Thursday, April 30, 2020

Comic Book Cover Cavalcade # 1

As the music portion of my former series Comics And LP Cover Cavalcade already split off into its own separate LP Cover Cavalcade, the comics portion also needs its own space. This inaugural entry of Comic Book Cover Cavalcade shares five DC Comics covers from the 1970s.

ALL-STAR COMICS # 58 (January-February 1976)


When writer Gerry Conway left Marvel Comics for DC in the mid 1970s, one of his highest-profile assignments was this opportunity to revive All-Star Comics, which had been the home of comics’ original 1940s super-team, The Justice Society of America. Continuing its numbering from the final JSA issue of All Star Comics in 1951 (pretending All-Star Western # 58 and onward never happened), the new series initially soft-pedaled the old '40s JSAers to focus on the three younger heroes--Batman's former partner Robin, former Seven Soldiers of Victory member The Star-Spangled Kid, and a buxom new character called Power Girl--who comprised the team-within-a-team referred to as The Super Squad. Conway script, Mike Grell cover, Ric Estrada pencils, and inks by the legendary Wally Wood helped get the new All-Star Comics off to a solid start. Conway returned to Marvel before long, but the series continued with style and distinction.

BATMAN # 253 (November 1973)



I was thirteen years old in 1973, and I was a big, big DC fan. The Batman was my favorite character, and you bet I insisted on calling him THE Batman. The Batman was a creature of the night, a dark avenger, not the campy crusader whose TV show hooked me on superheroes when I was a mere child of six. No! The Batman was serious stuff! You can look back now and smirk at my sanctimonious nerdiness, but I say to hell with you. I was having a grand old time, and I remember the comics of this period with great fondness. Writer Denny O'Neil was on a roll, having already given The Dark Knight a new classic adversary in Ra's al Ghul; penciler Neal Adams and inker Dick Giordano provided sleek visuals that were as integral to the mood, setting, and storytelling as any word within the captions and balloons, and alternate penciler Irv Novick (also inked by Giordano) deserves credit for maintaining that style in the many issues Adams didn't have time to draw. In Batman # 251, O'Neil, Adams, and Giordano had reintroduced The Joker in "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!," returning the character to the murderous roots of his debut in 1940's Batman # 1. It is not an exaggeration to say that "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" influenced every single Joker story published since 1973.

And, a mere two issues later, The Batman got to meet his greatest inspiration, The Shadow. DC had licensed the character of The Shadow in hope of tapping into '70s-era nostalgia for the pop culture playthings of the '30s and '40s. I was all in, as I read my Doc Savage paperbacks, watched The Marx Brothers on Saturday night TV late shows, listened to old adventure radio shows (including The Shadow) on the public station's Radio Rides Again presentations, and devoured histories of comics, histories that taught me about the Golden Age of Comics in the '40s, and even about the blood 'n' thunder pulp magazines that helped to sire those comics. Pulp magazines like The Shadow.

The Shadow was the biggest single influence on Bill Finger and Bob Kane when they created the character of The Batman in 1939. I knew that, so I was more than primed for The Shadow's DC's series (written by O'Neil), and absolutely psyched to see The Shadow finally meet his disciple in the pages of Batman # 253. Beneath an atmospheric cover by Mike Kaluta (regular artist on DC's The Shadow), the actual story by O'Neil, Novick, and Giordano could be viewed as anti-climactic, or even a cheat. The Shadow is an off-stage player in most of the tale, stepping out from the shadows only near its end. I didn't care. I loved it without reservation, and I still do.

DC SPECIAL # 10 (January-February 1971)



If I had to pick my all-time favorite comics artist, I would acknowledge the above-mentioned Neal Adams and Wally Wood, plus (of course) Jack Kirby, and a long, long list that would include Dick Sprang, Carl Barks, Jack Cole, Alex Toth, Jim Aparo, and...listen, we're gonna be here all night, and I haven't even mentioned Marshall Rogers yet. But when I have to name just one, I usually say Nick Cardy.

