Saturday, April 30, 2011

Show #56 April 30, 2011

For Mother Mary and all Mothers....especially Poly Styrene

Mother Mary- Foxboro Hot Tubs Stop Drop and Roll
My Momma Told Me -The Breakers Radio Love 7"
Germ Free Adolescents- X-Ray Spex Germ Free Adolescents
Do You Ever Think Of Me- Farrah Cut Out And Keep
Tell Me When My Light Turns Green- Dexys Midnight Runners Searching For The Young Soul Rebels
All For The Love Of Rock & Roll- Tuff Darts! Tuff Darts!
Truth Is (Hard To Take)- The Grip Weeds Strange Change Machine
When You Find Out- The Nerves The Nerves E.P. 7"
^Stacy's Mom- Fountains Of Wayne Welcome Interstate Managers
Easy Street- The Crack Making The Effort 7"
Go On- Manual Scan Manual Scan 1
Heart & Mind
- The Clash London Calling: 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition
Modern Living- SVT Extended Play
Rosario's Ashes- Dirty Looks Dirty Looks
*What Will Mother Say- The Flys See For Miles (1978-1980)
*Somebody's Mom- Pointed Sticks Part Of The Noise
*My Mother Looked Like Marilyn Monroe- Tommy Keene Songs From The Film
*Your Mother- The Reducers Let's Go
Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)- Squeeze Singles: 45's and Under
Out Of Control- Piper Piper
If You Want Me To- The Sugar Stems Sweet Sounds of the.....
Land Of The Hunted- Fools Face Tell America
Kiss Her Goodbye- Research Turtles Research Turtles
Radar- Permanent Wave Radar EP &
>Mama's Boy
-Suzi Quatro The Wild One - The Greatest Hits
Nothing Is True- The Jim Carroll Band Catholic Boy
Bring In The Morning Light- Motors 1
Looking At You- The Last L.A. Explosion!
The Man Who Dies Everyday- Ultravox Frozen Ones 7"
Lonely Crash- The Dazzlers Shake Some Action Vol. 3
Wives and Mothers of Tomorrow- The Records Rock and Roll Love Letter

^Power Pop Peak: #21 Billboard Hot 100 9/29/03

*SacroSet: Mother Songs

>Power Pop Prototype: 1980

I've been planning a show of all Mother's Day features for a while now, so I had a big folder of songs to choose from when it came time to record this week's program. My regularly scheduled show was April 30th so I figured I'd just run it again next week on May 7th, Mother's Day Eve. The day I went into the studio I heard the news of X-Ray Spex singer Poly Styrene's death from cancer at age 53 on April 25th, 2011. Poly Styrene was a true original- a smart 18 year old woman with an Afro and braces on her teeth fronting a punk rock band in 1977 howling anthems of anti-consumerism. There was no other band like them. Many X-Ray Spex songs start with a signature Poly Styrene shout of "I-DENT-I-TEE!!," or "ART-I-FICIAL!!" or her most famous "Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard but I say...OH BONDAGE UP YOURS!!" Check out the lyrics to "Germ Free Adolescents" the song I played tonight:

I know you're antiseptic
Your deodorant smells nice
I'd like to get to know you
But you're deep frozen like the ice

He's a germ free adolescent
Cleanliness is her obsession
Cleans her teeth ten times a day
Scrub away scrub away scrub away
The S.R. way....

You may get to touch her
If your gloves are sterilised
Rinse your mouth with listerine
Blow disinfectant in her eyes

Her phobia is infection
She needs one to survive
It's her built-in protection
Without fear she'd give up and die

Those words are deeper than about 99% of the punk rock lyrics of the era. I just checked and "the S.R. way" refers to a British TV ad from the 1950's for Gibbs S.R. Toothpaste- the S.R. stands for "sodium ricinoleate" whatever that is. After a 1978 show Poly Styrene complained of hallucinations was mis-diagnosed as schizophrenic and committed, forcing her to leave X-Ray Spex. After her release she put out an ill-received solo album of lite pop, spent several years in Hare Krishna and had a daughter who went on to front a band of her own in Madrid. While Poly Styrene recorded more over the years, none of her subsequent releases had the impact of X-Ray Spex.

X-Ray Spex never released any records in the U.S. and despite being on Virgin, their imports were hard to come by- which made them even more desirable. This leads me to the other reason X-Ray Spex are important in my life- and this one I'm not too proud of. While I had occasionally bought and returned records I already owned to keep their posters (Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon) or stickers (Kiss' Rock & Roll Over) and sometimes used new receipts to return old records I didn't want, I had never outright stolen anything until my junior year in high school when I met a friend I'll call PF.

