Posts Tagged ‘Blondie’

Cygnus Radio playlist 6/14/13: The rain, Newtown and other things

June 17, 2013

Franorama 2.0 airs live from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and forever and ever in the archives. To listen to the archived link to this and all other Cygnus shows, click here.

Last Friday’s episode of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio revolved around three spheres

The Rain. It had rained heavily the two previous days, and Friday began just as dark and wet until the sky cleared considerably just around lunchtime. In fact, as I sat here in the cellar home studio, I would leave the laptop aside every half-hour or so and turn on the wet-vac and suck another buckets of water from the carpet near the cellar door. (Yes, multitasking.)

The spring here in Connecticut has been full of weather stops-starts like this, with intermittent storms and sharp temperature drops

Anyway, I had a lot more songs about rain , both literally and metaphorically, than I realized, but I kept it to two sets’ worth. Notables: ending one set with the Dead (“Box of Rain”) and beginning the next with the Dead, from their earliest recording session as The Warlocks (“Early Morning Rain”). And, of course, I had to play The Cowsills.

Sandy Hook SchoolNewtown. It was six months to the very hour — also on a Friday morning — that the news crawls on local TVs began running the news that there were reports of a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown. And as morning progressed into lunchtime into afternoon into mourning, the disbelief that usually goes with such horrific events — and Newtown, as well as most of western Connecticut really IS a sleepy town where little ever happens — was countered by the wretched enormity of what had happened.

And living a half-hour away, and having the privilege of having a microphone on this milestone day — and having known a couple whose daughter was one of the murdered teachers — I couldn’t let the day pass unnoticed. But how to commemorate it? The TV stations were gonna milk it for all they could — the maudlin piano chords, the “Tragedy at Sandy Hook” graphics, all of which I find pretty damn offensive.

I didn’t want to get bogged down in the politics of it, but I read aloud the eloquent-but-angry op-ed piece in the morning;s Newtown Bee. It came from Tucson — from Gabby Giffords and Roxanna Green. (Green’s young daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was killed in the shooting that critically wounded Giffords.) The words speak for themselves.

I don’t have a lot of kid-related music. But I do have parts of They Might Be Giants’ album NO! It was a children’s album, and my favorite song on the album was a Lovin’ Spoonful-style tune written about one of the great many questions a curious kid would ask about the world. And it sounded as if it were something that a first-grader would ask. Where do they make balloons? So that’s what I led with.

I also played one of Marvin Gaye’s most poignant songs from one of his most troubled and brilliant times, along with some of the childlike innocence from Brian Wilson at his most vulnerable and troubled period, and finished the set with Judy Garland. It was all I could do to not lose it. Had I played the version of “Over the Rainbow” that the surviving Sandy Hook students recorded (at Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s home studio in Fairfield), I most definitely would never have made it through the song.

And other things. Well, some of the other threads:

Arturo Vega. The Saturday before, Arturo Vega died. Technically, there were eight men who were Ramones at one point or another — Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky, Richie, the short-stinted Clem Burke (aka Elvis Ramone) and C.J. But in reality, Arturo was the fifth Ramone. He designed their iconic logo; he was a confidant; the band rehearsed and recorded demos at his East Village loft; and Joey and Dee Dee lived with him at various points. I remembered him by playing some better-known songs and some early and little-heard demos as well.

Jet-setting. Saw Los Straitjackets a few nights before at Cafe Nine in New Haven, and since their latest album is Jet Set, I put together the three songs I have with those words in the title — them, Joe Jackson and The Fleshtones.

Dock Ellis. Last Wednesday was the 43rd anniversary of one of the greatest feats in baseball history — Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates throwing a no-hitter against the Padres in San Diego while tripping his brains out. Barbara Manning and her group, The SF Seals (named after San Francisco’s legendary pre-Giants minor league team, whose most famous alum was hometown boy Joe DiMaggio), recorded a three-song 7-inch Baseball Trilogy single for Matador 20 years ago already. A wild trip of a song called “Dock Ellis” was part of it.

The Style Council: It was 30 summers ago already, about this time, that Paul Weller’s post-Jam group made its American vinyl debut with the EP Introducing … The Style Council, a compilation of songs already released as singles in England. Still a favorite piece of my library. Played three SC songs — a killer instrumental called “Mick’s Up” from the EP, plus two of my favorite later tunes. From 1983-85, Weller, Mick Talbot and Dee C. Lee were the shit.

So that’s it. On to this Friday’s show, the first show of summer. Get your sunscreen ready …

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Cygnus Radio Playlist 5/24/13: So many directions, so little time

May 28, 2013
The man, the myth, the legend, the Tiur de Force. With Brute Force after his show at Two Boots in Bridgeport, 5/23/13.

The man, the myth, the legend, the Tour de Force. With Brute Force after his show at Two Boots in Bridgeport, 5/23/13. Bethany Appleby photo.

