Thursday, November 30, 2023

10 SONGS: 12/1/2023

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 # 1209. This show is available as a podcast.

POPDUDES: She's An Obsession

I was chatting recently with my friend and fellow pop journalist John M. Borack. John's power pop bona fides meet the dictionary definition of "unassailable," and he and I agree on much, disagree on a little, and we're fans of each other's informed punditry even when our POVs diverge.

John's also a drummer, and he has a new album with the Armoires due out in the not-quite-near-enough future. One of John's other DBAs is Popdudes, a revolving-member aggregation that usually finds our John working with Michael Simmons of sparkle*jets u.k. Popdudes have just released a new covers collection, gathering sundry swell Popdudifications of material previously done by NRBQPaul McCartney, the Five Stairsteps, Elvis Costello, the Guess Who, Roy Orbison, Ringo Starr, and more.

The album's called Number Two, but it's # 1 on our playlist this week, as we open this week's show with Popdudes' rendition of 20/20's "She's An Obsession." You know the old saying: Starve a cold, feed an obsession. Happy to do our part here on TIRnRR.

HEY! Speaking of the Armoires, the group has a lovely and brand-new track called "Music & Animals," available on the new benefit compilation Embers Of Aloha: A Maui Wildfire Benefit Project. Let's cut-n-paste a little something about this album, courtesy of Eddie Van Finley:

"All proceeds of this special digital BENEFIT project will go to directly help the victims of the Maui Wildfires, which resulted in loss of property, homes, pets and loved ones. Your generous donation will help to provide immediate relief for the people of Lahaina and West Maui communities in the wake of this horrible disaster.

"Mahalo for the kind contributions of every artist on this compilation that have given of their time and talents to make this project possible. Please consider supporting these artists who have selflessly supported this cause. Artist information is contained in each track's info section.

"I'd like to thank Big Stir Records, JAM Records, JEM Records, Kool Kat Musik, David Beard (Endless Summer Quarterly) for their immeasurable guidance, kind encouragement and advice.

"Special thanks to Lisa Mychols (my tireless co-chair) and Nadja Dee (Artwork) for the constant forward momentum and positivity. And thank you to Michael McCartney, for being our catalyst, positive reinforcement and for Inspiring this project to come together with purpose, meaning and aloha.

"On behalf of everyone involved, "Mahalo nui loa" for supporting such a worthy cause and for making this an amazing compilation of songs!

"May EMBERS of ALOHA live in your heart. Always."

Embers Of Aloha is out TODAY. I bought it. You shoulda oughta buy it, too. Mahalo to the great Michael McCartney, radio's best friend. Mahalo to the island and its spirit. Mahalo to the Armoires. Mahalo to you for doing your part to help the wonderful people of Maui.

LOU RAWLS: Bring It On Home

From a previous edition of 10 Songs (2/23/2021):

"When I was an oldies-obsessed college student in the late '70s, there was one time when I sang an impromptu duet with a woman working at the campus snack bar, me doing most of the warbling on a snippet of Sam Cooke's 'Bring It On Home To Me.' She was surprised someone so young was familiar with the song to begin with, but, y'know, see above reference to oldies-obsessed. Truth to tell, I mostly knew the song from the Animals' cover version, but I knew Cooke's original, too. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I learned the secondary vocal on Cooke's recording was performed by a then-unknown Lou Rawls. You'll never find (dum dum dumdee dum) another secondary vocal like his (dum dum dumdee dum). Bring it on home, Lou."

I didn't realize that Rawls also released his own version of the song in 1970. Cool! I discovered it on a Lou Rawls best-of CD that I just picked up, and figured it would make a more'n appropriate TIRnRR spin. Lou Rawls covers Sam Cooke!

And yeah, I forgot Rawls sang on the original. Intrepid TIRnRR listener Mike Browning pointed out that Rawls' "Bring It On Home" was as much a remake as it was a cover (much like my own oft-cited instance of Merry Clayton's remake of "Gimme Shelter," seeing as how she's the one wailin' WAR, children! on the original Rolling Stones release). Good catch, Mike! Nice to have someone who can bring it when we need it.


