Paul Revere & the Raiders – Too Much Talk

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Paul Revere & the Raiders

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Listen – Paul Revere and the Raiders – Too Much Talk – MP3

Greetings all.

Time to bring another week to a close, and since Monday’s selection may have fallen a tad too much on the twee side for some, what better way to balance out the equation than with a fuzzed out, vaguely freakbeat-y side by the mighty Paul Revere & the Raiders.
I’ve been a Paul Revere & the Raiders fan since I started hearing tunes like ‘Kicks’, ‘Good Thing’ and ‘Indian Reservation’ back on WCBS-FM, when I was but a lad.
During my garage punk years in the mid-80s, though the Raiders may have looked a little bit manufactured and aimed at 12 year old girls (though what rock group back then wasn’t marketed that way?), the high quality of their music – pure pop with a hard, punkish edge – always managed to clear the air.
I have to admit that since about the mid-80s, the extent of my Paul Revere & the Raiders collection was the original single disc CD issue of their Greatest Hits, which when you break it down pretty much has all the essentials anyway.
However…in the last few years I’ve started to pick up their OG vinyl whenever I find it and as you can imagine the sounds I heard on those records certainly redefined the meaning of the word “essential”.
One of the records I found in the field was the 45 of ‘Happening 68’, which, though the a-side didn’t do much for me, had a flip that blew my mind.
‘Too Much Talk’ – written and produced by Raiders vocalist Mark Lindsay is a blazing bit of psyched-up, US freakbeat that owes (especially the verse) a significant debt to the Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’. Dig if you will the prominent fuzz (and tremeloed) guitar, organ and trippy vocal effects in the second half of the record.
A very groovy tune, and proof that the Revere & the Raiders still had it going on in 1968.
I hope you dig the tune and if I can squeeze it in (I’ll be on the road for a family trip from Friday afternoon until Sunday night) I’ll be back on Monday with something interesting.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a funky LaBelle cover en francais!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

Biff Rose – What’s Gnawing at Me

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The cover of Biff Rose’s first LP

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Listen – Biff Rose – What’s Gnawing at Me – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the new week finds you well and filled with the optimism for the future.
Yeah, right…
No really, I do hope you’re well, but unless you’re heavily narcotized and/or independently wealthy, I don’t suspect you’re filled with anything more enlightened than dread.
However, I have just the antidote – however temporary – for such negativity, a fitting prescription for everything from mild suspicion to full blown paranoia.
His name is Biff Rose.
“Wha?” you say, wondering how anyone with the name Biff was doing anything aside from playing football and doing kegstands.
Well, my friends, nothing makes me happier than digging newly discovered (for me anyway) music, especially when that music is mind-blowing (if only in a mellow, arty way).
Such is the music of Biff Rose.
In truth, I think when I picked up this 45 – at the end of the day when I was too tired and in too much of a hurry to undo the portable – I think I may have actually thought I was buying a ‘TIM Rose’ 45 (or a cover of the Sweet Thursday song ‘Molly’, the title of this 45s flip side). When I got home and gave it one of those five-second cursory examinations under the stylus, it didn’t grab me much, so onto the stack it went, where it lay in wait, like a panther on a rock, waiting for my ears to saunter by so that it might pounce.
I’m not sure if I knew anything about Biff Rose before I fell in love with this 45 (and the remarkable album from which it came), other than that he had written (with Paul Williams) ‘Fill Your Heart’ which a certain David Bowie recorded on his ‘Hunky Dory’ album. The tune had also been recorded by none other than Tiny Tim, and it appears on the flip side of ‘Tip Toe Thru the Tulips’.
That said, once I got a hold of his debut album ‘The Thorn In Mrs Rose’s Side’, it hardly left my headphones for the better part of a week.
Rose got his start as a banjo toting stand up comedian, and eventually (thankfully) took up the piano, which became the main delivery device for his words and music.
He had a unique sensibility, which combined Tin Pan Alley pop, singer songwriter-isms and a twisted sense of humor (and wordplay), all wrapped up in a bittersweet romanticism. His music has the kind of sound that – at least at the beginning – demands the full attention of the listener, but when you really start to get it, you can’t get it out of your head.
Rose made music that would suggest a much less cynical Randy Newman, or at least one with a taste for vaudeville crossed with a more optimistic Fred Neil.
The tune I bring you today, ‘What’s Gnawing at Me’ is a perfect example of why ‘The Thorn In Mrs Rose’s Side’ is such a lost classic. It combines a sweet melody, filled with subtle hooks, all wrapped around Rose’s wonderful, introspective lyrics.
What I find especially interesting – and to dig this fully you need to have copies of both Rose’s LP and Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’ – is how much of an influence Rose had on Bowie at that point. It extended beyond the cover of ‘Fill Your Heart’, with Bowie really taking Rose’s sound to heart. I wouldn’t suggest that this was anything more than a passing infatuation, since Bowie changed styles like some people change their socks, but it’s impossible to hear both these records without making note of the influence one had upon the other.
Sadly, after his first LP – on which his songs had the benefit of lush arrangements – his later work is every bit as quirky (and more), but not nearly as accessible. Rose continued to record (though after a few albums they were mainly self recorded/released) and perform, as well as working as a visual artist and somewhat controversial performance artist.
‘The Thorn In Mrs. Rose’s Side’ and his second LP ‘Children of Light’ (both released in 1968) have been reissued together on a single CD, which I recommend highly.
I hope you dig the music, and I’ll be back later in the week with something groovy.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a funky Rod Stewart cover (really)!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

