Bob Dylan has some very bad album covers. But also some very very good ones. Here are the seven best.Read More
Since 1989, Rolling Stone magazine has been wowed over every new Rolling Stones album. Then they change their minds. Here’s how to trudge onto this indecisive world of critical thought.Read More
I took a tour of Winnipeg with local musicologist/speaker/writer John Einarson. He knows a LOT. I learned Neil Young used to love the chocolate cake donuts at Salisbury House, not far from his childhood home. I saw former homes of Guess Who members, and heard that Barbra Streisand got fired here early in her career and vowed never to return. John’s a fun guy, an author 14 (and counting) book, who delivers irresistible tours with an almost comic sense of detail and facts.Read More
Top 26 Neil Young Songs. The man from Winnipeg is the rock’n’roll equivalent of Ernest Hemingway’s “one true sentence” decree. His best songs are built off a couple stray chords and simple sentences delivered in full earnestness. His career sprawls. So I boiled it down to my favorite two dozen, plus two. Look out, mama!Read More
We were just wondering if you’d seen our pamphlet yet. So we made this music video for you.
The wildly popular and frequently maddening American TV show Nashville — first airing on ABC then demoted to CMT — has finished its run after 124 shows. Which means one thing: the time for Hulu-and-chill binge sessions has just begun!
Why watch? To resurrect this crew of misfit country singers at various stages of their careers via the power of online streaming. See them barge into each others’ kitchens unannounced. And get into sudden fist fights, occasionally suffer random violence (or death) – or take long, meditative strolls at the Tennessee capital’s most Instagram-worthy sites. Then cap it all by monitoring the steady decline in music quality, punctuated by the single-most clumsy series finale in TV history.
We’re pretty sure you’ll end up getting swept away into The Nashvillegeist. (Note that fans, even when angry, are called “Nashies.”)
But to binge this show right, you’ll need help. So we’ve assembled this Nashville Watching Guide Tipsheet, including handy nicknames for key characters and drinking tips for team-play.
First we need to address the cow’s milk.
SO. Much. milk.
No TV show that we can think of has had a more prominent or consistent dependence on generic cow’s milk than Nashville. Milk is always near. Running through all six seasons, characters reach for milk, drink it whole, add it to coffee, clutch it by the carton, use it for mid-day cereal snacks. Yes, the dairy lobby is strong with this one.
#Hatewatching game tips: DRINK whenever you see a milk carton, AND/OR give yourself a point if you spot milk first. There are many chances. Always watch for it…
Sometimes the milk is front-and-center.
Sometimes it basks in golden light.
Sometimes it creeps up on you.
Sometimes it tries to hide behind cereal.
Sometimes OJ tries to distract you from the milk.
Sometimes it gets its own sporty milk-cam.
MEET THE key CHARACTERS
The actors try hard. Even when they’re asked to wear absurd hats. But the names for most of the characters were clearly wrong. We’ve corrected that.
“MUMBLES McGEE” (Scarlett)
We’ve long wondered if Clare Bowen, the charming Australian actress who plays Scarlett O’Connor, puts 12-16 marbles in her mouth before every shot – whether at a show or helping troubled youths with horses. Turns out, it’s just her thing. She mumbles. You be you, Scarlett/Clare.
Tendencies: Moping. Slurring syllables. Whining. Drinking cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Never calls or texts, just shows up at places.
Weird lapse: She bangs a British sleezeball in a hotel room for about 11 hours, breaking Emo’s heart and getting pregnant. Then thinks about marrying him.
#Hatewatching game tips: Drink if she completes a scene without lecturing someone.
It might not be kosher for Nashville hatewatchers to play favorites, but ours is definitely Emo, the correct name for Sam Palladio’s Gunnar Scott. The British actor plays the off-and-on again love partner for Mumbles, and her bandmate for much of the series. When they’re together, he mopes. When they’re apart, he mopes.
