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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.

Monday, October 17, 2016

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 845

The glass ceiling.

It's an odd phrase, isn't it? It seems to imply something frail and fragile, delicate, something to handle with care, something easily broken, easily damaged, easily breached. Instead, it's used to describe an invisible barrier that is often nearly impenetrable, impregnable, bulletproof: an unseen barricade that blocks advancement, halts upward progress, and prevents certain people--especially minorities, and most especially women--from achieving heights above their presumed station. The glass ceiling is a bad thing.

Rock 'n' roll used to have a glass ceiling. It was broken for the first time in 1981. It was broken by The Go-Go's.

There had been smash-hit girl groups before The Go-Go's; there had been tough female solo singers, and there had been women participating in (and occasionally leading) rock 'n' roll groups that were otherwise mostly male. From The Shirelles and The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las, through Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin, and through Jefferson Airplane, Blondie, The Patti Smith Group, Heart, and The Pretenders, there had been many female performers who succeeded in establishing themselves as pop music success stories. There had even been some self-contained, all-female groups to make a grab at the brass ring; Fanny tried, and failed, and the same was true of The Runaways.

But The Go-Go's didn't fail. A # 1 debut album, hit singles, pop idolatry; as the first self-contained female act in history to accomplish all of this--and to do so with material almost entirely written by members of the band--The Go-Go's deserve far more recognition than they ever get. And they deserve acclaim not just for cracking rock 'n' roll's glass ceiling; they deserve acclaim for creating a body of work that is shimmering, incandescent, irresistible pop music, pop music that should be played with hearts and stereos all turned up loud and proud, joyous testimony that, yes indeed, we got the beat. I've never understood why everyone doesn't list The Go-Go's among his or her all-time fave raves. I get matters of taste, I do; I just don't understand how anyone could fail to love The Go-Go's.

When glass breaks, it shatters. The shattered glass can leave jagged, dangerous shards, hazards for those who venture too close to the debris. But when a glass ceiling finally breaks, it collapses into dust. And we look up and wonder why anything so insubstantial could have ever stopped us in the first place.

On this week's This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, we declared our love for our Featured Act, The Go-Go's. We also offered brand new music from The Legal Matters, David Myhr, and Steve Somerset's Shadow Kabinet, we saluted Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan, and used all of this superpop wonder as the raw materials needed to build a better radio show. If there's a glass ceiling you need to breach, we'll supply the soundtrack.

NEXT WEEK: We draw the name of the lucky winner in our WHO NEEDS DANA & CARL? 850th Show Sweepstakes!  Hey, that reminds me: THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE!! Time's running out, but you have until October 22nd to enter our drawing. All generous souls who donate $100 or more to http://sparksyracuse.org/support/ will get to program the music for a future episode of TIRnRR, and those who do so before October 22nd will also earn a chance to win the right to program our landmark TIRnRR # 850. Donations in any amount are always welcome, but only donations of $100 or more qualify for the Guest Programmer gimmick and the 850th Show drawing. We're drawing a winner on next week's show, so get those cash tributes flowing our way! And this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week. Bust that glass!

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl streams live every Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org

And God bless The Go-Go's!

