Saturday, July 06, 2024

Minute Du: Zen Arcade and Double Nickels on the Dime & Shows # 1046, 1045, 1044, 1043

In July 1984, SST Records released two double records on the same day, Husker Du’s Zen Arcade and Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime. One wouldn’t exist without the other, Minutemen’s album came about because they heard that Husker Du was doing a double album and were inspired to do their own. But, a double album back then for bands that were associated with hardcore punk, was not something that was done. These albums both challenged the conceptions of what a double album could be and went beyond the confines of hardcore music. Many feel the music found on these two albums are the beginning of what was going to eventually be called indie and alternative rock.

Produced by Spot, who was the house producer for most of the bands on the SST roster, Zen Arcade is the second studio album by Husker Du. It was recorded in Total Access Studios in Redondo Beach, California in October of 1983 in 40 hours, almost all the tracks except for two were recorded in first takes. Musically, the album featured the competitive songwriting of Bob Mould and Grant Hart, two of the main songwriters in Husker Du. The album experimented with psychedelic music, more guitar driven songs and more melody was introduced into the songs. Heavily influenced by 60s rock, and band’s like The Who, the album was a concept record (often being compared to Quadrophenia), but it was not an overproduced collection of tracks. It stuck with the low-fi quickly recorded fashion of previous Husker Du records. The album tells the story of a young boy running away from an unfulfilling home life only to find the world outside is even worse.

“Something I Learned Today,” opens the album dealing with themes of trust and lyrics such as “Something I learned today/Black and white is always grey,” sung by Bob Mould, which touches on more existential themes, as musically in mixes in elements of hardcore punk with more melodic vocals, “Broken Heart, Broken Home,” another track penned by Mould, deals with the desire to escape an abusive and unhappy home life, “Never Talking to you Again,” brings in 60s rock and folk elements, “Chartered Trips” sung with an impassioned melodic way by Bob Mould, deals with the main character joining the military, it is a mix of melodic punk with post punk sounding basslines, “Pink Turns to Blue” is a Grant Hart penned track, which delves into the devastating impact of drug addiction. “Turn on the News,” is another song by Hart, a critically acclaimed track with lyrics that deals with the mass media’s fondness for sensationalism and negative news headlines. There are also many trippy psychedelic and experimental moments such as “Dreams Reoccurring,” the piano tracks “Monday Will Never Be the Same” and “One Step at a Time.” The final track "Reoccurring Dreams," is a 14 minute instrumental, that is a noisy, discordant psychedelic track that ties in with the opening track and tying up a lot of the themes of the album, showing the odyssey that the main character in this album goes through, hinting it has occurring in his sleep, but revealing an epiphany of the challenges of life still remain.

Double Nickels on the Dime, is a 45-track album and is a musical odyssey of sorts, sharing a common thread whether unintentional or not with Zen Arcade. While Minutemen experiment with styles and genres on this album, lyrically it features abrasive and politically driven lyrics, but not lyrics that can be viewed as sloganeering, it challenges viewpoints. Also featuring two main songwriters, D.Boon tended to write more anthemic tracks that explored political themes such as racism in America, the Vietnam War and the working class, while Mike Watt’s tracks were more abstract, complex and philosophical, being influenced by more literary works such as Ulysses by James Joyce and stream of consciousness literary techniques. Musically, the album featured punk, post punk, folk, jazz, spoken word, country and funk influences. While there wasn’t a lyrical concept like on Zen Arcade, the album’s four sides were based on each member’s cars. A band member sequenced each side and the fourth side (since there were only three members in the band) was titled the “Chaff” side and made up of the leftover songs. This part of the album was inspired by Pink Floyd’s 1969 album Ummagumma.

Musically, Double Nickels on the Dime is somewhat fractured and defied genres, with short pieces of music that create an electrifying record. Influences such as punk, post punk and bands such as Captain Beefheart find their way into the songs, in addition to the other mentioned genres. Recorded by Ethan James (who previously had recorded a compilation track with the band) recorded an album’s worth of songs with the band before they decided to go in and record more songs to make a double album. Songs such as the anti-war song “Viet Nam” is biting with its vocal delivery, musically Boon’s guitars attack with Gang of Four style informed by jazz, as Watt’s melodic funky basslines blend with drummer George Hurley’s maniac, yet controlled grooves, “Cohesion” arrives alarmingly as a Spanish folk track, featuring flamenco styled guitar, “#1 Hit Song” written by D.Boon and Hurley, pokes fun at the bland, commercialized pop music format, “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth?” is a song pulling from a Velvet Underground influence with spoken word lyrics, “Shit from an old Notebook,” features punk influences and an anti-commercialism message with words such as “Let the products sell themselves/Fuck advertising, commercial psychology/Psychological methods to sell should be destroyed,” “Nature Without Man,” with its wiry guitar and abstract lyrics was written by D.Boon and Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag, while “One Reporter’s Opinion” was written by Watt and features discordant post punk sounds with driving bass and drums.

“Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing” was written in the stream of consciousness style mentioned earlier and mocks punk bands that make political statements without really understanding the logic behind their statements, with its garage dynamics, “Corona” is perhaps one of the best known tracks from this album. Decades later used as the theme song for the Jackass TV show and movies, this song flirts with country and folk by the way of Minutemen’s unique punk informed energy, but lyrically highlights the struggles of the working class. “History Lesson – Part II” is an autobiographical song describing the friendship of Boon and Watt playing music together, more of a jangly pop song with lyrics such as “Punk rock changed our lives,” “This Ain’t No Picnic” is a song addressing racism and the strife of the working class, “June 16th” is an instrumental inspired by Ulysses, while “Storm in My House,” features bouncy soulful basslines, encircling drums and scratching sounding guitars. The title Double Nickels on the Dime was inspired by of all things, Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” song. They didn’t view driving fast as defiant, instead they decided they wouldn’t drive crazy, they would make crazy music.

With Zen Arcade, Husker Du set a new standard for themselves and also for underground punk music. The album dealt with social perspectives, featuring the concept of a character that was yearning for something and they ultimately find nothing fulfilling, but they accept this is the way it is sometimes. Musically, the band expanded their sonic palate and song writing abilities that would go on to serve a lasting influence. Before Zen Arcade was even released, it influenced Minutemen to create their own double album. The album, Double Nickels on the Dime with its fractured styles and different genres can be seen as a musical version of Ulysses, a punk rock Ulysses. Lyrically, the band would pull from literary stream of consciousness styles to create words with the music, in addition to exploring incisive politicalally motived topics. Both these albums changed the concept of hardcore punk in the 80s, what an album could be and pushed the limits of hardcore and punk music in different ways. There was a cohesion between the two albums, despite being different. Both albums take the listener on an odyssey, one that would go on to define and reshape punk, indie and alternative rock.

Show 1046 (Originally Aired On July 6th)(Zen Arcade & Double Nickels on the Dime):

1. Husker Du - Something I Learned Today 
2. Husker Du - Pink Turns to Blue 
3. Husker Du - Never Talking To You Again 
4. Husker Du - Somewhere 
5. Husker Du - Standing by the Sea 
6. Minutemen - This Ain’t No Picnic 
7. Minutemen - Toadies 
8. Minutemen - History Lesson – Part II 
9. Minutemen - Nature Without Man 
10. Minutemen - West Germany 
11. Minutemen - The Glory of Man 
12. NoMeansNo - Tired of Waiting 
13. Japandroids - Avant Sleepwalk 
14. Fucked Up - Colour Removal 
15. METZ - Headache 
16. Bad Hoo - Hot Dr. Pibbs 
17. Booji Boys-  Bad Boy Blues
18. Husker Du - Dreams Reoccurring 
19. Husker Du - The Biggest Lie 
20. Husker Du - Masochism World 
21. Husker Du - Monday’s Will Never Be the Same
22. Husker Du - Whatever 
23. Husker Du - Turn on the News
24. Minutemen - Viet Nam 
25. Minutemen - Cohesion 
26. Minutemen - Corona 
27. Minutemen - Untitled Song for Latin America 
28. Minutemen - June 16th 
29. Minutemen - Maybe Partying Will Help
30. The Vertical Struts - Fun is No Fun 
31. Laughing - Don’t Care 
32. Daniel Romano’s Outfit - Where’s Paradise 
33. Ancient Shapes - Something is in Flux 
34. Pleasure Blimps - Swamp of Dead Horses
35. Heaven For Real - Witchita’s
36. Cindy Lee - Le Machiniste Fantome 
37. Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing 
38. Husker Du - Chartered Trips 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the July 6 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1045 (Originally Aired On June 29th, 2024)(Prince Purple Rain, X, Dion Lunadon, Metz, Brainrust):

1. The Vanrays - Hey! Alright Now! 
2. Julie Doirion - Last Night I Saw My Love
3. Fontaines D.C. - Favourite 
4. The Polecats - Let’s Go Crazy 
5. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Take Me With U 
6. Dump - The Beautiful Ones 
7. Of Montreal - Computer Blue 
8. Brett Farkas - Darling Nikki 
9. The Pursuit of Happiness - When Doves Cry 
10. Lacy Dacus -I Would Die 4 U 
11. Prince - Baby I’m A Star (1981 Demo) 
12. Teddybears - Purple Rain 
13. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds - East of East 
14. Habibi - Do You Want Me Now 
15. Eye Ball - Mood Piece 
16. LA Drugz - All the Time 
17. X - Big Black X 
18. Dion Lunadon - Zenith Forever
19. Golden Shitters - City of Doom
20. Chain Whip - Class Decay 
21. Tough Age - Hundo Pocket
22. Shearing Pinx - Sick Hands Off 
23. METZ - Glass Eye 
24. Brainrust - Bikeshedding
25. Wine Lips - Stimulation 
26. Temps - Rusted 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the June 29 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1044 (Originally Aired On June 22nd, 2024)(Guided By Voices Bee Thousand 40th Anniversary, James Chance):

