Tuesday, August 31, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET (-ish), I discuss music on The Morning Jolt With Larry Flick on SIRIUS XM's OutQ channel. I should also mention Larry's co-host, comedian Keith Price. Going on the show is always a fun time.  This week I have some great new music to talk about - there isn't a theme as such, but all of these records show a certain restraint and subtlety.

First off is Fistful of Mercy, a new "supergroup" featuring Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison (son of The Quiet Beatle). I wrote about them last week - I hadn't heard of them at all (and I'm usually up on Ben Harper's doings) and then all of the sudden a video arrived in my email box! Well, you know that I'm a huge Ben Harper fan. I don't know much about Joseph Arthur, but I love his song "In The Sun" (which Michael Stipe covered a few years ago). I haven't heard Dhani's music with his band thenewno2, but I will check it out. Anyway, I have the band's title track to play.

I'm getting really into Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs' God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise, which I wrote about last night. I have all of Ray's prior albums, and generally I like a couple of songs from each, but not the whole album. This one, I love the whole thing. It's really quiet (opener "Repo Man" is uncharacteristically funky) but I really dig it. It is actually inspiring me to go back and listen to his other albums and see if they've grown on me. He has lots of songs that I love: "Trouble," "Shelter," "Hold You In My Arms," "You Are The Best Thing," "Meg White" (yes he wrote a song about Meg White!) and "Three More Days." But I'm going back and revisiting his entire albums.

I've been a fan of John Mellencamp pretty much as long as I've been a fan of rock and roll. And as No Expiration readers know, I'm loyal to artists who have been around for a long time. I'll admit it, I haven't liked many of John's albums over the past decade or so (with the exception of 2003's Trouble No More, and I think his song 2004 song "Walk Tall" is maybe his finest moment). His new album, No Better Than This, like his last one (2008's Life, Death, Love and Freedom) was produced by T-Bone Burnett. They recorded it with a ribbon mic onto a reel-to-reel recorder at Sun Studios, a baptist church in Savannah, Georgia, and in the hotel room where Robert Johnson recorded some of his sides. You would figure that those places are a bit haunted, and so is this album (as Burnett points out in the liner notes). There aren't any arena anthems here, so it's too bad that he probably won't be able to play too many of these songs in concert: it's a really good album. I'm still getting used to it, but I like it a lot.

There are high expectations for Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses' Junky Star. With two albums behind him, Ryan seemed to come out of nowhere to win an Oscar for his song "The Hurting Kind" from last year's film Crazy Heart. Like that song (and like Mellencamp's new album), Junky Star was produced by T-Bone Burnett (him again!). He seems to not be taking advantage of his higher profile - he's just doin' what he does. Which I guess is the smartest response to his situation. It's hard to imagine how this album will get too popular, but he doesn't seem to be too worried about it. He sounds a bit like a (less political) Steve Earle - the people who are going to like him are going to like him, but he isn't trying to sell himself to people who aren't interested. The Oscar makes it a bit easier to find the people who are going to like him though.

Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell released their third album, Hawk. They are as good of a team as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and they've actually been compared to Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, which is probably a better comparassion (rougher, countrier guy and poppier gal). Lanegan got his start as the singer of Screaming Trees, was briefly in Queens Of The Stone Age, collaborated with Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins, collaborated with a dance music group called Soulsavers and has done a bunch of great solo albums as well. Campbell is formerly of a indie-pop group (often described as "twee") called Belle & Sebastian. So, it is sort of an unlikely combo, but it really works (much like Plant/Krauss). They sing well together - you get the impression that they are listening to each other. On this album, Campbell seems to be the boss: she's the producer and she wrote almost all of the songs herself (Lanegan didn't write any). But it's not about who wrote what or who produced, the final results are really great. Like with the LaMontange album, this is making me want to revisit their past collaborations. And also Mark's past solo stuff (and maybe even look into Isobel's solo stuff, I know I don't like B&S too much).

David Gray has quietly released a new album, Foundling. That's appropriate, because it is a pretty quiet album, even by his standards. I've read interviews with him where he's pretty much say he has no expectation that this album will be a commercial success. I think a smart music supervisor for a TV show can use some of these songs effectively. But Gray is probably right. I have a lot of respect for him, so I'm giving the album a chance, but it hasn't stuck with me. But, like Ray LaMontange, most of his records just have a few songs that I really like (I love "The Other Side," "The One I Love," "The World To Me" and "Draw The Line" to name a couple)... but maybe I need to revisit them also. That's one of the great things about music, it can hit you in different ways at different times.

Monday, August 30, 2010


This is one of my favorite albums of the year so far. Ray LaMontangne is a great singer/songwriter, and this time around, he has a cool backing band, The Pariah Dogs. They include guitarist Greg Leisz, who plays with Matthew Sweet (and has also played for Lucinda Williams, Sheryl Crow and many others), drummer Jay Bellerose (who seems to be T-Bone Burnett's drummer of choice - he's played for Robert Randolph, Jakob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and B.B. King, among many others - Burnett didn't produce this album, by the way, Ray produced it himself), steel guitarist Eric Heywood (who has played with Son Volt, The Jayhawks and The Pretenders) and bassist Jennifer Condos (who has played with Ray in the past, as well as Ryan Adams and Joe Henry).

The opening track, "Repo Man," hits the right note: it's a bit more upbeat and funky than Ray's past songs - plus it has swagger. In "Repo Man," he's not taking back the girl.  After that, he falls back into the more mellow and melancholy vibe that he's more well known for. Even in the first single, "Beg, Steal Or Borrow," which is about breaking out of your hometown, it has a sad feeling to it - as if he's not sure he, or you, will be able to pull it off. Ditto for "Old Before Your Time," about how he looked for his "pot of gold."  Ray's music always seems haunted by heartbreak, and this album has a good amount of that - "Are We Really Through" and "This Love Is Over" aren't getting requested at any dance parties! "Like Rock & Roll and Radio" uses a heartbreaking metaphor ("Are we strangers now? Like rock and roll and the radio"). Strangely, though, the album ends on (what I think is) a positive note: "Devil's In The Jukebox," where Ray singer "packin' my bags and thinking that I'd get out of down, but like an old dog I keep hangin' around/big yellow moon risin' up over them old hills, my baby's on a tear and she's fit to kill." I feel like the song has enough swing that it's suggesting that he'll move on to a better situation.  Hopefully that will produce as good music as he has this time around.