This is stunning. From their new album Centaurus, the Ronson Hangup effectively channel the Hollies in an original song called "Waxes & Wanes." It's not an imitation or an homage; the vocals echo the Hollies without sounding like them, and for all I know I'm just imagining the comparison. But to my ears, this sounds like someone covering an undiscovered, previously unheard Hollies gem, and covering it well enough that I expect one or another Ronson Hangupper to break up the band so he can go hang with David Crosby and Stephen Stills instead. Irresistible.

MICKY DOLENZ: Radio Free Europe

Of the four tracks on Micky Dolenz's new EP Dolenz Sings R.E.M., "Radio Free Europe" is the only one where I don't flat-out prefer Micky's cover to the Athens-bred original. I didn't know R.E.M.'s "Leaving New York," but everyone with a radio and/or MTV knew "Shiny Happy People" and "Man On The Moon." It's a true credit to Dolenz and his musical director Christian Nesmith that they were able to stake ballsy dibs on such familiar work, and emerge with what I think are now the definitive versions.

"Radio Free Europe" presents a tougher challenge, if only because it's probably my favorite R.E.M. track. That specific, emotional tether to a beloved record is difficult to challenge...

...which makes it all the more amazing that Micky does challenge R.E.M.'s primacy on "Radio Free Europe." Dolenz and company manage a convincing, compelling, damned near magical remake of a song I've adored for decades, reimagining it, reinventing it, and giving me pause to consider the sheer audacity and accomplishment of what they've done. I can't quite let go of my entrenched and established affection for R.E.M.'s own "Radio Free Europe," and this shouldn't even be a close choice.

But it is. Damn, this Dolenz guy is good.


Jackie Brentson's seminal rock 'n' roll single "Rocket '88' " doesn't have an entry in my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), but the track is mentioned within the chapters for two other songs. Let's mash 'em up here, from GREM! pieces about Big Mama Thornton and Ike and Tina Turner:

Where and when did rock 'n' roll start? There are a few key records that one could name as possibilities for the first rock 'n' roll record. "Rocket '88' " by Jackie Brentson and his Delta Cats (1951, and really Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm) is the closest we have to a consensus choice, though some would point to "The Fat Man" by Fats Domino (1950). I would at least add Amos Milburn's "Down The Road Apiece" (1947) to the discussion, and no less an authority than Lenny and Squiggy (on TV's Laverne And Shirley) spoke on behalf of "Call The Police," a 1941 single Nat King Cole made with the King Cole Trio. There are other progenitors and trailblazers from across the heady mingling of jump blues, R & B, country, and swing that birthed this bastard child we call rock 'n' roll. What was the daddy of them all? Not even a blood test is going to make that determination.

"Rocket '88' " can lay plausible claim to being the first rock 'n' roll record (though I still say it was Amos Milburn's "Down The Road Apiece"). On merit, Ike Turner should be celebrated as one of popular music's most important most artists. 

History does not remember him that way. He had only himself to blame for that. Revelation of his ongoing abuse of Tina Turner when they were married effectively reduced Ike Turner from headliner to deplorable footnote. 

Charles Manson was a frustrated musician and songwriter. O.J. Simpson was a celebrated athlete. Joe MeekGary GlitterBill Cosby. It's a long list of the famous and infamous. We celebrate the art. The artist may disappoint us.

Or worse.

KID GULLIVER: Forget About Him

We play favorites. With pop music, there's no sensible justification for objectivity. Pop music exists for the express purpose of getting into our ears, into our pores, into our vibratin' corpuscles, and into whatever else is ripe for gettin' into. Failure to play favorites would be as dumb as dumb can be.

Kid Gulliver's "Forget About Him" is a favorite, and more: It's a TIRnRR classic, reprised from the group's Kismet album for our own 2022 compilation This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5. It's one of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio's greatest hits. Yeah it's a favorite. Gotta play the favorites.


The Greatest Record Ever Made!

THE RAMONES: Why Is It Always This Way?

