We are having major difficulty with this website, so while I plan our move to a new host you will need to adjust to not getting a big cover picture here. When you follow the playlist link it will be there.
As discussed during last episode, the response to FTB#186, our Power Pop packed tribute to Bobby Sutliff was so positive it was decided to make the next Mixtape Episode, songs we consider Power Pop Essentials. Since #186 was just a few episodes ago, we have not included most of the things played on that show, but they will be ripe for picking for Part 3 which should surface within a month or so. We are at 80% of our fundraising goal and the link is only good for another 4 days, so if you can, the place to go is https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8MLkB5ZR4b. Please accept our deepest gratitude for the support.
PLAYLISTS ARE HERE
Traditionally speaking, this is the point on the calendar signaling arrival of the year’s musical offerings for the be here before ya know it, Holiday Shopping season. Mentally drifting back to days running a record store (1974-1979), with orders placed for months and boxes of shiny new records just starting to appear, carefully opened, examined, priced and placed in a special area waiting to showcase them as the new bounty. Lovingly arranged and fixed with “20% Off” stickers on their freshly shrink wrapped, straight from the pressing plant goodness. One can savor “new car smell” till the cows come home but to these nostrils it’s not even in the same ballpark as “new record smell.” Like a grade school mimeograph, the aroma simply can’t be described, just deeply inhale holding your breath and exhale slowly. “Ahhhh”... Heavenly.
Assembling this episode of FTB inspired precisely that memory. The Afghan Whigs new album was my #1 anticipation and as you will hear it doesn’t disappoint. Joined here by fresh sounds from Built To Spill, Julian Lennon (with Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile), Buddy Guy (with Mavis Staples and Jason Isbell), GA-20, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Son Little, Freedy Johnston, Beth Orton, Ryan Adams, The National, previously unreleased history from Joe Strummer and David Bowie. There are new Kinks remastered sets and the just turned 30 celebration of Sugar’s incendiary pop masterpiece, “Copper Blue” in the mix, as well as a few more tears for the departed Jazz Icon, Ramsey Lewis. Our racks are almost full here and for that we thank your always generous contributions at https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8MLkB5ZR4b.
THE PLAYLIST IS RIGHT HERE
A Power Pop episode of FTB has been on the must-do list right from the start, but the death of Bobby Sutliff moved it to the front of the line. By no means is this show’s aim to be the last word (or even the second paragraph) of what constitutes the best of Power Pop, because who the hell are we to decide what is best? There is no best or worst as all art is subjective. The artists included here are either connected in some way to Bobby or just seemed to fit the mood, the moment and the overall vibe. Many are true favorites personally and the hope is some previously unheard song will become essential to your library. Big thanks go to Tim Lee for the info, and Art Damage and Ripper McSesh for helping with the nuts and bolts. And please accept our deep thanks for continuing to support the program. Here’s the donate link - https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8MLkB5ZR4b
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TO DONATE DIRECTLY TO BOBBY'S FAMILY HERE IS THE INFO:
GOFUNDME.COM - LET'S GIVE BOBBY A HAND
Technically Labor Day is not the end of Summer and considering the blistering heat we’ve experienced this year, with more predicted, who knows if it will feel like it until Halloween or so. Time has been in limbo, suspended while medical trauma and recovery morph into a Pandemic and all of a sudden it’s 4 years gone. Poof. The mental fog has lifted to the point of grateful acceptance that this will be as good as it gets and that’s cool with me. But far too many friends, family and musical inspirations are also missing and their absence leaves an ache of longing. It was my buddy Joe’s Birthday on the first and almost 2 years have now passed since he did. Life often feels like being an observer, not an active participant. Truth and honor are in dwindling supply and Democracy has been under siege, but optimism still burns within that as a society we will get there. Bill Hicks said we have two choices, fear and love. Simple choice. Music is love and that never fails. We bid farewell to Jazz great Joey DeFrancesco and New Orleans favorite son and original Continental Drifter Carlo Nuccio. There are a few new things like Chris Forsyth and old friend Dan Navarro as well as a set for the holiday at hand. Shadow Morton is in the spotlight dance along with Joe South, while Marvin Gaye, Max Frost & The Troopers, Joe Strummer, Mott The Hoople, Pharoah Sanders, Television and the new Blondie box are just a small part of FTB185’s sonic fabric. Thanks as always for your ears and heart. Your support has been a true blessing. The link - https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8MLkB5ZR4b
The PLAYLIST ishere.