And I don't pick Cardy on the basis of most of the covers he cranked out as DC's go-to cover guy in the early to mid '70s. Those were fine, obviously, but his best work was his brief stint as the regular artist on the Batman team-up title The Brave And The Bold, his Teen Titans (especially his later issues), and his exquisitely-rendered Western series Bat Lash. Oh, and the gorgeous covers he drew for Aquaman.

And there's also this gloriously atmospheric cover for DC Special # 10, dressing up a basic collection of 1950s cop and fireman stories, reprinted from old issues of Gang Busters and Showcase. Calling them basic isn't meant as a put-down--I read this damned thing over and over when I was 11--but there's nothing inside that could hope to match that dynamic Cardy cover. 

SHAZAM! # 8 (December 1973)



The same pursuit of the nostalgia market that prompted DC to license The Shadow also led to the company licensing Superman's biggest sales rival from back in the '40s, the original Captain Marvel. DC had effectively sued Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel out of existence in the early '50s. When licensing and attempting to revive Cap in 1973, DC Publisher Carmine Infantino's intent to restart the World's Mightiest Mortal's former comic book Captain Marvel Adventures was immediately thwarted by another, more powerful rival. Marvel Comics had trademarked the Captain Marvel name for its own unrelated use during the original Cap's decades-long dormancy, and wasn't about to allow DC to use it. DC went with the alternate title Shazam! instead. Each issue of DC's Shazam! series featured vintage Cap reprints backing up the new adventures, and the reprints were...well, better. A lot better. The eighth issue was a 100-Page Super Spectacular collection containing only the old stuff, and I felt like it was a gift given to me directly from the Rock of Eternity. This was just magnificent.

SHOWCASE # 100 (May 1978)



DC's original try-out book Showcase survived on newsstands from 1956 to 1970. It was a series that offered readers an opportunity to sample potential new series, with sales presumably determining which concepts would graduate to ongoing series and which would, y'know...not. Some point to Showcase # 4 (which introduced a brand-new superhero called The Flash, inspired by the 1940s character of the same name, but reimagined as something minty-fresh) as the beginning of comics' Silver Age, and I would agree. Showcase produced a lengthy list of, well, showcases for both new characters introduced in its pages and already-existing characters given a shot at joining DC's A-list. The series was revived briefly in the late '70s, and that revival brought us Showcase # 100.





For this celebration, writers Paul Kupperberg and Paul Levitz teamed with artist Joe Staton in an attempt to craft a new adventure that would feature at least a cameo by each and every one of Showcase's stars and woulda-beens. Well, almost; Showcase # 43 had featured a reprint of a British adaptation of the James Bond novel and film Dr. No, and DC's license to thrill with 007 had never been renewed. And I'm not positive, but I don't think The Doom Patrol or Power Girl--the stars of the Showcase revival issues that preceded # 100--made it into the big party either.

But yeah, everyone else is represented, from Fireman Farrell through Manhunter 2070. Even Archie ripoff Binky, even Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebs stand-ins Windy and Willy. We've got Bat Lash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Lois Lane, The Creeper, The Atom, Sgt. Rock, Enemy AceThe Teen Titans, Dr. Fate and HourmanThe Challengers of the Unknown, The Inferior Five, The Phantom Stranger, Jonny DoubleAngel and the Ape, Tommy Tomorrow, The Hawk and The Dove, The Spectre, Anthro, Adam Strange, The Sea Devils, The Metal Men, Space Ranger, the pop group The ManiaksNightmaster, Cave Carson, Rip Hunter, B'wana Beast, Dolphin, Firehair, Johnny Thunder, and Jason's Quest protagonist Jason. Maybe someone else I missed. Hell, maybe 007 is in there somewhere, hidden behind the rest of this large cast.

And it's a blast. It's goofy in all the right ways, serious where it needs to be, and never so serious that it gets in its own way. Forgive the comparison, but it's like a Marvel movie in comics form, a lighthearted superhero epic that satisfies. It's fun.

Quick! Someone go back to 1973 and tell my 13-year-old self that's it's okay for superheroes to be fun. Lighten up already, young man.






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

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 134 essays about 134 tracks, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: No Promise

This is a chapter from my work-in-progress book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1).

An infinite number of songs can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, THIS is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!



THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise
Written by Gary Frenay
Produced by Ducky Carlisle
From the album Bright Lights, Northside Records, 1997 [originally recorded in 1979]

The Flashcubes. Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse. I saw my first Flashcubes show in January of 1978. That night ranks with seeing The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night at the drive-in in 1964 and the first time I heard The Ramones' "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" in 1977 to form my Holy Trinity of rock 'n' roll epiphanies.



All politics is local. The same could be said of musical combos, the local rock group down the street that's trying hard to learn their song. In the garages, in the clubs, in practice spaces, school dances, rec hall hops, coffeehouses, open fields, and cellars full of noise, plugged in or unplugged, sparks ignite when someone says Let's put on a show! Aping Chuck Berry or Chuck D, Joan Jett or Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones or The Banana Splits, mighty things can happen when a musician near you starts to play.

In Zion, Illinois. In Minneapolis. Fort Worth. Nashville. Arlington. Bethesda, Maryland. Springfield, Missouri. Toronto. Liverpool. Osaka. Don't forget the Motor City. The beat goes on, and renews itself everywhere. Sweat and adrenaline, soft drinks or beer, virtue and vice, the love of a sound, an urge to participate. Band, meet audience. Audience, meet the band.


A lot of the great local acts across the decades, across the country, and across the globe should have become household names. Most remained obscure. In the eyes of their fans, though, they were stars. Stars.

Just like The Flashcubes are stars to me.

But...well, here's the thing: although my affection for the 'Cubes is rooted in their status as my home-town heroes when I became a club-legal teen in the late '70s, I determined a long time ago that there was more to them than merely that. I found out for myself when I talked about The Flashcubes to power pop fans who'd never heard them before, when I put The Flashcubes' then-unreleased demos on mix tapes made for internet pals across the country, when I preached a Cubic Gospel and new fans responded. An online acquaintance saw a Flashcubes live show in Los Angeles in the '90s, and then gushed, "Oh my God, Carl has been so right for so long...!"

The Flashcubes are one of the most exciting live rock 'n' roll bands I've ever seen. The original songs they wrote matched their energy and sense of possibility, their sheer, limitless promise. Stars. Big, bright rock 'n' roll stars, regardless of how few had the opportunity to bask in their light.


I have a difficult time narrowing down a list of my favorite Flashcubes songs. My first favorite was a discarded Gary Frenay pop confection called "Face To Face," which I quoted in my 1978 letter requesting membership in The Flashcubes International Fan Club ("Seems so easy when you write a letter!"). I love Frenay's "Social Mobility" and "You're Not The Police," Arty Lenin's "Taking Inventory" and "Gone Too Far," and Paul Armstrong's "She's Leaving" and "Got No Mind," and that's just a few of many fave raves among their '70s material. The 21st century brought more great Flashcubes songs for me to enjoy with eyes wide and fist raised. I'm proud and delighted to be a Flashcubes fan.

But there was always one Flashcubes song that stood above all others: Gary Frenay's "No Promise." The Greatest Record Ever Made.


The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones channeled Chuck Berry to build something new. The Ramones took inspiration from The Beach Boys to make glue-sniffing into potential AM radio fare. Gary Frenay took the inspiration of Raspberries' Best--the horny singles ("Go All The Way," "I Wanna Be With You," "Tonight," and "Ecstasy") written by The Raspberries' Eric Carmen--and wrote "No Promise." 

How do you see me?
Do you trust what you see?
Don't you know it's not easy
Being what I'm trying to be?
Guess I'm just a romantic
I only wanna fall in love
But you do something to me that I never thought I'd feel
And it makes it harder to say
No promise
No guarantee
No promise, baby
You'll never get one from me

Pure pop, earnest in its goals and earthy in its desires, a bruised heart stapled to a torn sleeve. The guitars from Armstrong and Lenin cut, slice, and soar above love and lust, Tommy Allen's propulsive drumming could drive a freakin' rocket to the moon, Frenay's deep bass lines and sweet vocals agree to disagree on their differences, and everyone rocks the house with the seismic authority of the San Andreas Fault. The shimmering, incandescent result embodies the Bomp! magazine power pop ideal: power pop means pop with power, not some whimpering simp in a Beatles haircut.


