Saturday, April 29, 2017

Guided By Voices August By Cake, Doug Gillard Interview & Show # 655


Guided By Voices latest release, August By Cake starts off in a momentous way. It starts with an announcement by singer, songwriter and mainstay of the group since their early beginnings, Robert Pollard. The song itself features horns, handclaps, intertwining guitars and rolling basslines, which at times come off with a John Entwhistle R&B slant. Lyrically, the song seems like it could be partially autobiographical. August By Cake also marks the 100th release by Robert Pollard (when you count all of his affiliated releases with other bands and as a solo artist) since 1986. In addition to this, August By Cake is also the first double album to be released by Guided By Voices. The album appropriately is different from other releases in the Guided By Voices/Robert Pollard cannon, but also has many similarities to past music that has been created.

The previous release by Guided By Voices, 2014’s Please Be Honest, featured instrumentation recorded solely by Robert Pollard. Prior to this GBV released five albums and an EP with the classic 1992-1996 era GBV line-up featuring Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell, Greg Demos and Robert Pollard. This release is a reunion of previous GBV band line-ups as well as a new one. The band lineup features guitarist Doug Gillard (who played with the band initially from 1997-2004), Kevin March (who played drums with the band in the early 2000’s and 2014) and Robert Pollard. The new lineup also features bassist Mark Shue and guitarist Bobby Bare Jr. This album is a strong effort that marks a second reunion of sorts. With 32 tracks clocking in at 71 minutes, there is plenty of material here to sift through.

“When We All Hold Hands At The End of the World” is a short song that seems to poke fun at getting older and adult life, “We Liken The Sun” is a song with plenty of arpeggios and guitar distortion, reflecting a sound from 1996’s Under The Bushes Under The Stars and abstract lyrics, “Packing the Dead Zone” seems to be a social commentary about our current social media trends, “What Begins On New Year’s Day” is an acoustic pop song with heavy segments of drum hits and guitar stabs and chords. This song is reminiscent of 90s era GBV songs and lyrically seems to be addressing proposed promises/failures in a reflective fashion. The song is very short, like many GBV songs they seem like they could be not completed or perhaps a demo in some cases. But, this is part of what makes GBV so interesting, there are hidden gems throughout this release, and all GBV for that matter. They are brief, but memorable.

For this album, Robert Pollard wrote songs initially intending to release a single album, but he had too many songs for a single album. Instead, he decided to proceed with a double album and asked each member of the band to contribute two tracks each. As a result, there is a new freshness to the songs found on this release. “Goodbye Note” is one of two songs written/recorded by guitarist Doug Gillard. With it’s descending guitar patterns the song seems to call for understanding in a relationship that involves life with a band on the road. “Deflect/Project” with lyrics such as “Deflect/project oh your actions are never circumspect” and “Planned obsolescence is the goal” this song emphasizes a dichotomy between being relevant and taking risks in a post-punk musical aesthetic. “Absent the Man” is a song by bassist Mark Shue with lyrics that seems to reflect a disconnect in band life/home life. “Chew The Sand” another Shue track, is an instrumental of sorts with mumbling lyrics, heavy drums and dusty guitar effects that at times drift into prog rock territory (Shue also contributes the song “Sudden Fiction” to this album as well). Bobby Bare Jr.’s contributions include the angsty garage song “High Five Hall of Famers” and “Upon The Circus Bus” an acoustic song with loud talking/banter in the background with allusive lyrics. “Overloaded” a song by drummer Kevin March, is a jangly pop song reflecting a situation showcasing someone that may have put a bit too much on their plate and is sorting through it. “Sentimental Wars” musically is an acoustic, drum filled and organ-dominated affair. Lyrically, March is searching for sentimentality or connection with lyrics such as “We are all fighting/Can we ever find the time to be alone?” and “Just take my hand/I will be with you always”.

All of these songs, whether they are Robert Pollard originals or by other band members, feature a certain cohesion to them. There is a flow to this album, that makes all of the songs seem seamless, but not in a stereotypical way. “Dr. Feelgood Falls Off The Ocean” as do several of the songs on this release, resembles a 90s era GBV sound. Lyrically, the song is a tale about suburban life. “The Laughing Closet” is a melodic track with abstract lyrics, “Whole Tomatoes” is an acoustic song that sounds like it could be a demo, while “Amusement Park is Over” reflects on a past, but once joyous memory.

August By Cake ends with the song “Escape To Phoenix”. An upbeat rock song with lyrics such as “Grand destinies/New hot topics/The escape scene” and “Watching eternity/The people demand an answer”, the song seems to be about a character always wanting to do more. The song ties in with the album’s opening and boisterous track “5 Degrees on the Inside”, but ends with a chant that is taken from lyrics in “Circus Day Hold Out”, another track found on August By Cake. The words “Crank up your monkey and organ without me” end the album. They fade out in what sounds like an abstract phrase and sense of camaraderie. With Guided By Voices, a lot of their songs are like abstract art. There are certain phrases and titles in the songs found on their albums that are open to interpretation and more open ended, despite their usual short length and lo-fi quality at times. This has been something present in all music released by Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices and is part of what sets them apart from other bands.

A lot of areas are covered on this album. A song like “Packing The Dead Zone” for example touches on social commentary on current social trends. There may be a vast amount of data and information out there today, but there is also a limitation. With GBV who have always had lots of material on their releases and many releases for that matter, more GBV is a good thing. For the 100th release featuring Robert Pollard, it certainly doesn’t sound stale. August By Cake has many layers to fill the listeners plate. And while this album features 32 songs, there is not too much on their metaphorical plate here. There is just enough to satisfy newcomers to the band’s music and diehard Guided By Voices fans alike.