FTB #184 is another Free Form romp through the music library, with some brand new sounds courtesy of Julian Cope, The National, Miles Davis, Silversun Pickups, Robyn Hitchcock, Valerie June, Tedeschi Trucks Band, David Bowie, Freedy Johnston and more. Ripper McSesh and Art Damage were hanging with Mike in the studio the entire time, continuing their quest to figure out how he can include Chet Baker, Alice In Chains, Led Zeppelin, Mississippi John Hurt and John Waite in the same set without even a minor musical trainwreck. Thanks again for the use of your ear holes to park our musical obsessions. As the great Lenny Bruce said in “Father Flotski’s Triumph” -- We’re giving it all up for you, Kinky!
We tried to make it until September before asking for donations, but came up a few days short. We completely understand if you are also tapped out, but in case you find some spare change in the sofa at least you will have a handy link. Thanks, as always, for keeping the dream alive. https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8MLkB5ZR4b
If you want the Playlist click HERE
Didn’t realize it was National Radio Day but who are we to argue, instead of waiting we’ll unleash this puppy tonight. New music from Kasabian, Moby and Serpentwithfeet, Jesse Malin, Cheap Star, Duncan Sheik, Broken Bells, Kal Marks, Nick Piunti, The Grip Weeds, Julian Cope and Richard Barone. We dial the clock back for a visit with David Crosby and Ripper McSesh steals the station van, loads it with Interns and heads over the bridge to Atlantic City in an effort to take the temperature on a potential run for the White House from someone who already is guilty of fraud, mismanagement and not paying his bills locally. They apparently recommend a rectal probe for the best result. Thanks for everything, especially your ears.
Click and ye shall find the PLAYLIST
The passing of Lamont Dozier leaves a void that simply cannot be filled. While anyone musically aware likely know his name, you would be surprised how low the percentage really is. Especially when you consider that his astonishing body of work has touched and enriched the lives of nearly everyone. The least we can do is dedicate an entire episode to this remarkable individual. While I would urge anyone not familiar with the contributions of Mr. Dozier to the culture of the world investigate his likely never to be equaled achievements. Even those who do need to do the same. Although I have spent most of my 66 years on the planet absorbing, digesting and seeking out music and related information somewhat obsessively, there were still many things I learned over the process of putting this episode together. We should be thankful that we were alive during the same period that Lamont Dozier was enriching the musical culture of the planet. A true Giant has left the building, Ladies & Gentlemen. We hope you enjoy the show. Sending out thanks and respect to Art Damage and new addition Ripper McSesh for their essential contribution to this episode.
PLAYLIST is right here
I almost don’t want to let this one go, just like none of us wanted to let Uncle Bill go. A wonderful Human in every possible way, William Peters was a very spiritual, principled and kind man. He possessed the ability to be a source of calm in the midst of any sort of turbulence. While he was a Deacon and very religious man, for him it was not a political statement or means to an end, it was simply the way he was constructed. I’m pretty sure the mold used for Uncle Bill 88 years ago is out of circulation or at best very sparingly utilized, at least in the last few decades. As recently as the overturn of “Roe” he and I had a long talk and were in complete agreement about how wrong it was and he said, “All they want to do is control women, they don’t care about nurturing and taking care of the child after they are born.” Married to my Aunt Connie for 68 years, they are as in love today as the very first day they met. I miss him already.