This weekend, the Rock The Bells festival hit NYC, and it was a great time.  The story of the day was the comeback of "Ms." Lauryn Hill. I'm a huge fan of her classic album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and I was hoping for a great performance. But, like a lot of other people, I didn't know what to expect.  Would she show up?  Would there be a meltdown?  Was it going to be like her MTV Unplugged? The answer was a bit more complex.  She showed up with a very large band (most of the main stage acts were MCs and DJs, Lauryn had two drummers, guitar, keyboards, backing singers, etc.).  All the mics caused feedback and sound problems, but Lauryn powered through her set, victoriously.

She kicked off with a fast version of "Lost Ones" followed by a few more songs from Miseducation (but not "Doo-Wop" or "Everything Is Everything").  She also did her classic but not-super-well-known cover of Bob Marley's "Turn Your Lights Down Low." She also did three Fugees songs: "How Many Mics," "Fu-Gee-La" and "Ready Or Not." I was kind of surprised by that - but she did incredible versions, and I guess the point was that she doesn't need Wyclef to perform those songs.  Her band was super-tight and obviously well-rehearsed and Lauryn was in top form: her singing sounded great, but she was spitting rhymes with fire. She was also inspired by the crowd on the side of her stage, including her children (five or six of them!), plus celebs like Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Chris Rock. I don't know what her next move will be, but it should be interesting!

The other huge highlight of the day (for me) was A Tribe Called Quest's performance of Midnight Marauders. Last time I saw Tribe it was at Rock The Bells two years ago, and that night Q-Tip performed one solo set and then one with Tribe. This time it was all about the Tribe, and they were amazing.   They are so tight and well-rehearsed, they don't rap over their record, they rap over the beats that were used on the record. Ali Shaheed Muhammed is a great DJ, and Tip and Phife Dawg have a great bond and vibe going. Later on in the set, founding member of the group Jarobi joined them.  Also joining them for a few songs: Large Professor and Main Source for "Fakin' The Funk." Then of course towards the end of their set, Busta Rhymes for "Scenario." Incredible show and the highlight of my day.

Wu-Tang Clan: nothing to fuck wit', apparently!  Last time I saw them was at Rock The Bells a few years back, in my pre-blogging days.  They were great, it amazes me that a group with so many MCs keep it together for a tight set.  I've seen some messy Wu-Tang shows over the years, but they were great this year, sticking with material from their debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Ol' Dirty Bastard was represented by his son, Boy Jones, who sounded just like his dad.

It was great to see KRS-One and Rakim at the same show. I'd never seen Rakim before, and I heard he was boring live.  Not true.  He was supposed to be performing the Eric B. & Rakim album Paid In Full, and he played most of it, throwing in just a purfunctory 5 seconds of the instrumental "Chinese Arithmatic." It's a bummer that he and Eric B. can't get it together to reunite.  KRS-One did a cool set, but talked a bit too much.  Unfortunately, I got there too late to see Slick Rick, and I left before Snoop Dogg (there were only two ferries to take everyone to and from the island, and I didn't want to wait on an hours-long line). But it was a great show, and I have to give props to the Rock The Bells people for always putting on a great show.

Friday, August 27, 2010


One of my favorite albums of the year so far is Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son Of Chico Dusty. For those who are unfamiliar with the story of the album, it was sort of due to come out two years ago.  Big Boi, like his group OutKast, is signed to Jive Records. Jive, apparently, didn't know what to do with it.  I read that Big Boi said that the last straw was basically when they asked him to cover a Lil' Wayne song! How insulting. So he ended up taking the album to Def Jam (a weird choice, as they don't seem to know how to handle "left-field" hip-hop records, The Roots' How I Got Over is exhibit A).

I don't know how the album has done, commercially.  I wonder if Jive was right - it isn't the job of a major label to put out "art," it's their job to put out stuff that's going to sell, even if they know it's bad.

Still, this album has some catchy songs.  "Shutterbugg" is a total hit!  Actually, I may not be the right person to decide if a hip-hop track is a hit in 2010. But it is a great song.  There are many others, including some with some pretty big name guests (which seems important these days, big guest lists): "Night Night" features B.o.B. (who I don't really "get"), "Shine Blockas" features Gucci Mane (a big current artist, apparently) and "Tangerine" features T.I. *I* don't care about the guests, but the songs are all really tight. Another song, "Follow Us," features what sounds like a rock band, Vonnegutt, who I don't think I'd like, but the singer serves this song well.

It's too bad Jive didn't let Boi use his collab with Andre 3000 and Raekwon, "Royal Flush." I guess I can't blame them - they are waiting for a new OutKast album, why should they give away the group's first new song in years.  Anyway, it doesn't matter - it's been on iTunes for years (and it even lists Sir Lucious... as the album). As far as I'm concerned, it is on the album, it was just a single that came out two years early. Anyway, check out Boi's album, it's a great one, and it makes me look forward to OutKast's next one even more!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I have really been digging Sheryl Crow's 100 Miles From Memphis album. It is a great album for the front porch, or backyard, on a hot summer night. I've been a fan of Sheryl's since her first album came out Tuesday Night Music Club.  I remember going to Tower Records and listening to the albums on the listening kiosks, when I came across hers.  I thought I recognized her name (I may have - she sang backing vocals on a Don Henley album, and also at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration concert - and as a liner notes reader, I'm sure I'd read her name) and I checked it out.  She never really seemed to fit in with anything - she would have made more sense as part of the pop or rock landscape in the '60s or (especially) '70s. She kept cranking out albums that had hit after hit.  She got to tour with, or collaborate with, so many great artists (not the least of whom were The Rolling Stones and Stevie Nicks both of whom were huge influences on her). I was glad to see her success, she seems like a good person, plays benefit concerts and supports causes that I believe in.

