Category Archives: Sounds

A dollar for your thoughts

Nielsen radio ratings diaries

The dollar sitting on my desk was a bribe. Listen to the radio for a week and tell us what you listened to. Janet received the same bribe, thus these two envelopes.

Greetings from the Nielsen family of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Nielsen radio ratings diary

Some fun facts from my radio ratings diary. Make of them what you will.

— I listened to the radio on each of the seven days of the survey week.

— I listened to Brewers baseball on a local FM station on four of the seven days, enduring right-wing news talk promos during the commercial breaks. (The Brewers went 1-3 in those games.) Been listening to the Brewers on the radio — the same Panasonic RF-930 desktop radio — since they arrived in Milwaukee in 1970.

— I listened early in the morning, while working out in the 5 a.m. hour. Most days, they pipe in a local oldies FM station to the pool area at my neighborhood Y. I swim there for a half-hour each day. I did not hear a song by a Black artist on any of the days it was piped in that week. WOGB apparently stands for Whites Only, Green Bay.

— On Thursday afternoon, the first day for the diary, I listened to “Testify!” on the Give the Drummer Radio streaming sub-channel on WFMU radio out of New Jersey. That was a beautiful memorial to your mother, Larry.

— I listened to a wee bit of “Funky Friday,” streaming it in the car on the WXPN app out of Philadelphia. There you go, Bruce.

— I meant to return to WXPN at home a couple of hours later and typed in WFMU by mistake. There and then, a pleasant surprise. “Downtown Soulville,” hosted by Matt “Mr. Fine Wine” Winegarden, a friend of my friends Larry and Paul.

— I listened to a wee bit of “Chris Carter’s British Invasion” on XM21, Underground Garage, one of my regular stops on Saturday afternoons.

— I must apologize to JB for not getting his Saturday night ’70s show on Magic 98 out of Madison into the diary. I would have, but I was at a wedding reception (and trying to listen to Evan’s livestreamed concert from Maryland).

— On Monday night, I listened to the “Funky 16 Corners Radio Show” preshow on Don’t know whether Nielsen considers that radio. I do, so I put it in the diary. (I didn’t listen to Larry’s actual show, though. Evan had another livestreamed concert from Maryland at the same time.)

— Wednesday, the last day for the diary, brought the longest stretch of listening —  almost 2 1/2 hours, digging Fufu Radio No. 198 on There you go, Vincent. Same deal. Don’t know whether Nielsen considers that radio, but I do, and it’s in the diary, too.

Green Bay radio is a new music desert and a cool music desert, thus my choices. Besides, you can’t beat listening to your friends.

Thank you for your interest in my radio listening habits. We now return you to your regular programming.

(One last note, in the interest of fairness. WOGB played a song by a Black artist during my pool workout this morning: “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy. They may not realize a guy from an Irish band could be Black.)


Filed under May 2023, Sounds

Digging that ’60s pop

Not quite sure that the dry spell of almost a year has ended, but we’ve put a dent into it over the last couple of weeks.

Record Store Day was two Saturdays ago.

There’s usually not much for me among RSD releases, and I’m not one to wait in line or fight the crowds early in the day. This year, though, there was one RSD release I really wanted. I figured all the cool kids would snap it up and leave me looking in vain as in past Record Store Days.

But there it was at UFO Museum Gift Shop and Records, the relatively new record store run by my friends Timebomb Tom and Pierre. Not only was it there, five copies of it were there. Gotta say, Green Bay, you’re sleeping on this.

Dolly Parton The Monument Singles Collection 1964-1968

“The Monument Singles Collection: 1964-1968,” this compilation of Dolly Parton’s girl group-influenced pop singles and earliest country singles on the Monument label, is highly recommended.

Shoppers at the Green Bay Record Convention, April 29, 2023.

The Green Bay Record Convention was yesterday, on Saturday.

I helped set up and collected $15 from the earlybirds — the professional diggers — until the doors officially opened at 10 a.m. That left me about an hour and a half to dig for myself, before I had to leave for a wedding.

The gent wearing a brown cap and flannel shirt at upper right, keeping an eye on shoppers from inside the tables, is my friend Dave. Not long after this picture was taken, the crowds poured in, drawn like bugs to a light to Dave’s always solid records. I didn’t get a chance to look through Dave’s records. Another time.

But I did get to look through the records Rich brought up from Milwaukee. He always has interesting records at his Atomic Records table. Clive was at the next table over, and I went though his new arrivals. Bought these from those gents:

Rustix Bedlam LP

“Bedlam,” Rustix, 1969. Looked interesting. Another white band signed to a Motown label. Signed before Rare Earth, in fact, and to Rare Earth Records before that label had a name, if Wikipedia is to believed. A blue-eyed soul group out of Rochester, N.Y.