The funniest moment of the series comes after roomie “Gay Will Hunting” chides his songs as ‘emo,’ and Emo (with new frost-trips hairstyle) runs off, “I’m going to make a sandwich. Being this EMO makes me hungry.”
For the record, we’ve been calling him Emo long before Gay Will did.
Tendencies: Moping. Drinking or pouring cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Says “you know” to start half of his lines. Folds arms.
Weird lapse: Every few episodes, Emo flashes a “Boner-Grin” of out-of-place confidence or joy. Spotting The Emo Boner-Grin remains one of the show’s greatest rewards.
#Hatewatching game tips: Boner-Grin equals two shots. Folded-Arms equals one.
“DUD ADAMS” (Avery)
No offense, but actor Jonathan Jackson’s face appears magically perma-stuck in the infancy of a pre-beard. Odd glitches of hair appear in spots on his face, or ‘patches,’ usually before the character gives a shrug of exasperation or goes searching for Cultilocks in their oddly 1990s bachelor-pad home. We called him Patch Adams for several episodes before realizing the inescapable conclusion that the character Patch is simply a Dud.
Tendencies: Searching house for Cultilocks. Talking under his breath. Slight nods of disapproval. Drinking cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: He sighs before speaking. Staying with Cultilocks. (He clearly is meant to be with Mumbles.) Wearing black v-neck shirts.
Weird lapse: None. Like we said, Dud is a Dud.
#Hatewatching game tips: When he’s calling out for Cultilocks (usually at home), drink up or give yourself two points.
The diva of the show, Juliette Barnes-Barkley (played by Hayden Panettiere) is a rising star who is willing to steal, co-opt, back-stab to further her career. She nearly dies in a plane crash, then joins a cult, builds some homes, makes an album with an African American church choir that actually sounded good but flopped for no reason, and learns she was prostituted as a child by her mother. Then goes to Bolivia. Because that’s what happens on Nashville.
Tendencies: Back-stabbing. Stomping around. Pouring cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Every moment with Dud.
Weird lapse: Joining a cult.
#Hatewatching game tips: Drink or give yourself a point every time she seethes.
“GAY WILL HUNTING” (Will)
Will Lexington, played by actual musician Chris Carmack, wears cowboy hats sometimes. We love that Nashville has a major character that came out as gay on a country music TV show — and occasionally shows man-on-man sex scenes too. Also, we really love how Will mocks “Emo” for being emo.
Tendencies: Mocking his roommate, Emo. Pouring and drinking cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Dating the horrible head of the record company, then refusing to get over a horrible relationship.
Weird lapse: Taking steroids, then having a roid romp with a new gym buddy.
#Hatewatching game tips: When he laughs at Emo, you will drink / give yourself a point.
We love the temper tantrums of this recovering alcoholic dad, Deacon Claybourne, in all his flannel-and-denim glory. But the best moments are his moments of exasperation, as rendered by Chip Esten. Watch! And if it’s more than just a milk offense, he’ll often place an arm, or both, either directly over his head or just behind his head — thus his nickname.
Tendencies: Raising arms in the vicinity of his head in moments of trouble or frustration. Looking for cow’s milk.
Most maddening moments: Fake southern accent by this Pittsburgh actor.
Weird lapse: Eating all of Reneggy Sue’s ice cream during their sex-less, condom-free night on her living room floor.
#Hatewatching game tips: Down your shot when arms go up; if he punches someone make it two.
“RENEGGY SUE” (Jessie)
Arms-Over-Head’s late-series love interest (after the show kills off its lead character and needs a girlfriend for her grieving husband) is Jessie Caine — played by Kaitlin Doubleday, which is the only possible more fake-sounding name than Jessie Caine. Sparks don’t exactly reach the rafters in their slow-brew flirtations. And then after she escalates things, she changes her mind — she “renegs” it. When she suggests they have sex, neither have condoms. Arms-Over-Head suggests they get some, but she immediately changes her mind. “Or we could not have sex.” Then they’re on-again-off again and she either shows up with coffee or deftly rebuffs his advances.
