He was the brawling tough guy who cleaned up real well when The Who became the ultimate Mod band. He has always been a rocker who provided balance to the sensitive artist side of Pete Townshend. And while he was not the best of the bluesy British Invasion singers, he came into his own as The Who shifted into a bigger arena rock sound, with his scream in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” being one of the signature moments of ‘70s rock. Moreover, Daltrey is a fan and seems fairly in touch with his working class roots. One of my favorite moments in the documentary on Brian Wilson’s revival of Smile is Daltrey visiting Brian backstage before the first performance, clearly in fanboy mode. Let’s pay tribute to one of the first true rock god frontmen by grabbing your iPod, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
At the end of every month, we here at the Top Five take stock of the music news that mattered most to us during the preceding 30-odd days. Without further preamble, here are our five favorite stories from February 2015.
1) Jimmy Kimmel Gives Us The Mash-Ups We Never Knew We Needed
On February's four Mondays, Jimmy Kimmel turned the musical spot on his show into #MashUpMonday, inviting bands from opposite ends of the musical spectrum in for a little collaboration. The pairings ranged from complimentary (If you gave them enough beard, modern-day Weezer could easily pass for their counterparts in Z.Z. Top) to genuinely surprising (Kenny G. and Warren G.? Which one's supposed to be the nostalgia act here?). my personal favorite? The team-up between legendary new-wave funk maestro Morris Day and the ladies of Haim, which succeeded in reminding everyone that a) Morris Day is way cooler than Prince would have you believe, and b) it is impossible to hear "Jungle Love" and not dance.
2) A Belcher-fied Sleater-Kinney Rocks Bob's Burgers
You've reunited your seminal band, released a comeback album showing no signs of rust, and snagged a headlining slot at one of the summer's best music festivals (more on that later). If you're Sleater-Kinney, how could your 2015 get any better? Well, for one thing, you could star in a music video set in America's favorite cartoon burger shop. In "A New Wave," Corin, Carrie, and Janet meet Tina, Louise, and Gene, joining The National as the second indie band to lend their likenesses to the world of Bob's Burgers (if you haven't, take a minute to check out The National's Thanksgiving and Christmas appearances). When Tina Belcher eventually hosts a college radio show (and she definitely will), this is how it will sound.
3) Tom DeLonge Has A Close Encounter of the Pop-Punk Kind
Someone should check on Tom DeLonge. The former Blink-182 guitarist unceremoniously announced his departure from the band on the eve of their return to the studio last month, hemming and hawing about the decision in a long public Facebook post. This month, DeLonge gave one of his first post-break-up interviews to Paper, but instead of talking about his decision to leave, he led interviewer Michael Tedder down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole. The man who wrote "All The Small Things" claimed, among other things, that UFOs are real, the CIA is building protection against possible invasion, and he's had his phone tapped by shadowy government figures for his role in exposing the truth. He also details a recent close encounter at Area 51. Who has time to be in a band when there's secret desert bases to explore?
4) Pitchfork Announces 2015 Festival Schedule, Fans of Chicago Summers Rejoice
Pitchfork became the first of Chicago's big three festivals to announce its 2015 schedule, and it's a doozy; anchored by hometown heroes Wilco, rock goddesses Sleater-Kinney (who'll return for their second Chicago show after a triumphant night at the Chicago Theater), and South Side hip-hop virtuoso Chance The Rapper, the fest also includes sets from Run The Jewels, The New Pornographers, Future Islands, Caribou, and more. My prediction for best set of the festival: Tobias Jesso, Jr., channeling the twin spirits of Harry Nilsson and Lee Hazlewood, will bring a cool California breeze unto the humid, beer-soaked masses of a Friday-afternoon Union Park.
5) Artist Having the Most Fun This Month: Father John Misty
It's the Year of the Sheep (or goat for all you Cubbies). So bring in good fortune of the Chinese New Year by attending the next CHIRP volunteer orientation meeting. These only come around a few times a year. It's your first step in being part of radio that you love.
Today we pay tribute to a member of one of the most influential post-punk bands of all-time, Wire. Graham Lewis has been playing bass for the band since its inception in 1976, and, he’s been typically steady, providing the pulse on so many great recordings. Lewis has been involved in a myriad of side projects, generally in a support role. He’s let his music do the talking, and that alone is worth saluting. So grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
Chicagoans go to the polls next week, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is feeling fine. The latest Chicago Tribune poll shows the mayor with a commanding 25-point lead over his nearest challenger, Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia. Despite a turbulent four years, Emanuel needs just five more percentage points to avoid a spring run-off and guarantee his second term as mayor. For as polarizing as Emanuel remains, he's yet to inspire the same kind of musical protests (or promotions) like those of his predecessors. We dug through the archives and found five songs about Chicago mayors that capture the conflicts and complexities leading the Second City.