1. Cola - Bell Wheel 
2. Weed - Gunshy 
3. Eric’s Trip - My Room 
4. Telstar Drugs - Pulley 
5. U.S. Girls - Jack 
6. Guided By Voices - Hardcore UFO’s 
7. Guided By Voices - Buzzards and Deadly Crows
8. Guided By Voices - Hot Freaks 
9. Guided By Voices - Echos Myron
10. Guided By Voices - The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory
11. Guided By Voices - Gold Star for Robot Boy 
12. Guided By Voices - The Queen of Cans and Jars
13. Guided By Voices - Demons Are Real 
14. Guided By Voices - I Am A Scientist 
15. James Chances & The Contortions - Designed to Kill 
16. James White & the Blacks - White Devil 
17. James Chance & Pill Factory - That’s Where Your Heartaches Begin
18. The Contortions - Dish it Out 
19. The Ramblin’ Ambassadors - Hemi Has Beems
20. Jenny Omnichord - When the Ice Worms Nest Again
21. Ariel, Mathias and Shotgun Jimmie - Save Me 
22. The Trampoline Delay - The Right Stuff 
23. The Burning Hell - Fuck the Government, I Love You
24. Ducks LTD. - When You’re Outside
25. Teenage Jesus & the Jerks - Less of Me
26. James White & the Blacks - The Twitch 
27. James White & The Blacks - Melt Yourself Down 
28. James Chance & the Contortions - Contort Yourself 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the June 22 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1043 (Originally Aired On June 15th, 2024)(Francoise Hardy, The Scenics, Julie Doiron, Motorists):

1.  Francoise Hardy - Les Temps De L’Amour
2.  Francoise Hardy - Ill Est Tout Pour Moi 
3.  Cindy Lee - Dracula 
4.  Cate Le Bon & Bradford Cox - Secretary 
5. The Scenics - Farm Reports and Test Patterns 
6. The Ichi-Bons - Leopard Skin
7. The Goldstars - No Way
8. Kosmetika - Reward Risk 
9. Packs - Her Garden 
10. Fugazi - Cassavetes (1992 Steve Albini Demo) 
11. Shellac - Scrappers 
12. Slint - Rhoda
13. Protomartyr - Fun in Hi Skool 
14. Sham Family - React
15. Julie & Dany - Tomate 
16. Julie Doirion - Another Second Chance 
17. Julie Doirion - Dreamed I Was 
18. Jon Mckiel - Still Life 
19. Motorists - Light Against the Shade 
20. Wolfwolf - Twenty One
21. La Securite - Try Again 
22. Rick White and The Sadies - Spellbound
23. No Beauty - June 
24. Knitting - Spirit Gum 
25. Miranda & The Beat - Earthquake Water 
26. Amyl & The Sniffers - U Should Not Be Doing That 
27. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Down at the Rock and Roll Club 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the June 15 file to download/stream the episode.

For those keep track episode 1042 (which aired on June 8th) was a repeat of episode 1041. You can hear that episode here and find the playlist here.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Atomizer: Steve Albini and His Influence & Shows # 1041, 1040, 1039, 1038, 1037

Steve Albini is known for a number of things, he was a member of pioneering noise rock/punk bands Big Black and Shellac. Albini also had been recording albums and music since the mid-80s and was the recording engineer (he preferred this title over producer) on approximately 3000 records. He was very outspoken about the music industry and his essay “The Problem with Music” that was written in 1993 for The Baffler, emphasized many of these things in detail. It is still talked about. Albini also refused to take royalties from bands that he recorded, viewing it as unethical.

As part of Big Black, they played a brand of punk and noise rock that featured a drum machine (often seen as a precursor to industrial rock). The abrasive clanky guitars that the band were known for were combined with the use of a drum machine (which received a credit on their releases as Roland) and the lyrics which were viewed as controversial, but also loaded with political and cultural commentary on things ranging from murder, sexual abuse, racism and misogyny. It explored the dark side of American culture and acknowledged having no taboos. They pushed boundaries with the sounds they created, which would in turn influence other musicians. The brainchild of Albini, Big Black started out with the Lungs EP, featuring a drum machine and instruments recorded by Albini, with the exception of saxophone on one track. The band formed in Evanston, Illinois, not too far from Chicago where at the time Albini was studying journalism and art at Northwestern University. He recruited Santiago Durango to play guitar and Jeff Pezzati to play bass (both from the band Naked Raygun) so the band could play live. Albini played guitar and sang vocals. After releasing two full-length albums and several EPs the group disbanded in 1987.

Albini’s next notable band would be the noise rock band Shellac, who released six full-length albums in their lifetime. Shellac released a limited edition album that was given to friends and acquaintances of the band only called The Futurist in 1997. The names of the friends were listed on the front cover of the album, along with a blank space for anyone that felt left out. Although it goes for a pricely sum online nowadays, this largely experimental album can be found some places online to hear. Shellac formed in Chicago in 1992 with Albini on guitar/vocals, Bob Weston on bass and Todd Trainer on drums. Their sound has been described as post hardcore and math rock, but the band once described their sound as a “minimalist rock trio.” Regardless of how they were described, Shellac were another influential group in the underground and alternative rock scenes. The band’s latest and final album To All Trains was recorded prior to Steve Albini’s untimely death at 61 due to a heart attack. It was released on May 17th, 2024.

As a recording engineer, Albini recorded so many records that would go on to influence alternative rock music over the years. In addition to recording Nirvana’s 1993 album In Utero, he recorded the highly influential Surfer Rosa by Pixies in 1988, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me in 1993, The Breeders Pod, several albums by The Jesus Lizard, albums by Superchunk, Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, Cloud Nothings, Mcklusky, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, The Sadies, Veruca Salt, to artists such as Ty Segall, to name a few. Albini was an advocate for analog recording. He also had his own unique way of getting drum sounds. Primarily interested in capturing a band as they sound in a room, a lot of his albums were recorded this way, having a certain ambiance to them and as a result have a lot of character. Although he recorded albums prior to 1997 (such as Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet’s Sport Fishin’ album), Albini opened his own recording studio in 1997 called Electrical Audio in Chicago. Albini offered to record anyone, not just bigger bands. He was supportive of underground and independent music, throughout his lifetime and helped to shape the future of alternative and underground music with the sounds he made and captured.

On May 11th, Revolution Rock did an entire episode devoted to music that Steve Albini has created with his bands and music that he has recorded by other bands. Scroll down to find the archive link to listen (Episode 1038).  

Show 1041 (Originally Aired On June 1st, 2024)(The Gun Club Las Vegas Story, John Lurie, Sloan, The Red Elvises, Mad Ones):

1.  Guppy - Don’t Choke 
2.  Bad Hoo - Old Outch
3.  Aluminmum - Pulp 
4.  Mad Iris - Name Tag
5.  Sloan - Median Strip
6.  Sloan - Sugartune 
7.  Sunglaciers - Right Time 
8.  Bog Moss - Red Sun 
9.  The Gun Club - Walkin’ with the Beast 
10. The Gun Club - My Dreams 
11. The Gun Club - Secret Fires
12. MJ Lenderman - Toon Town (Live and Loose)
13. Custard Flux - Equinox 
14. John Lurie - These are not the Dots that Connect to it… 
15. John Lurie - My Little Garden Gnome 
16. John Lurie - John Gun Walk 
17. The Red Elvises - Boogie on the Beach 
18. The Ar-Kaics - Dawning
19. Nap Eyes - Ice Grass Underpass 
20. The Lemon Twigs - Peppermint Roses
21. Astral Swans - The Coward 
22. Dion Lunadon - Goodtimes 
23. Mad Ones - She Talks 
24. Anxious Pleasers - Street Where Nobody Lives 
25. Private Lives - Misfortune
26. OMBIIGIZI - Connecting 
27. Fishmans - Part 4 
28. The Scientists - Set it on Fire

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the June 1 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1040 (Originally Aired On May 25th, 2024)(David Bowie Diamond Dogs, La Luz, Cindy Lee, Cosmic Club, The Gruesomes):

1.  Closers - Raincheck
2.  Motorists - Call Control
3.  Wine Lips - Lemon Party
4.  Hot Mud - Birthday in Rehab
5.  Laughing - Will She Ever Be A Friend of Mine
6.  Bluffing - Fragile Ego
7.  Dog Day - Silver Bowl
8.  Kosmetika - Pictures Are Gone
9.  Cindy Lee - Stone Faces
10. David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
11. David Bowie - Dodo
12. Tegan and Sara  - Rebel Rebel
13. La Luz - Blue Moth Cloud Shadow
14. Jessica Pratt - By Hook or by Crook
15. Mount Eerie - & Sun (Early)
16. Clever Hopes - Clyde Barrow
17. Theresa Michelle - In Spring
18. Cosmic Club - Don’t Dream at Night
19. The Gruesomes - Girl in Time
20. Bo Diddley - Mumblin’ Guitar
21. The Bell Peppers - Drapes N’ Squares
22. Danny and the Darleans - Don’t Ask the Question
23. The Dirtbombs - If You Can Want
24. Dirty Cheetah - Can’t Sit Still
25. Eye Ball - Kick You
26. The Wesleys - Great Big Smile
27. Ramones - Chain Saw (Demo)
28. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Tick

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the May 25 file to download/stream the episode.
Show 1039 (Originally Aired On May 18th, 2024)(Shellac, The Garys, Weezer, Deadbeat Beat,, Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, The MC5):

