Thursday, July 4, 2024


 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 will really be 40 Songs, presented in four parts. The selections draw from the playlist for This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 1240, presenting a few of the tracks featured in my new book THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (VOLUME 1).

We played 48 tracks on this week's show; for ten of those, I read on-air excerpts from the book's chapter about that track. This four-part collection of 10 Songs columns will offer snippets on behalf of the other 38 tracks, with two bonus tracks at the end.

You can read Part 1 here.

OTIS REDDING: (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

...Soul singer Otis Redding's only crossover pop hit was "(Sittin' On) the Dock Of the Bay," an incredible mix of pride and resignation, a swagger reduced to a shrug. It was a posthumous # 1, ascending the charts after Redding perished in a plane crash in 1967. 

Redding was a huge, huge star on the R & B charts. Rock promoter Bill Graham referred to Redding as "the black Elvis," an electrifying showman with a nigh-unique potential to unite black and white audiences under one big soulful pop rock 'n' roll tent. He wasn't a crossover artist, not in the same sense as the Motown acts selling 45s by the truckload to young America. Redding was the single greatest voice of Stax/Volt Records, a Memphis label that was pure soul. Crossover? Let the white kids cross over to us, man. If anyone could achieve that specific level of destiny in the sixties, it was gonna be Otis Redding.

Except that it wasn't....


Aretha Franklin was a force of nature. Aretha Franklin was a gift from Heaven. The statements conflict, but both are true. She was angel and hurricane, earthquake and blessing, saint and tornado. If she wasn't the greatest singer in the history of pop music, I can’t imagine who could take that crown. The Queen of Soul? Even that's too limiting. Aretha was the queen of it all.

The Queen. By divine right....

THE MONKEES: Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)

It was over. It was the end. The moneymen knew it. The players did not. The players had no idea how distant the year 1968 was from 1967. The calendar insisted it had been just one year; instead, it may as well have been a lifetime.

The Monkees were on top of the world in '67. The made-for-TV quartet--Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith--were at the peak of their popularity, with a hit TV show promoting big, big hit records, successful concert dates to prove the manufactured band could perform as a real band, opportunities to hobnob with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and all of rock 'n' roll's biggest names, and a chance to make their own music after freeing themselves from the yoke of golden-eared but shortsighted Musical Supervisor Don Kirshner. By some accounts, the Monkees in 1967 outsold the Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined; Nesmith later insisted he'd manufactured that claim himself, and that people took this fib as truth. Whether a lie or a Gospel, it was plausible. 1967 was the summer of love. It was the summer of Sgt. Pepper. If the Monkees weren't really bigger than the Beatles, they were nonetheless awfully big indeed.

And it all went away in 1968....

PRINCE: When You Were Mine

...But, for the time being, it was 1980. White America was not ready for a diminutive, omnisexual black man crooning of his libidinal desires, for his gender-fluid gymnastics, the soulful spirit that informed his unique rock 'n' roll. A black rock star? A black rock star in nylons...?! His name is Prince. And he be funky.

Decades later, we look back in befuddlement at the notion of Prince not yet accepted, not yet recognized, not yet celebrated as PRINCE. In 1980, such widespread celebration and recognition was off in a future as far away as The Jetsons or Buck Rogers. But Prince himself? Prince was already Prince....


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, forming 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 happen when a musician near you starts to play....



For the disaffected and dissatisfied in 1977, no track expressed the feeling of rock music in dizzying free fall with greater menace and implied ennui than "Elevation" by Television....


...Although "Cherry Bomb" has become something of an alt-rock classic, the Runaways could never quite overcome the obstacles in their path to stardom, obstacles of sexism, substance abuse, and entrenched mainstream resistance to anything remotely punk, anything not tame, not bought and paid for. Lita Ford had some solo success. Joan Jett had a lot of success. Jett's well-known love of rock 'n' roll was first declared as a member of the Runaways....

KISS: Shout It Out Loud

...Guitars--slick, commercial, Big Pop rock 'n' roll guitars--wind and twirl with delicious abandon, far from their natural home on a Raspberries record, off on a search and destroy mission bound for a transistor radio near you. Paul Stanley sings, and my God! The artificial jive of Stanley's patter on Alive! disappears, and you believe. He sounds like he believes, too. Gene Simmons, bless ‘im, sounds like he's stopped counting his cash and his female conquests long enough to rock and roll, a benevolent spirit channeling the music he loves.

"The music he loves." See, we don't often think about the members of KISS as music fans. But they were. In particular, Simmons and Stanley loved the Beatles. That all-you-need love isn't always evident within KISS's own records, but its redemptive and all-encompassing power animates "Shout It Out Loud." It's not that it sounds like the Beatles, but it does sound like something crafted by Beatles fans, by folks like the Raspberries, Badfinger, Todd Rundgren. Its delight is palpable. Its roots stretch also to the Who and the Dave Clark Five. And it still doesn't quite sound like any of them, either. It sounds like the hottest band in the world. You wanted the best....

THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter

...That's sales. That's popularity. That's the broader equivalent of the schoolyard milieu we hope to outgrow someday. Cliques. Crushes. Notes passed in class, clandestine fantasies of holding hands and meeting at the lips, adolescent wishes for the rapture of romance. The pre-teen dream. The fact that the Bay City Rollers catered specifically to that fantasy doesn't negate the occasional moments when they broke beyond it. Hey sister poet, dear brother poet, too.  "Rock and Roll Love Letter" exploded from the radio like an effervescent missive from an alternate world ruled by the virtues of pure pop....


My soul has been psychedelicized.

Some records feel so massive, so friggin' huge, that we can't imagine how that sonic tsunami can be contained by any physical medium. The track's palpable mojo bursts free from its grooves, untethered, conjuring the equivalent of cinematic Sensurround within our eager heads. It’s larger than life. That description applies to the dynamic acid soul of "Time Has Come Today" by the Chambers Brothers....


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

My new book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) is now available for order; you can see details here. My 2023 book Gabba Gabba Hey! A Conversation With The Ramones is also still available, courtesy of the good folks at Rare Bird Books

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

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