Check out my interview with Doug Gillard here:



The Playlist:

1. Juliana Hatfield - Good Enough For Me
2. Tacocat - I Love Seattle
3. Slowdive - Don't Know Why
4. Chad Vangaalen - Clinically Dead
5. No Fun - Planet
6. Gem - Suburban Girl
7. Doug Gillard - No Perspective
8. Guided By Voices - Goodbye Note

DOUG GILLARD INTERVIEW

9. Robert Pollard & Doug GIllard - Pop Zeus
10. ESP Ohio - Royal Cyclopean
11. Guided By Voices - An Unmarketed Product
12. Zoom - Sweet Desperation
13. Cousins - Lullaby
14. Tuns - Throw It All Away
15. Slow Down Molasses - Secret
16. Construction & Deconstruction - Onomatopoeia
17. Shotgun & Jaybird - Borrowed Minivans
18. Woods - Bleeding Blue
19. Warm Soda - Don't Stop Now
20. The Finks - Now
21. The Scenics - Western Hills (Live - Toronto 2016)
22. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Judy
23. Pavement - Unfair
24. Tim Darcy - You Felt Comfort
25. Guided by Voices - Dr. Feelgood Falls Off the Ocean
26. Guided By Voices - Universal Truths and Cycles
27. Guided By Voices - Hold On Hope


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 29.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Universe and Me Tobin Sprout Interview & Show # 654


Tobin Sprout is perhaps best known as being part of the classic era line-up of lo-fi indie rock band Guided By Voices, but Sprout has been releasing solo material, along with other side projects since the mid-90s. The Universe and Me is his seventh full-length album. For this album, the songs take on a more aggressive approach, as opposed to 2010’s Bluebirds of Happiness Tried To Land On My Shoulder, which was a more piano driven affair. One of his strongest efforts to date, The Universe and Me features a selection of older material from songs that were recorded at Sprout’s Michigan based studio in the past and newer material recorded for this album. As a whole, the songs on this album feature a contemplation of past worldviews. It is a coming of age of sorts, however, Sprout is 61 years old. The Universe and Me contains a complex youthfulness that is found within each of the songs maturities.

“Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow” opens up the album. It is a fuzzy driven rock track that recalls a Guided By Voices aesthetic, it is however, not the same. Lyrically, the song deals with a youth fascinated by superheroes as he transitions to adulthood. This is contrasted with the song title for a certain nostalgic feeling as the character in the song puts on his adult uniform. The title track is a piano driven song that pulls from a Beatles musical influence. “A Walk Across the Human Bridge” is another upbeat rock song contrasted with “Manifest Street”, which is a slower jangly pop song. The song with lyrics such as ”Something to do was raised and grew/On manifest street/In a treasure chest of dreams you’ve kept” conveys a sense of maturity from looking back on the past.

“When I Was A Boy” is a wistful, heartfelt song that explains that even though the character in the song is older, he still feels the same and takes on the world and turns out the cold, “Cowboy Curtains” displays a loss of innocence, “Heart of Wax” melts with a jangly, almost R.E.M. influence, while “I Fall You Fall” is executed in a Neil Young and Crazy Horse fashion. The last song recorded for this album, it is sung with, as are all of the songs on this album, a youthful exuberance, this song seems to show a father that comforts his child stating “You fall/I Fall/It’s so simple”. It is also, as many songs on The Universe and Me, one that can take on many meanings.

“Tomorrow From Heaven” is a lush pop song, complete with distorted guitars, as “Just One Kid (Takes On The World)” is a more rock and roll affair. With heavily distorted guitars, handclaps and power pop song dynamics, this song also features strong lyrical prowess. The lyrics are pretty straightforward, matching the song’s title, showing someone with nothing to lose. “Future Boy (Reprise)” ends the album. The song picks up where the beginning of the album started off. Where the first song “Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow” reflected a growing youth that is eventually dressed a uniform symbolizing adulthood, the reprise version of this song reflects the man this character became, one that wanted to forget his past, but decided to learn and grow from it.

The songs on this album are short, but well put together. A good song is a good song. There are 14 of them on this album, all of which contain an undeniable youthful energy. The production is sometimes rough around the edges, but it just further proves the point that a song can be great regardless of the production style, if done properly. The songs on The Universe and Me showcase a complex feeling, one draped in the colours of nostalgia, but also one with a new sense of understanding. This is a feeling that permeates all of the tracks that are found on The Universe and Me. It is one that like the album’s front cover provides the listener with a sense of awe and wonderment.

Check out my interview with Tobin Sprout:



The Playlist:

1. The Clash - Police & Thieves
2. The Congos - Sodom & Gomorrow
3. Robyn Hitchcock - I Pray When I'm Drunk
4. Brain James - Why? Why? Why?
5. Feefawfum - No Content
6. Tobin Sprout - The Universe and Me

TOBIN SPROUT INTERVIEW

7. Tobin Sprout - Moonflower Plastic (You're Here)
8. Tobin Sprout - To My Beloved Martha
9. Guided By Voices - Awful Bliss
10. Fig.4 - Behind Her Eyes
11. The Kinetics - Take A Train
12. Ron Gallo - Pleasure Yourself
13. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Always Sad
14. The Evaporators - Welcome To My Castle
15. Lush Buffalo - Jane The Ripper
16. Jay Som - 1 Billion Dogs
17. Middle Sister - The Sea
18. Beams - Black Shadow
19. Elliot Smith - Speed Trials
20. Spoon - First Caress
21. Blessed - Endure
22. Mad Ones - It Never Rains
23. Iggy & The Stooges - I Got A Right (Raw Power Sessions Outtake)


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 22.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Sadies Northern Passages & Shows # 651, 652, 653


Northern Passages is the 10th full-length album released by Toronto’s The Sadies, who formed in 1994. This album makes connections with the band’s past, musically and spiritually as well as connecting with the present and future. Dallas and Travis Good have a musical history that is deep rooted in country and folk music. They are the sons of Margaret and Bruce Good. Bruce, alongside Brian and Larry Good (Dallas and Travis’ uncles) performed and recorded music as The Good Brothers. It’s also no secret that The Sadies have collaborated with numerous artists such as Andre Williams, John Doe, Neko Case, Gord Downie, Neil Young, Garth Hudson and many others. On Northern Passages they collaborate with a new contributor, Kurt Vile.

