DJ RJ’s Monday Modcast for 10 June 2013: Free Form Music for the Mod Inclined

 

Flipper’s Guitar – “The World Tower/Hidden tracks”
Judy Mowatt – “I Shall Sing”
Beat Merchants – “So Fine”
Television Personalities – “Silly Girl”
The Nips – “Gabrielle”
The Cigarettes – “Miranda”
The Weekends – “Want You”
Sandie Shaw – “Nothing Comes Easy”
Maxine Darren – “How Can I Hide It From My Heart?”
The Raped – “Cheap Night Out”
Secret Affair – “Time For Action”
The Zombies – “She’s Not There”
Otis Spann – “I’m Ready”
PJ Harvey – “The Piano”
Les Twins – “Je Suis Timide”
Department S – “Just Pretend”
The Moodists – “Swingy George”
Baris Manço & Kaygisizlar – “Trip (Fairground)”
Dave Berry – “Picture Me Gone”

Modcast for 20 May 2013

Hey! Back up to two weeks in a row —seasonal depression is a cruel and merciless mistress, and even more so in Michigan, where any given year, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that the Horae will just skip Spring altogether. But I’m back, serving you up another weekly dose of freeform Mod radio from my attic.

 

The Supremes – “Reflections”
? & the Mysterians – “Hangin On a String”
Gloria Jones – “Finders Keepers”
The Untamed – “Gimmie Gimmie Some Shade”
Amy Rigby – “20 Questions”
Timebox – “Country Dan & City Lil”
The Cyrkle – “Squeeze Play”
Tyrannosaurus Rex – “Cat Black”
Joya Landis – “Angel of the Morning”
The Laughing Clowns – “Year of the Bloated Goat”
The VIP’s – “Straight Down to the Bottom”
Manuela und Drafi – “Take It Easy”
Pizzicato 5 – “Magic Twin Candle Tale”
Elton Motello – “Pipe Line”
The New Hearts – “True Love”
The Prisoners – “The Last Thing On Your Mind”

The Compact Organisation and its connections to Mod Revival

The Compact Organisation was a record label, beginning in 1980 by songwriter and musician Tot Taylor. According to some articles I’ve found, it looks like some (at least) regarded it as something of a novelty label, but diving into the musicians represented by the label and the music they played, while there’s something of a tongue-in-cheek element, this is not a “novelty label” as many Stateside are used to thinking of as “novelty music” —a term typically relegated to the fare broadcast by Dr. Demento. One blog described The Compact Organisation as “perfect pop music for hip people”.

Musically, the artists represented by the Compact Organisation usually fit something of a retropop sound and aesthetic, and the beloved compilation, A Young Person’s Guide to Compact represents this fairly, and fairly well, to boot. Mari Wilson, Tot Taylor, and The Beautiful Americans all give fine examples of 1980s music with a distinct mid-1960s feel, even if not a perfect re-creation of the sweet and inoffensive pop staples of 1964 —indeed, Wilson’s “Ecstasy”, while played for maximum danceability, lyrically seems to be reflecting the thoughts of a woman who has just taken her own life:

Shake-Shake, playing “funktional music for every function”, was possibly the most electronic group on the Young Person’s… compilation after The Popheads (who came off as something of a stranger take on the prototypical Casiocore sound of Silicon Teens), and according to Discogs, only released a single 7″ disc and, apparently, a few other recordings that never got their own releases but nonetheless appeared on Compact Organisation compilations. Still, despite electronic instrumentation clearly typical of early the 1980s New Wave idiom, there’s something very reminiscent of songs two decades older, at least to a well-trained ear:

And we cannot forget the beautiful and talented Virna Lindt, whose spy movie soundtrack-inspired music seemed tailor-made for the more adventurous Mod Revivalists —but, of course “adventurous Mod Revivalist” seems something of an oxymoron.