The Rationals – Guitar Army

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The Rationals

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Listen – The Rationals – Guitar Army – MP3

Greetings all.

Another week has slipped away from us and the weekend looms large.
I don’t know about you cats, but I’ll be at the Asbury Lanes this Friday night whipping a little vintage funk and soul (in 45 form) on the gathered masses, and if you’re in the area, and feel like letting your hair (and maybe your pants) down, that is definitely the place to be.
If you can’t make it, or if the soulful sound is not the bag you’re in, allow me to drop something a little heavy – on the rock side of things – to get your weekend started.
The Rationals, who came up alongside the MC5 and the Stooges (yet were paradoxically the least successful of those groups, and certainly the least remembered) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, made some great music between 1963 and 1970, for a variety of local (A2, Genesis) and national (Cameo, Crewe) record labels.
Their sound was a mix of British Invasion inspired jangle (the incredible Beatley ‘Feelin’ Lost’) and white boy soul (they did a wicked cover of Eddie Holland’s ‘Leaving Here’).
By the end of the 60s, the freaky scene around them started to manifest itself in their sound (if only to a degree), and they had moved on to crafting ragged but right heaviosity that wouldn’t have sounded out of place alongside the chest beating of the MC5.
The freakiest/heaviest of their later period recordings is the song that gave Michigan activist John Sinclair the title for his memoir, ‘Guitar Army’.
The tune starts out with some muddy guitar riffing, before kicking into high gear, and a line that sound like a repudiation of their more radical scene mates:

“Some folks talkin’ bout
Burnin’ down
I ain’t talking bout
Burnin’ down
I’m just talking bout
Gettin’ down”

Wherein the Rationals seem to be running their freak flag about three quarters of the way up the pole, happy to rock the house where the MC5 might have wanted to go ahead and burn it the fuck down.
Forty years down the pike, this is all groovy (gravy) on account of no matter how righteous the Five, Sinclair and the rest of the White Panthers might have been then, people are in a much mellower place, though considering what we went through the last eight years, and the amount of grief the McCain Army were able to dole out concerning a certain member of the Weather Underground, maybe that’s not so cool.
But anyway…
No matter the politics behind the song, it’s a great, high energy rocker with some wild guitar from Steve Corell.
I also dig the weird, mellow little inter (outer) lude at the end of the tune.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with something groovy.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for Latin soul!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers X4

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(Above) Gene Clark, (Below) The Gosdin Brothers

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Sorry for the crappy label pic…

