[Modcast 2013-10-14] Songs Without Moustaches

 

Lee Hazlewood – “You Look Like a Lady”
Tom Jones – “Stop Breakin’ My Heart”
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “Gold Rush Part 1 / Dollars In the Night / Gold Rush Part 2″
Thee Mighty Caesars – “69 Seconds”
Television Personalities – “I Was a Mod Before You Was a Mod”
Otis Spann – “I’m Ready”
Liz Brady – “Palladium”
Cal Tjader – “Soul Motion”
The Ups and Downs – “In the Shadows”
The Jetset – “The Man Who Lives Upstairs”
Long Tall Shorty – “Falling For You”
Neils Children – “Get Away From Me, Now”
The Chantalles – “I Want That Boy”
Booker T & the MG’s – “Hang ‘Em High”
Manual Scan – “New Difference”
Makin’ Time = “Honey (Fast version)”
Jacques Dutronc – “les Cactus”
Style Council – “The Whole Point of No Return”
Tom Waits – “More Than Rain”

———–
I know what you’re thinking and nope, sorry, Hazlewood released the album that one is on after demoustaching. I know, I know, it seems wrong to me, too, Lee hazlewood without a mustache, but it happened and we don’t talk about it.

While I have you here, today only, I have a coupon code for my Etsy shop. In theory, it’s a Tumblr exclusive, but this gets cross-posted to there, anyway, so go check it out. ☺

A Tribute to Soul Train

If you have any interest at all in soul, rhythm & blues, and funk music (the primary genres featured on the programme), you have no excuse to have never heard of this groundbreaking television show. As best as i can tell, in spite of its syndicated distribution (meaning it wasn’t tied to a single network, and local markets, especially independent UHF stations and, later, cable access programmes, tended to pick it up, depending on local demand), it aired only in the United States, but many British musos, when on tour in the States, including Elton John (who was later a guest musician on the show) often cited it among their favourite American programs.

The show’s origins began with Chicago-based radio personality, Don Cornelius, and origins have also been cited in local Chicago UHF programs, Kiddie-A-G-Go and Red Hot & Blues, the latter of which was especially notable for its predominantly African-American dancers, and the former, well, today it would be said to aim for the “tween market”, but back then, if you were between the ages of eight and twelve years, you were just a kid. While I can confirm that both programs first aired in 1965, both seem to have ended within a few years before Soul Train. The format of each programme seemed similar to American Bandstand and other, similar programmes that produced and aired locally: Play some of the latest singles of the day, feature a popular band or two, the host MC of the show might hold some Q&A with one of the music acts featured, and some sort of featured “game” or quiz based around a record featured on the show.

I would like to apologise for being unable to find any video for Red Hot & Blues.

Now to Don Cornelius: In addition to his radio work, he also hosted a travelling series of “record hops” around Chicago area high schools as an after-hours activity, and this became nicknamed his “soul train”. WCIU, which had previously hosted Kiddie-A-G-Go and Red Hot & Blues, soon took note of Cornelius’ success with the travelling record hops, and made him an offer to basically tweak the format a little and put it on television. On 17 August 1970, Soul Train first aired on WCIU, as a local Chicago program, after securing a sponsorship with the Chicago-based Sears & Roebuck company.

It didn’t take long at all for Soul Train to prove a local success, and the Johnson Products Company (the makers of Afrosheen and Ultrasheen; not to be confused with Johnson & Johnson, the baby shampoo people), also based in Chicago offered to co-sponsor the program for national syndication, which began on 2 October 1971.


(apologies for the awful rip, just be assured that I had nothing to do with this)

Initially, the program was only picked up in seven local markets in the States, in addition to Chicago: Atlanta (Georgia), Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco —all cities which, at the time, had large African-American populations, except perhaps San Francisco, but then again, this is San Francisco. In Chicago, Soul Train was also unique, at this time: Cornelius moved production to Los Angeles, upon gaining national syndication, but wanted the Chicago production of the show to remain on WCIU, in spite of Chicago’s CBS affiliate picking up the national version, so professional dancer and co-host in the earliest pre-syndication episodes, Clinton Ghent, hosted the WCIU Soul Train until 1976. Chicago essentially had two versions of the show for most of the 1970s —and unfortunately, I can’t find a single pre- or post-syndication WCIU Soul Train, not even a clip, on the Internet.