More than 1200 shows in, I cannot believe we've never played this Rocket To Russia track on TIRnRR before this week. In last week's 10 Songs, I talked about how I'm starting to wonder if the Ramones' fourth album--1978's Road To Ruin--might really be the group's masterpiece. Whether that's true or not, its immediate predecessor Rocket To Russia also remains a contender, a Love At First Spin album for me, and the long-playing home of "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," the record that changed my life. With last week's spin of "Bad Brain" and this week's ritual uppin' of the volume for "Why Is It Always This Way?," TIRnRR has now played each and every one of the tracks on Road To Ruin and Rocket To Russia at least once over the course of our long and bewildering tenure.. Let's see where the road takes that rocket next.

NICK LOWE: I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass

Er...okay? Breaking glass strikes me as an odd sound upon which one might fixate, but what the hell. Dig what you dig.


THE BEATLES: Here Comes The Sun

Syracuse got some snow this week. It wasn't as much as I expected us to get, and not nearly as much as was dumped upon areas to our north. My Tuesday evening commute invited repeated descriptions of Yuck!, but the TIRnRRmobile made its way back home to the suburbs. Accumulation on the ground and in the driveway at stately Carl Manor was minimal. The ol' Cub Cadet stood at the ready, but was not called into service this time. 

'Tis the season. And the season's just starting.

I don't love winter...but I accept it. I'm 63 years old, and I've lived in the Northeast my whole life. As a general rule, snow doesn't get me down. I bundle up. I fire up the ol' Cub Cadet when necessary. I've got the right tires for traction, the right music playing in the car, and (I hope) the right attitude to get through what needs getting through.

I don't know if Dana's pick to close this week's show with the Beatles' "Here Comes The Sun" was a deliberate Juju against the then-forthcoming lake effect snow warning, or just the welcome result of, y'know, that's a good one, we should play that one. Works for me!

Or maybe it was Dana's way of heralding our next show.

NEXT WEEK: We ignore the actual season, and celebrate an entirely different season. Yes, it's SUMMER IN DECEMBER! Counterprogramming the Holidays. We're either in willful denial or we think we're Australian. We'll have three hours of songs that make us think of summer. Winter can hold its icy water for one more week. This Sunday, December 3rd, we're hangin' ten with SUMMER IN DECEMBER!


If you like what you see here on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider a visit to CC's Tip Jar

Carl's new book Gabba Gabba Hey! A Conversation With The Ramones is now available, courtesy of the good folks at Rare Bird Books. Gabba Gabba YAY!!

If it's true that one book leads to another, my next book will be The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). Stay tuned. Your turn is coming.

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, streaming at SPARK stream and on the Radio Garden app as WESTCOTT RADIO. Recent shows are archived at Westcott Radio. You can read about our history here.

I'm on Twitter @CafarelliCarl


As the world mourns the loss of Scott Kempner, guitarist with the Dictators and the Del-Lords, I feel an overwhelming need to grab a beer and bash something out. I'm not going to plug in my guitar. This will have to do instead.

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

THE DICTATORS: Who Will Save Rock And Roll?
Written by Andy Shernoff
Produced by Andy Shernoff
From the album D.F.F.D, Dictators Multimedia, 2001

Who will save rock and roll?

In the early to mid 1970s, it wasn't a question one heard asked much. whether in public or private. "Save" rock and roll? Oh, ya big silly! Rock and roll is just fine, dude, better than ever, BIGGER than ever. So big! It fills stadiums, it comes with amazing light shows, epic solos, magical trips, the ritual blowing of your ever-lovin' mind, man! 

We just call it ROCK now, though. Heavier. Intense. The rollin' is what we're smokin', dig? 

Yeah. Far out. I guess.

But there were indeed some asking that question: Who will save rock and roll? The voices were few and far between, whispers at the fringe, underground, fanzine material, beneath the notice of the many.

Embraced with passion by the few.

Nor was the question itself rhetorical. It deserved--demanded--an answer. The answer was not whispered, and it gained volume. Faster. Louder. I can play--BOMPBOMPBOMP--faster and louder! Rock was beyond saving, sinking under its own bloated excess. But rock AND roll? The uncomplicated child of Chuck Berry and Little Richard and King Elvis I, the model for three-chord combos in a million garages? Rock and roll could save itself. It just needed to fucking do it.

An oversimplification, you say? Guilty as charged...but unrepentant. I'll grant you the existence of some greatness within the seeming morass of mainstream Me Decade ROCK. Led Zeppelin's okay. Pink Floyd's okay. Emerson, Lake and Palmer are...okay, let's not get crazy. None of 'em--not one--could match the fascinating, exhilarating passion of real rock and roll.