Tendencies: Renegging. Complaining about ex husband. Making sandwiches. Pouring milk.
Most maddening moments: Awkwardly dropping off a care package for Mumble’s house, a person whom she doesn’t know, after Mumbles had a miscarriage.
Weird lapse: Singing. She sang once then never again even though she’s trying to make it as a singer.
#Hatewatching game tips: 180-degree plan-change equals a drink.
BRUNETTES & MINORITIES
Even though Tennessee has a diverse population, this show is all about the trials and lives of light-haired women and buff ‘corn-fed’ men … who else would drink that much cow’s milk?! So, when brunettes appear, or an African American love interest comes along, or a non-white friend from church drops by — be sure they’ll be marginalized, kicked off or killed outright.
#Hatewatching game tips: Whenever you see one get the boot, weep for America and take a drink.
Raynasplainer (Rayna James) The show’s lead Connie Britton is known for offering “inspirational quotes from the South” and seeming out of place on a stage or with a mic. Then she’s suddenly killed off after her daughters sing to her. Despite their grief, viewers are over it in about one minute.
Marsha Brady (Maddie Conrad) daughter of Raynasplainer & Arms-Over-Head. Fun fact: actor Lennon Stella is actual sisters with her on-screen sibling, “Jan Brady.” She ‘Miley Cyrus-es’ her way through the whole series, often sporting a doubtful resting face. Her songs with Jan Brady are often a musical highlight of the show.
Jan Brady (Daphne Conrad) Few notice it, but the younger sister is actually the heart-and-soul of the entire show. When she delivers a moral message, it comes with a Jan-style punch. We love you, Jan. (Disclaimer: We may or may not have actually called her “Runt” for the first few seasons.)
Jail-Ted (Teddy Conrad) Jan’s real dad, who’s briefly mayor then goes to prison.
Swan Dive (Jeff Fordham) The manager everyone despises inexplicably saves a seriously stoned Cultilocks from self-imposed death by an inexplicable kamikaze fall off a rooftop.
Actual Country (Luke Wheeler) He wears a cowboy hat (a surprising novelty on Nashville), and totally fits into his scrappier George Strait role.
Boy-Band Girl Purple-haired member of the Dud/Emo/Gay Will power band. Emo falls for her (brace yourself for Boner-Grin drinks!), but somehow she falls for a self-absorbed Dud.
The Goatee/Toupee Manager Situation It’s very hard keeping the two main managers straight. Rayna’s, who sobs on a sofa after she dies, has a goatee. Juliette’s manager, Bucky (seriously his name is Bucky), has the worst toupee we’ve seen on TV.
Lump Dud and Cultilocks’ kid appears drugged. She never speaks. If you hear a murmur from her, bathe yourself in alcohol, Nashies!
This episode of ROBERT’S RECORD CORNER will admit it: the Rolling Stones’ "Beggars Banquet is better than the Beatles “White Album.” I bring it up now because the Beatles’ so-called “White Album” turned 50 recently. We know this because everyone in the world was talking about it. The New Yorker even dared to claim it could be “the greatest record ever.” The album has many fine moments. But a better, more timely, more important work is the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, released two weeks later.Read More
No rock'n'roll band not named after an E Street has provided a more consistent saxophone sanctuary than the Rolling Stones.
In 1969, after brief dalliances with Victorian-era music hall and "summer of love" psychedelia, Mick Jagger brought the rock-roots instrument squarely into the fold during the Let It Bleed sessions. Over their career, the band has had 16 sax solos (10 recorded during their fertile 1969-73 “sax corridor”) and cleared way for supporting-role sax parts in at least 34 more songs.
The Stones sax solos in this list are rewarded not by how good the song is, but how well the sax solo justifies its moment. "Casino Boogie," for example, is not a better song than "Brown Sugar," but its sax solo does a better job adding an expanded sonic layer – and so ranks higher.
