Monday, October 8, 2012

Show #85 September 1, 2012

Tonight we rock for fair Justine! 

Justine- The Cretones Thin Red Line
Welcome To The Working Week- Elvis Costello My Aim Is True
The Descent- Bob Mould Silver Age
It's O.K.- The End It's O.K. 7"
Backlash- Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Greatest Hits
Write Back- The dB's Falling off The Sky
Joking- Donnie Iris Back On The Streets
Dear John Letter- The Puppets No Strings 7"
^Working In The Coalmine- Devo Working In The Coalmine
Tomorrow Night- The Go Don't Take Her Away EP
Let's All Kill Each Other- Soul Asylum Delayed Reaction
Loveblind- David Myhr Soundshine
Throwing My Baby Out With The Bathwater- Tenpole Tudor Wunderbar
It's Plain to See- Sloan The Double Cross
*Work Song- Skafish Disgracing the Family Name 7"
*Work-A-Day World- The Beat The Beat
*Looking For Work- De Cylinders I Wanna Get Married 7"
*I Won't Go Back To Work- The Explosives Come Clean EP
*Workingman's Hands- Fountains Of Wayne Sky Full Of Holes
*Back In The Working Class- Panic Squad Panic Squad 12" EP
*Working Is No Problem- Pylon Gyrate
*Work- Speedometors Day In The Lights
Light Love- Free Energy Stuck On Nothing
Surprise- Hollins Ferry Hollins Ferry
Move A Little Closer- The Screaming Tribesmen High Time
>Piss Factory- Patti Smith Hey Joe 7"
Somedays- Chris Von Sneidern Sight and Sound
Did You See What Happened- Dwight Twilley Band Sincerely
Guardian Angel- Human Sexual Response Fig. 15
Money That's Your Problem- Tonight Shake Some Action Vol 1
Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)- Pernice Brothers The World Won't End 

^Power Pop Peak:  #43 Billboard Hot 100 9/5/81 

*SacroSet:  Worksongs

>Power Pop Prototype:  1974

I realized early in life that I was a full on capitalist- I wanted stuff and I needed money to buy it.  "Stuff" was mainly candy and toy guns in the beginning but all that changed in the early 70's when I started paying attention to the music coming out of my father's radio.  Dad spent a lot of time listening to the radio- in the morning at home, in the car, in his kitchen reading chair after dinner and then all night long.  I remember him listening mainly to 850 AM WHDH, whose morning man, Jess Cain, was a legend in Boston.  WHDH's music was all over the place; current pop hits by Helen Reddy
and Tony Orlando and Dawn alongside the rare rock song that crossed over to the pop charts.  It was one of those rock songs that first got my attention:  "Smokin' In The Boys Room" by Brownsville Station.  That song sounded so rebellious and downright dangerous it blew my young mind.  Even so, I never put it together that I could "own" the song- I'd just keep my ear glued to the radio and hope to hear it, so excited each and every time I did.

At that time, I only owned one record- an album of two broadcasts of the old-time radio show The Shadow that Coca-Cola put out in 1973 and my mom bought me at the A and P.  It was my dad's favorite show when he was growing up and I immediately saw why- Lamont Cranston rocks!  I must've listened to that record 100 times.  "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  THE SHADOW knows....[maniacal laugh]!"

Anyway, I was a TV addict growing up and had doubtless seen hundreds of those record album commercials, where the song titles scroll by showing a picture of the singer or group accompanied by the best known snippet of their song in the background.  Later in life I'd learn these were called song "hooks" and one of the responsibilities of my first "real" job at WMJX radio in Boston was to assemble 700 of them for an AMT- auditorium music test.  Most of the time a "hook" is the first or last line of the chorus, but sometimes it's the first line of the song ("Yesterday" by The Beatles) or even an instrumental section (the saxophone break on Gerry Rafferty's "Baker St.").  Once my friend and co-worker Paul had inserted a number before each hook, our research company would invite a random sample of ninety or so listeners to a hotel conference room, usually at the Howard Johnson's on Memorial Drive in Cambridge.  We'd play the 700 six t0 eight second hooks for them and they would fill in the little circles on a standardized test sheet saying whether or not they were familiar with each song and, if so, how much they liked it.  Afterwards, Phil the Program Director would take the research company rep, the Assistant PD/Music Director Nancy and me (Assistant Music Director) to the Benihana downstairs, which was always fun. 