She kind of lost me in 2005 with Wildflower, which I just couldn't get into, and I didn't like the follow-up, 2008's Detours either (with the exception of "Gasoline," which featured Ben Harper). Which makes this new album so sweet. The title is a reference to where she grew up, but the sound on the album is very influenced by the soul music that she listened to as a kid. It's not gimmicky, and it's not a stretch for her to do this album at all. There's a few guests (Keith Richards, Justin Timberlake, Citizen Cope), but it's not an "all-star" album... in fact, Timberlake just does guest vocals... I'm sure a full on duet would have been more "marketable." There's a few covers (Terrence Trent D'Arby's "Sign Your Name," Cope's "Sideways," The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back") but it's not a "covers" album, and her original songs, including "Our Love Is Fading" and "Summer Day," hold up to them.  In the spirit of classic albums, she uses the musicians who make sense on the songs.  She does covers that she's inspired to do, without following a marketing department's guidelines (which may hurt her sales, but at least she's charting her own course - which she should be doing). The musicians on the album are really in the pocket - it's not an old-school "live on the floor" thing (or it doesn't seem to be, since her collaborators Doyle Bramhall II and Justin Stanley play multiple instruments on lots of songs).

I remember a few years ago, Sheryl got a short haircut.  I remember reading that she claimed that cutting her hair hurt her career.  I don't know if I buy that: uncommercial albums (Wildflower and Detours) are what I think really hurt her career. If those albums were what she had to do at the time, fine.  Neil Young has uncommerical albums too. But I would challenge Crow to compare the songs on those two album with her first four: they're just not as catchy.

But I think the cover of her new album kind of tells the tale: she has her long hair, she looks gorgeous, and she looks like she enjoys being gorgeous.  She's been through a lot in her personal life, and this album just feels kind of triumphant, and even on "Summer Day," happy (which is nice, given her struggles with depression). In ten and twenty years, you could play some of these songs alongside her classic rock influences (The Stones, Stevie, The Allmans, and lest I forget, Crowded House who should be considered classic rock) and they would sound not at all out of place next to them. Way to go Sheryl!


Soundgarden is on the cover of the new issue of Spin. I remember years ago Spin put them on the cover with the snarky headline "Soundgarden Kills Grunge Dead." I always got the impression that Spin didn't quite approve of them: they were a bit too manly, a little too tough seeming, and Chris Cornell was a bit too "rock god." They were probably much more comfortable with Nirvana (and even moreso with Mudhoney and Dinosaur Jr.). It's weird to see them on the cover again, but I'm glad to see it.  Spin has gotten some bad press for the story's slant. They refer to bassist Ben Shepherd as being "homeless," when what he really said is that he moved out of his house that he shared with his girlfriend. He seemed more "in-between" homes than "homeless," but you know how the media likes to play this stuff! He actually responded to this on Soundgarden's new website.

Other interesting things about the story were that the band claimed that Chris Cornell's tweet announcing that "school was back in session" referred to the fact that the band were planning on reactivating thier fan club and the band was going to have an online presence, not that they were actually reuniting. Also, that the band has to work around Matt Cameron's schedule with Pearl Jam. The band's ex-manager (and Chris Cornell's ex-wife) Susan Silver, who still manages Alice In Chains, was interviewed as well, which made it seem like more than the usual puff piece.  The article hints that at least one member really could use the money (Shepherd, he kind of says it himself), and Silver points out that Cornell wanted the reunion because his solo career wasn't going anywhere. Yes, she's his ex-wife, and they had a bitter divorce, but it's a tough point to contest. But at least they're not Stone Temple Pilots - who Matt Cameron kind of made fun of towards the end of the article ("They're just painful.")

The article kind of asks, as I have on twitter, why the band have made very few announcements - two club gigs and Lollapalooza, but no tour. That's really what I want to know, when can I see the band! It's hard to imagine that this will be something that results in new music although Cornell seems to toy with the idea of recording just one new song. And it's hard to imagine that music would approach the greatness of Soundgarden. I don't think they need to record new music - Chris is in a different place now.  I just would love to see them one more time.  My favorite Soundgarden show was from maybe 1990, it was Voivod, Soundgarden and Faith No More, Soundgarden were promoting Louder Than Love, they had something to prove and they were incredible. It was the original lineup, with bassist Hiro Yamamoto. After that, I saw them at Lollapalooza, with Guns N Roses, and with Neil Young (and a headlining show at The Armory in New York City which may have been one of the worst concerts I've ever seen, mainly thanks to the venue). But they were never as good as that first time. Maybe some members fell too hard into drugs.  But I think this time around, it could be the best Soundgarden show ever.  That's what I'm hoping for, anyway.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


As I've mentioned before, I love lists.  I just caught up with last month's issue of Guitar World, and they feature a list of the "30 Coolest Guitarist of All Time" which is a weird thing for a magazine like that to have. Don't get me wrong, I love Guitar World, I buy it all the time and I don't even play guitar. They do great interviews that you don't have to be a musician to appreciate. Anyway, no reason to overthink it - it's a fun piece. The list contains a lot of who you would expect: Joe Perry (who is on the cover with "Synyster Gates" of Avenged Sevenfold who also made the list), Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and Eddie Van Halen. Plus guys who really belong there, like Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Frank Zappa and T-Bone Walker (but no John Lee Hooker!). And there were some less obvious choices, like Brian Setzer, Joe StrummerMike Ness and James Williamson of The Stooges (but not Ron Asheton!).  The one thing I really couldn't get over was that Tony Iommi wasn't included.  He has the best riffs, and he is the coolest! But that's the fun thing about lists I guess, arguing about them!