The first theme song for Soul Train was King Curtis’ “Hot Potatoes”, recorded in 1962, but this didn’t last very long. In 1973, the theme was replaced by “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)”, and though it only lasted until 1975 (though with re-recordings featured as the show’s theme from 1986 to 1993), it became the programme’s best-known theme song, and has been covered several times, with one notable version by Dexys Midnight Runners —which is oddly appropriate, as the piece is essentially an instrumental with prominent horns and strings, and horns and strings certainly define the DMR sound.

Don Cornelius wasn’t all that keen on the comparisons that Soul Train got to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, in spite of the similarities in format. One of the reasons is likely cos in 1973, Clark sought to compete with Soul Train, and produced Soul Unlimited, which didn’t survive a full television season on ABC. Soul Unlimited was presented by then-DC area DJ Buster Jones (who later became best known as a voice actor), and a lot of the program’s critics, including Jessie Jackson and record producer Clarance Avant, felt that Soul Unlimited pandered to stereotyping by alleged use of “deliberitely racial overtones” —being a white kid born long after Soul Unlimited left the airwaves, and having only very limited access to clips from Soul Unlimited, I can only guess on what this was all about, but I do sense the “jive talk” enunciation in Jones’ voice in a few interview segments, which has been a problematic portrayal of African Americans since the 1920s, and his wardrobe tended to be a bit more flash than Don Cornelius.

…I think the biggest reason for the outcry against Soul Unlimited was ultimately that it was conceived of and produced by a white man who clearly was attempting to take over a television niche popularised by an African American who worked very hard most of the prior decade to gain he success he had earned from this syndicated program —and that program had become successful beyond what many, I’m sure, expected of it. In the end of Soul Unlimited, Clark agreed to work with Cornelius on a series of soul-themed network television specials for ABC.

While Soul Train remained culturally important throughout the 1970s, its relevance was believed to decline in the 1980s. Why? Hip-Hop.

Don Cornelius was a bit conservative in his tastes, and didn’t feel that even a lot of the downright silly early rap of the 1980s portrayed a positive-enough image for the African American community, which he prided himself over. He eventually brought on Hip-Hop and rap acts, though often making sure to choose who was featured very carefully. He was also critical of a lot of the more overtly sexual dancing popular on the East Coast in the 1980s hip-hop scenes, and apparently claimed to have been frightened by the theatrics and the prominent Black Panther imagery adopted by Public Enemy. One of the few hip-hop acts to have made several appearances on Soul Train throughout the 1980s was Whodini, likely because their best-known songs are indisputable “positive” and, well, rather tame:

Though Don Cornelius stepped down in 1993 from his role as presenter on Soul Train, the program continued (with several different presenters) until 2006, securing it as the longest-run program in national television syndication, an honour some sources site as being previously held by Hee-Haw (a similar program based around Country/Western and American Folk music) and The Laurence Welk Show (another similar program, but centred around early 20th Century pop, big band, and music hall selections).

Currently, Soul Train reruns in the United States on Aspire, a cable network owned by Comcast and Magic Johnson —which can probably be described as “The African American ME-TV” (there’s a huge rotation of African-American programming from the 1960s and ’70s, including the subtle espionage farce I Spy, featuring a young Bill Cosby, and Julia, starring Dihann Carroll, before she did Wookie porn), but with the addition of station-IDs that feature various current African-American singers, actors, poets, cellists, ballerinas, and so on. The cable network, Centric (formerly BET Jazz) also hosts the Soul Train Cruise and formerly hosted the Soul Train Music Awards.

Don Cornelius’ health had been in decline for some time, and apparently, in 1982, he underwent brain surgery to correct an abnormality in a cerebral artery, but being a private person, few knew about this. In 2008, he’d also been arrested on domestic violence charges, to which he pleaded no contest and served a minor probation term. Finally, on 1 February 2012, he took his own life. An autopsy revealed that he had been suffering seizures as a complication from his 1982 surgery (and which may have very likely contributed to his 2008 DV charge), and a close friend believed that Cornelius had also been suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, and Cornelius’ son claimed that he had also been suffering extreme chronic pain, citing Don Cornelius’ last known words as “I don’t know how much longer I can take this”. While Soul Train certainly had its peak influence in the 1970s, its legacy continues on, and the archive footage certainly serve as a time capsule for US urban music and fashion during the 1970s.