1.  Shellac - I Don’t Fear Hell
2.  Brainiac - Nothing Ever Changes
3.  Fold Paper - Nothing to Report
4.  Sham Family - Community Service
5.  Run Coyote - No More Running
6.  The Garrys - Cake Walk
7.  The Painted October - Champagne Dress
8.  Antenna93 - Waiting
9.  Mad Ones - Hydra Head
10. Brainrust - Band Manager
11. Weezer - My Name is Jonas
12. Mac DeMarco - Undone (The Sweater Song)
13. Teresa Cowles - In the Garage
14. Deadbeat Beat - You Lift Me Up
15. Deadbeat Beat - When the Sun Soaks in
16. Corridor - Camera
17. Shannon and the Clams - Big Wheel
18. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds - Silver For My Sister
19. The Sylvia Platters - Severance
20. Temps - Magpie
21. Still House Plants - Headlight
22. Jon McKiel - Lady’s Mantle
23. The MC5 - Gotta Keep Movin’
24. The MC5 - American Ruse
25. The MC5 - Shakin’ Street

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the May 18 file to download/stream the episode.
Show 1038 (Originally Aired On May 11th, 2024) (Steve Albini Tribute Show):

1.  Big Black - Kerosene (Atomizer - Homestead - 1986)
2.  Shellac - The Idea of North (At Action Park - Touch and Go - 1994)
3.  Shellac - Compliant (Dude Incredible - Touch and Go - 2014)
4.  Big Black - L Dopa (Songs About Fucking - Touch and Go - 1987)
5.  Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Spy School Graduation Theme (Sport Fishin': The Lure of the Bait, The Luck of the Hook - Cargo Records - 1993)
6.  Phono-Comb - Burnt Down with Feedback (Fresh Gasoline - Quarterstick Records - 1996)
7.  The Sadies - Clear a Path (Precious Moments - Bloodshot Records - 1998)
8.  The Sadies - I Tried Not To (Pure Diamond Gold - Bloodshot Records - 1999)
9.  The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - The Feeling of Love (The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Caroline Records - 1992)
10. Jarvis Cocker - Angela (Further Complications - Rough Trade - 2009)
11. Ty Segall - Papers (Ty Segall - Drag City - 2017)
12. Pixies - Break My Body (Surfer Rosa - 4AD - 1988)
13. The Breeders - Fortunately Gone (Pod - 4AD - 1990)
14. The Jesus Lizard - Mouth Breather (Goat - Touch and Go - 1991)
15. PJ Harvey - Me-Jane (Rid of Me - Island - 1993)
16. Thrush Hermit - Every Morning I Reread the Postcards (The Great Pacific Ocean - Murderecords - 1995)
17. Just Ducky - New Metro Stomp (Without Warning: Early Montana Punk, Postpunk, New Wave + Hardcore 1979-1991 - Lost Sounds Montana - 2022)
18. Big Black - Racer-X (Racer-X - Homestead/Touch and Go - 1985)
19. Shellac - Movement 3 (The Futurist - 1997)
20. Low - Jack Smith (Transmission - Vernon Yard - 1996)
21. Palace Music - The Brute Choir (Viva Last Blues - Drag City - 1995)
22. The Cape May - Spring Flight to the Land of Fire (Glass Mountain Roads - Flemish Eye - 2006)
23. Mcklusky - To Hell with Good Intentions (Mcklusky Do Dallas - Too Pure - 2002)
24. Metz - Dig A Hole (Strange Peace - Sub Pop - 2017)
25. Superchunk - Throwing Things (No Pocky For Kitty - Matador - 1991)
26. Nirvana - Tourette’s (In Utero - DCG - 1993)
27. Big Black - Bombastic Intro  (Songs About Fucking - Touch and Go - 1987)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the May 11 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1037 (Originally Aired On May 4th, 2024)(Duane Eddy, Echo & The Bunnymen, Bloodshot Bill, Olinda, Sunglaciers):

1.  Ty Segall - Repetition 
2.  Charles Moothart - Timelapse Choke 
3.  Beebomb - Heat Death
4.  Nettle - Hard Pass
5.  Fruit Tones - Trashed 
6.  The Lemon Twigs - They Don’t Know How to Fall in Place 
7.  Camera Obscura - Big Love 
8.  Sparks - Thank God It’s Not Christmas
9.  Siouxsie & The Banshees - This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us 
10. Echo & The Bunnymen - The Yo-Yo Man 
11. Pavement - The Killing Moon 
12. Duane Eddy - Movin ‘N’ Groovin’ 
13. Duane Eddy - Three-30-Blues
14. Duane Eddy - Trash 
15. Bloodshot Bill - Tres Tacos 
16. Los Straitjackets - Space Mosquito
17. The Volebeats - Desert Song
18. Shadow Show - Vertigo 
19. Hot Garbage - Erase My Mind 
20. Jessica Pratt - Life Is 
21. Cindy Lee - Wild Rose
22. Dirty Beaches - True Blue 
23. U.S. Girls - Peotone 
24. The Sweet Kill - Forbidden 
25. Olinda - Reverie 
26. Spectres - Chain Reaction 
27. Sunglaciers - One Time Or Another 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the May 4 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Apollo Ghosts: Amethyst & Shows # 1036, 1035, 1034, 1033, 1032, 1031, 1030 and 1029

Forming in 2009, Apollo Ghosts are from Vancouver, BC. Described as an indie rock jangle-punk band, fronted by musician Adrian Teacher (guitars/vocals), the band has gone through many different lineups throughout the years, but in almost every lineup the band has also featured Amanda P. on either drums or a variety of other instruments. The original lineup of the band featured Adrian Teacher (guitar/vocals), Amanda P. (drums), James Oliver (bass/guitar), and at one point Jarrett Samson (later of Tough Age) played bass with the group. The current live lineup of the band is Adrian Teacher (guitar/vocals), Amanda P. (bass), Hasan L. (guitar) and Dustin B. (drums). 

After releasing a series of albums, singles and EPs, including 2010’s Polaris Prize nominated album Mount Benson, the band announced they were splitting up in 2013, not too long after their 2012 album Landmark. Teacher went on to play and record with COOL TV, who exhibited a more funky nature and the rock/power pop driven Adrian Teacher & The Subs. Apollo Ghosts returned in 2019 with Living Memory, an ambient, piano and instrumental driven record dealing with themes of death and loss. Teacher performed all of the instruments on this record. In 2020, Apollo Ghosts released the 35 song collection of covers of Vancouver based artists called Local Delivery Only. For every download the band donated one dollar to the DTES Response.

In 2022, Apollo Ghosts returned bringing back elements of their jangle-punk sound with something new. On the stunning double album Pink Tiger (released on You've Changed Records), Apollo Ghosts featured one album (Pink) that was primarily acoustic with lyrics of loss, illness, death and memory in eleven tracks, while the other album (Tiger) leans towards more jangle-punk, garage sounds and features the remaining songs in this 22 song epic collection. Lyrically, this side of the album celebrates friendship, music and hope. It was recorded primarily as a three-piece band featuring Teacher, Amanda P. and Robbie N. In 2023, ahead of a European tour they released the psych tinged digital single Gave Up the Dream. And in February 2023, a surprise mini-album/EP arrived digitally ahead of a Japanese tour titled Amethyst, released on You've Changed Records.

A collection of jangly punk songs, the brief selection of songs packs a mighty punch pulling from influences of Built To Spill, Pavement and Yo La Tengo. Along with the combination of jangle pop, indie, garage and punk, when combined with the witty lyrics of Adrian Teacher, gives Amethyst extra weight. Musically, the ever evolving sound of Apollo Ghosts in addition to the already mentioned influences, also adds elements of bands such as Go Betweens and The Bats. “Ripping Invasives” starts off Amethyst and is a hard-hitting punk and post punk track with lyrics contrasting lies, dishonesty to dangerous invasive plants that need to be ripped out and destroyed to protect nature. The theme of killing parts of nature in order protect it operates on many levels here. “Fake Nurse” channels Teachers’ inner Stephen Malkmus with lyrics such as “The world is sick and so am I,” that talk of societal ills.

“Strawberry Moon” is a faster track with themes of a complex shift in domestic life, “Faded Neil Young Shirt” features lyrics such as “Let’s ask Bobby/Wasted all of your time/Like a privileged piece of shit” and a chorus of “I’ll never forget you,” that are layered, creating a song that is not only a catchy jangle pop earworm, but haunting. “Rave Heaven” features a locked in mid-tempo groove with crunchy distorted guitars as lyrics such as “I’ll be the sun/And you’ll be the moon/Wildfires start/They’re starting so soon,” and “I’ll be honest/That I felt the healing coming/But I’m not sure it is or if the sentiment is gone,” about environmental factors such as climate change in a sardonic way, contrasting them to stormy elements of a relationship. Amethyst ends with “No One Knows Your Mind,” a strong, raucous track featuring chiming guitars and lyrics that draw on elements of loneliness and human connection.