Several of the songs on Northern Passages are like walking into a wide-open field. With each track The Sadies make new paths and breathe new life into previous paths that they’ve travelled through in the past. “Riverview Fog” opens Northern Passages in a psychedelic folk fashion. It is slow and conjures up the feeling of walking on an overcast day prior to a rainfall. Lyrically the song acts as a letter and combination of thoughts to an old reclusive friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while. “Riverview Fog” is said to be about Rick White of Eric’s Trip/Elevator, who alongside Greg Keelor (of Blue Rodeo), Dallas Good, Travis Good, Sean Dean and Mike Belitsky of The Sadies played in The Unintended. With lyrics such as “I know that’s not where you’re at today/Stay calm in your quiet getaway”, “Long gone are the days/They’ve all passed away” and “But I know you’re where you need to be/Out in the country”, “Riverview Fog” mixes up a complex pairing of thoughts and reflectiveness, while at the same time displaying a hopefulness.

“Another Season Again” switches to a more fuzzed up garage path. If the path on “Riverview Fog” was one of an overcast day just before rainfall, “Another Season Again” is more chaotic, like running through a downpour. “There Are No Words” is a slower, dirtier, fuzzier song, as you catch your breath from the previous track. Lyrically the song simmers with a search for meaning or words, as it questions and propels forward before the song’s ending, which slows down into a country outro. It makes way for a new path set by a new collaboration with Kurt Vile. Vile toured with The Sadies years ago and on “It’s Easy (Like Walking)”, Ville’s hazy, laid back approach opens up a new dynamic for The Sadies. The song while lethargic, has a certain mysteriousness to it. With words such as “My hand’s got a permanent air guitar tick/But don’t confuse it with a crutch/’Cause I like it a lot”, “Like playing guitar with your brother/Like planting one foot in front of the other” the song seems to be about The Sadies and The Good brothers and how music seems to come to them so easily. Yet at the same time this lethargic folk song also shows how The Sadies are able to work so well with other bands and collaborate in a way that serves the song first, above anything else.

“The Elements Song” clocks in at five minutes and 21 seconds and calls for being aware of your surroundings. Musically, it was the first song that they worked on for Northern Passages, which was recorded Dallas and Travis’ parents’ basement and produced by Dallas Good. With this song The Sadies take little bits of the music that has surrounded them throughout their career. The Sadies tread through familiar pathways that some would say have been passed through before, but when The Sadies travel through, it sounds mesmerizing. “Through Strange Eyes” is a country-garage song with strong narrative lyrics, dealing with the devil, a place without love and birds in flight. “God Bless The Infidels”, is a country song, featuring backing vocals from Margaret Good that questions our current social climate, however, it is a song that has a universal message. “The Good Years” is a sweeping dark country-folk song that is haunting, both musically and lyrically. This song was name checked on The Sadies website as “Northern Gothic”, and this is a path that no matter how many times it is walked through, it is still powerful.

Following the reflective “Questions I’ve Never Asked”, “The Noise Museum” comes in as the last and the 11th track on Northern Passages. This instrumental track, the only one found here takes on an Ennino Morricone slant mixed with surf elements and is executed in a cinematic fashion. With an overall sound that can be described as an “acid-folk-country-punk trip”, Northern Passages finds The Sadies navigating through familiar and new territories. The Sadies are not travelling through a path less travelled here, but they are creating their own.

Playlist for Show # 653 (Originally Aired on April 15th, 2017):

1. Street Chant - Pedestrian Support League
2. The Verlaines - Death & The Maiden
3. The Chills - Doledrums
4. The Rolling Stones - Cool, Calm & Collected
5. Bubble Puppy - Lonely
6. The Soul Motivators - Dr Know It All
7. The Easybeats - Saturday Night
8. The Gooeys - Scary Black Cherry Nap
9. The Moby Dicks - Mike Molloy
10. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Julie's Place
11. Dream Whip - Hopeless Romantic
12. Elephants Memory - Jungle Gym At The Zoo
13. Craig Brown Band - I Wondered What
14. CATL - Lamplight The Way
15. New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
16. Timber, Timbre - Sewer Blues
17. Protomartyr - Want Remover
18. Dude York - Tonight
19. The Flaming Lips - Just Like Before
20. Paul Jacobs - Favorite Number
21. The Oblivians - No Reason To Live
22. Pow Wows - Hey Doctor
23. The Jury- Who Dat?
24. The Zombies - Gotta Get A Hold of Myself
25. The Zombies - Indication
26. The King Khan & BBQ Show - Too Much In Love
27. The Gruesomes - Wish You Were Her
28. The Gruesomes - Who Dat?

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 15.