This episode is a twisting path musically with turns aplenty but is all in his honor, even though some of the stuff I’m sure he wouldn’t care for, he wouldn’t let that stop his enjoyment of the rest. We all can’t like the same things, it would make life pretty boring. I’m just a bit miffed that I didn’t discover his love of “real” Country music until recently, allowing me to give him a new nickname. So Tex, this one's for you with all our love and respect. We’ll Meet Again.
The Playlist is here
Dramarama, The Dream Academy, Winter Hours, The Stone Roses, Wire Train, The Smiths, Wire, Brian Eno, Killing Joke, Gene Loves Jezebel, Simple Minds, INXS, Flesh For Lulu, APB, Romeo Void, The Slits, Missing Persons, Modern English, The Alarm, The Producers, The Jags, Blancmange, The Lotus Eaters, Ministry, Lene Lovich, The The, Tears for Fears, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Julian Cope, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Human League, ABC, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Times, Fun Boy Three, They Might Be Giants, Spizzenergi, The Fall, Pulsallama, The Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission, The Wonder Stuff, Soul Attack, Pushtwangers, The Boomtown Rats, Adam & The Ants, The Fixx, Talk Talk, See No Evil, Flaming Mussolinis, The Motors, 20-20, Missing Persons, Kirsty Maccoll, New Order, Dead Or Alive, Yazoo, Bronski Beat, Time Zone, Public Image Ltd.
The Playlist you seek is here
“If you write, fix pipes, grade papers, lay bricks or drive a taxi - do it with a sense of pride. And do it the best you know how. Be cognizant and sympathetic to the guy alongside, because he wants a place in the sun, too. And always...always look past his color, his creed, his religion and the shape of his ears. Look for the whole person. Judge him as the whole person.”
― Rod Serling
Mr. Serling was so much more than the creator of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, although that would be quite enough for most. Over the course of his career, he wrote 252 scripts and won six Emmys and I would wager that hardly anyone remembers his powerful story “Requiem For A Heavyweight,” if you are one, may I suggest you investigate. I keep finding quotes from him that remain appropriate, applying to the present day as much as when they were created. Some fab new sounds are included in this edition as well as shout out to a pair of drummers that remain central to my own life, Birthday wishes to Dino Danelli and congratulations to Bill Bruford on his outstanding career retrospective. We also have a bit of fun at the expense of hateful scumbag Josh Rawley. Wish Carlos Santana well after his health scare and happy belated 75th. Finally, I say goodbye to a schoolmate and my very first bandmate, Johnny D. O’Toole. Thanks to all who made the last Donation period the best ever. Sending peace and love and music to everyone. Ringo is right but I need to add music to everything.
And so it began. Surprisingly I do not remember the exact date but one night at Midnight the transmitter stayed on for the FMfor the first time ever and from Midnight until 6 AM, I was on my own. In complete control of what I played. The year was 1984 so everything was still on vinyl only and I would bring anywhere from 3 to 5 large milk crates stuffed with albums, 12” singles, EP’s and a separate box for 7” singles. It was very important to us that we do something different. First song played on the first overnight show was, what else… “Peaches En Regalia” by Frank Zappa. All the stations we had grown up with and admired were no longer keeping up with what was happening musically. They were more and more reliant on research, consultants and appealing to the lowest common denominator. With very few exceptions they didn’t allow the DJ to pick what they played, the most libral might give them a DJ choice slot but no more than 1 an hour. We had no interest in that. Corporate Radio had taken over and if you wanted to keep your gig you followed the playlist handed to you by the letter. The once groundbreaking stations that put together thoughtful, flowing and enlightening sets of music, kept the audience informed of new artists before anyone else, had slid very comfortably into reading liner cards and playing the same stuff ad infinitum. We had basically stopped listening to them, except for Vin Scelsa there was nothing playing we didn’t already hear too much. By 1984 there was quite a large body of great music that commercial radio wouldn’t touch. It was left to College Radio and Noncom signals to play, as well as clubs with more and more branching out from Disco by playing Rock stuff people could dance to.