…nor to forget Tot Taylor, label founder and writer of many songs released by Wilson and Lindt, who was clearly trying to call to mind the early-to-mid 1960s and apparently Georgie Fame with the cover design and photo arrangement of 1981’s Playtime:


…but we must return to Mari Wilson, for she provides a clear link to the “standard” Mod Revival groups —or, more accurately, her back-up band does. See, she was discovered by Paul Bultitude who, by the time she’d gained an upward staircase to moderate fame on the Compact label, was also the drummer for Secret Affair after Seb Shelton left to join Dexys Midnight Runners —of course, by the time her LP, Showpeople, was released in 1983, Secret Affair had called it quits and in 1982, he founded the label Dance Network with Paul Bevoir of The Jetset —and whose solo album is demanding over $125 on Discogs. Bultitude was also a drummer for The Compact Organisation’s Floyd on the latter’s album, The Little Man from 1985.

So was the label a part of the Mod Revival? Honestly, I can’t find anything hard-and-fast in my limited means of researching this question to give a definitive affirnative —nor a definitive negative. It’s not that hard to find photos on Flickr of young people in 1983’s Mod Revival scene who clearly supported Mari Wilson in their proud displaying of newly-purchased records or at concerts, but considering the smaller spotlight on the rest of the label’s roster of artists, and the fact that only three other artists (Floyd, Virna Lindt, and Tot Taylor) released full-length albums, it’s a tad harder to find proof of support of the label as a whole. That said, most of the music represented on the label follows the “Mod Revival formula” in some way that, even now continues in an enlightened and evolved form. It’s not everybody’s cuppa, but neither is The Who or The Jam —and honestly, considering that the Compact Organisation proved to have far less commercial appeal than even, say, Secret Affair or Dexys Midnight Runners (Mari Wilson proving the label’s biggest seller, with a #8 single, “Just What I’ve Always Wanted”), and everybody knows that the best Mods loathe becoming commodities, one might argue that the reduced marketability of the Compact Organisation did prove its artists to be at least a little more Mod-friendly.

Furthermore, Mod, and by proxy Mod Revival, is not a genre, it’s a subculture and, in regards to music, conveys more of a loosely-defined aesthetic than a concretely-defined genre; power pop is a genre, punk is a genre, electronic ethereal is a genre —but since Mods got their name from the Modern Jazz scene, yet many Mods today simply don’t listen to Jazz in any form (and, in a curious decision, The Mod Generation hosts an article about Mod Jazz by some-one who begins with stating that he’s not a fan of jazz), then it’s hard to say that Mod has any claim to a genre. There is no singular genre of music that is definitively “Mod”, because those styles of music were all started by those outside of the scene. The original late-1950s Jazz set didn’t own their preferred genre, and Soul music was created half a world away from where Mod began, while the British Rhythm & Blues that gained popularity from about 1962 on was certainly at least mostly made by Mods, there was no shortage of bands clearly sharing every distinct marker of the genre but had nothing to do with the Mod scene and Mods wanted no part of their catalogue, either. During the “revival”, even the bands that would be later lumped together as “Mod Revival”, to some extent or another, were pretty varied at first —The Jam clearly followed a logical evolution from British Rhythm & Blues and Amerikan Garage, Secret Affair took their lead from mid-1960s pop and Tamla-Motown, and Dexys Midnight Runners’ fusion of Northern Soul with punk by way of Roxy Music and Celtic folk, all make it clear that Mod was absorbing influences from a broadening musical spectrum. The reality is, there are only two kinds of Mod music, and that’s “music made by Mods” and “music which tends to be most often listened to by Mods” —and while most of that certainly seems to follow a formula (which seems sort of anathema to the ethos of the original face of the subculture, at least before Ready! Steady! Go! came along and made it a commodity), there’s also a pretty clear variety to any-one paying attention.

Even if you refuse to accept the Compact Organisation as part of the Mod Revival, they clearly released some of the most interesting music ever recorded with potential Mod appeal, and a lot of it still manages to sound fresh and inventive against a sea of over-produced instrumentals and vocals auto-tuned beyond recognition. If anything, it definitely still sounds fresh and inventive against the seemingly never-ending re-enactment of 1960s Rhythm & Blues produced by today’s Mod scene.

[Modcast for 2010-07-12] I’m back!