Listen – Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers – So You Say You Lost Your Baby – MP3

Listen – Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers – Couldn’t Believe Her – MP3

Listen – Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers – I Found You – MP3

Listen – Genen Clark with the Gosdain Brothers – Is Yours Is Mine – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope that everyone had a most excellent and restful weekend, if not filled with good times and good tunes, at least free of travails.
I know I drop the word “fave” around here (and Funky16Corners) a LOT, but it is – like most things – a matter of degree, like “cheese is a fave” vs “my favorite cheese is a particularly hard to find and exceptionally soft variety of gorgonzola”. I dig both, but I clearly dig one more than the other (and no one should be insulted on account of dig being a good thing all around).
That out of the way, I only make this point because the music I bring you today is way at the top of the fave list, chiseled distinctly into my personal Mt Favemore, right next to Love, the Buffalo Springfield and the Beatles.
I was wracking my brain this afternoon trying to recall when exactly I became aware of the album ‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’. I was specifically unsuccessful, but generally OK. As far as I can remember someone (and I really can’t recall who it was) hepped me to the Edsel reissue of the album sometime around 1985-ish. I picked it up in NYC (probably handing my cash to an approving Ron Rimsite at Venus Records), drove that little biscuit all the way home, and when I arrived there, no matter that I was likely exhausted, I’m positive that I listened to that album no less than four or five times all the way through (and probably a couple of hundred times since).
If you follow my rantings here, you’ll already be aware that I dig me some mid-60s Sunset Strip sounds, and it just doesn’t get any Strippier than ‘Gene Clark & the Gosdin Brothers’ (with slight detours to Laurel Canyon).
If you don’t know the name, Gene Clark got his start as the lead singer and one of the founding members of a little combo known as the Byrds. He sang on their first few albums, before parting ways with McGuinn and company and going out on his own. Clark was to varying degrees something of a troubled soul, but certainly anyone familiar with the psychological bouillabaisse in the Byrds can hardly hold that against him. The band certainly carried on successfully without his assistance, and as you’ll see once you pull down the ones and zeros. Mr Clark was clearly at the top of his game when he left.
When he went into the studio in 1966 (the record was released in the spring of 1967), along with Vern and Rex Gosdin, Mike Clarke and Chris Hillman of the Byrds, Leon Russell, Doug Dillard, future Byrd Clarence White and Glen Campbell, he was packing a serious bundle of songs (I mean seriously, this is the guy that wrote ‘Feel a Whole Lot Better’) and what can only be described as a fully developed sound/sensibility that today, 43 years down the pike still brings to mind immediately Los Angeles circa 1966. There’s Byrdsy folk rock, Beatle-esque innovation, garage fuzz, pure pop and baroque filigree, all glued together with Clark’s songs, arrangements by Leon Russell and production by the great Gary Usher.
‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ is one of the finest albums of the 60s, period. It is also – in my opinion – the best thing that Clark ever did on his own.
I long since wore out that original reissue LP, moving on to two CD reissues and at least one digital (iTunes) copy when I couldn’t locate the CD. It was only last year that I finally got my hands on an original vinyl copy.
“Why” you ask, “when you already have a few copies of the music, would you need to pony up the dough to buy an original?”
Well my friends, I am not only a hardcore record collector type, who puts what might be considered an unnatural value on the “real thing”, but inside that particular bundle of neurosis, ‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ looms very large, towering over all but a few other records. As bizarre as this may seem to non-collectors, there was a rush when I finally laid my hands on the record that cannot be duplicated with a reissue of any kind. I know it’s weird, but that the way I am (for better or worse).
I was originally going to post only ‘So You Think You Lost Your Baby’ (may favorite song on the LP), but then I decided to add a few others to give the listener a better idea of the depth of the album.
The four songs I’m posting today have all of the elements mentioned above, and then some. What I find particularly interesting is that these are recordings of great invention and depth, and there isn’t an iota of self indulgent flab on any of them. Only two of the album’s songs clock in at more than three minutes, and three of them are less than a minute and a half long. Solid, memorable, powerful music served up in small enough bites that AM radio wouldn’t be able to shy away from them, which sadly, is what they did anyway.
‘Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers’ was, despite great artistic success, a fairly large commercial failure. The standard tale is that it was lost in the shuffle because it was released the same week as the Byrds’ ‘Younger Than Yesterday’, which in retrospect, since they were both on the same label seems unbelievably short sighted. There’s no doubt that had something to do with it, but the likelier culprit is the fact that this was 1967. There were tons of amazing records being released all the time. The market was incredibly competitive and unless an artist was lucky enough to get a foothold on the pop charts, the record companies were unlikely to keep promoting their record. Neither of the singles from the album charted, and it would be almost two years before Clark would release another, his 1969 collaboration with Doug Dillard.
That all said, despite the ignorance of the market in 1967, I’ve been appreciating this record for almost 25 years, and if it’s new to you, you can start digging it now.
I hope you do (dig it), and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has actually been updated!