Wow, another new Ben Harper project.  Ben, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison have a band called Fistful Of Mercy.  I hadn't heard anything about this, and all of the sudden, this video pops up in my email box. I know that Ben and his other other band, Relentless7 have a new album, Give 'Til It's Gone, due out this fall. (And I wish Ringo Starr would release a live album from one of the shows he did with Ben and the 7 a few months back!) The song, "Fistful of Mercy," is pretty great. so I'm looking forwad to hearing this.  But I wonder, when will Ben work with The Innocent Criminals again?

Fistful of Mercy from Fistful of Mercy on Vimeo.


Twenty-five years and (give or take) two months ago, I went to see my ninth rock concert, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers with 'Til Tuesday (featuring Aimee Mann!) at the Brendan Byrne Arena. Tonight I returned to the scene of the crime to see Tom and the band (this time with My Morning Jacket opening).

I'm not as wide-eyed about concerts anymore (I've been to hundreds, and maybe over a thousand, since then - one day I've got to try and tally the number).  But I'm a bigger fan of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers than ever. To my ears, their music gets better every year. I loved their last album, The Last DJ, as well as Tom's recent projects: his solo album Highway Companion and especially the Mudcrutch reunion/debut album. The new album, Mojo, is taking a bit of time for me. I love some of the new songs ("No Reason To Cry" is gorgeous, "Jefferson Jerico Blues" rocks righteously). But some of it sounds like it was more fun to play than it is to listen to.  Still, Tom is very behind the album, and played four songs in a row from the new album. It's kind of a bummer that most people there didn't realize that if they bought tickets for the show, they get a free download of the album (there were video ads pointing out "yes, you've already paid for it!").  Tom's been at this for a while, and as much as he dodges the "classic rock"/"oldies" thing, he knows there's only so much he can get away with, so the rest of the show was a pretty standard list of hits, along one of my favorites, "Kings Highway" from Into The Great Wide Open, andthe frequently covered Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac classic "Oh Well." I guess it's kind of churlist to say that Tom should be doing different things live at this stage of the game: the arena was nearly sold out in a summer where everyone is having a hard time selling tickets.  And everyone seemed to have a great time. I just wish he was taking more risks live.  Back in 1996, when the band did their exteded residency at San Francisco's Fillmore in support of (and instead of touring for) She's The One, it altered their chemistry as a live band.  They brought back lots of old songs, did lots of covers, and it seemed like anything could happen at one of Tom's shows (as opposed to most of his "classic rock" peers, whose concerts were enjoyable yet predictable). I guess I would love to see them recharge by doing a club stint (preferably on the east coast!).  That said, the band was great (notably guitarist Mike Campbell, who seems to be FINALLY getting his due as one of the best guitarists) and no one at the concert had a complaint, it was an excellent show.

My Morning Jacket were good as well.  I've expressed admiration for frontman Jim James before, but I sometimes think of the band as health food.  I know they're good for music, and I should probably listen to them more, but I sometimes find them boring.  And tonight's performance had it's dull moments.  But there were also great ones - the best being during their one semi-hit single (that I know of, anyway), "I'm Amazed." Incredible song. The audience loved it, and the band seemed to enjoy playing it.  I know a lot of indie bands have a thing about hit singles, like they aren't cool.  But if I were an indie band worrying about such things, I'd look no further than tonight's headliner to see how to rack up multiple hits and never lose credibility.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET (ish) I am a guest contributor to the SIRIUS XM OutQ channel show The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick.  Every week I discuss music (surprise!) and this week I'll be talking about some new funky and soulful releases.

I have written about Brad before: the band features Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, along with the great singer Shawn Smith. Smith also sings for Satchel (who Stone has produced), and for the electro music project Pigeonhed (the Lo-Fidelity Allstars remix of their song "Battleflag" is probably Smith's biggest "hit"), and has done solo albums too (as well as some other projects). He is one of the best singers you haven't heard. The band's drummer is Regan Hagar (also of Satchel, he used to be in Malfunkshun with the late Andrew Wood, who went on to form Mother Love Bone with Stone). Jeremy Toback used to be the bass player (he's also done some cool solo albums) but now Mike Berg is the bassist (he's also in Satchel). Enough family tree stuff, Brad is a really soulful band. At first they both benefitted and suffered from the Pearl Jam association: they certainly got more press because of Stone, but they sound nothing like Pearl Jam, they have a much more funky and soul music-based sound. Smith is the star of the band. If you can find the first album, 1993's Shame, check it out. But Best Friends?, their forth album which just came out, is very good too, although it did take me a few listens.

Street Sweeper Social Club just put out their second release, The Ghetto Blaster EP. It rocks! It has a bunch of new songs, a remix of "Promenade" from their debut, a new version of Boots Riley's other group, The Coup's "Everythang," and covers of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" and LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out." Plus there's a few new songs. I think Boots is going to do a Coup album next, and I guess Tom Morello will do another Nightwatchman project (and maybe some Rage Against The Machine shows), before the next Street Sweeper full length.

Michael Franti has had such an interesting career. In the late '80s, he was in this angry industrial/hip-hop group The Beatnigs. After that, he had a very Public Enemy influenced hip-hop group called The Disposable Heroes of Hiphopricy (I saw them open for U2 at Shea Stadium, pretty bizarre). In 1994, he started Spearhead, which combined hip-hop with live music, soul, R&B and reggae, and he's been doing it for years without too much commercial success - but the band gets lots of respect in the jam band community. All of the sudden, last year, they had a hit with the very poppy "Say Hey (I Love You)," which is a classic hit single. A wonderful song. Franti's new Spearhead album, The Sound Of Sunshine, comes out September 21, and it sounds like it has a simlilar vibe to "Say Hey."