Modcast for 22 July 2013

 

The Triffids – “Love & Affection”
Go – “Don’t Take Her Away”
Sharp Ties – “Get That Beat”
The Killermeters – “Twisted Wheel”
The Go-Between – “On My Block”
The Distractions – “Something For the Weekend”
The Merseys – “Sorrow”
Pizzicato 5 – “Sweet Soul Revue”
The Monochrome Set – “Crystal Chamber”
The Saints – “Simple Love (original)”
The Art woods – “Keep Lookin'”
Sharon Forrester – “Silly Wasn’t I?”
Les Elite – “Get A Job”
The Prisoners – “Go-Go”
Billie Davis – “Nobody’s Home to Go Home To”
Sandie Shaw – “How Can You Tell?”
The Chesterfield Kings – “Time to Kill”
Squire – “Live Without Her Love”
Jean Dushon – “Hitch Hike!”
Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band – “She Shot a Hole In My Soul”
Gloria Jones – “Stage Coach”
Wall of Voodoo – “(Don’t Spill My) Courage”

The Ad Game: Tonight We Tanqueray

The music is cool, and not a single unnecessary shot.

Granted, this isn’t the first ad for alcohol I’ve found with a distinct Mod appeal, but this is the most recent and the one that reminded me I wanted to do this feature.

Only Pop Music can save us now!

I don’t apologise about my fondness for pop music in the Mod idiom. Pop Music seems to get a bit of a bad rep in the Mod scene, my guess because it’s a bigger hit with the girls and queerboys, creating an inherently feminine association, and while that’s perfectly acceptable for the ladies, Mod gents are expected to be… not all “macho”, but still less feminine than the womenfolk or apparently effeminate queer men. Unfortunately, plenty of the overculture’s prejudices gravitate into the subcultures, and only those conscious of this (who are usually those most directly affected by it) have the nerve to put those prejudices within the subculture under a microscope. But enough about that for a mo’.

So without further ado, my top picks for Mod-oriented and / or Mod-friendly Pop Music:

Dexys Midnight Runners
While their first singles, the albums Searching For the Young Soul Rebels and Don’t Stand Me Down, and the early compilation Geno, are indisputably soul or one form or another as is the reformed-as-simply-Dexys record, One Day I’m Going to Soar, the middle DMR LP, Too-Rye-Aye is incredibly pop-oriented, and one of the most sold pop records ever crafted. I’ve also credited DMR with very literally saving my life at one point, so even the more pop-oriented tunes from their first full-length record are very dear to me.



Pete Townshend’s solo work
The Empty Glass album was loved by critics for it’s strong and subversive pop-rock writing and performances, but hated just as much because of presumptions that Pete kept the best songs for himself, letting The Who’s record from the same year, Face Dances, suffer from weaker tunes, which Roger once claimed to have felt betrayed by. Pete said he did it that way for reasons (one important one being that he was afraid that Roger wouldn’t want to sing the homoerotic “Rogh Boys” as it was written, and Townshend wanted to protect the integrity of the lyrics). In 1983, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes was more artistically-focused, when compared to Empty Glass, and this seemed further reflected in the companion film videotape release. In 1985, Townshend released the concept record and companion direct-to-video film White City: A Novel, that he’s described as essentially stand-alone, but as something that could, should the viewer want it to, function as a sequel to Quadrophenia, taking place about twenty years later from Quadrophenia, and featuring a lead male named “Jim”, who attends night school and lives in a council flat. He’s released amazing pop and rock under his own name, and anybody who considers themself a fan of The Who needs to check it out.


Blue Ox Babes
Due to lots of reasons — from poor timing to mental illness — The Blues Ox Babes didn’t ever got the break they deserved in the early 1980s. Even Kevin Rowland has since admitted that he didn’t have the idea for the “Celtic Soul” thing until listening to some home demos from Kevin “Al” Archer’s post-DMR project, and Too-Rye-Aye quickly overshadowed The BOBs first couple singles, getting their record, Apples and Oranges, shelved for over two decades. Their entire body of work (later compiled and issued as Apples & Oranges by Cherry Red records in 2007) is really strong and entertains every feature, at various times, that makes for excellent Mod-friendly pop music.


