Friday, January 20, 2023

10 SONGS: 1/20/2023

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 # 1164. This show is available as a podcast.

THE SMITHEREENS: House We Used To Live In

This week marked my 63rd birthday. The start of my 64th solar revolution coincides with the ritual emptying of my late mom's house, as my family prepares for the transition of our childhood home into the hands of its new owners. It is time, and it's okay. But in that context, there was only one song that could possibly open this week's show. Sing, you Smithereens

MIKE BROWNING: Blood Of Oblivion

"Blood Of Oblivion" is the latest single from Mike Browning, an able 'n' engaging cover of a 1967 track by an obscure Denver, Colorado group called the Rainy Daze. I was not at all familiar with the original, so Mike's version prompted me to bop over to YouTube and check that one out, too. And it's pretty good--if it's possible for something to be both psychedelic and sunshine pop at the same time, that description would apply to the Rainy Daze's "Blood Of Oblivion"--and I can dig why Mike Browning was drawn to it in the first place. Hell, I wish I'd heard it a bit earlier in my own timeline.

That said, I do prefer Mike's version. The Rainy Daze bring a period-appropriate...I dunno, preciousness to their recording; it's cool, and very much of its time. Mike approaches the song in a more straightforward fashion, creating a track that's radio-ready in the here and now. Radio-ready? Hey, WE have a radio show! And we're ready to play this again next week.


If I seem melancholy about my age or about letting go of the house I used to live in, let me assure you I'm not. I embrace birthdays; every year you can add to your c.v. is another celebratory two-word kiss-off to all of your accumulated naysayers. You even get to choose your own two words, though the second word does tend to be ...YOU! 

I'm not suggesting "Go Mental!" as an appropriate choice either. But the music of the Ramones has been a huge part of my life for 45 years, and I hope it's going to be an even larger part of my life in 2023. Any excuse to play the Ramones is fine by me. And, oddly enough, we'd never gotten around to playing this track from the group's 1978 Road To Ruin album until now. Go mental? Okeydokey. We've never had all that far to go. The road goes on.


There is cool, and then there is cool. Cool-as-a-fever cool. No other approximation of cool has ever been anywhere near the sizzling cool of Peggy Lee's 1958 absolute annexation of Little Willie John's "Fever." What a lovely way to burn.

THE TRAMMPS: Disco Inferno

The Trammps were a soul group from Philadelphia. They're recalled as a one-hit wonder for "Disco Inferno," though the group did break into the lower region of the Top 40 with previous singles "Hold Back The Night" (# 35 pop, # 11 R & B, and later covered ably by Graham Parker and the Rumour) and "That's Where The Happy People Go" (# 35 pop/# 10 R & B). "Disco Inferno" was their only big hit, and it wasn't really a pop hit at all upon its initial release in 1976, its flame extinguished at a peak of # 53 (though it did manage # 9 on the R & B chart). This particular inferno did not seem likely to provide an eternal flame.

But then: 1977. Saturday Night Fever. And everything changed.

I have never seen this movie. I say this not as some point of smug, misplaced pride in my place outside the mainstream; even as my taste has expanded sufficiently to embrace some of the disco music I once claimed to hate, my disinterest in discos and the disco scene remains stubborn and resolute. Maybe I'd like Saturday Night Fever if I gave it a chance. I have no immediate inclination to give it that chance. And the passage of time has not mellowed my disdain for the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever."

"Disco Inferno" rises above all of that. Jesus, what an expertly crafted, perfectly produced record. The bass, the beat, the brass, the vocals, the pure soul. I heard somebody say. It transcends disco itself, just as the best power pop tracks transcend genre to be fully and simply what they are: great records. Burn baby burn. The dancefloor's getting hot. The DJ has just the right song for that situation.


The Greatest Record Ever Made!


Guitarist Randy Klawon established his bona fides in the Cleveland music scene during the '60s, playing with the Choir and Cyrus Erie. He entered the TIRnRRverse last year, when Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse the Flashcubes recruited Klawon to work with the 'Cubes on their cover of Cyrus Erie's "Get The Message." Klawon also teamed with Flashcubes bassist Gary Frenay and drummer Tommy Allen to form the Halfcubes, whose ace cover of the Guess Who's "Hand Me Down World" makes us eager to hear more.

Now, Klawon has joined forces with former Raspberries drummer Jim Bonfanti for a new single, "Marlo Maybe." Commenting on the track's origin, Klawon says, "I wanted to write a song that I imagined could have been a single by the Hollies, tapping into their great harmonies and fingerprint guitar lines." Mission accomplished! Will next week's TIRnRR bring another spin of "Marlo Maybe?" Strike the "maybe." Marlo for sure, my friends. Marlo for damned sure. 

THE CYNZ: Tell That Girl To Shut Up

A Holly and the Italians cover? Yeah, we approve. I confess I didn't really get into Transvision Vamp's UK hit version at the time of its 1988 release (though I like it a lot more now than I did then), but the Cynz can nearly stand toe-to-toe with Holly and her paisans. Considering the fact that Holly and the Italians' 1981 album The Right To Be Italian remains among my favorites of the '80s, that ain't faint praise. Tell that girl to TESTIFY!

THE RAMONES: I Don't Want To Grow Up

As always: Don't wanna. Won't need to. Ain't gonna.

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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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