The Monkees – Porpoise Song

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The Head-era Monkees

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Listen – The Monkees – Porpoise Song – MP3

Greetings all.
I’ve decided to close out the week with something that might be a little bit obvious for some, but so good, that even jaded record collector types will take the time to listen.
Though the Monkees were a big part of my childhood – albeit a few years after their peak, when the TV show was being rerun on Saturday mornings after CBS ran out of cartoons (but just before Kukla, Fran and Ollie) – I probably didn’t see their movie ‘Head’, or hear any of the music from the soundtrack until I was deep into the garage/psyche revival thing in the mid-80s.
By then, ‘Head’ was a regular feature of the bootleg video underground, and the Monkees TV show was being rerun (I think) on MTV.
‘Head’ was – pun fully intended – a trip, with the Monkees on the far side of their anti-Kirshner rebellion, pumping up their underground cred with Frank Zappa,  explicit anti-war messages and unapologetic psychedelic overtures to an audience still packed solidly with 13 year old girls.
Naturally, the movie – though a well-intentioned artifact of the psychedelic era – was a failure. It was disjointed, self-indulgent (though that pejorative could be used to describe about 80% of all music and film of the era), and while not with out charm or a surplus of good intentions, far too boring to sustain the interest of a drug addled audience.
Fortunately for all involved, the best song on the soundtrack, and one of the trippiest parts of the movie comes very close to the beginning.
‘Porpoise Song’, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin comes right after the Monkees charge through a bridge dedication, eventually jumping over the railing and diving into the water. The tune is an absolutely remarkable example of west coast psychedelia, dreamy (yet not diffuse), trippy (yet coherent) and arranged to perfection by one of the great unsung heroes of that particular time and place, Jack Nitzsche (who also worked on the Buffalo Springfield’s* ‘Expecting To Fly’.
Though the film has several interesting sections (and some other excellent music, i.e. ‘Circle Sky’), had they just edited it down to the ‘Porpoise Song’ sequence, I doubt anyone would have missed the rest.
It’s a fantastic record and I hope you dig it.

Peace

Larry

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*Both Neil Young and the recently deceased Dewey Martin of the Buffalo Springfield played on the ‘Head’ soundtrack

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for something from the early days of George Clinton!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has actually been updated!

Mystic Number National Bank – Beautician Blues

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The original LP cover, though this track was ripped

from an oddball Command/ABC/Probe records sampler (see below)

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Listen – Mystic Number National Bank – Beautician Blues – MP3