Playlist for Show # 652 (Originally Aired on April 8th, 2017):

1. The Sentinals - Exotic
2. The Reprobettes - Danger!
3. Spencer Burton - Dark Cloud
4. By Divine Right - Field Of Trampolines
5. Adrian Teacher & The Subs - Late Last Night
6. Shotgun Jimmie - Drunkeness
7. Calvin Johnson - Lies Goodbye
8. The Sadies - Riverview Fog
9. The Sadies - It's Easy (Like Walking)
10. Beams - I Wanted To Tell Her
11. James O-L & The Villains - West End
12. Lychi - Married
13. The Orwells - Fry
14. Mexican Knives - Turner
15. 3-D Invisibles - Cool Ghoul
16. Johnny Thunders - Cool Operator
17. Damaged Bug - The Cryptologist
18. Idols - Girl That I Love
19. The Adverts - Safety In Numbers
20. The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet
21. Link Cromwell - Crazy Like A Fox
22. The Jujus - Do You Understand Me
23. The Collectors- We Can Make It
24. Northwest Company - Eight Hour Day
25. The Benders - Can't Tame Me
26. The Black Lips - Freedom Fries
27. Guided By Voices - West Coast Company
28. Guided By Voices - Keep Me Down
29. Guided By Voices - Sudden Fiction

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 8.


Playlist for Show # 651 (Originally Aired on April 1st, 2017):

1. Vangelis - One More Kiss, Dear
2. Dion Lunadon - Fire
3. The Maggie's Marshmallows - No Friend of Mine
4. La Conversion Des Sauvages - Dans La Granges
5. La Conversion Des Sauvages - Jappe Le Chein
6. Little Richard - Jenny Jenny
7. Little Richard - She's Got It
8. Muddy Waters - Can't Be Satisfied
9. Townes Van Zandt - Who Do You Love (Live At The Old Quarter)
10. Stompin' Tom Connors - The Ketchup Song
11. The Sadies - Through Strange Eyes
12. T. Hardy Morris - Painted On Attitude
13. Saint Pe - Spun and Spurn
14. Rolling Blackouts C.F. - Sick Bug
15. Tim Darcy - Still Waking Up
16. The Beets - Cold Lips
17. Bob Dylan - Braggin'
18. Teenage Geese - Itchy Feet
19. Cub - Cast A Shadow
20. Jack Lee - Hanging On The Telephone
21. Jack Lee - Women
22. Ron Gallo - Put The Kids To Bed
23. Ron Gallo - Why Do You Have Kids
24. Tobin Sprout - Future Boy/Man of Tomorrow
25. BA Johnston - Alley Beers
26. Preoccupations - Zodiac
27. The Mummies - Zipa Dee Do Da
28. Xanadu - No Change

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for April 1.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Chuck Berry (1926-2017) & Shows # 649 & # 650


Chuck Berry, a pioneer in rock music, passed away in March at the age of 90. He has been called the “Father of Rock n’ Roll” and is responsible for helping to lay the foundation for rock music. What set Chuck Berry’s music apart from others at the time was his ability to go into deep thought and mix his lyrical style with his musical ability and prowess. Mixing elements of country, western and blues, his music would often speed along with as the lyrics rested atop of the music, giving the listener a different point of view. When his first single “Maybellene” was released on Chess Records in 1955, it was a very different time. There was separation amongst black and white audiences and pop music was filled with standards that were covered by multiple artists. Not only did Berry inject his lyrics with more feeling and poetic elements than the standards that came before him, he also helped to shift gears in how rock music was made by writing his own songs. He was a musician, songwriter and performer. This combined with many other musicians from that time period, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, among others, helped to define what music could be.

Many of his songs were ripe with social commentary, but they were presented in a subtle way. For example, in “Memphis, Tennessee” Berry sings of a separated couple as he tries to reach his 6-year-old daughter via telephone. While this is a love song, it is a different type and it wasn’t the generic love song you would expect to hear at the time. “Johnny B Goode”, while now seen as a standard cover, was semi-autobiographical and deals with race, but not as the main focus of the song. Like many songs that seem simple in their musical dynamics, lyrically this song is also complex. Many of his songs deal with having a good time, cars, dancing, school, love, but are executed in a way that they rise above the music. This is part of what puts Chuck Berry in a different category from others at the time.

While Berry’s music was very influential and innovative, he himself was not without complexity. Berry had run-ins with the law. He went to prison several times. A lot of the situations he went through raised questions and were not without controversy. However, when it came to music, it was something that Chuck Berry understood. He pulled from his influences, Nat King Cole’s vocal style, T Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Carl Hogan, Ray Charles, Charlie Christian and mixed it with elements of country western, jazz and blues for one universal thing. These things when combined with a song, whether it was “Johnny B Goode” or “Maybellene”, “Promised Land” or any other of his early numbers, we called it rock and roll. His music integrated American audiences, young and old and in popular culture. Called “The Eternal Teenager”, Berry performed his music with a youthful exuberance. It can even be heard in his voice on the single “Big Boys,” from his now final album, Chuck. Like the cars brought up in many of his songs, Chuck Berry often switched gears in song and in his career with a fiery intensity. He was also a showman with a wild rock and roll show, from his relentless, driving guitar solos to his signature duck walk. Berry also never had a dedicated backing band following 1955-1956. He would usually pick a band from local musicians in town prior to the show and this would make up his backing band for that particular show. From the opening moments of his first 1955 single “Maybellene”, to the countless live shows that he played throughout his career, Chuck Berry duck walked right into America’s hearts.

Show 650 (Chuck Berry Tribute Show):

1. Chuck Berry - Reelin' And Rockin' (Alternate Version)
2. Chuck Berry - Rock And Roll Music (Demo)
3. Chuck Berry - I Want To Be Your Driver
4. The Rolling Stones - Come On
5. The Rolling Stones - Around And Around
6. The Courtneys - Silver Velvet
7. The Courtneys - Minnesota
8. Skye Wallace - Stronghold
9. Dean Drouillard - Mid Sea Flood
10. Bo Diddley - Fireball
11. Of The Pack - Feel The Same
12. Century Palm - Inner Vision
13. AC/DC - School Days
14. The Kinks - Beautiful Delilah
15. The Sonics - Roll Over Beethoven
16. Chuck Berry - Sweet Little Rock n' Roller (Take 11A)
17. Chuck Berry - Viva Viva Rock n' Roll
18. Chuck Berry - 21 Blues
19. The Famines - Zero Sum
20. TV FREAKS - Don't Read The News
21. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Talk 2 Her
22. Dany Laj & The Looks - Sweet Pretender
23. The Matinee - Figure It Out
24. The Rolling Stones - Carol
25. The MC5 - Back in the USA
26. Chuck Berry - Big Boys
27. Chuck Berry - Wee Wee Hours


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 25.


