Sunday, June 30, 2013

Show #102 June 15, 2013

Celebrating Shannon and all Bottle Rockers!

Shannon- The Volcanos The Volcanos
So Bored- The Exploding Hearts Shattered
Orange Squeezer- The dB's Revolution of the Mind
Photobooth- The Fevers Love Always Wins
Deuce- Kiss Kiss
I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass- Nick Lowe Jesus Of Cool
Burning In You- Gary Charlson Waves: An Anthology Of New Music, Vol. 2
Get Off My Back- Teenage Head Teenage Head
^I Hate Myself For Loving You- Joan Jett and The Blackhearts Greatest Hits
With My Friends- The Chords This I What They Want
Believe In Me- Rooney Calling the World
Greatest Pretender- Sugar Stems Can't Wait
I Like The World- Mark Johnson Yellow Pills Vol 1 The Best of American Pop!
One of the Good Ones- Redd Kross Researching The Blues
*The New World- X More Fun in the New World
*Gone Daddy Gone- Violent Femmes Add It Up
*Tongue Tied- Grouplove Tongue Tied
*I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)- Michael Franti I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)
*The Difference- The Wallflowers Bringing Down the Horse
*Short Skirt Long Jacket- Cake Short Skirt Long Jacket
Watermark- The Weakerthans Left and Leaving
You- The Cold You 7"
Chip On My Shoulder- The Rangehoods Rough Town
>Wall Of Death- Richard and Linda Thompson Shoot Out The Lights
The Mess- Newtown Neurotics Newtown Neurotics Punk Collection
The Girl Is Alright- The Shods Thanks For Nuthin'
Jealousy- The Poppees Pop Goes the Anthology
Out The Lights- Richard and Linda Thompson Shoot Out The Lights 

^Power Pop Peak:   

*SacroSet:  Bottle Rock Music Festival 2013

>Power Pop Prototype:  1982

Back in June of 1994 Jaime and I went to the first BFD ("Big F**kin' Day" or if you prefer the PG version, "Big Freakin' Day"), San Francisco radio station Live 105's annual music festival at Shoreline Ampitheatre in Mountain View.  My friend Dred Scott, currently the afternoon host on KFOG, got us tickets and we were looking forward to seeing Green Day, The Violent Femmes, The Pretenders and the rest.  Traffic and parking were a nightmare, it was unbearably hot and the place was so packed you couldn't tell if the sweat running off you was yours or someone else's.  There was nowhere to go to get relief- it was a little
Billie Joe and Tre of Green Day at BFD June 10, 1994
slice of purgatory.  We saw Green Day and about half of the Violent Femmes set and got the hell out of there.  Since then I have stayed away from outdoor music festivals.  When Coachella started in the early 2000's I thought to myself "yeah, it would be great to see the reunited Stooges or Pixies but it would be so uncomfortable... come on, it is literally the DESERT!"

As it had been 19 years since my last outdoor music festival, I didn't pay much attention when they announced Bottle Rock Napa Valley last winter.  To be honest, it elicited the Murtagh Response: "I'm too old for this s**t."  Yet I have to say the lineup was impressive.  I'm not a big fan of any of the headliners, but you take note when Kings of Leon, Black Keys, Jane's Addiction and Zac Brown Band are playing 20 minutes from your house.  What's more, there were several bands playing earlier in the day that I love, like Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, X, Richard Thompson and, echoing that 1994 BFD ("Big Fat Disappointment"), the Violent Femmes.  So, part of me was wishing I could be there, but not enough to shell out $130 for a one day ticket or $400 for a four day pass.

Here's the thing though, along with a ton of food vendors and even more wineries, Bottle Rock included an exhibition hall full of space for non-profits to do outreach- one of which was my son Jack's high school.  The day before the festival started I got an e-mail from a friend who was staffing the school booth asking if I'm interested in a volunteer pass to see Joan Jett at 4:30 Thursday afternoon.  I immediately responded "Hells yeah!"  Checking the schedule, I saw that X were playing right before Joan Jett at 2:45 so pushing my luck I asked if I could arrive earlier.  Not only did they say "yes," they told me I could have TWO passes!  Perhaps still scarred by BFD ("Brutal Fiery Death"), Jaime said "no way," so I decided to take Jack as his school was out early that week for service projects.