As already covered, we did not have very good equipment and a sub par signal. To give locals an example, the studio was on Hope Road in Tinton Falls, as was the antenna. I lived in Old Bridge, 23 miles away and could not pick up the station. But due to our location, when it was dark and there were less leaves on the trees I would sometimes get it but usually in Mono. However, once the signal hit the water and skipped it would come in crystal clear in places like Short Hills, Staten Island, the southern part of Long Island and even places like The Village or parts of Manhattan. It was very weird. But we couldn’t concern ourselves with what was wrong, we had too much work to do building our sound and stationality. Endless suggestions and discussions abounded but Rich and I made a pact that we had the final word regardless. He knew a lot more about how radio works but when it came to music he agreed that more often than not would be my purview. Having lived in the area and worked in record stores and clubs we both knew the market and the taste of the population. WNEW was the station of choice in Asbury Park with their “Bruce Juice,”interestingly coined by Morning DJ Dave Herman at WNEW who actually started his radio career playing “Beautiful Music” right here at WHTG. WNEW had yearly concerts on the beach and a partner relationship with The Stone Pony. We made the decision to go another way.
We could feel a change in the air and it wasn’t happening on the Commercial dial. We would cue and fire up “Lust For Life” by Iggy and the dance floor would fill in clubs that even a year earlier wouldn’t even think of altering the incessant 120 BPM of Disco for a second. MTV and Cable TV were in their infancy and bands like The Cure, R.E.M., U2, The Smiths, Generation X, New Order and many more could only be heard on College Radio or in small clubs. There were hundreds of songs, maybe thousands that were connecting with not just a new generation, but the fringes of our own. We would use them in combination with artists abandoned and/or ignored by rock radio like The Tubes, Garland Jeffreys, The Talking Heads, Devo, Mink DeVille, The Ramones, Television, The Stooges, T. Rex, David Bowie and when the weather warmed add in great beach “singles” like The Grass Roots, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Beach Boys, The Monkees, Tommy James, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Rascals, even Buddy Holly, early Who and great tunes like ‘I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night,” “The Letter” or “Mendocino” and make it flow. It was all about what was next and making sure you didn’t get too far from something familiar so there was an easy point of entry. Our goal was to answer questions like, “Hey what was that song you played after ‘Sail On Sailor’?”
The other key for us was if you called the station you actually spoke to the person on the air, who not only answered the call but also engineered their own show. Sure we only had a 1955 rotary dial phone in the studio, but it worked. It would blow people’s minds when we would answer, give them the info they were looking for and actually played their request, most of the time. I used to enjoy getting calls for the Grateful Dead, who were gods in the area. I would say, “sorry man, don’t have any.” Invariably they would say “Tuna?” and sometimes I would play a track from Hot Tuna’s first album. But usually I would play Pop O’Pies version of “Truckin’” laughing my ass off and waiting for the usual call saying that was a really “harsh thing to do, man.” Imagine my surprise when one night around 2 AM the call came from Joe Pop O’Pie himself, who was now living about 2 miles from our studio. He headed right over and hung out with me until 6AM.
Who knows, this might just work…(more to come)
“The writer's role is to menace the public's conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time.”
