soul music

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Pharoahe Monch and Huey Lewis

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Pharoahe Monch
Guests: 
Huey Lewis
Guests: 
Oliver Wang

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Pharoahe Monch: Your Favorite Rapper's Favorite Rapper

Pharoahe Monch has been a voice in the hip hop world for over twenty-five years. In that time, he’s worked on six studio albums -- three as half of Organized Konfusion with his partner Prince Poetry (better known as Prince Po) and three as a solo artist. His seventh album, P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is due out early this year, continuing where the MC left off with 2011’s W.A.R. (We Are Renegades).

Nowadays, it’s understood that Monch is a rapper with intelligent, intricate lyrics that give a unique perspective on issues such as gun violence. Early in his career, however, he and Prince Poetry were rap novices under the name Simply II Positive MCs. They caught the attention of the influential record producer Paul C and became Organized Konfusion. Although Monch and Prince Poetry never achieved big commercial success together, Organized Konfusion became one of the most respected underground rap groups of the ‘90s. The group separated in 1997, but Monch went on to become a fruitful solo artist, scoring a career-defining hit with his biggest single, Simon Says.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s 2009 interview with Monch. They’ll talk about the controversy surrounding the an infamous Godzilla sampling, Monch’s fond memory of Paul C, and the MC’s struggle with asthma in a profession that’s all about controlled breathing.

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Oliver Wang Talks About a Life-Defining Record and a Dip into Northern Soul

This week, music writer Oliver Wang stops by to recommend a hip hop album and a soulful single.

His first recommendation is De La Soul’s debut album, 3 Feet High & Rising. The trio proved that three guys from Long Island with a clever, twisted sense of humor could make an impression on the hip hop scene.

He also suggests a listen to The De Vons’ single “Someone to Treat Me (The Way You Used To)". The song is a classic example of Northern Soul (and has an interesting producer credit to boot).

Oliver Wang is the proprietor of the soul music blog, Soul Sides. He’s also the professor of sociology at Cal State, Long Beach and co-editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.

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Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters

In the early 1960s, two well-dressed young men roamed the streets of San Francisco with a tape recorder and a sense of whimsy in their stride. James Coyle and Mal Sharpe would conduct man-on-the-street interviews and bamboozle unsuspecting bystanders with their hilarious and bizarre setups and put-ons.

SF Sketchest will hold a "Salute to Coyle & Sharpe", recognizing their influence in comedy, on February 9th. For tickets or more information, visit our event page.

Want more Coyle & Sharpe? Subscribe to the podcast here.

Huey Lewis: From Busking in Morocco to Multi-Platinum Success

It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and the News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.

Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.

This week, we revisit Jesse’s interview with Huey Lewis. They’ll talk about his pub rock beginnings, his multi-platinum success with Sports, and the time he finagled his way onto an airplane bound for London.

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The Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, The Internet, Jasper Redd

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
June Diane Raphael
Guests: 
Bill Hader
Guests: 
The Internet
Guests: 
Jasper Redd

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This week's show was taped in front of a live audience at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena, California. Thanks to KPCC, the Forum, and everyone who came out that evening! Catch Bullseye every Saturday at 3pm on KPCC.

A montage of our evening at the Crawford Family Forum - photo by KPCC

Jasper Redd is Not a Funeral Person

Comedian Jasper Redd stops by the live show to clear up a few things. He’s been drinking all week, he stays away from food that’s pink and fluffy, and, most importantly, he is not a funeral person.

For more from Jasper Redd, follow him on Twitter.

Painful Experiences and Clown Class with June Diane Raphael

Our first guest on the program is June Diane Raphael. You've probably seen her in a number of TV shows, web series and movies over the past few years -- she's played a gynecologist on New Girl, a federal agent on NTSF: SD: SUV::, a dating show contestant and bachelorette on Burning Love, and vapid office worker Tynnyfer on Parks and Recreation.

Raphael co-wrote and co-stars in the new movie Ass Backwards with her longtime friend collaborator Casey Wilson (of Saturday Night Live and Happy Endings fame). The film is available on VOD and is in theaters this week. Raphael and Wilson play Kate and Chloe, two clueless best friends who go on a road trip to participate in their hometown beauty pageant.

Raphael’s bond with Wilson goes all the way back to their freshman year of college. It was a special moment in time when they both found themselves in a class dedicated to the art of clowning.

June stops by the live recording to discuss her new movie, one of the worst moments of her life and the dreaded clowning Ring of Fire.

