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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Magazines In The Mail






It occurred to me the other day that I no longer have subscriptions to any magazines of any kind. I still read--honest, I do!--but the few magazines I read regularly I pick up at a local newsstand, and then I pick up other issues sporadically. My regular comic books are held for me via my subscription service at Comix Zone in North Syracuse, but I still go to the store to buy the books and bring 'em home. I do buy each issue of The Charlton Arrow mail order when it's published. But other than that? My mailperson brings me no more zines.

This situation would have been unthinkable for me even just a few years ago, but times change. My first subscription was to Boys' Life when I was a cub scout in the '60s; my last was a gift subscription to a humor magazine called Mental Floss. These are all the subscriptions that I can remember from throughout that nearly five-decade span:

Alter Ego
Amazing Heroes
Amazing World Of DC Comics
Amplifier
Audities
Back Issue
The Big Takeover
Boys' Life
The Buyer's Guide To Comics Fandom
The Comic Reader
Comic Book Artist
Comics Buyer's Guide
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Entertainment Weekly
Goldmine
ICE
The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Mental Floss
Mojo
Monkee Business Fanzine
Newsweek
Playboy
POPsided
Record
Rolling Stone
The Spirit
Trouser Press
Writers' Digest
Yellow Pills

Granted, it's not a very long list, though I've likely forgotten a few, too. There were a ton of other magazines I tried to buy regularly and consistently at various times--Creem, Bomp!, Comics Collector, Yeah Yeah Yeah, TV Guide, Punk, The Comics Journal, Comics FeatureBucketfull Of Brains, WizardPenthousePhonograph Record Magazine, Sporting News, Blitz, New York Rocker, DISCoveries, Comics Revue, The Monster Times, The Pig Paper, Comics Interview, Mad, Kicks, Comics SceneStrange Things Are Happening, Flamin' Groovies QuarterlyMediascene, Vampirella, and I'm sure a truckload of others--to the extent that I probably should have taken out subscriptions for those, too. I miss that feeling of looking forward to receiving a magazine in the mail. And sure, I could fix that right now just by taking out a damned subscription again, a subscription to...something!

But the will isn't there. I shouldn't spend the extra money, I don't have extra time to read even more magazines, and I certainly don't need the extra clutter of more stuff, on top of all the magazines, books, comics, records, CDs, and accumulated bound pulp I already have and continue to add to the tall, tall stack. Guess I'll have to be content to just order the next issue of The Charlton Arrow when it's available.











Monday, February 27, 2017

This Is Rock 'n'Roll Radio # 862




Why would anyone ever want to be objective about music? I mean, what would be the point of that? Sure, that sort of dispassionate detachment could be appropriate if one were writing a scholarly treatise on music theory, or a just-the-facts-ma'am history of an artist, composer, or sub-genre. But otherwise? Man, FTN, and then some. Enjoy the freaking music already. Turn it up. Dance around. Sit and let the melody blanket you with its warmth, or scratch you with its prickly surfaces. Listen. Feel. If no one else likes it, but you do, you're right and they're wrong, at least as far as you're concerned. It's not an absolute. There are no guilty pleasures in music. You like it. You don't like it. Fair enough. I dig The Beatles. I don't dig Van Halen. Maybe I will someday. I used to be indifferent to The Beach Boys. I changed my mind. I'm the sole arbiter of what I like. You are your sole arbiter, too.

That doesn't mean we won't try to sway you our way. That's why we have a radio show. Leave your objectivity at the door. Ain't it grand to just LOVE?

HEADS-UP, PEOPLE! If you're in the Syracuse area, you should be at Funk 'N Waffles on Thursday, March 16th, for a Happy Hour show starring Andy Bopp, ace frontguy for ace pop combos Love Nut and Myracle Brah. It's a mere $5, the show starts at 5 pm, and we expect to see you. And even before that, right here on Sunday, March 12th, join us on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio as we welcome the one 'n' only Bruce Gordon for the first of two March installments of his fab series, LET'S BE THE BEATLES! 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 on Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org. The weekend's gotta stop somewhere--it may as well stop here.

