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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.

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Five Tracks In 2016

The wonderful Christine Collister asked all the writers who contributed to Love Letters 2 Rock N Roll this year to submit a list of the five tracks we listened to the most in 2016 (regardless of what year the tracks themselves were released). I was delighted to comply.

And consider this yet another plug for Love Letters 2 Rock N Roll. The site could use another writer or two. Maybe you would like to write a love letter to rock 'n' roll...?




The frustration and heartache of this trying year cast a long shadow over the music I played. These are the five tracks which stand out in my mind as the songs I listened to the most often in 2016. One is an actual new 2016 release, three reflect a few of the many losses felt by the pop world this year, and one is just a perennial, much-needed blast of transcendent rock 'n' roll brilliance.

In no real order:



THE MONKEES: Birth Of An Accidental Hipster

One of a number of tracks I could have selected from The Monkees' superlative 2016 album Good Times! It could just as easily have been "Me & Magdalena" or "You Bring The Summer." Far and away my favorite album of the year.




DAVID BOWIE: Life On Mars?

2016 wasn't even two weeks old when we lost Bowie, and we should've taken that as a sign to return the damned year to sender, postage due. Bowie's passing affected me a lot more than I ever would have imagined, and I started my own blog because I needed a place to vent. I have several favorite Bowie songs--"Rebel Rebel,""Suffragette City,""Panic In Detroit," and "Heroes" come to mind--but "Life On Mars?" was the one I kept coming back to, over and over, in search of...catharsis. I guess.



1.4.5.: Your Own World

1.4.5. was an offshoot of The Flashcubes, my all-time favorite power pop band. Piloted by 'Cubes guitarist Paul Armstrong, 1.4.5. has encompassed many varying lineups; this track is from the 1987 album Rhythm n' Booze, and it features the late Norm Mattice on lead vocals. Mattice's passing was the 2016 death that felt like the biggest, most vicious single punch to the gut. He was one of our own, a Central New York talent who should have been a star, and not a homeless man who died of exposure, all alone, unable to find shelter from the cold Syracuse night. He had friends and family willing--eager--to help him, but it was of no avail. Nothing was. Nothing could be.



PRINCE: I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

We'd been playing Prince's "When Doves Cry" on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl a bit throughout the first few months of 2016, and I betcha it would have made our year-end countdown even if Prince had remained one of our greatest living rock stars into 2017. His death in April sealed the case for this year's ongoing infamy. "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" was never a song I thought much about before--if I were going to play Prince, I'd be more likely to go with "When Doves Cry" or "When You Were Mine"--but a request for the song from TIRnRR listener Joel Tinnel prompted us to play it on the show the week after Prince died. And it just clicked with me, suddenly but unerringly. I've been playing it ever since.



THE KINKS: You Really Got Me

Always. Especially in a year like this one, a year which has demanded more from us than we've felt capable of giving. Turn it up. And I say we attack 2017 before it attacks us.

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