Posts Tagged ‘The Shangri-Las’

Cygnus Radio playlist 6/28/13: The week that was the last wek of June

July 2, 2013

June calendarFranorama 2.0 airs live on Cygnus Radio from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. EDT Fridays (9 a.m.-noon CDT, 7-10 a.m. PDT, 2-4 p.m. GMT) and in the archive in perpetuity. To get to the archives, click here.

Well, for the first time in a long time, there was no planned theme to the most recent episode of Franorama 2.0 on Cygnus Radio. But, as usually happens, some mini-themes begin to sprout from the fertile little garden that is my brain (and, by extension, my wife the laptop, upon which I write this here blog and do this here radio show):

Game Theory and Big Star: Two cult-following groups that were honored with tribute shows in Manhattan this past weekend. Actually went to the Scott Miller benefit tribute show Saturday night at the Cake Shop, thanks to Ms. Marice, who had an extra ticket. (The quick backstory: Scott, a fine pop singer/songwriter who led Game Theory in the ’80s and The Loud Family in the ’90s, died unexpectedly in April. The benefit was to raise money for his family.) The 18-song show was kinda sloppy and (especially early on) disorganized, but got better as the night went on, highlighted by a couple songs performed by Ted Leo. I didn’t get to the free show at Central Park’s Summerstage the next night — a performance of Big Star’s Third in its entirety (if not in order), headed by Mitch Easter, along with Big Star’s Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow, and including the likes of Marshall Crenshaw, Mike Mills and Richard Lloyd. But I noted both events on my show.

Gettysburg: Yesterday (July 1) was the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the most pivotal event in the most pivotal period of American history. The three bloodiest days ever encountered on American soil. And so I called up the two Civil War rock songs I knew of — David Kincaid (who is a Civil War re-enactor and has carved a career singing period songs in authentic replica Union uniforms) leading The Brandos through “Gettysburg,” and Richard X. Heyman’s “Civil War Buff.” (Well, five songs, but I wasn’t gonna play Iced Earth’s 31-minute “Gettysburg” Trilogy …)

That was the week that was: The Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act, a filibuster in Texas that turned a heretofore-unknown state senator from Fort Worth into a national political figure (and unwitting Mizuno running shoe pitchwoman), the Supremes striking two huge blows for marriage equality, and the (still-continuing as of now) Nelson Mandela death watch. A heavy news week that made its way, in a way, into the show.

Anyway, catch you this Friday. Stay tuned. And please tell your friends to tune in while they while away at their desks or loaf or do the housework …

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Cygnus Radio playlist, 3/8/13: Before I was so rudely interrupted …

March 18, 2013

cygnusNewlgMarch 18, 2013

For a link to this and my other archived Cygnus shows, click here.

So, a funny thing happened on the way to doing my second Franorama 2.0 show on Cygnus Radio:

Nothing.

I was prepared for March to come roaring in like the proverbial lion; instead, the first of March greeted me with deafening silence — except for the frenzied voice of yours truly, wondering what the hell happened and trying for three hours over the phone to fix what was wrong.

Remember when I said last post that technology could be pretty cool sometimes? Well, I lied. It could be pretty fucked-up.

Apparently, the broadcasting software didn’t like the fact that had gone out and bought a new USB mic/headphone headset from Target, and even though I plugged the new set into my laptop a couple days before, just to make sure everything was on the same page, when it came time to do the show that first Friday, I was on for about four seconds — then nothing. The software froze.

A quick, frantic call to Gary Gone? No good. Same with Swannie down in Maryland. The three of us wasted three hours trying every diagnostic thing they knew, tried improvising and running every possible contingency … nothing. The software somehow was totally corrupted. I felt badly because I had talked up the show so much to everyone, and then it didn’t even happen.

Anyway, the following Monday, I was over at La Casa de Gone, and we ripped out the offending software and downloaded an updated version. A little tinkering, some abracadabra, and that was more like it. And, that Friday, a week late, my second show was good to go. The mic volume controls and the delay echo in my headset are still a little boggling, but I’m slowly adjusting and ironing out the sound levels..

Anyway, it was an ugly late-winter Friday morning. I had driven in the snow down to Bridgeport the night before to do a midnight-to-2 a.m. show on WPKN as part of its special Speaking of Women programming, coinciding with International Women’s Day. A 40-minute drive home became an hour-and-a-half ordeal, driving very slowly in second gear uphill on state roads that hadn’t even been plowed. When I pulled into the driveway, there were three inches of snow; there would be about nine more by the time it ended in the afternoon (twice what the TV weather clowns had predicted — true to form for them this winter).

