10 Songs is a weekly list of ten songs that happen to be on my mind at the moment. The lists are usually dominated by songs played on the previous Sunday 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.
|Sydney Chandler as Chrissie Hynde in the mini-series Pistol|
This week's edition of 10 Songs draws exclusively from the playlist for This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1135.
THE FLASHCUBES FEATURING STEVE CONTE: Gudbuy T' Jane
Man, I am really, really enjoying these continued opportunities to speak the phrase "new music from the Flashcubes." Here, my all-time favorite power pop combo enlists the aid of guitarist Steve Conte, a latter-day member of the New York Dolls, to cover one of my top-of-the-pops AM radio hits from the '70s.
Slade was, commercially, a much bigger deal in their native England than they were here in the Colonies. Nonetheless, although Slade's 1973 single "Gudbuy T' Jane" peaked at # 68 on Billboard's Hot 100, it was a legit smash on Syracuse's WOLF-AM when I was in eighth grade, proving once again that Syracuse is just cooler than the rest the country. I'm sure the young Flashcubes heard it, and it impacted them like it impacted me. What a great record! What a great, great record.
The 'Cubes and Conte do it justice, retaining Slade stompin' swagger and enhancing it with the pure pop panache we expect from Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse. We'll be playing this new "Gudbuy T' Jane" single again on next week's show.
(We will, in fact, be playing ALL of the Flashcubes' singles next week, from the '70s through today, from the old Northside Records days into their current series of classic power pop covers for the good folks at Big Stir Records. It's all part of a July 3rd TIRnRR extravaganza called COME ON LET'S GO!, which combines the Flashcubes' singles discography with a celebration of power pop's past, serving up classic '60s, '70s, and '80s power pop, pure pop, and the power pop periphery. We will even throw in another new, as-yet-unreleased Flashcubes single. We humbly recommend you ditch any other commitments and join us for COME ON LET'S GO!, TIRnRR's classic power pop celebration on July 3rd.)
THE BEACH BOYS: God Only Knows
When we were programming this week's show, Dana asked me if I'd yet seen the 2021 documentary Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road, which recently aired on PBS. Dana tsk tsked my reply that I had not, and then waxed rhapsodic about a scene therein where Don Was isolates the vocals on the Beach Boys' recording of "God Only Knows." That vocals-only snippet mesmerized Dana, prompting the inclusion of the familiar, timeless Pet Sounds track on the ol' playlist.
I have a complicated history with the Beach Boys, a group I once spurned in ignorance but later embraced as wisdom and heart prevailed. Seeing Carl Wilson sing "God Only Knows" at a Beach Boys concert in the late '80s remains one of the all-time most magical moments in my live music memories. Years later, a 2016 experience witnessing Brian Wilson and his band perform Pet Sounds live compelled me to write an emotional piece that is one of my favorites among the many things I've written for this blog.
Tsk tsks have their value. On Saturday, my wife Brenda and I watched Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road. Mesmerizing. Just like Dana said it was.
PERILOUS: Rock & Roll Kiss
We've been (rightly) making a big deal that we're fortunate enough to include this boppin' track "Rock & Roll Kiss" by Perilous on our forthcoming compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5. But the track is also a part of the group's freshly-released three-song set Perilous, and that merits a little bit of attendant hoopla, too. And it goes like THIS...!
ARTHUR ALEXANDER: Shot Of R & B
There is ample evidence that the Beatles adored Arthur Alexander's records. Paul McCartney himself said something to the effect that the Fab lads set out to be a soul group, wanting to sound like Arthur Alexander. Yes, much as the American Beatles, the Ramones, tried to be a bubblegum pop group like the Bay City Rollers. While the Ramones never actually covered the Rollers, the Beatles covered Alexander's "Anna" on Please Please Me, and they did his "Soldier Of Love" and "A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues" in early live shows and BBC sessions.
My first exposure to "A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues" came via the Beatles on The Deccagone Sessions, my first bootleg album. The Flamin' Groovies covered it, too--I'm sure they also learned the song from a Beatles bootleg rather than from Arthur Alexander. No matter. We come to great songs by whatever paths brings us. Get a shot of rhythm and blues, with a little rock 'n' roll on the side. Just for good measure.