Thursday morning I'm on pins and needles waiting to hear about where to park and pick up passes, which entrance to use, etc.- my prior ambivalence is gone, now I want to GO!  I guess it was chaos down there that morning, but by 1pm I have all the info and pick Jack up at the library where he was doing his service.  I decided to follow all the rules and park where I was told rather than stick my car at a shopping center and hoof it.  The parking lot was pretty far away and as we're waiting for the shuttle I'm telling myself "50 minutes 'til X's set, we've got plenty of time.... 45 minutes 'til X's set..." and so on.  Not surprisingly, there was a ton of traffic- I bet it took us 20 minutes to go the last 200 yards.  As we're getting closer I see that many people who live near the fairgrounds have signs up selling $100 parking spaces, grabbing their own piece of the Bottle Rock loot.  When the bus finally let us out I bounded down the steps, luckily Jack was paying attention and kept close behind me, heading to the first gate I see, praying we won't be told to use a different entrance.

The security people didn't seem to know what was going on but they were all pretty friendly which was a big help because right then I hear the opening strains of X's "White Girl" wafting over us.  I start doing a little "kindergartner having to pee" dance and my mantra switches to "oh my God, they're starting...oh my God, they're starting...."  I'm trying not to seem too tweaked because that doesn't go over well with security but my every nerve is standing on end.  Thankfully Jack and I were in the right line and within minutes we were in.  I don't remember much about the dash over to the Citi stage where X were playing but I hope we didn't trample anyone.  X were fantastic- tight, but not too tight, and their sound was perfect.  They focused on songs from the first four albums giving us exactly what we wanted.  Jack liked them and did not seem too put out by my spastic dad dancing.
X  (Thursday 2:45 Citi Stage)
The weather was perfect on Thursday, sunny and warm, though we didn't have to face directly into the sun like Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.  Their sound was a little messed up early on, but kicked in after a few songs and the band was rocking.  Joan Jett is a national treasure- at minimum her picture should be on a postage stamp and we can always hope to see her on an upcoming round of commemorative quarters.  Joan is still writing good songs too- the audience was right with her on the new material.  She nailed all her hits, the highlight for me being "I Hate Myself For Loving You."  If I was running things, it would be Joan herself belting out the song on Sunday Night Football and not a bunch of interchangeable blonde country singers.
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts (Thursday 4:30 Citi Stage)
Jack liked both X and Joan Jett but I didn't know how he'd feel about Richard Thompson, who was up next (it really was an amazing line up- congrats Bottle Rock talent bookers).  He was playing on the smaller Miner Family Winery stage and the first half of the set was focused on his new album Electric.  Jack had gone off to see what was happening on the other stages but came back just in time to hear "Wall Of Death."  I had just been telling him about the RT song "Shoot Out The Lights" when the opening chords rang out to a huge cheer from the audience.  It was an AMAZING performance! Richard Thompson remains one of the most explosive guitarists I've ever seen, he tore it up with that candy apple red Stratocaster- even Jack's jaw dropped.  In the weeks since Bottle Rock, I've heard Jack listening to "Shoot Out The Lights" on his laptop several times.
Richard Thompson Electric Trio (Thursday 5:45 Miner Family Winery Stage)
Next up were Violent Femmes.  I remember when the band's first album, also their best, came out in 1983.  Cousin Rich (of course) played it for me that Spring and by the time I went back to college in the Fall, it was the non-stop soundtrack in Fensgate, my Emerson dorm.  No matter what floor you were on it seemed like you'd hear "Blister In The Sun," "Kiss Off" or "Add It Up."  The thing is, Violent Femmes is angrier than most hardcore records- songs about masturbation, being bullied, rejection, self hatred, sexual frustration, etc.  At the time it was right up my alley but I wondered if anyone else was paying attention to the lyrics- especially the girls singing along with "body and beats, I stain my sheets" at the top of their lungs.  I mean I was bullied in high school too but compared to Violent Femmes songwriter Gordon Gano I was captain of the freakin' football team.