Throughout Amethyst, lyrics deal with near death experiences, struggling with a world with leaders unmotivated by change, gentrification, among other things. Musically, the album is their loudest to date. On this EP, Apollo Ghosts show us that sincerity exists in a world of dishonesty, contrasting the dark with the light in a way that only they can.
Show 1036 (Originally Aired On April 27th, 2024)(Richard & Linda Thompson, Blur, Wine Lips, La Luz):

1.  Alan Vega - Mercy 
2.  Fontaines D.C. - Starburster 
3.  La Luz - Poppies
4.  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Wild God
5.  Richard & Linda Thompson - I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
6.  Richard & Linda Thompson - The Calvary Cross
7.  Middle Sister - East 80 
8.  The Wesleys - A Lot To Lose 
9.  Apollo Ghosts - Rave Heaven 
10. Jon McKiel - Everlee 
11. Blur - Tracy Jacks 
12. Blur - Magic America 
13. Ariel, Mathius & Shotgun Jimmie - That Job 
14. Little Window - Glue
15. Sheer Mag - Golden Hour 
16. The Particles - Remington Rand 
17. Private School - Rock & Roll Radio
18. Theee Retail Simps - Keeper of the Fire 
19. The Routes - Inside Out 
20. English Teacher - Nearly Daffodils 
21. Cloud Nothings - Running Through the Campus 
22. Dial Up - No Shame 
23. Wine Lips - Derailer
24. Trophy Knife - Blue Dog 
25. Drive Like Jehu - Super Unison 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the April 27 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1035 (Originally Aired On April 20th, 2024)(Night Court, Sheer Mag, The Panama Papers, Devo):

1.  Night Court - Cellphone 
2.  Wine Lips - Fried IV 
3.  Dion Lunadon - Grind Me Down 
4.  The Scientists - Raver 
5.  Daniel Romano’s Outfit - That’s Too Rich
6.  Sheer Mag - Expect the Bayonet 
7.  Sheer Mag - Hardly To Blame 
8.  Sheer Mag - Don’t Come Lookin’
9.  Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Powderfinger
10. Barzin - Queen Jane 
11. Beck - Hollow Log 
12. Sonny & The Sunsets - Rhinestone Sunset
13. The Standells - Riot On Sunset Strip 
14. Julie Doiron - You Gave Me the Key 
15. You’ll Never Get To Heaven - Eternal Present 
16. Claire Rousay - iii 
17. The Panama Papers - About Your Father 
18. The Panama Papers - These Neutered Streets 
19. Lumpy and the Dumpers - Gnats in the Pissa 
20. Psychic Void - Hear Me Out 
21. Bad Breeding - Survival 
22. XTC - Life Begins at the Hop 
23. The Specials - Doesn’t Make It Alright 
24. The Adverts - One Chord Wonders 
25. Total Control - Flesh War 
26. Fire Engines - Get Up and Use Me 
27. Devo - Secret Agent Man 
28. Viagra Boys - Creatures

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the April 20 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1034 (Originally Aired On April 13th, 2024)(Cindy Lee, Meat Puppets, The Wesleys, The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen):

1.  Cindy Lee - Stone Faces 
2.  Packs - 89 Days 
3.  Sunglaciers - Kafka 
4.  Metz - Superior Mirage 
5.  Cola - Keys Down if You Stay
6.  The Wesleys - I’ve Been Waiting 
7.  Middle Sister - The Woodland Sneak 
8.  Zeus - Air I Walk 
9.  Meat Puppets - Lake of Fire 
10. Meat Puppets - Plateau 
11. Meat Puppets - Oh Me 
12. Meat Puppets - Lost (Demo) 
13. The Stooges - No Fun 
14. The Black Keys - No Fun
15. The Sonics - The Witch 
16. The Gruesomes - The Witch 
17. A. Jacks & The Cleansers - Stronger Than Dirt 
18. The Mummies - Stronger Than Dirt 
19. The Rolling Stones - Tell Me (You’re Coming Back) 
20. The Rolling Stones - Little By Little
21. Willie Dixon - So Long
22. Carl Perkins - Lonely Street 
23. Lead Belly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night? 
24. Lonesome Lefty - Texas Blues 
25. Lonesome Lefty - Rhythm King 
26. Leonard Cohen - The Butcher 
27. Leonard Cohen - Tonight Will Be Fine 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the April 13 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1033 (Originally Aired On April 6th, 2024)(R.E.M., Soundgarden, Motorists, Ron Leary, Daniel Romano):

1.  Dana Gavanski - Ears Were Growing 
2.  Dana Gavanski - Song for Rachel 
3.  Vampire Weekend - Gen-X Cops
4.  Ducks Ltd. - Harms Way 
5.  R.E.M. - Harborcoat 
6.  R.E.M. - Pretty Persuasion 
7.  R.E.M. - Walters Theme 
8.  R.E.M. - So. Central Rain (Live) 
9. Wine Lips - Six Pack 
10. Motorists - Phone Booth in the Desert of the Mind 
11. Mad Ones - What It Takes 
12. Roye Trout - Deceiver 
13. Apollo Ghosts - Strawberry Moon 
14. Soundgarden - Black Hole Sund (Demo Version) 
15. Soundgarden - Superunknown 
16. Soundgarden - Kickstand 
17. Soundgarden - She Likes Surprises 
18. Waxahatchee - Bored
19. Allison Brown - Scavengers 
20. Ariel, Mathias and Shotgun Jimmie - Casual Friday
21. Ron Leary - Communist Café 
22. Cindy Lee - Glitz 
23. Ekkstacy -I Guess We Made It This Far 
24. Daniel Romano’s Outfit - Chatter

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the April 6 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1032 (Originally Aired On March 30th, 2024)(Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, Adrianne Lenker, Television Personalities, Kim Gordon, The Scenics):

1.  Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds - Wicked World 
2.  Jesus and Mary Chain - Girl 71 
3.  Yard Act - Fizzy Fish
4.  Kim Gordon - Dream Dollar 
5.  The Cramps - Under the Wires 
6.  The Gories - Charm Bag (Live) 
7.  The Scenics - Garthuson 
8.  Corridor - Mon Argent 
9.  Television Personalities - Picture of Dorian Gray
10. The Auras - The Peacock
11. Adrianne Lenker - Vampire Empire 
12. Big Thief - Capacity 
13. Spectres - Dominion
14. Little Girls - Youth Tunes 
15. Stuck - Freak Frequency
16. Priors - I’m A Lush 
17. Port Juvee - Bleached Out Soda Pop 
18. Shonen Knife - I Wanna Eat Chocobars 
19. Cult Crime - I’ve Been Go For Too Long 
20. Metz - Negative Space (7 Inch Version) 
21. Bog Moss - I Am Here 
22. The I Don’t Cares - King of America 
23. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Skunk 
24. Captain Beefheart - Moody Liz 
25. Blue Oil - Unwind 
26. Generation X - Day By Day (Alt. Version) 
27. Cub - Sweet Pea (Album Cut)
28. Dirty Pretty Things - The Enemy 
29. B.A. Johnston - Truffle Shuffle (CJSW 2012) 
30. The Stranglers - Sometimes 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 30 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1031 (Originally Aired On March 23rd, 2024)(Black Flag, Deadbeat Beat, Pissed Jeans, The Fall):

1.  Sunglaciers - Fakes 
2.  Fog Lamp - You Prove Yourself Wrong 
3.  Dumb - Quarter Stereo 
4.  Heavenly Sweetheart - Another Sunny Day 
5.  Wabi Sabis - Upload to the Cloud 
6.  Crash 80s - Waiting for the Heat 
7.  Hurray for the Riff Raff! - Alibi 
8.  Skinny Dyck - Can’t Change the Colour of Your Eyes 
9.  Dawson Forsey - Don’t Believe Me 
10. Tractor Beam - Bedroom Antics 
11. Mekons & Kathy Acker - My Song at Night 
12. Faye Webster - Ebay Purchase History 
13. Mexican Knives - Tick Tock 
14. Deadbeat Beat - Baphomet 
15. Deadbeat Beat - From What I Can Tell 
16. The Hypos - All Summer 
17. The Fall - Shoulder Pads 1 
18. Swell Maps - Real Shocks
19. Black Flag - My War 
20. Black Flag - Forever Time
21. Pissed Jeans - Sixty-Two Thousand Dollars in Debt
22. DVTR - DVTR 
23. Bad Egg - Beat Egg 
24. Golden Shitters - Wear Black (Live) 
25. Mary Timony - Summer
26. Jeen - Making Me Mad 
27. Brtittany Howard - What Now 
28. Shadow Show - Clown Song 
29. Squiggly Lines - I Don’t Really Care and That Bothers Me 
30. Pearl Harbor - Alone in the Dark
31. Pearl Harbor - Losing to You 
32. R.E.M. - Maps and Legends

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 23 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1030 (Originally Aired On March 16th, 2024)(Tandoori Knights, The Smiths, Beck, Ty Segall, Thee Headcoats):

1.  Hot Garbage - Look at My Phone 
2.  Tandoori Knights - Goin’ Down 
3.  Tandoori Knights - Je Me Souviens 
4.  Bloodshot Bill - Tik Tik Love Call 
5.  Polaris! - Euro Star 
6.  The Revels - Intoxica 
7.  The Smiths - What Difference Does It Make? 
8.  The Smiths - Still Ill 
9.  Sandie Shaw - Hand in Glove 
10. Beck - Nitemare Hippy Girl 
11. Sonic Youth - Pay No Mind 
12. Chad VanGaalen - I’m Sick
13. Astral Swans - Filler 
14. Ty Segall - Hi Dee Dee 
15. Ty Segall - Reflections 
16. La Luz - Strange World
17. Thee Headcoats - The Kids Are All Square 
18. The Delmonas - You Did Him Wrong 
19. Mannequin Pussy - Sometimes 
20. Idles - Hall & Oates
21. Brass Lip - Father Yod
22. Pack Rat - New Kind of Love
23. Vypers - Loser 
24. Vypers - Lashes and Lead 
25. Mononegatives - Testing Capability 
26. Hooper Crescent - Wrong Direction 
27. A. Savage - Thanksgiving Prayer
28. The Bug Club - Antique Heirlooms 
29. Beck - Green Light
30. The Smiths - This Charming Man 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 16 file to download/stream the episode.

