A Second Helping of Musical Anarchy

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Bob Thiele, music supervisor and producer of Songs of Anarchy: Volume 2, the second soundtrack from the FX network hit show shares the behind the scenes story on how the music is created.

"In a sense, television is now breaking bands in the way that FM radio once did. Rather than answering to focus groups and demographics, slide-rules and science, the music is determined by the creative storytellers." said Bob Thiele

Songs of Anarchy: Volume 2, the second soundtrack album from phenomenally successful TV series Sons of Anarchy, offers riveting new versions of iconic rock songs, with exclusive new tracks from Jane's Addiction, Alison Mosshart, Katey Sagal and more.

Over the course of five successful seasons on the FX network, Sons of Anarchy has established a powerful reputation for its emotion-charged action and cutting-edge storytelling. The biker-themed ensemble drama has also won considerable attention for its innovative use of music, and for creating a large body of original recordings produced exclusively for the series.

The show's distinctive approach to its musical content is showcased on the new soundtrack collection Songs of Anarchy: Volume 2. The album collects thirteen memorable tracks culled primarily from the series' current fifth season, encompassing inventive new interpretations of familiar rock classics as well as tracks showcasing some exciting independent artists.

"Just as the music of Sons of Anarchy has been an important element of the show's success, the series has been an incredible vehicle for bringing new artists to the attention of a vast audience that would likely never have had a chance to hear them," states Emmy-nominated composer/producer Bob Thiele Jr., who serves as Sons of Anarchy's composer and music supervisor, and who produced both of the show's soundtrack albums. "In a sense, television is now breaking bands in the way that FM radio once did. Rather than answering to focus groups and demographics, slide-rules and science, the music is determined by the creative storytellers."

Songs of Anarchy: Volume 2's highlights include Jane's Addiction's riveting new take on the Rolling Stones' late-'60s anthem "Sympathy for the Devil" (Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro also guest stars in the last two episodes of the current season). Also prominent on the album are a distinctive new reading of Iggy Pop's "The Passenger" by Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather), and a heart-tugging rendition of Lulu's classic ballad "To Sir with Love" by noted actress/singer Katey Sagal, who co-stars in the show. The song was chosen for Sagal by the show's creator, Kurt Sutter.

The album also includes several compelling new re-workings of time-honored songs, including Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" by frequent Sons of Anarchy performer Franky Perez, the gospel standard "The Unclouded Day" interpreted by Oklahoma-bred Audra Mae, and two collaborations between SoA house band the Forest Rangers and Portland's Battleme, "Lights" and "Time." Finally, there's a rousing run through of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band" by Curtis Stigers, who's also the voice of the series' main title theme "This Life" and season one's epic "John the Revelator. "

"I can't think of another TV show that's approached music this way," Thiele notes. Indeed, while countless films and TV shows have made use of preexisting recordings, Sons of Anarchy is unique in that nearly all of its soundtrack songs have been created specifically for the series, and crafted for maximum resonance in connection with the show's characters and story lines.

"We always wanted music to be an integral part of the show because music is very much a part of the biker culture," Thiele explains. "And at some point halfway through the first season, we realized that if we take an iconic song by Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones or Creedence Clearwater Revival and create a new interpretation, we are able to gear the emotional impact of the music to better fit the narrative. We are freed from any of the nostalgia or personal associations we might automatically summon up when hearing the original recordings."

The music recorded for Sons of Anarchy is produced by Thiele and features the show's all-star house band, the Forest Rangers: Thiele along with John Philip Shenale on keyboards, Greg Leisz and Dave Kushner on guitars, Davey Faragher on bass and Brian Macleod on drums, whose collective resume includes literally hundreds of recordings with the likes of Roger Waters, Tori Amos, Frank Black, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, John Fogerty, k.d. lang, John Mayer and Todd Rundgren.

The only songs on Songs of Anarchy: Volume 2 not specifically recorded for the show are U.K. artist Greg Holden's "The Lost Boy," Seattle singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen's "Family" and Nebraskan troubadour Joshua James' "Coal War." Each of those songs won massive audience response when they appeared on the show, and their popularity with viewers led to Gundersen and James recording "He Got Away" and "No Milk Today," respectively, for the show. Both are included on Songs of Anarchy: Volume 2.

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Paula Batson
Paula Batson Productions
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