Klinger: I’ll be honest with you, Mendelsohn. I’ve never given much thought to Thin Lizzy. As a sentient human being with a beating heart, I enjoy the song “The Boys Are Back in Town”, and I know I have a copy of Jailbreak on vinyl around here somewhere. I’ve been in a few party situations where a few guys were gathered around the stereo waxing rhapsodic about Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson’s twin-guitar attack. And I remember when Phil Lynott died (30—good God, really?—years ago), and thinking that was a damn shame. Still, they’ve never been a group I’ve really sat down and paid close attention to. Which is also a damn shame, because Jailbreak is a very good album. Fusing Dylanesque and Springsteenian lyrics with harder rock guitars, Jailbreak seems like one of those albums that it’s difficult to argue with. Theoretically, it should appeal to rock nerds of all stripes.
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This year Tom Petty will celebrate a impressively big milestone in his career: the 40th anniversary of his band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. In 1976, the Gainesville, Florida-based band released its self-titled debut, a stunning collection of raw rock and roll songs. Petty and his bandmates soon found much success with each following show and album and for good reason: listeners could relate to Petty’s often character and story-driven lyrics about everyday life in America and standing your ground and fighting for what’s important. He also has a knack for writing catchy rock and roll songs like “American Girl.” During its 40 years, the band released an impressive 13 studio albums, including 2014’s Hypnotic Eye. Petty also released three solo albums, including the perennial favorite Full Moon Fever. He also was part of the star-studded Traveling Wilburys and reunited his pre-Heartbreakers band Mudcrutch.
With news that he’s planning to release a previously unreleased collection of songs recorded during the sessions for his 1994 solo album Wildflowers, it seemed as good time as any to look back. Throughout his prolific career Petty has challenged himself to keep things interesting and reinvent himself, while also staying true to himself and not giving in to what a label wants him to do. Narrowing a 40-plus year career to 20 songs can be daunting task (especially if you consider the album deep cuts and B-sides from his 1995 boxset Playback),but here are some of the stand-outs from Petty’s four decade-long career, limited to one song per album.
Last Saturday saw the release of a new Beyoncé song and its accompanying video, “Formation”. It was met with both startling confusion but also, above all, excitement and the kind of overall praise and consensus you rarely encounter around the internet corners these days. The possibility of the strategic release behind “Formation’s” existence is a rarity, mainly because it represented startlement in unison.
Mendelsohn: The last couple of times we’ve had to do an Elvis Costello record, I have been nothing but receptive. Normally, I find Costello’s music to be fun and refreshing. This week you’ve handed me Costello’s Imperial Bedroom, and to be honest, I’m not entirely impressed. It’s a good record, mostly well-thought out, excellent production—everything is spot on, but it’s missing the frenetic energy that punctuated Costello’s early releases (There are also a couple other differences I’m sure we will get to in a little bit). But while I was wandering around this album trying to figure out why it wasn’t clicking, I got bored and started looking up old reviews. I don’t normally check the old reviews, simply because most music critics are wankers, and nobody cares what they have to say. But with nothing else going on I decided to do it anyway. For the most part, Imperial Bedroom received glowing reviews. Until I got to Robert Christgau, who called the album pretentious (and that man knows the meaning of the word, believe you me). I could see that, Christgau. I don’t find it exactly pretentious, but it seems like Costello’s need for studio experimentation is going a little against his own grain. Sort of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Caleb Caudle’s upcoming album, Carolina Ghost, is his first that’s been fully created since he got sober. The Country Fried Rock alum was previously featured on this program following Paint Another Layer on My Heart. He shares tips on releasing a record successfully, choosing songs to record, and the benefits of recording in a legendary studio close to home. After extensive touring both solo and with a band, Caudle feels like he’s starting to get it right.