I got to bed around 4 and was up at 8 to get the Cygnus show ready and make sure the software was simpatico with the headset. And outside my window, the snow was damn near horizontal. Didn’t let up ’til about 2. So, thanks to the magic of radio imagination, I was able to give a summery feel to the show, especially early on to set the tone.

Also threw in some CDs that musicians had sent me (Edward O’Connell, Stark Raving Lulu, The Zambonis). In addition, I had received a huge care package of CDs from Sharon, a Facebook friend in Minneapolis. Some things I had, some files I had lost in the midst of a couple mass computer file transfers the past year, so I stocked up on my early Stones material, as well as The Left Banke.

A couple of visual elements also worked their way into the show. Earlier in the week, guitartist extraordinaire Deke Dickerson had posted a YouTube video compilation of the legendary R&B group The Treniers; while they were one of the most underrated musical acts of the rock’n’roll era, you just have to see them in action, too. Also, a couple nights before the show, I watched the Showtime premiere of the intense, totally depressing, yet somehow inspiring documentary Family Band: The Cowsiills Story.

And, the fun thing about doing this here show is that I’m starting to find mp3s of really cool songs that are awfully hard to find in physical form. There was The Ronettes’ original version of “I Can Hear Music” — which, until recently, was omitted from Phil Spector compilations. Or “Guess I’m Dumb,” the song Brian Wilson gave to Glen Campbell when he was launching his recording career. And especially Johnny Cash’s “The Folk Singer” — a very obscure song he recorded in 1958, which Nick Cave recorded as a 12-inch B-side at the time of his Kicking Against the Pricks album in ’88.

Anyway, technology sucks, but radio is fun. The show airs live on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern (7-10 a.m. Pacific, 3-6 p.m. GMT).  Hope you can drop in and keep me company. And please pass the word to your friends and loved ones — we want to grow this show and this station.

And if you’re a musician who has a CD and wants to get some airplay here — well, if I like it, I’ll play it. Drop me a message here on or the Cygnus Radio Facebook page and I’ll get you my mailing address.

I’ll finish catching up to playlists asap.

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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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Five Songs, Part 104

December 29, 2012

45misentoDec. 29, 2012

Time for Five Songs to blow off this bizarre, haywire, anguish-filled year of great change. Hopefully, what so many misread as the Mayan apocalypse is actually the end of a strange era, just a table-setter for the start of things evening out and reverting to some sense of normality.

(Grammar Bitch interjecting here: It’s “normality,” not “normalcy.” That was a grammatical error foisted on America in the 1920 presidential campaign by Warren Harding, who ran on a “Return to Normalcy” campaign after Wilson and the Great War. Imagine — a onetime newspaper editor who saddled us with bad English en route to what was, until Cheney, the worst presidency in American history. And nearly a century later, people are still getting it wrong in droves.)

Anyway, I snuck a couple of these Five Songs onto my Facebook wall yesterday to honor the birthdays of Shangri-Las lead voice Mary Weiss (now 64) and Box Tops/Big Star voice Alex Chilton (who would’ve been 62). The Box Tops one, with Chilton rasping “Cry Like a Baby” en italiano, is pretty hard to find; I have it on a long-deleted Rhino Best of the Box Tops LP from the ’80s, but it’s never been released digitally, far as I know.

Go blow off some steam. Enjoy these Five Songs-plus and do what I do at the stroke of midnight every January 1 — yell “ONWARD!”

Out in the Streets — The Shangri-Las

Cry About the Radio — Mary Weiss

Mi Sento Felice — The Box Tops

Dalai Lama — Alex Chilton

Pretty Girl — The Bugs

Little Town Flirt — Altered Images

Time to Change — The Brady Bunch

25 Songs for Norton’s 25th (and then some)

November 20, 2011

Well, this was supposed to have come out on 11/11/11, but steady work (not complaining about that, mind you) and the urgent search for a car precluded me doing pretty much anything else — including finishing off this tribute.

I can tell you that there are some people last weekend for whom the double-sticks weren’t the day’s lucky number. It was 25. As in a quarter-century of tear-em-down musical madness foisted upon the world — with a few extras years tacked on before that for bad behavior — by the fine folks at the coolest archival record label in the universe: Norton Records.

This was to have come out last weekend in the midst of the social event of the decade — the sold-out-for-months, four-night 25th-anniversary celebration at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Lots of great musicians showed up.

Anyway, I figured I’d honor this momentous occasion in my own special way. So here you go: 25 songs for 25 years — with triple awarded for damages.

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