robbie robertson

B List: 10 Bands That Should Go Unplugged

[Originally Published: April 14, 2011]

Back in 1989, when MTV was still living up to its Music Television title, the cable network debuted a show with a simple premise called Unplugged. Artists from a wide variety of genres would perform acoustic sets in front of a small audience. By 1992 the show had produced a #1 single (Mariah Carey’s I’ll Be There) and a #1 album (Eric Clapton’s Unplugged) and dozens of memorable performances.

MTV’s Unplugged is currently in its 21st season with Lykke Li, Train and Adam Lambert among the latest batch of underwhelming performers visiting the show. It’s been quite some time since an episode of Unplugged has generated lots of buzz and we’d like to see that change. For this week’s B List, I’ve put together a list of ten acts I think would kill on Unplugged…

10. Fleet Foxes

While appearing on Unplugged wouldn’t exactly take Fleet Foxes out of their comfort zone since frontman Robin Pecknold usually plays an acoustic, we would love the whole band eschew electricity for a set of pastoral folk-rock.

READ ON for nine more acts that would revitalize Unplugged…

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BG: A Double Dose Of Wilco News

While the folks behind Coachella made their ticket holders wait until nearly the day of the fest to divulge their daily lineup, organizers of the second annual Solid Sound festival

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Robbie Robertson: How To Become Clairvoyant

Robbie Robertson credits Eric Clapton for much of the original impetus behind the recording of his new album, so it’s no coincidence that How to Become Clairvoyant is remarkably reminiscent of Slowhand’s studio productions as heard on 1998’s Pilgrim.

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Sample Upcoming Releases: R.E.M. / Robbie Robertson / Strokes / Death Cab / Paul Simon

This year has already gotten off to a good start where studio albums from our favorite artists are concerned, but as we enter the third month of 2011 samples from a number of releases we’ve had our eyes on are now available. We wanted to take this opportunity to point our readers in the direction of places to check out these new LPs.

R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now

Head to NPR’s First Look to listen to what the band and some reviewers consider a “return to form” for the seminal alt-rock band.

Robbie Robertson – How to Become Clairvoyant

I’ve had a chance to listen to the whole album and it’s by far my favorite of 2011 thus far. You can sample He Don’t Live Here No More and When The Night Was Young through Robertson’s Facebook Page.

READ ON for tastes of a few more new releases…

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Origins of a Song: Broken Arrow

The idea behind Origins of a Song is to take a fictitious look at a scenario that may or may not have led to the birth of a select few of the most memorable of songs. I secretly think they would make for sweet Saturday Night Live skits, but they haven’t called yet. This time, we’ll take a crack at the brilliant Robbie Robertson classic, made famous by Rod Stewart, Broken Arrow.

An annual tradition for nine-year old Robbie’s birthday, his mother has set the table with his favorite birthday breakfast, chocolate chip pancakes doused with Hershey’s syrup and loaded with vanilla ice cream and Cool Whip topping. The family, including Robbie’s mother and older brother Wayne, has been waiting patiently for over 15 minutes, the pancakes are getting cold, the ice cream is melting, and Robbie’s presents are just sitting there, begging to be opened.

Robbie [whining]: Mom, can I open my presents yet?

Mom: Not yet, honey. I know you are excited, but we have to wait for your Aunt Lenore.

Robbie’s older brother Wayne, clearly getting quite a kick out of his younger sibling’s uncontrollable anticipation, leans over and gives him a noogie.

READ ON for more about the origins of Robbie Robertson’s Broken Arrow…

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The B List: Top 10 Fender Guitarists

Once again it’s time for a special guest to take the reigns of the B List. This week, guitar-maker Andrew Olson of AO Guitars shares a list of his favorite Fender players. AO Guitars makes high-quality instruments for the discerning musician…

Hey everybody! I can’t say how thrilled I am to be back on the B List for a second edition of AO’s Top 10. If you recall the last one, I delved into my Top 10 Axes of all time, where I mentioned that I could have done an entire list on just Fenders and not even mentioned another guitar. Well, welcome to my list of Top 10 Fender Players. Screw the Gibsons, Guilds and small builders out there (for this Top 10, at least) and let’s look at some of the greatest players of all time who’ve adorned the work of the great Leo Fender. Beginning with the Telecaster and Precision Bass in 1951, and the first Stratocaster in 1954, Leo Fender’s genius paved the way for the small rock combo, changing popular music forever.

Now, we all know the real big guys…Hendrix, SRV, Clapton, and Jeff Beck to name a few—I don’t even need to put them on this list. I’m going for some of the unsung heroes that you might not hear every day, or to even turn you on to some you may never have heard of. Enjoy!

10. Steve “The Colonel” Cropper & Donald “Duck” Dunn

OK, I’m cheating and starting you off with a deuce, being that they were a pair for a very long time. If these names don’t sound familiar, trust me, you’ve heard them many, many times. You’ve seen Steve with his trusty Telecaster in the SNL Band and the Blues Brothers, and Duck is always sporting that P-Bass. You’ve heard them in the rhythm section of Booker T & The MGs. They were the session guys at the legendary Stax Records, meaning you’ve heard them on countless classics that Steve usually helped pen: Wilson Pickett’s In the Midnight Hour, Sam & Dave’s Soul Man, and my favorite tune in the world, Otis Redding’s (Sittin On) The Dock Of the Bay. (Suggested listening: The Blues Brothers Soundtrack and any of the original albums & Booker T & The MGs’ McLemore Avenue…which is an instrumental cover of Abbey Road)

READ ON for AO’s top nine Fender axemen of all-time…

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