When the Violent Femmes took the stage at Bottle Rock drummer Victor DeLorenzo grabbed the mic saying "it's the 30th anniversary of our first album so we thought we'd celebrate by playing the WHOLE thing" as bass player Brian Ritchie launched into "Blister In The Sun."  The crowd, myself included, went nuts!  I had seen the xylophone set up on stage so I was pretty pumped they were going to do "Gone Daddy Gone," but the whole first album?  An embarrassment of riches. I was so excited I forgot to snap a photo, so I had to steal this one from the Interweb:
Violent Femmes (Thursday 8pm Miner Family Winery Stage)
Jack left to check out Primus but when I turned around at the end of the Femmes set he was right there.  They finished with a selection of post debut "hits" and he is quite taken with "American Music."  Rather than calling it a night we went over to Citi Stage to see Primus finish up.  They are definitely not my thing and I only know their two biggest songs, "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and "My Name Is Mud" which they performed right then, in that order.  Amazing.

Catching the parking lot shuttle back to the car reminded me of those photos of people getting the last chopper out of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War (lots of yelling, a mad rush, husbands and wives separated, etc.)  Yet, nothing could harsh our mellow- we had an incredible time.  I can't thank our friends enough for the passes- it was a day Jack and I will never forget.

You can stream or download tonight's show from the links below (if the download gets stuck, just pause and un-pause).
Hour 1
Hour 2

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Show #101 June 1, 2013

For Charity and the great Scott Miller!

Charity- The Sighs S/T LP
U.S. Girls- Off Broadway Quick Turns
Erica's Word- Game Theory The Big Shot Chronicles
I Do- Randy Gun Shake To Date
Price Of Sex- SVT Extended Play
6 Feet Under- Sugar Stems Can't Wait
Residential Area- Epicycle Cirkle Records Single
Darlin' (And She Called Me)- Elliott Murphy Just A Story In America
^West End Girls- Pet Shop Boys West End Girls
Melody Comes- Spinning Jennies Starstruck 
Shake It Up (Ain't It Time)- The Cryers The Cryers
Dance All Night- Free Energy Love Sign
Playing Bogart- Any Trouble Where Are All the Nice Girls?
Best You Leave- The Early Hours Evolution 
*Berlin Girls- The Cute Lepers Smart Accessories 
*Detroit Girls- Starz Starz 
*Liverpool Girls- The Toms The Toms 
*London Girls- The Vibrators Pure Mania
*Southern Girls- Cheap Trick In Color 
*Tameside Girls- Fast Cars Coming, Ready or Not! 
The Man in the Middle- Godfathers Jukebox Fury
Hello Mr. Jenkins- The Finns Yellow Pills Prefill  
Roxy Girl- The Radiators TV Tube Heart  
>Carolina Girls- Chairmen of the Board Beach Music Anthology 
Boomerang- Jim Freeman and the Golden Gate Jumpers Romantic 
Crystal Ball- The Nomads Up-Tight
My Life in Rhymes- Phil Angotti Life and Rhymes 
Broken Doll- Wreckless Eric Big Smash 
Release Me- L.A. Burgers L.A. Burgers 
Loud- Richard X. Heyman Hey Man! 
Southtown Girls- The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America

