Sunday, February 19, 2012

Show #74 February 18, 2012

This one's for Agnes
...and The Reducers!

Agnes- Donnie Iris Back On The Streets
Girls Like That- The Yum Yums Singles 'n' Stuff
Baby's Got a Secret- The Wellingtons In Transit
She's So Close- Millard Powers Nashpop: A Nashville Pop Compilation
Not What It Appears- The Tories Wonderful Life
You Say- The Kwyet Kings Been Where? Done What?
If Looks Could Kill- Incredible Kidda Band Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
It's Ok- Radio City Class of '77
^Why Can't I- Liz Phair Liz Phair
We'll Never Know- Wild Giraffes Right Now!
Time Machine- The Click Five Greetings From Imrie House
*What We Do- Saucers Saucers Saucers Saucers
*Not A Chance- Tot Rocket & the Twins Television Rules
*Small Talk- International Q International Q 7"
*Out of Step- The Reducers Redux
*West Coast- October Days West Coast 7"
*Dear Abby- TV Neats Demos
*Reach For The Sky- Roger C. Reale Radioactive
No- The Rezillos Can't Stand the Rezillos
Runaways- In The Night Nick Gilder You Know Who You Are
Something In Common- Free Energy Free Energy
Window To The World- Velvet Crush In The Presence Of Greatness
Stuff 'n' Junk- Slaters The Big Black Bug Bled Black Blood
Take The Cash (K.A.S.H)- Wreckless Eric Big Smash
>Going All The Way
- The Squires Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era, Vol. 2
A to B- The Futureheads The Futureheads
Too Young- The Fingers On The Radio
No More Idols- Nervous Eaters Eat This!
The Stranded Stars- The Shazam Godspeed the Shazam
Don't Cry To Me Babe- Sneakers Ear Cartoons
Closing Time- The Reducers Let's Go

^Power Pop Peak: #32 Billboard Hot 100 9/8/03

*SacroSet: Nutmeg State Power Pop

>Power Pop Prototype: 1966

I love the Internet, yet I do miss the random ways we used to learn about new music. Case in point, the 1982 debut single by The Reducers from New London, CT. Thirty years after its release, "Out Of Step" still blows me away, from the military sounding drum and bass intro to the explosive chorus and bridge harmony to the over the top third verse:

But there's a pressure all the time
To go join up and stand in line
But if they think I'm one of them
Well they must be f***ing blind
Don't they see that I'm out of touch
I'm out of step
I'm out of touch with reality
I'm out of touch, out of step....

It's an undisputed classic. My friend Lance was the first person to tell me about The Reducers. I usually heard about new music from Cousin Rich who, as I've said before, subscribed to both New York Rocker and Boston Rock and had a special radio that could pick up low-power Boston college radio station WMBR's "Late Risers Club." It's funny but I later learned that Lance first heard about The Reducers from Cousin Rich! (All three of us worked at Angelo's Supermarket in Kingston.)

Anyway, I was late to the party on many of the first wave punk bands, too young to see them in the clubs, but with The Reducers I felt like I was there from the beginning. Shortly after starting at Emerson College radio station WERS, I met an upperclassman named Dave. He and I liked a lot of the same bands- in fact that first year I followed his initials on the station's record album airplay stickers like a trail of rock & roll bread crumbs. Dave's greatest contribution however was a fake ID he gave me in the Fall of 1982. I quickly memorized my new fake identity (Daniel something from Wayland, Mass) complete with zodiac sign and Chinese birth year, never once of course being asked for either. My strategy was to hand the bouncer my ID while asking a question, something like "what time does the opening band go on?" The goal was to create a momentary confusion between the blue-eyed 24 year old dude on my ID and my brown-eyed 17 year old self. I later realized that the bouncer wants to let you in- the club wants your money- so as long as they have plausible deniability you're good. The fact that I didn't drink also kept me out of trouble because the ABC people were only concerned about under 21's being served alcohol.

I'm pretty sure I saw The Reducers first Boston show and that night I became a fan for life. A few years later they gave me a personal "perfect rock & roll moment" at TT The Bear's in Cambridge. I'd dragged nearly everyone I knew to the club and seeing all my friends packed onto the sweaty dance floor while the band played "Lets Go" made me feel like screaming "hey everybody we're all gonna get laid!!" at the top of my lungs. The Reducers are one of the least pretentious bands I've seen and they rock hard. Unlike the rock & roll cool (X, The Replacements) or quirky and tortured (Husker Du, Pixies) bands I liked, The Reducers were much more relatable. Not only did they dress like me in t-shirts (often pocket t's), faded Levi's, and Chuck Taylors, primary songwriters Peter Detmold and Hugh Birdsall were themselves college radio DJ's and HUGE music geeks. Big fans of mid-70's British pub rock groups like Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe, the two took a trip to London to see those bands arriving just in time to witness firsthand the summer 1977 British punk rock explosion. Inspired by early performances of The Clash, The Sex Pistols, and The Jam along with the whole "Do It Yourself" punk aesthetic, Detmold and Birdsall returned to New London and started The Reducers.

I interviewed The Reducers at least twice for WERS, once after a performance at The Channel and once at The Rat, and they were just the nicest guys. You could tell they are first and foremost music fans. In 1985 I was the host of WERS' local music show "Metrowave" and had The Reducers come in and play live in the studio. They played new songs "Runaway Home" and "Fistfight At The Beach" from their forthcoming Cruise To Nowhere album and at the end of the night gave me a ride back to my apartment- that's the kind of people they are. It was around this time that CMJ (College Music Journal) called The Reducers "the best unsigned band in America" and they appeared on the major label compilation Epic presents The Unsigned. And yet, rather than fall victim to the "one and done" syndrome that afflicts most major label signees, when The Reducers didn't get the deal they wanted they stuck to their guns and put out Cruise To Nowhere on their own Rave On label.

The band slowed down after that record and stopped touring nationally but they still record and play out every now and then. In 2006 the documentary film The Reducers America's Best Unsigned Band was released. They played up in Boston around that time and Cousin Rich said they rocked as hard as ever. Over 30 years and still going strong- God Bless The Reducers!

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

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