Posts Tagged ‘Marshall Crenshaw’

Cygnus Radio playlist 4/26/13: Tributes to life and death

April 29, 2013
George Jones: One of the greatest voices -- and, in his younger days, the greatest flattop -- in American music.

George Jones: One of the greatest voices — and, in his younger days, the greatest flattop — in American music.

For the link to this and all other Franorama 2.0 shows on Cygnus Radio, click here.

Well, after being rudely technically interrupted for a week — software nightmares caused me to shut down the planned April 19 show — Franorama 2.0 returned to Cygnus Radio this past Friday and picked up where I was left off.

I started the show with the opening set I planned for the week before, when it was more topical — save for the first four songs, an overstuffed set of Boston tunes. (And by that, I don’t mean the band Boston — I mean the land of my esteemed enemies, the Sawx. I mean Boston area-based musicians, with the glaring exception being the most famous song about Boston ever recorded by a band from L.A.)

And in the midst of the first set, the news feed on the Book of Faces was suddenly ablaze with the news of death earlier in the morning of George Jones. What I couldn’t get was all the sadness going around. I mean, the guy was 81, and let’s face it — this man, whose every obituary included a more-than-passing reference hi his legendary drinking, should have been dead 30, 40 years ago. Hell, his longevity was even more incredible than his career!

What is, indeed, sad is that one of the truly great and no-bullshit voices in American music — not to mention, in his younger days, the greatest flattop — is gone. Leaving “country” more and more in the hands of prepackaged blonde tarts, and twerps who play bad “classic” “rawk” and pass it off as “country” by wearing a cowboy hat or a Larry the Cable Guy-style baseball hat.

Anyway, these are the moments when you realize that your backup hard drive didn’t quite capture every song from your old laptop. And that included almost everything of George’s. So I played the only two songs I had: “Rock It,” his 1956 rockabilly single for Starday Records under the alias Thumper Jones; and his 1981 duet with Elvis Costello on “Stranger in the House” that pretty much redefined Elvis’ career in the public eye.

Scott Miller in his Game Theory days.

Scott Miller in his Game Theory days.

And I had a couple of tributes in store. One, left over from the previous week, was to Scott Miller, the former frontman for ’80s Bay Area alt-pop group Game Theory, who died at 53. “Here It Is Tomorrow,” from his 1986 album The Big Game Chronicles, was one of the best songs of the whole ’80s. And the group, which broke up in ’89, was set to reunite and record a new album later this year. Another was a soul cover you probably never heard by Ella Fitzgerald, the day after what would have been her 96th birthday. And two more passings in the final set: the sultry and tough Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett, who finally lost her twin battles with breast cancer and MS last week at 53; and one I found out about from March: Buddy McRae, the last surviving member of The Chords, of “Sh-Boom” fame.

Other tidbits from the show:

  • Songs for the living. Three acts who performed at Cafe Nine. Quintron, from New Orleans, played in the middle of the week before, and was a revelation. A wacky mix of a puppet show, a DJ and a young man, Quintron, who cranks out a Hammond B-3 sound way beyond his years and in ways that weren’t conceivable back in the day. And joined by a lovely blonde singer named Miss Pussycat. A night and a half before my show, The Woggles (from Atlanta, except, these days. for singer Manfred Jones, who lives in L.A. and hosts a show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM) returned for their second show since I’ve been home. How Manfred stays that limber and manic (he has to be my age) is beyond me. I played something from their latest album, The Big Beat. And the night after my radio show, one of my favorite music people, the lovely fiddler/pop singer/songwriter Deni Bonet played, so I played four tunes from her new album, It’s All Good.
  • The name remains the same. Two instances where I played songs back to back with the same title but which were totally different. First, The Rascals (who not only have buried their hatchets after all these years, but are currently on Broadway, to boot), with one of my favorite songs of the many songs of theirs I like, “A Girl Like You,” followed by Edwyn Collins’ tune, the best song of the ’90s, far as I’m concerned. Then I segued out of Deni’s “Cynical Girl” into Marshall Crenshaw’s song of the fame name from his classic debut disc.

Anyway, that’s all. Catch you this Friday. I hope.

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Cygnus Radio playlist, 2/22/13: Iiiiiin myyyy roooooom …

March 18, 2013
Yeah, that's what I look like without coffee. In the bedroom -- I mean, the studio -- for the first show.

Yeah, that’s what I look like without coffee. In the bedroom — I mean, the studio — for the first show.

Feb. 22, 2013

To listen to the mp3 archive file of the show, click here.