When I was assembling the "hook" tapes at WMJX, I'd invariably think of those album TV commercials of my youth.  I'd ignored most of them until that fateful day in 1974 when I saw the ad for Ronco Records'  Get It On! (pictured at the top of this post).  You see that very special record included.... you guessed it "Smokin' In The Boys Room!"  As if that wasn't
The "Ron" of Ronco
enough, Get It On! also had a second song I had recently grown to love:  "On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show.  BONUS!  The commercial said the record was available at Woolworth's and Woolco.  I had no idea what Woolco was, but Brockton, Mass had a Woolworth at The Westgate Mall (which the interweb informs me is "the oldest enclosed shopping mall in Massachusetts, opening in 1963").  I asked my Mom to drive me over the next day and plunked down "not $7.99, not $6.99 but only $3.99!" of my Birthday/Christmas savings for my very own copy of Get It On! 

I now realize Ronco was simply targeting the broadest possible demographic but at the time I wondered if maybe a crazy person put the album together.  Check out the track list:


Smokin' In The Boys Room- Brownsville Station
Funky Worm- Ohio Players
Spiders and Snakes- Jim Stafford
Stir It Up- Johnny Nash
I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More, Baby- Barry While
Drinkin' Wine- Jerry Lewis
To Know You Is To Love You- B.B. King
Yes We Can Can- Pointer Sisters
The Morning After (Song From "The Poseidon Adventure")- Maureen McGovern
Love Train- O'Jays

Playground In My Mind- Clint Holmes
Cover of the Rolling Stone- Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show
You'll Never Get To Heaven- The Stylistics
I'd Love You To Want Me- Lobo
Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)- Four Tops
Also Sprach Zarathustra- Deodato
Drift Away- Dobie Gray
The Happiest Girl In The Whole USA- Donna Fargo
Me and Mrs. Jones- Billy Paul
Painted Ladies- Ian Thomas

Seriously- can you imagine trying to get rock, pop, soul and country people to buy a single record today?  The funny thing is, I grew to love a lot of these songs, even non-rockers like "Drift Away" and "Me and Mrs. Jones."  I had no idea what to make of "Playground In My Mind" by future Vegas mainstay Clint Holmes but I've come to appreciate it as a quintessen- tially craptastic piece of 70's kitsch.  Furthermore, since I loved the movie The Poseidon Adventure, it was pretty cool to finally own "The Morning After," although I was disappointed to learn it wasn't sung by the super pretty hippie girl from the movie (actress Carole Lindley).

After Get It On! I was hooked.  The album helped start a life long music loving/record buying habit.  Like a junkie getting a first "free taste," however, I soon realized that Ronco's $3.99 price point was not the going rate.  (I also later learned that Ronco would edit and/or speed up songs to jam as many as possible onto one disc- to this day the "official" version of "Drift Away" sounds draggingly slow to me.)  The $5 bills from my grandparents every Birthday and Christmas weren't going to cover my new obsession so I started looking for work.  My Cousin Rich had already started on his record collection by then, financed by his paper route delivering the weekly Old Colony Memorial.  I did him one better and became a paperboy for the daily Boston Globe.  I'd say a full 50% of my current record collection was financed by wages and tips from that paper route.

