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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 three 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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO, VOLUME 4 liner notes

These are the liner notes to our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4. It is now available for pre-order from Kool Kat Musik.
Would you buy a new (or used) CD from these men?
And though our signal may be weak and thin
You pick it up and we can bring you in
Home on the radio
There’s always one place you can go
Home on the radio
And there is just no place like home!

--“Home On The Radio” by Bruce Gordon

Me? Badfinger, man. I owe it all to Badfinger.

Oh sure, there were others, before and after. My love of songs on the radio goes back at least as far as hearing Chubby Checker and The Four Seasons when I was three years old, and then exploding with the giddy euphoria of The Beatles when I was four. It continues from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and The Bobby Fuller Four and The Monkees, right through Badfinger into Slade and The Isley Brothers, college radio and satellite radio, oldies shows and local spotlights, AM and FM, internet streaming and podcasts.

But nothing epitomizes the rush of pure pop radio, rock ‘n’ roll radio, more than Badfinger. “No Matter What.” “Day After Day.” “Baby Blue.” And, just as importantly, hearing the DJ on WOLF-AM in Syracuse saying These guys sound like The Beatles! as the latest Badfinger triumph filled the airwaves. With that, I understood the magic of radio. Guess I got what I deserved. And I’m grateful for that.

Love of radio is what continues to inspire This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. When Dana came up with the idea of teaming up for a weekly radio show, the offer was too enticing to resist. Who can resist magic? I remember the thrill of listening to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and The Raspberries and The Bay City Rollers and The Flirtations on my AM radio; from a bit later on, I remember yearning to also hear The Ramones and Generation X on my AM radio. I remember learning about The Kinks and Chuck Berry on AM radio. AM radio was one of the best parts of making me who I am today. Free-form FM offered even more possibilities. Hey, why not combine the two? Dana and I wanted to do that. On Sunday nights, we try to pay it back. If you were ever a kid, ear pressed to the radio, breathlessly waiting for the DJ to play The Grass Roots or The Hollies, or Bowie, or The Sex Pistols, or Prince, or R.E.M., then do we ever have a show for you. This latest This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation continues our dedication to the joy of radio. The joy of radio! Dana coined the phrase years ago, and I can’t sum up our goals any better’n that.

We’ve always been buoyed by the support of our listeners, and by our belief in the artists we love. Pop Co-Op formed through TIRnRR, the members originally connecting through our show’s online community, and “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” was one of the first tracks we solicited for this set. Our friend Ray Paul got together with his pal Terry Draper of Klaatu to craft an irresistible new track called “I Need Your Love Tonight.” New friends Circe Link & Christian Nesmith agreed to let us use a track from their limited-edition release The Pop EP, and our buds in Vegas With Randolph surprised us by joining forces with our other bud Lannie Flowers on a brand-new rockin’ confection called “The Weekend’s Coming.” We somehow hoodwink…er, interested Keith Klingensmith--one of my longest-standing online amigos—in the idea of covering a sublime Gary Frenay song called “Make Something Happen.” Gary previously recorded the tune with both Screen Test and The Flashcubes, and it’s just cried out for someone--Marshall Crenshaw! The Monkees!--to cover it to greater notoriety. Pop stalwart P. Hux and new pop fave Irene Peña gave us tracks from their respective catalogs, and Michael Oliver blew us away with a new song that should be playing on every radio station in the country right now.

I’ve been a fan of The Rubinoos since my senior year in high school, and their presence on this set thrills me beyond my ability to articulate. Once and future Spongetone Jamie Hoover’s combo Stepford Knives makes its CD debut here, alongside a stunning new remix of a German B-side by New Jersey’s Phenomenal Pop Combo The Grip Weeds. My former Goldmine magazine colleague John Borack is represented with his group Popdudes, performing Torbjörn Petersson’s lovely “She Is Funny (In That Way). Ronnie Dark (host of The Wax Museum with Ronnie Dark over on WVOA-FM) offered a track from his OOP album Irkville Road. The Flashcubes, my all-time favorite power pop group, gave us the long-lost 4-track recording of their greatest song, “No Promise.” Chris von Sneidern provides an incredible tribute to the halcyon days of the Syracuse new scene that forged us, and The Bottle Kids bring a swell unreleased track that was the first thing we wanted for This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 4, even before we had any specific plan to do This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 4. “Your Own World” by 1.4.5. was TIRnRR’s # 1 most-played track in 2016. The Smithereens and Paul Collins’ Beat have been on our wish list for years, as has the unreleased, irresistible “Best Of Me” by The Hit Squad.

I first heard The Rulers’ ace tribute song “I Want My Ramones Records Back” on…really? On MySpace?! Well...! It took us this long to track it down. The Legal Matters’ stunning take on Teenage Fanclub’s “Don’t Look Back” makes its CD debut here, and Maura & the Bright Lights—the Syracuse superstar mash-up of The Kennedys and Screen Test—make their CD debut here, with a song co-written by Maura Kennedy and local legend B. D. Love (who also harmonizes with John Wicks of The Records on this one). And then there’s Lisa Mychols! Brothers and sisters, we adore Lisa Mychols more than mere words could ever convey.

TIRnRR # 4 concludes with “Home On The Radio” by Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers, a call to arms for anyone and everyone who has ever believed in the magic—the joy—of radio. Do you believe? We do. Something much too good to be untrue. We offer you this set of tunes as illustration and celebration of that belief, that faith in the redemptive power of song, and the communal transcendence of listening to that music together. Welcome home. There is just no place like home. This is what rock ‘n’ roll sounds like on Sunday nights in Syracuse each week.

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

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Carl Cafarelli, Syracuse NY