We offer to you, as November gets ready to morph into December and work of a holiday nature within these hallowed halls continues apace, a trio of our regular specialty shows to keep things of all sorts on track. Your nighttime soundtrack on Pure Pop Radio? Why, we don’t mind if we do.
Oh, and work of a something’s-new-under-the-sun nature is also continuing apace. In fact, this something new should be arriving any time now. Oh, just you wait…!
Tonight at 8 pm ET, Jammin’ James Riley fires off another summer-infused set of sun-drenched tunes on Catching a Wave. Perched in front of your Internet radio receptacle, you will delight in Jammin’ James’ spins from artists such as Keith Sykes, Eddie and the Showmen, Jan and Dean, the Beach Boys, Dick Dale, and many more.
For this week’s The Weird and the Wonderful, hitting the Internet airwaves at 1 pm ET on Wednesday, Scott McPherson’s gathered up quite the catchy lunchtime meal composed of catchy, top-flight songs, including sumptuous specimens from Jellyfish, Aimee Mann, Paul McCartney, KC Bowman, the Semantics, and George Harrison. Much more, too? Certainly, but you’ll have to tune in to find out the score.
Thursday night’s all-new gathering, at 8 pm ET, of our Beatles experts on Things We Said Today sees Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman and Allan Kozinn greet Chip Madinger, co-author of Lennonology, Strange Days Indeed – A Scrapbook of Madness. Chip joins in on an in-depth look at John Lennon’s Imagine album, currently celebrating its 45th anniversary.
That’s this week in specialty shows here on Pure Pop Radio, your original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music in the universe. Dig in…and keep an eye out, because something very cool and explosive is coming soon!
Eight podcast versions of recent Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows are now available for listening and downloading from our PodOmatic podcast page.
A mere mouse click or two will open a wonderful world of Alan Haber’s in-depth chats with your favorite melodic pop artists:
* The Legal Matters, whose new Omnivore Records album is the harmony-drenched Conrad
* Steve Eggers from The Nines, whose recently-released album is Alejandro’s Visions
* Glen “Lefty” Weekling and Bob “Zeek” Weekling from New Jersey’s fabulous beat group The Weeklings, whose second smashing collection is the Beatlesque Studio 2
* Dana Countryman, who reveals details of his upcoming tribute to early 1960s girl groups, Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits
* Terry Draper, whose new album is Window on the World: The Lost 80’s Tapes
* Bubble Gum Orchestra’s Michael Laine Hildebrandt, whose latest release is Sticky Love Songs
But that’s not all: The two-part In Conversation tribute to the great entertainer Tiny Tim is also ready to be listened to and downloaded. The first part features Now Sounds Records’ Steve Stanley and musician Kristian Hoffman, who talk about the comprehensive Now Sounds release Tiny Tim: The Complete Singles Collection (1966-1970). The second part features musician Richard Barone and Tiny biographer Justin Martell talking about the recent release, Tiny Tim’s America.
All of the above-noted shows are now available for listening and downloading. Simply click on any of the links and enjoy!
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere melodic pop interview program hosted by Alan Haber, airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET. Archived, podcast versions of interviews are posted on the In Conversation PodOmatic podcast page; click here to listen to shows previously broadcast on Pure Pop Radio.
by Alan Haber
“Cornbread, oysters, water chestnuts, andouille sausage,”says President Josiah Bartlet, in answer to White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler’s question about the kind of stuffing his boss will be serving on Thanksgiving.
“What kind of stuffing are we talking about?” Ziegler asks, knowing full well that if the stuffing falls short, the rest of the offerings sharing table space with it–candied yams topped with tiny, melted marshmallows; cranberry sauce; baked-to-perfection crescent rolls; cole slaw; green beans; gravy; and warm pecan, sweet potato or pumpkin pie–will also curry little favor. To surround the Thanksgiving turkey with heartless, tasteless, unwanted stuffing is to practically guarantee that the holiday gathering will sink like a deeply sorrowful stone.
Fictional though the above question and answer volley may be, having occurred during an episode of television’s The West Wing, the point made is an important one. Like any holiday gathering, every element that powers its engine must not only hold its own weight, but also serve a purpose if Uncle Joe, Aunt Merry, cousin Bob, sister Sue, and Rex the Wonder Dog are to enjoy themselves.
More important than the food on the table, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, or close-quartered football contests in the backyard, is the music that is played in the background, just loud enough to be heard over and above the ongoing bouts of banter stuffed with family gossip and weather predictions ripped from the latest edition of the Farmers’ Almanac.
It may as well be said, and there may even be such a saying–it may as well be said that if the Thanksgiving holiday playlist isn’t secure, the holiday gathering will likely fall. One wrong song, one wrong minuet–one wrong note even, and catastrophe may well ensue. The basic sanctity of the Thanksgiving holiday get-together is always on the line.