Basically, I’ve had to start using another program for the Modcast, in addition to a dozen other hectic things that have been preventing me from uploading regularly.

Since the last time I’ve uploaded, I went to the Mod MayDay special event of Direct Hits at Goodnight Gracie in Ann Arbor, and the annual Mod Chicago Our Way of Thinking weekender. Met some awesome people I hadn’t met on previous years, and I might be visiting Baltimore later this year.

I’ve also implemented a new system that will hopefully help me remember to update this thing better every week.

Here’s this week’s playlist:

 
2010-07-12
Qypthone – Modernica In the Office (audio play)
Nomoto Karia – “M.O.D.E.L. Agent”
Pizzicato 5 – Twiggy Twiggy/Twiggy vs James Bond
The Smiths – This Charming Man
Sandie Shaw – Hand In Glove
Jasmine Minks – Think
Float Up C.P. – He Loves Me (No, No, No)
Tenpole Tudor – Fashion
Mick Karn & Midge Ure – After A Fashion (extended version)
Fun Boy Three – Our Lips Are Sealed
The Coventry Automatics – Concrete Jungle
The New Hearts – City Life
Secret Affair – Somewhere In the City
The Fall – Victoria
Squeeze – Hesitation (Rool Britannia)
The Kinks – Mr Churchill Says
The Evolution Control Committee – Rebel Without A Pause (Whipped Cream Mix)

[2010-03-22] Downtown in the Big City and Back Again

I’ve wanted to do a set like this for a while, but since I decided to use this podcast blog less as a “proper DJ blog” and more as a concept and form of self-expression, it’s been hard to think of times when I might be able to make a post such as this one. It’s no secret to my friends that I love big cities. Seriouslky, Philadelphia, while a gorgeous city, still feels too small to me. Even Chicago, with just short of 3milion, is probably the smallest city I’ve been happy with — London, on the other hand, city of my adolescent summers, not only has its nostalgic values for my life (where I first say RHPS, first got drunk, learned how to drive, etc…), but it has an urban population of nearly 8.25million and has this immaculate filthiness that has entranced people for generations.

But not every song can be about London, nor does every song have to have ties to a specific city.

And why? No, not “why can’t every song be about London?” The question is “why, Ruadhan, do you pick this of all weeks?” Because it seems that at my appointment with my allergist on Friday, March 19th, I was determined to be officially allergic to wilderness. All common grasses and half common tree pollens and weeds. And considering that my spirituality is even linked to large cities, my room-mate felt it appropriate to make the joke “this is some deity making a claim on you — because you can’t ever do anything simply by asking you to, you have to be given a reason”. Even ignoring the spiritual gratification, an allergy to wilderness not only explains elevated mood and feelings of wellness, but also the sometime-dramatic weight-loss I’ve experienced in long-term stays (two weeks or longer) in large cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, London, HK…. Hell, even Toledo, Ohio. Granted, city-prompted weight-loss is no doubt accelerated by the fact that the public transportation is better, and it’s easier to get to what I need and want to do just by walking, but personally, increasing mobility in rural and suburban areas has, for me, not done a whole lot for weight management on its own (and ask my smart-ass room-mate, I don’t eat that much; often enough, the “recommended serving size” on the package has proved itself too filling for me)

But don’t take this as me saying to pave the rainforests — after all, city air has to start as fresh air somewhere, and the grasslands are inefficient for oxygen production, as they’re where food is gestated before arriving in my grocery store, free of pollens and wrapped in cling-film. It’s all a splendiferous chain with connected ends, never ending, always turning in the hands of gods and daimons.

 
[right-click here to download or paste into your player

2010-03-22
Leonard Cohen – Stories of the Street
Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood – Paris Summer
The Who – Armenia City In the Sky
Petula Clark – Downtown
Roxy Music – Streetlife
Cat Stevens – Lovely City (When Do You Laugh?)
The Monochrome Set – I Love Lambeth
David Bowie – London Bye Ta-Ta
T Rex – London Boys
The Inmates – Dirty Water
The Artwoods – Big City
The Lambrettas – London Calling
Manual Scan – Man About Town
Secret Affair – Soho Strut
The Jam – Town Called Malice
The Selecter – Bristol & Miami
Eleanor Rigby – Last Night In Soho
Madness – Razor Blade Alley
Giddle & Boyd – Sunset Strip SS

[2010-03-08] Idols

I like when I have a theme, and yesterday, I came up with a great theme — my idols. By that, i mean the musicians who have shaped my life and my creative process in certain ways that I can see, even when others can’t.

