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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the three THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Making Of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO, VOLUME 3

 

I wrote this a little after the release of our third This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation CD in 2013, and posted it on Facebook:

Some time back, my friend Rich Firestone asked a bunch of other pals to name their favorite tracks on THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO, VOLUME 3, the newly-released CD compilation my co-host Dana Bonn and I slapped together to promote our long-running internet radio show of the same name.  While I would have difficulty picking one favorite track--I obviously like all of the tracks a lot, or else they would not have been on the CD to begin with--the question prompted me to think back on how this compilation started and how it developed.

After the release of our second compilation CD in 2006, we parted company with JAM Recordings, the label that released our first two discs.  It was an amicable split, and we were grateful to JAM's Jeremy Morris for all he'd done for us to that point, but both parties were ready to move on.  Jeremy was readier than we were, since we were now without a label to release any future compilations, but we knew we wanted to do a third volume...somewhere.

And that was all we knew about it.  Dana wanted to do a Kickstarter and release it ourselves; I wanted someone to do some of the heavy lifting for us, since I knew that heavy lifting is NOT what we do best.  Although TIRnRR3 was always a vague goal, it was a back-burner item for several years.

Nonetheless, we had some initial ideas of tracks we wanted to use.  I'm pretty sure the first two we settled on were "Syracuse Summer" by The Tearjerkers and "Five Personalities" by The Richards, both terrific, lesser-known tracks recorded by acts with direct ties to our favorite power pop group, The Flashcubes.  Those tracks had to be on TIRnRR3, and we secured them early on.  I think "Office Crush" by Hawaii Mud Bombers came next.  We wanted a track by The Catholic Girls, since they had been cut from Volume 2 at the last minute (a decision which neither the band nor Dana & Carl were happy about), and we hoped we could make amends.  We tried and failed to get a couple of specific tracks--"Just Got Me A Girl" by The Smithereens, "Rising In Love" by Michael Nesmith--and we tried to solicit contributions from a few other artists, but it was slow going.  We needed a plan.  And we needed a label.

And, frankly, I needed to commit to the damn thing.

On the air, Dana seems a bit curmudgeonly and cantankerous, while I am the embodiment of giddy.  Off air, Dana was always gung-ho about Volume 3; I was, if not pessimistic, at least uncertain of our ability to pull it off. But TIRnRR seemed to be growing:  new listeners, new forums to communicate with listeners--thank you, God, for Facebook!--and a new, contagious enthusiasm.  I heard an unreleased track called "Can't Stop Loving You," by an unknown '80s group called Mad Monster Party, and I wanted it on a TIRnRR compilation.  It HAD to be on a TIRnRR compilation.  It was time to get to work.

In 2012, we began tentative discussions with Ray Gianchetti about releasing TIRnRR3 on his label, Kool Kat Musik.  2012 was kind of a lousy year for me, so the project once again had to be back-burnered a bit, but we still worked on it.  Eytan Mirsky came aboard (with a great track he'd initially submitted for our second CD), and Ray Gianchetti hadn't said no yet.  We renewed the conversation in 2013, and everything fell into place in no time.  We secured a bunch of great tracks from talented artists, we struck an agreement with Ray, we obsessed over proper sequencing and finally mastered the album at Subcat Studios in Syracuse.  When the CD finally came out, and I just listened to it over and over in the car, every day.  I am delighted with the result.  Will there be a Volume 4?  We'll see....

2016 POSTSCRIPT:  We'll see?  Yeah.  We've toyed with the idea of another TIRnRR compilation, but there's nothing on the ol' desk at the moment.  A mastering error (later corrected) on one track kinda killed whatever momentum TIRnRR3 might have had; it probably didn't really make all that much difference in the disc's success (or lack thereof), but it dampened my enthusiasm. It was an error I should have caught--I was the only one who could have caught it in time--but I missed it in the mastering session, and that was that.  Nonetheless, I'm still very proud of the disc (especially the corrected version), and I won't rule out trying our hands at Volume 4 someday.