Bill Hader on First Impressions, Vincent Price, and Saying Goodbye to Stefon

You probably know Bill Hader for his spot-on impressions from his eight seasons on Saturday Night Live. They weren't always the most topical -- Alan Alda, Peter O'Toole, and Vincent Price don't make the headlines every week -- but they were endlessly funny. And yet he came into the SNL fold with nary an impression to his name.

He also helped create original characters like Stefon, the New York City correspondent on Weekend Update, the cranky elderly newscaster Herb Welch, and Italian talk show host Vinny Vedecci.

Hader sits down with Jesse to talk about his favorite sketches that never made it to air, his obsession with old movies and his last moments at SNL.

The Internet Performs "Dontcha" Live

The soul / trip-hop group The Internet, part of the Odd Future collective, stops by to perform their new single “Dontcha.”

The band's new album Feel Good is out now. You can also catch them performing at the Odd Future Carnival this Saturday, November 9th in Los Angeles.

The Outshot: Babe: Pig in the City

The natural reaction to talking animals, especially CGI-rendered speech in farm animals, is more than likely a dismissive chuckle. However, an exception should be made for a movie about a brave little pig who takes a dangerous journey through a bustling metropolis. This week, Jesse explains why Babe: Pig in the City depicts one of his heroes.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bill Withers

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Withers
Guests: 
Ian Cohen
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Brad Tolinski

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Soul Legend Bill Withers Talks about Dignity, The Music Industry, and Striving to Be a "Complete Human Being"

The singer/songwriter and soul music legend Bill Withers may have written some of the most memorable songs of the past half century, but his person doesn't loom large in the public eye. He wasn't eaten up by fame, and he didn't disappear and try to claw his way back. He just walked away from the music industry, for the most part, making the decision to live life on his own terms.

With no formal songwriting training (he enlisted in the Navy at 17, and then worked as an aircraft engineer), Withers rose to fame with his first album Just As I Am, recorded in his thirties. The album, produced by Booker T. Jones, showed an already fully-formed talent with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands.” Since then, more of Withers' hits, like “Lovely Day,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Lean on Me” have endured the test of time.

Jesse sat down with the music legend in 2009 to talk about his life and career, around the time that the documentary Soul Power was released. Withers discusses his roots in a coal mining town, enlisting in the Navy, and why he was able to start a music career later in life.

Withers also opens up about his decision to stop performing, his gratitude for the fame when it came to him, and why he continues striving to be “a complete human being.”

Related interviews:
Booker T. Jones

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Pitchfork's Ian Cohen on his Favorite Heavy Rock

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some of his all-time favorite heavy rock releases.

He tells us about an album which (in a move unusual for its genre) has an entirely pink cover. Deafheaven’s newest album, Sunbather, has been well-received and is on its way to becoming “an absolute landmark.”

In addition, Ian recommends the most recent Swans album,The Seer. In a bold creative move, the band creates a title track well over thirty minutes long.

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Davy Rothbart’s Lost and “Found”

Davy Rothbart, editor and publisher of FOUND Magazine, shares some of his favorite "finds".

FOUND collects notes, photos, to-do lists, love letters, and other ephemera (basically society’s flotsam and jetsam). The magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

Rothbart's new documentary Medora, about a small-town Indiana basketball team, opens in New York City and Los Angeles on November 8.

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Canonball: Remembering When Rock Got Weird, with Led Zeppelin's "III"

With Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music to find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we’re joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He tells us why we should take another listen at Led Zeppelin III, the band’s third album, which took a strange turn on its unforgettable first track (“Immigrant Song”) and tapped into the zeitgeist of its time with the bold tracks that followed.

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The Outshot: The Cane

Ideally, the cold open on a sitcom (the segment right before the opening credits) should be a self-contained nugget of comedy perfection. This week, Jesse recommends one of his favorites with NewsRadio’s “The Cane,” featuring the comedic talents of the bombastic Phil Hartman and the ultimate straight man, Dave Foley.

After all, it’s just like that old saying: “Everybody loves a cane.”