This, of course, implies “favourite artists of all time, ever”, but doesn’t necessarily imply “current top-X favourites” — nor does it imply that these are my favourite songs by these artists, as concern for time (I try to keep these casts under an hour) and flow/matching (not necessarily “beatmatching” — I’m also sure those of you who are well up on your muso trivia as I am have caught that I’ll make little in-jokes with song order, some jokes more obvious than others, I’m sure). For example, I tend not to listen to so much Queen these days, as I can get fairly weepy (having your favourite person in the world die when you’re ten can affect you), and even so, I rarely listen to “God Save the Queen” — but making it a closer to an opening of “Star-Spangled Bologna” just struck me as incredibly amusing.

 
[right-click here to download]

2010-03-08
The Evolution Control Committee – The Star Spangled Bologna
Marc Bolan – Dandy In the Underworld
Daucus Karota – Raw Power
Iggy & The Stooges – Gimmie Danger
Gavin Friday – Man of Misfortune
DEVO – Be Stiff
Dexys Midnight Runners – Soul Finger
Rufus Wainwright – Greek Song
Danielle Dax – Fizzing Human Bomb
Japan – Talking Drum
The Who – Armenia City In the Sky
Cat Stevens – Lovely City (When Do You Laugh?)
David Bowie – London Bye Ta-Ta
Secret Affair – Only Madmen Laugh
Prince & the Revolution – America
Marc Almond – Brilliant Creatures
Queen – God Save the Queen

2009-12-07

 

To both listeners, if you’re hoping for Christmas music, I’m going to put that off until December 21 — in theory, I could do a new cast of Christmas music every week, and have it all different, but I want to save stuff for next year.

As for this week’s set, I know I don’t like to do any one band two weeks in a row, and i think I did that last week, too, but sometimes a set works best with a specific song or two, and it cannot be helped.

2009-12-07
Cat Stevens – Baby Get Your Head Screwed On
The Koobas – The First Cut Is the Deepest
P.P. Arnold – Angel of the Morning
Dexys Midnight Runners – My Life in England
The Kinks – Victoria
Brian Auger – Ellis Island
The Fall – Prole Art Threat
Nino Ferrer – les Blues Anti-Bourgeois
Blue Ox Babes – Yes Let’s
Manual Scan – Nothing Can Be Everything
The High Number – I’m the Face
The Jam – Down In the Tube Station At Midnight
The Inmates – Dirty Water
The Chords – The British Way of Life
Secret Affair – Streetlife Parade

2009-11-16: New Dance

So, OK, I know i promised this weeks ago, but things happen when you’re Ruadhan J McElroy.

This week’s Modcast is songs that inspired characters and scenes in my second novel, New Dance, which is available on Amazon.com right now:

Click here to read the back-of-the-book description of New Dance and for valuable purchase links.

…the story is very character-driven and plot is meandering — but then again, so is most of Truman Capote’s work.

 

R. Dean Taylor — “Back Street”
The Monochrome Set — “The Jet Set Junta” (Jacky’s theme)
Dexys Midnight Runners — “There There My Dear” (Gaz’s theme)
David Bowie — “DJ” (Alice’s theme)
Secret Affair — “What Did You Expect” (Jace’s theme)
The Fall — “Just Step S’ways” (Nino’s theme)
Brian Auger & The Trinity — “Back At the Chicken Shack” (Dougan’s theme)
Mari Wilson — “Let Me Dream”
The Specials — “Nite Klub”
Twiggy — “Beautiful Dreams” (Eliza’s theme)
Rip Rig + Panic — “Eros (What Brings Colour Up the Stem)”
Makin’ Time — “Nothing Else”
The Jam — “Absolute Beginners”
The Purple Hearts — “Can’t Help Thinking About Me”
John’s Children — “Just What You Want – Just What You’ll Get”
Japan — “I Second That Emotion”

“Back Street” inspired the name of the club the characters regard as their favourite — both as I wrote and in the story.

