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Apr 2013

The Beat from Badsville: Transmission 29, 2013 April 27

beatfrombadsville2.jpegThis week's program takes us to a place called "Badsville," once a fictional place in a Cramps album title, now apparently the real-life archive of Lux Interior and Ivy Rorschach. We also travel backwards in time to the calypso scene in Swinging (and pre-swinging) London, courtesy of Honest Jon's records, who are just tearing it up of late. Aside from a last-minute transcription error that had me crediting "A Spare Man" to someone named "Priscilla Brown," this was a pretty flawless show, in content and technique.

So I will talk about some other stuff.

The week-and-a-half leading up to this program had been a gauntlet, with dicey moments on-air followed by backstage drama. It got to the point where I was afraid to listen to the radio or to check my inbox. "What now" and "what next" were the two questions on my mind, seemingly throughout this dark passage.

londonistheplaceforme.jpgI did manage to find a coping strategy Saturday morning--on the treadmill, naturally. There I was at the gym, sweating away to Spin Doctors or whatever the hell I was being subjected to,* trying to borrow trouble by imagining the next calamity. Finally, good sense triumphed, and I asked myself, "how bad could it [the next calamity] be? As bad as child sex trafficking?" No. No calamity at WRFI could possibly be as bad as child sex trafficking. And there you have it. I can't tell you how much easier this has made everything. Actually, I can: a LOT easier.

I'ma tell you another feel-good story. Yesterday, circumstances brought me face-to-face with one of those interns, often mentioned, seldom seen. I had to provide The Intern with technical assistance--the Host Who Has Interns was doing a "live remote" broadcast of a concert, and The Intern and I were staffing the studio, making sure everything went according to plan. The Intern is a bright young thing, a college sophomore who, we hope, will one day spin off from the Host and do a solo show.

Anyway, The Intern and I were talking about this and that when the conversation turned to the "kind of station" WRFI is. "You mean," said The Intern, eyes lighting up as if having just discovered evidence that Santa Claus is actually real, "you don't tell the deejays what to play?" Yes, Virginia, dat true. As wonderful as it is to explain that to someone, it is equally sad to be reminded that very few people The Intern's age have any conception that radio could be that way.

Common sense [and, if not that, station protocol] prevents me from talking about Ithaca's other two "independent" radio stations on the air, but I can do it here. When I moved here in 2003, I was disappointed to find that our two "college" radio stations were travesties of the concept as I understand it.

One station has a commercial license and calls itself "real rock radio," "real rock" meaning Aerosmith, Nickelback, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is managed by business majors. I'll just stop there, before I get sick.**

The other station calls itself "the station for innovation," "innovation" apparently meaning a rotation heavily indebted to "modern rock," whatever ratio of Strokes / Vampire Weekend / Deerhunter / etc. that happens to be. [I might actually be giving it more credit than it deserves.] It is part of a "pre-professional" program (apparently "vocational" was voted down by the focus group) training people for "careers" in broadcasting.

In short, one of our stations is training ClearChannel management, the other ClearChannel "talent." This sort of thing is happening all over the country, with only a small handful of "free form" college stations--those that allow real people to do real things on air--left standing. Ithaca was ahead of the curve on this--both of our college stations went "corporate" in the late 1970s. So it has been a long time for us.

Last night, as The Intern and I were leaving, the "Alcance Latino" crew was setting up. That's a new, and excellent, Spanish-language program we are proud to offer. I was complimenting Gabriela, the program's anchor, lamely pointing out that I only understand bits and pieces of Spanish but that I thought they really hit last week's program out of the park. She mentioned to me that it had always been her dream to do radio when she lived in Mexico and never imagined that she would finally get to do it in Ithaca, of all places. I get misty just recalling it. Imagine "Alcance Latino" making it onto one of those other stations.

We are doing some incredible things, and every day we are on the air is a beautiful day. Reminding myself of this might actually be a more pleasant coping strategy.

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 27, 1500-1700:

  1. Mel Smith and the Night Riders: "Pretty Plaid Skirt (and Long Black Sox)" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
  2. Ulrich Schnauss: "I Take Comfort in Your Ignnorance" [Scripted Realities]
  3. Simian Mobile Disco: "Your Love / Run Theme Live" [Delicacies]
  4. The Mighty Terror: "Women Police in England" [Honest Jon's]
  5. Fujiya & Miyagi: "Your Silent Face" [Mojo Magazine]
  6. Linda Leigh and Treasure Tones: "My Guy" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
  7. Randweg: "Labster" [Funken]
  8. Rupert Nurse's Calypso Band: "Calypso Rhythm Dance" [Honest Jon's]
  9. Tom Tom Club: "Genius of Love" [Sire] / "Listening Parlour"
  10. West African Rhythm Brothers: "Ominira" [Honest Jon's]
  11. Dub Spencer & Trance Hill: "Smoke on the Water (Victor Rice Remix)" [Echo Beach]
  12. Springintgut: "Western Kyoto" [Pingipung]
  13. Golden Gunn: "A Couple of Blackbirds" [3Lobed]
  14. Public Image Ltd.: "Public Image" [Light in the Attic]
  15. Gregory Isaacs: "Plant Some Love (Angels Mix)" [Necessary Mayhem]
  16. Bill Carter and the Rovin' Gamblers: "Baby Brother" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
  17. King Timothy: "Football Calypso" [Honest Jon's]
  18. Homer Denison Jr.: "Chickie Run" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
  19. The Jesus and Mary Chain: "Never Understand" [Demon]
  20. Luv Jam: "We Play Mouse" [We Play House]
  21. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: "It's Nasty" [Sugar Hill]
  22. The Kuf-Linx: "Service with a Smile" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
  23. Ginger Johnson: "Mambo Contempo" [Honest Jon's]
  24. Fela Kuti and Africa 70: "Everything Scatter" [Knitting Factory Records]
  25. Betty McQuade: "Tongue-Tied" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"
  26. Divinyls: "Boys in Town" [Chrysalis] / "Listening Parlour"
  27. Crush Sr.: "Sweet Cheetah" [Dutch East India Trading]
  28. Priscilla Bowman with Al Smith's Orchestra: "A Spare Man" [Stag-O-Lee] / "Physical Evidence"

*Why do Spin Doctors make me think of child sex trafficking? I don't know. "It is what it is."

**I've been reminded that the station in question does "community radio"-type stuff on weekends, with commercials.

Apr 2013

Lili Verona: “Big Instrument”

Here is a "little" something that didn't make it onto yesterday's program. Enjoy.

Bombast: protecting delicate sensibilities since just now.

Apr 2013

(One Hundred and) Twenty Minutes of Pap: Transmission 28, 2013 April 20

newordervideo586.jpegGoofiness triumphs on this episode of the Bombastic program. Mrs. Miller makes her first appearance, and New Order present us with a classic "disposable" recording that serves as both "Physical Evidence" and an impromptu "Croix de Bombast." [How many of these latter trinkets have you collected?] I make a bunch of mistakes in the program, not fading songs out, playing the wrong track,* etc. In short, it is one of my shows.

[* EDIT: I am understating this massively, especially after the previous post's #humblebrag re. not "being able" to play songs a second time.]

In an announcement that will delight all of you who visit these pages, I have to say that I am pretty well fed up with words this week. The last eight days I have been immersed in the world of language and I can only report that I am more convinced than ever of its failures.

So have a playlist. And a dancing bear. Peace out.

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 20, 1500-1700:

  1. K-X-P: "Melody" [Melodic]
  2. Frikstailers: "Hazlo Tu Mismo" [ZZK]
  3. Wanda Jackson: "Funnel of Love" [Fryers]
  4. The Lions: "Let's Go Out Tonight" [Stones Throw]
  5. Debruit: "Ata (LV Remix)" [Civil Music]
  6. Fela and Africa 70: "Zombie" [Celluloid]
  7. (artist unknown): "Bamba" [Honest Jon's]
  8. Javelin: "Drummachines" [Luaka Bop]
  9. Mister Lies: "Dionysian" [Lefse]
  10. Dub Spencer & Trance Hill: "Dub Cup (Victor Rice remix)" [Echo Beach]
  11. Mrs. Miller: "Sweet Pea" [Capitol] / "Listening Parlour"
  12. S.C.U.M.: "5_8_6" [Mojo Magazine]
  13. Bullwackies All Stars: "No Equal Rights in Babylon (version)" [Deeper Knowledge]
  14. Daniel Dexter: "Birds" [Poker Flat]
  15. New Order: "Video 5_8_6" [Touch] / "Physical Evidence"
  16. Elvis Costello: "I Almost Had a Weakness" [Warner Bros.] / "Listening Parlour"
  17. Osborn: "Oyasumi" [Rush Hour]
  18. Born Losers: "Tokyo Drifter" [Mean Disposition]
  19. The Sign of Four: "Topsy Turvy" [Jazzman]
  20. Wayne Jarrett: "Come Let's Go" [Deeper Knowledge]
  21. Johnny Clark and the Four Playboys: "Jungle Stomp" [BBE]
  22. Jack Rabbit Slim: "Long Time Dead" [BBE]

Next time: our second race with iTunes is coming down to the wire. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis.