Greetings all.
I hope the beginning of the new week finds you well.
The tune I bring you today is by one of those groups, where I knew the name years before I had any idea what they sounded like.
The late 60s was filled with ludicrously named bands, so much so that I could probably list five or ten of them, make up five more, mix them up and you’d never know the difference. I seem to remember a George Carlin AM/FM routine where he namechecks an imaginary group called the Indoor Outdoor Electric Protestant Blues Band (or somesuch…).
The Mystic Number National Bank is one of those (real) bands.
What little I’ve been able to find out about them, suggests that they hailed from Kansas City. They were – as ‘Beautician Blues’ reveals – yet another in a long line of whiteboy, overdriven electric blues machines, of which there was a decided surplus in the Woodstock era.
Much in the same way that I dig the Vanilla Fudge’s visions of excess on the soulful side of things, in which the Wilson Pickett is crossed with a healthy dose of hallucinogenics, then refried, amplified and shot out of a rocket, I dig the Mystic Number National Bank’s mélange of Blind Lemon Lunchpail (or Rutling Orange Peel as the case may be…), wrapped in an impossibly large heap of long greasy hair, leather lunged wailing and what I’m sure was a slightly straight looking horn section working the back of the stage. There’s a 1969 festival mud vibe running through the record that’ll take you away if you let it.
I also dig that the drummer was apparently the vocalist, and was doing his level best to shout down the less than inspiring twin lead guitar attack, which has a sloppiness that suggests to me that the producer was either stoned, or dealing with some kind of corporate time constraints that allowed for one take and one take only.
So take off your shoes, let the mud swallow your toes and shake your ass to the sound of the Mystic Number National Bank.
Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a a very tasty slice of late 60s Chitown soul!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has actually been updated!

Iron Leg Digital Trip #21 – Gravel Pt3 – The Real Alternative

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The sullen looking Lloyd Cole

Playlist
Tommy Keene – Back Again (Try)(Dolphin) 1984
Biff Bang Pow – There Must Be a Better Life (Creation) 1984
Game Theory – 24 (Alias) 1985
Peter Case – Satellite Beach (Geffen) 1986
Dentists – I’m Not the Devil (Homestead) 1985
Lloyd Cole & The Commotions – Rattlesnakes (Capitol) 1984
Chills – Party In My Heart (Homestead) 1987
Sam Phillips – Holding Onto The Earth (Virgin) 1988
Spongetones – Anna (Triapore) 1987
Any Trouble – Second Choice (Stiff) 1980
Neats – Six (Propellor) 1984
Donnie Iris – Ah Leah (MCA) 1980
Bonnie Hayes & Wild Combo – Girls Like Me (Slash) 1982
Kings – The Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide (Elektra) 1980
Adventures – Another Silent Day (Chrysalis) 1984
You can hear this mix in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive

Greetings all.
This week’s edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip is a little bit unusual, and something I’ve had cooking on the back burner for quite some time.
As is often the case with many Iron Leg (and Funky16Corners Radio) podcasts, the genesis of a particular mix has often been an old mix tape or CD that I made for personal use. This is one of those.
Back in the late 70s, when I was in high school, though I worked my way through the same hard rock menu as most kids my age (Aerosmith, Zeppelin, Sabbath etc), my first musical love was the Beatles. My junior high school years were saturated with the ’62-66’ and ’67-70’ compilations, and I had many friends who were so afflicted.
By the time I was a junior in high school, although punk rock was little more than a sinister whisper on the nightly news (anyone else remember breathless, outraged coverage of the Sex Pistols US tour??), New Wave began to make its way onto mainstream radio (and sometimes TV), and the true beginnings of what would come to be known as “alternative” music could be heard on college radio.
My friends and I were lucky enough to have access to WPRB-FM in Princeton, NJ, which was for years a remarkable free form station that gave us our first exposure to US and UK punk, new wave, ska and power pop. I remember taping shows off the station an hour at a time and playing them over and over (I’d kill to have one of those old C-60s right now).
It was right about that time that I started to drift away from many of my high school friends in regard to musical taste, and scouring stores like Cheap Thrills in New Brunswick and the Princeton Record Exchange for 45s and albums by many of the bands I was hearing on the radio.
This was still a few years before I became aware of the garage/psych revival, but the music I was attracted to sounded in many ways the same.
Many of the basic threads running through New Wave and power pop would be employed by the bands I would follow in the mid-80s, i.e. the influence of the Beatles, Kinks and Byrds, 60s girl group sounds and psychedelia.
My brothers and I became huge fans of R.E.M. pretty early in their existence, seeing them live three times before 1984 and what we heard when we listened to that group (and I’m sure a lot of other people did as well) was bits and pieces of 60s folk rock, run through a post punk filter.
The bands I was following by the middle of the 80s went far beyond the “influence” of the 60s, basically trying to recreate the sights and sounds of that decade to the nth degree.
However, no matter how much time I spent at the Dive, I never stopped listening to college radio, and around the same time I was getting into the revival stuff, residents of Monmouth and Ocean county also had access to a commercial alternative radio station, with WHTG-FM in Eatontown. When they were first coming up they were almost unique in their format. As “alternative” grew – though at the time nobody was calling it that, instead referring to ‘modern rock’ or ‘independent’ – WHTG became a powerhouse and exposed us to all kinds of incredible music. I heard many of the artists in this mix for the first time on their airwaves.
All of the music in this edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip reaches back to the 60s to some extent. There are Beatle-y sounds, tastes of psychedelia, folk rock and even a bit of garage here and there. The difference between these groups, and the bands feature in the first two volumes of Gravel, is that none of these bands, no matter how retro their sound, ever moved into the world of the garage/psyche revival (some of these artists were long gone by 1985). They were listened to by many of the revival fans (which is where I heard Biff Bang Pow and the Dentists for the first time), but none of them ever made the fashion commitment (which was probably a wise commercial decision).
Though the tracks in this mix do not run in chronological order, the earliest selections here are from 1980 and the latest (Sam Phillips) is from 1988. If anything, what I’ve tried to do here is create a snapshot of the other sixties-influenced sounds of the decade.
Most of this music hails from a time when “alternative” wasn’t even a concept yet, to the beginning of an era when the major record companies had largely co-opted the sound, and even college radio stations had been taken over by student programmers eager for their own spot on the big money, major label food chain. There are a few major label tracks here, but they are almost all from a time long before the majors were scooping up and cranking out the “next R.E.M.” 100 times a week.
Things get started with a long time fave, ‘Back Again (Try)’ by Tommy Keene. The Washington, DC based Keene made some of the brightest power pop of the 80s, and continues recording today with the like of Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices.
Biff Bang Pow – named after a song by the Creation – was led by Alan McGee, the man who went on to form the hugely influential Creation record label (though he was later responsible for signing one of my least favorite bands of all time, Oasis, proving that nobody’s perfect). ‘There Must Be a Better Life’ has an extra sunny sound, and some wicked backward tape effects.
Game Theory was for all intents and purposes Scott Miller, though there was a revolving band membership around him. I first heard the band thanks to the fact that they were produced by another fave of mine, Mitch Easter of Lets Active. ‘24’ is by far my favorite Game Theory track, due in large part to that opening guitar line, which I could listen to all day long.
