwar, 2010
  26. Nosaj Thing, Quest, Drift, Alpha Pup, 2009
  27. Aretha Franklin, Call Me, This Girl's in Love with You, Atlantic, 1970
  28. Phil Collins, Thru These Walls, Hello, I Must Be Going!, WEA, 1982
  29. Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Reprise, 1969

Footnotes Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit Glee Breaks Beatles' Billboard Record Winston Churchill Chart Record U2 Performs“Boy Falls From Sky”Live U2 Neil Young Black Mountain