"No Promise" was, I think, considered in 1979 as The Flashcubes' potential third single, following earlier 45s of "Christi Girl" and "Wait Till Next Week." It didn't happen, and The Flashcubes' path to stardom hit a detour and an off-ramp in 1980. Their unreleased recordings retained their allure, traded hand to hand by those who understood, and a legend grew. The Flashcubes returned in the '90s. Old songs were recovered, new songs were created. They're still pop. They're still great. And they can still kick any ass that needs kickin'.

And in The Flashcubes' catalog of rockin' pop gems, "No Promise" still shines the brightest of all. "No Promise" is the greatest evocation of The Raspberries this side of Cleveland. It was made right here, crafted with pride in my home town of Syracuse, NY. Its potential remains limitless. Its promise endures. 



TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!


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

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 134 essays about 134 tracks, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

10 SONGS: 4/28/2020

10 Songs is a weekly list of ten songs that happen to be on my mind at the moment. Given my intention to usually write these on Mondays, the lists are often dominated by songs played on the previous night's edition of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. The idea was inspired by Don Valentine of the essential blog I Don't Hear A Single.




This week's edition of 10 Songs draws exclusively from the playlist for This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1022.

BADFINGER: Baby Blue



My favorite song on the radio in the '70s, possibly my favorite radio song of all time. Badfinger's "Baby Blue" was the very first song written up for my series The Greatest Record Ever Made!, which celebrates the durable notion that an infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. As I move forward with my intent to turn this notion into a big book called The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), that Badfinger entry follows an Overture of The Ramones' "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" to get the party started. I really, really love this song.


THE BEATLES: I Should Have Known Better



One weekend when I was in high school (probably in '76- '77, my senior year), one of the NYC TV stations we received via cable in suburban North Syracuse played The Beatles' 1964 movie A Hard Day's Night. I don't remember how many times I had already seen it by that point. Four-year-old me saw it at The North Drive-In in Cicero during its first run, I saw it at least once on TV, on the night of the 1968 presidential election, and probably another time or two after that. I may have also seen it at The Hollywood Theatre in Mattydale at some '70s matinee; I know I saw Let It Be and Magical Mystery Tour on a Hollywood double bill, so it's plausible that A Hard Day's Night played there too, maybe with Yellow Submarine? I don't know. (I do know that I had only seen their 1965 movie Help! on TV. I think. Or maybe it was Help! instead of Yellow Submarine on a double bill with A Hard Day's Night at the Hollywood. I should have kept better notes as a teenager.)

Anyway, my point is that I had certainly seen A Hard Day's Night a few times prior to its screening on WPIX or WOR or WNEW or whatever on that Saturday night in the late '70s. I'm pretty sure I already regarded it as my all-time favorite movie, edging past Duck Soup and What's Up, Doc? and Batman and any of my other most cherished cinematic treasures when I was in my teens. I'd inherited a copy of the film's paperback novelization when my sister moved out, allowing me to re-live A Hard Day's Night at will, even in those days before home video became commonplace. I loved the film without reservation, and was delighted with the opportunity to see it again.



I watched the movie at home, alone. As it ran, right after the scene where the Fab Four sing "I Should Have Known Better" to Paul McCartney's very clean grandfather and some girls (including George Harrison's future wife Patti Boyd) in the train's luggage compartment, my phone rang. It was my friend Tom, also watching the movie (possibly for the first time) over at his house. That song, he said. Do you have it? I replied in the affirmative, and he said, I'm borrowing it, and hung up. Back to the movie. On Monday, I brought my family copy of the film's soundtrack LP to school for Tom to borrow, and he returned it to me shortly thereafter, presumably having now added it to his cassette library.

All these decades later, "I Should Have Known Better" is one of a few songs that still immediately bring Tom to my mind. It's a good memory, even given its tragic aftermath. I've written many times of how Tom's suicide in 1979 devastated me, haunted me, and I don't intend to use a title like "I Should Have Known Better" as a rueful commentary on that. No. I hang on to the good memories, too. 