(My Razor & Tie Arthur Alexander best-of CD lists this track as "Shot Of R & B," so I've continued that listing when we play it on TIRnRR.)
Unlisted bonus tracks were an occasionally-common thing on CDs--the precursor of mid-credits scenes in Marvel movies, the successor of the post-credits scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off--but I don't recall many occurrences of unlisted bonus tracks on LPs. The only example that comes to mind is "Train In Vain" on the Clash's London Calling.
R.E.M.'s cover of the Clique's "Superman" half qualifies. The track isn't listed among its LP brethren on the back cover of R.E.M.'s 1986 Lifes Rich Pageant album, but it is on Side Two's label:
The fact that the label lumps "Superman"'s songwriting credit in with the songs written by R.E.M. (rather than actual "Superman" tunesmiths Gary Zekley and Mitchell Bottler) is evidence that the track may have been an afterthought. Great song, though, and ultimately a better-known version than the Clique's fine original.
THE SEX PISTOLS: Pretty Vacant
I don't know what I think of Pistol, the six-part Sex Pistols biopic based on Pistols guitarist Steve Jones' autobiography Lonely Boy. I haven't read Lonely Boy, but I have seen Pistol in its entirety. I found the first few episodes compelling, and actress Sydney Chandler is riveting as Chrissie Hynde, but I felt an increasing sense of disconnect as the series went forward. Does it present an accurate account of the Sex Pistols' short and explosive lifespan? I'm not sure.
But probably not.
Listen: I expect some fudging of facts when translating real life into entertainment, into a pop presentation. There were a few moments in Pistol where the narrative strays from the facts as I think I know them (though perhaps not as far astray as the jumbled timeline of the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, nor as horrifyingly off-model as the film CBGB's), but I accept that. What's more jarring is a perhaps-unavoidable end result that reduces the seismic transcendence of the Sex Pistols--the filth and the fury--to something...lesser. Shallower. I'm glad I watched it. I'm not sure if I liked it.
I loved the Sex Pistols; I told that story here. Elsewhere, I wrote, "As a band, they are criminally underrated, as so many have focused on the clatter and the noise of punk while ignoring the solid rock 'n' roll combo--guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, and original bassist Glen Matlock--chuggin' away beneath Johnny Rotten's (effective) wailing. Sid Vicious could neither sing nor play, and replacing Glen with Sid threw the group's musical aspect out the broken window."
"God Save The Queen" is my favorite among the Sex Pistols canon, with "Pretty Vacant" a very close second, and much else similarly worthy of saturation airplay (though we will never in a million years be able to play "Bodies"). Never mind the bollocks. And never mind the biopics. Here's the Sex Pistols. And we do care.
MATERIAL ISSUE: Kim The Waitress
(For absent friends, 43 years on.)
JESSIE BRYSON: Come Back
Next week's COME ON LET'S GO! classic power pop TIRnRR shindig is about legacy, honoring and playing a bunch of great tunes from the past. I guess that approach (for one week only) contradicts our oft-stated commitment to mixing new stuff with old stuff, the way all rockin' pop radio shows should (and which all of the best ones do).
Still, there's something to be said for pausing every once in a while and exulting in the sounds that made us. So: a legacy show, comprised almost entirely of tracks from the 1960s through the '80s. BUT...still including the Flashcubes' recent singles, bridging the time between. And also including Jesse Bryson's current Big Stir single cover of Fotomaker's "Come Back." I mean, Jesse's "Come Back" features members of the 'Cubes and Fotomaker, it was written by Jesse's Dad Wally Bryson (of the Raspberries and Fotomaker), and it's almost a tangent to what the Flashcubes are doing in their Big Stir singles. So yeah. while next week's show is mostly about yesteryear, mixing in a little bit of NOW! never hurt anyone.
THE FLASHCUBES WITH THE SPONGETONES: Have You Ever Been Torn Apart?
Ready for next week's show? Awright! Come on, let's GO!