Apr 2013

James Kirk Is Not on the Case: Transmission 27, 2013 April 17

danielledaxbbcsessions.jpegTonight we get a little bit "darker" and, in our Thatcher send-off early in the program, maybe a bit more mean-spirited than normal--which I hope is not saying much. Bombast is filling time, earlier in the evening than expected, fulfilling its nominal promise to be the unimportant stuffing that accompanies the relevant programming. The show is also sitting in for "The Dark Parade," a show that usually fills the Wednesday 9-11 time slot. We planned on 90 minutes, but due to "technical difficulties" we got 150. I hope that's alright with you.

"Seems like a decade ago...time has flown so fast." For someone to whom words matter, I can be downright incoherent at times. What I meant to convey at that moment was that stuff is very different for me, the station, and the program than it was back in January. An elaboration on that will have to come in pieces, as it seems to have done up to this point. Anyway, sheesh, there's a reason why I always end these posts by saying "enjoy the music"--the talking leaves much to be desired.

arkaneportrait.jpegI would like to say a word about A.R. Kane, and I am always down to publicize the Agonies of Saint Catharsis.

As I was trying to plan this particular program, the Hall of Legends Induction Committee was strongly considering A.R. Kane's candidacy, and the doors to the Hall nearly swung open tonight. Nearly. The Committee [consisting entirely of myself] ultimately decided that: (a) A.R. Kane just didn't record enough excellent music--even the 90-minute time slot that we assumed I would fill would have exhausted pretty much all of it, and I couldn't have devoted 2.5 hours to them alone, so thank goodness I didn't find myself in that position; (b)--and this is really sad--my gut just told me that 90 minutes of A.R. Kane wouldn't be the best inducement for first-time listeners to follow me over to Saturday afternoon. I KNOW. That is awful, isn't it? But "operating with transparency" is part of our mission, so as the saying goes "there you have it." I realize that I could avoid such torment by revoking my "anti-rotation" policy, and maybe also by outgrowing the need to care how many people are listening. You know, just a few minor adjustments.

arkanelollita.jpgAnyway, A.R. Kane burned so very brightly--you would be hard-pressed to find a band active between 1987 and 1989 that was doing more groundbreaking and influential stuff, or getting less credit for it, a tradition which I carry on here. They were initially dubbed by the English music press as "the black Jesus and Mary Chain," which says more about the JAMC being a reference point for just about everyone from England who used a fuzz pedal in the 1980s than it does about the actual music anyone made. Like My Bloody Valentine, A.R. Kane took the JAMC's basic (re)discovery--that a thick fuzzy chord, like happiness itself, was its own reward, not needing to be justified on any other terms--and applied it in a unique, incomparable way. A.R. Kane's addition was the summery, languorous quality of their melodies, and the boominess of machine beats and dub bass.

arkanemilksnatcherlabel.jpegWhen journalists either got tired of mentioning A.R. Kane's blackness or got wise to the fact that the band was creating something new, they dubbed this music "dream-pop," and I don't really know why--at any rate A.R. Kane became a new reference point for later acts that found more success, all while only about 500 people [a rough estimate] were actually listening to A.R. Kane records. They started a label of their own and were probably hurt by the demise of Rough Trade in the early 1990s--they resurfaced on Luaka Bop / Warner a few years later and were not the same. The lesson, as it so often is, is not to lift your nose from the grindstone. Or maybe it's not to sign with major labels. Or both. Anyway, common mistakes.

I don't underestimate their genius--it was just so concentrated, and so brief, that a "tough decision" had to be made w/r/t a full tribute. It is, after all, the Hall of Legends, not the Hall of Justice. I freely admit to being "part of the problem." The silver lining is that I still have a bunch of great songs in my holster, to be deployed at other opportune times. When else could I have dropped "Baby Milk Snatcher," required listening for any would-be A.R. Kane fan? What would a future induction program, if I change my mind about this, be without that number? How can I abandon the precious anti-rotation policy? Do you see what I'm talking about? Agonies.

About whether I think a heavy dose would appeal to marginal Bombasticons--I have lived it, son. Write in and tell me if you think I'm wrong.

Did I really write the phrase "summery, languorous"?