Real rock and roll like the Dictators. Unpretentious. Enthusiastic. Rock AND roll. The Dictators could play--BOMPBOMPBOMP--faster and louder. 

Punk rock changed my life. Hearing the Ramones in 1977, when I was a 17-year-old college freshman, pointed me toward a thrilling rockin' pop path that has never given me the merest cause to doubt its righteousness. Like the Monkees before me, I'm a believer. The Ramones couldn't have come into being without specific inspiration: The Beatles, the Who, and the Stooges in the '60s; the New York Dolls and the Dictators in the '70s.

The Dictators rarely get credit for their part in kindling the DIY spark of punk. Neither the Dolls nor the 'Taters are in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, because...oh yeah, because people are stupid. The Dolls have at least been nominated. The Dictators have not. They never will be. Such are the namby-pamby whims of that glorified Hard Rock [ROCK!] Cafe in Cleveland.

To hell with them. 

Even more than the New York Dolls, the Dictators reveled in junk culture, raised on wrasslin', sustained by White Castle, informed by black and white TV sets and four-color comic books, with advanced studies in B-movies and AM Top 40 radio, when AM Top 40 radio was the single most magnificent of Almighty God's creations. The Ramones' own subsequent (and delighted) evocation of the divine purity of everyday trash was built from a creased 'n' tattered copy of the Dictators' original mad genius blueprint.

Were the Dictators a cult act? I...I don't know. Maybe. Maybe they weren't even that, even though they were so, so much more. They were one of many acts I first heard of via Phonograph Record Magazine, but my first taste of the Dictators' music came via the unlikely venue of a film called Jabberwalk in 1977. My only memory of this weird, disjointed documentary (if that's even what it was) is that it, weird and disjointed. That, and it included footage of the Dictators performing a live rendition of "America The Beautiful" at the Miss Nude America beauty pageant. See, that's how you break a band! 

At college in Brockport that September, I pestered campus station WBSU to play me some Dictators, and the jocks responded with the pretty ballad "Sleepin' With The TV On," from the group's then-current Manifest Destiny album. Subsequent WBSU requests yielded tracks from the Dictators' first album, Go Girl Crazy! The group bid the pop world farewell after the third album, Bloodbrothers, in 1978. 

They'd be back.

For those who recognize the Dictators' legacy, the groundbreaking D-U-M-B smartassery of 1975's Go Girl Crazy! is the Top, the Coliseum, the Louvre Museum. And ya can't argue with an authoritative rockin' and rollin' statement of intent like that album's "(I Live For) Cars And Girls," nor its trendsetting cover of the Rivieras' "California Sun," two years before the Ramones recorded it for their second album. 1977's Manifest Destiny is a bit slicker, and Bloodbrothers still slick but eminently satisfying. The latter album gave us "Faster And Louder," "Baby Let's Twist," and "I Stand Tall." On our first radio show after 9/11, we opened with a spin of "I Stand Tall." REPEAT THESE WORDS!, like the track's lead singer Handsome Dick Manitoba implored, REPEAT THESE WORDS THAT THE DICTATORS ARE SAYING!

I stand tall. I stand proud of what I am.

I won't attempt even a capsule history of the Dictators. I should, Tonight is a time for feeling, for emotion. For standing tall, faster and louder. Cars and girls. Rock and roll.

I did not really know Dictators guitarist Scott "Top Ten" Kempner. We had mutual friends, we may or may not have exchanged emails, but I didn't try to speak with him the one time I saw him play a solo show in Syracuse in the early '90s. If he was with the Brandos when I saw them in Syracuse in the '80s, well, I really regret I wasn't aware of his involvement at the time. 

When I heard that Kempner had passed, one of the first things that occurred to me (after my immediate Aw, man...!) was a memory of the Dictators' song "Who Will Save Rock And Roll?"

"Who Will Save Rock And Roll?" is the lead-off track on D.F.F.D., an album the Dictators released in 2001. The song contains a group of lines I like to quote every now and again:

June 1st, '67
Something died and went to Heaven
I wish Sgt. Pepper NEVER taught the band to play!