The Style Council
As The Mod Male says, there are many things that The Style Council did so very right, even if Weller took their sound in a direction that didn’t go over very well with The Jam’s most loyal fans and eventually matured The Style Council in ways that turned off that band’s own fans. I got into The Jam first, but since I discovered the music of The Style Council, I’ve preferred their music tenfold, since —I know that’s practically blasphemy, to some, but that’s just how it is. I’m a fem, what can I say? Speaking of, maybe I’m just that way, but TSC made some of the most homoerotic music videos, ever. I’m bloody pissed that YouTube seems to have pulled the uncut vid for “Long Hot Summer”, which is certainly their most blatantly homoerotic clip —of course, even what remains is still pretty high on that scale.


The Compact Organisation
I’ve talked about this label before, and how Tot Taylor and Company had created some of the most perfect retro-1960s Mod-friendly pop music, ever. It’s hard for me to pick out one or two artists who’ve been associated with the label because in my opinion, every single one has been a winner, regardless of their relative success. Visually? From Mari Wilson’s signature beehive and Virna Lindt’s perfect blonde bob, to Cynthia Scott’s cat eve glasses and the clear homage to Georgie Fame that composes the cover of Tot Taylor’ Playtime LP, you can’t deny that the most memorable names on the label had the aesthetic down, and the music tended to confirm an understanding of the scene, more often than not, as well. Looking around at old photos from Revivalists in the early 1980s, also suggests that there was some relative popularity of the label amongst the Revivalist generation.


The Monochrome Set
Featuring ex-members of Adam and the Ants, Andy Warren and Lester Square, this idiosyncratic post-punk group defied genre pigenholing, while incorporating a lot of 1960s-influenced quirks, and cross-genre pop elements. Their sound evolved over time and reunions, but everything was consistently good and it was always a clear growth and maturation that went well with the band’s previous offerings, rather than detoured off into a sort of “combo mid-life crisis”. (I’ve selected three songs for The Monochrome Set to illustrate this maturation.)


Madness & Suggs
Their earliest records are more ska than pop, but they always dabbled in pop music. Always. Don’t deny it; every ska purist admits it (and well, almost anyone who realises that No Doubt stopped being even ska-punk after Gwen Stefani took over for her brother), and even they often admit to liking Madness. And they clearly got poppier as they went on. When Suggs attempted a solo career, he clearly went in a synth-pop direction that embraced a Mod-friendly aural aesthetic with notes of ska, reggae, and even clear influence in the then-vibrant acid jazz scene throughout.

As a complete aside, I don’t know why, but I always got the impression that these men listen to a LOT of DEVO. I don’t know why I get that impression, but I’m saying so now, cos I can’t think of a more appropriate way to bring it up.


The B-52s
Probably the kitschiest of all 1980s retropop groups, they also have a lot of the most solid pop songs. All of their singles are pretty cracking, and every song is made for dancing. Every. Single. Song. Not just the singles. but every song. And Kate Pierson can pony like no-one’s business. They’ve always had a strong understanding of the 1960s sounds, and a genuine, unironic love of kitsch culture, mix that with an inherently queerpunk sensibility and post-punk musical relevance that manages to remain ineffably fresh-sounding, in spite of the fact that their first two records are now about thirty-five years old. While some who were part of the Mod Revival maintain that the Sixties retro scene was different and barely had any overlap, that doesn’t really hold anymore, and regardless, not everyone “who was there” agrees. Seriously, kids, ask five people “who were there”, you’ll get ten different answers.


Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood
Contrary to common assumption amongst a lot of kids on the Internet or self-professed “originals” who didn’t get into Modernism until after they caught their first episodes of Ready Steady Go!, not everything out of the 1960s is related to the Mod subculture. In fact, I’d wager that even most of the instances from the Sixties wherein something is referred to as “mod” is just using an advertising buzzword of the day, much like how from 1979 and 1983, just about any band with a synthesiser or just a pop-punk sound was called “New Wave”, when the New Wave scene (or positive punk, or other regional terms) maintained itself as something distinct that, at most, was barely related to maybe 80% (or more) of that which got referred to as “new wave” amongst the music press (hell, at one point, Television was “new wave”, Elvis Costello was “new wave”, Roxy Music was “new wave”, and in the States The Jam was, I shit you not, referred to as “new wave”). So needless to say, Nancy and Lee were not Mods. On the back of Nancy’s Sugar record, Lee Hazlewood affectionately describes her saying “She’s so square she can get high on a glass of water.” They had nothing to do with Mod. Lee Halewood wrote a lot of songs, mostly influenced by country music or Leonard Cohen’s school of neo-folk and most of it retroactively genred as English Baroque, because a lot of it shared clear similarities. Aside from her much-covered single, “These Boots (Are Made For Walking)” (which has retroactively become sort of a Mod girl anthem), the pair produced a tonne of singles that have since gained cred, in spite of being painfully square at the time. A lot of their best work is also pretty downtempo, so you’ll probably only ever hear a few things in rotation at clubs, but it’s very lounge oriented.