TIRnRR # 862: 2/26/17

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
THE GEORGIA SATELLITES: Battleship Chains (Elektra, Let It Rock)
POP CO-OP: Feint Of Heart (Silent Bugler, Four State Solution)
THE HOLLIES: I Can't Let Go (EMI, Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years)
RAY PAUL: Pretty Flamingo (Permanent Press, Whimsicality)
PAUL McCARTNEY: Run Devil Run (Capitol, Run Devil Run)
GEORGE HARRISON: What Is Life (Apple, Let It Roll)
--
THE FIRST CLASS: Beach Baby (Collectables, Beach Baby)
THE MONKEES: A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (Rhino, Greatest Hits)
THE MOODY BLUES: Ride My See-Saw (Polydor, 20th Century Masters)
GEORGE HARRISON: Apple Scruffs (Apple, All Things Must Pass)
THE SCRUFFS: She Say Yea (Northern Heights, Wanna' Meet The Scruffs?)
EYTAN MIRSKY: Don't Bother Me (Jealousy, VA: He Was Fab)
--
THE FOUNDATIONS: In The Bad, Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me) (Sanctuary, The Very Best Of The Foundations)
THE TRAVELING WILBURYS: Handle With Care (Rhino, The Traveling Wilburys Collection)
THE ROYAL GUARDSMEN: The Return Of The Red Baron (One Way, Anthology)
THE MODERN LOVERS: Modern World [alternative version] (Castle, The Modern Lovers)
JELLYFISH: The King Is Half-Undressed (Charisma, Bellybutton)
CHRIS BELL: You And Your Sister (Rykodisc, I Am The Cosmos)
--
MYRACLE BRAH: I'd Rather Be (Not Lame. The Myracle Brah)
THE RATIONALS: Guitar Army [single version] (Big Beat, The Rationals)
HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES: Don't Leave Me This Way (Philadelphia International, single)
THE RATIONALS: Sunset [single version] (Big Beat, The Rationals)
BLAKE BABIES: Out There (Mammoth, Sunburn)
THE RATIONALS: Handbags And Gladrags (Big Beat, The Rationals)
--
THE SHIRTS: Reduced To A Whisper (Cema, The Shirts)
TELEVISION: See No Evil (Elektra, Marquee Moon)
CAST: Promised Land (Polydor, All Change)
THE DROWNERS: While My Guitar Gently Sleeps (Jealousy, VA: He Was Fab)
THE FORTY NINETEENS: I'm Free (Bongo Boy, VA: Out Of The Garage Volume 3)
CLOCKWORK FLOWERS: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow (theclockworkflowers.com, Colours Vol. 3: Yellow)
--
ANNYLAND: Sank Without A Bubble (AsFab, She Walks In)
GEORGE HARRISON: Any Road (Capitol, Let It Roll)
COTTON MATHER: The Book Of Too Late Changes (Star Apple Kingdom, Death Of The Cool)
DAVID BOWIE: Sound And Vision (Rykodisc, Sound + Vision)
THE FIRST CLASS: Funny How Love Can Be (Collectables, Beach Baby)
EDISON LIGHTHOUSE: Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) (Varese Sarabande, VA: 25 All-Time Greatest Bubblegum Hits)
--
THE FIRST CLASS: Wake Up America (Collectables, Beach Baby)
JIGSAW: Sky High (Renaissance, Anthology)
THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter (Arista, The Definitive Collection)
THE EXPLODING HEARTS: (Making) Teenage Faces (Dirtnap, Shattered)
THE RUNAWAYS: School Days (Hip-O, The Mercury Albums Anthology)
BIG STAR: In The Street (Big Beat, VA: Thank You, Friends)
--
THE RUBINOOS: Wouldn't It Be Nice (Castle, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Rubinoos)
GEORGE HARRISON: Cheer Down (Capitol, Let It Roll)
THE FLASHCUBES: She (7a, VA: Listen To The Bands)
GEORGE HARRISON: Crackerbox Palace (Warner Brothers, Best Of Dark Horse 1976-1989)
THE CATHOLIC GIRLS: Somebody Better Get A Room (Cinema, Somebody Better Get A Room)
GEORGE HARRISON: Poor Little Girl (Warner Brothers The Best Of Dark Horse Years 1976-1992)
THE BEATLES: Here Comes The Sun (Apple, Abbey Road)
HOT BUTTER: Popcorn (It's Music, VA: Jeans On!)


