Friday, January 13, 2023

10 SONGS: 1/13/2023

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.

This week's edition of 10 Songs draws exclusively from the playlist for This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1163. This show is available as a podcast.


Gabba Gabba Hey!

For reasons to be revealed soon--no, really!--I'm gonna be using that three-word-phrase a lot in 2023. So, after last week's epic countdown show, I wanted to open our first regular show of the year with a spin of "Pinhead," the classic Ramones track that introduced "Gabba Gabba Hey!" into the popular lexicon.

In programming the show, I was amazed when I discovered that we had never before played "Pinhead" on TIRnRR. "Pinhead" is one of the Ramones' definitive gems, and the Ramones are among the top most-played acts in this little mutant radio show's long and storied history. But we just never got around to spinning that particular track. We finally corrected that oversight this week.


RANK AND FILE: Amanda Ruth

The happenstance of "Pinhead" making its overdue TIRnRR debut dovetailed with Dana's determination to play a number of tracks we ain't never played here before. That plan brought the mighty Rank and File into the TIRnRR universe, with a spin of their superb 1982 single "Amanda Ruth." We play the hits. There are a lot of hits out there. Sometimes it just takes us a little while to get to 'em.

JOSIE COTTON: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

And we're not the only ones who might run late in getting to the rockin' pop gala. Major record label weasels can be among the most guilty parties ever, sitting on perfectly fine potential releases, lettin' 'em languish in the vault as the weasels' myopic attention span flits to some other glittery piece o' pyrite. 

In the early '80s, Josie Cotton released two albums on Elektra, 1982's Convertible Music and 1984's From The Hip. She scored some notice with her singles "Johnny, Are You Queer?" and "He Could Be The One," appeared with her band in the movie Valley Girl, and got some MTV play with her cover of the Looking Glass' "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne" (and I regard her version of that as the version). 

Alas, the units sold weren't sufficient to satisfy the weasels, and her 1986 album Everything Is Oh Yeah was not released at the time. It was retrieved and rescued in 2019 by the non-weasel Cleopatra label. Hooray for the non-weasels!

From Everything Is Oh Yeah, Dana selected our Josie's cover of the Ramones' "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" for airplay, adding that it's still as fresh as anything this newfangled 21st century can offer, and that it sounds like it could have been Josie Cotton backed by the contemporary oomph of the Linda Lindas. Which would be a great idea.

Meanwhile: I'm ordering my own copy of Everything Is Oh Yeah, and Dana will be playing another cut off that album on our next show. Can't let the weasels win, man. Can't let the weasels win.

CLIFF HILLIS: Good Morning And Goodnight

Of course, new songs likewise provide an ongoing opportunity to expand the ol' playlist. The new Cliff Hillis single "Good Morning And Goodnight" was co-written by long-time TIRnRR Fave Rave Kelley Ryan, who also sings along with Mr. Cliff on this engaging little number. A check of the archives shows we've played three other Cliff Hillis tracks--"Madeline," "Turn On A Dime," and his cover of Tommy Roe's "Dizzy"--at some points in our first 24 years on the air. We need to play more, and we will. We'll start with another play for "Good Morning And Goodnight" next week.

ABBA: On And On And On

Some of our listeners dig ABBA, and some do not. We're still working on politely bludgeoning the non-believers into compliance. But man, I heard this song last month on Michael McCartney's fabulous show The Time Machine (on Maui's Mana'o Radio), and I knew we needed to get it into one of our own playlists as soon as we possibly could. Thanks for the inspiration, Michael!

LOVE: 7 And 7 Is


How in the world could it be that we've never played either of these Big Stir Records singles? We need a better class of minions. Or, first, I guess we need minions. None of these acts is exactly a stranger to TIRnRR; Dear Stella's simply superlative "Time Machine" was one of our most-played tracks in 2020, we've played a bunch of stuff by the Forty Nineteens (including "Late Night Radio," the A-side of "Crocodile Tears"), and a bunch of Kai Danzberg works, too. Still: any record you ain't heard (or played) is a new record. Looking for new? These are as good as new.


Taj Mahal was always a little bit outside my sphere of familiarity. I don't recall hearing him on the radio, though I betcha some FM station may have played a Mahal track or two when I wasn't paying attention. When I was a teenager in the '70s and when I managed a record store in the '80s, I saw Taj Mahal LPs on the racks, but didn't even think about investigating the sounds. There were so many punk and power pop and hyphenate-rock releases to occupy my starry eyes and eager ears; an artist filed under BLUES wasn't toppermost of my poppermost.

I'm not sure when Taj Mahal's music finally did enter my sovereign airspace, but he's been an occasional star in our playlists over the past year or so. I was particularly taken with "Ain't That A Lot Of Love" (which he also performed on The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus) and his ace cover of Dave Dudley's country touchstone "Six Days On The Road." I had these as digital tracks, but in October I added a CD of his 1968 album Taj Mahal to my library of physical media. More to come.

THE RAMONES: I Wanted Everything

Yet another Ramones track we somehow failed to program until now. In 2001, as a freelance writer for Goldmine magazine, I reviewed Rhino's CD reissues of the first four Ramones albums, and I regret to say I gave short shrift to their incredible fourth album Road To Ruin

I disavow that now.

Sure, Road To Ruin was heavier than its rockin' pop punk predecessors Ramones, Leave Home, and Rocket To Russia, but it ain't exactly metal, dig? And it is as absolutely, utterly unforgettable as the first three Ramones albums. "I Just Want To Have Something To Do." "I Wanna Be Sedated." The bubblecountry experiment "Don't Come Close," the twangy ballad "Questioningly," the cover of the Searchers' "Needles And Pins," the breathless rush of "She's The One"...Great googly-GABBA-GABBA!-moogly, this stuff is great. WHAT WAS I THINKING...?!

So I've been listening to Road To Ruin again. I first heard the album late in 1978, when Rochester radio station WCMF-FM played the record in its entirety. It was a midnight album spin, and I sat in the suite area of my college dorm room, my new girlfriend Brenda dozing, her head on my shoulder. I just want to have something to do. 

And I wanted everything.

Brenda and I had just started dating. We're still together now. For Christmas this year, knowing that 2023 was looking to be a big Ramones year for me, Brenda gave me a Ramones hoodie and a Road To Ruin jigsaw puzzle. The road to ruin? That's not the path we traveled, but it is the soundtrack we chose. And another Road To Ruin track will make its belated TIRnRR debut next week. 

Yeah: I wanted everything. I got it. Here's to the road, and its rewards. The pieces come together when they can.

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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 You can read about our history here.

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