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 17, 2000-2230:

  1. Cy Dune: "No Recognize" [Family Tree]
  2. A.R. Kane: "Baby Milk Snatcher" [One Little Indian]
  3. UB40: "Madam Medusa" [Virgin]
  4. Danielle Dax: "Fizzing Human Bomb" [Dutch East India Trading] / "Physical Evidence"
  5. Karl Bartos: "The Binary Code" [Bureau B]
  6. D Tiberio: "Raver 5" [Time Table]
  7. The Human League: "The Black Hit of Space" [Caroline / Virgin] / "Listening Parlour"
  8. The Cannanes: "Molecule" [Explosion Robinson / Lamingtone]
  9. Danielle Dax: "Pariah" [Dutch East India Trading] / "Physical Evidence"
  10. Mogwai: "Wizard Motor" [Rock Action]
  11. Pickwick: "Myths" [self-released]
  12. Telekinesis: "Wires" [Merge]
  13. Danielle Dax: "Ostrich" [Dutch East India Trading] / "Physical Evidence"
  14. Lapalux: "Strangling You with the Cord" [Brainfeeder]
  15. Monokle: "Slower" [KI]
  16. Gems: "Logan's Run" [Don't Be a Lout]
  17. Wire: "Reinvent Your Second Wheel" [Pinkflag]
  18. The Clash: "Train in Vain" [Epic] / "Listening Parlour"
  19. Borko: "Hold Me Now" [Sound of a Handshake]
  20. Danielle Dax: "Numb Companions" [Dutch East India Trading] / "Physical Evidence"
  21. Vondelpark: "Come On" [R & S]
  22. Kelpe: "Bags of Time (Neon Jung Wormhole Remix)" [Svetlana Industries]
  23. The Besnard Lakes: "At Midnight" [Jagjaguwar]
  24. Helado Negro: "Illumina Vos" [Asthmatic Kitty]
  25. Steve Hauschildt: "Constant Reminders" [Kranky]
  26. Benoit Pioulard: "Hawkeye" [Kranky]
  27. Bill Baird: "Big Sur Reverie" [Pau Wau]
  28. Lansing-Dreiden: "Dividing Island" [Mexican Summer]
  29. Breathless: "Just for Today" [Tenor Vossa]

p.s. How great is Danielle Dax?

Apr 2013

Existential Clusterfuffles: Transmission 26, 2013 April 13

rocketnumberninefourtetroseland.jpegIn the blink of an eye, we transition from a "very special" Bombast to a very regular Bombast. With Prince Far-I safely ensconced in the Hall of Legends, we turn to "new" music. However, we grapple with an old problem.

When we left off, the airplay computer was refusing to reboot. This meant that I might have to remain in the studio, indefinitely, until someone came to take over, which, on Saturday night, might be "not at all." Shades of "ironic punishment"--five months ago, I was really desperate to get on the radio, wasn't I?

You will be delighted to know that I have been doing some math and would like to share it with you. At the old station, I was on the air from roughly the beginning of April, 1987 until roughly the beginning of January, 1993--let's say 300-305 weeks. Airtime "shifts" at the station were 3 hours instead of 2. I never missed a show, except for maybe 3 or 4 times that I can think of (vacations and such). And I subbed a lot and took up available time during term breaks. You see where this is going, right? It's not inconceivable that I did upwards of 1000 hours on-air, and I couldn't get on air enough for my liking.

rocketnumberninefourtetroselandcloseup.jpegThe difference between then and now, as I like to consider it, is that now I have "standards." I'll give you a second to stop chortling. You back? Okay, good. Anyway, two hours a week is normally plenty of time to fill these days; it is better to have "overflow" and leave the one or two people who actually want more wanting more.

But it is hard to run a radio station, you guys. Every day at WRFI there is some kind of existential clusterfuffle. Will the transmitter go down? Will one of our hosts go off the rails? Will we lose the guest network in-studio, or remote desktop access, or both? Will the Pacifica webstream fail us? When is the user guide going to be finished? Can you be present for a very important meeting that happens in two hours but wasn't even a figment of anyone's imagination until five minutes ago? And so on. It got to the point this week that I was starting to forget about why I got into this in the first place, and then some free airtime appeared in front of me, and it looked like extra scoops of ice cream.

Of course what had to happen is that the airplay computer would go down, and that the culprit would be one of, oh, about 2400 different file systems on the hard drive. This occupied about the last 40 minutes of the previous show and the first 80 or so of this one, until yours truly made a barely-informed guess that somehow managed to work. So we live to fight another day.

The one real triumph of this particular broadcast is that a new, irregular, and unofficial segment, "Bombast vs. iTunes," gets off the ground, with round one going to me. Any day I can run "Physical Evidence" and play new music at the same time is a good day. Round Two is already underway, and we should have the results April 27. Won't you please tune in.