PF didn't drink or smoke- shoplifting was his vice. I never understood why someone would risk stealing something stupid (like deodorant from CVS) until I was with him once when he did it and even though I didn't take anything it was still pretty thrilling. After that I would on occasion shoplift records from chain stores. That was my rationalization- I'd only take from evil corporate stores like Strawberries or Record Town and I always had the same M.O. I'd go into the store on a busy Saturday afternoon with bags from a few other stores already under my left arm, slip an expensive record into that stack, then head to the check out to purchase a less expensive record. If the clerk looked at me funny I'd pull the expensive record out and pay for it, if not, I'd walk out the front door with it.

I'm sorry to say, this is how I got my copy of X-Ray Spex' Germ Free Adolescents LP. I was at the Strawberries in Harvard Square and I was so surprised to find the record amid all the usual Top 40 and AOR garbage, I had gotten it into my head that I must "liberate" it from the store. Like I said, not my finest moment and unfortunately to this day it makes listening to Germ Free Adolescents a little bittersweet. I may have redeemed myself somewhat on my first and only trip to London in 1988. Before I left I asked my Cousin Rich if he wanted me to pick anything up for him. He asked for Germ Free Adolescents, which I managed to find in a tiny record store on the Portobello road. I haggled with the clerk for a fair price and was able to grant Rich's request, hopefully offsetting my sordid history with this particular record.

It's funny, Germ Free Adolescents is the only record I specifically remember stealing. My life of crime ended a month or so before my 18th birthday. I was in a music store in Allston (not a corporate store either- isn't it funny how the slippery slope of rationalization works). I had decided that a store full of hacks selling Hondo II's and awful Fender knockoffs didn't deserve to have the two Clash guitar books I had in the stack of records under my left arm. As I approached the counter to buy two guitar picks, the clerks eyes flashed down to my left arm and then back up to meet mine and I instantly knew two things: 1) he knew I was trying to steal from him, 2) he was going to forego the judicial system and go straight to corporal punishment by kicking my ass in the back room. The mullet, the gold jewelry, the copious chest hair- this was not some bored student clerk making minimum wage at a chain store- this was a man's business and I was trying to take food off his table. I pulled those Clash books out of the stack and plunked them down on the counter as fast as I could. I also bought the picks and a couple sets of guitar strings I didn't need for good measure. That's as close as I came to getting caught and I'd like to thank that guy for scaring me straight.

Having kids is a great way to keep you on the straight and narrow. When Jack was a baby he and I were at Best Buy once and I put a Plimsouls CD (Everywhere At Once I think) down on top of his stroller and didn't see it again until we were in the parking lot. I half expected Social Services to come and take him from me right then. Needless to say, it went right back into the store. I would never steal anything and even when I see opportunities to scam something (another slippery slope) I always ask myself: do I want the kids see me be that guy? The guy who cuts in line or sneaks into the movie without paying? I'll buy my movie snacks at the Dollar Tree beside the theater, but that's as outlaw as I get these days.

My wife Jaime has zero tolerance for stealing/scamming which is one of the many reasons she is such a great Mom. So, I dedicate this show to Jaime and to my own Mum back in Duxbury, Mass- HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY LADIES!!!

Click on the links below to download this week's show (Right Click and "Save Target As")
Hour 1
Hour 2

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Show #55 April 16, 2011

For Angela...