A couple of other things I'll be bringing: new songs by Cee-Lo Green (his viral hit "F*** You," and another new song "Georgia"), some Robert Randolph & The Family Band (featuring Ben Harper) and a preview of the John Legend/Roots album.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I love lists, and British music magazine Mojo has some great ones.  In the recent issue (Robert Plant cover), they list 70 great soul albums from the '70s.  I confess that I haven't yet read it.  You see, I like to create a soundtrack for every Mojo list-type feature, and I just finished creating my iTunes playlist.  But I wanted to tell you about this issue while it's still available! A lot of the albums are in my collection - everyone should have Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Sly & The Family Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On and Funkadelic's Maggot Brain. But the list called my attention to artists I haven't listened to much (Donny Hathaway, Johnnie Taylor) and a few who I don't know anything about, or I never even heard of! (Like Shirley Brown, Honey Cone and Willie Hutch.) I love to learn about artists who time has sort of "forgotten," whether they are garage rock, country, blues or soul. So this countdown is a big gift! Thank you Mojo!


I've definitely been in a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers mood, and mode, lately.  I'm going to see them in concert tomorrow night.  So, I was stoked to get a new DVD episode covering their classic album, 1979's Damn The Torpeodes.   I would have thought that Tom and the guys would have been "documentaried out" after 2007's career spanning documentary Runnin' Down A Dream.  But the original band members - Tom Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench, former and current bassist Ron Blair (he quit the band, but rejoined a few years back) sat down for new interviews, as did producer Jimmy Iovine (wearing his "Beats By Dre" headphones) and engineer Shelly Yakus (ex-drummer Stan Lynch's interviews are taken from archival footage, and when Petty refers to him, you can still hear the anger, but also the respect for him). As with the Black Sabbath Paranoid Classic Albums DVD, this one is great and takes you pretty deep into the album.

Tom, Mike and Iovine sit down at a mixing board and go through lots of the songs, isolating tracks and marveling at what they did all those years ago. They talk about how legendary drummer Jim Keltner played the shaker on "Refugee" which gave it its "mojo," how Tom almost gave the his former Mudcrutch song "Don't Do Me Like That" to The J. Geils Band ("I thought it sounded like a J. Geils Band song!") and how Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench came up with their riffs. Torpedoes is an incredible album, and I don't think that it gets its due, and this doc helps to rectify that.

But watching this DVD got me to thinking abot all of the Petty DVDs that are out there, many of them I've never written about. Runnin' Down A Dream I have written about.  Best Buy actually had a 4 disc version, which featured a four hour version of the documentary, a concert from Petty's 2006 tour and a CD of rare tracks. That's the gold standard if you're a huge fan.  You can't get that version anymore - the one that is now available (everywhere, not just at Best Buy) is 2 discs and just contains the documentary.

Last year, Best Buy had an exclusive expanded version of the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers box set, The Live Anthology, which contained two DVDs. One disc, 400 Days, was a documentary on the making of, and touring behind, Tom's solo album, Wildflowers.  But the doc was really boring in my opinion, I'd skip that one.  Not so for the other DVD: Live At the Santa Monica Civic Auditorum, recorded on New Year's Eve 1978/1979.  I wish they'd release this on CD (or even mp3).  Great performance by the original version of the band.

In 1996, the band played a series of concerts at the Fillmore in San Francisco; they decided not to tour for the She's The One soundtrack, instead opting for a long residency at the legendary venue.  I believe that those shows transformed the band for years to come, and made them a more kick-ass band. Three years later, in 1999 with Echo as their new album, they returned to the Fillmore and this DVD is the proof of how rocking they were. Lots of classics, as well as great mid- and late- '90s tunes that deserve to be re-examined ("Swingin'," "Walls," "Angel Dream," "Room At The Top," "Free Girl Now" and even "I Don't Wanna Fight" [sung by Mike] are all excellent).

In 2003, they released The Last DJ: Live At The Olympic. You know how I feel about The Last DJ! This concert sees the band accompanied by an orchestra (conducted by Jon Brion, who has produced records for Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Kanye West). The encore included some classics, as well as covers of "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and Chuck Berry's "Around and Around." A bonus CD, Bad Girl Boogie, features covers of The Animals' "I'm Crying," Elmore James' "Done Somebody Wrong," Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman" and Chuck Berry's "Carol." Awesome collection.

In 2005, they released their episode of the PBS series SoundStage, which featured a few hits and lots of covers ("Baby, Please Don't Go," "Born In Chicago," "Little Red Rooster").  Another great performance. I guess the deal with Tom is, when you go to see him live (or even watch him on DVD or Blu-Ray), you can't go wrong!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am ET, I am a featured guest on the SIRIUS XM OutQ channel show The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick. Of course, I talk about music.

Last week, I talked about new hip-hop releases - some of which I am a really big fan of. But some listeners weren't into it!  This week, I'll be focusing on some great Americana-type music, and I'll be writing about these records more in the coming weeks.  Los Lobos' new album Tin Can Trust, the first single from Robert Plant's upcoming Band Of Joy album, "Angel Dance" (which is a Los Lobos cover!), The Black Crowes' collection Croweology (newly re-recorded acoustic versions of thier songs, this is a gift to fans before they go on another hiatus), something new from Dr. John and music from two relatively new artists, Trombone Shorty and Eli "Paperboy" Reed, either of whom has gotten too much hype, but I believe people will really like both if they get the chance to hear them.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Over the weekend, I went to see Green Day at PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey with my wife, my cousin, and her son Kyle.  It was Kyle's first rock concert.  I was interested in his impressions of the show and I figured discussing it via IM would be the best way to share the conversation (with the permission of Kyle and his parents of course). I was a bit jealous: I remember how exciting my first concert was (Rush at the Brendan Byrne Arena on the Grace Under Pressure tour in 1985). Anyway, I haven't been to a Green Day concert in about a decade, since the  Warning tour, when they were not as happening as they are now (the next album, American Idiot, changed their fortunes considerably). These days they are bona fide arena headliners and they really embraced it (the show was extremely sold out, meanwhile Live Nation employees were selling discount tickets for a number of upcoming shows). Kyle's next concert will have a hard time living up to this one.  Anyway, our IM conversation:

4:02pm Me: so how did you like your FIRST ROCK CONCERT?