Show 649 (Chuck Berry, T.Rex & The Velvet Underground):

1. Chuck Berry - Bio
2. Chuck Berry - Around And Around
3. Chuck Berry - Back In Memphis
4. The Routes - Thousand Forgotten Dreams
5. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Sleep Drifter
6. Cawama - Come Around
7. Specifics - 13
8. B.A. Johnston - I Need Donair Sauce
9. Cheap Trick - He's A Whore
10. Blank Square - Empty Head
11. Meatbodies - Scavenger
12. Tim Darcy - Tall Glass of Water
13. Temples - Certainly
14. Mick Futures - Mini Mag
15. T. Rex - Dandy In The Underworld
16. T. Rex - Teen Riot Structure
17. T. Rex - Celebrate Summer
18. The Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale (Alternate Version)
19. The Velvet Underground - I'm Waiting For The Man (Live - The Complete Matrix Tapes 1969)
20. The Feelies - Flag Days
21. Whoop-Szo - Another Show
22. Leonard Cohen - Leaving The Table
23. The Sadies - There Are No Words


To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 18.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Germ Free Adolescents & Shows # 647 & # 648


Like many bands that formed and created music in the UK in the late 70s, X-Ray Spex was influenced by the Sex Pistols. Formed by Poly Styrene (vocals) and Lora Logic (saxophone), Jak Airport (guitar), Paul Dean (bass) and B.P. Hurding on drums in 1976, X-Ray Spex shot out of the vortex of the 70s UK punk scene. They ended as a band shortly after the release of their full-length album, Germ Free Adolescents. Musically the band featured a sound influenced by 70s punk, but one that came off with a sound mixing elements of proto punk, glam and mod music. You can hear the influence of Steve Jones (Sex Pistols), Mick Jones (The Clash) and Mick Ronson (David Bowie), amongst other influences in the band’s make up. This sound was mixed in with saxophone and erratic high energy levels provided by lead singer and front woman, Poly Styrene. Lyrically, X-Ray Spex delved into many anti-commercial based themes that questioned Britain’s consumer based society at the time.

Germ Free Adolescents opens with the song “The Day The World Turned Day-Glo”. In between the chugging guitars and sleazy saxophones, Styrene sings of a world painted with and dominated by, synthetic products that glows in a haunting disdain. “Obsessed With You” features lyrics such as “You are just a concept/You are just a dream/You’re just a reflection of the new regime”, mixed in with a chorus that features lyrics that portray a love/hate relationship that can show commercial products as being disenchanting and romantic to some. “Identity” attacks with buzz saw guitars and soulful 50s saxophone parts and lyrics that rally for independence and finding yourself. The song can take on many forms, but also relates to the way women perceive themselves based on the “perfect” image that is broadcast by the mainstream media. The message in this song is one that still rings true today. “I Live Off You” features excellent R&B saxophone parts performed by Rudi Thomson. He joined the band after Lora Logic left the group shortly after the recording of the band’s first single Oh Bondage! Up Yours!/I Am A Cliché. The lyrics have an effective melody that drifts from melodic to high pitched. Lyrically the song portrays a chain of command of exploitation, whether it is by commercialism or by other means.

“Germ Free Adolescent” takes things down a bit as a more mid-tempo number with dominant bass, keyboards, drums and vocals. Styrene sings of toothpaste and a character obsessed with cleanliness, so much so that it appears this character that has a form of OCD that cannot wash off the advertisements that they hear on a daily basis. “Art-I-Ficial” features lyrics such as “I know I’m artificial/But don’t put the blame on me/I was reared with appliances in a consumer society”. In between the proto-punk guitar riffs, drum rolls and bouncy basslines, Styrene sings of a fakeness that is created by consumer society and one that is difficult to separate yourself from. “Warrior In Woolworths” drifts into T.Rex territory, “I Can’t Do Anything” features static sounding guitar, rolling basslines, wheezy saxophone lines and is notable for the lyrics “Freddy tried to strangle me with my plastic popper beads/But I hit him back with my pet rat”. This song, like many on Germ Free Adolescents is layered in multiple meanings. “I Can’t Do Anything” seems to be a cathartic song dealing with oppression.

“Plastic Bag” boasts heavy guitar riffs and speedy saxophone lines that drift in between the slower breakdowns of the song. This song, like many on the album, question the way society is and how people live within it. Poly Styrene could be saying here that her mind is “like a plastic bag”, it can be filled with anything and is often perceived as cheap and disposable. But, within this song and amongst the songs on Germ Free Adolescents, the lyrics cry for a search for satisfaction that is lost due to an alienation that separates us from our true potential. Heavy stuff at times, but it is executed in a way that it is not all bleak and the deeper meanings of Germ Free Adolescents sink below the surface of these songs, only resurface at differing points.

By 1980, X-Ray Spex split up and various members were on to other things. Although they reformed for another album, Conscious Consumer in 1995, the impact of their first album and of their first single and what some view as their finest moment, “Oh Bondage! Up Yours”, overshadows other points in the band’s history. Germ Free Adolescents questions, challenges, and brings up themes of commercialism, identity, oppression and gender roles in a way that is just as relevant today as it was in 1978. With Germ Free Adolescents, we learn that there are some things you just can’t wash off so easily.