- New Math Die Trying 7"
Good Day- The Click Five Greetings From Imrie House
The B-Side- The Innocents No Hit Wonders From Down-Under
Telegram- The Monitors Shake Some Action Vol. 3
I'll Cry Instead- The Monochrome Set Eligible Bachelors
King Of The Mountain- Three Hour Tour 1969
Dreamin' (Here He Comes)- City Thrills City Thrills EP
Love Me Or Leave Me- Rooney Calling the World
^Where Have You Been All My Life- Fotomaker Fotomaker
The Provider- The Outlets Whole New World
Bubblegum Factory- Redd Kross Third Eye
Automatic- Off Broadway Quick Turns
Changing With The Times- The Headboys The Headboys
Wanna Write a Letter- LMNOP Elemen Opee Elpee
*Rave On- The Real Kids Real Kids
*Red Rubber Ball- The Diodes Tired of Waking Up Tired
*Lipstick On Your Collar- The Saints 1-2-3-4 EP
*Mony Mony- The Wigs File Under: Pop Vocal
Tomorrow Night- Shoes Shoes Best
Need The Girl- The Agents Need The Girl EP
The Sky Is Falling- Owsley Owsley
My Problem (w/ Mark Mulcahy)- The Reducers Guitars, Bass & Drums
Merry-Go-Round (Love Is All)- The Hollywood Stars The Hollywood Stars
Too Dumb- Regular Guys Regular Guys E.P. 7"
>Cruisin' Music- Raspberries Starting Over
Oh No- The Shazam The Shazam
Someone Like You- Blue Shoes Someone Like You 7"
Thin Red Line- The Cretones Thin Red Line
Three Chord City- The Cold You 7"
Revenge- The Scruffs Wanna Meet The Scruffs
Rock N' Roll Song- Bobby Sky Titan: It's All Pop!
Charmless- The Popes Hi We're The Popes
New Strings- The Pods It's A Bummer About Bourbie EP
A Girl I Know (Precis of a Friend)- The Pleasers Thamesbeat

^Power Pop Peak: #81 Billboard Hot 100 4/22/78

*SacroSet: Power Pop Cover Songs

>Power Pop Prototype: 1974

I saw a very interesting documentary a few weeks back called The Five Obstructions. In the film, director Lars Von Trier (Breaking The Waves, Dogville) challenges his mentor Jorgen Leth to remake Leth's 1967 short film The Perfect Human five times, each with a different set of obstructions. Von Trier, who a lot of the time comes off like a bastard, has thought out some of the obstructions ahead of time (no cuts longer than 12 frames, shoot in "the worst place in the world" but don't show it on camera, remake it as an animated film) but some are just random bitch slaps (shoot in Cuba, no sets).

Leth is a pretty unflappable guy does his best to complete each task. The obstructions end up being a major factor shaping and even inspiring the work. In fact, as punishment for “failing” at one of the tasks Leth is told to remake the film any way he chooses, in other words with NO obstructions. Leth’s response to this particular obstruction is “that’s diabolical.” In the end, Von Trier admits that he failed in his attempt to ruffle his mentor's composure and that he, Von Trier, will likely never make a film as good as The Perfect Human.

In my experience playing guitar and writing songs for rock bands, I've never sought out obstructions. Let's face it, limited talent is obstruction enough- my guitar playing plateaued when I was about 19 and my songwriting never progressed much past verse-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-chorus-chorus-out. That's why I find a guy like Jack White so intriguing; he consistently puts artistic obstructions in his own path. Take The White Stripes: no bass player, a drummer with limited skills, a three color palette (white, red, black) for wardrobe and design, recording only on ancient analog equipment, etc. Yet, I would say Jack White is the only certifiable genius rock & roll has produced in the new millennium.

There's a great moment in the guitar documentary It Might Get Loud where they show Jack White on the porch of his farm house in Nashville making a "guitar" out of a coke bottle, a piece of wood and a guitar string. The film then cuts to U2 guitar player The Edge's roadie wheeling a refrigerator-sized rack of computer guitar effects into the band's rehearsal studio. It's a great juxtaposition- I'm not knocking The Edge, but in my opinion Jack White comes off way cooler, way more rock & roll.

Even though I've been appearing in plays and student films a relatively short time, I feel my acting abilities have already surpassed my musical talents. Experience has shown me that most major obstructions to a good acting performance are internal rather than external. I'll find myself getting locked into a certain way of doing something or, even worse, be thinking of what I need to do next and not listening to my fellow actors. Acting is a great metaphor for life- you have to be right there in the moment or the audience will sense you've drifted off, giving them permission to do the same. Anyway, I'm still learning. In fact, I've been cast in a new show that I'm pretty excited about. More on that in a future post.

Here are the links below to download this week's show (right click and "Save Target As"):
Hour 1
Hour 2

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Show #54 April 2, 2011

Doing it all for Diane this week!