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rick Moranis and Booker T. Jones

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rick Moranis
Guests: 
Booker T. Jones
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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Rick Moranis on Growing Up Jewish, Canadian Comedy, and Quitting Show Business

Rick Moranis's big glasses and nerdy goofball humor appeared in some of the biggest Hollywood comedies of the 80s and 90s. In just a few years, he starred in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Those movies filled theaters, sold tons of merchandise, and made Moranis a star. And then, at the peak of this fame, Moranis decided to retire. His wife passed away in 1991, and Moranis decided to become a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Nearly a decade after pretty much signing out of show business, Moranis returned in 2005 with a Grammy-winning album of original music, "Agoraphobic Cowboy." And now Moranis has released his second album, My Mother's Brisket and Other Love Songs, a collection of comedic music inspired by Moranis's Jewish upbringing in Toronto.

Moranis talks to Jesse about his first job selling hockey programs in the nosebleed section, SCTV and the ironic outcome of his famous nose-thumbing at Canadian content laws, and his decision to be a stay-at-home father.

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Related interviews:
Mel Brooks
Catherine O'Hara
Joe Flaherty

Carolyn Kellogg Recommends "The Unknowns" and "Hothouse"

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two new books to put on the top of your summer reading list.

First, she recommends The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth. This debut novel set in 2002 follows a Silicon Valley millionaire whose brain betrays him whenever he tries to do the right thing. Parties, ecstasy, sex -- and that's just the first few pages.

Kellogg's next pick is Boris Kachka's Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Kachka, a veteran New York Magazine journalist, delves into the juicy history of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, the publishing house of Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen. The book focuses on the personal lives of founder Roger Straus and editor Robert Giroux and provides an insider's look at the secret, ferocious world of publishing.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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Comedy: Doug Benson on Taken 2 and a Missed Opportunity

What if the folks behind the second "Taken" movie had just given a little more thought to tying the series together? Comedian Doug Benson considers the Taken series, with Liam Neeson, in this clip from his new album, Gateway Doug.

Doug Benson hosts a weekly podcast, Doug Loves Movies, and hosts the ongoing live series, Doug Benson's Movie Interruptions.

Booker T. Jones: Master Of Memphis Soul

Whether he was touring with Otis Redding, backing countless soul stars in the Stax studio, or composing his own instrumental hits like "Green Onions," Booker T. Jones, along with his band The MG's, defined the sound of southern sixties' soul.

Born in Memphis in 1944, Jones was gigging around town before he had entered high school. By college, he was a seasoned session musician and multi-instrumentalist with a hit single to his name. And by 1968, when Stax Records came under new ownership, he had played on over 600 Stax records, including "Try A Little Tenderness" and "These Arms Of Mine".

Perhaps even more impressively, Jones hasn't stopped. He continues to team up with some of the biggest names in jazz, soul, rock, and classical music and, at nearly 70 years old, he has no plans of letting up anytime soon.

Jones tells us stories about the first time Otis Redding sat down next to him at a piano, producing "Ain't No Sunshine" with the (as-yet-unknown) singer-songwriter Bill Withers, and Jones' plans to continue making all kinds of music.

Jones' new album, Sound The Alarm, is out now.

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Related interview:
Bill Withers

The Outshot: "Paranoia" by Chance the Rapper

The Outshot: Paranoia by Chance The Rapper

Jesse recommends "Paranoia," a track off Chance The Rapper's free mixtape Acid Rap. It's a song about an entire part of our country that feels ignored. It's Chance's appeal for human connection.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: NBC’s Must See TV with Warren Littlefield, former NBC executive

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Warren Littlefield
Guests: 
Oliver Wang
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

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Comics with Alex and Brian: Other Stuff and Relish: My Life In The Kitchen

BoingBoing comics editor Brian Heater and MTV Geek's Alex Zalben are here to talk comics. Brian suggests checking out Peter Bagge's Other Stuff, a collection of the cartoonist's side projects since the 90s. Alex's pick is Relish: My Life In The Kitchen, a unique comic that's part memoir and part cookbook.

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Former NBC President Warren Littlefield on Making Must-See TV

In the late 1970s and early 80s, NBC had a lot in common with...well, NBC today. The network was consistently behind in the ratings, with not a whole lot to lose. That might partially explain why a young executive named Warren Littlefield was able to approve a couple of shows that, on paper, didn’t look all that promising. One of them found itself with the lowest ratings in all of TV at the end of the first season. The other show was a family sitcom that ABC rejected, after executives there proclaimed that family sitcoms were dead. Not the best odds, right? But those two shows – Cheers and The Cosby Show, respectively – went on to become two of the most important sitcoms in television’s history, leading directly to the development of the Thursday night powerhouse that was Must-See TV.