Show 1029 (Originally Aired On March 9th, 2024)(Pavement, Flat Duo Jets, Can):

1.  Ducks LTD. - A Girl, Running 
2.  Freebie - Yes Ma’am 
3.  Dial Up - Take Another Walk on the Wild Side
4.  Golden Lava Club - The Big Dance 
5.  Pavement - Elevate Me Later 
6.  Pavement - Unfair 
7.  Pavement - Range Life (Alt. Version) 
8.  Pavement - Cut Your Hair (BBC Session) 
9.  Flat Duo Jets - Riot In Cell Block #9 
10. Flat Duo Jets - Wild Wild Lover (Outtake) 
11. Flat Duo Jets - Harlem Nocturne 
12. Flat Duo Jets - Apple Blossom (Time Mix) 
13. Dex Romweber Duo - The Wind Did Move
14. Can - Paperhouse
15. Can - Vitamin C 
16. Can - Spoon 
17. Can - Moonshake
18. The Smile - Read the Room
19. Jon McKiel - Hex 
20. Autogramm - Diana 
21. The Trampoline Delay - Excuses, Excuses 
22. Apollo Ghosts - Ripping Invasives 
23. Rip Van Winkle - The Metal Clip Goes Over 
24. Daniel Romano’s Outfit - All of Thee Above

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 9 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Melt the Honey: An Interview with Madeline Link of Packs & Show # 1028

Toronto-based band Packs began around 2019 as a solo project for songwriter Madeline Link. A full band emerged shortly after featuring Dexter Nash (guitar), Noah O’Neil (bass) and Shane Hooper on drums. With a few singles released online, they drew the attention of Fire Talk records and then released their debut album Take The Cake in 2021 and Crispy Crunchy Nothing followed in 2023. The band’s sound has been described as lo-fi indie rock, garage rock, and drawing influences from acts such as Pavement, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh and others, Link’s lyrics often pull from a literary aesthetic, delivering character driven stories at times, or evoking meaning from the mundane moments in life by balancing wit with humour. Packs third full-length album Melt the Honey arrived in January 2024.

Recorded in Mexico over the course of 11 days by the band themselves, Melt the Honey takes a more experimental approach to aspects of Packs sound, often wandering into psych, shoe gaze and folk territory while still staying true to the sounds of the band’s first two albums. “89 Days” opens with a hazy more lethargic feel. Lyrically, Link sings “No backups for 89 days/I click on close, but the thought still remains/And as I fall asleep, I wish that I could change” touching on themes of unresolved tasks, missed opportunities and the passage of time in a poignant way. “Honey” is a more upbeat track. The album takes its title from this song. With acoustic guitars, steady drums, bass and electric guitar that cuts in and out with organ in the syrupy choruses, lyrics “Tar on the freeway marks on the wall/This is where I fall/Figuring out it's seriously what I wanted all this time” in the verses emphasize the complex layers and thrills of a new relationship.

“Pearly Whites” is a harsher sounding track, with grittier guitars and undeniable fuzzy melodies, this track sounds influenced by its surroundings being recorded in the warmer climate of Mexico. Taking on a scuzzier shoe gaze sound, this song was also one of a two that were inspired from literary works. This one draws inspiration from one of the characters from Jack Kerouac’s On The Road reflecting the acceptance and appeal of certain societal behaviours, while “HFCS” is a more lo-fi garage-sounding track. With lyrics “High fructose corn syrup” in the sugary sounding choruses, Link and Packs tackle the addictiveness of artificial based sugars over the real thing while also serving up a metaphor for authenticity. ”Take Care” is another unhurried track, pulling in psych vibes that digs into the concept of self-realization and treating yourself with the same care you give to others, especially in the early stages of a relationship.

“Paige Machine” draws its influence from another literary source Mark Twain, but in a different sense. In the 1800’s Twain backed the development of a printing device by James W. Paige, but due to the complicated nature of its design and the obsessive perfection of Paige’s nature, the machine was doomed. With lyrics such as “It'll only work once now/Cause you took it apart/And it this new configuration/Fucked up, now you gotta restart” Link plays with the lyrical phrasing in this song as country, psych and surf guitar melodies layer overtop of acoustic guitars, melodic bass and drums, adding to the unease of the situation while at the same time portraying a message of not overthinking or over doing things for fear of losing what you were trying to do creatively in the first place. This also echoes throughout the album in many ways, not just lyrically, but also musically. The crunchy sounding “Missy” is about a stray cat that would roam around the band’s practice space in Xalapa, Mexico while they recorded this album. Sung from the perspective of this cat, this seemingly simple tale drawing on themes of connection, desire and vulnerability, like many of Link’s songs can have multiple possible meanings. There is even a Spanish spoken section in the middle of the song by Lupita Rico adding further layers to this track. The burnt-out psychedelia of “Trippin’” comes in with acoustic guitars, bass and well, trippy sounding guitars that move through as the song floats forward. Drawing comparisons to Mellow Gold-era Beck, "Trippin" comes in as the second last song on this album, while “Time Loop” ends Melt the Honey.

Musically, “Time Loop” with its rolling basslines, shuffling drums, acoustic guitars and atmospheric psych influenced electric guitar lines, applies a juxtaposing optimism in-between Link’s smooth sounding vocal melodies. Lyrics such as “It’s not hopeless yet,” wander within the song itself, revelling in the possibilities despite the sometimes gloomy moments around us. Throughout Melt the Honey, the music is raw, unfiltered and unafraid to experiment. Lyrically, the songs go deep into the complex layers of emotions with a new sense of optimism, still evoking meaning from the mundane with an undeniable wit and humour. Melt the Honey reverberates with lo-fi confident honeyed rhythms, melodies and lyrics that will be hard to forget.

Listen to the interview Revolution Rock did with Madeline Link here:    
Packs Playlist (Originally Aired On March 2nd, 2024):

1.  Packs - Cheese (Crispy Crunchy Nothing- Fire Talk - 2021)
2.  Packs - HFCS (Melt the Honey - Fire Talk - 2024)
3.  Packs - Silvertongue (Take the Cake - Fire Talk - 2021)
4.  Packs - Abalone (Crispy Crunchy Nothing- Fire Talk - 2021)
5.  Packs - Honey (Melt the Honey - Fire Talk - 2024)
6.  Packs - Drink Rain (Drink Rain - Single - 2021)


7.  Packs - Sink (Ouch + B-Sides - 2021)
8.  Packs - FM (WOAH EP - Fire Talk - 2022)
9.  Packs - Clingfilm (Take the Cake - Fire Talk - 2021)


10. Packs - Hold My Hand (Take the Cake - Fire Talk - 2021)
11. Triples - Play it Again (Play It Again - 2017)
12. Triples - Summer Song (Play It Again - 2017)
13. Triples - Making Space (Big Time - 2019)
14. Lovers Touch - Weatherman (1681 D - 2017)
15. Lovers Touch - It’s Not Right (Live) (In Muted Colours - 2017)
16. Packs - 4th of July (Crispy Crunchy Nothing- Fire Talk - 2021)
17. Packs - Who Will It Be (WOAH EP - Fire Talk - 2022)
18. Packs - Hangman (Take the Cake - Fire Talk - 2021)
19. Packs - Trippin’ (Melt the Honey - Fire Talk - 2024)
20. Packs - Tightmouth (Ouch + B-Sides - 2021)
21. Packs - Cheshire Cat Grin (Ouch + B-Sides - 2021)
22. Packs - Don’t Go for the Goats Milk (WOAH EP - Fire Talk - 2022)
23. Packs - Dishwater (Crispy Crunchy Nothing- Fire Talk - 2021)
24. Packs - Divine Giggling (Take the Cake - Fire Talk - 2021)
25. Packs - Take Care (Melt the Honey - Fire Talk - 2024)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the March 2 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

P'Twaaang!!!: Revolution Surf 2024 & Show # 1027

This year’s Revolution Rock featured guest host Greg Maxwell (of The Ugly Vision) and we played a selection of old/new international surf, obscure horror themed surf and some surf songs from bands you might not expect to have had a surf song.

Messer Chups are a surf band from St. Petersburg, Russia and have been playing their own version of surf music mixing elements of classic surf rock, bands like The Cramps, low-budget horror monster movies, drag race surf culture, and much more into their sound. The earliest version of this band formed in late 1998 by musician Oleg Fomchenkov (known as Guitaracula or Gitaracula). The band started off as a duo and has gone through many lineup changes. Currently the band performs live and records as a trio (usually with a few guests) featuring Svetlana (Zombierella) (who joined around 2007) on bass and have gone through several drummers, but currently Signor Mattia plays drums. They have had lots of music and albums released over the years. In 2013, they released their surf cult classic Church of Reverb on the band's own Gitaracula Records. It has had a few reissues, most recently via surf-based UK label Hi-Tide Recordings for its 10th anniversary with new artwork by Grey Haas. It features Messer Chups classics such as “Surf N’ Rolla,” “Cemetery Beach,” “Zomboanga,” “Rockin’ Zombie,” and “Dracula Hates Photoshoots.”

While perhaps best being known for being in Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh has been involved with making music for TV and film. He formed a production company called Mutato Muzika in 1989, which has produced tons of music for commercials, TV, and movies, many of them Wes Anderson films. Mark created music for many Nickelodeon shows such as Rugrats, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and many others. In 1999, he was tasked with creating a theme song to a new cartoon series that focused on extreme sports called Rocket Power. Shortly after that the group The Wipeouters released an album in 2001 called P’Twaaang!!! This group consisted of Mark Mothersbaugh (vocals/keyboards), Bob Mothersbaugh (guitar), Bob Casale (guitar), and Josh Mancell on drums. Two-thirds of this group was made up of members of Devo. The album would also feature guest appearances from Gerald Casale of Devo, and others from his production company. The album is a mix of surf and Devo-ish keyboard-induced sounds. This album has some great hidden surf gems such as the robotic surf sounds of “Dangerdog,” the surf exotica influenced “Surf’s Up On Goon Island,” the keyboard synth surf of “Twist n’ Launch,” “Luna Goona Park,” and the spy-themed “Rocket Full of Power.” P’Twaaang!!! is an interesting detour in the Devo discography.