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 13, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.:

  1. Dub Spencer & Trance Hill: "Im Westen Nichts Neues" [Echo Beach]
  2. Colomach: "Ottoto Shamoleda" [Soundway]
  3. John Cameron: "Swamp Fever" [Strut]
  4. Johnny Pearson: "Assault Course" [Strut]
  5. Alan Hawkshaw: "Senior Thump" [Strut]
  6. Omar and the String-Poppers: "My Baby Don't Breathe" [BBE]
  7. The Phantom: "Love Me" [BBE]
  8. The Night Raiders: "Cottonpickin'" [BBE]
  9. The Scarlets: "Stampede" [BBE]
  10. Flea Bops: Ronnie, Preston, Wendy and Lance: "Good Time Woman" [BBE]
  11. Wayne Walker: "All I Can Do Is Cry" [BBE]
  12. 50 Foot Wave: "Radiant Addict" [Not On Label] / "Listening Parlour"
  13. The Feeling of Love: "I Could Be Better Than You But I Don't Wanna Change" [Born Bad]
  14. British Sea Power: "K-Hole" [Rough Trade]
  15. Rocketnumbernine / Four Tet: "Roseland" [Text] / "Physical Evidence"
  16. No Joy: "Hare Tarot Lies" [Mexican Summer]
  17. Lapalux: "Straight Over My Head" [Brainfeeder]
  18. Keith Mansfield: "Incidental Backcloth No. 3" [Strut]
  19. Alan Parker: "Unlimited Love" [Strut]
  20. William Farley / Dennis Bovell: "Reggae Train" [Strut]
  21. Wareika Hill Sounds: "Free the People" [Honest Jon's]
  22. Rocketnumbernine / Four Tet: "Metropolis" [Text] / "Physical Evidence"
  23. RxGibbs: "Contact" [Cascine]
  24. Tom Waits: "Hoist That Rag" [Anti-] / "Listening Parlour"
  25. Wire: "Eels Sang" [Pinkflag]
  26. Big "T" Tyler: "Sadie Green" [BBE]
  27. The Recalls: "Nobody's Guy" [BBE]
  28. Link Wray and his Wray Men: "Run Chicken Run" [BBE]
  29. McKinley Mitchell: "Rock Everybody Rock" [BBE]
  30. Corky Jones: "Hot Dog" [BBE]
  31. The Imps: "That'll Get It" [BBE]
  32. Errors: "The Village" [Mojo Magazine]
  33. Les Fils du Calvaire: "Femme d'affaires" [Because Music]
  34. Kinski: "Let Me Take You Through My Thought Process" [Kill Rock Stars]

next time: we hijack the Parade. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

Apr 2013

The Hall of Legends (Prince Far-I): Transmission 25, 2013 April 13


Welcome welcome welcome to the Hall of Legends. It has been a while since the doors have opened, but the committee has finally reconvened to induct the Hall's fifth member: Spanish Town's own Michael James Williams, a.k.a. King Cry Cry, best known as Prince Far-I. He joins The Fall, Stereolab, Billy Childish, and Coil in the sparsely populated Hall.

Prince Far-I's life was cut short under senseless circumstances on September 15, 1983. Since it has been a nice round number of years since then, I considered holding off until the "anniversary," but went ahead and did it now for a few reasons. One, no one knows what the future holds for any of us, least of all for Bombast, so I figured we might as well fire off this salvo light this candle while we are still on the air. Second, since I don't really share Prince Far-I's belief in "eternal life" and think instead that we only get one a finite chance at this thing, I don't think deaths are anything to commemorate [although there are exceptions]. It is much better to celebrate lives, which can be done whenever. Third, some free airtime opened up, which allowed me to take a scenic detour from the relentless, willful progress of the show, whose mission is indecipherable sometimes even to me.

princefaripsalmsfori.jpgI don't remember when I encountered my first Prince Far-I recording or even what it was. I am pretty sure that it was either Free From Sin or one of the Singers & Players records, and it had to be sometime in the mid-1980s. I guess it doesn't matter, aside from illustrating that this music and I go way back. I have been trying to figure out why exactly that is--most likely because there are few cases in which a voice is so well-suited to the material, and even fewer cases where apparent hard-liners like Prince Far-I seem like they would be such cool people with whom to chill.

Metaphysics are reggae's weak point and the elephant in the room when it comes to appreciating this music. I have very little to say on the topic, other than that I bracket them off when I listen, just as when I visit Notre Dame cathedral I bracket off all the bad things that have probably happened inside. I very much consider these tunes cathedrals of dub [well, technically, they are "versions," to continue our lesson in nomenclature from the program, but whatever]; while Linton Kwesi Johnson termed himself a "dub poet," surely Prince Far-I got there first, and as he reminds us, "first is first and second is nothing." [That's a bit unfair to LKJ, who, far from "nothing," is a possible Hall candidate although pretty well-appreciated.] Getting back to the business of spirituality, I do appreciate that Prince Far-I truly seems a "man of the book" and a willful obsessive after my own heart. Far from dropping the occasional "chant to Jah" just to maintain his Rasta cred before launching into more important topics like motorcycles, loose women, and collie, as some of his deejay colleagues have a tendency to do, he really seems to mean what he says.