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tonight On THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO




The CD case pictured here is nearly empty...for now! Soon, it will be filled with far too much music to fit into a mere three-hour radio show, and way, WAY too much to fit into my half of a three-hour radio show. But that's how ya build better radio, innit? Worlds will live, worlds will die, and the universe will never be the same. We'll serve up some tunes to go with that. Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Private Beatles

Each month, subscribers to Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) receive one bonus post, months before it becomes available to the public. The March bonus for subscribers is a fantasy piece about a fictional 1976 reunion concert by The Beatles, and it will post late next week. For as little as $2 a month, Boppin' supporters receive this and previous private posts about The Ramones, The Kinks, and The Monkees. This Beatles story will not be available to the public until October or November.

Here's a taste:




Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery is a series of extended reminiscences of my in-concert memories. This is the first (and probably only) fictional entry in this series. The events detailed herein take place in the same make-believe universe as a previous story I wrote about The FlashcubesA Brighter Light In My Mind.



It was John Lennon's idea.

Of the four former members of The Beatles, Lennon often seemed the most publicly opposed to the idea of getting the old band back together. Although The Beatles broke up in 1970, it seemed that hardly a day could go by without someone--a fan, a pundit, a reporter, a fellow rock star, even a freaking head of state--asking when this fabbest of fours would regroup. Would you want to go back to high school?, Lennon would reply, apparently dismissive of the very idea of ever wanting to get back to where he once belonged. Paul McCartney would insist that one couldn't re-heat a souffle; George Harrison's disdain for the notion rivaled Lennon's; one suspected that Ringo Starr would have been fine with a reunion if it were to occur, but he warned all and sundry that it would only happen if and when it happened, if it happened at all. So the chances of a Beatles reunion appeared to be somewhere far south of slim, barely north of none.

So everyone--including Paul, George, and Ringo--was flabbergasted in 1976 to hear John effectively saying, Hey, lads! Let's put on a SHOW!

But that's pretty much what Lennon did.

Wanna read the rest? Fund me, baby! Operators are standing by....



COMIC BOOK RETROVIEW: DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars, Part One

 

Just imagine: you're 11 years old, you're a fan of comic books and superheroes, and one day, you stumble across this on the spinner rack.

"100 Action-Packed Pages,""World's Greatest Super-Heroes!" Only fifty cents! If you have two quarters on you, you've already fumbled them out of your pocket and handed them over to the guy or gal at the cash register, and flown home faster than any stunned onlooker could even exclaim, "Look! Up in the sky...!"

In 1971, I was that 11-year-old. I couldn't fly home with my new treasure--I bought it in a Greyhound station, en route from Syracuse to summer vacation in Missouri--but it was a glimpse of glory nonetheless.

The DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars were so cool, providing eager young fans like me with an opportunity to read and enjoy reprints of adventures from the DC Comics archives, going back as far as the late 1930s up through the then-recent decade of the '60s. The Golden Age reprints were my main interest; I loved the '60s stories, sure, but the stuff from the '40s? That was exciting, and mostly new to me--undiscovered territory. The Super Specs mixed old and older in an irresistible package, all in color for five dimes. Inflation? Vanquished as easily as the mad scientist Luthor punched through a wall by the Man of Steel.




Although my first Super Spec was listed as issue # 6, there were only two Super Specs prior to this, a Weird Mystery Tales mystery and horror collection and a Love Stories romance book. I don't recall whether or not I ever saw those first two, but the World's Greatest Super-Heroes! book was the first Spec in my sphere, and I devoured it. I read it and re-read it again and again. I didn't realize that Neal Adams' gorgeous wrap-around cover was an homage to the cover of All-Star Comics # 16 from 1943, but Adams' cover has itself become something of an iconic image on its own.



The lead-off treat in this book was the two-part "Crisis On Earth-One" and "Crisis On Earth-Two" epic from 1963, the very first meeting between The Justice League of America and The Justice Society of America. The annual JLA/JSA meetings had been a cherished summer event for me since 1967; with this reprint, I effectively got a bonus JLA/JSA adventure that year, as I read the new crossover in 1971, and also discovered its origin from back in '63. When I started buying back issues within the next few years, I would eventually acquire all of the JLA/JSA books, and I also now have most of them in trade paperback reprints. But this Super Spec was my first opportunity to look back at how it all began.




The Spectre was next. A previous Comic Book Retroview detailed my love for The Ghostly Guardian, and the reprint in this Super Spec was my first exposure to the grim, vengeful Spectre as he was portrayed in his earliest adventures in the '40s. It was a far, far cry from the cosmic Spectre adventures I'd read in the '60s, and I was thrilled by this merciless, pulpy avenger. Johnny Quick, The Vigilante, and Wildcat offered further Golden Age goodness, and the Super Spec concluded with a Silver Age '60s Hawkman story (with gorgeous Joe Kubert artwork). What a book! What a value!