4:02pm Kyle: IT WAS AMAZING

4:03pm Me: what was your favorite part?

4:05pm Kyle: when people were getting pulled up on stage (during "Longview") that was cool

4:06pm Me: what year were you born in again?

4:06pm Kyle: 1997

4:06pm Me: so it doesn't bother you that the songs from "dookie" are older than you are? some kids don't like "old" music, right?

4:06pm Kyle: well...those kids have no taste in music

4:07pm Me: ha ha ha good for you

4:07pm Kyle: it doesn't bother me at all "2000 light years away" is one of my favorite songs

4:07pm Me: wow, that's even older than "dookie" I think

4:07pm Kyle: yeah i think it is from "kerplunk"

4:08pm Me: so you don't buy the full albums though, you just download whichever songs you like?

4:08pm Kyle: well i use only itunes giftcards and i buy the full albums when i have enough

4:09pm Me: but you don't care about owning the actual CD, right?

4:09pm Kyle: when i have the cd i don't buy it. I import it into itunes

4:10pm Me: right, me too. did you know the song "who wrote holden caufield"? that was the one when the singer from AFI (Davey Havok) joined them on stage

4:10pm Kyle: no never heard of it

4:11pm Me: so does that make you want to check for it in the itunes store?

4:11pm Kyle: well now i am curious so i will check it out

4:11pm Me: by the way, do you know who holden caufield is?

4:11pm Kyle: no, am i supposed to?

4:12pm Me: your mom would know - he is the main character in a book called "Catcher In The Rye" that you will probably read in school in the next 2 or 3 years

4:12pm Kyle: oh yeah...she mentioned that during the concert

4:12pm Me: so did you have any expectations for what the show would be like from watching Green Day live DVDs - or even from the scenes in rock band?

4:13pm Kyle: i expected it to be awesome but i also expected it to be adult like

4:13pm Me: what do you mean by that?

4:13pm Kyle: like cursing and such

4:13pm Me: there was a lot of cursing!

4:13pm Kyle: yes yes there was but i dont mind it

4:14pm Me: what did you think of the crowd?

4:14pm Kyle: drunk smoking losers

4:14pm Kyle: but that might be harsh

4:15pm Kyle: but they were drunk and smoking

4:16pm Me: how did you like it, compared to American Idiot the Musical?

4:16pm Kyle: it was more authentic maybe because it was actually green day not actors

4:20pm Me: Green Day used to be considered a "punk rock" band - does "punk rock" mean anything to you?

4:20pm Kyle: no not really i think of green day as an alternative rock band

4:20pm Kyle: unless that is the same thing as "punk rock"

4:21pm Me: what does "alternative rock" mean to you? what rock band is not "alternative"?

4:22pm Kyle: well i look at aerosmith or guns n' roses or ozzy osbourne as rock

4:22pm Me: that's a good observation

4:22pm Kyle: i look at green day as alternative

4:23pm Me: "alternative" generally means that something was influenced by punk rock - punk rock rebelled against rock and roll bands in the '70s and '80s. kids felt that rock and roll had gotten too big. so it was ironic when bands like Nirvana and Green Day started getting just as big

4:23pm Kyle: yeah

4:23pm Me: some bands could not deal with it - like nirvana. billie joe and the green day guys really seem to enjoy playing on a huge stage

4:24pm Kyle: yeah i know as they said "This is the most F***ing fun we have had on this F***ing tour!!"

4:25pm Me: ha ha, that's right. when they started playing all of those rock covers like Satisfaction, how did you know all of those songs?

4:25pm Kyle: well

4:25pm Kyle:guitar hero

4:25pm Kyle: :)

4:25pm Kyle: but i knew about the stones before gh

4:26pm Me: I am a big fan of guitar hero even though I don't have it! if it turns people on to those songs (satisfaction was a hit like six years before I was born!)

4:26pm Kyle: wow

4:26pm Me: anyway, thanks for IMing with me. what other bands do you want to see in concert, maybe we can go with you and your mom to another one

4:27pm Kyle: i like aerosmith,

4:27pm Kyle: i like bruce springsteen

4:27pm Kyle: pretty much rock in general

4:28pm Me: those are both great. Bruce isn't touring this year - too bad you'll be away during that aerosmith concert.  what about KISS?  are they on rock band or guitar hero?

4:28pm Kyle: oooooh i like kiss as well and yes



4:29pm Me: any last thoughts on the green day concert?


4:30pm Me:  ha ha great. OK, thanks for IMing with me and tell your mom I said hi.
4:31pm Kyle: ok

4:31pm Kyle: bye

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I've been listening to a lot of Tom Petty's music lately.  The Heartbreakers, The Traveling Wilburys, Mudcrutch and his solo stuff too. I'm going to see him in concert later this month, and I can't wait. I haven't missed a Petty tour in... I don't know how long. He is one of my favorite artists ever.  When he sings, I believe him.  I believe that what he's singing about matters.  To him and to me.  And I like to believe that most of his fans feel the same way.  Which is why I have always been puzzled at the reaction that his 2002 album, The Last DJ got.

I guess, on the surface, it came off like a millionaire rock star complaining about how things aren't as good as they used to be. That was certainly the cynical view of the album. Fine. But Petty's music deserves better than a cursory listen and it isn't really for cynics anyway.

