About Me

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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, September 18, 2017

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 890: A Bunch Of Guys Named Paul










Hello again from This Is Rock 'n' Roll Roll with Dana & Carl, your self-proclaimed resource for The Best Three Hours Of Radio On The Whole Friggin' Planet. With Sir Paul coming to Syracuse this week, we decided to play some Paul music on the show. But not just Paul McCartney! Paul Simon (with Artie)! Paul Armstrong (with Arty, Gary, and Tommy)! Paul Collins' Beat (and with The Nerves!) Paul Revere & the Raiders! Paul Kelly & the Messengers! Paul Stanley! Peter, Paul & Mary! A bunch of other guys named Paul from The Jam, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Manfred MannJefferson Airplane, and Squeeze, and even a Paula with The Pandoras! And Ray Paul! PLUS: we played stuff by other people not named Paul at all. We love a good gimmick as well as the next guy, but we never let the good gimmicks get in the way of a good time. This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

NEXT WEEK: Our Featured Act will be The Flamin' Groovies! IN TWO WEEKS: The return of DANA'S FUNKY SOUL PIT! SOMETIME IN OCTOBER: A tentative plan for the return of The Magnificent Six, an entire show devoted in its entirety to six different Featured Acts! And...what else? Oh yeah! IN TEN WEEKS [weather permitting]: 

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO # 900!

Man, we better start rehearsin' or something.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl streams Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern at www.westcottradio.org

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

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: http://shop.koolkatmusik.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=KKM&Product_Code=Various_Artists_241&Category_Code=PO

TIRnRR # 890: 9/17/17

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
PAUL McCARTNEY: Not Such A Bad Boy (Columbia, Give My Regards To Broad Street)
WARREN ZEVON: Excitable Boy (Rhino, Genius)
SIMON & GARFUNKEL: My Little Town (Columbia, Old Friends)

PATTI SMITH: Redondo Beach (Arista, Horses)
THE FLASHCUBES: She's Leaving (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE FLATMATES: I Could Be In Heaven (Clairecords, Love & Death)
--
RAY PAUL: I Need Your Love Tonight (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
THE PRETENDERS: Back On The Chain Gang (Sire, The Singles)
MAURA & THE BRIGHT LIGHTS: Maybe Someday (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
QUINT: Good Morning London (n/a, Sharknado 5 OST)
SQUEEZE: Tempted (A & M, The Squeeze Story)
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS: (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea (Rykodisc, This Year's Model)
--
PAUL KELLY & THE MESSENGERS: Before Too Long (A & M, Gossip)
PAUL McCARTNEY: Beautiful Night (Capitol, Flaming Pie)
THE JAM: Going Underground (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
SPIRIT: Aren't You Glad (Raven, Fresh From The Lime Coast)
CREAM: I'm So Glad (Polydor, The Very Best Of Cream)
THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: Glad All Over (Hollywood, The History Of The Dave Clark Five)
--
PAUL STANLEY: Wouldn't You Like To Know Me? (Mercury, KISS: Paul Stanley)
TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS: Hanky Panky (Rhino, Anthology)
THE PANDORAS: Stop Pretending (Rhino Handmade, Stop Pretending)
THE CLASH: Train In Vain (Epic, Clash On Broadway)
THE MONKEES: Terrifying (Rhino, Good Times! [digital version])
CIRCE LINK & CHRISTIAN NESMITH: I'm On Your Side (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
--
PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS: Live And Let Die (Capitol, PAUL McCARTNEY: Wingspan)
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS: Pump It Up (Rykodisc, This Year's Model)
THE FOUR TOPS: Walk Away Renee (Motown, The Ultimate Collection)
THE COWSILLS: She Said To Me (JAM, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 2)
THE ROLLING STONES: Connection (Abkco, Between The Buttons)
THE NERVES: Hanging On The Telephone (Alive, One Way Ticket)
--
PAUL COLLINS' BEAT: She Doesn't Want To Hang Around With You (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
THE HIT SQUAD: Best Of Me (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
HUSKER DU: Could You Be The One? (Warner Brothers, Warehouse: Songs And Stories)
THE SMITHEREENS: Got Me A Girl (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
KO & THE KNOCKOUTS: Go-Getter (Wicked Cool, Ko And The Knockouts)
LYRES: Help You Ann (Matador, On Fyre)
--
STYX: Kiss Your Ass Goodbye (Sanctuary, Cyclorama)
THE SEX PISTOLS: Silly Thing (Warner Brothers, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle)
PETER, PAUL & MARY: Too Much Of Nothing (Warner Brothers, Ten Years Together)
SPIRIT: Uncle Jack (Raven, Fresh From The Lime Coast)
SMOKE: My Friend Jack (Rhino, VA: Nuggets II)
THE WHO: Happy Jack (MCA, Who's Better, Who's Best)
--
PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS: Him Or Me--What's It Gonna Be? (Sundazed, Revolution!)
MANFRED MANN: My Little Red Book (All I Do Is Talk About You) (EMI, The Best Of Manfred Mann)
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: Come Up The Years (RCA, The Essential Jefferson Airplane)
BIG STAR: September Gurls [single version] (Stax, The Best Of Big Star)
PAUL McCARTNEY: Hope Of Deliverance (Capitol, Off The Ground)
THE FLASHCUBES: Forever (Northside, Flashcubes Forever)
PAUL McCARTNEY: Run Devil Run (Capitol, Run Devil Run)
JOHNNY KIDD & THE PIRATES: Shakin' All Over (EMI, The Best Of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates)
PAUL McCARTNEY: Maybe I'm Amazed (Capitol, Wingspan)
THE BEVIS FROND: Lights Are Changing (Rhino, VA: Children Of Nuggets)
PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS: Junior's Farm (Capitol, PAUL McCARTNEY: Wingspan)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tonight On THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO



Paul. No, not just THAT Paul, the Knighted Beatle visiting Syracuse this week. Other Pauls, too. Paul with his Beat. Paul with his Raiders. Paul with his Peter and Mary. And yeah (yeah yeah), Paul with and without his Wings. It won't be all Paul either; we'll save room for Levi, Micky, Ko, and Maura. Styx and Stones may move your bones; these names will never hurt you. Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org

Saturday, September 16, 2017

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO Flashback: The Hundred HOLLIES Initiative

From January 10, 2010, this was the playlist announcing This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio's epic venture THE HUNDRED HOLLIES INITIATIVE. The Hundred Hollies Initiative was a year-long effort to play one hundred different Hollies tracks on the show, an effort which we made damned sure to accomplish, fearing the dire penalty of failure (as described below). In fact, we played 101 different Hollies tracks, just to be sure! As a bonus for you, the loyal Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) reader, we're also including the playlist from the previous week's spotlight on The Hollies.