(Note: This write-up refers to the 1991/2005 reissue track order of Germ Free Adolescents.)

Show 648 (International Women's Day Special):

1. X-Ray Spex - Oh Bondage! Up Yours! (Oh Bondage! Up Yours!/I Am A Cliche - 1977)
2. The Pebbles - The Pebbles Twist (The First Album - 1997)
3. Dorothy Berry - You Better Watch Out (You Better Watch Out/Ain't That Love - 1964)
4. The Ronettes - You Bet I Would (Silhouettes/You Bet I Would - 1965)
5. Dusty Springfield- Willie & Laura Mae Jones (Dusty In Memphis - 1969)
6. The Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground & Nico - 1967)
7. Sonic Youth - Shadow Of A Doubt (Evol - 1986)
8. The Luyas - Self Unemployed Human (Voicing - 2017)
9. Dream Whip - Beach Dreams (Dream Whip - 2017)
10. Mexican Knives - Smother (Mexican Knives - 2015)
11. The Highest Order - Hurry Down (Still Holding - 2016)
11. Sky Wallace - Blood Moon (Something Wicked - 2016)
12. Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out (Live In Paris - 2017)
13. White Lung - Take The Mirror (Sorry - 2012)
14. PJ Harvey Hardly - Wait (4 Track Demos - 1993)
15. X-Ray Spex - Identity (Germ Free Adolescents - 1977)
16. X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents (Germ Free Adolescents - 1977)
17. X-Ray Spex - Art-I-ficial (John Peel Session) (Germ Free Adolescents - 2005)
18. Kleenex "1978" (First Songs - 2016)
19. Liliput - Hitch Hike (First Songs - 2016)
20. Teenanger - Mild Survival (EPLP - 2014)
21. The Modernettes - Static (View From The Bottom - 1982)
22. The Zellots - Empty Victories (Demo - 1980)
23. The New Pornographers - All For Swinging You Around (Electric Version - 2003)
24. Lost Patrol - See Me Now The (Lost Patrol - 1988)
25. The Gories - Stranded (I Know You Fine But How You Doin - 1990)
26. Demolition Doll Rods - Doo Walka-Walka (Tasty - 1997)
27. The Jackets - Freak Out (Way Out - 2012)
28. The Beat Happening - Noise (You Turn Me On - 1992)
29. Destroy All Monsters - Nobody Knows (What Do I Get/Nobody Knows - 1979)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 11.


Show 647 (Oblivians, Mummies & More):

1. The Oblivians - Hey Mama, Look At Sis
2. The Oblivians - Blew My Cool
3. The Mummies - Test Drive
4. The Mummies - Stronger Than Dirt
5. Ty Segall - Thank You Mr. K
6. Vagabon - Minneapolis
7. Priests - JJ
8. Dream Whip - Hookser Du
9. Century Palm - New Creation
10. Stevie Moore & Jason Falkner - Stamps
11. The Birthday Party - Swampland Mutiny
12. Pissed Jeans - Have You Ever Been Furniture
13. Culture - I'm Not Ashamed
14. Jack Lee - Come Back And Stay
15. John Wesley Coleman III - Hang Tight
16. The Sadies - Another Season Again
17. The Sadies - The Noise Museum
18. The O-L West - Afterthought No. 3
19. Old 97's - Nobody
20. 9th Wave = Full Throttle
21. No Aloha - Trips
22. All Hands On Jane - Kitty City
23. Film Jacket 35 - Chocked On My Ego
24. Paul Jacobs - Quarter To Eleven
25. Cawama - Planet Of The Sharks
26. The Cheetahs - Magic Dollar
27. The Replacements - Whole Foods Blues (Live Hollywood Paladium April 16 2015)
28. Bash & Pop - Anything Could Happen
29. The I Don't Cares - Whole Lotta Nothin'
30. Tobin Sprout - I Fall You Fall

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 4.

Monday, March 06, 2017

An Interview With Don Pyle of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet & Show # 646


At some point in the mid-90s, I have a memory of watching television. It was later at night and the show, which had a strange and edgy comedy style was on CBC television. This show was The Kids In The Hall. Aside from the KITH comedy stylings, I remember experiencing the music on this show. I later found out that an instrumental rock band did the music for this show from Canada called Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. The theme song of this show was another story. “Having An Average Weekend” has its own effect within the context of the show. It has a nostalgic feeling. It tapped into a sense of boredom and a sense of excitement, despite being recorded in 1985 way before the KITH TV show. Perhaps it was the style of bass playing on the song or the way the guitar weaved in-between the drums and bass. Whatever it was, it worked well.

Shadowy Men On A Shadow Planet got their start in Calgary. The band had its originals in punk. Both bassist Reid Diamond and guitarist Brian Connelly were in a band called Buick McKane. They reconnected with future drummer Don Pyle after moving to Toronto and played briefly in his Toronto punk act, Crash Kills Five. This band split in 1981 after releasing the What Do You Do At Night? EP. It’s also interesting to note that Don was the singer in this band and when Pyle, Diamond and Connelly started playing together as a band, Don hadn’t really played drums before. Regardless, the band started playing as an instrumental rock band after their intended singer stopped playing with them. With neither member wanting to take the lead vocal role, the band adapted, continuing as a three-piece and started playing instrumentally. Their sound is often hard to describe since they combined multiple styles at once to keep things interesting. However, in the process the chemistry of the band created something unplanned and totally unique.

