Monthly Archives: June 2007

Well, we liked them

Try as I might, I honestly can’t recall how I came to know the music of Flash and the Pan.

I am pretty sure, however, that my old pal The Hose had something to do with it. After all, he and I seemingly were the only ones digging the eccentric sound of Flash and the Pan in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the early ’80s. I doubt they were getting any airplay or jukebox play.

Maybe we saw them on “Pop Clips,” a quirky music video show that aired on Nickelodeon. No, maybe it was on “Night Flight,” a much cooler show that aired on USA. Both shows were on in the days before the dawn of MTV. Really can’t say, though.

Flash and the Pan essentially was two Australians, Harry Vanda and George Young. They were in the Easybeats — “Friday On My Mind,” anyone? — in the ’60s.

Then they turned to producing a new band featuring Young’s younger brothers — AC/DC, with Angus and Malcolm Young.

In the late ’70s, Vanda and Young went back to work as musicians, putting out a sometimes moody, sometimes rocking, sometimes swinging, sometimes mysterious brand of pop. Most of their tunes feature deadpan, spoken vocals over well-crafted music.

Bruce Harris’ liner notes on their self-titled debut album said it all upon its release in 1979: “If you’re ready for the 1980s, Flash and the Pan are ready to take you there.”

And they did. To me, Flash and the Pan sounds as fresh today as it was 25-plus years ago.

This is from their third album. It’s about an assassin.

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“Phil the Creole,” Flash and the Pan, from “Headlines,” 1982.

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10,000 visitors can’t be wrong

Lost, maybe, but not wrong.

Sometime Monday, we had the 10,000th visitor to AM, Then FM in the four months we’ve been in business.

We hope you’ve enjoyed it, and we thank you for stopping by.

Now, at the risk of driving everyone away, here’s something else from my musty, dusty vinyl collection.

This one starts out with a Morricone-like intro, goes into full-blown prog rock, then delivers a big finish.

It’s Styx, from a 1974 album on Wooden Nickel Records out of Chicago, recorded roughly a year before they hit it big with the single “Lady.”

It’s a guilty pleasure from a long time ago, before Styx became unlistenable.

I could be wrong, though. As always, you be the judge.

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“Man of Miracles,” Styx, from “Man of Miracles,” 1974.

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Forward into the past

Today’s recipe for tunes.

Take this:

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My computer. My Christmas present from the lovely Janet.

Add this:

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A new turntable. My birthday present from the lovely Janet.

You get this: The first cut from all my/our vinyl, 1,000 or so records gathered (and paid for) since 1970 and sitting idly by until now.

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“Killer Cut,” Charlie, from “Fight Dirty,” 1979.

No particular reason for choosing this one. Just something you may not have heard, or may not have heard for quite some time.

Charlie is a British rock band that got occasional FM airplay in the late ’70s. You may remember the lovely ladies on their album covers. The music was all right, too, with sharp songwriting, lots of hooks and crisp vocals.

More to come. The request line is open.

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Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 17

After nine days of vacation, I have to go back to work on Monday.

I’m thinking about calling in well and staying out on the patio.

Today’s selection by Sleepy LaBeef, national treasure, pretty much sums up what I’m feeling about work.

“Sick and Tired” was done first by Chris Kenner in 1957, a New Orleans classic written by Kenner and Dave Bartholomew. It’s also been covered by Fats Domino, Waylon Jennings and Alex Chilton. Sleepy revs it up a bit.

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“Sick and Tired,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “I’ll Never Lay My Guitar Down,” 1996.

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Today, 49 going on … 22

Yes, today I turn 50. Officially older than dirt.

Don’t feel 50, though. Still feel about 22.

Still not much better than good tunes cranked up.

Some stops along the way to 50:

First rock song I remember: “She Loves You,” by The Beatles. It was the spring of 1964. I was 6, in the first grade at Russell Boulevard Elementary School in Columbia, Missouri, and completely baffled as to why all the girls in my class were ga-ga over this song.

Some will say I remain baffled by girls to this day.

First rock station I listened to: WLS, The Big 89, out of Chicago. With my cousins, while cruising, in the late ’60s. That story is here.

First rock station I constantly listened to: WOKY, The Mighty 92, out of Milwaukee. From the summer of 1970 to the winter of 1972.

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First 45 I bought: “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, from the summer of 1970. If I still have it, I haven’t seen it in a long time.

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First LP I bought: “Tap Root Manuscript,” by Neil Diamond, from 1970. I still have it. It was between that and “Pearl” by Janis Joplin. (Technically, it’s the second LP I bought. The first was “The Best of Bill Cosby,” a comedy record from 1969. I still have that, too.)

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The next LP I bought: “Shaft,” by Isaac Hayes, from 1971. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it. And, yes, I still have it.

First FM rock station I constantly listened to: WIFC, out of Wausau, Wisconsin. You’ve never heard of it, but it was something for a small-town station in the early ’70s, especially after 10 p.m.

First rock chords I played: The intro to “Smoke on the Water,” by Deep Purple. Like everyone else. And I don’t even play.

First rock show: Styx, at the Wausau West High School fieldhouse, sometime in 1975. I’ll tell you that story some day.

Show I remember least: The Marshall Tucker Band, at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Quandt Gym, on April 1, 1977. Too much party before the show.