And it is a good memory: a memory of watching my favorite movie, and a memory of its connection to one of my best friends. It's a good thing, a great thing, in spite of all that came afterward. Should I have known better? That's not for me to say.



COTTON MATHER: The Book Of Too Late Changes



Cotton Mather has been a TIRnRR Fave Rave for nearly as long as there has been a TIRnRR. Our show made its debut on December 27th 1998, and we played "Homefront Cameo" from Cotton Mather's 1997 album Kontiki three weeks later on our 1/17/99 show (my 39th birthday). "My Before And After" from Kontiki became a top favorite during our first year on the air, and it remains one of our all-time most-played tracks. "Payday," from Cotton Mather's 1994 album Cotton Is King, also received significant TIRnRR airplay over the years, and we've loved and played a number of other Cotton Mather tracks over the course of our...my God, we've done 1022 shows...? What?! Man, that explains why I'm not 39 years old anymore!

Through it all, "My Before And After" has been our defining, go-to Cotton Mather track, with "Payday" serving ably in its role as stalwart understudy, with a number of other worthies from "Ivanhoe" to "Better Than A Hit" always poised at the ready. And I guess it borders on heresy to suggest now that "The Book Of Too Late Changes" (from their 2016 album Death Of The Cool) has become my favorite Cotton Mather track. "The Book Of Too Late Changes" is just...everything, an over-the-top pop assault, with drumming that channels Keith Moon and a vocal tag that evokes classical influences while remaining wholly, unerringly rooted in classic, hyperbolic AM radio oomph. Heresy be damned. I am as Cotton Mather made me.

RICH FIRESTONE: If The Sun Doesn't Shine



Rich Firestone and his wife Kathy Firestone (collectively aka Reechie and Frodis) are among my longest-standing online pals. Our cyber-paths first crossed in the early '90s on Prodigy, probably on a board devoted to The Monkees. They've been good friends and dedicated supporters of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. We're proud to spin Reechie's solo debut, a cover of The Smithereens' "If The Sun Doesn't Shine," taken from The TM Collective's salute to The Smithereens' Green Thoughts album.

Rich is, of course, a long-time fan of The Smithereens; his heartfelt eulogy for the group's late frontman Pat DiNizio is one of this blog's most-read pieces, and the connection he and Kathy had with them forms the core of the Smithereens chapter in my book. If Rich's solo debut wasn't gonna be a Monkees song, it made perfect sense that it would be a Smithereens song.

(I say solo debut, because TIRnRR has indeed played Rich before, in other incarnations. Rich sings back-up on "I Could Be Good For You" by Steve Stoeckel and his This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio All-Stars on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3, and he's one of the lead vocal participants in TIR'N'RR Allstars' "Waterloo Sunset" on Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio (available on CD or as a download); "Waterloo Sunset" even has a video to prove its Reechie content. And Mr. Firestone was the lead singer of The Tweakers, a legendarily obscure combo whose obscure legend should begin any minute now, and whose sole released work was "Super Secret Mystery Track" on the expanded This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3. We played that track once on TIRnRR. I would tell you more about it, but then it wouldn't be a secret.)

And now, Rich Firestone takes the spotlight, covering a song from an album that meant an awful lot to him. He's backed up here by 3/4 of Pop Co-Op: Steve Stoeckel, Joel Tinnel, and Stacy Carson, with keyboard work by Alex Tinnel. (The fourth member of Pop Co-Op, Bruce Gordon, was unavailable when the track was recorded, busy in Gotham City helping Batman thwart another evil plan by the insidious Eclipso. A grateful world thanks Bruce for his service.) 



And Reechie? Reechie shines, man. More please, Reechie. More.


THE ISLEY BROTHERS: It's Your Thing



There seem to be at least three distinct, separate periods in The Isley Brothers' recording career (more if you wanna split up the period from 1969 on). There was their classic early period commencing just before the dawn of the 1960s, influencing The Beatles with "Shout" and "Twist And Shout." There was their Tamla-Motown period circa '66-'67, which yielded the hit "This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)" and the shoulda-been hit "Got To Have You Back." And there was the period beginning in 1969, when The Isley Brothers started releasing work on their own label, T-Neck Records. "It's Your Thing" was the group's first hit on T-Neck.