As soon as I turned 16 I followed my cousin to Angelo's Supermarket in Kingston where we were bundle boys throughout high school.  My first two years in college I spent summer and winter breaks working as a dishwasher at a nursing home called Norwell Knoll (there was no freakin' "knoll" that I could see, but it was in Norwell).  The dish washing job was hot, sweaty work and downright nasty those times the nurse's aides would send down "presents" on the meal trays (hearing aides, dentures, a thoroughly used diaper or two).  It was my first taste of actual labor and while I really liked the people I worked with, I couldn't wait to get back to school.  Still, I'm glad I had the experience because it really makes me appreciate the cushy job I have today.  Tonight's Power Pop Prototype recounts an even worse first job experience and while I don't know if one word of Patti Smith's "Piss Factory" is authentic, I don't care because it all rings true to me:

Sixteen and time to pay off
I get this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe 
Forty hours, thirty-six dollars a week 
But its a paycheck, Jack. 
It's so hot in here, hot like Sahara 
You could faint from the heat 
But these bitches are just too lame to understand 
Too goddamned grateful to get this job 
To know they're getting screwed up the ass 
All these women they got no teeth or gum or cranium 
And the way they suck hot sausage 
But me well I wasn't sayin' too much neither 
I was moral school girl, hard-working asshole 
I figured I was speedo motorcycle 
I had to earn my dough, had to earn my dough 
But no you gotta, you gotta relate, right? 
You gotta find the rhythm within 
Floor boss slides up to me and he says 
"Hey sister, you're just movin' too fast, 
You're screwin' up the quota, 
You're doin' your piece work too fast, 
Now you get off your mustang Sally 
You ain't goin' nowhere, you ain't goin' nowhere."
I lay back. I get my nerve up. I take a swig of Romilar 
And I walk up to hot shit Dot Hook and I say 
"Hey, hey sister it don't matter whether I do labor fast or slow, 
There's always more labor after."
She's real Catholic, see. She fingers her cross and she says 
"There's one reason. There's one reason. 
You do it my way or I push your face in. 
We knee you in the john if you don't get off your get off your mustang Sally, 
If you don't shake it up baby."
Shake it up, baby. Twist and shout 
Oh that I could will a radio here. 
James Brown singing "I Lost Someone" or the Jesters and the Paragons 
And Georgie Woods the guy with the goods and Guided Missiles... 
But no, I got nothin', no diversion, no window, 
Nothing here but a porthole in the plaster, in the plaster, 
Where I look down, look down at Sweet Theresa's convent 
All those nurses, all those nuns scattin' round 
With their bloom hoods like cats in mourning. 
Oh to me they, you know, to me they look pretty damn free down there 
Down there not having to press those smooth 
Not having to smooth those hands against hot steel 
Not having to worry about the in-speed, the dogma of in-speed of labor 
They look pretty damn free down there, 
And the way they smell, the way they smell 
And here I gotta be up here smellin' Dot Hook's midwife sweat 
I would rather smell the way boys smell-- 
Oh those schoolboys the way their legs flap under the desk in study hall 
That odor rising, roses and ammonia 
And way their dicks droop like lilacs 
Or the way they smell that forbidden acrid smell 
But no I gotta, I gotta put clammy lady in my nostril 
Her against the wheel, me against the wheel 
Oh the in-speed-o slow motion inspection is drivin' me insane 
In steel next to Dot Hook -- oh we may look the same-- 
Shoulder to shoulder sweatin' 110 degrees 
But I will never faint, I will never faint 
They laugh and they expect me to faint but I will never faint 
I refuse to lose, I refuse to fall down 
Because you see it's the monotony that's got to me 
Every afternoon like the last one 
Every afternoon like a rerun next to Dot Hook 
And yeah we look the same 
Both pumpin' steel, both sweatin'
But you know she got nothin' to hide 
And I got something to hide here called desire 
I got something to hide here called desire 
And I will get out of here-- 
You know the fiery potion is just about to come 
In my nose is the taste of sugar 
And I got nothin' to hide here save desire 
And I'm gonna go, I'm gonna get out of here 
I'm gonna get out of here, I'm gonna get on that train, 
I'm gonna go on that train and go to New York City 
I'm gonna be somebody, I'm gonna get on that train, go to New York City, 
I'm gonna be so big, I'm gonna be a big star and I will never return, 
Never return, no, never return, to burn at this Piss Factory 
And I will travel light. 
Oh.... watch me now.


Happy Labor Day to all working men and women everywhere- here's hoping, like Patti, you all have a light at the end of your tunnel.

Download link for this week's show is below (Click to stream or to download right click and "Save Link As")

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