1) Junior Wells, "Blues for Mayor Daley" (1969)
Mayor: Richard J. Daley Key Line: "If Mayor Daley were to hold my hand/ I could teach something to this old man that I just can't explain"
In Clout: Mayor Daley and His City, author Len O'Connor comes right out and says it: "Not only did the Daley administration lack interest in alleviating racial inequalities, City Hall was allied with those who worked to preserve the status quo." From the thwarting of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Chicago Freedom Movement to continuing the fight against the reversal of redlining in the wake of 1968's Fair Housing Act, Richard J. Daley had a troubling record when it came to race, both by modern standards and those of his more progress-minded contemporaries. In "Blues for Mayor Daley," Junior Wells understands the current situation all too well, inviting Hizzoner down to the South Side for an eye-opening summit that, perhaps unsurprisingly, never came to pass.
2) Steve Goodman, "Daley's Gone" (1977)
Mayor: Richard J. Daley Key Line: "It would be funny if heaven was/ just like the 11th Ward/ and you had to know the right people/ to receive your just reward."
For ever '68 Convention and abuse of Machine patronage, there's a Sears Tower and an O'Hare. Daley the Elder was an irascible schemer who contributed largely to the pro-war, anti-civil rights forces that earned Chicago a black eye in the press, but he also guided the city through the socially and economically turbulent decades that sapped the vitality from many other Rust Belt cities. In the end, he's a polarizing, complicated figure, as folk singer Steve Goodman understood. Written just after Daley's death, "Daley's Gone" is mostly laudatory, as Goodman walked the line between admiring the man's legacy and bringing to light the morally questionable tactics he used to secure it. However, you get the sense that Goodman struggles with his own feelings on the matter; the urge to celebrate Chicago is strong, but the urge to shed light on the city's inherent injustices is even stronger.
3) Sufjan Stevens, "Inaugural Pop Music for Jane Margaret Byrne" (2006)
Mayor: Jane Byrne Key Line: [instrumental]
This track from Sufjan Stevens' Illinois-themed outtakes album The Avalanche starts out with pomp and promise, gets darker and more complicated towards the middle, and ends far sooner than expected. In short, it's a perfect analogy for the administration of Jane Byrne, the trailblazing mayor who passed away last fall at 81. Running on a Machine-busting platform promising to sweep away the grossest abuses of Chicago's patronage system, Byrne succeeded in besting the inept Michael Bilandic but soon found herself enmeshed in struggles with high crime, labor unrest, and a city council that wanted to see her fail. However, despite the missteps of her term and two ugly elections against Harold Washington, Byrne's contribution to city politics remains large; as of 2015, Chicago remains the largest American city to ever have a female mayor.
4) Dillinger Four, "#51 Dick Butkus" (1998)
Mayor: Harold Washington Key Line: "Harold Washington!/ In a garter belt and stockings!"
If you haven't, go listen to "Harold," the 84th episode of This American Life and still one of the series' high points. Now, come back and listen to "#51 Dick Butkus" by Minneapolis punk band DIllinger Four. When you hear the two back to back, you get a pretty good sense of what it must've been like to grow up as a (even somewhat) tolerant youth in the kind of just-because racism that earned Chicago national attention during Harold Washington's mayoral campaign and the subsequent Council Wars. Throw in a reference to Mirth & Girth, the famous painting that called out Washingon's rumored homosexuality and subsequently ignited a constitutional firestorm over the limits of artistic speech, and you've got a surprisingly nuanced picture of the politics of '80s Chicago.
5) The Tossers, "Chicago" (2003)
Mayor: Richard M. Daley Key Line: "They fuckin' gentrified my home!/ They fuckin' gentrified my home!/ Daley kicking ethnic vendors off the street!/ Ordinanced nothing cheap to eat!
Maybe it was the resignation of the jaded '90s, or the evolving progressivism of a second-generation mayor, or simply the lack of protestors being beaten to near-death right in the middle of Buckingham Fountain, but Richard M. Daley didn't inspire nearly the same vitriol as his father. However, when he was targeted, as in this blistering track from South Side Celtic punks the Tossers, no feelings were spared. Instead of bemoaning white flight or espousing racial unease, the band puts a new spin on a familiar topic: gentrification. Told from the perspective of an Irishman who stayed in the city while all of the other white folks fled to the suburbs, the song takes aim at Daley, developers, and the returning yuppies who (in the eyes of songwriter Tony Duggins) contribute to the erasure of neighborhood communities without a thought regarding what's come before.