Littlefield left NBC in 1998; since then, the network's fortunes have changed pretty dramatically and Must-See TV no longer exists for ANY channel. So Littlefield is taking a look back at NBC's glory years in an oral history called Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV, which was just released in paperback. Littlefield joins us to discuss how NBC's shows changed primetime, how the shows forged intimate connections with viewers, and the pleasures and sorrows of working with a pre-rehab Kelsey Grammer.

BUT WAIT -- there's more. If you want to know why Warren thinks Norm MacDonald was fired from SNL, or why he backed Leno as the successor to the Late Night throne... Listen here for an extended cut of our interview with him, and share it with your friends.


Canonball with Oliver Wang: Al Green’s I’m Still In Love With You

In Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music. We're joined by professor and music writer Oliver Wang to talk about an Al Green album that deserves your attention. No, it's not Green's chart-topping record Let's Stay Together. Wang says that it was Al Green's followup to that album that really rattled him to his core.

Wang talks to us about 1973's I'm Still in Love with You, the record that created a new kind of soul music. Green's beautiful, if flawed voice, was merged with Willie Mitchell's innovative rhythm section and a new sound emerged.

You can find Oliver Wang's thoughts on soul rarities and more on his blog, Soul Sides.

Special thanks to Chris Berube, who edited Canonball for us this week.

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The Outshot: Where The Wild Things Are

What do you do when you’re mad? Not just a little miffed, but angry – so angry that you’re shaking? Jesse finds a way out through Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Swamp Dogg, John Mulaney, Comic Book Picks, and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Swamp Dogg
Guests: 
John Mulaney
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser



Comics with Alex and Brian

Our comic book experts are in residence! Brian Heater and Alex Zalben recommend My Friend Dahmer, and the novel Dotter of Her Father's Eyes.

Alex Zalben is a writer and a host of the show Comic Book Club. Brian Heater is a journalist and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Cross Hatch, which highlights alternative comics.
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Soul Musician Swamp Dogg

Swamp Dogg, born Jerry Williams Jr., is a legendary psychedelic soul musician. He put out his first record in 1954, under the name Little Jerry. Over the next 15 years, his stage name would change to Little Jerry Williams before dropping the "Little" and performing as simply Jerry Williams. Finally, in 1970, he re-christened himself as Swamp Dogg for the release of his first LP, Total Destruction of Your Mind. The album combined humor and social commentary with the acid-soaked psychedelic sound of the late '60s / early '70s, and the Swamp Dogg name stuck.

Swamp sat down with Jesse in 2008 for a laugh-filled conversation discussing his long career in music, from the mindset behind all those name changes, to finding his best successes as a songwriter for country music, including a Grammy nomination for writing the Johnny Paycheck #1 hit "(Don't Take Her) She's All I Got".

His career compilation, It's All Good: A Singles Collection 1963 - 1989 is available now.
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Kasper Hauser News Update

We here at Bullseye feel a moral obligation as a public radio show to provide you with some news content, so to get you caught up on all the top stories you've never heard of (as they're entirely made up), here's the latest from our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.
You can catch Kasper Hauser live next month, performing alongside the honorable judge John Hodgman at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco on Sunday, April 29th.
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Comedian and SNL Writer John Mulaney

John Mulaney is a stand-up comedian and comedy writer based in New York City. He served as a writer on the Comedy Central series Important Things with Demetri Martin, but you probably know him best from his current job, writing for Saturday Night Live. One of John's responsibilities on SNL is writing ridiculous recommendation lists for the Bill Hader character Stefon, a regular contributor for Weekend Update. Mulaney has also performed on Update himself, showcasing his upbeat brand of humor on a segment called "I Love It".

John joined Jesse back in 2009 to talk about somehow earning money while getting black-out drunk, and subtle differences between writing for sketch and writing for stand-up. His hilarious new comedy special New in Town is available now on CD and DVD. You can follow him on Twitter @Mulaney.
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The Outshot: Jerry Lee Lewis' "Live at the Star Club"

On this week's Outshot, Jesse hails the wild-child rock & roll of Jerry Lee Lewis's Live at the Star Club, Hamburg as perhaps the best live album ever recorded. In 1963, at the deepest depths of his career, Lewis went to Germany a man disgraced, and played for a crowd willing to embrace him regardless of his troubles. The result is an historic scorcher of a performance from the man they call "The Killer".
Is there a live album you feel should be considered the best of all time? You can make your pick by heading over to the MaxFun forum and naming your own Outshot.
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