The band adopted a DIY aesthetic and released several singles and EPs starting with 1985’s appropriately titled, Love Without Words EP. The band was also featured on numerous compilation albums, which in part helped them connect to a burgeoning underground network of independent music during the mid-80s/early 90s time period. The band toured extensively in North America and were one of the first Canadian bands to record for BBC DJ John Peel’s radio program. Their first album, Savvy Show Stoppers was itself a compilation album. Compiled of early singles from the band, it was originally released in 1988 by Glass Records in the UK. The band’s next album, Dim The Lights Chill The Ham was released in 1991 via Cargo Records. This was the band’s first proper album (since Savvy Show Stoppers was a collection of earlier singles). It was produced by Coyote Silvers and showed the Shadowy Men stepping out from the shadow cast by reviewers claiming that they were just a surf band. This album brought forth, a collection of quirky song titles and a potent mixture of styles.

In 1993, the band released Sport Fishin’: The Lure of the Bait, The Luck of the Bait, an album recorded by Steve Albini in Chicago. This would wind up being the last full-length album from Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet.  This album found the band beefing up their production, with a heavier sound and combining elements of surf, jazz, rock and western-styled music, in addition to their other influences. The band split in 1996 and the various members went on to perform in other groups/projects. Among them were Atomic 7 and Phonocomb (a band that also featured Dallas Good of The Sadies). In 2001, bassist Reid Diamond passed away after a battle with cancer. In 2012, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet reunited to celebrate the reissue of their 1988 album, Savvy Show Stoppers. Dallas Good filled in for Reid Diamond on bass. The band continues to play live sporadically. Yep Roc Records re-issued all three of Shadowy Men On A Shadow Planet’s albums in 2016, which followed the 2016 box set, Oh, I Guess We’re A Fucking Surf Band After All…

What Wave magazine featured an early article on the band in 1986: “Their trebly, over reverbed riffs may be borrowed from early 60's surf bands, but the delivery certainly is not. No, the songs are aggressive, just meat on the bones delivery that is influenced by the late 70's punk movement.” Regardless of how you want to describe them, this instrumental rock band is still being talked about more than thirty years after their formation. Their music is still like a great late night TV discovery. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet found clarity among fans in the static waves of the mid 80s/early 90s and today still find themselves drifting through the digital waves of modern music with that same sense of nostalgia, excitement and chemistry that made us love them in the first place.

Check out my interview with Don Pyle here:



An Instrumental Playlist:

1. La Luz - Phantom Feelings
2. The Gories - Nautiloid Reef (Live on CJAM 1989)
3. The Challengers - Red River Rock

SURFPHONY OF DERSTRUCTION 2000 SEGMENT WITH DERK BRIGANTE

4. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Tired Of Waking Up Tired
5. The Ramblin' Ambassadors - Standoff At Calf Robe Bridge
6. Stories From Shamehill - Kahuna Haha
7. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Egypt Texas
8. The Tsunamibots - Robots Improving Robots
9. Toxic Mutants - Surf Machine


10. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Big Saxophone Lie
11. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Big Baby

DON PYLE INTERVIEW PT 1

12. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Three Piece Suit
13. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Hunter S. Thompson's Younger Brother

DON PYLE INTERVIEW PT 2

14. Phono-comb - The Crass and The Switchblade
19. The Sadies - Clam Chowder
16. The Pistolrays - Long Way From Silver City
17. Minutemen - Cohesion
18. The 427's - Tijuana Sunset
19. The Cramps - I’m Cramped (Original Mix)
20. The Rumblers - Boss
21. The Bell Peppers - Doin’ The Moon Freak

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 25.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers L.A.M.F. Radio Special & Show # 645


Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers formed in 1975 following the demise of the New York Dolls. Guitarist/vocalist Johnny Thunders and drummer Jerry Nolan started The Heartbreakers. Originally a three-piece band with Richard Hell on bass, the band became a four-piece when they added guitarist Walter Lure to the mix. Although they recorded a ten-track demo with this line-up, Richard Hell did not stay with The Heartbreakers long. Richard Hell’s erratic bass rhythms were replaced by a more soulful bass sound, provided by Billy Rath, who would replace Hell when he left the group. Hell would form The Voidoids. In 1976, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers were asked to join the infamous Anarchy Tour in the UK, alongside bands such as The Clash, The Damned and The Sex Pistols. Shortly after this tour, the band that was stranded in London with little money, decided to stick around London on their manager’s insistence. They were offered a recording contract with Track Records after playing several well attended shows in the UK.

The band set about recording their full-length debut in March of 1977, but once the recording was completed, the band spent six months mixing the record. Recorded in two different studios (although several demos were recorded beforehand), L.A.M.F. was put together with songs recorded at Essex Studios with Speedy Keen and The Who’s Ramport Studios. There were many factors said to be at play during this time period while mixing the album. The band mixed the album several times, in different ways and in different studios during this period. With each band member reportedly doing their own mix of the album, a form of cabin fever set in. As the mixing process continued, the band continued to play live. A single was released of Chinese Rocks in 1977. It received criticisms in the press in regards to the subject matter. Having writing origins with Dee Dee Ramone, the song told the story of drug addiction and real life experiences. As Johnny Thunders once said of the song “They can fuckin' hate heroin and still like “Chinese Rocks”…”. And despite the criticisms, the single sold 20, 000 copies, causing it to rise to the top of the alternative rock charts.

After months of mixing, the band had to release L.A.M.F. before the Christmas rush of 1977 or it would not be released at all. L.A.M.F. was released October 1977. However, by the time the album was released, the band had broken up. The album itself was plagued by a muddy sound causing it to not receive the recognition it should have at the time. While some thought that maybe it could be the mixing of the album that caused this, it was later revealed that the mastering process of the album muddied up the sound. As a result drummer Jerry Nolan quit the band and for many years, the greatness of one of the most raw rock albums from this era lay hidden underneath waves of muddy sound.