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First show for which I ate a ticket: Gary Wright, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire arena, on Jan. 28, 1978. Can’t imagine why I wanted to go in the first place, much less why anyone would want to go along.

Most sophisticated rock station I listened to: WORT, 89.9 FM, out of Madison, Wisconsin. An independent, listener-run station then and now. They’ve always called it Back Porch Radio. I got quite an education on those afternoons and occasional late nights from June 1982 to June 1990. Anything but mainstream.

First show at which I met the performer after the show: Folk singer Steve Goodman, at the Madison Civic Center in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 13, 1983. That story is here.

Favorite record store: Inner Sleeve Records in downtown Wausau, Wisconsin. Run by Mike, the same laid-back old hippie, since 1975. I spent a lot of money there from 1975 to 1981. A small-town treasure. Actually, both Mike and the store are small-town treasures.

Most memorable show: Tina Turner, on a side stage at Summerfest in Milwaukee. If memory serves, this was the summer of 1983. At the time, Tina was considered an oldies act. She had split from Ike Turner and was touring with two backup singers, still a year away from her big comeback with “Private Dancer.” On that night, on that side stage, Tina was hot, wild, sexy and soulful. To call her show sizzling or scorching or incendiary doesn’t do it justice. It was insane. You simply could not believe what you were seeing and hearing.

Well, enough of that.

Today’s tune is from 1957, the year I arrived on a Friday night in June.

No point in trotting out the usual suspects. You’ve heard ‘em all.

Instead, here’s something old but new (to me, at least).

Many thanks to Scott from Crud Crud for hepping me to this last month.

“Hard Head” was a cut from “Big Beat on the Organ,” Jon Thomas’ 1957 album on Mercury Records. Scott describes it in his post as “an absolute stunner” and “a killer.” He is correct on both counts.

But for the 45 release, they cut it into two parts. Listen to them, and it’s clear Part 2 should come before Part 1. So here they are, in that order.

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“Hard Head, Pt. 2″ and “Hard Head, Pt. 1,” Jon Thomas, from “Big Beat on the Organ,” 1957.

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This here’s country country

Don’t get me wrong. I like to rock.

But when you’re kicking back on the patio and having a couple of cold ones, as we were on Sunday, there’s not much better of a soundtrack than a little country music.

We get a lot of that here in Wisconsin. Lots of folks are fans of the pop that passes for country these days, but we have our share of rednecks, too.

Lots of folks jumped on the outlaw country bandwagon in the mid-’70s, but I recall that the jukebox at Al’s Pour House in Schofield, Wisconsin, also had “El Paso” by Marty Robbins and “North To Alaska” by Johnny Horton among its country tunes.

We spent plenty of time at Al’s in the summer of 1977, so much so that I heard “Luckenbach, Texas” enough times to last a lifetime. Our pal Mike worked there, and I’d bring sandwiches from Pizza Hut, where I worked. Everything was cool until our pal Jerome punched a hole in the wall next to the pool table. Al was not amused.

Ever since, I’ve always enjoyed a little country as drinking music.

So if you’re snapping the caps and having a cool one, you might want to put these on.

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The first two tunes in your six-pack are from Kevin Fowler, a fine performer not widely known beyond Texas. You’ll hear the influence of the Eagles in the second tune.

“Ol’ What’s Her Name” and “All The Tequila In Tijuana,” Kevin Fowler, from “High On The Hog,” 2002.

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The next two tunes in your six-pack are from The Guzzlers, a Houston band even less widely known. More Texas blues-rock than country, they’re influenced by ZZ Top, but they have a better vocal over the crunchy sound. These tunes are from their 2003 album, which seems to be out of print.

“Love Contradiction” and “Let’s Slug One Down,” The Guzzlers, from “All Alone In Texas,” 2003.

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The last two tunes in your six-pack come from something I found on eMusic — a Compadre Records compilation of drinking songs called “Brewed in Texas, Vol. 2,” which came out in 2005. These artists aren’t as obscure as the others, but aren’t big stars, either.

“Bar Exam,” The Derailers, also from “Here Come The Derailers,” 2001.

Barlight,” Charlie Robison, also from “Life Of The Party,” 1998.

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All you need is lime

Leave it to my old friend Joe to come up with a cure for what ails me.

After I wrote last week about being sidelined from skating because of gout, Joe passed along this suggestion:

“The best home remedy for gout is to simply add a lime to your Tanqueray and tonic. It’s all in the lime.”

Joe has been foisting drinks upon me for almost 35 years now — and still is in terrific shape, I might add — so I figure he might know a little about it.

I’ve long eaten dried cherries and drank unsweetened cranberry/cherry juice for gout, and I often put lemon in my Coke, so why not a little lime?

Joe’s note went on to remind me of Harry Nilsson, whom we both enjoyed when we were in high school in the early ’70s.

A little lime in the coconut, anyone?

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“Coconut,” Harry Nilsson, from “Nilsson Schmilsson,” 1972.

Here’s the same lime, the same coconut, but with a twist.

There’s no middle ground with this cover. You’ll either dig it or you won’t. Either way, it’s memorable. This is Fred Schneider of the B-52s, from a Nilsson tribute album.

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“Coconut,” Fred Schneider, from “For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson,” 1995.

This album has a bunch of good performances from a wide variety of folks. It appears to be out of print, so we’ll be sure to stop back for more cuts from time to time.

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