Scott Kempner saw me cite that passage online in an exchange about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and he politely chided me for giving the impression that the Dictators didn't dig Pepper. They DID like Pepper, he said, and they certainly loved the Beatles, but they were dismayed by the Fabs' many humorless would-be successors. That is, after all, where ROCK began to separate from ROLL. Man, don't teach the bands to play that.

The song says the Dictators saw the Stooges, covered in bruises. I'm glad I've lived in a world where the Beatles and the Stooges and the Rivieras and the Flamin' Groovies and razzafrazzin' Sonny and Cher taught the Dictators to play, where the Dictators taught the Ramones how to play, where the Ramones taught themselves to be the Ramones. 

Where rock and roll was saved.

Out went the call, to one and to all: Who will save rock and roll? It was a collective effort. In the '70s, the Dictators did their part. Rock and roll. Godspeed, Top Ten. We thank you for your service. Faster and louder, Cars, girls, surf, and beer. Saved. We stand tall.

If you like what you see here on Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider a visit to CC's Tip Jar

Carl's new book Gabba Gabba Hey! A Conversation With The Ramones is now available, courtesy of the good folks at Rare Bird Books. Gabba Gabba YAY!!

If it's true that one book leads to another, my next book will be The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). Stay tuned. Your turn is coming.

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, streaming at SPARK stream and on the Radio Garden app as WESTCOTT RADIO. Recent shows are archived at Westcott Radio. You can read about our history here.

I'm on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Fake THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO Playlist: There's Rock 'n' Roll On My TV Show

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl is simply too large a concept to be neatly contained within a mere three-hour weekly time slot. Hence these occasional fake TIRnRR playlists, detailing shows we're never really going to do...but could.

Wow! Today's fake playlist has been sitting unfinished in the ol' Boppin' queue long enough that I have to add a note for our 2022 compilation album This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 5 to the boilerplate below. We pause now so I can take care of that particular station identification....

Okay, boilerplate updated! And now we rejoin our regular programming already in progress: Tracks heard in episodes of various TV series. This playlist excludes performances on variety shows and music-specific programs, whether it was The Ed Sullivan Show or Shindig! These are songs that turned up on episodic TV shows from I Dream Of Jeannie to Loki, Freaks And Geeks to WKRP In CincinnatiThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to The Monkees to Square Pegs to Mad Men, some played as soundtrack to cathode-ray/cable/streaming shenanigans, some sung (or lip-synced) on-screen by the original artists. AND we have one set of theme songs. I miss theme songs, man. 

TV on the radio? Well, maybe radio on TV on the radio. Our playlist starts and ends with an alpha-omega spin from Gilmore Girls (the first song heard at the start of the show's pilot, the last song heard at the end of its final network first-run), with the Ramones' appearance on The Simpsons serving as a tag. 

(And, although I'm not much of a Doobie Brothers fan--kinda like I'm not much of a chopped liver fan--I did consider programming "Takin' It To The Streets" from their appearance on the sitcom What's Happening!! Rerun could not be reached for comment.)

We'll be back (back back) in a minute, back (back back) after this. Please stay tuned for these important messages.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl--y'know, the real one--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 all about this show's long and weird history here: Boppin' The Whole Friggin' Planet (The History Of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO). TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS are always welcome.