^Power Pop Peak:  #1 Billboard Hot 100 3/1/86

*SacroSet:  Girls Around The World

>Power Pop Prototype:  1980

I'm not sure why, but when I was first getting into rock and roll as a kid I never thought of the bands I worshiped as music fans themselves.  I remember being shocked when I read that Gene Simmons of Kiss is a huge Beatles fan.  I thought to myself "but Kiss are so much better than the Beatles!" (An admittedly minority viewpoint that I maintain to this day- seriously, for shear rock and roll abandon I'll put Dressed To Kill up against anything the Fab Four ever released.)  Within a few years I'd come full circle and started to seek out the musical influences of my rock heroes.  When Cousin Rich showed me a New York Rocker interview where Ross The Boss of The Dictators said the MC5 was his favorite band it made us feel closer to him because we were MC5 fans too.  Imagine how awesome this 1981 show in NYC must have been- Ross and Wayne on the same stage!  The Dictators were also big Stooges fans, their second album included a cover of "Search and Destroy," so I can only imagine what is going through lead singer Handsome Dick Manitoba's head when he posed for this photo with Iggy back in the day:

The Handsome One and Mr. Pop

What is especially cool is that, what must have seemed like 100 years later, Iggy stopped by Handsome Dick's Underground Garage satellite radio show for an interview.  I bet those guys have forgotten more awesome rock and roll stories than today's "rock stars" will ever tell.

Still rocking!

Joey should get a refund
for that "Punk Haircut"
Back in the early '80's I always liked reading lists of famous and not so famous people's "Desert Island Discs" in Tower Record's Pulse! magazine.  I learned Joe Strummer and I share a favorite Bob Dylan album (1983's Infidels).  Joey Ramone and I have a passion for Alice Cooper's Love It To Death  while Johnny Ramone and I both love Electric Warrior by T-Rex.  The lists of people who weren't famous were also interesting.  Even in those pre-social networking days you'd see some people put themselves out there naked and exposed (Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom alongside the soundtrack to Grease) while others put on airs (Sonic
Youth's Bad Moon Rising and a Sun Ra bootleg ....really?)  As for myself, I wouldn't have gone the Sun Ra route with my Desert Island Discs but I doubt I'd have had the guts to tell the whole truth and put Dressed To Kill or AC/DC's Highway To Hell alongside London Calling, Rocket To Russia, The Dictators' Bloodbrothers and The Real Kids' debut so who am I to judge.  Anyway, those monthly lists of Desert Island Discs in Pulse! proved that famous or not, we are all music fans.

ALRN in 1980 (Scott Miller center)

Scott Miller, pictured at the top of this post, was also a big fan of rock and roll.  I say "was" because sad to say he passed away on April 15th at the young age of 53.  Miller's musical career started in the vibrant early 80's music scene in Davis, CA featured in ALL KINDSA GIRLS Show #28.  Along with his bands Alternate Learning and Game Theory, this scene spawned The Dream Syndicate, True West and Thin White Rope.  While many of his contemporaries moved to LA, Miller chose to remain in Northern California putting out music on his own Rational Records label.  On January 27, 1987 I saw Game Theory at The Rat in Boston on the tour supporting their magnum opus Lolita Nation.  Throughout the set Miller talked about Boston bands he liked, raving
several times about Christmas who had released their debut In Excelsior Dayglo a few months earlier.  At one point, and I'll never forget this, he said "Christmas may be the best band in America right now....but then again there is REM."  It blew me away that Miller was willing to consider an unknown band from my town alongside REM, who were HUGE at the the time, though I was never really a fan.  What's more, about halfway through their set that night, Game Theory covered "Road Runner" by Boston legend Jonathan Richman's first band The Modern Lovers.  How cool is that?
Game Theory On Stage
(Scott Miller far left)

I would definitely put Game Theory on the pop side of the mid-80's college radio spectrum, yet there is a prickliness to their songs (musical, lyrical or both) that seems to deliberately shun REM-like mainstream acceptance.  Miller himself later commented:  “We were fairly close to both the REM jangle camp and the L.A. psychedelic revival camp but the deal breaker in both cases was that we had prominent synthesizer. And of course we weren’t within a country mile of synthesizer music that was actually selling, like New Order.”  Miller clearly understood the music marketplace he just didn't care about it, choosing to write and record on his own terms.  Case in point, when Dan Rather was mugged in 1986 and the phrase "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" became popular lore, Game Theory took it for the title of the bizarre 57 seven second sound collage that leads off Lolita Nation.  Eight years later REM appropriated the same phrase with "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" a Top 40 hit.