Hello again from Dana & Carl and THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO,  your proud and (plainly) deluded source for The Best Three Hours Of Radio On The Whole Friggin' Planet.  This week, we featured the music of The Rollers, the post-Tartan edition of The Bay City Rollers, which released three very good, underrated rockin' pop albums from 1979-1981 (they also did a fourth, cassette-only release called Burning Rubber, but I've never even seen a copy of that one).  We also threw in a spotlight on The Feelies' debut album, and introduced brand-new music from Maura Kennedy.  Maura will be doing a full-band show at The Living Room in NYC next Tuesday, January 19th, with none other than Tommy Allen of The Flashcubes on drums--huzzah!  Maura will return to The Living Room on February 16th as a solo, but will share the bill with Kelley Ryan, Don Dixon, and Marti Jones.  It's like the TIRnRR All-Stars!  If you're in New York on these dates, you should, like, go to the shows or something.

And, of course, we announced our goofiest gimmick yet:  THE HUNDRED HOLLIES INITIATIVE!  Beginning with our spotlight on The Hollies last week, we have made a solemn vow to play 100 different Hollies tracks on TIRnRR before the end of 2010.  A daunting task?  You betcha!  But The Hollies have a lot of terrific tracks to choose from, so we should be equal to the task.  Besides, the price of failure is too terrible to consider:  if we fail in our effort to play 100 different Hollies tracks this year, our penance will be to play something so horrible, so SICKENING that it offends the mind, the heart and the soul.  I can barely bring myself to type it, but it must be entered into the public record:

If we play less than 100 different Hollies tracks this year, then we've gotta play "Old Time Rock And Roll" by Bob Seger as our punishment.  (Y'know, it's difficult to type while holding one's nose.)  But don't worry!  We won't let you down!  We've played 16 Hollies tracks already, so it's only 84 to go.  You can count on us!  We hope....

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS
go to Syracuse Community Radio, 826 Euclid Avenue, Syracuse, NY  13210.  Please let us know if you need to be deleted from our weekly greetings.  NEXT WEEK:  Hard to believe!  On Sunday, January 17th it's 50 YEARS OF CARL!  Why, then, do I still get asked for ID when buying beer?  Dana has graciously agreed to let me take over the programming for the week, as we present a three-hour collection of some of the tracks with which I've become obsessed at some point during the first five decades of my mission on your charming little planet here.  50 candles is an awful lot of firepower for one guy to extinguish, so we hope you'll join us next Sunday January 17th for a snarky celebration of 50 YEARS OF CARL!  And this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl streams live every Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org.

TIRnRR # 514:  1/10/10

THE RAMONES:  "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
MAURA KENNEDY:  "Summer Coulda Lasted Forever" (www.maurakennedy.com, Parade Of Echoes)
THE PRETENDERS:  "Back On The Chain Gang" (Warner Brothers, The Isle Of View)
VENUS & THE RAZORBLADES:  "Finer Things In Life" (See For Miles, Songs From The Sunshine Jungle)
THE FEELIES:  "Fa Ce-La" (Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Stoned Houses # 1/Elevator" (7T's, Elevator)
THE RAMONES:  "She's The One" (Rhino, Road To Ruin)
--
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Doors, Bars, Metal" (7T's, Ricochet)
ORANGE JUICE:  "Blue Boy" (Domino, The Glasgow School)
PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS:  "Let Me!" (Sundazed, Alias Pink Puzz)
THE FEELIES:  "Original Love" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE COWSILLS:  "She Said To Me" (Robin, Global)
WEK617:  "Big Man" (Tarmac, No One)
--
THE HOLLIES:  "Dolphin Days" (www.hollies.co.uk, Then, Now, Always)
THE HOLLIES:  "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" (Sundazed, Evolution)
PETE YORN & SCARLETT JOHANSSON:  "Relator" (Atco, Break Up)
THE FEELIES:  "Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey)" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "God Save Rock And Roll" (7T's, Voxx)
CAROLYN MARK & NQ ARBUCKLE:  "Canada Day Off/Toronto" (Mint, Let's Just Stay Here)
--
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Roxy Lady" (7T's, Ricochet)
SARAKULA:  "Caught In The Middle" (www.sarakula.com, City Heart)
THE MONKEES:  "Dyin' Of A Broken Heart" (Rhino, Justus)
THE FEELIES:  "The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE CATHOLIC GIRLS:  "Someone New" (Renaissance, Catholic Girls)
THE JUBILEE HUMMING BIRDS (FEAT. REV. AL BANKS):  "Will The Lord Be With Me" (OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--
THE PARTIES:  "Cryin' Shame" (Rainbow Quartz, Cryin' Shame)
KELLEY RYAN:  "That's All" (Manatee, Twist)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Playing In A Rock And Roll Band" (7T's, Elevator)
THE FEELIES:  "Loveless Love" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE SELECTER:  "On My Radio" (Chrysalis, VA:  The 2 Tone Collection)
"MISSISSIPPI" CHARLES BEVEL:  "Don't Lie To Me" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--
THE BARRACUDAS:  "Summer Fun" (Voxx, Drop Out With The Barracudas)
ALEX CHILTON:  "Free Again [original mix]" (Big Beat, VA:  Thank You Friends)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "85" (7T's, Voxx)
THE FEELIES:  "Raised Eyebrows" (Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
WEDNESDAY WEEK:  "Why" (Enigma, What We Had)
LINDA MARTELL:  "Color Him Father" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Who'll Be My Keeper" (7T's, Elevator)
THE FEELIES:  "Moscow Nights" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE HOLLIES:  "I Am A Rock" (EMI, Hollies/Would You Believe?)
THE FEELIES:  "Forces At Work" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "I Was Eleven" (7T's, Elevator)
THE FEELIES:  "Crazy Rhythms" 
(Bar/None, Crazy Rhythms)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Turn On The Radio" (7T's, Elevator)
THE LOLAS:  "Sticker" (JAM, VA:  This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 1)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS:  "Ricochet" (7T's, Ricochet)


For kicks, here's the playlist from the previous week's show with The Hollies as Featured Act. This was kind of the unannounced soft opening for THE HUNDRED HOLLIES INITIATIVE.