The album is really about the breakdown of values.  It's about how money buys everything, damn all the consequences, and damn what's right. People wrote it off as Tom complaining about the music industry, but he just used the industry as a sort of example: having been a professional musician for over a quarter of a century at that point, I think that makes sense. He doesn't know as much about the car industry, or the food industry.

I can accept that it may be a bit naive: the idea that "money becomes king" certainly wasn't novel in 2002 when the album came out, and certainly not in the music industry. You don't need me to tell you about greed in the music industry.  But did you know that at Woodstock in 1969, no swag was sold? It just hadn't occurred to the powers-that-be that you could make tons of music off of music-related merchandise. Decades later, record labels want a piece of an artist's merchandise sales as part of the deal when they sign them. One of the reasons that the music industry has failed (in my opinon) is that music fans had felt ripped off by them for years, when they had a way to "get back" (by illegally downloading music for free) they had no problem with doing so. I've been at concerts this summer where Live Nation was selling discounted tickets for future shows - $10 for tickets by major, multiplatinum artists. Also known as "chickens coming home to roost."

Looking outside of music, when you see what banks and investment firms and oil companies have gotten away with in the past few years... the damage they've caused, the lives they've destroyed, and the slaps on the wrist that they've recieved: the head of BP did lose his job... albiet with a $18 million severance. BP will supposedly be able to write off their gulf clean up efforts on their taxes. And how many of millionaries in the banking and finance industry are experiencing the financial difficulties that their victims are suffering through? I wonder what will happen when these chickens come home to roost.

I think it's kind of a bummer that this album isn't celebrated as one of Tom's finest. He's never been really big on social commentary, and it's no surprise that he's backed away from it since The Last DJ (on his solo album Highway Companion, the Mudcrutch reunion/debut album and the recent Heartbreakers effort Mojo). I listen to the album pretty frequently, and shudder at how much of what he was singing about was true.  And  I love how he ends the album with "Can't Stop The sun," which has the lines "and you may think you control things, but there'll be more just like me, who won't give in, who'll rise again." 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am-ish, I am a guest on the SIRIUS XM Channel OutQ; I talk about new music on The Morning Jolt With Larry Flick. Today, I'll be talking about some recent hip-hop releases.

I've already written about The Roots' How I Got Over.  It's one of my favorite albums of the year, and the title track is up there as one of my favorite songs this year.  I also have a track from the Roots' upcoming collaborative album with John Legend, Wake Up, which I'll be writing more about.  It's covers of socially conscious soul tunes from the '60s and '70s.   Another one of my favorite albums this year is Big Boi's long awaited solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty.   It's amazing that Jive Records thought that this didn't have any commercial potential: Big Boi signed to Def Jam for the album (which is also odd, as they don't seem to be able to handle more "adult" or "arty" releases, such as How I Got Over. I'll also be talking about one of Larry Flick's favorite albums of the year, Eminem's Recovery. I've never been a huge fan of Eminem's (although I enjoy his SIRIUS XM channel Shade 45), but I definitely recognize the man's skills.  And there are some great songs on Recovery.

Kanye West has a crazy new song called "Power," which samples King Crimson's "21st Century Schitzoid Man." Amazing song, and I have that one. Also a new song from T.I., one of his first since leaving prison.  Also, music from two newer artists -- neither of whom I really "get," I confess -- B.o.B. and Drake. Tune in (SIRIUS 109, XM 98), call in (866-305-6887) and tell us what you think!

Friday, August 6, 2010


The other day I was looking in the Village Voice, and I saw an ad for The Dead Weather's album.  It was a full page ad, and it was a picture of frontwoman Allison Mosshart giving 110% in front of a huge crowd.    That's exactly right.  The band gets a lot of attention, of course, because of drummer and leader Jack White, but it is Allison Mosshart who makes the band awesome.  No one else can steal the spotlight from Jack: not Meg White, not Brendan Benson. But with The Dead Weather, you mainly watch Mosshart.

And don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, as any reader of No Expiration knows.  And it's not even because I have a thing for Mosshart: in fact, if I saw her on the street, I don't know that I'd recognize her.  On stage, she's mainly a blur, she reminds me of a combination of Iggy and Morrison.  She just has such presence, and, judging by the Voice ad, the band is fine with her getting the attention.  Hopefully, this will lead to more people discovering her other band, The Kills.

Anyway, the show was incredible.  When I last saw The White Stripes, I felt like they weren't as good as their records.  The Dead Weather is just the opposite.  I think they made good records, but they really come alive on stage. I thought they were really powerful.  It was fun watching Jack hammer away at the drums - he was clearly the band's leader, even though he's not the frontman (he did come out front to play guitar a few times). They played songs from their two albums, plus a few extras (like a cover of Pentagram's "Forever My Queen," which is also on their iTunes live EP).  The highlights were their cover of Bob Dylan's "New Pony," "60 Ft. Tall," "Treat Me Like Your Mother," "I Cut Like A Buffalo," "Hustle And Cuss," "Die By The Drop," "Will There Be Enough Water" and "Die By The Drop."

I gotta mention, it's not just about Jack and Allison.  Watching The Dead Weather live, you see that it is a band, and not just a side project.  Dean Fertita is a monster guitarist, and Jack Lawrence (who also plays in The Raconteurs) holds it down on bass. The fact that they have done two albums in a row, two albums in a year, speaks to how serious Jack is about the band. I look forward to hearing more from them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


For those of you who are new to No Expiration, every Wednesday morning at 9 am (ish), I go on the SIRIUS XM Channel OutQ, on The Morning Jolt with Larry Flick and talk about music. Normally, I write about what I'll be talking about the night before: however, last night I was rocked by The Dead Weather who played Prospect Park in Brooklyn.  Review coming soon!  Anyway, today, I'll be talking about a number of different rock bands.  One of the most anticipated albums of the year, Gaslight Anthem's very important third album, American Slang - they've recently gone from playing clubs to larger halls (they are playing Radio City Music Hall in the fall). Another of the most anticipated albums of the year, Arcade Fire's very important third album, The Suburbs, has the indie fans going crazy.  I'm not going crazy for it, but they are one of the only bands that the indie set has hyped in the past few years that I like - and unlike most of those bands, Arcade Fire will have a career (they are playing two nights at Madison Square Garden later this year!!). Trent Reznor's new post-Nine Inch Nails project is How To Destroy Angels, and they just released their debut EP.  I like it, but it sounds a bit like NIN with a different singer.