- Material Issue International Pop Overthrow
When Lightning Starts- The Three O'Clock Sixteen Tambourines
Follow The Leader- Sloan The Double Cross
Electric Nights- Candy Whatever Happened To Fun
Strike Talks- The Donkeys Television Anarchy
Circuit Breaker- The Bees Mystery Date EP
February's Quiet- Big Star In Space
Blank Generation- Richard Hell And The Voidoids Blank Generation
^(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To- Weezer Raditude
I Can't Stand It- The Screaming Tribesmen High Time
The Promise- The Genuine Fakes The Striped Album
Hold My Life- The Replacements Tim
It Only Happened Twice- Steve Blimkie & The Reason Steve Blimkie & The Reason
Party Clothes- Subs Gimme Your Heart
*1963- Jonathan Richman Having A Party With
*1964- Critical Mass It's What's Inside That Counts
*1968- Hoodoo Gurus Purity Of Essence
*1969- The Stooges The Stooges
No More Heroes- Stranglers No More Heroes
Bluer Than Blue- Rubber City Rebels Rubber City Rebels
Thank You- Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias Heads Down, No Nonsense, Mindless Boogie
16 Down- The Flys See For Miles (1978-1980)
Look On Up At The Bottom- The Carrie Nations Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
What's He Got- The Producers The Producers
>Time Won't Let Me- The Outsiders Nuggets Box Set
Sweet On -The Krinkles 3 The Mordorlorff Collection
C'mon Let's Go!- Paul Collins King Of Power Pop
Weekend- The Boys Boys Only
You're Telling Lies- Mandarines Trust You E.P.
Your Heart- Crackers Sir Crackers!
The Last Year- Stiv Bators Romantics And Friends-Midwest Pop Explosion
Model Worker- Magazine Urgh! A Music War
Fire Spirit- The Gun Club Fire Of Love
Where I Am- Code Blue Code Blue

^Power Pop Peak: #81 Billboard Hot 100 9/12/2009

*SacroSet: Songs About The 60's

>Power Pop Prototype: 1966

While the mid 70's saw the near simultaneous birth of Punk Rock in cities around the globe, many agree the lasting punk ethos and aesthetic can be traced to one man: Richard Hell. No doubt he had the musical bona fides, having been an original member of Television (the first punk band to play CBGB's), The Heartbreakers (with Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls) and his own band The Voidoids. Even so, from a broad cultural standpoint Richard Hell had much more of an impact in Punk "fashion," which sadly has always gotten more media attention than the music. His spiked hair and assortment of ripped, drawn-on and/or safety pinned shirts certainly had its followers in the US but started an all-out revolution in London after being appropriated by provocateur/haberdasher and future Sex Pistols Svengali Malcom McLaren who admits after a mid-70's stint in New York:

"I came back to England determined. I had these images I came back with, it was like Marco Polo or Walter Raleigh. I brought back the image of this distressed, strange thing called Richard Hell. And this phrase, 'the blank generation.' Richard Hell was a definite, 100 percent inspiration, and, in fact, I remember telling the Sex Pistols, ‘Write a song like 'Blank Generation,' but write your own bloody version,’ and their own version was 'Pretty Vacant.’"

The quote above is from a book by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain whose title is taken from Richard Hell's home made T-shirt adorned with the phrase "Please Kill Me." To me, this sentiment, rather than fashion, is Richard Hell's biggest contribution. Check out these lyrics to "Blank Generation," which I played on tonight's show:

I was sayin' let me out of here before I was even born
--it's such a gamble when you get a face
It's fascinatin' to observe what the mirror does
but when I dine it's for the wall that I set a place

I belong to the blank generation
and I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation
but I can take it or leave it each time

Triangles were fallin at the window as the doctor cursed
He was a cartoon long forsaken by the public eye
The nurse adjusted her garters as I breathed my first
The doctor grabbed my throat and yelled, "God's consolation prize!"

I belong to the blank generation
and I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation
but I can take it or leave it each time

To hold the t.v. to my lips, the air so packed with cash
then carry it up flights of stairs and drop it in the vacant lot
To lose my train of thought and fall into your arms' tracks
and watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot

I belong to the blank generation
and I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation
but I can take it or leave it each time

Richard Hell was first and foremost a poet in the spirit of the decadent movement like Rimbaud or Verlaine- they were mainly boozers, Hell was a heroin addict. He realized rock and roll had more currency so he put his poetic nihilism to music. Hell was so much smarter, cooler and better looking than just about everyone else in the downtown New York rock scene he was able to bend it to his will. The guy never enjoyed the success of many of his contemporaries but his influence is enormous and he is still alive, so he' s got that going for him. What teenage outcast can't identify with "The Blank Generation?" It both acknowledges that "life sucks" and offers the ultimate teenage response: "who cares?" To me this is Richard Hell's legacy- nihilism, angst and depression. Is it negative? You bet, yet there have been times in my life it has also been strangely empowering. For that I thank Richard Hell.

Here are the links to download this week's show (Right click and "Save Target As")