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RockNotes: The Jayhawks, Jesus, Queen & M.I.A.

1. Alternacountry roots pop poster boys.

"The Jayhawks have, without question, been one of the most influential and highly respected bands in modern Americana/indie roots music," No Depression writes. "From their 1986 self-titled debut (aka the Bunkhouse record), through their mid-'00s hiatus and the work Mark Olson and Gary Louris have done since then, it's safe to say the band has produced some of the finest music in this genre."

Tell No Depression your top five Jayhawks songs and you might win an autographed copy of the Bunkhouse debut.

2. Jesus arrives via Chicago.

Hard to believe it took so long, but "Jesus Just Left Chicago" was recently added to the Songfacts library. Says ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons:

"The two songs ['Waitin' For The Bus' and 'Jesus Just Left Chicago'] were written separately during sessions that were not too far apart. We were in the process of compiling the tracks for the album Tres Hombres, and that segue was a fortunate miscalculation by the engineer. He had been attempting to splice out some blank tape, and the result is that the two come off as a single work. It just seemed to work."

3. Ready, Freddie.

Queen Rock Montreal has been getting quite a workout at the Beachwood Inn lately, and while there are some flat spots - "Jailhouse Rock"? Really? - Freddie Mercury is fairly mesmerizing, as you would expect. Even "Bohemian Rhapsody" sounds fresh.

From Wikipedia:

"Director Saul Swimmer recorded a commentary for the original laserdisc release of the concert. In it, he describes the process by which he and the band went about organizing and recording the concerts which eventually became this video. He is complimentary of the band and spoke positively about the experience. Specifically, he talked about the lengths he went to in order to convince the band to make the video at the end of their then-current tour. Swimmer said the deciding moment came when he took Freddie Mercury to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and showed him the three-story IMAX screen, and told him to imagine himself five stories tall. Having convinced Freddie, the rest of the band followed suit."

The band, however, didn't get along with Swimmer.

"Unlike Swimmer's earlier commentary track, which paints a generous picture of the relationship between himself and the band, May and Taylor's commentary track indicates very directly that this was not the case . . . Swimmer asked Queen to wear the same clothes in both nights, however, the band were fairly angry with the producers, so the band decided to ruin the continuity by constantly changing clothes during the course of the two nights. This was confirmed by Brian May on the Queen Rock Montreal DVD commentary."

4. "M.I.A.'s Album Cover Is Not Subtle."

5. Going coastal.

"Over the past couple years Thrill Jockey has sometimes seemed more like a Baltimore operation than a Chicago one, with more than a half-dozen signings of artists from in and around Charm City, but the additions of Arbouretum and Pontiak have convinced me that Bettina Richards is steering the label right," Peter Margasak wrote recently in the Reader.

Thrill Jockey also announced recently that it was "excited to announce that two of our favorite West Coasters have signed to Thrill Jockey: San Francisco's Barn Owl and Portland's Eternal Tapestry."

So there.


From Avril Lavigne and Kid Rock to the Replacements and Radiohead, we've got the best RockNotes around. Comments and contributors welcome.


Posted on June 3, 2010

MUSIC - This Summer's Soundtrack Started Here.
TV - M*A*S*H Theme Song's Weird History.
POLITICS - SCOTUS Blesses Church + State.
SPORTS - Tip Your Cap To The Negro Leagues.

BOOKS - The Legacy Of Racism For Children.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Chagall Windows.

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