Looked interesting. Produced by R. Dean Taylor. Wasn’t all that interesting. So it goes. Described on YouTube as psychedelic rock and funk. Ahhh, no. Blue-eyed to be sure, but not sure it was soul, either. As always, you be the judge.

El Chicano Celebration LP

“Celebration,” El Chicano, 1972. The third LP from this Latin soul band out of L.A.

Much better. Right out of the gate, they revisit their hit “Viva Tirado” and get right down to cooking.

Al Caiola The Power of Brass LP

The most fun record I found was this $1 record.

“The Power of Brass,” Al Caiola, 1968. In which the well-known solo and studio guitarist, while vacationing in Miami, hears a 10-man group made up of University of Miami music students playing in the lounge at the Crossway Airport Inn, digs their sound and decides to make this record with them.

The Power of Brass is the name of their group. For the record, they are Wallace E. McMurray Jr. (trumpet), Doug Smith and George Doukas (trumpet, fluegelhorn), Ed Bevil (bass trombone), Val Houston (tenor trombone), Mark Bruce Hurwitz (sax, clarinet, flute, oboe), Steve Wittmack (piano), Kenneth D. Conklin (bass), Tony Vino (guitar) and Richard Docen (drums).

The Crossway Airport Inn, long gone, is said to have been “a true IN place on the mainland of Miami’s celebrity crowded nightlife.” It was next to Miami International Airport.

Imagine, if you will, Felix Unger and Oscar Madison as spies.

“The Odd Couple,” Al Caiola, from “The Power of Brass,” 1968.

Then savor the sheer joy of sunny ’60s pop with this song from the British comedy film “Prudence and the Pill.”

“The Morning After,” Al Caiola, from “The Power of Brass,” 1968.

Here’s the whole thing for those seeking more of that sunny ’60s pop groove.

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Filed under April 2023, Sounds

Raquel Welch, singer

OK, first things first again. Anyone here not know Raquel Welch?

I gotta ask because two younger co-workers had no idea who I was talking about last month when I mentioned she’d died. Both were like “Um, I’ll have to Google her.” One of those co-workers — a guy in his early 30s — did so, and then concurred with my description of her as a Hollywood sex symbol who was “smoking hot.”

Raquel Welch was so much more than that, of course. Single mother of two for most of her early Hollywood career, litigant (wonder how 1982’s “Cannery Row” would be different had she gotten the female lead), entrepreneur, author.

A singer and a nightclub performer, too.

Raquel Welch "This Girl's Back in Town," 12-inch dance single jacket, 1987

Not long ago, I found “This Girl’s Back in Town,” a 12-inch dance single released in 1987. It is of its time, peak late ’80s, full of synths and drum programming. It’s OK. It just didn’t stand out from everything else that was being heard in 1987.

I dig crossover finds like this. I also have LPs by actresses Goldie Hawn and Teresa Graves and hope someday to find another copy of the Lynda Carter record I had but inexplicably sold. Each has moments that are better than you might have thought.

The video above is just the music, not the music video you might have seen on MTV. Though so much of Raquel Welch’s appeal was visual, the music video for “This Girl’s Back in Town” just ain’t it.

The ’80s were a challenging time for Welch — she did no films and just a handful of TV appearances — but Raquel Welch always was royalty. The music video doesn’t reflect that. You can find it on YouTube if you’re curious.

Discogs shows just two other music releases credited to Raquel Welch.

One is a 1977 French single, “L’Animal,” from the film of the same name. Whether that’s actually Raquel singing toward the end of this clip (it’s cued up to when the music starts), well, you be the judge. That French action comedy was her last film appearance until an uncredited cameo in “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult,” 17 years later, in 1994.

The other is a DVD of “Raquel!” the 1970 CBS-TV special in which she covered a bunch of hit pop songs from that time, duetted with Bob Hope on “Rocky Raccoon” and did a Little Richard medley with Tom Jones. (The video is the entire show, but is cued up to that medley.)

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Filed under March 2023, Sounds

Sweet sixteen

Before we get started, a word for all you Substack loyalists. Long before there were Substacks, writers wrote things called blogs. This is one. Please feel free to explore this blog’s vast archive — more than 800 posts — as you would any museum.

It was 16 years ago this evening — Feb. 25, 2007 — that I sat down and wrote the first post here at AM, Then FM. I had two good eyes back then.

Because I’m recovering from eye surgery to repair a detached retina, typing is a bit of a hassle, so I’ll keep this short.

Though the audience grows smaller every year, thank you to all who have visited and read and commented and offered encouragement over the years.

In the third year of this blog’s existence, I went to see Chuck Berry at our local casino ballroom. Of that night, I wrote:

“He opened with a little ‘Roll Over Beethoven,’ then a little ‘’Round and ‘Round,’ then a little ‘Sweet Little Sixteen,’ all played only slightly faster than a shuffle pace … then announced: ‘If you guarantee at this moment that we are in tune, we would like to open our show.'”