Another week, another bracing shot of The Best Three Hours Of Radio On The Whole Friggin' Planet, courtesy of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl.  This week, we cast TIRnRR's dim widdle spotlight on the music of The Hollies, the music of X-RAY SPEX, and the music contained in the current Oxford American compilation CD.  Eclectic?  Nope--it's ALL pop music!  We also featured brand-new music from everyone's favorite astroPuppee, Kelley Ryan (new album Twist due in February) and from the awesome entity known as The Parties (fab new 5-song EP Cryin' Shame, and you know it's gotta be a Rainbow Quartz release).  We supplemented our Hollies spotlight with Hollies covers by The Searchers and The Everly Brothers (the latter backed by our Hollies themselves), plus a solo track from Hollies lead singer Allan Clarke (coverin' Badfinger, just like Kari Wuhrer!).   And we vowed to play lots--no, really, LOTS and LOTS--more Hollies tracks in 2010.

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS go to Syracuse Community Radio, 826 Euclid Avenue, Syracuse, NY  13210.  Please let us know if you need to be deleted from our weekly greetings.  NEXT WEEK:  new music from Maura KennedyIN TWO WEEKS:  on January 17th, it's...um, 50 YEARS OF CARL?  I demand a recount!  And this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl
streams live every Sunday night from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org. ; There are frequent encore webcasts throughout the week, and individual shows can be downloaded from the Programs section of our website.

KELLEY RYAN:  www.kelleyryan.net
THE PARTIES:  www.thepartiesrock.com
OXFORD AMERICAN:  www.oxfordamerican.org
RAINBOW QUARTZ:  www.rainbowquartz.com
     Tell 'em Dana & Carl sent you!
THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO:  myspace.com/thisisrocknrollradio.  You can also become our fan on Facebook.  We.  Do.  Not.  Tweet.

TIRnRR # 513:  1/3/10

THE RAMONES:  "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
KELLEY RYAN:  "Key To My Heart" (Manatee, Twist)
TWIGS:  "Trouble Me Too" (Endearing, Epicure)
THE HOLLIES:  "Post Card" (Sundazed, Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse)
X-RAY SPEX:  "The Day The World Turned Dayglo" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS:  "You Do Run" (Wicked Cool, Saint Valentine's Day Massacre)
BILLY LEE RILEY & THE LITTLE GREEN MEN:  "Baby Please Don't Go" (OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--
THE HOLLIES:  "I Can't Let Go" (EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
THE PRETENDERS:  "Talk Of The Town" (Sire, The Singles)
KARI WUHRER:  "Come And Get It" (Del-Fi, Shiny)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Obsessed With You" 
(Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE LYRES [with STIV BATORS]:  "Here's A Heart" (Matador, A Promise Is A Promise)
LITTLE BOB & THE LOLLIPOPS:  "Nobody But You" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--

THE PARTIES:  "Cryin' Shame" (Rainbow Quartz, Cryin' Shame)
TINKER JACK:  "Systematic" (www.tinkerjack.com, Tinker Jack)
THE HOLLIES:  "Just One Look" 
(EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Genetic Engineering" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE SEARCHERS:  "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" (Sequel, 30th Anniversary Collection)
BARBARA LYNN:  "You Can't Buy My Love" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--

THE EVERLY BROTHERS:  "So Lonely" (Collectors' Choice Music, Two Yanks In England)
THE TREMELOES:  "Here Comes My Baby" (Rhino, The Best Of The Tremeloes)
THE HOLLIES:  "Stop In The Name Of Love" (Atlantic, What Goes Around)
X-RAY SPEX:  "I Live Off You" 
(Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
ALLAN CLARKE:  "Baby Blue" (Elektra, Legendary Heroes)
THE ESQUIRES:  "Sadie's Ways" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--

THE HOLLIES:  "Stewball" (EMI, The Hollies/Would You Believe?)
PETE YORN & SCARLETT JOHANSSEN:  "Relator" (Atco, Break Up)
FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS:  "Happy Together" (Zappa, Fillmore East:  June 1971)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Germfree Adolescents" 
(Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
LOU ANN BARTON:  "Brand New Lover" (American Beat, Old Enough)
KENNI HUSKEY:  "Wild Man Tamer" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--
THE RELEASE PARTY:  "Done By Mirrors" (Perfect Pop, Pop 10)
THE DEAD MILKMEN:  "Punk Rock Girl" (Rhino, VA:  Left Of The Dial)
THE HOLLIES:  "Carrie-Anne" (Sundazed, Evolution)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Let's Submerge" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE BANGLES:  "IN YOUR ROOM" (Columbia, Everything)
THE FEMININE COMPLEX:  "Run That Thru Your Mind" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--
KELLEY RYAN:  "About A Girl" (Manatee, Twist)
THE BEATLES:  "Two Of Us" (Apple, Anthology 3)
THE HOLLIES:  "King Midas In Reverse" (Sundazed, Dear Eloise/King Midas In Reverse)
X-RAY SPEX:  "I Am A Poseur" 
(Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE DICKIES:  "Rosemary" (Triple X, Stukas Over Disneyland)
JEANETTE (BABY) WASHINGTON:  "Move On" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--

THE HOLLIES:  "Look Through Any Window" (EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
THE dB's:  "Amplifier" (Rhino, Like This)
JAMIE & STEVE:  "Emily's Ghost" (Loaded Goat, English Afterthoughts)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Identity" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
PETEY LIGHTNING & THE PIRATES:  "Abigail" (myspace.com/peteylightningandthepirates, Big Hit)
BOBBY BROWN & THE CURIOS:  "I Viborate" 
(OXFORD AMERICAN, VA:  11th Edition Southern Music)
--

THE HOLLIES:  "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" (EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Art-I-Ficial" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE HOLLIES:  "I'm Alive" 
(EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Warrior In Woolworths" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE HOLLIES:  "When Your Light's Turned On" (Sundazed, Evolution)
X-RAY SPEX:  "I Can't Do Anything" 
(Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE HOLLIES:  "On A Carousel" 
(EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
X-RAY SPEX:  "I Am A Cliche" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
THE HOLLIES:  "Bus Stop" 
(EMI, 30th Anniversary Collection)
X-RAY SPEX:  "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!" (Virgin, Germfree Adolescents)
CRANIUM PIE:  "Baby You're A Rich Man" (Fruits De Mer, VA:  Most Of Fruits De Mer 2008-2009)

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

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.

Friday, September 15, 2017

THE EVERLASTING FIRST Part 15a: My First Exposures To Some Singers And Superheroes

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.