After Game Theory imploded in 1989 Miller went on to form The Loud Family who had an "every sound but the kitchen sink" approach I found even harder to follow.  (Actually if they could get sound from a kitchen sink they probably would have.)  Even so, in the midst of every Loud Family record you'd still hear a couple pure pop gems.  That band wrapped it up in the early 2000's and Miller started blogging on the Loud Family website, writing in 2008 that he remained "utterly serious about music, I just respect the buying public’s judgment that it’s not what I should do for a living."
Starting with 1957, the columns run down his top 20 songs from each year and have been published as book titled Music: What Happened?  As always, Miller's observations are spot on, take this from 1981:  "nothing was sadder than watching The dB’s Swiss-watch-precision sense of the progression of music history get lost on a generation that just wanted to dress like Adam and the Ants." Or in the post for 1983, Miller writes "Every Word Means No" by Let’s Active "was my idea of a million-selling hit, and its lack of impact on any but indie circles contributed to my realization that I was getting into the music business at a time when I didn’t have the slightest idea what people wanted."  Brother- I know what you mean. 

I encourage you to head over to the Loud Family website where you can download all the Game Theory albums for free.  See for yourself what a great musician and writer Scott Miller was and I think you'll agree that he was first and foremost a music fan.

Download this week's ALL KINDSA GIRLS at the link below

p.s.  Thanks to Stephen Burt who wrote this great essay on Scott Miller in 2012

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Show #100 May 4, 2013

Our 100th Episode is dedicated to Stacy's Mom!

Stacy's Mom- Fountains Of Wayne Welcome Interstate Managers  [#21 Billboard Hot 100 9/29/03]
Animal- Neon Trees Habits [#13 10/22/09] 
There She Goes- The La's The La's [#49 10/22/90]
Always The Last To Know- Del Amitri Hatful Of Rain - The Best Of  [#30 6/9/92]
Radio Free Europe- R.E.M. Radio Free Europe 45 [#78 7/23/83]
We Got The Beat- The Go-Go's Urgh! A Music War (The Album)  [#2 1/30/82]
(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To- Weezer s/t [#81 9/12/09]
Where Have You Been All My Life- Fotomaker Fotomaker [#81 4/22/78]
One Way Or Another- Blondie Parallel Lines  [#24 6/2/79]
Hey Jealousy- Gin Blossoms New Miserable Experience [#25 7/15/92]
Take On Me- A-Ha Hunting High And Low [#1 7/13/85]
I'll Be There for You- The Rembrandts L.P. [#17 5/15/95] 
My Girl- Donnie Iris 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection [#35 3/27/82]
Thank U Very Much- The Scaffold Thank U Very Much [#69 2/10/68]
Hold On Loosely- .38 Special The Very Best Of The A and M Years [#27 2/28/81] 
Why Can't I- Liz Phair Liz Phair [#32 9/8/03]
A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)- Romeo Void A Girl In Trouble 7" [#35 9/1/84] 
Ain't That a Shame- Cheap Trick At Budokan [#35 8/4/79]
Train in Vain (Stand by Me)- The Clash London Calling [#23 3/22/80]
Shannon- Henry Gross Shannon  [#6 2/28/76]
Summertime Girls- Y and T Summertime Girls 7" [#55 7/13/85]
Working In The Coalmine- Devo Working In The Coalmine [#43 9/5/81]
Rendevous- Hudson Brothers Rendevous 45 [#26 6/21/75]
The Loco-Motion- Grand Funk The Loco-Motion [#1 3/9/74]
Manic Monday- The Bangles Manic Monday [#2 1/25/86]
Burnin' For You- Blue Oyster Cult Burnin' For You [#40 8/15/81]
Anywhere With You- Rubber Rodeo Anywhere With You [#86 8/25/84]