(And, as if all that weren't already plenty and then some, this comic book bonanza also included a [presumably] comprehensive checklist of DC lead characters, from 1938 to date. The checklist even offered information on each character's first appearance, so eager little neophytes like yours truly could learn that Plastic Man debuted in Police Comics # 1 in 1941, or that The Doom Patrol was introduced in My Greatest Adventure # 80 in 1963. See? You can learn stuff reading comic books!)



So this 100-Page Super Spectacular was a treasure trove, a great big gaudy gift from Comic Book Heaven. In my seventh-grade English class that fall, I listed "DC 100-Page Super Spectacular" as my favorite book. No, you get a life. And it had to be a one-off, right? There was no reason to expect that DC would do something like this again, no likelihood that this gift would keep on giving. Right? Right?

But in late fall, before '71 ceded ground to the election year of 1972, a sequel appeared. My family and I were on our way to an evening at my Aunt Mary and Uncle Mike's house, and we stopped along the way at Sweetheart Corner grocery store in North Syracuse. And there, on the spinner rack, was another 100-Page Super Spectacular, this one starring Superman, with his guests Air Wave, The Atom, an American Indian hero called Super Chief, another Silver Age Hawkman story, and some young guy called Kid Eternity, who hadn't even rated a mention in that theoretically comprehensive DC characters checklist I'd read in the summer. But who cared about that?! Two quarters acquired. Two quarters spent. It was mine. All mine! This was the start of a beautiful friendship.



We'll be covering Kid Eternity in greater detail in the next edition of The Everlasting First. But the Super Specs themselves? We have much, much more to discuss when Comic Book Retroview resumes.

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: "Beach Baby"

An infinite number of rockin' pop records can be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!


THE FIRST CLASS: "Beach Baby"

Can a pastiche touch the divine? Can a copy become more than it is? Can mere imitation transcend its mundane genesis, and live on its own as something great?

In rock 'n' roll? Yeah. It happens all the time.


"Beach Baby" was intended as commerce, not art. It conjured the classic, elegaic sound of The Beach Boys, without ever calling to mind any one specific Beach Boys track. Perhaps there were hints of "In My Room," or "Don't Worry Baby," or "California Girls," or other lush, luxurious, mid-tempo hits from the pride of Hawthorne, but we're just grasping at straws in the sand to say so. Really, "Beach Baby" sounds like none of these. And yet it sounds like all of them, all at once. Gloriously, triumphantly, all at once.


And the record was made by a studio group, a band that didn't exist. The lead voice belonged to Tony Burrows, an accomplished singer who had already graced the Billboard pop charts as the voice of Edison Lighthouse ("Love Grows [Where My Rosemary Goes]"), White Plains ("My Baby Loves Lovin'"), Brotherhood Of Man ("United We Stand"), and The Pipkins ("Gimme Dat Ding.") Like The First Class after them, each of these combos was an imaginary entity; with the success of "Beach Baby," Burrows earned the distinction of becoming the first and only artist to be a One Hit Wonder five times.

If that seems snarky, lemme assure it's not intended to be. These were all bona fide hit records. Maybe I won't have much to say on behalf of "Gimme Dat Ding," but the other three were fine examples of pop radio songcraft. "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" is still a staple of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio today. The relative anonymity of the principles takes nothing away from the quality of the work.

"Beach Baby" is the crowning achievement. Wafting breezily from AM radios across the country and around the world in 1974, it sounded almost--almost--like a lost hit from somewhere in the vast mobile pop terrain of 1963 to 1966. Yet it doesn't really sound like a '60s track, either. Its production, its spirit, its good vibrations were all audibly, palpably of the '70s. It would have ultimately sounded weird, out of place, in between Jan & Dean and Sunrays hits on Your Fave Rave station in 1965. But in 1974, "Beach Baby" sounded like a welcome communique from a warmer, sunnier place. 