Being entrusted with the creation of a credible Thanksgiving day playlist is perhaps the highest honor that can be bestowed on anyone. Therefore, it follows that beyond creating a tantalizing menu, choosing just the right mix of music is of paramount importance. Such a task must never fall to just anyone. Your friend Breezy, for example, has a hard time distinguishing crooner Andy Williams from XTC’s Andy Partridge, so he’s out.
It is important to get a good idea of your guests’ musical likes and dislikes. Which types of music do they enjoy? Pop? Rock? Roll? Middle-of-the-road? The Traveling Wilburys’ “End of the Line”? Ozzy? Dizzy? “Shake, Rattle and Roll”? Which decade do your guests prefer? Forties? Fifties? Sixties? 1989? Do they cringe when they hear the gated reverb sounds favored by record producers in the Eighties? Culture Club or Tom Tom Club? Shirley Manson or Shirley Bassey?
You’ll need at least eight to 10 hours of music separated into sets, a playlist industry technical term, targeting different day parts and, more importantly, moods. More upbeat songs should be played during the daylight hours, with the more subdued, ballad-y numbers relegated to six p.m. or so and later. Avoid playing certain songs that suffer from both listener and airplay burnout, such as Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” because the last thing you need is a relative or next-door neighbor freaking out over the memory of having more times than not experienced a bustle in their hedgerow.
If the preponderance of people gathered around your Thanksgiving dinner table are of a certain age, aka children of the 1960s or those who know the difference between the terms “revolution per minute” and “rapid eye movement,” you will want to be ready to switch between songs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones at a moment’s notice. If someone poses the question, “Which version of ‘I Want to Be Your Man’ is better?”, you will be wise to have a bottle of seltzer at the ready to hose down the people with the so-called “definitive answers.”
Lastly, you will want to play the perfect song as your guests leave your home at the end of the night. Unfortunately, there is no tried-and-true method to employ in this regard, so you’ll have to go with your gut. Although your gut may tell you to leave them laughing and play a song that celebrates the holiday but not necessarily the turkey, like this one:
you may want to opt for something that celebrates the spirit of the holiday instead. In fact, all kidding aside, what with everything that has gone on in the world of late, playing this song for your guests as they gather their coats and galoshes, if there is a chance of rain or snow, or their umbrellas, as they gather their children and brace themselves for the ride home, this song may be the best way to communicate the spirit of Thanksgiving or any other day during which we gather with friends and family to celebrate the spirit of our humanity.
This being a short week, what with Thanksgiving looming large in our legend (your obligatory George Harrison reference for today), we’ve got just two, tasty specialty shows for you, sure to spice up any festive holiday spread (and let us not forget, our music library is 9,100-plus tunes strong).
Tonight’s all-new episode of Jammin’ James Riley’s Catching a Wave (8 pm ET) serves up a potpourri of summertime sounds from such artists as Dick Dale, Kylie Hughes, the Monkees, Papa Doo Run Run, the Explorers Club, and Dion. Wax up your surfboards and tune in to feel the warmth of the musical summer sun.
Tomorrow night’s first-run Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation (8 pm ET) finds Alan Haber catching up with Beatlefan Executive Editor Al Sussman in a wide-ranging 90-plus minute show during which the topic is songs that hit and should have hit number one in the years 1964-1969. Al looks at each song played during the show from a historical perspective, touching on its popularity and the reasons why it made the chart grade, or almost hit the mark. If you’re a chart history buff, this is a must-listen-to episode.
So that we can get everything ready for our Thanksgiving celebration, we’re giving our other specialty shows a break this week, but don’t fret: they’ll be back swinging next week.
Looking ahead to December (we simply can’t believe the year is only 41 days from becoming 2017), we’ve got our third annual Holiday Popapalooza coming up. We’ll be spinning Christmas pop songs from noon on December 24 through to the last moments of Christmas day. You’ll hear all kinds of pop and roll from across the decades, including new releases such as a sprightly holiday tune from Somerdale, just signed to the Jem Records label. And, of course, your favorite pop artists will check in with custom holiday IDs to help make your season merry.
We’re adding new songs and artists to our playlist all the time, so keep connecting to our 24-hour stream for the latest and classic sounds that have and will continue to form the soundtrack of your lives.
Our 11-day-long Eight Days a Weekling marathon, celebrating the release (today!) of Studio 2, the latest beat-o-riffic album from New Jersey’s fabulous foursome, the Weeklings, has come to a close.
But we’re still celebrating! Every track from both Studio 2 and the Weeklings’ first fab album, lovingly called Monophonic, and select solo tracks from Glen “Lefty” Burtnik and Bob “Zeek” Burger, will continue to spin in rotation on our air.
During the last 11 days, we’ve brought you command performances of Lefty’s 1997 appearance on the old, weekly Pure Pop Radio show, during which he performed live in the studio, and Lefty and Zeek’s appearance on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, during which the duo chronicled their adventures recording Studio 2 in London’s famous Abbey Road studios. And don’t forget those Weeklings Double Shots that were rocking the airwaves every hour during the marathon!