Incidentally if you are like Courtney Love and feel rock'n'roll has no place for saxophone have a listen to "Rocket 88." The 1951 song by Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm is often considered the first rock song. The ode to a Oldsmobile was written by a sax player, sung by a sax player, and features a sax solo.
Rock sort of started with sax, guys.
Here are the Rolling Stones best-to-worst saxophone solos:
1. WAITING ON A FRIEND (1981)
You know you are the “greatest rock’n’roll band in the world" when Sonny Rollins, of Saxophone Colossus jazz fame, answers your calls. In 1973, the Rolling Stones brought in Rollins for a few solos — though, somehow, none were released until their Tattoo You album eight years later. The best is “Waiting on a Friend,” featuring two separate solos — lightly echoed — with a nightclub, tongue-on-reed, melancholy tone that melds perfectly into the dreamy mix of Keith Richards’ chorused guitars, Mick Jagger’s falsetto and a symphony of percussion by Michael Carabello (who was the Santana member with the best hair at Woodstock.)
2. CASINO BOOGIE (1972)
The late Bobby Keys will always be the Stones definitive sax player, with a big sound that's less Village Vanguard than sweaty roadhouse. This is evident all over Exile on Main Street, where he plays on half the 18 songs. This overlooked side-one track features a 24-second solo that’s chiefly a syncopated play of a single note (reminiscent of Neil Young’s one-note solos on “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down By the River” two years before). It all works wonders as Charlie Watts drags the beat and Mick Jagger uses William S Burroughs “cut-up” lyric style (eg “million dollar sad,” “kissing c*nt in Cannes”) two years before David Bowie copped it.
3. HOW CAN I STOP (1997)
Bridges to Babylon ended with not one, but two broody Keith Richards songs on an album that felt like it’d be the Stones’ last. This ballad meanders for five minutes before jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter (of Bitches Brew fame) steps in with his soprano. Shorter solos twice here. Most arresting is the closer, where Charlie crashes the ride in a steady fury as the sax builds into a transporting drone unlike any other moment in the Stones catalog.
Apparently the track was done live by the whole band and left producer Don Was speechless. Even with Mick absent, it would have been an incredible final Rolling Stones moment.
4. RIP THIS JOINT (1972)
The fastest Rolling Stones song is only 2:23 long, but packs in two sax solos. (Respect.) Each makes fired-up, throaty runs (for 53 seconds in all) as Charlie rollicks the snare and tinkling pianos add to the roadhouse vibe.
5. NEIGHBOURS (1981)
The song may be a borderline throw-away, but it’s pure fun. And it’s Sonny Rollins on sax again, who gives his best Bobby Keys impression to start his first solo (31 seconds), before unleashing a Keys-breaking falling cascade of notes and screeching into high notes. Follow him at the end, where he lets loose a belching BLAPPPTTT after Mick’s “neighbours!” call-out.
6. SLAVE (1981)
Sonny again, this time in a song that’s basically a sax solo jam that is a tiny miracle after finding its way — fresh and with purpose – onto Tattoo You after an eight-year hibernation. In the studio album version, Sonny breaks early into a 42-second tasty solo that runs through the following “don’t want to be your slave!” chorus. He keeps noodling in the background afterward, before erupting into high notes that lead into the closing guitar solo. It’s hard to imagine “Slave” without the sax.
7. CAN’T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING (1971)
This sprawling, two-part song begins with a Keith riff for a couple minutes, then suddenly slides into a Santana instrumental for the final five. As with “Slave,” sax is key for staying upright. Bobby Keys, who solos two minutes in all, leads-in his solo with a hummingbird flutter, far more effective than his clumsy start to his other 1971 solo, “Brown Sugar.”
