TweedyYesterday, we traveled to and from the recording studio listening to Tweedy’s new record. Guess what? “Dad Rock” is really cool! Love “Sukierae.” It’s a knockout. The Dad and The Kid bring it!

Turns out “Dad rock,” which has been sort of tossed around as an insult, is actually, super-cool. Jeff Tweedy and his son have made a really excellent record. It’s a double-album overstuffed with subtle, layered, perfectly realized music. I recommend you actually buy a CD. Check out the cool pictures and the lyric sheet. It’s a personal, family-affair record.

Jeff Tweedy sometimes sounds like John Lennon to me. Which is just the highest compliment I can imagine. He’s a great singer/songwriter, and underrated guitar player. Jeff just has a way about him. He comes across to me as a very committed, working artist. No bullshit. Just the good work.

I especially love some of the stripped down songs. There are one or two songs that sound like they could be outtakes from other Wilco records – but hell, the two bands share the lead singer, the lead songwriter, and the driving force. Still “Sukierae,” this band, this approach, it holds it’s own.  Superb on all levels! Highly recommended!

By the way, while we were in the studio, we sat in the control room, and listened to the Lovely Carla’s song “Hand of Grace” emerge into the light. Starts with a gospel-ish piano flourish from the great Bob Long. That was cool and unexpected! – Jammer

rollingstone-7475Lately some friends of mine have played that game of naming records that “changed their lives.” It’s been kicking around in my head. Yesterday, taking shelter from the bitter cold, I decided to fill the CD carousel with my choices.  This carousel only holds 5 CDs, so here are the 5.  I put them on shuffle and listened to the tracks in a randomized order.  All the songs stood toe to toe with each other.  All of these records still resonate with me very, very deeply.  They help make me who I am today. Yes, really.

1. John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band — Lennon’s first post-Beatles record. Stripped down, elemental, brutally real. Powerful, razor-sharp, with great production by Phil Spector.  The wall of sound meets r&r minimalism – bass, drums, guitar, piano and Lennon’s amazing, heartfelt, cutting voice.  Still brings chills.

2. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited— A blast of exuberance. Funny, over the top, genre busting. No one ever recorded songs like these before. Dylan fronts an incredible band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. A shock. A blast. Mind-bending. Dylan never sounded more engaged, more intense, more alive and funny.

3. Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night — Shakey’s “dark night of the soul.” A death-haunted record. A great shaggy band of misfits pushed to the ragged edge. Raw, bleak, darkly funny. Neil opens a vein.  Spooky and cool.  L.A. Dark shades. Bleary nights. The record is filled with flaws, quirks – perfect.

4. The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed — The Stones at their darkest. Decadent blues, desiccated country. Perfectly realized rock and roll.  Jagger and Richards at the peak of their amazing collaboration.  Perfectly recorded. Produced by Jimmy Miller.  The Stones made other great records, but this one is complete. Flawless. Thrilling.

5. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows this is Nowhere — Neil emerges into the light with the first, and greatest, Crazy Horse lineup. Danny Whitten on vocals and guitar is the secret weapon.  Long guitar jams. Overpowering sound. Produced by David Briggs & Neil Young. Blistering. Raggedy. Elegiac. When the “Horse” kicks it up, there is nothing better.

— Jammer

Yes, it’s always time to choose. If you are for peace, someone is for war. If you want to “save the planet,” others want to drill, and cut, and burn. John Lennon & Yoko Ono showed us how to mix art and politics. Lennon was the biggest pop star in the world, and he fell in love with Yoko, and together they became very high-profile conceptual artists, and promoters of peace. A perfect example of how to mix art and politics. And yes, once John was dead and buried, then everyone wanted to make him a saint. But he was no saint. He was a man, a charismatic, talented and committed artist; a “heart on his sleeve” kind of guy. Whatever he was doing, being in a band, or being a “house-husband,” he was always fully committed. “Power to the People” was probably a better slogan than a pop single, but John’s heart was in the right place. Today we all need to choose sides too. There is no middle ground. We can choose to live with love and heart, we can choose a progressive politics where we value science and the planet, and human rights, and women’s rights, and gay rights, and immigrant rights, and a social safety net… or not.  But we must choose, and if we don’t, that’s a choice too. So yes, we choose to wear our politics on our sleeves too. Obama/Biden 2012!– Jammer