― Rod Serling
“Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of man, that state is obsolete”
― Rod Serling
For the complete series playlist to date click Here
The Bell’s Palsy has subsided so I am back behind Mr. Microphone for this episode, I think you will be able to understand me, although with a packed episode of new and rarely heard tunes, sometimes I feel like I’m just getting in the way. While it’s very sad to say goodbye to supreme showman and Pop hook genius Cliff Johnson (hit me hard), Paul Ryder of Happy Mondays and the legendary William “Poogie” Hart of The Delfonics, we do get to revel in the unexpected return of Lewis Taylor and Jazz great Ronnie Foster. Add in more brilliant new music from Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp (2 Beach Boys covers), Nightlands, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad bring the latest episode of their Jazz Is Hell series featuring a band that won’t be a secret much longer, Katalyst. In addition, Ginger Wildheart has crafted some pop gems on his new outing, JayWood, Death Cab for Cutie, Jonah Tolchin and The Gabbard Brothers/Buffalo Killers join in with riveting new sounds. We have Manic Street Preachers covering Sinatra, Johnny Thunders does Doris Day while the unmistakable musical link between Joni Mitchell and Duke Ellington is displayed. All this is only about 30% of the show and the unexpected sonic links and twists abound as usual. Thanks to all who contributed to the cause, I don’t believe I’ll need to hit you up again until the end of the Summer. Please send some positive vibes to my Aunt Connie and Uncle Bill, they are the last Aunt and Uncle left from my huge family and exemplary humans, even though I am related. I am thankful to be just 10 minutes from them, so there’s someone close when needed. Have fun, smile more and always listen to as much music as possible. Thanks for listening and everything.
THERE ONCE WAS A RADIO STATION CALLED FM 106.3 WHTG, EATONTOWN NJ
So we had a plan, better yet we had an actual transmitter and Antenna… Well, sort of. Let’s just say that the equipment at WHTG was “vintage” and we knew nothing would improve unless we managed to find and build an audience. The board was an old rotary dial Ampro which was installed give or take a year or so since the day I was born, and it was literally held together with well placed paper clips and scotch tape. The cart decks were mono and in need of some work and the way commercials got cut was when on the air in channel 1, you would cut the commercials in channel 2 while doing your show. Ok, Ok… we’ve all been in similar situations, but there was one sticking point I had that needed to be addressed ASAP. Rich had managed to assemble about 150 records into a station library, and although I had everything we would need record wise, there was no way I was going to play them on those 1950 Transcription Turntables that tracked so heavy you could see the new groove cut in the record. If we could get them to spring for a pair of Technics 1200s, I would provide what we needed record wise, until we could replace them. At the time, the station (a 3,000 watt daytimer) FM and AM still went dark at Midnight. Our plan had me starting an Overnight Show with no boundaries musically, while figuring out how to be a DJ, selling air time and designing and building a record library.
Rich was on during the day and we had other DJ’s on the air until Midnight. J.T. Copolous was actually the first to play this “strange new music” when he cued-up and let fly “Planet Claire” the opening track from the B-52’s second album on his weekend show, “Suuuuhhhh-PRIZE” indeed! Finally, Rich calls me up and says, “you won’t believe it and I’m not even sure I do but I’m looking at a pair of brand new Technics 1200 turntables, with Stanton movable coil cartridges (essential for back and slip cueing) they are here!” I began loading records into milk crates before hanging up the phone. This was actually going to happen. We both grew up on great radio, first AM and then FM with call letters like WOR-FM, WNEW-FM, WABC-FM, WMMR in Philadelphia, which we would sometimes hear down the shore further south, we wished we could pick up WLIR but couldn’t, and both of us had an affinity for what Meg Griffin and her Husband Joe From Chicago had done with the short-lived but much loved WPIX “From Elvis To Elvis” as well as another short lived NY station, WQIV - The Quadfather. I had another station on my list though which actually had as much or more impact on me than all those mentioned, namely, WXRT in Chicago. My best friend Max had moved out to the Chicago area to study at Chiropractic School, and shortly after he arrived began sending home tapes of this amazing, free form station. What they were doing at the time was truly revolutionary. (more to come)
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There Once Was A Radio Station Called FM 106.3 WHTG, Eatontown NJ
WHTG was always planned to be a main topic for this series since it was really the starting point for everything I have managed to do in my so-called career. WHTG changed to a "Rock" format in 1984 but was the culmination of conversations, friendships and projects that started in 1976 when I was managing a record store in the Monmouth Mall called Musicden. It was there I first encountered Rich Robinson, Bart Cross-Tierney and Chuck Michaels (Pierce), hiring them one by one to help out in the store, which was everything you could imagine a “hip” record store was in the mid-70s in a mall with a Sam Goody also down the hall and to the left. It was actually a real blast and I would not trade coming of age when I did with any other. Rich would go on to work with a variety of bands I was in, Chuck was involved with building DJ equipment and Bart would drift in and out of everyone’s lives, eventually getting back in touch when he heard me on the Overnight show and we brought him aboard the good ship HTG immediately as he was the only one of us who had a legitimate radio voice.