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

TODAY'S LETTER IS O




THE OHIO EXPRESS


In the '70s, there was a persistent rock 'n' roll legend--not a true story, but a persistent one--that singer Rod Stewart had collapsed on stage during a concert, and had to be rushed to the hospital. In the ER, it was said that Stewart's stomach was pumped, revealing that he had ingested 10cc of seminal fluid. And again, this absurd and homophobic story was not true. But when I first heard it, its nonsensical nature didn't stop me from immediately quipping that Stewart went straight from the ER to the studio to record his cover of The Ohio Express' bubblegum hit, "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love In My Tummy)."


This was, of course, not where I first heard of The Ohio Express.

The Ohio Express were never going to be candidates for The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, no way, no how. They were less a band and more a means to an end, a vehicle, or really just a name for a vehicle Kasenetz-Katz--producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz--could drive to the bank, a bubblemobile loaded with cash taken from eager adolescents in exchange for chewy-chewy catchy-catchy 45 rpm records to spin on Close-N-Plays across the USA. There was another vehicle called The 1910 Fruitgum Company, and other limited-use vehicles with names like Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral CircusCrazy Elephant, and Lt. Garcia's Magic Music Box. The whole fleet was built for speed, not durability, slapped together by an assembly line that valued a fast joy ride over safety, comfort, or aesthetics. But these were sweet rides nonetheless--sweeter than sugar. None was sweeter than The Ohio Express.

It's a common misconception to say that The Ohio Express didn't really exist, that they were strictly a fictional construct for Kasenetz & Katz's to toil within as a DBA shell company. This is almost true, but not quite 100 % true. There was a band called The Ohio Express. It's just that this band called The Ohio Express didn't really have anything to do with most of the records credited to a "band" called The Ohio Express. This was certainly the case with the very first Ohio Express single, a stunning garage stomper called "Beg, Borrow And Steal."



"Beg, Borrow And Steal" by The Ohio Express may be The Greatest Record Ever Made, and it will get its turn in that particular Boppin' blog spotlight sooner or later. After that single was released and starting to chart in 1967, Kasenetz & Katz recruited an Ohio band called Sir Timothy & the Royals to be The Ohio Express, playing live dates to promote this new single, even though Sir Timothy and company had nothing to do with the record. In fact, the record predates even the concept of The Ohio Express; "Beg, Borrow And Steal" had previously been a failed 1966 single credited to The Rare Breed on the Attack label, and that very same Rare Breed track became an Ohio Express single on Cameo Records. Lawyers, start your engines!



Creative branding aside, The Ohio Express did one album (Beg, Borrow & Steal) for Cameo, which included the title track, a couple of tracks by future superstar Joe Walsh, a charting cover of The Standells' salacious "Try It," and a simply superb LP track called "Had To Be Me," the latter written by Jim Pfayler of the Royals and the Express. Real success came when The Ohio Express moved on to the new Buddah Records label, and embraced a new marketing concept: bubblegum music.





Joey Levine, the singer/songwriter who'd penned "Try It," provided the scratch vocal for a demo of "Yummy Yummy Yummy," a song he'd co-written with Artie Resnick, and which Jay & the Techniques had rejected as too juvenile. Yes, it was rejected as too juvenile by the group that hit big with "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie." Holler Oy! By contrast, Kasenetz & Katz flipped out over the demo, and released it--scratch Levine vocal and all--as the next Ohio Express single in 1968. It was an international Top 10 hit, # 4 in the U.S., and far and away the best-selling record to ever bear the Ohio Express brand name.  Levine never joined the band, but he became their de facto lead singer on subsequent singles "Down At Lulu's," "Sweeter Than Sugar," "Mercy," and "Chewy Chewy." A later studio incarnation of The Ohio Express recorded a Graham Gouldman song called "Sausalito (Is The Place To Go);" that studio incarnation included Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme, a combo that would later be known as 10cc.


I'm not in love. I don't have love in my tummy. The things we do for love in my tummy!
Um--don't tell Rod Stewart about the 10cc/Ohio Express bit.

Me? I first heard The Ohio Express on AM radio, warblin' about all that love they had in their tummies. Yummy! I may have heard it when it was a hit, or I may have caught up to it later on oldies radio in the '70s. My first copy of the song came on a flea-market purchase, a sampler LP called 20 Heavy Hits. 20 Heavy Hits was a 1970 release on the Crystal Corporation label, though I snagged mine several years after that. I may have bought it just to get The Turtles' "She'd Rather Be With Me," but it had a varied wealth of pop single tracks, from The Amboy Dukes' "Journey To The Center Of The Mind" to The Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You." Among these was "Yummy Yummy Yummy," but I was far more taken with the pumpin' "Down At Lulu's," which I'd never heard before. Consider that track a plank on my path to punk and The Ramones.



I liked "Yummy Yummy Yummy" a little. I liked "Down At Lulu's" a lot. But The Ohio Express, whether creation or contrivance, never meant much to me until one evening around 1983 or so. I was at a Buffalo, NY nightclub called The Continental, and the DJ was noted rock 'n' roll journalist (and key Boppin' [Like The Hip Folks Do] inspiration) Gary Sperrazza! I don't remember many specifics of what Gary played that night--if it was Buffalo in the '80s, I was probably drinking--but one track stands out with crystal clarity: "Beg, Borrow And Steal" by The Ohio Express. I had never heard the song before. It was love at first spin.

Over time, I developed a bit more appreciation for The Ohio Express. "Down At Lulu's" was the theme song for a great radio show of the same name, hosted in the mid '80s by DJ Cal Zone on Buffalo's WBNY-FM. In the '90s, I interviewed Joey Levine for my massive Goldmine piece An Informal History Of Bubblegum, and became a big fan of the song "Sweeter Than Sugar." Much later, I tracked down a beat-up copy of the Beg, Borrow & Steal  LP, and played The Ohio Express' version of "Try It" on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio. Then Mike McDowell of Blitz magazine said to me Sure, fine, "Try It," great. But you should be playing "Had To Be Me." I pulled out the LP, which I'd only purchased for "Beg, Borrow And Steal" and "Try It" before filing it away, and I gave "Had To Be Me" my first listen.

Damn. When Mike's right, Mike's right.

"Had To Be Me" went on to become one of the defining tracks of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio's long mutant existence; my pal Dave Murray chuckles at the notion of an Ohio Express album track receiving saturation airplay, but we all agree that the track deserves it. Yummy Yummy Yummy indeed. It had to be The Ohio Express.