Revolution Surf 2024 Playlist (Originally Aired On February 24th, 2024):

1.  Nick and The Jaguars - Ich-I-Bon #1 (Ich-I-Bon #1/Cool and Crazy - 1959 - Tamla)
2.  Satan’s Pilgrims - Dilation (Psychsploitation - SP Records - 2009)
3.  The Vettes - Super Stock Vette (Rev-Up - MGM Records - 1964)
4.  The Vondells - Rough Road (The Vondells - Unreleased - 2003)
5.  Luau or Die - Breaking the Law (Dead on the Floor Vol.1 - 2015)
6.  Os Aquamans - A Mafia (Os Aquamans II - Uala Records - 2020)
7.  Los Tiki Phantoms - Mondo Senior (Y El Enigma Del Tiempo - Hi-Tide Recordings - 2023)
8.  Mary Ann Hawkins - Hawkinsmania (Mary Ann Hawkins - Svart Records - 2023)
9.  The Surf Coasters - Hungarian Dance ‘95 (Rising - 78label - 2016)
10. Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited - Land of Swinging Atoms (The Flawless Ms Drake - Hi-Tide Recordings - 2022)
11. Messer Chups - Zamboanga (Church of Reverb - Hi-Tide Recordings - 2023)
12. Messer Chups - Twin Peaks Twist (Heretic Channel - Solnze Records - 2009)
13. Flat Duo Jets - California Luau (Lucky Eye - Outpost Recordings - 1998)
14. The Greasy Gills - Aloha Prisoners (Bodega Boys - 2018)
15. Bloodshot Bill - Smoke Den (Songs From the Sludge - Hi-Tide Recordings - 2022)
16. The Swinging Pussy Cuts - Undertow (Going Out With... - 2022)
17. The Ichi-Bons - Snake Eyes (Live) (Live in Tucson Vol.2 - 2022)
18. Shango - Plan 9 From Pipeline (Reverb of the Living Dead - 2023)
19. The Slimetones - Space Slime (Turtle Music - 2023)
20. Johnny Thunders - Pipeline (So Alone - Sire Records - 1978)
21. The Replacements - Buck Hill (Hootenanny - Twin/Tone - 1983) 
22. Ketamines - No Grand Design (Spaced Out - Mammoth Cave Recording Co. - 2012)
23. James OL & The Villains - Kill the Devil (On The Banks of the Detroit River - 2014)
24. Roye Trout - Bite the Tow (Salty Waves/Bite The Tow - Single - 2014)
25. The Wipeouters - Dangerdog (P'Twaaang!!! - Casual Tonalities - 2001)
26. Jonathan Richman - Grunion Run (I, Jonathan - Rounder - 1992)
27. The Deadly Ones - It’s Monster Surfing Time (It's Monster Surfing Time - Vee-Jay Records - 1964)
28. The Munsters - Eerie Beach (The Munsters - Decca - 1964)
29. The Ventures - The Bat (The Ventures in Space - Dolton Records - 1964)
30. The Storms - Tarantula (Thunder/Tarantula  - Single - Sparton - 1964))
31. The Traditional Fools - Surfin’ with the Phantom (Fools Gold - In The Red Recordings - 2016)
32. The Surfrajettes - Priscilla (Roller Fink - Hi-Tide Recordings - 2022)
33. Super Krystal - Brnjica (Super Krystal - 2022)
34. The Babalooneys - False Start (Winternationals/False Start - Hi-Tide Recordings - Single - 2023)
35. The Sadies - Rat Creek (Pure Diamond Gold - Bloodshot Records - 1999)
26. The Just Brothers - Sliced Tomatoes (Sliced Tomatoes - Single - 1972 - Music Merchant)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the February 24 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Systems Edge: An Interview with Dion Lunadon & Show # 1026

Uncompromising rock and roll is a good term to use when describing the music of Dion Lunadon. With his latest and third full-length album Systems Edge out on In The Red Records, he explores the intense and wild framework of rock music, revealing a sense of gritty rock and roll, garage and punk sounds. When describing the music, bands such as Raw Power-era Iggy & The Stooges, The MC5, Rowland S. Howard, David Bowie, Ramones come to mind, but these are only reference points. After creating music for many years in different groups, his solo efforts have been described as a voyage through self-discovery” and the listener is along for the ride. The first single for this album arrived near the end of 2023, less than a year after 2022’s Beyond Everything. “Secrets” delivers a new sonic space within the makeup of Dion’s music. Fuzzy guitar, basslines and catchy choruses delve into 70s punk and power pop aesthetics and opens Systems Edge with something you might not expect.

“Nikki” is a noisy punk edged track with driving bass, drums and chaotic guitars as lyrically it seems to tell a horror movie inspired story of a dark romantic fantasy, “Diamond Sea” is one of the standout tracks on Systems Edge. In a press release about the song Dion had this to say about the song: “Diamond Sea is about the first time I took acid when I was about 16 with my best friends. We were the only ones on a beautiful giant beach. It was about 5am and we watched the fog disappear as the sun came up. Half of those people are alive and half are not. This song is for them!” Moving into glam rock territory, the song starts off with guitar and drums, when the bass hits glam rock vibes echo elements of David Bowie and The Spiders From Mars mixed with New York Dolls styled rock. The lyrics in “Diamond Sea” cut deep with a sense of the idyllic being contrasted with the existential. “I Walk Away” simmers with gritty intensity that you wouldn’t think was possible after hearing some of the tracks that precede it. The lyrics such as “I see the view/Sweet retribution/With no one to defend you,” and “I wanna stay/But you know I won’t,” have Lunadon wading through a world surrounded by antagonistic negativity. A one-note organ part during the chorus adds further tenseness while drums crash and guitars build with climbing sinister riffs.

“Rocks On” is a combination of body shaking bass grooves and energetic guitar work that doesn’t follow a predictable song structure. As the chorus hits, its intoxicating melodies grab a hold of you as the song exposes the cracks of a cold society. “Shockwave” is a noisy, dirtier sounding punk song. Dating back to a recording from the first album that Dion released, this song fits at home here with its thrashing drums, lethal guitars and a penetrating, yet catchy chorus. “Grind Me Down” slows down the pace a bit with yet another groove heavy bass riff in between steady drums and wild frenzied sounding guitars as lyrics such as “You grind me down to nothing/You can’t I’m already dust/Serenade to someone/Lies shrouded in love/Shake it off” and “I Couldn’t see your love,” which repeat throughout the song in a fervent fashion. This song conjures up a danceable anarchy, as the lyrics search for meaning in the embers of a fragmented situation or relationship.

“I Don’t Mind” arrives as a deep cut on Systems Edge at track nine of ten. With fuzzy basslines, crunchy walls of guitar distortion and a catchy, mesmerizing bass and a drum heavy chorus of “I Don’t Mind/If I never see you again,” Lunadon sings of a corrosive toxic relationship that he avoids for his own well being. Further lyrics such as “Don’t wanna be a low life zero/I don’t wanna be an open cut,” “I walk across the street/To get away from you/I cut my mind so deep/And stitch it up real crude” in the verses add to the universe created in this character driven song as unrelenting, wild guitar licks and bends further stress the frustration and friction of the song’s dynamics. “Room With No View” ends Systems Edge. The longest track on this album at almost eight minutes, the live and spontaneous feel of this slow, heavy dirge of a song digs into darker lyrics as it delves into blues and psych rock elements, while also being a style of its own. Throughout Systems Edge, Dion Lunadon delivers ten songs that don’t always follow a standard formulaic song structure, providing an unpredictable collection of songs that reveals something else with each listen. Systems Edge breaks from the cycle of the bland and journeys through a universe of real, uncompromising rock and roll.

Listen the interview that Revolution Rock did with Dion Lunadon here:

Systems Edge Playlist (Originally Aired On February 17th, 2024):

1.  Dion Lunadon - Eliminator (Dion Lunadon - Agitated Records - 2017)
2.  Dion Lunadon - Negative Energy (Schreien EP - Discofridge - 2020)
3.  Dion Lunadon - It’s the Truth (Beyond Everything - In The Red Recordings - 2022)
4.  Dion Lunadon - Shockwave (Systems Edge - In The Red Recordings - 2023)
5.  Dion Lunadon - Diamond Sea (Systems Edge - In The Red Recordings - 2023)
6.  Dion Lunadon - I Don’t Mind (Systems Edge - In The Red Recordings - 2023)


7.  Dion Lunadon - Nothing But My Skull (Beyond Everything - In The Red Recordings - 2022)


8.  Dion Lunadon & Kate Clover - When Will I Hold You Again (When Will I Hold You Again - Single - 2020)
9.  The True Lovers - Obsession (The True Lovers - Altra Records - 2010)
10. A Place To Bury Strangers - Straight (Album Cut)
11. Nothing At All! - Busted (Nothing At All! - Zerophonic - 1995)
12. Nothing At All! - Get Some (Nothing At All! - Zerophonic - 1995)
13. The D4 - No Antidote (John Peel Session 2002) 
14. The D4 - Exit To the City (Original 4 Track Radio Single Version) (6Twenty One (Digital Version) - Flying Nun Records - 2022)
15. The D4 - Come On! (6Twenty - Flying Nun Records - 2001)
16. The D4 - Get Loose (6Twenty - Flying Nun Records - 2001)
17. The D4 - Do No Right (Out of My Head - Flying Nun Records - 2005)
18. The D4 - Stops Me Cold (Out of My Head - Flying Nun Records - 2005)
19. Dion Lunadon - Com/Broke (Dion Lunadon - Agitated Records - 2017)
20. Dion Lunadon - Goodbye Satan (Beyond Everything - In The Red Recordings - 2022)
21. Dion Lunadon - Room With No View (Systems Edge - In The Red Recordings - 2023)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the February 17 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Ramblin' Rose: The Music of Wayne Kramer and His Influence & Show # 1025

