The story behind Smile is fairly legendary by now - the masterpiece Beach Boys album that never was, is finally here. The Beach Boys' uncompleted 1967 album Smile has remained the Holy Grail of Brian Wilson’s long, incredible, tortured genius career in pop music. Thirty seven years since its intended release as the follow-up to their classic album Pet Sounds, Smileis very much the groundbreaking art-rock record it was rumored to have been. Described as those who have heard the original sessions, the ’67 Smile was the American Sgt. Pepper’s. But after Pet Sounds, the band – and Brian – had a breakdown that would take Wilson years to recover from.
On September 7 2003, the great singer-songwriter Warren Zevon passed away from a rare form of cancer. Originally given three months to live, Zevon went in to the studio a month after this diagnosis in August 2002 and began recording what became not only his last album, but one of his best, The Wind. For that album he called on some of his closest friends and collaborators throughout the years. Well documented by VH-1, the documentary also included footage from Warren’s appearance on the David Letterman Show in October 2002 in which the entire show was devoted to Zevon.
Singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur was discovered by Peter Gabriel in the mid-Nineties and released his debut album, Big City Secrets on Gabriel’s Real World label in 1997. Since then, Arthur has been a critic’s darling, a singer/songwriter of intense emotionality whose lyrical imagery is often dark and brooding. Occasionally, Arthur has been known to lighten up; particularly on the song “Honey And the Moon,” which became an XPN listener’ s favorite from his last album, Redemption’s Son.
Around The Sun is REM’s first album since their 2001 studio album Reveal. Throughout 13 songs – on their 13th studio album REM have produced a pensive, mid-tempo collection of songs that recalls the lushness of their best records from the Eighties like Reckoning, Fables, and Lifes Rich Pageant.
Named for the legendary Malibu, California recording studio where it was recorded, Shangri-La is a classic Mark Knopfler album. Including his great body of work with Dire Straits, Knopfler’s signature guitar sound, vocals and intelligent lyrics and songs have made him a favorite artist of XPN listeners and members.
Elvis Costello’s first album for the Lost Highway label is a roots-rock laden collection of songs inspired by the history and cultural import of the location where it was recorded – mostly in Oxford, Mississippi, but also in Clarksdale, Mississippi and Nashville. Costello - working with his band Steve Nieve on keyboards, bassist Davey Farragher and drummer Pete Thomas – touches down on gospel and soul, sweet ballads and rollicking rock.
In early 2002 WXPN listeners and members got their first taste of the sounds and music of Citizen Cope on his self-titled debut record on the Dreamworks label. Fusing soulful, down-home grooves with pop sensibilities, Cope’s record quickly found a home on 88.5 and developed a nice following in our listening areas. Cope’s debut was smart, intelligent, high quality music for an integrated world. Not afraid to take on weighty, social, cultural and political issues in his lyrics, he’s both a realist and an optimist. Songs like “If There’s Love,” “Let The Drummer Kick It,” “Mistaken Identity,” and “Contact” quickly became staples on the radio dial at XPN, as did Cope’s collaboration with Santana on the song “Sideways” from Santana’s Shaman album.
One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, singer-songwriter, Ray Lamontagne explains how Stephen Stills saved his life. One of six children raised by a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, Lamontagne – who barely made it out of high school left his family for Lewiston, Maine. Bored, going nowhere in his life and doing some serious soul searching Ray was in Lewiston working long hard hours in a shoe factory when he experienced a musical epiphany.
In 1963, renowned chemists Bear Owsley and Nick Sands developed a strain of designer LSD which had a reputation for inducing tribal hallucinations. This strain of acid was called “west indian girl,” hence the name for which the Los Angeles duo of Robert James and Francis Ten have chosen to call their musical collaboration.
Everyone Is Here is Neil and Tim Finn’s first collaborative studio album in eight years. Throughout their careers, the Finn’s have enjoyed global success alone and together. Between their solo careers, Crowded House, and Split Enz, Neil and Tim Finn have written more than their fair share of classic tunes we have come to love over the years. There are too many songs to list, however a handful will remind you of their stature as significant songwriters: “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” “Weather With You,” ”Six Months In A Leaky Boat,” “I Got You,” “Persuasion,” and “She Will Have Her Way.” No fan of pop music can deny the power of these songs over time.