I'm also talking about the recent album by punk rockers Against Me!, new music by The Smashing Pumpkins (which is basically Billy Corgan and whoever he hires), and one of my least favorite '90s bands, Stone Temple Pilots.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


(this photo courtesy of my beautiful and talented wife and her Leica camera)

I often hear people asking "whatever happened to good old rock and roll?" 

It's still here, and doing fine, thank you.  You just have to look for it a bit. When I mentioned that my wife and I were going to see Social Distortion, I got a few people saying "They're still around?"  That's the problem!  It's true, they aren't the most prolific band in the world, never were, but people really slept on their last album, 2004's Sex, Love & Rock 'n' Roll.  It was a great album, and I was glad that they played two songs from it, "Reach For The Sky" and "Nickels and Dimes." They hit all of their eras, actually, doing the early hardcore stuff ("Prison Bound," "Another State Of Mind," "The Creeps"), their major label stuff that approached "hit single" status ("Bad Luck," "Ball and Chain") and some of thier excellent covers (The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb," Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire," the country standard "Making Believe").

Seeing Social D. is inspiring.  Mike Ness has been through a lot of life, and you believe him when he sings about hard times (whether he is playing rock with Social D, or country music as a solo artist).  He reminds me of Tom Petty.  Years ago, I asked Tom Petty why he thinks there are so many young kids at his concerts.  He said "Because we don't pander to them."  Plus, his shows were relatively affordable. I think it's the same deal with Ness (and sadly, Petty's shows are now probably too expensive for kids, unless they are die-hards). The show was filled with greying (myself included), balding (thankfuly not) people who have been fans for decades (my first Social D. show was seeing them open for Neil Young & Crazy Horse in 1990 and that's when I became a fan).  But lots of younger kids too. Ness has played these songs so many times, but he puts so much heart and soul into them, and he still seems to believe in punk rock as much as he did back in the day. He really means a lot to people. I'm so glad Social D. are still around. In fact, Ness mentioned that they signed to Epitaph Records, and have a new album out in November.  I can't wait to hear it. I think rock and roll has many decades left in it.  But I can tell you one thing: as long as Ness is walking this earth and carrying a guitar with him, rock and roll is in fine shape.  You just won't hear about him on the radio (too busy with nickelback) and you won't read about him in the press (too busy with animal collective and the like).  But if you love Social D, you haven't been using radio or the media to decide what you like anyway.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Picture at the right courtesy of my DROID!  For those of you who aren't familiar with Primus: fans enthusiastically chant "Primus sucks!" at their shows.  In reality, they are one of the best, most creative, weirdest, heaviest bands you'll ever see.  They aren't for everyone.  But they are for me, and the thousands of other people who showed up to the waterfront in Williamsburg on Friday night.

This was the first time most of us saw this particular lineup of Primus: of course leader Les Claypool was playing bass and doing vocals and Larry "Ler" LaLonde is still on guitar. But drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander left the band for the second time, and, as I mentioned a few months back, Jay Lane is back in the band. Jay was in Primus before they ever recorded an album, and in the years since, has played with Les in Sausage, as well as many of his other solo projects. But mainly, he's been Bob Weir's drummer, playing in his band Ratdog, as well as in Furthur, which which featured Weir and another Grateful Dead alumni, Phil Lesh.

When Primus reunited a few years back, they got a bit jammier due to the time Les had spent in the jam band community: his band Oysterhead featured Trey Anastasio of Phish, and his solo band toured with Lesh, did Bonnaroo and other jam band festivals, and Les played a bit with Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule. But with Lane back in the band, they got a bit jammier, but I had no problem with that. They were still as heavy, and as weird, as ever.  And one cool thing about Lane being back in the band is that they now have more material to choose from. "Herb" quit the band in 1996 and they replaced him with Brian "Brain" Mantia, but when Primus reunited in 2003 with "Herb," they didn't do any of the "Brain" material. Since Lane wasn't on any of the Primus albums, now they can do anything from any period. The third song they did was "Golden Boy" from 1997's Brown Album, which they hadn't played in over a decade. They also did "Over The Falls" from that album. Personally, I would have loved to hear some stuff from 1999's Antipop, maybe that will come on their next tour.

The show seemed a bit short: there were two opening bands: The Dead Kenny G's and Gogol Bordello (we caught the end of them). Primus seemed to play a short set, and I read that they were forced off stage 15 minutes before curfew for some reason. They only played 13 songs, plus a drum solo and a "whamola" jam.  But the songs were extended a bit (not ridiculously long, thankfully) and there were lots of classics: "Pudding Time," "Here Come The Bastards," "Those Damn Blue Collar Tweekers," "Sgt. Baker," "American Life," "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and "Tommy The Cat." I think the band are just warming up for a new album and a bigger tour, and they are getting used to this particular combination. The band were powerful as ever, and Les had his usual charisma.  He doesn't even remind you of anyone, he is a total original, from his songwriting to his bass playing to his on-stage banter. That's why he doesn't "suck," and why so many of us will be there every time he decides to reactivate the band (and many of us check out all of his great solo projects as well).  They are apparently playing in Montclair, New Jersey in the fall: I know I'll be there!