All of us were fanatical music fans, Bart an insane Beatles collector and me just a record collector, trying to hunt down and acquire all different kinds of music, especially new sounds. By the time I was turning 25 the realization that a career in drumming was not going to provide any sort of financial security so when offered a job at Jem Records, the major importer of all the music I loved, I jumped at the chance. Between years of playing in bands, running a record store and collecting records I had a sort of Rainman vibe in regard to rock and jazz knowledge. Useless stuff to normal people like knowing the catalog number, providence and members of pretty much every band and artist off the top of my head. I felt this was like going to College, and that being the case this job at Jem was akin to entering Graduate School.
This was a new level and there was so much I didn’t know, but these were my people. Records and Music were all we talked about. My knowledge and collection were a mere speck in a place where one dude actually owned every single that entered the Billboard chart from 1950-1980, and had them perfectly filed by Label and Catalog Number in matching green sleeves covering the originals. That is where I finally found the original “Valerie” single by Jackie & The Starlights, as he had an extra! This is also where I met Brian Eno and Richard Barone and The Bongos, as we were releasing their records here in the USA. We were also the company that first put out records by Killing Joke, Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Cure in America. Jem Records is celebrating their 50th Birthday this year, as Marty Scott the “M” in Jeff, Ed & Marty, had reactivated the label years back and continues to put out some very cool records today.
Eventually I found myself living in Arlington, Texas and opening Jem Records Texas in Grand Prairie. That put Cathy and I at the midpoint between Dallas and Fort Worth. Cathy got a job in Dallas and I tried to assimilate with my new co-workers, all native Texans. It just wasn’t a good fit, except for one, a guy named Terry. You see, Terry was a Black Man and I was a Yankee, in their eyes that made us the same. Both of us did the work of 5 of them and I made sure to wear a Yankee shirt of some sort every single day. I was nowhere near as mellow as I later became, nor one to hold either my contempt or temper. It wasn’t meant to last, but as always, one good thing came out of it. Thanks to Terry I got my first radio show at KNON in Dallas. It was “The Mr. Mike Show” every Friday night. Two hours of new music, imports and independent releases from around the world. I debuted The Smiths first singles on KNON, The Voice Of The People. I finally realized that this is what I needed to do and the sooner I could get out of Texas and back home to NJ the better. Jem would not pay to move me back, so I borrowed the money from my Father-In-Law, quit and moved home. I was sort of working for them again upon my return, but it wasn’t the same, so I started spinning records at bars, clubs and wherever I could. And we did pay my Father-In-Law back. Larry is a great man, still going at 92 years old. The last parent between us. That time arrives quicker than expected, occasionally all at once and drives home the fact that we are the older generation now. Maybe it’s time to just write this shit down while I still can.
As luck would have it, my old pal Rich was spending his time working at a Radio Station in a little house in the woods in Tinton Falls, with a mailing address in Asbury Park. You guessed it, WHTG. It was a Beautiful Music Station, playing album sides of Mantovani and Andre Kostelanetz, and was privately owned, literally broadcasting from the house where the owner lived. Started in the 50’s by Harold and Theo Gade (HTG) it was currently being run by their daughter Faye, after Harold went off to Hawaii with his new bride following the death of his wife. But Rich, that smooth son of a gun, had a plan. With his hair length almost reaching his waist, he was certainly not into playing that sort of music on the radio, so he set about conducting a survey in the very same Monmouth Mall where we first met. After gathering the results he suggested to Faye that she should really consider changing the station to Rock. Then he called me. Now this could get very interesting… (more to come)
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