Wow- 100 Episodes of ALL KINDSA GIRLS!  That is a surefire sign of quality- just think of all the great TV shows that reached that hallowed 100 episode benchmark, including:

If I ever feel any doubts about my suitability for a TV executive job I just need to remind myself that each of these shows ran for at least 100 episodes while Freaks and Geeks ran for 12.  Small Wonder was especially puzzling to me;  I just couldn't understand the show's appeal.  It was almost surreal:  the broad humor, the canned laughter and canned audience "awwww" that accompanied every "touching moment."  Plus the freaky next door neighbor girl had the most bizarre hair I had ever seen.  Seriously, in a contest of Weirdest "Hair" On TV this girl would give psychic Gary Spivey a run for his money.

Between 1985 and 1989 it seemed like every time I'd flip through my TV channels on the weekend Small Wonder would come up.  I was never able to make it through an entire episode but for five minutes or so I'd sit there in slack jawed amazement at what I was seeing- what madcap antics were robot girl V.I.C.I. (Voice Identified Child Identicant, of course) and her crazy family up to this time?  Were the writers sincerely doing their best to explore the tricky ethical implications of the coming robotic age or were they cynical hacks whose disdain for the show was trumped only by their stunning misanthropy?  You could could practically feel the contempt for their viewers oozing out of the screen.

As they say, there's no accounting for taste and anyway, Small Wonder is probably Seinfeld compared to Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Here Comes Honey Boo Boo- which I've never seen but I feel confident are not for me.  I've heard many people decry shows like The Real Housewives as signs of the impending apocalypse and back in the day I would be railing right alongside these folks.  Yet, I've come to realize that these shows are not successful in spite of their insipid mindlessness they're successful BECAUSE OF their insipid mindlessness.  I'm one of those people who will chill out in front of the TV watching The Wire or Game of Thrones but there are a lot more people out there who don't want to engage with television that way- they just want to relax with something light they don't have to think too much about and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.  Truth be told I watched way too much Gilligan's Island and I Dream Of Jeannie in my youth to get all uppity about the modern equivalents (um, Duck Dynasty and Bridezillas?).  While it's a challenge sometimes (I mean Extreme Couponing... really?) I've come to accept that we all watch TV to escape, we just escape in different ways.  I've found that rather than trying to dissuade someone from watching Toddlers and Tiaras, I should ask them what they like about it, listen to their response and then tell them how much I love Homeland.  It's really much better this way- I don't make them feel like an idiot and they don't make me feel like a snob.

It's much the same way with ALL KINDSA GIRLS- yes most of the bands are obscure and the songs unfamiliar, but my hope is that the themes are universal and anyone can listen.  Who can't relate to a catchy three minute pop song about falling into/out of love?  The Intro, Verse, Verse, Chorus, Guitar Solo, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Chorus structure of these songs is embedded in our collective DNA so I'd like to think that anyone would feel comfortable listening and find something to like on any episode of ALL KINDSA GIRLS.

Tonight's 100th Episode is a big "Thanks For Listening!" to you all.  Your prize is a show of nothing but Power Pop Peaks- those rare gems that made it onto commercial radio, MTV and the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  Granted, they are not all top ten records, but I'm happy to say more than half hit the Top 40 and a couple made it all the way up to #1.  So, I invite you to enjoy tonight's ALL KINDSA GIRLS- whether you're Shazaming every other record and adding it to your Spotify playlist, keeping the show on in the background while you do other things, or simply relaxing and staring off into space contemplating the genius that is "Stacy's Mom."  Thanks so much for your support and here's to 100 more episodes of ALL KINDSA GIRLS!

Here are the links to stream or download Episode #100 (if the download gets sticky you may need to pause and un-pause)
Hour 1
Hour 2