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
Volume 5: CD or download

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at

Fake TIRnRR Playlist: There's Rock 'n' Roll On My TV Show

THE LA'S: There She Goes [Gilmore Girls]
BADFINGER: Baby Blue [Breaking Bad]
STEVIE WONDER: I Believe When I Fall In Love (It Will Be Forever) [High Fidelity]
THE SEX PISTOLS: Anarchy In The U.K. [That '70s Show]
THE FLASHCUBES: Damaged Beyond Repair [Speechless]
THE BEATLES: Good Morning, Good Morning [The Monkees]
THE KINKS: You Really Got Me [Mad Men]
COTTON MATHER: Lily Dreams On [Veronica Mars]
1.4.5.: She Couldn't Say No [Firefly Lane]
THE VOGUES: Five O'Clock World [The Drew Carey Show]
THE LEONARDS: Left In The Dark [Ugly Betty]
OTIS REDDING: Change Gonna Come [The Wonder Years]
KELLEY RYAN: The Church Of Laundry [Chicago Med]
THE BEAU BRUMMELS: Laugh Laugh [The Flintstones]
SCREEN TEST: Make Something Happen [Young Sheldon]
BLACK FLAG: Rise Above [Freaks And Geeks]
SUZI QUATRO: Devil Gate Drive [Happy Days]
DAVY JONES: Girl [The Brady Bunch]
LESLEY GORE: California Nights [Batman]
BLUE ASH: Jazel Jane [Daisy Jones & The Six]
THE SAINTS: This Perfect Day [Daisy Jones & The Six]
QUEEN: Flash's Theme [The Flash]
TOMMY BOYCE & BOBBY HART: I'll Blow You A Kiss In The Wind [Bewitched]
TOMMY BOYCE & BOBBY HART: Out And About [I Dream Of Jeannie]
THE SEEDS: Pushin' Too Hard [The Mothers-In-Law]
ALICE COOPER: Sick Things [The Snoop Sisters]
CHAD & JEREMY: No Other Baby [The Dick Van Dyke Show]
BIG STAR: I'm In Love With A Girl [The Wonder Years]
THE MONKEES: You Bring The Summer [Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life]
MÖTORHEAD: Ace Of Spades [The Young Ones]
THE RAMONES: Beat On The Brat [The Simpsons]
JANILEIGH COHEN: Blues Run The Game [This Is Us]
THE KINKS: Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy [WKRP In Cincinnati]
JULIE DRISCOLL WITH BRIAN AUGER & THE TRINITY: This Wheel's On Fire (Absolutely Fabulous)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: Oh! Sweet Nuthin' [Loki]
ABBA: Dancing Queen [Firefly Lane]
THE MONKEES: The Porpoise Song (Theme From Head) [Mad Men]
JOEY RAMONE: What A Wonderful World [Gilmore Girls]
OTIS REDDING: You Don't Miss Your Water [Quarry]
THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: Mother People [The Monkees]
PEACHES & HERB: Shake Your Groove Thing [The Drew Carey Show]
JOAN JETT: Bad Reputation [Freaks And Geeks]
THE DANDY WARHOLS: We Used To Be Friends [Veronica Mars]
THE TORIES: Time For You [Jessie]
THE PATTI SMITH GROUP: Dancing Barefoot [Daisy Jones & The Six]
REMY ZERO: Save Me [Smallville]
THE WAITRESSES: Square Pegs [Square Pegs]
CHEAP TRICK: That '70s Song (In The Street) [That '70s Show]
THE REMBRANDTS: I'll Be There For You [Friends]
DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMES: Reflections [China Beach]
CHAD & JEREMY: Teenage Failure [Batman]
THE DICKIES: Hideous [CPO Sharkey]
BIG STAR: Don't Lie To Me [Quarry]
FOXY: Hot Number [Freaks And Geeks]
BILLY IDOL: Dancing With Myself [Square Pegs]
TEGAN & SARA: Girls Talk [The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel]
THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS: Inside Out [Gilmore Girls]
THE RAMONES: Happy Birthday, Mr. Burns [The Simpsons]

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

COMIC BOOK RETROVIEW: DC Comics Licensed Titles In The '60s and '70s

I've seen some recent online posts that have me thinking about DC Comics' licensed titles. Nowadays, we mostly think of DC and Marvel comic books within the parameters of the characters each company owns. But it used to be common for both companies to pay a license to adapt some property from other media into a four-color newsstand funnybook. Dell and then Gold Key Comics were the kingpins of licensed titles, and Charlton Comics also had quite a few licenses, but DC and Marvel likewise produced their share of comics based on outside sources. 

in the '70s, Marvel did particularly well with their license of Conan the Barbarian, perhaps less so with Doc Savage. I would guess that DC's most popular licensed title in the '70s was Tarzan. I'd look to the eighty-issue run of The Adventures Of Jerry Lewis from 1957-1971 as a significantly long life on the spinner rack, especially if we add the preceding forty issues when it was The Adventures Of Dean Martin And Jerry Lewis (1952-1957). I gotta figure ol' Jerry outsold a lot of the individual Justice League of America members' books, and The Adventures Of Jerry Lewis outlasted Aquaman, The Atom, and Hawkman. (I was a fan, and I celebrated the DC Comics legacy of Jerry Lewis in a piece called "The Lovable Lunkhead Returns.")