Wayne Kramer was co-founder and guitarist in The MC5. Formed in 1963 in Lincoln Park, Michigan, with the MC5 Kramer’s explosive guitar playing was part of a dual guitar attack with Fred “Sonic” Smith, musically one of the early proto punk bands, MC5 pulled influences from early Motown, R&B with early rock and roll sounds of artists such as Chuck Berry and also had an interest in free jazz. Alongside the high-energy performances they were also politically charged lyrically, speaking to the counterculture and underground music scenes at the time. Releasing three albums, their first album was the live album Kick Out The Jams, which was recorded over two nights in October (30th & 31st) of 1968 at the legendary Grande Ballroom in Detroit. It also featured the title classic and highly influential title track "Kick Out the Jams." Their first album was decided to be a live album due to the band’s lack of studio experience at the time. All of their efforts were put into performing live at the time, so the idea to capture the band’s live energy on record made the most sense. Kick Out the Jams, featured songs such as “Ramblin’ Rose,” “Rocket Reducer No. 62,” “The Motor City is Burning,” among others such as MC5’s take on Sun Ra’s “Starship,” which ends the album in a mixture of free jazz, rock and roll and chaos. The album was also surrounded in controversy, due to the use of the words “Kick out the jams motherfucker!” which was uttered by vocalist Rob Tyner on the recording. The linear notes by manager John Sinclair also featured profanity, which nowadays probably wouldn’t bother anyone, but back in 1969 it caused a Detroit department store to stop selling any Elektra album. They were dropped from the label shortly after.

The MC5 bounced back quickly, recording Back in the USA with future Bruce Springsteen producer Jon Landau at GM Studios in Detroit on Atlantic Records. Released in 1970, many felt Back in the USA failed to capture MC5 properly in the studio at the time, but lyrically and musically it is quite a strong album. With songs such as “Tonight,” “Call Me Animal,” “The American Ruse,” “Human Being Lawnmower,” the albums lyrics built upon the five’s political and social themes. Musically, the lean garage sounding tracks pre-dated punk and power pop musical movements that would happen within the next decade. One more album would follow in 1971, High Time before the band’s split. Produced by The MC5 and Atlantic Records engineer Geoffrey Haslam, High Time is definitely the best studio-sounding recording to be released by The MC5. Although lyrically it pulls back on the political themes a bit, musically the band is unstoppable on this record, with a strong rhythm section and dual guitar attack switching focus from track to track, this was also the first album of theirs to feature individual song writing credits. Featuring now classics such as “Sister Anne,” “Miss X, “ “Future/Now,” ”Over and Over,” and “(Skunk) Sonically Speaking,” MC5 cut loose showing the dynamics and versatility of their sound in addition to their evolution as musicians at that point in time, while never losing what made them so great in the first place. But, due to a variety of factors, such as poor album sales, heavy drug use, internal tensions and being bankrupt, the band split in 1972.

Following his time with The MC5, Kramer continued with music, however, in 1975 he was busted for dealing drugs and spent four years in prison. But, something was happening in the underground, the music of bands such as The MC5 and The Stooges were informing underground bands in the UK and all over. Kramer joined the funk rock group Was (Not Was) in 1979 and played in the New York underground music scenes throughout the 80s. He formed Gang War with guitarist Johnny Thunders also in 79. The band did not last long though, they did record some demos in the same year, as well as playing live shows for about a year, but they fizzled out shortly after that. In the 90s he began releasing solo music, signing to Epitaph Records. Despite putting out several albums and singles (including his excellent version of “The Harder They Come”), Kramer’s breakthrough solo effort came with 1995’s The Hard Stuff on Epitaph Records. Several followed, Kramer also worked as a producer and worked with other bands as well as doing some soundtrack work.

Wayne Kramer seemed to always be working on something. He even released a free jazz album titled Lexington with the Lexington Arts Ensemble. The music was put together for a PBS documentary The Narcotics Farm, about the Federal Narcotics Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. This free jazz album was inspired in part also by Kramer’s time in prison where he played in a prison band called Street Sounds with jazz trumpeter Red Rodney. Rodney is a jazz legend who played with the Charlie Parker Quintet, the two studied music together while incarcerated with Rodney giving Kramer music lessons. Also when the Lexington album was released in 2014, it charted at #6 on the Billboard Top Jazz Charts. The MC5 reformed in different incarnations several times (in 2001 and again in 2018).

In 2009, Kramer, along with his wife Margaret Saddi Kramer and British musician Billy Bragg, started Jail Guitar Doors, an organization that brought instruments to prison inmates in hopes of rehabilitating inmates through the transformative power of music. The non-profit organization was named after a song of the same name by The Clash, which references Kramer’s incarceration. Kramer published his memoir The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5 and My Life of Impossibilities in 2018 and was set to release a new MC5 album, featuring surviving MC5 member Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson, alongside several other musicians prior to his passing in February 2024. Kramer and his music influenced generations of musicians and helped to lay the groundwork for what would become known as punk rock.

Ramblin' Rose Playlist (Originally Aired On February 10th, 2024):

1.  The MC5 - Ramblin’ Rose (Kick Out the Jams - Elektra - 1969)
2.  The MC5 - Human Being Lawnmower (Back in the USA - Atlantic - 1970)
3.  The MC5 - Miss X (High Time - 1971 - Atlantic)
4.  The MC5 - I Can Only Give You Everything (The Big Bang!: Best of The MC5 - Rhino Records - 2000)
5.  Wayne Kramer & The Pink Fairies - If You’re Going to the City (Cocaine Blues - Total Energy - 2000)
6.  Gang War - Crime of the Century (Demo) (Crime of the Century - Sonic Records - 1996)
7.  Gang War - Hey Thanks (Live) (Johnny Thunders & Wayne Kramer's Gang War! - Jungle Records/Skydog Records - 2020)
8.  The MC5 - Kick Out the Jams (Single Version) (Kick Out the Jams - Single - - Elektra - 1969)
9.  The MC5 - Tonight (Babes in Arms - ROIR - 1983)
10. The MC5 - Poison (High Time - 1971 - Atlantic)
11. The MC5 - Look What You’ve Done Done ('66 Breakout - Total Energy - 1999)
12. The MC5 - The Motor City is Burning (Thunder Express - Skydog International - 1992)
13. Wayne Kramer - Get Some (Ramblin' Rose - Single - - Stiffwick - 1978)
14. Wayne Kramer - The Harder They Come (The Harder They Come - Radar Records - 1979)
15. Wayne Kramer - Street Warfare (Negative Girls - Single - Pure and Easy Records - 1983)
16. Wayne Kramer - Junkie Romance (The Hard Stuff - Epitaph Records - 1995)
17. The MC5 - I Just Don’t Know (The Big Bang!: Best of The MC5 - Rhino Records - 2000)
18. The MC5 - Looking At You (Back in the USA - Atlantic - 1970)
19. The MC5 - Thunder Express (The Big Bang!: Best of The MC5 - Rhino Records - 2000)
20. The MC5 - Gold (Babes in Arms - ROIR - 1983)
21. The MC5 - Starship (Kick Out the Jams - Elektra - 1969)

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the February 10 file to download/stream the episode.

Saturday, February 03, 2024

King of Soul: The Music of Sam Cooke and other Soul and R&B Selections & Show # 1024

Article Written By Adam Peltier

Who was the real Sam Cooke? Its one of the many mysteries left after the artist’s premature death in 1964. Like any person, he was many things, so many that these facets often appear to be in contradiction. He was a schmaltzy crooner and a throat-rending RnB showman, a gospel-singing spiritualist and a licentious lothario, a shrewd businessperson and an influential Civil Rights activist. Sixty years after his murder, the pieces of this puzzle remain. Will we ever know whom exactly this golden-voiced “King of Soul” was or will we remain projecting our own notions onto the man, defining an identity of the “Sam Cooke” we want him to be? As Virginia Woolf wrote of the titular character in Jacob’s Room:

“It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows. And why, if this -- and much more than this is true -- why are we yet surprised in the window corner by a sudden vision that the young man in the chair is of all things in the world the most real, the most solid, the best known to us--why indeed? For the moment after we know nothing about him.”

Much like Jacob, whose inner-voice Woolf kept suppressed and unheard during the course of the novel, Cooke is a man we will never truly known beyond the shadows projected on him by history and our own hungry gazes.

Sam Cooke’s legacy tends to cast him as a social conscious activist-singer. This conception of the man is undoubtedly bolstered by his epochal hymn of humanism, the song that went on to be considered the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights movement, “A Change is Gonna Come.” This is an incredible legacy to be associated with, but is one that overlooks the multifaceted career and character of the singer.

Cooke’s greatest commercial successes was not as an activist, but an entertainer. He longed for crossover success between coloured and white audiences, doing all he could to be considered a type of “Black Sinatra” (to borrow an idea from his friend and fellow activist, Muhammad Ali), a standard-bearer of feel-good anthems and dance tunes. This contradicts the legacy imposed on Cooke as a social justice songwriter; the majority his songs were not about political activism, but were pop ditties about falling in love, being in love, and having a good time. His 1962 Greatest Hits compilation is replete with such songs: “Cupid,” “Having a Party,” and “Twistin’ the Night Away” to name a few. So, is this the answer? Was Cooke simply a pop entertainer, one who longed for unparalleled success, but who saw the light and began making socially conscious music? No life is so simple and linear.