8. SWEET VIRGINIA (1972)
The “got to scrape the shit right off your shoes” chorus kept the countrified sing-along off the radio. Yet no song on Exile on Main Street offers an equal feel-the-room atmosphere of the stoned early ‘70s British/American refugees singing along in a French basement. Bobby Keys gets a hearty 35-second solo, with great tone, to break up all the choruses that run this song out after back-to-back opening verses. But it’s Mick Jagger’s sparse opening run on the harmonica and Mick Taylor’s acoustic doodles that steals the solo show.
9. EMOTIONAL RESCUE (1980)
This disco follow-up to “Miss You” is more of a Bobby Keys sax duet with Mick’s hilarious lead vocals than a solo outright. (Note: Mick’s delivery of “I will be your knight in shining armour” has no woodwind translation.)
The sax is vital to flesh out the barebone structure (Keith plays only a light touch of muted percussive guitar amidst the high hat, bass drum and electronic pianos). Keys solo-duets nearly two-and-a-half minutes here, highlighted by the tonguey reed work at the end, which is unlike any other of Keys’ work with the band.
10. COMING DOWN AGAIN (1973)
After Bobby Keys’ huge role in 1972’s Exile on Main Street, he only gets one solo in the Goat’s Head Soup, coming late in Keith’s great chipped ballad that runs nearly six minutes.
Surprisingly, Keys only gets 21 seconds for his unusual solo. He plays two sax parts that bubble up, overlap, answer each other. It’s effective, though feels like he could have used another take or two amidst all the post–Exile on Main Street haze of the Jamaica recording session. (Or higher treatment in the muddy mix.)
11. LIVE WITH ME (1969)
The first Rolling Stones sax solo is also the first song featuring Mick Taylor on guitar. Interestingly, the new “lead” guitarist plays it conservative with muted rhythm guitars, raunchily balancing Keith’s chugging guitar while Charlie double-times the whole way through. Listen to how Bobby Keys cheats into his solo with a held-out note before letting go a (slightly long) 46-second solo.
12. GOING TO A GO-GO (1982)
Filling in for an out-of-commission Bobby Keys on the 1981-82 tour, Ernie Watts — a moustached Virginian — begins with one-note work for a couple bars then breaks into a dynamic chat with the rhythm section, built off Charlie’s toms. The version of the (underrated) Still Life live LP is better than the live version shown in the video.
13. MISS YOU (1978)
Mel Collins, a Brit, is a disciple of the Saturday Night Live school where saxes are meant to blare their way to commercial. He shows that in his brief 18-second solo shared with some peppered-in guitar leads. This sort of sax feels well suited for a disco single. But it’s Sugar Blue’s high-note harmonica leads that linger most after a listen.
14. EVERYTHING’S TURNING TO GOLD (1978)
An outtake from the Some Girls album, this fun song — with Mel Collins getting short space again, more for a sax riff than solo – is quality enough to have made any other studio album after 1978, but is found only on the B-side of "Shattered."
15. I THINK I’M GOING MAD (1983)
This is an unfinished song that appeared as the B-side to the 1983 single “She Was Hot.” With a little more care, it could have been excellent. The sax — recorded in 1980 — is integral to the song, but its soft jazz opening is the most jarringly off moment in Stones’ sax history. Things pep up as the snare starts to pop and the song builds in a typical Stones swell. Could’ve been a contender.
16. BROWN SUGAR (1971)
Where to begin? A song about a raping slaver, possibly doubling as a nod to crude heroin, is not the topic you see from #1 songs very often. It’s basically a Mick Jagger song, and also one of the Stones’ most obedient songs. Drums switch the toms in the perfect moment, acoustics come in for careful filling, bar-chord guitars play their parts in separate corners like separated school kids.
Originally Mick Taylor, apparently still trying to figure out his role in the band when recording this in 1969, recorded a guitar solo, but eventually Mick Jagger asked Bobby Keys to offer his own. Keys’ work, though, feels thin, rushed and sort of tacked onto an overwhelmingly guitar-centric song. And shockingly Keys misses the start, coming in a couple beats late.
“Brown Sugar" may be their most famous sax solo. But, sorry, it’s also their worst.
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