The world will little note, nor long remember, what we did here … but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

It took a couple of go-rounds with the software the past week — and there were a couple of glitches during the show, such as songs disappearing from the play queue instead of cueing up to play, but I didn’t tell you that — but after 22 years of terrestrial radio (plus streaming the last three or four years) at WPKN in Bridgeport, my Franorama 2.0 show made its online debut the final Friday of February on Cygnus Radio. (I’m still doing fill-ins at PKN, though.)

This was a few months in the making. I’ve known Gary Vollono, aka Gary Gone, who runs the station, since the manager of the mail room at the New Haven Register (when it still printed its own papers) and I was the entertainment editor music writer. He would get a hold of me sometimes as I was heading from the composing room (remember those, ex-jourmalists?) back to the newsroom and talk tunes. Anyway, Gary has built himself a nice little indie label called IndepenDisc, and he started doing his online show here while I was in exile in California, and now he runs the show, and when I moved home, he asked me if I was interested in doing a show. And here we are.

Gotta tell you — the weirdest part of the whole inaugural show was the best. I did the show from bed — well, not under the covers; I was sitting on top of a made bed — but still, I was doing radio from my bedroom. When I started at WPKN, who knew the technology would one day be available to not only not need an actual radio transmitter, but to do a full show off a laptop computer in my room? And without a single record or CD? Yep — I have thousands of songs right here on this here laptop. Technology sucks a lot, but sometimes it’s kinda fun.

I did the show with no coffee, and I looked like a wreck, and while I wasn’t quite a wreck beneath the airwaves, I was a little bit tense, as will happen with something new. But, aside from needing to work on adjusting my voice levels, I think it went well. And I paid tribute to the memory of the legendary Shadow Morton with a set of Shangri-Las, plus the 2007 album by their lead singer, Mary Weiss (with The Reigning Sound), and Neko Case doing her killer version of one of their best tunes.

And it can only go up from here. I hope.

Anyway, if you like what you hear, please tell your friends and loved ones. We’re trying to grow the station. If you’re on the East Coast, it’s a great substitute for coffee. If you’re on the West Coast, it’s your Friday-morning kick in the ass out of bed. And if you’re over in Europe, it makes for great music leading into dinner.

Here’s what I played for openers. Plenty more where that came from — especially as I get the energy up to dig into my storage space and rip some CDs into this machine here. Anyway, have fun …

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WPKN Playlist, 1/10/13: Leading off the year …

February 7, 2013
The Suzan -- here to destroy your conceptions of Japanese girl groups.

The Suzan — here to destroy your conceptions of Japanese girl groups once and for all.

Feb. 7, 2013

Well, I’ve had a couple of previous WPKN playlists swimming around in my purse over the past month, and as you girls know, a purse is a dangerous place to place something, as most things that enter never leave. (Cue up the “BWAhahahaaaaaaaa!” and the ensuing shriek here …)

So after doing another fill-in this morning, I realized it was time to fishing for pieces of paper with journalist’s scrawl on them.

Ten days into the new year, I did my first fill-in of 2013, a two-hour drag race (10 a.m.-noon), filling in for Binnie Klein. (She said “drag” …) It was a short and sweet and fun two hours, that’s for sure. After my previous show, two days following the Newtown massacre, anything would’ve been a step up. But it was a few steps up from that.

Let’s see … Three things stick out from this show:

  • My Fresno pal Jes Farnsworth, the frontman for The Backstabbers and nephew of late Reducers bassist Steve Kaika, has a bigger job at the moment: playing guitar for Newsted, the new trio fronted by ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted. The debut four-song EP, Metal, came out two days before. And since it was Jes (who also has a tour as a gun for hire with Jetboy on his resume), I placed them in a Reducers sandwich — Frigate’s track from the tribute album on top, my track with The Backstabbers and one by The Reducers themselves on the bottom …
  • New David Bowie, who turned 66 two days before the show. We managed to get a hold of “Where Are We Now,” the first song from his first album in 10 years, The Next Day, due out in March. It’s kind of a dirgy, gloomy song, but we hear the album as a whole (as produced by his old collaborator, Tony Visconti) is a bit more spirited. His health has been rumoured to have been bad for some time (think about the non-cancerous illnesses one encounters after years of smoking), but ill or not, here he is.
  • The Suzan. I saw them the previous Saturday night at Cafe Nine. Four girls who moved from Tokyo to Harlem two years ago. Talk about shattering concepts … I thought they’d be this cutesy group playing tinny-sounding songs with phonetically sung words and saying things like “Thank you! Buy our CDs!” after every songs, such as The 5.6.7.8′s (who actually did that when they opened for Dick Dale at Maxwell’s in Hoboken in October ’93) and Shonen Knife. The Suzan led off with two songs that reminded me of Talking Heads — in fact, “Come Come” sounded like a hybrid of “(Nothing but) Flowers” and “Iko Iko.” And along the way, they channeled Blondie as well. (And oddly enough, their manager, Greg Vegas, an old friend from his days in the Danbury scene in the late ’80s/early ’90s, told me they had never heard Talking Heads …) A lot of osmosis going on and pleasant surprise.