Franorama 2.0 airs live Fridays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT (7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-5 p.m. GMT) on Cygnus Radio, and in the archives in perpetuity. For the archived links to this and all other shows, click here.

I came into this latest episode of Franorama 2.0 with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of territory to cover in three hours.

I was coming off a show where my audience quadrupled, thanks to a mention on iTunes as a must-listen. I was also coming off a very active week musically:

The death of Ray Manzarek that Monday. It’s one thing to play The Doors everyone does it. (And rightfully so; Ray’s keyboard playing stands up there along with Felix Cavaliere and Al Kooper as the best of the ’60s.) But there was more. In addition to the three obligatory Doors songs (my favorite, “Soul Kitchen”; “Peace Frog,” because you can’t live in or near New Haven without a little blood in the streets in the town of New Haven; and “Light My Fire,” a classic use or organ in a rock song), I played two 1965 songs from his pre-Doors band, Rick & the Ravens, and two songs from X’s first album, Los Angeles, which he produced.

Brute Force the night before in Bridgeport. Back in the late ’80s, an old friend let me borrow his copy of the damndest album in the history of Columbia Records: the 1967 release I, Brute Force: Confections of Love. Well-measured abdurdity of a time and place. Anyway, Mr, Force — who later recorded for Apple, having been championed by George Harrison and John Lennon, no strangers to absurd humor — is still plying his musical trade, and in an I-never-thought-I’d-see-the-day moment, he and his eyebrows and his band (including his daughter, Lilah, on backing vocals) came to Two Boots Pizza in downtown Bridgeport the night before the show. the audience was way too small (about 15) but enthusiastic. And rightfully so.

Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday. I was kinda Bobbed out, having played three hours of him the previous day as part of a WPKN fundraiser. But since it was his actual birthday, I couldn’t let it slide. So I didn’t. Bob got a set of tunes from you actually could understand what he was singing.

She & Him. The new third album by She & Him, cleverly titled Volume 3, is out, and Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward raised the bar here, a difficult task since Volume Two was such a gem. Played three killer originals, plus a mini-battle of the bands: three songs remade by Zooey and M., alongside the original versions. The real revelation was “Baby,” a rare side of vinyl from 1965 by someone much better known for her songwriting, Ellie Greenwich. She wrote the song with her then-husband/songwriting partner, Jeff Barry, and the recently deceased Shadow Morton, the man who shaped The Shangri-Las’ sound. Both versions here were excellent, but Ellie’s was a revelation.

New sounds: I’ve been soliciting new sounds from musicians all across my Facebook spectrum. And musicians have been responding, and I played two new-to-me performers on the show for the first time last Friday. From Albany, N.Y., came The Mysteios, latter-day garage featuring Johnny Mystery on guitar and his daughter, Tambourine Girl, on vocals. They’ve been getting play on the Underground Garage channel on Sirius XM, and I’m glad to have them aboard this show as well. From Austin, Texas, came the reflective sounds of singer/songwriter Eric Hisaw, who’ll be coming this way for the first time, playing at Cane Nine in New Haven June 5.

Anyway, the only downer was that the audience was back to its original numbers last week; the bounce the week before didn’t hold. Hoping the algorithms line up again at some point and that I end up on iTunes’ radar again and get a huge chunk of new listeners, and that they’ll stick around.

Anyway, if you like what you hear, listen on Fridays or click on the archives and tune in at your leisure. Also, please like my Facebook page and get your friends to do the same. And if you’re a musician who wants to get played on my show, go to my Facebook page and message me, and I’ll send you my snail and email addresses. Anyway, let’s do this again this Friday:

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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 81 (Paul Weller birthday edition)

May 25, 2012

I had my Five Songs for the week all done and set to go this afternoon when I realized — today’s Paul Weller’s birthday (54th, not that anyone’s counting). Not sure why — maybe because of a lot of his solo career has left me cold, or perhaps because he’s been around since my late teens — but I kinda take Weller for granted. Which makes no sense because a lot of my favorite songs of all time have something to do with The Jam or The Style Council.

So anyway, I tacked a dozen-minus-one extra songs at the last minute to the five Five Songs all set to go — five from The Jam (for my favorite Jam song, “Town Called Malice,” I went with one of my favorite movie dance moments of all — Billy Eliot’s “Footloose” moment), three from The Style Council and three solos, the last one from his latest album, Sonik Kicks.

And enjoy your long weekend:

The Rain, The Park and Other Things — The Cowsills

Pretty Baby — Blondie

Land of 1,000 Dances — Cannibal & the Headhunters

Richard Cory — Simon & Garfunkel

Run, Run, Run — The Velvet Underground

In the City — The Jam

Going Underground — The Jam

That’s Entertainment — The Jam

The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow) — The Jam

Town Called Malice — The Jam

The Paris Match — The Style Council

Shout to the Top — The Style Council

Walls Come Tumbling Down — The Style Council

You Do Something to Me — Paul Weller

Written in the Stars — Paul Weller

That Dangerous Age — Paul Weller