Quick Takes For O

OASIS




In the mid '90s, a coworker named Bob Ketcham was hooked on the first Oasis album, Definitely Maybe, and he shared his enthusiasm with me. Or maybe it was the second album, (What's The Story) Morning Glory? I don't remember, because Oasis just left me cold at the time. My friend Chuck Higbie in Key West also tried to recruit me into the Oasis Army, but I was a resister, I was. The Flashcubes opened a late '90s live show with an ace cover of Oasis' "Rock And Roll Star," and that was a bit of all right, awright. One evening in 2002, my daughter and I were watching Top Of The Pops on BBC America, and I fell in helpless thrall to the then-new Oasis single "The Hindu Times." I didn't even mind when Oasis themselves turned up on a subsequent TOTP, and were introduced as "The greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world!" Nonetheless, my favorite Oasis-related track is "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster," the fab song co-written by Noel Gallagher of Oasis with The Jam's Paul Weller for The Monkees' 2016 album Good Times!


THE O'JAYS


One of the drawbacks of growing up as a suburban white kid is that I didn't develop any real taste for soul music until I was in my twenties. As an adolescent and teen in the '70s, I liked some of the soul I heard on WOLF-AM and WNDR-AM, but "The Tears Of A Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles was the only soul tune that could rival Badfinger for control of my personal mental radio station. But I heard these other songs by The Isley Brothers and The Four Tops and The Stylistics  and The Temptations, and I wasn't exactly opposed to 'em, either. "Back Stabbers" in 1972 was the first time I remember hearing The O'Jays, and it was fine. "Love Train" in '73 was even better, and 1974's "For The Love Of Money" better still. My rejection of disco music in the mid-to-late '70s fooled me into ignoring The O'Jays' "Use Ta Be My Girl" in '78, even though the song wasn't even remotely disco. In the Spring of 1979, the guys who lived in the other room in my sophomore year college dorm suite had The O'Jays' Live In London album; they liked to play that one a lot, and I developed a greater appreciation for The O'Jays via the live "Wildflower" on that album. 

WHEN THE EVERLASTING FIRST RETURNS: O is for



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Thursday, September 14, 2017

DO I HAVE TO DO THIS ALL OVER AGAIN? The 40 Tracks Bubbling Under My All-Time Monkees Top 25



As a quick follow-up to yesterday's post detailing My 25 Favorite Monkees Tracks, I thought about doing a similar annotated list of my next 25 favorite Monkees tracks. I've amended that idea to a simple list of the 40 tracks that bubbled under my Monkees Top 25.

As before, these are not ranked, and are listed alphabetically. (Though, as you'll recall from yesterday, the Top 5 among these was "Listen To The Band," "Early Morning Blues And Greens," "Forget That Girl." "Steam Engine," and "You And I.") And now, here they come...again!

All The King's Horses
Auntie's Municipal Court
Cuddly Toy
Early Morning Blues And Greens
Daddy's Song
Daydream Believer
Forget That Girl
Goin' Down
Good Clean Fun
Heart And Soul
I Don't Think You Know Me [first recorded version]
I Never Thought It Peculiar
I'll Be Back Up On My Feet
I'm A Believer
If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again
The Kind Of Girl I Could Love
Listen To The Band
Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again
Looking For The Good Times
Mary Mary
Nine Times Blue
Of You
Papa Gene's Blues
Propinquity (I've Just Begun To Care)
Randy Scouse Git
Regional Girl
Riu Chiu [TV version]
She'll Be There
Some Of Shelly's Blues
Star Collector
Steam Engine
Sweet Young Thing
Tapioca Tundra
That Was Then, This Is Now
(Theme From) The Monkees
Time And Time Again
You And I [from The Monkees Present]
You Bring The Summer
You Told Me
Zor And Zam

LAST SONG OUT: Naked Persimmon

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ONCE UPON A ONCE-IN-A-WHILE: My 25 Favorite Monkees Tracks

"MickEy...?!"
When I compiled a list of My All-Time 25 Favorite Beatles Tracks a few months back, I figured that I'd eventually follow it with a similar piece about my favorite tracks by The Monkees. Folks who aren't Monkees fans find that notion odd, but no matter. I've been a devotee of Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith since I was six, hooked by the TV show in 1966 but in full-on thrall to the group's musical legacy ever since. The Monkees will always remain one of my all-time favorite recording artists. People who don't get that are, by definition, people who just don't get it.

That said, I confess it was much, much easier to narrow down my Monkees choices than it was to edit The Beatles to a mere 25 songs. While I certainly need more than 25 Monkees songs in my life--I'm of the opinion that a four-disc anthology would not be adequate to tell the Monkees story--it was a relatively simple matter for me to immediately come up with a list of 40 Monkees favorites-among-favorites. It was a little tougher to winnow the selections to a final 25, but I'm a believer! And yeah, "I'm A Believer"--The Monkees' biggest hit--was one of the casualties in going from 40 tracks to 25. "Daydream Believer" didn't even make my Top 40, even though I love that song, too. But there are other Monkees tracks I love more. I mean, I love a gawky, awkward 1970 track called "I Never Thought It Peculiar," which wouldn't be a likely candidate for anyone's Top 50, and it certainly never came near my Top 25. I love it anyway.

And there are lots of Monkees tracks I love less. As much as I adore the majority of Monkees cuts, they do have a higher dross to gold ratio than The Beatles. There are Beatles songs I'm tired of hearing--I'm looking at you, "All You Need Is Love"--and many Beatles songs I don't specifically care about. But for every "Wild Honey Pie" on The Beatles' c.v., The Monkees counter with a "Never Tell A Woman Yes" and a "The Day We Fall In Love" and a "Shorty Blackwell" and a "She's Moving In With Rico" and a "Skipping Stones," each of which is far less palatable than The Beatles' merest throwaway.

But the good stuff? The great stuff? Man, the best of The Monkees can stand with the best of anyone. Here are the 25 Monkees tracks I think stand up the best. Tracks are listed alphabetically, without ranking. Any track officially released by The Monkees is fair game, including vault-raids of previously unissued cuts exhumed as bonus tracks or rarities CD fodder in later years. For no real reason, I stayed exclusively with studio tracks rather than live recordings; if you like, please consider The Monkees' live "Circle Sky" from the movie Head as a supplemental track to this Top 25. And now: here they come, walkin' down the street....