And it was not Brianmania; it wasn't The Beach Boys, but nor was it an incredible simulation. Burrows' voice (or voices) didn't sound at all like Brian Wilson or Carl Wilson or Dennis Wilson, not Al Jardine nor David Marks, and for damned sure nothing like Mike Love. No one with ears would mistake it for a Beach Boys record. But the homage was clear and true, the tribute seemingly sincere, the result unerringly effective and moving. It was sad, like a memory of summer love long gone. It was celebratory, like the songs shared as one by revelers gathered around the fire as the moon lit the sand, and the promises of the stars above were reflected in the irresistible spark you could swear you saw in the eyes of someone you just might want to love for ever and ever.


Long hot days
Cool sea haze
Jukebox plays
But now it's fading away

It seemed so long ago, if it ever really existed in the first place. But it also seemed real and immediate, perhaps just beyond our ability to grasp and hold on, but with us still, with us always. Give me your hand, give me something that I can remember. The authenticity of its origin is immaterial. Brian Wilson himself is said to have been certain that The First Class was an American group, rather than a bunch of British session players channeling a mythic beach scene that never was. Just like before, we can walk by the shore in the moonlight. It may not be too late to fall in love, all over again.


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Blogkeeping




Quick updates on a few blog-related items:

My recent post about a proposed Syracuse Summer Salt Potato flavor for Lay's Potato Chips got a lot of attention, but that hasn't translated into all that much traction over at the Lay's site. So! If you're intrigued by the idea of this obviously-delicious hypothetical snack, go on over to Carl's Flavor Pantry and tell 'em, I'd Eat That! We thanks ya kindly!



I was talking with Steve Stoeckel the other day about--whaddaya think?--music. Steve is best known as a member of that fabulous pop group The Spongetones, and he's also currently in a great new combo called Pop Co-Op. We recently featured Pop Co-Op's debut album Four State Solution on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, and you can download that epic show right now from Westcott Radio. I've taken to billing Four State Solution as "Your Favorite Album Of 2017," so yeah, I think you should buy a copy awready.

But anyway. Steve brought up the subject of albums that blew you away on first listen, records where every single track made you stand and shout Whoa!, with no duff tracks to distract from the buzz of your harmonic convergence. In addition to most everything by The Beatles, Steve mentioned Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel as the first such LP that came to his mind. He asked me what my choices would be; I've always been (and remain) a single-song guy rather than an album guy, but I thought of a couple of them nonetheless. Steve said I oughtta write about 'em.

All righty.

This new series will be called Love At First Spin, and it will cover albums that I just adored, start to finish, immediately upon first exposure. That would actually exclude some of my favorite albums; for example, both Pet Sounds and The Flamin' Groovies' Shake Some Action are all-time fave raves that had to grow on me before I commenced the appropriate level of awed worship. But there were a few that grabbed me from the get-go, and we'll be discussing them soon. The inaugural edition of Love At First Spin will run within the next week or two, and will likely begin with my favorite album of the 1980s: Drop Out With The Barracudas by The Barracudas.




1-2-3-4!

Another friend, the intrepid Dave Murray, suggested I write a piece about rock 'n' roll's all-time greatest count-ins. I'm not sure yet whether this will be a stand-alone post, or if I'll turn it into another series--probably the former, possibly the latter. The Ramones! Wilson Pickett! Bossman Bruce Springsteen! The Monkees! I've already revealed my pick for the all-time greatest count-in (Paul McCartney's transcendent 1-2-3-FAHHH! on "I Saw Her Standing There"), but there will be more to count down and count off when Count Me In appears in a near-future installment of Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do).




BTW: Go Orange.






I've been reminiscing about the DC 100-Page Super-Spectaculars, a fondly-remembered series of reprint comic books in the early '70s. I had planned to write a Comic Book Retrovision piece about my first Super Spec, but my enthusiasm for the subject matter will require me to expand that to at least three or four parts. Expect that to begin next week, maybe sooner.







My various other ongoing series--Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery, The Greatest Record Ever Made, WHAT IF? SO WHAT?, The Notebook Notions, The Everlasting First, maybe Batman's Degrees Of Separation, and eventually Singers, Superheroes, & Songs On The Radio--will continue. As my nearest and dearest wonder why I keep doing this without getting paid, I remind everyone that YOU--yes, YOU!--can help keep this blog going by becoming a Patron of Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do). For as little as $2 a month, patrons receive one bonus, private post each month. March's bonus post will be a fantasy about a Beatles reunion concert circa 1976. Wanna read it? Fund me, baby!



Comments? Questions? Fawning adoration? BRIBES, maybe? You know where to find me. I'm here every day.




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