TIRnRR # 845: 10/16/16

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
THE GO-GO'S: We Got The Beat (Stiff, single)
THE MODERN LOVERS: Roadrunner (Castle, The Modern Lovers)
NEIL DIAMOND: Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon (Columbia, Classics--The Early Years)
BOB DYLAN: Positively 4th Street (Columbia, Biograph)
THE PHENOMENAL CATS: Seagirl (Sound Asleep, Seagirl And 5 Other Dogs)
THE BEATLES: Baby's In Black (Capitol, Beatles '65)
THE LEGAL MATTERS: Minor Key (Omnivore, Conrad)
STAN GETZ & ASTRUD GILBERTO: The Girl From Ipanema (Rhino, VA: One Hit Wonders Of The '60s)
THE ISLEY BROTHERS: Summer Breeze (Sony, VA: A Tribute To Black Entertainers)
SUGAR: If I Can't Change Your Mind [BBC version] (Rykodisc, single)
THE GO-GO'S: Skidmarks On Your Heart (Capitol, Beauty And The Beat)
CHUCK BERRY: Louie To Frisco (Mercury, From Louie To Frisco)
STEVE SOMERSET'S SHADOW KABINET: The Glass Half Empty House (Kool Kat Musik, Nostalgia For The Future)
THE CLASH: I Fought The Law (Epic, The Clash)
THE GO-GO'S: La La Land (Beyond, God Bless The Go-Go's)
BOB DYLAN: Subterranean Homesick Blues (Columbia, Biograph)
ELVIS COSTELLO: Watching The Detectives (Rykodisc, My Aim Is True)
NEIL YOUNG: Heart Of Gold (Reprise, Decade)
DAVID MYHR: Spellbound (www.davidmyhr.com)
KLAATU: California Jam (Klaatunes, 3:47 E.S.T.)
THE SPONGETONES: Talking Around It (Loaded Goat, Scrambled Eggs)
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS: The Times They Are A-Changing (Light In The Attic, Dylan's Gospel)
THE GO-GO'S: Get Up And Go (Edsel, Vacation)
JON & ROBIN & THE IN CROWD: Do It Again A Little Bit Slower (Rhino, VA: One Hit Wonders Of The '60s)
JOHN McMULLAN: Law School (Kicktone, John McMullan)
THE BYRDS: Turn! Turn! Turn! (Columbia, Turn! Turn! Turn!)
TEENAGE FANCLUB: Sparky's Dream (Jetset, Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds)
COURTNEY BARNETT: Elevator Operator (Mom + Pop, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit)
THE GO-GO'S: Yes Or No [single mix] (Edsel, Talk Show)
SIMON & GARFUNKEL: The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine (Columbia, Collected Works)
THE KINKS: You Can't Stop The Music (Velvel, A Soap Opera)
BOB DYLAN: If Not For You (Columbia, Biograph)
THE GO-GO'S: This Town (Capitol, Beauty And The Beat)
THE PENETRATORS: Shopping Bag [video version]
THE ROLLING STONES: Citadel (Abkco, Their Satanic Majesties Request)
DOLLY PARTON: Jolene [45 rpm, played at 33 1/3] (RCA, single)
THE POPTARTS: I Won't Let You Let Me Go (PlumTone, Fresh...Out Of The Toaster)
THE BANGLES: The Real World (Omnivore, Ladies And Gentlemen...The Bangles!)
THE RUNAWAYS: School Days (Hip-O Select, The Mercury Albums Anthology)
THE NERVES: One Way Ticket (Alive, One Way Ticket)
THE GO-GO'S: I Wanna Be Sedated (Image Entertainment, Live In Central Park)
THE PRETENDERS: Brass In Pocket (Sire, The Singles)
THE GO-GO'S: The Whole World Lost Its Head (Edsel, Talk Show)
THE MUFFS: Rock And Roll Girl (Sympathy For The Record Industry, Hamburger)
THE GO-GO'S: Can't Stop The World (Capitol, Beauty And The Beat)
HOLLY & THE ITALIANS; Tell That Girl To Shut Up (Rhino, VA: DIY: Shake It Up!)
THE GO-GO'S: Unforgiven (Beyond, God Bless The Go-Go's)
THE REVILLOS: Where's The Boy For Me (Captain Oi, Rev Up)
THE GO-GO'S: Turn To You (Edsel, Talk Show)
PEARL HARBOR & THE EXPLOSIONS: You Got It (Release It) (Rhino, VA: DIY: Shake It Up!)
THE GO-GO'S: Vacation (Edsel, Vacation)
THE GO-GO'S: Head Over Heels (Edsel, Talk Show)
THE GO-GO'S: Our Lips Are Sealed (Capitol, Beauty And The Beat)
X-RAY SPEX: Oh Bondage, Up Yours! (Castle, Germfree Adolescents)
THE GO-GO'S: Surfing And Spying (IRS, Return To The Valley Of The Go-Go's)