ALL OF YOUR TOYS:  Once upon a once-in-a-while/It's hard to remember to smile/Just like all of your toys. In 1967, "All Of Your Toys" was supposed to be The Monkees' third single, a follow-up to the smash "I'm A Believer," but with The Monkees themselves playin' the instruments on record for the first time (aided by Deputy Monkee John London on bass). A combination of Musical Supervisor Don Kirshner's recalcitrance and a publishing technicality--the song's author Bill Martin refused to surrender publishing to The Monkees' corporate masters--torpedoed that plan, and "All Of Your Toys" was not released at all. The track was thought lost, but it was discovered and finally issued in the wake of resurgent Monkeemania in 1987. It's a lovely precursor to the simple, uncluttered charm of The Monkees' Headquarters album, with a characteristically commanding Dolenz vocal soaring above a chuggin' little pop combo with one foot in folk and country and the other foot planted firmly in the garage.

AS WE GO ALONG: The voice of Micky Dolenz is one of the reasons that The Monkees' music has withstood the test of time with far greater resilience than one would expect from what was originally a prepackaged pop product. This cat can sing, as evidenced by his performance of this fascinating Gerry Goffin-Carole King number from The Monkees' dark and brilliant film Head. When my This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio co-host Dana Bonn and I played hooky from our weekly radio show to see The Monkees live in 2012, Micky's performance of "As We Go Along" took our breath away.

BIRTH OF AN ACCIDENTAL HIPSTER: No one saw this one coming. The surprise announcement that surviving Monkees Dolenz, Tork, and Nesmith--Jones passed away in 2012--would mark the group's 50th anniversary in 2016 with a new Monkees album called Good Times! was unexpected enough, and word that Noel Gallagher of Oasis and Paul Weller of The Jam and Style Council had collaborated on a new composition for this new Monkees record bordered on the flabbergasting. But the result? Lord! "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster" builds a rainbow bridge from the best of The Monkees circa 1968 into this far-future world of the 21st century, a track that sounds simultaneously classic and contemporary. If it had magically appeared on The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees or the Head soundtrack in '68, it would have been the greatest cut on the former and the second-greatest on the latter. Yet it doesn't sound retro at all, at least not to my ears. Nesmith sings this with a force and conviction that almost sounds like he's still that young maverick of fifty years ago, just a bit more seasoned, certainly wiser, but resolutely unbowed. Dolenz chimes in vocally to make it a pop song. Together, they make it a masterpiece. Listeners of the ultracool satellite radio station Little Steven's Underground Garage voted "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster" as The Coolest Song In The World for 2016.

DAILY NIGHTLY: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. is my favorite Monkees album, a 1967 triumph that merges the Monkees-as-a-band approach of the same year's Headquarters album with the use of studio musicians--a step backward in Peter Tork's view, but a commonplace occurrence in rock, pop, and soul, then and now. There is simply no way that "Daily Nightly" would have made it onto a Monkees album during the pre-Headquarters Kirshner regime, with Nesmith's stream-of-conscious lyrics and Dolenz's a-bleepin' and -blorpin' stylings on Moog synthesizer. Oh, Michael! Kirshner would have implored; That's not what the kids want to hear! Micky's lead vocal delivers as always, taking flight above an augmented Monkees consisting of Nesmith (guitar), Tork (organ), Jones (percussion), producer Chip Douglas (bass), and "Fast" Eddie Hoh (drums), a group that cooks, cleans, and puts the cat out at night.

THE DOOR INTO SUMMER: The blend of Micky and Michael's voices is a rare treat to be savored. Bill Martin's "The Door Into Summer" provides perhaps the best example of this, with Nesmith's earnest lead blanketed by the warmth of Dolenz's harmony, a beautiful combination softening the blow of a devastating study in white-collar futility: With his travelogue of "Maybe next year" places/As a trade-in for a name upon the door/And he pays for it in years he cannot buy back with his tears/When he finds out there's been no one keeping score. Pathos, with an implied sympathy for those who squandered every chance they had along the way.



FOR PETE'S SAKE: A hippie-era peace 'n' love call to...well, not to arms exactly, but to make the world shine, in this generation, in this loving time. Written by Peter Tork and Joey Richards, the title "For Pete's Sake" echoes Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" (written by Peter's friend Stephen Stills) and is almost a companion piece to it. An album track on Headquarters, an LP which spawned no singles (a decision that merits the technical description "stupid"), "For Pete's Sake" became well-known as the closing theme on second-season episodes of The Monkees series. Micky sings (and drums), Peter plays lead guitar, and it shoulda been a hit.

THE GIRL I KNEW SOMEWHERE: Nesmith's "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" was originally planned to share a single with the shelved "All Of Your Toys." As the B-side of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," it became the first public document of The Monkees themselves playing on record (with bassist Chip Douglas). Nice introduction, even if too few acknowledged it. Nesmith occasionally expressed disinterest in writing pop songs, claiming weightier songwriting goals, but he was damned good at writing pop songs. While an alternate version of "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" features a Nesmith lead vocal, the familiar Dolenz lead is unbeatable, propelled by Tork's harpsichord, Nesmith's guitar, Jones' tambourine, and Douglas' bass. In the early '90s, I knew a college-age Monkees fan named Jennifer Skaja, and she became a fan in part because songs like "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" sounded a bit like R.E.M. I agree with Jen on that point, and I would further state that a segue of R.E.M.'s "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" into The Monkees' "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" would be a just killer 1-2 punch.



(I'M NOT YOUR) STEPPIN' STONE: Paul Revere & the Raiders cut the first version of Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart's "Steppin' Stone," and there's ample rockin' reason why many consider the Raiders' take to be definitive. The Sex Pistols covered it in the '70s, certifying the song's enduring, surly cred. The Raiders were a rock 'n' roll group masquerading as costume-party Revolutionaries, so of course their "Steppin' Stone" simmers with authority and swagger. Yet I like The Monkees' version best. Although they were still just a prefab entity at the time, The Monkees' machine somehow created a rendition with even more punch than the original, more power, more precision; it can't match the seeming abandon of the Raiders, but it matches and even slightly surpasses their intensity. Puppets with a chip on their shoulders? Both "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and Headquarters were just around the corner. The Monkees would not remain puppets for much longer.

LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE: If I've seemed dismissive or critical of Don Kirshner's tenure as The Monkees' musical supervisor...well, that would be because I have been dismissive and critical of Kirshner's actions. But make no mistake: The Monkees would not have happened without Kirshner. He knew what he was doing, he was very good at what he was doing, and the Monkees music-makin' machine he facilitated was efficient and effective. His downfall was in believing that he alone was responsible for The Monkees' success, leading to his refusal to recognize that maybe possibly the members of the group might be able to make some contributions of their own. This turn made him a villain in a story where he'd started out as a hero. The Monkees' first single "Last Train To Clarksville" shows how golden Kirshner's Golden Ears could be: songwriters (and producers) Boyce & Hart act as benevolent Frankensteins, mixing Beatles influences (primarily "Paperback Writer," but with a guitar riff that's a funhouse-mirror reflection of "Day Tripper") with Pop Americana to create The Monkees' sound. For added hip, the song's Viet Nam War reference--And I don't know if I'm ever coming home--is so subtle the guys who wrote it and the guys who sang it may not have even realized it. Kirshner, Boyce, and Hart were certainly adept at assembling studio players, and they're revealed as friggin' geniuses for giving the lead vocal to Micky Dolenz. Amid some turbulence, Boyce & Hart's relationship with The Monkees survived the group's rift with Kirshner; it's a shame Kirshner couldn't figure out a way to make peace as well.

A LITTLE BIT ME, A LITTLE BIT YOU: Kirshner's last stand, but it's a really, really good last stand. Most regard this Neil Diamond ditty as an inferior follow-up to his SuperMegaSmash Monkees hit "I'm A Believer," but I actually like it better. Part of the reason is circumstantial: the original Colgems 45 of "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" pounds and pops in a way no CD (or LP) reissue has ever managed to recapture. "I'm A Believer" is a better song, and arguably a better record, but I feel a vibrant and pervasive connection to "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You," a connection its "Believer" big brother can't equal. (For a coincidental commentary on Kirshner's exit from the Monkees project, read the lyrics to this song as an approximation of what I think Kirshner shoulda said to The Monkees at the time. Except maybe not addressing the group as "Girl.")



LOOK OUT (HERE COMES TOMORROW): The quirk of alphabetizing places two Neil Diamond compositions back-to-back. When I was a six- and seven-year-old first-generation Monkees fan in the '60s, "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" was probably my favorite Monkees track, and I was amazed to discover years later that it wasn't a hit record, and wasn't even a single. But I knew it from the TV show, and from my brother's copy of More Of The Monkees. Bouncy, bubblegummy, and engaging in a way that only the most radio-ready pop song can be. My favorite Jones vocal, at least among records released in the '60s.

LOVE IS ONLY SLEEPING: I've written elsewhere of my discovery of the Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. and Head albums as a high school senior in the Spring of 1977. I had already heard "Love Is Only Sleeping" in TV reruns, but it really hit me for the first time in '77. Lyrically, this Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil song may be about female sexual dysfunction (more so than Sandie Shaw's deceptively-titled "Girl Don't Come" anyway), but it's so much more than that. It's a tale of hope. It's a tale of frustration and despair conquered by passion and persistence, sweet deliverance earned and embraced. Chip Douglas' bass and Nesmith's guitar slice, as Michael's lead vocal shimmers with cool, calm confidence, all made breathier and more inviting by harmony from Dolenz. Love is only sleeping. Try it! It can work for you, too!

LOVE TO LOVE: Neil Diamond wrote four songs for The Monkees. We've discussed "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)," and (in passing) "I'm A Believer," but my pick of the bunch is "Love To Love," recorded right before Kirshner's expulsion in '67 and officially unreleased until the '80s (on Rhino Records' 1982 picture disc Monkee Business, though a lo-fi, bootleg-quality recording of the track appeared on a 1979 Australian compilation called Monkeemania, released by Arista). This is my favorite Davy Jones song, an absolutely winning confection of pure, sweet pop music. The version released on the 1996 vault dive Missing Links Volume Three is sublime, but I've come to prefer the 2016 remix used for the Good Times! album, with its added backing vocals by Peter and Micky.

ME & MAGDALENA: The first two digital singles released in anticipation of Good Times! in 2016 were "She Makes Me Laugh" and "You Bring The Summer," two chirpy, catchy bubblenuggets that did nothing to prepare anyone for the third single, "Me & Magdalena." Written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, "Me & Magdalena" offers the welcome return of that much-missed Nesmith and Dolenz vocal blend, all in service of a song that is breathtakingly beautiful while hinting at the devastating sadness of an impending loss. The faster "Version 2" included as a bonus track on the digital edition of Good Times! recalls The Velvet Underground, and it's wonderful, but it can't replace the sheer depth of emotion conveyed in the slower, more somber album version.

OH MY MY: My lovely wife Brenda's favorite Monkees song, a criminally-underrated failed single from 1970 that should have been a massive AM radio smash. Micky's vocal is so soulful, seething with desire as guitars stomp and churn. "Oh My My" does not get its just due as one of The Monkees' greatest singles.



PLEASANT VALLEY SUNDAY: If we had to pick one track to represent The Monkees, my choice would be "Pleasant Valley Sunday, " the second best song that Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote for the group. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is the definitive Monkees track, with a mix of contributions from The Monkees themselves and their studio pals--Micky on the lead vocal (with Davy and Michael singin' along), Michael on electric guitar, Peter on piano, Davy on percussion, plus Chip Douglas, "Fast" Eddie Hoh, and Bill Chadwick (the latter on acoustic guitar)--performing a track from one of Don Kirshner's favorite songwriting teams, but all engaged in the track to a degree and in a manner that could not have been possible when Kirshner was in charge. Some have condemned the lyrics as too pat and predictable in their dismissal of suburban values, and there's some merit in that criticism. It doesn't matter. The song is perfect, the performance is pristine. The local rock group down the street is working hard to learn their song...and succeeding in that effort beyond anyone's wildest dream.

PORPOISE SONG (THEME FROM "HEAD"): If "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is The Monkees' defining moment, "Porpoise Song" is The Monkees' greatest moment. Another Goffin-King song, another incredible Dolenz vocal, and a...I dunno, a majesty that just elevates this track into some celestial realm beyond worries or cares. Davy's vocal here is subordinate to Micky's, but its effect kicks the song even higher, and the subsequent blend of those two voices is awe-inspiring, even chilling, in the most sublime and agreeable way. If "Porpoise Song" had been the only thing ever released under The Monkees' name, I think I'd still love The Monkees on that merit alone.

SHE: How in God's name does a track by a made-for-TV combo carry such heart, such weight, such love-lorn ache? It's impossible but true. Credit again to Kirshner's machine, especially to songwriters and producers Boyce & Hart, for assembling the pieces and makin' 'em sneer; credit again to Micky Dolenz, who is by now playing the roles of seasoned frontman, pop idol, working drummer, and world-class rock star with increasing conviction and accomplishment, blurring and ultimately erasing the line between fact and fancy. She needs someone to walk on so her feet don't touch the ground. Dolenz delivers the line with sorrowful panache, then adds But I love her! I need her! I want her! Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, She!  There's a Monkee in pain, I tell ya. The catharsis is transcendent.