The Go-Go’s
Possibly the seminal Los Angeles 1980s girl group, and sort of indirectly born of seminal LA hardcore punk group The Germs (Belinda Carslile was drummer for the latter for maybe a weekend, and after used to introduce them onstage at their earliest concerts). Their name certainly harkened to the 1960s cage dancers at some of the edgier nightclubs, and musically, they sounded like the artistic heiresses of The Breakaways. A few staples from the 1960s were a regular part of their sets, and they certainly knew how to work Sixties retro-kitsch with a modern flair, even if only on the album covers. Sure, they looked very painfully 1980s, from the spiky hair that now brings to mind a feminine take on Max Headroom, to the slash rouge that never flattered anyone’s features, to the baggy jumpers with hip-belts, but close your eyes — go ahead, do it. Now tell me they’re not the musical heiresses to those cute all-girl combos from the mid-1960s.


Tracey Ullman
Best known as a comedienne and actress, she had a short-lived stint as a pop singer, specialising in cute, quirky, Sixties-styled retropop. Her gender-swapped version of Madness’ “My Girl” is in line with the tradition of turning “The Girl from Ipenema” into “The Boy from Ipenema” when performed by a woman (a tradition later flipped off by Amy Winehouse). “They Don’t Know” and “Breakaway” were also really underrated singles that demonstrate a clear love for pop music of the early 1960s, especially the girl group sound. The video for “They Don’t Know” ends on a sad note, but overall a lovely video, and she looks just adorable.


The Fun Boy Three
After Terry Hall, Neville Staple, and Lynval Golding split from The Specials (but before Hall formed The Colourfield with Shale and Lyons from The Swinging Cats), The Fun Boy Three released two moody synthpop-based albums that stretched the limits of both synthpop and downtempo reggae, and made it really work. Occasionally cross-genre elements from the shoegaze and proto-gothic schools of post-punk were employed, and they still made it work. I’m convinced that there was nothing that The Fun Boy Three couldn’t make work, musically, if they attempted it, and I have their two very strong records to support this notion. Sure, they’re kind of responsible for putting Bananarama onto the world, but you know, I still think that Bananarama’s first two records, and most of the third, were pretty strong dance-oriented pop that does seem to maintain the spirit of the old girl groups, even if the musical aesthetic is vastly different from that normally accepted of girl groups at a Mod night.


The Police and Sting
You know how Madness’ sound, at least on record, got more pop-oriented as they band marched on? The Police turned that concept up to eleven going from a pop group obviously steeped in a strong reggae influence, to… I’m not sure what I’d call it, exactly, but it was pretty damned bland and their previous reggae-heavy sound was practically boiled out, with the odd remaining lipids of that sound occasionally surfacing. A lot of their later stuff, even I won’t listen to, but I really do appreciate the fact that Sting’s solo sound got more jazzy and soul-inspired for a period, and I generally like his post-Police work, even if there’s a lot I would leave at home on a DJ night.


General Public
I don’t know why, but I envision that, if this blog were more popular amongst Mods and Trad Skins, I’d catch a lot of hell for standing up for General Public, and I’ve slipped King’s “Love & Pride” into setlists at nights when I thought I could get away with it. General Public was practically a supergroup from the Mod Revival and 2Tone scenes, composed of Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger (both formerly of The Beat), Mickey Billingham (DMR), Andy “Stoker” Growcott (DMR/The Bureau), Horace Panter (The Specials) and Mick Jones (The Clash —who were technically a punk band but with loads of affection amongst the Mod Revival and Ska scenes).

