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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.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

TIRnRR # 4, Track By Track: Vegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie Flowers, "The Weekend's Coming"

This is part of a series of short pieces discussing each of the 29 tracks on our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4The CD can be ordered at Kool Kat Musik.


As a life-long fan of comic books, I very much appreciate the idea of two separate favorites joining forces as one. Superman and Batman! Spider-Man and Red Sonja! Wonder Woman and Jerry Lewis! The list goes on and on, from Mary Marvel and Bulletgirl to KISS and Vampirella, Archie and The Ramones. Your two fave raves in one adventure--who can resist that?

So Dana and I feel like the power pop equivalent of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as we announce this epic team-up of Vegas With Randolph and Lannie Flowers. Face front, True Believers--this one's got it all!

Given our comic-book motif today, it's fitting to note that one of Vegas With Randolph's past picks t' click on TIRnRR was a wonderful song called "Supergirl." VWR has released a ton of great stuff over a span of years, and their Bandcamp page is loaded with pretty pop tunes that you've just gotta have. For all that, I don't think we've played VWR anywhere near as much as we'd like to, nor anywhere near as much as they deserve. But we love Vegas With Randolph. When we began the quiet, undercover process of assembling this compilation, we contacted VWR's Eric Kern to see if they'd be willing to contribute a track to TIRnRR # 4, and we reacted with predictably giddy glee when they agreed.

Shortly thereafter, the VWR family suffered a loss with the passing of bassist and founding member Dan Aylestock. You know what's the one idea that unites right and left equally? Cancer sucks. The members of the group paused the process of recording their fourth album, and took time to mourn their friend. Dana and I would have understood if they chose to defer participation in any This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilations until some future volume; as important as pop music is to all of us, our real lives and loved ones take precedence. But Eric said no. In fact, he said they were set to return to work on a brand new track that was not only letter-perfect for us, but a track that would also feature another long-time TIRnRR stalwart, Lannie Flowers.

Lannie, bless 'im, seems to like TIRnRR almost as much as TIRnRR likes him. We've been playing Lannie's stuff for quite some time, including both his solo material and his recordings with a cool combo called The Pengwins. Lannie gave us a superswell song called "Everything A Man Could Want" for our last TIRnRR collection, and he's consistently preached on our behalf, too. So, given an opportunity to hear a new song by both Vegas With Randolph and Lannie Flowers--and not just to hear it, but to claim it as part of our own project--well, I think we agreed to that even faster than Clark Kent can outrace a speeding bullet.

"The Weekend's Coming" lives up to our sky-high expectations, leaping over tall buildings with superheroic dispatch. Listen: we like party songs. We dig party songs by KISS and Chuck Berry and Prince and so many others. As members of the rock 'n' roll proletariat, we're likewise enthused about workin' class anthems by The Easybeats and The Vogues and The Nerves. That makes "The Weekend's Coming" a natural for all of us who wanna clock out and get down, with fists and voices raised.

But there's a specific subtle something extra in the song's final verse that lifts it even further. The basics of a weekend party tune are simple: it's Friday night or thereabouts, so let hi-jinks ensue. The execution and atmosphere are what can make it transcend the perfunctory likes of, say, Loverboy, and this song has no worries on that score. Beyond the bacchanalia, though, that final verse gives us two wage slaves seeking and acquiring a different path to Saturday and Sunday satisfaction: the guy beating traffic to just escape the city for a while, and the gal intent on getting home to curl up with "a good book and a great Cabernet." And with that, Vegas With Randolph and Lannie Flowers convey the weekend's appeal even to those of us not flocking to bars and discos: We all need it in our own way, but we need it just the same.

Yes. Exactly.

See, celebrations of the weekend don't have to be about just the Happy Hours and the nights on the town. Those are potential parts of the festivities, and the weekend reveler is free to find his or her own preferred mix of disco dancing, family events, punk shows, film festivals, poker tournaments, baseball games, open mics, picnics, fine dining, pizza, ice cream cones, TV shows, poetry slams, musical theater, karaoke, trivia contests, limbo contests, long naps, long walks, long conga lines, big parties, small gatherings, art galleries, swap meets, casinos, museums, romance, camaraderie, solitude--time with others, and time alone.  All in our own way, all needed just the same. Even for folks like me, who have worked most weekends for the entirety of our adult lives, the weekend still means something, even if it doesn't precisely match what the calendar says. On behalf of Vegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie Flowers, This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl is pleased to offer you this universal weekend anthem, your soundtrack regardless of whether you want to grab a beer and join some Attractive Approachable in a Twist-a-thon or grab a cup of tea and settle in with a thrift-store paperback novel.

Or, for that matter, with a comic book. 'Nuff said. Excelsior!

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