SOMETIME IN THE MORNING: This King-Goffin tune may be the prettiest pure pop chronicle in The Monkees' canon. "Sometime In The Morning" is understated and elegant, and embellished by more simply gorgeous Dolenz vocals.



SUNNY GIRLFRIEND [acoustic remix of master vocal]: Nesmith's "Sunny Girlfriend" is one of the many highlights on Headquarters, a rollickin' country-rock romp with a freewheeling ambiance that gives sound and form to the feeling of liberation and possibility The Monkees must have felt as they sought to establish themselves outside of Kirshner's assembly line. The joy is infectious, and even more so in this acoustic remix found on the 3-CD Headquarters Sessions set. She owns and operates her own sunshine factory. If ultimately a put-down of a girl who "doesn't really care," it is neither hapless nor vindictive, and maintains its joy from start to finish.

TERRIFYING: The Monkees' recording of Zach Rogue's "Terrifying" has never appeared on any CD, and its only physical media incarnation to date was on a limited-edition vinyl EP for Record Store Day in 2016. It is presently only available to download as part of the expanded digital version of the Good Times! album. I suspect its relative obscurity helps to elevate it into my Top 25 here, but it's such a great track, and I'll never understand why it wasn't a part of the regular edition of Good Times!, and why it wasn't released as a single. A hit single, mind you, because this would have sounded absolutely terrific on the radio.

VALLERI: Michael Nesmith famously dismissed this as "the worst song I've ever heard in my life." He also described "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" as "the bottom of the music," so I'm thinking we shouldn't rely on Michael for an assessment of The Monkees' best. Granted, "Valleri" really ain't much of a song; the lyrics are almost laughably simple (even by the loose requirements of pop music), and the music is just a guitar riff gussied up with horns. It all works together like wizardry, alchemy even, distinguished in no small part by some mesmerizing flamenco guitar by Louie Shelton. The original made-for-TV track sounds thin; the official single and LP cut benefits from fatter sound and a more confident and assured Davy Jones vocal.

WHAT AM I DOING HANGIN' 'ROUND?: "Bottom of the music?" Really, Michael? This is a sterling, stirring example of sprightly country-flavored pop music, co-written by Owens Castleman and future country star Michael Martin Murphey. There was a rumor that The Byrds were the studio band on this track, but it's Nesmith on guitar with bassist/producer Chip Douglas, drummer "Fast" Eddie Hoh, and banjo wiz Douglas Dillard (himself an associate of The Byrds), with Micky and Davy backing up Michael's lead vocals. This may be my all-time favorite Nesmith vocal, and it's a compelling, engaging record that shouldn't ever be dismissed by anyone, not even by the guy who sang it.



WORDS: This Boyce & Hart track is just plain cool, its visual image established by the TV show's video of the song with a switched instrumentation line-up of Monkees--Tork on guitar, Nesmith on bass, Jones on drums, Dolenz with tambourine in hand--somberly lip-syncing with brooding intensity. On record, alternating lead vocals by Micky and Peter spit out the venom of a spurned, mistreated victim of passion, discarded by a cruel mistress. Chip Douglas' bass writhes and coils like a deadly serpent, Tork's keyboards heighten the sense of menace, and freakin' wind chimes add a deceptively pretty veneer as the singers' hearts break, irrevocably.

YOU JUST MAY BE THE ONE: The Monkees were a band. They didn't start out as a band, and they didn't remain a band for very long. But they were a band. Forget the nonsense about them not playing, the annoying noise about their manufactured genesis, the rubbish questioning their worth. If The Monkees had remained prefab, they still would have mattered; the manner in which these four guys transcended the narrow cardboard (or cathode-ray) box of their origin is as rock 'n' roll a story as anything else you can name. From Headquarters, "You Just May Be The One" is performed by The Monkees, and (except for backing vocals by Chip Douglas) it is performed by The Monkees only. Written by Michael Nesmith. Lead vocal and guitars by Nesmith. Bass by Peter Tork. Tambourine by Davy Jones. Drums and harmony vocals by Micky Dolenz. Backing vocals by Dolenz, Jones, Tork, and producer Douglas. This is a band called The Monkees. And this band is pretty damned good.

SUPPLEMENTAL LIVE CUT: From the soundtrack (but not the soundtrack LP) of Head, "Circle Sky" just smokes. And it looks like we've made it to the end.



LAST FIVE MONKEES SONGS OUT (i.e., # 26-30): "Listen To The Band," "Early Morning Blues," "Forget That Girl," "Steam Engine," and "You And I" [from The Monkees Presentnot the same-titled song from Justus]. You have no idea how hard I tried to shoehorn "Listen To The Band" into this Top 25. The fact that even the Bubbling Under section omits such Monkees essentials as "Goin' Down," "Tapioca Tundra," "You Told Me," "Mary, Mary," "Star Collector," "Nine Times Blue," "Good Clean Fun," "Randy Scouse Git," "I Don't Think You Know Me," "You Bring The Summer," "Cuddly Toy," "Some Of Shelly's Blues," and a host of other worthies is further testimony on behalf of the sheer wealth of wonder to be found in The Monkees cavalcade o' gems.

SONGS THE MONKEES SHOULDA DONE: Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man," Michael Nesmith's "Different Drum," Gary Frenay's "Make Something Happen," John Hiatt's "Pink Bedroom."

OUR MONKEES CLOSING MANTRA: Let us remain too busy singing to put anybody down.

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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-Op, Ray Paul, Circe Link & Christian Nesmith, Vegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie Flowers, The Slapbacks, P. Hux, Irene Peña, Michael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave Merritt, The Rubinoos, Stepford Knives, The Grip Weeds, Popdudes, Ronnie Dark, The Flashcubes, Chris von Sneidern, The Bottle Kids, 1.4.5., The Smithereens, Paul Collins' Beat, The Hit Squad, The Rulers, The Legal Matters, Maura & the Bright Lights, Lisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

And here are my previous attempts to collect the best of The Monkees:

Reconsidering The Monkees, Part 1: Rows Of Houses That Are All The Same [a 4-CD anthology]

Reconsidering The Monkees, Part 2: Only True In Fairy Tales [a 3-CD anthology]

Reconsidering The Monkees, Part 3: Walking Down The Street [a 2-CD anthology]

Reconsidering The Monkees, Part 4: Hall Of Fame [a single-disc anthology]