We also ran a contest: Up for grabs were two Weeklings Prize Packs, containing the Studio 2 CD and the cassette version that features three, count ’em, three extra tracks–covers of the Beatles’ “It Won’t Be Long,” “All I’ve Got to Do,” and a screaming version of “I’m Down” that will leave you absolutely, positively breathless!
We’re pleased as Merseybeat punch to announce that James Rosen and Patricia Rossi are the winners of our latest contest. James and Patricia will each be receiving a Weeklings Prize Pack in the mail. Congratulations!
Thanks to everyone who entered. And extra-special thanks to the Weeklings–Glen “Lefty” Burtnik, Bob “Zeek” Burger, John “Rocky” Merjave, and Joe “Smokestack” Bellia–for making such great music. More contests are coming soon. Keep enjoying Pure Pop Radio, your original 24-hour source for the greatest melodic pop music in the universe! Listen online or on the go! And keep coming back to these pages for reviews of the latest and archival releases, articles, columns, and station updates.
by Alan Haber
It seemed to fall from out of the sky, so different was it from everything else, its descent to earth slow and determined and harmony bound, as if protected by angels who knew that it was a gift from heaven. So it was, and on into the marketplace it went.
The Roches, Maggie, Terre and Suzzy, clearly a collective gift so pure and honest and true, recorded their first album as a trio with Robert Fripp, who produced the self-titled collection at New York’s Hit Factory in “audio verité,” with engineer Ed Sprigg at the controls. Instrumentation was spare throughout, with only acoustic guitars, synthesizer, bass, triangle, and shaker supporting the sisters’ lovely lead and harmony close-miked vocals, positioned up front where they clearly belonged. These are intimate performances, beautifully realized.
Released in 1979 on Warner Brothers, The Roches was like nothing that had come before in the rock era. It wasn’t rock and it wasn’t roll; it wasn’t folk or strictly pop but, rather, a meeting of the genre minds with glorious harmony singing and lovely melodies. The 10 songs were pretty and clever and, really, pretty clever. Written by the three sisters both separately and as a trio, they were, and continue to be, powerful specimens.
Maggie and Terre had come into view earlier in the seventies; they sang backup on Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon in 1973, on a wistful song called “Was a Sunny Day,” a lazy kind of summer, slice of life character number. Two years later, the duo released an album called Seductive Reasoning, a collection of astounding songs mostly written by Maggie and with the cleverly-titled “If You Empty Out Your Pockets You Could Not Make the Change,” which was produced by Simon.
And then 1979 beckoned, and The Roches was released. Maggie’s “The Married Men,” a song about women hanging on to the words of cads who promised their secret crushes everything and, in the end, delivered nothing everlasting, was one of the highlights of the album; the song was recorded by Phoebe Snow on her Against the Grain album a year earlier.
But there were other astounding songs on offer. Certainly the opener, “We,” a wry musical introduction to the sisters, was a blast of a melodic calling card, a two-and-a-half minute how-they-got-here song that spelled it all out, including admissions that the Roches didn’t give out their phone numbers, and lived in New York City by way of “deepest New Jersey” (“We better get [outta] there/Before the shit hits the fan”).
Maggie’s glorious “Hammond Song” and “Quitting Time” were highlights, too; the former about keeping from going down the wrong path, and the latter about living the life that makes you happy (“You can go south in winter/Be what you are a goose/Honk all the moon out the ocean/Your clothes can fit you loose”). Clever wordplay was clearly in evidence.
Terre’s “Mr. Sellack” tells the story of a person who pleads with the owner of a restaurant to give her her job back, even though he might not remember her (“O Mr. Sellack/I didn’t think I’d be back/I worked here last year/Remember?”). Melodically strong and full of rich vocal harmony, the lyrical wordplay is clever: “Waiting tables ain’t that bad/Since I’ve seen you last/I’ve waited for some things that you would not believe/To come true.”
Suzzy’s atmospheric, practically Hitchcockian “The Train” charts the travels of a narrator who is trying to make it through, but has to endure obstacles (“I spy on the big guy/Sitting next to me/He’s drinking two beers/And reading the New York Post/Trying not to get in my way/Everybody knows the kind of day that is”).
The Roches was followed by the otherworldly Nurds in 1980, a different kind of album stacked full of classic songs such as Terre’s examination of the inner psyche, “My Sick Mind,” and Suzzy and Terre’s hysterical, tongue-planted-so-firmly-in-cheek-it-hurts “The Death of Suzzy Roche” (in which the battle for top dog in the laundromat is settled with comically violent results). A sterling, a cappella rendition of Cole Porter’s “It’s Bad for Me” provided, perhaps, some much-needed balance.
The Roches’ rich, natural vocal blend is a collective thing of beauty, just as it was on the sisters’ debut album, which sounds as fresh today as it did 37 years ago. The Roches continue to sound pure and honest and true.