Musically, the songs were seeped in the influences of 50’s rock n’ roll such as Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, R&B, as well as artists such as The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones. The guitar work on this album was a balance of the intense switchblade rock n’ roll sounds of guitarist/vocalists Johnny Thunders and Walter Lure, alongside the raved up soulful bass sounds of Billy Rath and the in the pocket drum sounds of Jerry Nolan. Lyrically, the songs of L.A.M.F. showcase “anthemic slices of urban despair and reckless romance”, as it was described by Johnny Thunders biographer, Nina Antonia in the 2012 linear notes to the Definitive Edition of L.A.M.F. It was no secret that Johnny and members of the band lived a lifestyle that involved drug use. It definitely has a big part in the band's history. And while this subject is brought up when discussing this band, album and its songs, it isn’t all this album is. The songs when separated from the band's history stand up on their own and keep people returning to L.A.M.F.

Songs such as “Born To Lose” with its sleazy guitar intro and lyrics such as “Living in a jungle/It ain’t so hard/But living in the city/it’ll eat out your heart”, starts off the album with reflections of urban despair and a title that can be reflective of the band’s lifestyle. This is another title that can derive several meanings, even though it started out as “Born Too Loose”, which is a little joke that is actually sung in the chorus of this song. “All By Myself” is a song written by Lure and drummer Jerry Nolan and sung by Lure, “It’s Not Enough” a slow 50s influenced ballad, played with a 12-string guitar. It is the only slow song on this album and stands out from the other fast rock n’ roll songs found here. “Pirate Love” delves into more urban dynamics and has its origins as a song performed in The New York Dolls, the part Bowie/part Eddie Cochran, “Get Off The Phone” brings forth a Proustian moment (as stated by Walter Lure in the 2003 linear notes to L.A.M.F. The Lost 77 Mixes) as it relates to a phone obsessed character, “One Track Mind” operates on two levels, one as a song with drug related imagery and allusions, and two as a character obsessed with one subject. In this case what seems to be a love interest. “Goin’ Steady’ reflects Thunders love of sixties girl groups as “Let Go” with it’s electric, countrified guitar licks ends the original L.A.M.F album.

Despite breaking up shortly after this album’s release, The Heartbreakers would occasionally perform live for the next twelve years. In 1984 Jungle Records released a remixed version of L.A.M.F., that was mixed by both Johnny Thunders and Tony James (of Generation X). The mixes were created from the master tapes from the album’s original recording sessions that were acquired by The Heartbreakers manager Leee Black Childers when Track Records went out of business. L.A.M.F. Revisited seemed to feature an 80s production sound and as a result, is often ignored by fans of the band. In 1994, after going through a multitude of mixes created on master reels, Jungle Records released L.A.M.F.: The Lost 77 Mixes. This version of the album restored not only the sound of the album’s intent, but also one that matched up to the band’s live status. It is now seen as the definitive version of the album. In 2012, Jungle Records released L.A.M.F.: The Definitive Edition, a box set compiling demos, the original mix of L.A.M.F. (with the muddiness removed) and alternate mixes.

In his review for L.A.M.F. Jon Savage stated that “the sound [of the album], doesn’t do the band justice”. It took seventeen years to remove the mud that clouded these songs that were recorded in 1977. And while Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan both passed away by 1992, the sound and intent of the album live on. The mud has been cleared and its sound, which is often described as punk, is an album that strives for rock n roll purity. L.A.M.F. brings forth a vicious, sleazy cleverness that punches you in the stomach when you’re not looking.

L.A.M.F. Playlist:

1. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Born To Lose (Original Muddy Version) (L.A.M.F. - 1977)
2. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Goin' Steady (instrumental Version) (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 2003)
3. New York Dolls - Chatterbox (Too Much Too Soon - 1974)
4. New York Dolls - Trash (New York Dolls - 1973)
5. The Heartbreakers - I Wanna Be Loved (1976 SBS Studios Demo) (L.A.M.F. Definitive Edition - 2012)
6. The Heartbreakers - Love Comes In Spurts (1976 SBS Studios Demo) (Richard Hell - Time - 2002)
7. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Love Comes In Spurts (Blank Generation - 1977)
8. The Heartbreakers - Flight (1976 SBS Studios Demo) (L.A.M.F. Definitive Edition - 2012)
9. The Heartbreakers - You Gotta Lose (1976 SBS Studios Demo) (The Yonkers Demos - 1976)
10. The Heartbreakers - Hurt Me (1976 SBS Studios Demo) (Richard Hell - Time - 2002)
11. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - It's Not Enough (1976 Jay Nap St. Demo) (L.A.M.F. Definitive Edition - 2012)
12. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Take A Chance (1976 Jay Nap St. Demo) (L.A.M.F. Definitive Edition - 2012)
13. The Heartbreakers - Blank Generation (1976 SBS Studios Demo) (The Yonkers Demos - 1976)
14. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Born To Lose (L.A.M.F. (UK Cassette Mix) - 1977)
15. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Baby Talk (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
16. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - All By Myself (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
17. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - I Wanna Be Loved (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
18. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - It's Not Enough (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
19. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Chinese Rocks (L.A.M.F. (UK Cassette Mix) - 1977)
20. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Get Off The Phone (L.A.M.F. Revisited - 1984)
21. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Pirate Love (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
22. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - One Track Mind (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
23. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - I Love You (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
24. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Goin' Steady (L.A.M.F. Revisited - 1984)
25. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Let Go (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)
26. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Can't Keep my Eyes On You (L.A.M.F. Revisited - 1984)
27. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - Do You Love Me (L.A.M.F. (The Lost 77 Mixes) - 1994)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 18.