Cooke started as a spiritual singer with the gospel-group The Soul Stirrers. His initial career was not in secular, but spiritual music. The Soul Stirrers found success with Sam’s debut recording, “Jesus Gave Me Water.” Not only did this garner a major hit for the band, with its framework going on to influence a great deal of secular pop music like doo wop and Motown, it also gave Sam his first taste of success. Critic and biographer Peter Guralnick credits Sam and the Soul Stirrers for bringing gospel music to the attention of a wider and younger audience. Particularly, an audience of young women. In Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke, Guralnick writes that girls would rush to the stage when the Soul Stirrers performed, hoping to glimpse the charismatic and handsome singer. Already, lines were blurring; the pious gospel singer experienced the type of treatment normally received by pop idols. This may have been the catalyst for Sam to leave the group and pursue a career in pop music. Despite this shift, many aspects of his gospel background would remain implicit in his recordings, imbuing tracks like “Mean Old World” and “Summertime” with a sense of spiritual longing and hope. “A Change is Gonna Come” permeates with the fervor of faith and transcendence, even as Sam frets in the song over mortality and the uncertainly of what lays “beyond the sky.”

So, does this straighten the narrative? Was Sam Cooke the once faithful gospel singer who discovered his voice in secular music, pursued success in the realm of pop, and then grew into a socially conscious activist? Again, the story is murkier than that. What of numbers like the empathetic ode to prisoners in “Chain Gang” or his touching rendition of “Deep River,” both released during his boom period of pop success? How do these contribute to this narrative? This adds another layer of complexity to the mystery of Sam Cooke.

Another aspect to consider is how sanitized Cooke made his music during this bid for pop success. Producers and agents forced the artist to chase trends, layering songs with syrupy string arrangements and encouraging him to write about flash-in-the-pan dance crazes (e.g. the twist, the cha-cha). How do we consolidate the boundary-breaking artist of social justice and radical declarations for Civil Rights with the man who frequently capitulated to trends of the music industry?

Then there was the intimate Sam Cooke, a side of the artist revealed in twofold during 1963. This year saw the release of the introspective Night Beat album. The parred down recording, lacking the studio embellishments and orchestrations of much of his discography, revealed a different aspect of the artist. As per the title, Night Beat features an eerie late night vibe, unlike the smooth trappings of his previous albums. It is a recording marked by melancholy, doubt, and longing. This album displayed a type of intimacy and maturity unprecedented in the singer’s previous work. This pensive and reflective Sam Cooke not only stood at odds against what came before, but what else he would record that year, a raucous live performance at the Harlem Square Club in Miami, Florida.

The Sam Cooke of Live at the Harlem Square Club is not the pop balladeer of “You Send Me” and “Wonderful World,” nor is it the contemplative singer from Night Beat. This Sam Cooke is energy incarnate, hard-hitting and raw. Standards like “Cupid” and “Having a Party” receive new life, as Cooke howls through his back catalog. Fiery passion and intensity replaces the slickness of the studio recordings. Gone are the saccharine trappings of “For Sentimental Reasons” and “Nothin’ Can Change This Love,” the words to these pop hits meaningless. It is all about the energy Cooke sings with, and that voice. That voice. Sam could sing nonsense and make it sound profound. The voice was all that mattered. This was as far from away from being a “Black Sinatra” as he would ever get. Perhaps this performance was too intense, as executives at Cooke’s label decided releasing the boisterous performance would jeopardize their star’s pop persona. The label canned this release in favour of the schmaltzy Sam Cooke Live at the Copa. The glitz and polish of that recording could not stand more in contrast to what was captured that night in Miami in 1963. Thankfully, the record saw a proper release in 1985 and has since been rightfully recognized as one of the greatest live rock/pop recordings ever released. We finally had a chance to hear that performance, and that voice. Indeed, that voice is all we have left of Sam Cooke. Yet, where does that leave us?

The landmark release of “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 1964 created another disruption to the identity of Sam Cooke. This is a song that no essay or critique can encapsulate the power of. It must be listened to, inhabited. It is a call to action, an existential reflection, and a plead for justice so profound and powerful that it has usurped almost all other aspects of Cooke’s legacy. The song turned the singer into “the civil rights singer,” despite the scarcity of political material in his catalog. It is that monumental of a song, its impact hardly deluded despite its 60 years of existence. Despite the legacy-defining power of this track, it may be surprising to learn the song was not initially released as a single. This epochal song saw release on the album Ain’t That Good News in February, and was only released on a single in December as the B-side to the track “Shake,” a return to the more feel-good dance music of Cooke’s past hits. The song would only see its official release as an A-side in 1967, three years after the singer’s passing. Despite this, it would wind up being the Sam Cooke song.

The album “Change” was released on, Ain’t That Good News, much like the artist himself, is full of seeming paradoxes. The first side of the record is a stream of hard soul and horn-laden RnB. Its sound has more in common with releases from contemporaries like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett than the polished pop of Cooke’s past. Yet this is a juxtaposition to what comes on the second side. While it opens up thunderously with “A Change is Gonna Come,” the remainder of the side features a series of orchestral ballads and traditional numbers. This pairing may seem an odd choice, but it shows the complexity of Cooke’s character. He was not one thing, but many. Despite the comfort taken in calling the artist the “civil rights singer,” easily identifying and cataloging him, Sam Cooke was not so easy to pin down. He could extol the pleasures of life in “Good Times,” issue world-shaking profundity with “A Change is Gonna Come”, and croon hackneyed tripe about giving his love “a chicken that has no bone” on “The Riddle Song.” Sam was that complex, that human. As Woolf alluded, many have taken to embracing the shadows of only certain aspects of his legacy, yet people are more than the penumbra of how others chose to view them. As a Black American fighting for Civil Rights, Cooke knew all about the oppression that such aspersions cast by others could engender.

Cooke passed away in tragic fashion, murdered on December 11th, 1964 in a Los Angeles motel at the age of thirty-three. Many questions remain after his death, but one of them was what would have happened if tragedy had not struck that fateful day? Who would Sam Cooke have become and what other facets of his person would we have witnessed? Would he continue pursuing socially conscious topics in his music? Would he follow the path set by Night Beat, creating intimate and introspective songs? Would he revert to the type of accessible pop balladry he built his career on? Alternatively, would we have witnessed a completely new artist, inspired by the changes of popular music in the 1960s as heralded by the likes of The Beatles, Hendrix, and Cooke’s inspiration for “Change,” Bob Dylan? Ultimately, we will never know.

The question remains, not just for Sam Cooke, but also for the myriad of Black lives taken too young, unjustly robbed of their chance to live, breathe, and be free: who would they have become? We will never know the true Sam Cooke (who do we ever learn to know in a true sense?), but let this mystery stand as an emblem, a reminder of all the lives that we cannot know. When I think of Sam Cooke, I do not think of the man as an activist, entertainer, zealot, nor victim. People are more complex than that, impossible to distill down to a single idea. I choose instead to struggle, to make out details through the shadow cast by my own gaze, to take in the complex and often contradictory elements that made up this singular human being, gifted with a voice like none other and who inspired countless many with his charm, skill, style, and ideas. Sam Cooke was a man, and like all men, was prone to ambition, contradiction, tragedy, and triumph. When remembering Sam Cooke, it is crucial to remember not to let our perceptions, the shadows we cast, loom over who he was. Even if we will never truly grasp the entirety of this incredibly talented human being, the point is to try and embrace the unknowability and seemingly paradoxical nature of who Sam Cooke, who any of us, are.

So, who was the real Sam Cooke? Artist? Businessman? Trend-setter? Trend-follower? Lothario? Faithful? Faithless? Activist? Capitalist? Victim? Hero? Voice? Legend? Yes, but also no. Peer through the shadows, scrutinize, and be prepared for an obfuscated view. The act of looking is the point.

King of Soul Playlist (Originally Aired On February 3rd, 2024):

1.  Sam Cooke - Mean Old World 
2.  Sam Cooke - Meet Me at Mary’s 
3.  Sam Cooke - It’s All Right/For Sentimental Reasons (Live) 
4.  Sam Cooke - (Somebody) Ease My Troublin’ Mind 
5.  Eddie Spencer - Power of Love 
6.  Eddie Spencer - If This is Love I’d Rather Be Lonely 
7.  Eric Mercury - Everybody Has the Right to Love 
8.  Salome Bey - Paper Man 
9.  Jackie Shane - Send Me Some Lovin’ 
10. Jackie Shane - Chickadee
11. The Soul Stirrers - I’m So Glad (Trouble Don’t Last) 
12. Dale Cooke - Lovable
13. Sam Cooke - Introduction/Soul Twist (Live) 
14. Sam Cooke - Feel It (Don’t Fight It) (Live) 
15. Sam Cooke - Nothing Can Change This Love (Live) 
16. Sam Cooke - Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen
17. Jo-Jo and the Fugitives - Fugitive Song 
18. Lloyd Delpratt - Together 
19. The Sheiks - Eternal Love 
20. Jackie Mittoo - Grand Funk
21. Jackie Mittoo - Soul Bird 
22. Otis Redding - A Change Gonna Come 
23. Aretha Franklin - Good Times 
24. Jackie Wilson & Count Basie - Chain Gang 
25. The Supremes - Shake 
26. Gary U.S. Bonds - Quarter ‘Till Three 
27. Gary U.S. Bonds - Not Me 
28. The Equals - Police On My Back 

To hear this program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and click the February 3 file to download/stream the episode.