If you were following the independent rock scene of the 80s then the name Peter Case should be a familiar one. Case was – with Paul Collins – one of the founding members of the Nerves (who did the original version of ‘Hanging On the Telephone’), as well as the mighty Plimsouls. By 1986 he was on his own and had recorded his first solo record for the Geffen label. ‘Satellite Beach’ is one of the better tracks on that record. I actually saw him tour for this album, in a solo acoustic show at Maxwells in Hoboken, NJ, and he was excellent.
The Dentists actually had a hit on the UK charts in 1985 with ‘I Had an Excellent Dream’. ‘I’m Not the Devil’ is from the same LP, and is a great example of their psych-drenched sound, which was produced by Alan Crockford of the legendary Prisoners.
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions were not only in heavy rotation on WHTG but I remember actually seeing their videos during the early years of MTV. The ‘Rattlesnakes’ LP is still one of my favorites of the era, with a number of excellent songs. The title track is my fave, and has always reminded me a little of Love, and not just because Arthur Lee gets a namecheck in the lyrics.
The Chills were on the vanguard of the New Zealand rock movement of the 80s (as much of a movement as a place as small as New Zealand can have), and got a lot of coverage in the indie rock mags/zines of the time. ‘Party In My Heart’ is from the excellent ‘Brave Words’ album.
Sam Phillips got her start as a Christian artist, and was for a time (including when she recorded ‘The Indescribable Wow’) married to T. Bone Burnett (who produced the album). The record is filled with sophisticated pop songs, the darkest of which is the vaguely psychedelic ‘Holding On to the Earth’.
I can’t recall how I found out about the Spongetones. ‘Whereverland’ is the only record of theirs I ever picked up, which is strange because it was in heavy rotation for a long time. Looking back, a lot of the criticism of the record suggests that it was a departure from their other work. Produced by Don Dixon (a great performer in his own right who I was lucky enough to see back in the day – with his wife Marti Jones – opening for none other than Chris Isaak), the record is a collection of lush, hook-filled pop. My fave track is the Beatle-esque ‘Anna’.
Any Trouble was another UK band, led by singer/songwriter Clive Gregson. Their sound was a poppier extension of the 70s pub rock scene, and ‘Second Choice’, with it’s soaring, anthemic chorus made it a minor hit in the early 80s.
Now the Neatsdon’t get me started on the Neats. I first heard this Boston band on WPRB (in fact it was the song in this mix) and it wasn’t long before I tracked down the EP (featuring a couple of other local bands) including ‘Six’. I picked up their next two records – the EP ‘Monkeys Head In the Corner of the Room’ and the full length masterpiece ‘The Neats’ – and became a HUGE fan. They were a major fixture on my mixtapes, I wrote about them in my zines and for others as well and I was constantly trying to turn friends on to their music. I only got to see them twice, the first time was opening for R.E.M. (touring prior to the release of ‘Fables of the Reconstruction’) in a free, outdoor show at Rutgers University. About a year later, I saw them again at NYU (sharing a bill with the Chesterfield Kings) and in the time between the two shows the band had decided to go in a different direction. Gone were the ringing, psychedelic tinged folk rock, replaced with a heavier, bluesy vibe. I was –  naturally –  crestfallen. That said I recommend their early work (on the legendary Ace of Hearts label) without reservation.
Donnie Iris has an interesting history. He was a founding member of the Jaggerz, who in addition to recording some interesting blue-eyed soul for the Gable label, also had a hit with ‘The Rapper’. He went on to tour with Wild Cherry, and then re-emerged in the late 70s working an angle on the nascent power pop scene. I mainly remember him as a fixture from the early days of MTV, where he even had a couple of concert videos in rotation. ‘Ah Leah’ is a great, soaring bit of power pop, and was a minor chart hit in 1980.
Bonnie Hayes and Wild Combo’s ‘Girls Like Me’ will be immediately familiar if you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Valley Girl’ (which also featured the Plimsouls). Hayes was a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter who had started out in a punk band called the Punts before breaking out in a much poppier style. I fell in love with ‘Girls Like Me’ the first time I heard it, and was blown away when I finally found a copy of the LP ‘Good Clean Fun’ (still the only copy I’ve ever seen of that particular record.
If I had to venture a guess I probably heard the Kings double sider ‘The Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide’ on WMMR in Philadelphia. The song was a minor radio hit, and WMMR had a very adventurous playlist for a major commercial FM station, playing local bands like the Hooters, the A’s and Robert Hazard and the Heroes in regular rotation. I truly love this record, which is a perfect example of polished, commercial New Wave in they style of the Cars.
The final track in this mix is a bit of a departure. I don’t know if the Adventures debut LP (called ‘The Adventures’ in the UK and ‘Theodore and Friends’ in the US) was ever reissued on CD, but if you can find a copy on vinyl, do yourself a favor and pick it up. They subscribed to a somewhat artier angle on the whole pop thing than many of the other groups in this mix, but I always found their harmonies, synths and ringing guitar lines irresistible. ‘Another Silent Day’ is my fave track from that album.
I hope you dig this little experiment, and I’ll be back next week with some cool stuff.

Peace
Larry


Example

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a soulful Buffalo Springfield cover.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

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