Posts Tagged ‘Major Lance’

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 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, 3/15/13: Chasing away winter

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 19, 2013

For the links to this and all my other archived Cygnus Radio shows, click here.

So, now that my broadcasting software is going full guns with no glitches, Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio is starting to find its place. I’m getting more comfortable with the software, with the voice levels, and I’m able to turn the show on a dime if and when I have to — to get reacquainted with the thousands of songs in the music folders of my laptop.

And I devoted this show to chasing away winter. And I didn’t want to get wrapped up with  March 17th, so I settled for two songs by my pal Larry Kirwan, of New York by way of Wexford — one with Black 47 near the top of the show and the show-ending single that he put out my senior year of college with Major Thinkers (and which I heard plenty on WLIR back then).

“Avenue B” was one of the tunes I dredged up from the online world thanks the the magic of mp3 downloads.  Been finding some really cool things to share on the show there. One was one of Connecticut’s greatest gems from the days of ’70s FM rock, The Dirty Angels’ “Tell Me.”

Another was a segue I’ve had kicking around in my head since my early 20s. One of the many singles my father brought up from the cellar when I was eight years old — along with a ’50s RCA 45 layer — was “Love My Lady,” Bobby Helms’ obscure 1958 follow-up to “Jingle Bell Rock.” I always thought it was a song Stevie Ray Vaughan would’ve had a field day with had he known about it and/or lived to record it. So I found Helms on the download and ran it right into “Pride and Joy.” You can hear for yourself.

I also took advantage of another musical care package — this one from old friend Craig Bell. Craig was on the ground floor of two cities’ alt-music scenes in the ’70s — Cleveland, with Rocket From the Tombs (where he wrote “Final Solution” with the pre-Pere Ubu David Thomas, a song later cut by Bauhaus), and New Haven (The Saucers, with a pre-Miracle Legion Mark Mulcahy). My first night as part of the New Haven scene, as it were,  was the night before Easter 1982, at Brothers in West Haven, seeing Craig’s band at the time, then called Future Plan (later The Plan, later The Bell System).

Anyway, Craig and wonderful wife Claude live in Indianapolis these days, where he leads The Down-Fi, also goes on the road occasionally for Rocket From the Tombs reunion shows, and recorded an EP two years ago as Second Saucer with all the Saucers except Mulcahy. And he sent me a little of all the above, as well as the enhanced, 2000s double-CD version of It Happened but Nobody Noticed,” his compilation of early New Haven bands (including The Excerpts and The Bats, two groups that featured the young Jon Brion before he moved to L.A. and became king of the pop scene there).

I also read my recent blog post of Lou Reed stories and played the two songs that accompanied it.

There was also the incongruous segue that only made sense to me — the dark moodiness of Mary Gauthier (from her recently released Live at Blue Rock album) into a raucous early, garagey gem by The Guess Who.

Thanks to the kindness of my friends Sascha and Jim, I saw Mary perform the night before at Cafe Nine in New Haven (a most excellent show), and her backing musicians, keyboardist/guitarist Scott Nolan and drummer Joanna Miller, were also the opening act. I was talking to Scott outside while he was having a smoke break; he and Joanna are from Winnipeg (and how they hooked up with a Louisiana woman is beyond me), and I was asking  about the scene there. He told me how thriving it is, and how on any given night, anyone can come walking in, and he mentioned Burton Cummings. Hence, the connection from Mary to The Guess Who, because most anything goes on this show.

And what would March 15 have been without The Ides of March?

Anyway, drop on in, even archivally. I love company. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET (7-10 a.m. PT, 3-6 p.m. GMT). And if you like what you hear, please tell your friends and other wonderful people. I want this thing to turn into a monster. And if, like Craig, you want to get your CDs played on the show — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Message me here on the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get back to you with a mailing address.

Well, this should have chased away the winter. See you in the spring!

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Five Songs, Part 100

November 24, 2012

Joe Franklin — the man, the myth, the legend. But not a singer. He left that to Eddie Cantor and Sophie Tucker.

Well, nothing stupendous or colossal or big! big! big! or any of those other stellar adjectives that Joe Franklin, the self-styled “King of Nostalgia,” used to use on his show as I put together this mini-milestone 100th installment of Five Songs.

(And if you didn’t grow up in the New York area and/or are of a younger generation: The imitable-yet-inimitabe Joe was the king of late-night television, having hosted a talk show in New York (and Jersey, when Channel 9 relocated across the river to Secaucus) for 43 years (1950-93). While he interviewed hundreds of thousands of nobodies, there were a few somebodies as well: Jerry Lewis, boyhood pal Tony Curtis, Paul Newman, Barbra Streisand, Buster Keaton, The Ramones, “Weird Al,” They Might Be Giants, occasional visitor Tiny Tim. First time I really tuned in, in college, The J.Geils Band was on, Freeze-Frame era, splattering the studio with paint and having a couple of beauties present Joe with a six-foot-tall trophy for being the “King of Television.” One day, I’ll tell you about how I helped start an international Honeymooners fan club with his help. And the first link above is to a wonderful documentary called 50,000,000 Joe Franklin Fans Can’t Be Wrong.)

That’s because, well, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m wondering if anyone would even be looking at what I have to read, since everyone’s wrapped up in the post-holiday. (Hell, I wonder if anyone even reads it in the best of times …)

So, I digressed. Anyway, I wasn’t gonna hit the Christmas tunes yet, but since I butchered this song and smeared the reputation of Ms. Veronica Bennett Spector Greenfield at the tail end of the annual Thanksgiving-night Vomitorium at Cafe Nine in New Haven, I had to somehow make amends. So one Christmas song and the rest totally random. Enjoy the remainder of the holiday:

Frosty the Snowman — The Ronettes

Couldn’t I Just Tell You — Todd Rundgren

Omaha — Moby Grape

Rhythm — Major Lance

On Easy Street — Freda Payne