And yet when he does take detours, what charm and hilarity he exhibits. "Quante Jubila," "Autobiography," "Water the Garden," and "Bedward the Flying Preacher" are four of my favorite tunes, by anybody, period--one of my personal criteria for measuring a song's greatness is how ridiculous and/or terrible an imagined cover version would sound. Don't even bother--these, and many others from today's program, should be left to stand alone.

Technical note--some crazy stuff began to happen in the studio during the "Physical Evidence" segment--our airplay computer, on which we depend for automated programming that keeps us in compliance when we can't have a live human being at the controls, failed during an otherwise routine reboot. As I scrambled to fix the problem, frantically sending out texts and emails, the show got a bit...sloppy. I won't spoil it with words; just listen and enjoy. "What you hear is what you hear."

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 13, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. :

  1. Singers & Players: "Autobiography" [On-U Sound]
  2. Prince Far-I: "Reggae Music" [Trojan]
  3. Suns of Arqa: "Brujo Magic" / "83 Struggle" [Arka Sound]
  4. Prince Far-I: "Wish I Have a Wing" [Frontline / Virgin]
  5. Prince Far-I: "Coming In from the Rock" [Trojan]
  6. Prince Far-I: "Free from Sin" [Trojan]
  7. Prince Far-I: "Foggy Road" [Frontline / Virgin]
  8. Prince Far-I: "Shuffle and Deal" [Blood and Fire]
  9. Prince Far-I: "When the King Comes on Earth" [Pressure Sounds]
  10. Prince Far-I: "Commandment of Drugs" [Frontline / Virgin]
  11. Singers & Players: "Water the Garden" [On-U Sound]
  12. Prince Far-I: "The Lord's Prayer" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
  13. Prince Far-I: "Psalm 87" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
  14. Prince Far-I: "Psalm 24" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
  15. Prince Far-I: "Psalm 48" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
  16. Prince Far-I: "Psalm 49" [Carib Gems] / "Physical Evidence"
  17. Prince Far-I: "Farmyard" [Virgin]
  18. Singers & Players: "Quante Jubila" [On-U Sound]
  19. Prince Far-I: "African Queen" [Kingdom]
  20. Prince Far-I: "The Big Fight" [Joe Gibbs]
  21. Singers & Players: "Bedward the Flying Preacher" [On-U Sound]
  22. Prince Far-I: "Give I Strength" [Trojan]
  23. Suns of Arqa: "What You Gonna Do on the Judgment Day" [Arka Sound]

next time: the usual Bombast thing, whatever that is. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis.

Apr 2013

Win / Win

The world got a little brighter this week, and in related news, Chumbawamba just released a new single. I actually expected it to be a bit less kind.

Apr 2013

The Hustle Is Out and the Break Is In: Transmission 24, 2013 April 6

backintheday.jpegBombast commemorates the opening of the "Now Scream" exhibit at Cornell's Kroch library with a selection of old-school tunes for the hip-hop / breakdance crowd. I don't think many people were listening, as it was a dazzling sunny day, much more suitable for outdoor diversions. This was appropriate enough; my memories of this music always involve sunshine, and there almost literally always was.

What is interesting to me about these old recordings is that seldom, perhaps never, has such playful, innocuous music inspired a cultural firestorm like the one we witnessed in the early days of hip-hop and electronic dance music. I suppose the injection of Rastafari into reggae in the early 1970s must have troubled the "barber" contingent in Jamaica, and somewhere there must be an East Indian pensioner in England who wishes that bhangra had never come to be. But I struggle to recall anything else along these lines.

Looking back [he said, as if all this were not clear at the time it was happening], there were three crucialelectrofront.jpgmajor reasons for this "controversy," all of which revealed significant blind spots and biases on the part of the people doing the complaining. The first, and most easily dismissed, was the popularization of drum machines, which were widely thought capable of killing music. In fact Tom Petty said pretty much this exact thing to Roger Linn in the 1970s, as if the Traveling Wilburys would not prove more toxic than anything the engineers at Roland could ever dream up.