I wanted to come up with a list of DC's licensed titles. I decided to limit the list to the 1960s and '70s--my first era of reading comics--so the list excludes older series like Mutt & Jeff (103 issues 1939-1958, before moving over to Dell), Jackie Gleason & The Honeymooners, and Mr. District Attorney, among many others. And it stops short of DC's 1980s and beyond licenses of Atari Force, Masters Of The Universe, the Phantom, Star Trek, and Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt.

A few notes: This list excludes Rima The Jungle Girl, a public domain character DC adapted for her own series. I'm listing the 1973-75 Black Magic series (which reprinted '50s horror stories by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, originally published by Prize Comics) and the one-shot Sherlock Holmes because I presume DC licensed both, but I concede the possibility that the company could have acquired ownership of the former, and the latter could have been considered in the public domain (though I'm not sure that's true).

The list does include Shazam! Even though DC eventually bought the rights to the original Captain Marvel, Cap and his Marvel Family cohorts were initially licensed by DC from original publisher Fawcett Comics. DC didn't own the characters outright until decades after the Shazam! book was cancelled. 

Let's have a look at that list:

The Adventures Of Bob Hope
The Adventures of Jerry Lewis
Black Magic
Bomba The Jungle Boy
Captain Action
A Date With Judy
The Fox And The Crow
Hot Wheels
Justice Inc. [the pulp hero The Avenger]
Korak Son Of Tarzan
Larry Harmon's Laurel And Hardy
The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis
The Mighty Isis
The Shadow
Shazam! [the original Captain Marvel]
Sherlock Holmes
Sword Of Sorcery [Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser]
Tarzan Family
Welcome Back Kotter
Weird Worlds [first seven issues, with Edgar Rice BurroughsJohn Carter of Mars and Pellucidar]


Dick Tracy in Limited Collectors' Edition # C-40
G.I. Joe in Showcase # 53-54.
James Bond 007 in Showcase # 43

I feel like I missed something, so additions are certainly welcome. Some of these comics were really good; I was especially fond of Captain Action, Hot Wheels, Tarzan, and The Shadow, and I loved the Golden Age reprints in Shazam!, even if I didn't always dig the then-new material as much.


The Avenger appeared in The Shadow # 11.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser appeared in Wonder Woman # 202, prior to the first issue of their own title Sword Of Sorcery.

Isis appeared in Shazam! # 25.

The Marvel Family and a number of other characters licensed from Fawcett Comics (Spy Smasher, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Mr. Scarlet and Pinky, and Ibis the Invincible) appeared in Justice League Of America # 135-137. An Ibis the Invincible reprint was used in Detective Comics # 441. In addition to several all-reprint Shazam! issues in the oversize series Limited Collectors' Edition, Captain Marvel and his sister Mary Marvel appeared in the "Superman Vs. Shazam" tabloid comic All-New Collectors' Edition # C-58. When the Shazam! comic was cancelled, Cap and the Marvel Family became a back-up strip in World's Finest Comics.

The Shadow appeared in Batman # 253 and 259.


Some 1960s DC stories starring Bomba the Jungle Boy were reprinted in '70s issues of Tarzan. By this time, DC's Bomba license had expired, so the stories were edited to star the never-before-seen Simba the Jungle Boy instead.

DC had planned a series adapting Mattel's astronaut action figure Major Matt Mason, but the proposed series was cancelled before anything saw print. A completed Matt Mason adventure called "Earth Shall Not Die!" was printed in two parts in From Beyond The Unknown # 7-8, with the lead character renamed Commander Glenn Merritt.

So! Were there any other properties licensed to DC in the '60s and '70s? If so, you have license to let me know about them.

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Carl's new book Gabba Gabba Hey! A Conversation With The Ramones is now available, courtesy of the good folks at Rare Bird Books. Gabba Gabba YAY!!

If it's true that one book leads to another, my next book will be The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). Stay tuned. Your turn is coming.

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