Season 4

84 - The Huge Sounds of Arena Rock

Rock and roll got really big in the 1970s. We don’t mean in terms of popularity, although it had that going for it too. We mean the sounds got big. The audiences got big. The performances got big. Arena rock was loose definition for commercial, radio-friendly music designed to be played in big stadiums to tens of thousands of people with singalong choruses and huge stage productions. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calls this era the golden age of hard rock in terms of its commercial airplay, but it also has its critics. People also call it dad rock, old wave, and corporate rock because it was music for mostly middle class white dudes powered by big corporate record labels. 

In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, we’re going to look at both sides of the argument, talk about bands like Journey, Boston, Foreigner, Kansas, and more. 

83 - Elton John & Billy Joel

There are few rock and rollers in the last 40 years more synonymous with the piano than Elton John and Billy Joel. These iconic singer songwriters have sold over 450 million albums, had 90 top 40 hits between the two of them, and played tons of shows together during their Face to Face tours from 1994 to 2010. 

While they are both known for their piano playing, each of them have their own signature styles. Billy Joel is known for writing biographical songs and incorporating pop and doo wop in his music. Elton John is a legendary showman who is just as known for his flashy outfits as his music. 

In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, it’s the Piano Man versus the Rocket Man. Let’s hit it.

82 - The Moscow Music Peace Festival

The Moscow Music Peace Festival was a two-day rock concert held in August 1989. 

Held during Mikhail Gorbachev’s period of Glastnost, Russia allowed a handful of western rock and roll acts to perform for the first time in Moscow, and over 100,000 people living in Cold War Soviet Union packed into Central Lenin Station to witness the forbidden fruit of late 80s rock and roll in all of its excess. 

Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, and the Scorpions shared the stage with some Russian rock and roll acts to promote peace and raise awareness about drug and alcohol addiction….Because Ozzy and Motley Crue are just the people you want promoting the virtues of sobriety. 

But the Moscow Music Peace Festival was also an important cultural moment near the end of the Cold War. By the end of the show, stoic Soviet soldiers were throwing their hats in the air and rocking out to the music. The event also inspired the Scorpions to write their hit song Wind of Change, which became an anthem for the end of the Cold War as the Berlin Wall came down just a few months later. 

81 - The Rock n' Wrestling Connection

Get ready to step into the ring as we explore the electrifying tag team of professional wrestling and rock and roll in this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll. 

We’re going to take a look at the iconic rock and wrestling era of the late 80s, when the WWF superstars climbed out of the ring and picked up the mic to record TWO albums of them singing: 1985’s The Wrestling Album and 1987s Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II. And we’re going to talk about how Cyndi Lauper helped bring wrestling into the mainstream. 

Then we’re going to check out some iconic entrance music from wrestling history, and listen to some other albums that wrestlers have put out over the years. 

We’ve also got some weird stuff. Junk Yard Dog singing on American Bandstand. The Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart’s top 10 hit in the 60s with a song you probably know, and Mean Gene Okerlund’s rockabilly album of the 50s. 

And what better time to do this!? Wrestlemania 40 is happening in Philadelphia and our home base at McCusker’s Tavern is hosting a very special event with our friend and former professional wresting star, The Blue Meanie, who calls McCusker’s his favorite bar on the planet. 

So whatcha gonna do, brother, when the Prisoners of Rock and Roll run wild on you!? 

80 - How Chess Records Shaped the Blues and Rock Roll

Chess Records was an independent record label created on the South Side of Chicago in 1950 by two Polish immigrants named Leonard and Phil Chess. As one of the most important blues labels of all time, Chess Records captured the electric sound of the American South and had a huge influence on the early days of rock and roll. 

Chess Records helped introduce America to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, and Etta James. And when these albums made their way across the Atlantic, they inspired the British blues movement that gave us Clapton, Zeppelin, and of course, the Rolling Stones. 

In this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, we’re taking a look at the history of Chess Records: how it got started, their impressive roster of important musicians, and the influence that these songs had on rock and roll. We’re also look at the shadier side of the label, where artists didn’t get paid the royalties they deserved and DJs were given writing credits in exchange for playing records. 

79 - Lights, Camera, Music! Awesome Soundtracks

Lights, camera…rock and roll! Music plays a huge role in film, and in this episode of Prisoners of Rock and Roll, we’re taking another look at movie soundtracks. Soundtracks have given us some incredibly iconic songs over the last 80 years. 

Purple Rain, The Bodyguard, Titanic, Saturday Night Fever, Purple Rain, 8 Mile, Ghostbusters, Footloose, Robin Hood, Judgment Night, Guardians of the Galaxy, Pulp Fiction, Singles, Grosse Point Blank, the Lion King. I could keep going but we have a show to do. 

Grab some popcorn and a soda, recline your seat, and silence your damn cell phone because we’re about to press play on our favorite movie soundtracks. It’s showtime!

78 - The Music of 1994

Get ready to climb into the musical memory machine and take a trip back to 1994 as we revisit the music that came out 30 years ago. 

It was a year that defined our generation when Kurt Cobain took his own life. We got important albums like Purple from Stone Temple Pilots, Superunknown by Soundgarden, Sixteen Stone from Bush, Jar of Flies from Alice in Chains, Throwing Copper from Live, and Vitology from Pearl Jam. REM tried to plug in with Monster while Nirvana went unplugged on MTV. Mariah Carey transformed into a Christmas character, while Green Day and Offspring pushed punk onto the radio. Hootie & Blowfish, the Dave Matthews Band, the Cranberries, and Blues Traveler all entered the scene and helped define the mid 90s alternative sound. Hip hop had a fresh year with albums from Nas, the Beastie Boys, Bone Thugs & Harmony, and a newcomer called Notorious B.I.G. 

77 - Jim Morrison: Brilliant or Buffoon?

The Doors were one of the most influential and iconic bands of the 1960s, and at the front of it all was their charismatic, volatile, and enigmatic lead singer Jim Morrison. There’s no doubt that he was the embodiment of the whole sex, drugs, and rock and roll thing. The good looking frontman who helped forge his legacy by dying young. 

But was Jim Morrison a brilliant visionary or a rock and roll buffoon? 

On one hand, he saw himself as the Lizard King. A poet and mystic who was influenced by his background in literature and film. 

On the other hand, Jim was also an erratic, self-indulgent showman. A hardcore alcoholic who clashed with his parents, his bandmates, and most famously, the police. 

76 - Hot Rod Radio! Songs About Cars

Rock and roll and cars are a classic combination. In fact, the very first rock and roll song, Rocket 88, was about a car. In this episode, we're reving our engines and hitting the open road to explore music about cars. It's an episode fueled by the spirit of adventure, the love of the open road, and the unmistakable sound of rock and roll. Tune in and let's take a musical journey that'll make you want to hit the gas and never look back! Let’s get our kicks on Route 66.