The second was the issue of "talent." "These guys," the argument went [and, save for Roxanne Shanté, Sha Rock, and a couple of other ladies, it was mostly guys], "aren't even singing." As if the world needed more Michael McDonalds and fewer Melle Mels. Let's not forget that the demographic that wanted to hear singing instead of rapping, and "real instruments" instead of 808s and turntables, was busy making Styx a chart-topping act, as well as certifying the creatively-titled Asia by Asia as the album of the year. Choices don't get much more stark, and even in the trivial context of popular music there is plenty of standing room on the wrong side of history.

crucialelectrorear.jpgFinally, and of course, there was the affinity between rap and disco, helped along by the session-hack knockoffs of Chic, Blondie, et. al., which served as the backing for many an early rap single. In fairness to the cultural Luddites, the disco era had not even ended when rap, the newest hedonistic club music made by African-Americans, began to make its commercial breakthrough--so it was easy to swap the common refrain, "disco sucks," for "rap sucks." What was "wrong" about disco, however--its formulae, functionality, and generic anonymity--was completely turned inside out by rap.* The new music was grassroots, multi-purposed [should we dance to it or focus on the lyrics? the answer: YES], and intensely personal. Sadly, it is similarly easy to swap "they all look the same to me" for "all these songs sound the same." We are talking about American culture, where nothing is ever not about race. Events like "Disco Demolition Night" require more than aesthetic revulsion to get off the ground.

It's easy to forget how segregated the experience of pop music was 30 years ago. Columbia / Epic had to threaten to withdraw Culture Club videos in order to force MTV to play Michael Jackson. This has to be one of the strangest things that have ever happened--how could it not have been the other way around?--except, that, oh yeah, it was the United States in the early 1980s, and the "Midwestern" audience MTV targeted apparently really did want "I'll Tumble 4 Ya" and not "Billie Jean."

The sort of arguments in which one could engage back then were scary, in that they tended to reveal more about the people doing the arguing than about the subject of the argument, and also fun, in the way that arguments always are when one side is always comically, haplessly wrong. Ironically, the very technologies that were making hip-hop and electro possible, and moving them forward, would later help ensure that this was the last time anyone would feel so strongly about music. As much as I love these records, I feel like we have lost something, but when I say things like this I am probably just channeling Ned Ludd myself.

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 April 6, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

  1. Grandmaster Flash: "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" [Mojo Magazine]
  2. Jimmy Spicer: "Money (Dollar Bill Y'all)" [BGP] / "Physical Evidence"
  3. Mr. Magic: "Magic's Message (There Has To Be a Better Way)" [BGP] / "Physical Evidence"
  4. The Art of Noise: "battle" / "Beat Box" [ZTT]
  5. Funky Four Plus One More: "Rapping and Rocking the House" [BGP] / "Physical Evidence"
  6. Trickeration: "Rap, Bounce, Rockskate" [BGP] / "Physical Evidence"
  7. Time Zone: "World Destruction (Industrial Remix)" [Celluloid]
  8. The Egyptian Lover: "Egypt, Egypt" [Egyptian Empire]
  9. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: "Super Rappin' No 1" [BGP] / "Physical Evidence"
  10. Twilight 22: "Electric Kingdom" [Street Sounds]
  11. Cybotron: "Clear" [Street Sounds]
  12. Hashim: "Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)" [Street Sounds]
  13. Captain Rock: "Return of Captain Rock" [Street Sounds]
  14. Time Zone: "Wild Style" [Street Sounds]
  15. The Incredible Body Mechanix: "B Boy Your Best" / "Bonus Beat" [Mirage]
  16. Herbie Hancock: "Mega-Mix" [Columbia]

next week: a "stampede" of freshly reissued rock songs, and other stuff. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

* Chic were tremendous, and I will not debate this with anyone.

Apr 2013

Sheer Excellence, But You Knew That: Transmission 23, 2013 March 30


This week, Little Marcy serenades us as we try to settle into our Saturday afternoon slot. Forgive me--the sun was out on this particular day, and like every other local who hasn't caught a glimpse of Helios for four months, I was distracted almost to the point of incompetence. Musically speaking--there aren't many songs about Easter, specifically, but there are a ton of rock songs about sin. Indeed, where would we be without this topic? So, we wind up playing a bunch of newly-released tunes we probably would have played anyway. Just Bombast bein' Bombast.

And then there is the Jesus and Mary Chain, who, ironically, have nothing to do with religion, unless your objects of worship are black leather, hollowbody guitars, and the Shin-Ei FY-2 "Companion Fuzz" pedal [and why not?]. Now that I think of it, they did once offer a hypothesis on the true identity of a certain spiritual icon, which seems legit enough, but I digress. "Some Candy Talking," this week's entry in the "Physical Evidence" parade, is one of those singles that was slated to conquer the world but didn't, for whatever reason. Its seeming irrelevance to on-demand internet music providers is their loss but our gain.