“The Jet Set Junta” was partially what inspired this scene with Jacky beating the crap out of three other young men after Gaz was attacked by them. The song that initially inspired it was “3-5-0-0″ from the soundtrack to HAIR, but I was listening to “The Jet Set Junta” as I went back and polished it up, edited, etc….

Gaz was listening to “There There My Dear” by DMR in a scene where, after back home in Belfast for a week, and in his own blue funk, he meanders down to the kitchen for breakfast with his mother. I hesitate to call this one his “theme” as I’m not sure what this says about his personality, but he was a main character in this one, and I felt compelled to associate a song with him on this mix.

I decided that Alice was a David Bowie fan as I was setting up her background, which included being a long-time DJ of Rhythm & Blues, soul, garage, psych, etc…, so I put a bunch of David Bowie in WinAmp while writing another scene. Lodger was an album I’d listened to only seldom before them, and so when “DJ” came on, sparks of Alice’s personality seemed apparent in the emotional tone Bowie used in his voice whilst recording that one. There’s a causticity alternating with nonchalance that I think helps round out Alice’s character nicely.

I decided that Nino’s favourite band was going to be The Fall, cos that’s one of my own personal favourites. I made his “theme” one of my favourite songs of theirs from the years appropriate to the time of the novel — which has its story-line ending in 1983. Nino is alarmingly literate and wise for being the youngest amongst the characters, and his parents are “deep old-schoolers” and intellectuals, making him an oddity amongst them, and The Fall has also been one of those plain quirky and weird bands that exists outside the realm of genre. My decision wasn’t random.

“What Did You Expect” was selected for Jace because it’s lyrically melancholy, implies alcoholism as an escape, and I decided that Jace’s favourite band was Secret Affair.

Dougan’s personality really didn’t bring itself out to me until I decided that his father was Black. After that, it just made sense that he was a bit more introverted than the others, he has a good-standing relationship with his mother, and even an amicable one with the man his mother implies is his father. It also seemed very apparent that Dougan most allows himself to express his feelings through music, and he took up the piano (and later Vox Continental organ) after discovering Brian Auger at about the age of eleven or twelve. I think the Auger instrumental i chose “for Dougan” adds something to his character that I only hinted at in the story, and that even i don’t feel I hinted at very well.

“Beautiful Dreams” directly inspired Eliza’s “big scene” — those pages would not have happened if I hadn’t decided to hit “back” to repeat this one and really listen to how Twiggy emotes this one. The lyrics have nothing to do with the scene, and while Twiggy has a flawed, almost tinny soprano (which almost compliments Eliza’s otherwise flawed, one-sided character of “the selfish girl everybody secretly hates, but puts up with”), she’s pretty good at emoting as she sings (and the other characters, at least those who have a band together, put up with Eliza cos she’s a good emotive singer). I think Twiggy seems to actually “cry” through her voice in this one, and when i picked up on that, Eliza was given a chance to break down and cry, and apologise to the others for something she had done. This song also doesn’t “fit in” very well with the others, and Eliza is absent through most of the book, except to act as a catalyst for something or another — basically, she doesn’t fit in very well with the others.

“Eros (What Brings Colour Up the Stem)” inspired a concert scene moreso than the song I named in that scene did.

I chose the cover of “Can’t Help Thinking About Me” cos 1) I’d already used a Bowie song, and I didn’t want to use another, and 2) listen to the lyrics. This song is about gayness. If you can’t hear it, then you just may be lacking some grey matter.

“I Second That Emotion”, I realised, was left off the track-listing for the CD-Rs that i gave away at the book signing *after* I had already printed out the tray cards. You have no idea what a pain in the rear I was having printing them out. I selected this for the mix because… Honest answer? David Sylvian and Mick Karn are gods among men. Do not argue with me about this.