65 - The History and Legends of Jazz
Jazz was the soundtrack of America for decades – through prohibition, two World Wars, the Harlem renaissance, and more. From the soulful trumpet of Louis Armstrong to the haunting vocals of Billie Holiday, from the trailblazing talents of Dizzy Gillespie to the cool sounds of Miles Davis, these musicians shaped the landscape of jazz and inspired countless generations of musicians. In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, we're taking a look at the melodies, rhythms, and improvisational genius of jazz.
64 - When Hair Metal Saved Rock and Roll
Hair metal often gets a bad rap, dismissed as nothing more than cheesy anthems and over-the-top fashion. But hold on as tight as a pair of spandex pants because we’re going to give hair metal the respect it deserves. Believe it or not, hair metal had its roots in the rock and roll of the 1950s. Just like those pioneers, the music was all about relationships, good times, and, of course, a healthy dose of rebellion. Think about it: the lyrics were filled with tales of wild nights, broken hearts, and the pursuit of freedom. It was rock and roll escapism at its finest.
So join us as we pay homage to the bands that rocked the stadiums and the arenas. We're celebrating the anthems that still get our hearts pumping, and we'll prove that hair metal wasn't just a guilty pleasure – it was a damn good time that deserves respect. It's time to crank up the volume and embrace the power of the riff, the power of the party, and the power of rock and roll. Hair metal, we salute you!
63 - The Smooth Sounds of Doo Wop
Doo wop music. It’s the harmonized sound of street corner serenades and teenage romance. The irresistible sound that makes you wanna snap your fingers, sway your hips, and sing along with those timeless harmonies. This music broke down racial barriers years before the civil rights movement, as millions of kids across the country just cared about listening to great music.
Some of the most popular groups of the era were Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The Drifters, the Platters, Dion & The Belmonts, and more. There were also dozens of one hit wonders that you still hear today, like Earth Angel and Get A Job.
As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, doo wop began to give way to other styles of music like rock and roll and soul. But it’s legacy and the music lives on.
62 - Does Kid Rock Suck?
Kid Rock. Some love him, some hate him, but everyone has an opinion. He’s been around for nearly 25 years and has sold tens of millions of albums as his sound has evolved from hip hop to nu metal to country. But does he suck?
On one hand, he sings, he raps, he plays multiple instruments. He likes soul, country, rock and roll, and blues music. On the other hand, he’s become a caricature of himself. He's embraced a certain kind of redneck culture that turns some people off. He's been accused of cultural appropriation and insensitivity. And his music can be formulaic and repetitive. So where does that leave us? Is Kid Rock a good musician or not? Does he evolve his sound or is he a pandering musical used car salesman?
It's a question that's up for debate. And that's exactly what we're going to do on today's episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll.
61 - John Williams: The Greatest Music Composer of All Time
If you’ve ever watched a movie, you’ve heard music from John Williams. He’s one of the greatest classical music composers of the last 100 years and one of America’s most accomplished musicians. His music has won 5 Oscars, 25 Grammys, and four Golden Globes. The only person with more Academy Award nominations is Walt Disney himself.
The list of movies he’s written to the music to is practically a guide to American cinema: ET, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Home Alone, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, Star Wars. Should I continue? He also wrote the music for the Olympics, Sunday Night Football, and more.
60 - Why the Judgment Night Soundtrack Was So Groundbreaking
Released seven years after Aerosmith and Run DMC brought rap and rock together on Walk This Way, the soundtrack to the 1993 film Judgment Night was a groundbreaking moment in the crossover between the two music genres. Every song on the album was a collaboration between an artist from each genre and it featured some of the biggest names in music at the time.
Helmet, Faith No More, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam and Slayer worked with Ice-T, House of Pain, Cypress Hill, Onyx, and De La Soul. 30 years later, it’s a seminal moment in music history that showed us what the fusion of these two genres could do.
In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, we’re taking a look at the Judgment Night soundtrack. The story behind the concept. How the artists worked together. How one guy in the story is the inspiration for Happy Gilmore. Plus, Cyndi Lauper fans make a strong case for her induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Kate Bush fans are coming for us with their pitchforks and torches for saying we don’t like her music.
59 - The 2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees
It’s pretty easy to complain about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees every year – heck, we’ve done it ourselves more than once. But the nominees for the class of 2023 are out and it’s a pretty solid list. There’s a mix of artists from different eras and different genres. Some first timers and some artists that made us go “yeah, why AREN’T they in the hall of fame yet?” Still no Motorhead, Funk Brothers, or Motley Crue though.
In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, we’re talking about the nominees of the rock and roll hall of fame. What do we think of this year’s list? Who is getting in? Who deserves to get in? And how much do we dislike Kate Bush? Grab a cold one and settle in for this one.
58 - Honoring Chris Cornell
Chris Cornell was one of the best rock and roll singers of the last 40 years. He had an incredible four octave vocal range that showed could be incredibly powerful and delicate, sometimes in the same song. And the music he created was as diverse as his range. He came up in the music scene in the 1990s as the front man for Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog before taking over lead vocals for Audioslave. He also released a handful of solo albums that includes singer / songwriter material with an acoustic guitar, the theme from a James Bond movie, and some more electronic work with Timbaland. He also sadly struggled with depression and addiction until his suicide in 2017.
57 - The Music of 1993
We are heading back to 1993 to to look at songs and albums that turn 30 this year. It was a solid year for rock and roll, with Versus from Pearl Jam, In Utero from Nirvana, and Siamese Dream from Smashing Pumpkins. Debut albums from the Counting Crows, the Cranberries, Bjork, Tool, Collective Soul, Candlebox, Lenny Kravitz, Snoop Dogg, and the Wu-Tang Clan. We’ve got a lot of great music to talk about in this one – and some not so good tunes too (we're looking at you, Snow).
56 - Live Aid: When Music Fought Famine
Live Aid was one of the biggest rock and roll concerts ever thrown. On July 13, 1985 dozens of some of the biggest acts in music performed at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia to raise money to fight the devastating famine in Ethiopia. Organized in just 10 weeks, the show was attended by 72,000 people in London and 100,000 in Philly, while another 1.9 billion people in 150 countries watched the television broadcast. 95% of the televisions on earth at the time watched that concert.
The show raised $127 million dollars. More than 75 acts performed, including Queen, U2, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Tom Petty, the Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, Duran Duran, Judas Priest, Run DMC, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and Santana. The Stones backed up Bob Dylan. Ozzy Osbourne reunited with Black Sabbath for the first time in 5 years. And Led Zeppelin played for the first time since Bonzo’s death in a terrible performance with Phil Collins on drums.
55 - The Weird World of Les Claypool
Les Claypool is a musical mad scientist and one of the weirdest musicians to have commercial success in rock and roll.
He’s best known for his amazing bass playing and quirky sense of humor in leading the band Primus (and for doing the theme for South Park), but he’s also put together a handful of other really cool projects that made other types of music. Including Oysterhead, the funk jazz supergroup with Trey Anastasio from Phish and Stewart Copeland from The Police. The Duo de Twang country music project. And, most recently, the awesome partnership with Sean Lennon called The Claypool Lennon Delirium with Sean Lennon.