Jesus--Mary-Chain-Some-Candy-Talkin-22040.jpgAs I suggest during the broadcast, this is a transitional record for the JAMC. Wee Bobby Gillespie had left for pastures that were not yet greener but were certainly other. The less said about early Primal Scream, the better--check out that band's anthologies, even they seem to agree--but has he ever done well. Here at BOMBAST we played some of the Scream early on, when our legs were still wobbly, and yet again on the Night of Three Roky Erickson Songs, so we cannot feign indifference. But we have also played "Judas" by the Wake, which shows Wee Bobby Gillespie to be an unremarkable bass player, and a cursory listen to Psychocandy or any of the JAMC's early singles will reveal him to be an unremarkable drummer as well. He has turned out to be a frontman and fanboy with excellent taste, and there are worse things to be.

But how perfect his Moe Tucker stylings were for this group, and how wonderfully chaotic those records sound on account of them. The "3 dudes and a drum machine" version of JAMC was destined never to stack up. To channel Rick Pitino, "Upside Down" was not about to walk though that door, folks, and "Never Understand" was not about to walk through that door. They were quite game on this single, though, doing the absolute minimum with their digital metronome and giving us a taste of their "old selves" on the B-side "Hit"--this particular song is partly how I choose to remember them, having seen the "3 dudes and a drum machine" incarnation live in 1987 and thinking it was a delicious, surprisingly visceral mess.

Speaking of drum machines, if you have listened to BOMBAST at all you know we love them. We will have plenty more to say about this next week, when we play strictly old-school hip-hop and electro to recognize the "Now Scream" exhibit at Cornell's Kroch Library. As they say..."CAN'T WAIT!"

BOMBAST playlist, 2013 March 30, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

  1. Onward Chariots: "Opening / This Is My Confession I" [Skipping Stones]
  2. Dub Spencer & Trance Hill: "Ethiopian Dub (live)" [Echo Beach]
  3. Family Atlantica: "Myths and Proverbs" [Soundway]
  4. Deux: "Dance With Me" [Minimal Wave]
  5. Kraftwerk: "Numbers / Computer World 2" [EMI]
  6. The Jesus and Mary Chain: "Some Candy Talking" [Blanco Y Negro] / "Physical Evidence"
  7. Gary War: "Zontag" [Care in the Community]
  8. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley: "This Hustling World" [Academy LPs]
  9. Little Marcy: "Climb, Climb Up Sunshine Mountain" [Zondervan] / "Listening Parlour"
  10. Wild Billy Childish and the Spartan Dreggs: "Garden of Gethsemane" [Damaged Goods]
  11. Heavy Hawaii: "Airborne Kawasaki" [Art Fag]
  12. Witch: "Blood Donor" [Now-Again]
  13. Jerusalem in My Heart: "3anzah Jarbanah" [Constellation]
  14. The Jesus and Mary Chain: "Taste of Cindy (acoustic)" [Blanco Y Negro / 1972] / "Physical Evidence"
  15. Mogwai: "This Messiah Needs Watching" [Rock Action]
  16. In the Nursery: "Third Movement" [ITN Corporation]
  17. The Jesus and Mary Chain: "Hit" [Blanco Y Negro / 1972] / "Physical Evidence"
  18. Tarwater: "We All Stand" [Mojo Magazine]
  19. Carmen Villain: "Lifeissin" [Smalltown Supersound]
  20. Onward Chariots: "This Is My Confession II" [Skipping Stones]
  21. Hollis Brown: "Walk on Water" [Alive Naturalsound]
  22. Scott & Charlene's Wedding: "I Wanna Die" [Critical Heights]
  23. U Roy: "Deck of Cards" [Clocktower]
  24. Ash Pool: "Death Has No Mother" [Hospital Productions]
  25. Le Carousel: "My Saviour" [Phil Kieran Records]
  26. Akitsa: "Arraché A La Mort, Forcé A Vivre Et Mourir Encore" [Hospital Productions]
  27. Little Marcy: "When Mr. Satan Knocks at My Heart's Door" [Zondervan] / "Listening Parlour"
  28. Ergo Phizmiz: "It's a Sin" [Care in the Community]
  29. The Jesus and Mary Chain: "Psychocandy" [Blanco Y Negro / 1972] / "Physical Evidence"
  30. Onward Chariots: "Confession III" [Skipping Stones]

next week: when I aim for fire [?!], I never miss. Enjoy the music! --kid catharsis

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