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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 four 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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.


The Beau Brummels: It's weird to realize that I don't remember The Beau Brummels at all from the '60s, even though my sister Denise went to see them at the State Fair on a double bill with the legendary Gene Pitney. You'd think I would at least remember their animated turn as The Beau Brummelstones on an episode of The Flintstones, but no! Instead, I heard "Laugh, Laugh" on an oldies radio show in 1976 or '77. A rock station in Utica, WOUR-FM, had a flat-out terrific Friday night oldies show called (I think) The Time Machine, and that gave me an opportunity to deepen my affection for The Kinks and The Yardbirds, among others. I heard "Laugh, Laugh" one Friday night on WOUR, and the song has not left my All-Time Hot 100 since then.


I don't know if it was WOLF-AM or WNDR-AM that started playing "Johnny B. Goode" in regular rotation in the early '70s, right alongside your Badfinger and your Temptations. Maybe both stations did it. I didn't know it was an old song; I just knew that I liked it a lot. Somewhere in there, I learned a lesson that's an integral part of our format on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio: it doesn't matter if a song's old, or new, or borrowed, or blue, as long as it's a great song. And great songs should be played with other great songs, without regard for their date of origin. That's what radio oughtta be.


Though a (non-powered) super-heroine from the '40s, DC Comics revived The Black Canary for sporadic use here and there in the '60s, and eventually made her one of the line's core characters. I first saw the name and image in a house ad for The Brave And The Bold # 61 (August-September 1965), which appeared in (I think) an issue of The Adventures Of Jerry Lewis. The ad promised the super-heroic team of Starman and Black Canary, which caught my interest, but the issue was long gone from the stands by the time I saw that ad in '66. My first true Black Canary adventure came in the summer of '68, when she appeared with her fellow members of The Justice Society of America in a two-parter running in Justice League of America # 64-65. (But my favorite Black Canary appearance came in The Brave And The Bold # 91 [August-September 1970], when she teamed with Batman and--more importantly!--had the chance to be rendered in pulchritudinous splendor by the incredible Nick Cardy!)


Another character from the '40s, and a character DC had purchased in the '50s from a publisher called Quality Comics. DC kept this aviator's title going until 1968. But I never read it; it wasn't really a super-hero book, so I wasn't interested. I picked up the very last issue, Blackhawk  # 243 (October-November 1968), a coverless copy I found at Van Patten's Grocery in North Syracuse. I (much) later learned that the final two issues of Blackhawk were a back-to-basics attempt, trying to return the character to his former glory; DC's stewardship of Blackhawk up to that time was and is widely regarded as a waste, at least until those last two issues. I discovered the real Blackhawk via Golden Age reprints in the '70s, and my favorite run is a revival in the '80s, written by Mark Evanier and usually drawn by Dan Spiegle; I would buy a trade collection of that run without hesitation.  Hawk-a-a-a!


Reading about punk rock in Phonograph Record Magazine in 1977, I was taken by Mark Shipper's description of Blondie as "like Marilyn Monroe backed by The Dave Clark Five." Okay, I'm in. I was still reluctant to buy the LP without hearing something first; when I got to college that fall, I pestered WBSU DJs in Brockport to play "X-Offender" for me, and I was hooked at first listen. Plus that Blondie girl, that Debbie Harry? Man, she was cute!


Someday I'm going to devote an entire Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) to my love-hate relationship with The Brave And The Bold, a long-running DC title that went through many phases and philosophies over the course of 200 issues. It had once been a tryout showcase for proposed new comic book series; the most successful B&B tryouts were a pair of concepts called The Justice League of America and The Teen Titans. But B&B was a super-hero team-up book from # 50 through its farewell at # 200, with just one Sgt. Rock World War II tale in # 52 standing as the sole exception. From 1967 through the book's termination in 1983, it was specifically a Batman team-up book. My first B&B was # 70 (February-March 1967), teaming Batman and Hawkman. I never learned where my copy came from; it turned up one day, alongside an issue of World's Finest Comics and an issue of Mighty Comics, in a pile of magazines in our bathroom at home.  Did my Dad buy it for me? Did my Mom? Maybe one of my siblings? I still don't know, but I sure loved this. I'd previously seen the alternate Earth-2 incarnation of Hawkman in the preceding summer's Justice League-Justice Society team-up, but this issue of The Brave And The Bold was my introduction to the familiar, regularly-published "real" Earth-1 Hawkman.


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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.