"It's Your Thing" doesn't sound materially different from The Isleys' Tamla output, containing just the merest hint of some funkier underpinnings to follow in the '70s. But it was the start of something big. With their own label, The Isley Brothers had their thing, and did what they wanted to to do.

THE KINKS: See My Friends



I'm not 100% sure where I first heard The Kinks' 1965 single "See My Friends." I initially knew "See My Friends" from the great British group The Records, who included their version in an all-covers EP that came with the purchase of The Records' debut LP in 1979. My first exposure to The Kinks' original must have been Golden Hour Of The Kinks, a 1977 compilation I picked up as a budget cassette release in the mid '80s. With the possible exception of my bootleg live Flashcubes tape, Golden Hour Of The Kinks was my favorite cassette, even more so than the (then-) contemporary garage sampler Garage Sale. I listened to Golden Hour Of The Kinks over and over on the boom box my Uncle Carl gave Brenda and I as a wedding gift in 1984, with only a couple of Beatles tapes (Help! and Beatles For Sale) challenging its boom-box sovereignty. Golden Hour Of The Kinks hooked me on "Animal Farm," reinforced my adoration of "Days," "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion," "Till The End Of The Day," "Waterloo Sunset," "Dead End Street," "Shangri-La," and "You Really Got Me," and it introduced me to the original "See My Friends." Best cassette ever? A contender at the very least.

KISS: Shout It Out Loud



Another fond memory of my friend Tom is going to see KISS in 1976, my first rock concert. And yeah, "Shout It Out Loud" merits a chapter in The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1).

JUSTINE'S BLACK THREADS: Needles And Pins


"Vengeance" by Justine and the Unclean knocks me out, so we played it last week and again this week, and it was featured in last week's 10 Songs. A perfectly-clean Justine Covault also fronts Justine's Black Threads, whose debut album Cheap Vacation is due in June from Rum Bar Records. Their cover of "Needles And Pins" is available right now, a lovely alt-country take on this classic, a version that would make Jackie DeShannon, The Searchers, and The Ramones all say, "AWRIGHT!" I say it, too. 

LED ZEPPELIN: Communication Breakdown


I've never had quite the level of interest in Led Zeppelin as many of my peers. I don't think I ever actually disliked them, and I have occasionally cranked something from my modest Led Zep collection with the vim and vigor of those about to have their lemons squeezed. I don't listen to them often, but I do listen, and I do dig. As my book's chapter on "Communication Breakdown" explains:

I was never much of a Led Zeppelin fan; they were just there, everywhere, like inflation or TV sitcoms or halter tops, symptoms of my 1970s. (I was, incidentally, in favor of halter tops.) In the days of my youth, there were good Led Zep times, and there were bad Led Zep times. Sometimes I liked them, sometimes I didn't. And some times I thought there okay, but that I just really didn't need to hear them anymore. Good times, bad times, I know I had my share.

It's not a band's fault when their music gets overplayed. I can't imagine ever getting sick of The Beatles, but I do sort of comprehend the feeling of those who hear "Yeah Yeah Yeah!" and answer "No! No! NO!!!" I don't have much affinity for most of the tracks favored by classic rock radio formats; I wonder if I would have retained a greater appreciation of the music of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, or later Rolling Stones (each of whom I do like to some degree) or even Lynyrd Skynrd or The Eagles (whom I generally do not) if they were all obscurities I discovered in the vinyl underground, rather than ubiquitous fixtures on every stereo except mine.


But I like 'em when I like 'em. And I like "Communication Breakdown" a lot.

MARYKATE O'NEIL: I'm Ready For My Luck To Turn Around

Yeah, we've been playing this one a few times lately. Terrific track co-written by Marykate O'Neil and Jill Sobule, and an appropriate sentiment for the current landscape. On Monday morning I added the song to my Greatest Record Ever Made! book. It occupies a climactic spot near the book's end, nestled naturally between Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)" and Eytan Mirsky's "This Year Will Be Our Year." Belief feeds hope. 

If you're ready.


TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

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

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin' pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset--Benefit For This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio:  CD or download

Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 134 essays about 134 tracks, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).