It was indeed sweet. So, from a record I’ve had for almost 50 years …

"Chuck Berry's Golden Decade" LP cover, 1972

“Sweet Little Sixteen,” Chuck Berry, 1958, from all from “Chuck Berry’s Golden Decade,” 1967. My vinyl copy is the 1972 reissue.

Dig this, too. A lip-syncing but still swaggering Chuck is introduced by host Dick Clark and guest Johnny Carson on the second episode of the “The Dick Clark Show” on ABC. This is from Feb. 22, 1958, barely two months after “Sweet Little Sixteen” was recorded and just a month after the single was released.

Chuck may be gone, and Substacks may rule the day, but this old blog is gonna keep on keepin’ on.


Filed under February 2023, Sounds

What the world needs now

Burt Bacharach, who composed the music that was the soundtrack to the lives of people all over the world for generations, is gone. He died yesterday at 94.

The beautiful thing about Burt Bacharach’s songs is that they were so widely heard yet made such intensely personal connections. Which is why, as I list my favorite Burt Bacharach songs and interpreters, someone else might have an entirely different short list of equally great Burt Bacharach songs and interpreters. You just can’t go wrong with his body of work.

My introduction to Burt Bacharach’s songs came on the TV variety shows of the ’60s. Those were regular viewing at our house. I may have known the singer before knowing the composer, but I knew the songs.

“Walk On By” — Dionne Warwick, 1964. Probably the first song by Bacharach (and lyricist Hal David) that I came to know. A year later, the Baja Marimba Band covered it on one of the last albums my dad ever bought. You may not be familiar with this instrumental or this group, but it’s seared into my head. We played the bejeezus out of that record when we were kids. Plus my dad and I heard Dionne Warwick sing it live 15 years ago.

"Baja Marimba Band Rides Again" LP cover

“Walk On By,” the Baja Marimba Band, from “Baja Marimba Band Rides Again,” 1965.

“What’s New Pussycat?” — Tom Jones, 1965. We kids would have had to have heard this on those old TV variety shows. How else would we have learned to sing “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!” When we saw Tom Jones in Indianapolis last year, this was the fourth song in his set. He introduced it with a winding and good-natured retelling of the story of how he initially wasn’t impressed with the song, which Bacharach brought to him in 1965. “What’s New Pussycat?” became a sing-along, with Sir Tom directing the choir from his perch on the stage.

"What's New Pussycat?" LP cover by Tom Jones

“What’s New Pussycat?” Tom Jones, from “What’s New Pussycat?” 1965.

“One Less Bell to Answer” — Keely Smith, 1967. Which is a perfectly fine version. But for me, the definitive version is by Marilyn McCoo with The 5th Dimension in 1970. It starts cool but turns into a scorcher of a torch song. I’d listen to Marilyn McCoo read the phone book. (Oh, yeah, dating myself there.) The 5th Dimension is one of the great (and underrated and underappreciated) singing groups of our time. Just watch them in “Summer of Soul,” the Questlove documentary on the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969.

The 5th Dimension Portrait LP cover

“One Less Bell to Answer,” The 5th Dimension, from “Portrait,” 1970.

“What the World Needs Now Is Love” — Jackie DeShannon, 1965. That version is great, but the one that sticks with me is the one I heard so often on the radio in 1971 — “What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John” — a remix/mashup produced by Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay. Fierce social commentary and a contemporary American history lesson laid over/juxtaposed with Bacharach’s gentle, elegant classic. This version is sung by the Blackberries, the great West Coast trio best known as much-in-demand backup singers — Venetta Fields, Sherlie Matthews and Clydie King.

“(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me” — Lou Johnson, 1964. Don’t remember hearing this original soul version, (on which Cissy Houston, Dee Dee Warwick and Doris Troy sing backup) or British pop singer Sandie Shaw’s cover later in 1964, or even R.B. Greaves’ cover in 1970 (which I discovered almost 40 years later). No, I don’t think I came to know this one until it became an MTV-driven synth-pop smash for Naked Eyes in 1983, and that is my definitive version.

“Casino Royale” — Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, 1967. Late to the party on this one, too. Always knew it was a cool instrumental. Never connected the dots to Burt Bacharach, though.

Four, maybe five years ago, my friend Jeff bought my copy of the “Casino Royale” soundtrack. Instant seller’s remorse. Wasn’t too long before I bought it back from him.

Casino Royale soundtrack LP cover

Burt Bacharach was married four times, once memorably to Angie Dickinson. They were the super cool, super glamorous couple of their time, the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s. But now Burt is gone and the gorgeous Angie is 91.

Say a little prayer for them both.


Filed under February 2023, Sounds