    The reasons I think I’d catch hell for this:

  • while their influences tend to remain fairly obvious, General Public made Tracie Young (who seems to get some undeserved flack) seem inspired. Hell, it kind of makes Matt Bianco’s later records seem inspired, and I don’t even try to make excuses for Matt Bianco’s records after their Indigo LP (though there are reasons I’m not including Matt Bianco on this particular list).
  • The video for “Tenderness” needs to die in a fire.
  • I don’t understand Roger’s racing stripes, either, and I keep the hair on the left side of my head violet for personal reasons.
  • Their music doesn’t work the same way that FB3’s music works, and that’s kind of disappointing. Still, their music works in a quirky sort of way.
  • Their cover of “I’ll Take You There”, originally performed by Mavis Staples / The Staples Singers for Stax, isn’t great, and I’m being polite, cos I actually really liked it when it first came out, but I was in junior high at the time, and I still liked the Buckingham-Nicks years of Fleetwood Mac at that age, without guilt. While I appreciate covers that put a unique spin on the song to make it distinct from the original recording, a well-loved staple of soul nights, like “I’ll Take You There”, really should get a cover that can hold its own. Listening as an adult, with matured tastes, there’s something about their cover that seems obvious that the last two members of General Public who had any interest in still being General Public were offered a spot on the Threesome soundtrack over a weekend, cos why? For most of the early 1990s, reggae had become trendy, and by ’94, that trend was kind of waning, so why not send it out with something from a well-loved band of the UK’s reggapop scene of the previous decade? Or something like that. But yeah, I’ll bet you ten dollars that this was recorded by Roger and Wakeling over a weekend, over-produced in the studio for the next week and a half, and in spite of the film flopping, the single nearly became of Top 20 hit in the States, which should speak to te general unimpressiveness of this version all on its own.

That said, while I have mixed feelings on 1995’s General Public record, Rub It Better (the group’s third and final), it’s certainly better than… That single… from the previous year. The video for “Rainy Days” is adorable, even if the song sounds overproduced. General Public is certainly more toward the “guilty pleasure” side of my favourite “Mod-friendly pop music”, but I don’t put them in that category simply because I do think a lot of their work is pretty solid, even if there are clear weaknesses —and like I said, that… single… was almost a gateway to ska for me —if I hadn’t had a brother-in-law who introduced me to Siouxsie Sioux and Rozz Williams that summer, between that and my lifelong love of The Who and art deco, I probably would’ve dove head first into Mod far earlier.

[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

[2009-12-21] It’s a Festivus Miracle!

I actually compiled this cast a couple of days ago so that I wouldn’t have to worry about selecting some Yultide Cheer at the last moment.

 
download

2009-12-21
The Soulful Strings – The Little Drummer Boy
The Pipettes – White Christmas
James Brown – Merry Christmas, I Love You
Eartha Kitt – I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas
The Del Vetts – I Want A Boy For Christmas
The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
Eleanor Rigby – Kiss Me Quickly (It’s Christmas)
Danielle Dax – Blue Christmas
Dexys Midnight Runners – Merry Christmas Everybody
Marc Bolan – Christmas Bop
Shonen Knife – Space Christmas
The Jacobites – Teenage Christmas
The Kinks – Father Christmas
The Dead Milkmen – All I Want For Christmas Is a Job
Marc Almond – Christmas In Vegas
Klaus Nomi – Silent Night
Tiny Tim – The Christmas Song
Mae West – My New Year’s Resolution

[2009-12-14] No, really! I’m not backdating this!

As much as it shames me to admit this, there isn’t really any excuse for this to be as late as it is, but it is. There are a few reasons I could use, but honestly, it just feels like a cop-out, as perfectly valid as those reasons appear on paper, were they to come from another.

I decided to do something different withthis one, and so it’s all instrumentals and minimal-voice pieces.

Also, I have no excuse for uploading 30 November’s cast again last week. I just fixed that.

 
download link

2009-12-14
Pizzicato 5 – Trailer Music
Japan – Voices Raised In Welcome, Hands Held In Prayer
Brian Eno – Here Come the Warm Jets
The Tape-beatles – Grave Implications
The Evolution Control Committee – Hurdy Gurdy Men
The Monochrome Set – The Etcetera Stroll
Style Council – Our Favourite Shop
Jean-Jacques Perrey – Soul City
Pierre Henry – Teen Tonic
Booker T & the MG’s – Mo’ Onions
Giddle & Boyd – Going Steady With Peggy Moffit
Les Cappiccino – Move Move Move
QYPTHONE – Tension Attention, Please / Modernica In the House
Pizzicato 5 – Readymade FM

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.