Anyway, enough yapping. It was fun. Here you go — two more to come in the coming days:

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Five Songs, Part 93 (Back Home Edition)

August 24, 2012

Well, my move across the country back to Connecticut is over — though the recovery process surely isn’t — but in the interest of life returning to whatever passes for “normal” in my world, I’m back to Five Songs this week.

Despite not being in any shape to go out, I dolled up adequately enough Tuesday night and dragged myself out of the house to see Candye Kane at Cafe Nine in New Haven. (And shame on the so-called music community — only about 40 people at the show. I came home expecting better.)

It’ll be a blog post eventually about body matters — a conversation launched by Candye as her intro to the song I included this week — but the show was a hell of a lot of fun … even more so because one of stalwart sisters of the blues, Debbie Davies (who I believe still lives in Stratford), showed up to join Candye and her own ace guitarist, Laura Chavez, on stage, and be honored with a birthday cake.

Anyway, now that I’m home, I’ll be back to posting (and getting caught up) in between sending out resumes (six this first week back) and allegedly working on my book. So dig in and go enjoy the weekend …

I’m So Tired — The Beatles

200 Lbs. of Fun — Candye Kane

Something’s Gonna Happen — Marshall Crenshaw

It’s Gonna Happen — The Undertones

Back Home Again — John Denver

Simple math: 12 deep x 30 years = “Marshall Crenshaw” (April 28, 1982-April 28, 2012)

April 29, 2012

Spring of 1982, a sunny Saturday April afternoon. Junior year of college, C.W. Post Campus, Long Island University, in Brookville, L.I. Headed back to campus with a friend from the Burger King where I worked that school year, a couple miles west on Northern Boulevard in Greenvale. The radio was turned to one of the only stations that mattered: “102.7, WNEW-FM in New York, where rock lives,” as the deejays’ station ID put it.

And the jock (I want to say it was Dan Neer, since it was Saturday afternoon, which is when I have my mental pictures of Danno surfing up Third Avenue at show’s end to The Ventures’ “Hawaii Five-O”) played the latest single by Robert Gordon.

Robert was my gateway to rockabilly as a 16-year-old in the summer of 1977, when he debuted with the first of his two albums with Link Wray. I heard “Red Hot,” and especially “Flying Saucers Rock’n’Roll” all summer. And the next spring, it would be their second album, “Fresh Fish Special,” which included “The Way I Walk,” “Twenty Flight Rock” and a new song written by Bruce Springsteen, called “Fire.” (This was a year before The Pointer Sisters” smash version.)

Fast-forward four years. And the jock was introducing a bouncy yet hard-driving tune, rockabilly yet classic pop at the same time, called “Someday, Someway.” He said it was a song written by a musician I had never heard of. The way he said the name, it was as if he was familiar with him and that we should be, too. And the name definitely had a cool, rock’n’roll ring to it — a guy with a name this cool should be explored.

A couple weeks later, his own version arrived in the local record stores on his self-titled debut album. Yesterday (April 28) was the 30th anniversary of the release of that album, which has stood solidly almost alongside Pet Sounds in my personal pantheon of favorite albums. And a week and a half ago, I pulled out the 2000 Rhino CD re-release of Marshall Crenshaw and popped it into my car’s disc player. Haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Sounds pretty damn good for 30.

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ARCHIVES: Long, long time ago …

May 31, 2010

This pre-Franorama World post, on the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, is from my MySpace blog Feb. 3, 2009, 2 p.m. PST:

I can tell you the first time I read about Buddy Holly. It was a Life magazine story in January 1972, what turned out to be the final year of this great publication. (It was the Super Bowl issue, a white cover with a smallish photo of Roger Staubach conferring with Tom Landry.)

One of the stories was about this phenom of a record at the time — the No. 1 single of 1971, by a singer/songwriter from suburban New York. Not only was “American Pie” about seven minutes long — it was a hit in spite of the length and because of the imagery in evoked and because the lyrics were so simple to remember. (It was my first record — 69 cents at Bradlees, and I was bewildered at how the DJ could get the song to play all the way through, while my 45 was broken into parts 1 and 2.)

And as a fifth-grader, I had no idea what the words were about — this Chevy-to-the-levee stuff and the eight miles high and falling fast and, of course, the day the music died.
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