Radio Helsinki Listener! Here we are, back together again. It’s not like I can ask you what you thought of last week’s show, but I hope you liked it enough to come back again this week.
At this point, it was months ago that I was asked to make these shows for you. Twelve shows is a lot of work that takes a lot of time. There was no pay offered and none asked for. So, why did I sign on to put together these shows on top of the one I make for KCRW FM in California? Because to me, it’s always worth taking the opportunity to spread music to other people. I think music is humankind’s greatest achievement. The more you listen, the better things are.
When I was young, I understood early on that I wasn’t fitting in with other kids at school. I couldn’t keep up in class and wasn’t good at sports. I wasn’t picked on all that much, nor was I excluded, I just wasn’t a part of things. For a few years, it bugged me. I wanted, or thought I wanted to be part of a group of people, to have a lot of friends. It’s a natural instinct and not a bad one. I could tell that it wasn’t going to happen and that I was one of those “strange kids” that you can find in any mass of kids. Somewhere around sixteen years of age, I had found one or two people at school to hang out with and that was okay but mostly, I worked at jobs and hung out on my own. In a way, I had a semi-adult lifestyle. After school, I would go to a store to work, where I was given responsibility. I handled money, had the keys to the place, etc. I liked it and I liked making my own money and not ever asking my parents for an allowance.
It was with this money that I bought records. It seemed to me the best possible thing to do with my earnings besides saving. You could play a record over and over and in a lot of ways, they were better than friends.
Luckily, when I was young, I became best friends with a guy name Ian MacKaye. This is the same one you might know from Minor Threat and Fugazi. We both lived in the same neighborhood and liked music. We would hang out in each other’s rooms listening to music and whenever we could, go to record stores.
In the late 1970’s we heard bands like the Clash, the Damned, and the Ramones. Having previously checked out shows by Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Van Halen, needless to say, this music was hitting us in a completely different way. The shows were so different than arena shows. We go right up to the font and really feel it. This is when we became totally music obsessed. Ian started playing in a band that eventually called themselves the Teen Idles and he co-founded Dischord Records, which released the Teen Idles Minor Disturbance EP in 1980.
Besides going to as many shows as we could, we would listen to hours of music. Listening to vinyl was one thing but the mix tape became one of the single most important pieces of music media we had. Vinyl had to be listened to in a room. We were in cars, at skate ramps or places where there was no turntable, so we all became tape makers. We would spend hours working on them. I still have almost all of my mix tapes from almost forty years ago, as does Ian, and they still sound great. It’s amazing what a stable medium they are. It was while making tapes that I got the idea you could communicate via what songs you put on the tape and in what order. I became fascinated by how order and variety could affect the listening experience. Also, the ability to really personalize the overall, was irresistible to me.
The ultimate version of all this was radio. To be hanging out with an unseen listener, who was out there somewhere, I figured that had to be one of the coolest jobs ever. I am sure a lot of my references are arcane or at least old but there was a film, very much worth checking out, called released in 1973 called American Graffiti. I watch it every several years and in my opinion at least, it holds up quite well. The legendary disc jockey Wolfman Jack had a cameo that knocked me out. You can watch some of his scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99z-H_NEccU. I thought this was the job of jobs. All alone in the middle of the night, connecting the dots way out there in the darkness. In the film, he seemed almost like a phantom. That’s what I wanted to do.
Being in a band sometimes affords you a lot of opportunities. In the 1980’s, I was asked to take over radio shows on college stations and at one point, started training at a station called KCRW, where I got instruction from Deirdre O’Donoghue. She was incredible. We became very good friends and stayed that way until she passed away in 2001. In 2004, I was offered a weekly show at a station called Indie 103.1 FM. This place was too good to last. Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols had a show, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, Rob Zombie, we all had a great time. The station closed down in 2009. About a week later, I got a call from some station called KCRW, asking if I wanted to bring my show there. That’s where I’ve been ever since.
I really like making radio shows. So, this is why I said yes when I was asked. Hell of a long explanation, right? Well, now you know.
The best possible part of all this is, if you look below, we have some fantastic music to listen to. I am able to brag about this part freely because I had nothing to do with any of the greatness of this music, I just put it in front of you. I’m just merely the arranger, in the smallest of small print.
It probably wouldn’t surprise you that almost all of these bands and songs have stories. The records themselves are often rare and I acquired them from points all over. You should see Road Manager Ward and I on tour. We hit records stores all over the world. We are dragging vinyl back from every damn where. All the music we will be listening to in our almost three months together is a product of an obsession with music and the full knowledge that there is great stuff to be found anywhere from any year. All you have to do is be open minded and you are greeted by the universe of music. It is a very, I mean very good place.
Should you become curious about any of the tunes, the internet, your local records store and sites like Discogs, are your friends.
I keep scrolling down and looking at the list of songs. Damn, this is a great one! Until next week, thank you for listening.
01. Stooges - Down On The Street / Fun House
02. The Cramps - Five Years Ahead Of My Time / How To Make A Monster
03. Ivan - Real Wild Child / The Golden Age Of American Rock ‘N’ Roll - Vol. 6
04. The Weirdos - Life Of Crime / Weird World Vol. 1
05. The Tuff Monks - After the Fireworks / single
06. Suicide - Ghost Rider / Suicide
07. The Saints - (I’m) Stranded / (I’m) Stranded
08. Black Tambourine - By Tomorrow / Complete Recordings
09. The Gun Club - Nobody’s City / Mother Juno (re-issue CD)
10. The Calico Wall - I’m A Living Sickness / Trash Box Vol. 3
11. Jah Lion - Soldier & Police War / Columbia Colly
12. The Ruts - In A Rut / Singles Collection
13. Heartbreakers - Chinese Rocks / Born Too Loose
14. Pere Ubu - Final Solution / Terminal Towers
15. David Bowie - Up The Hill Backwards / Scary Monsters
16. Dinosaur Jr. - Little Fury Things / You’re Living All Over Me
17. Sort Sol – Abyss / Dagger & Guitar
18. The Horrors - Do You Remember / Primary Colours
19. Rites of Spring - Drink Deep / End On End
20. Tim Presley - Underwater Rain / The Wink
21. Damaged Bug - Rubber Lips / single
22. Ooga Boogas - Studio Of My Mind / Booga Box
23. XYZ - Drum Machine / XYZ
24. Panbers – Haai / Those Shocking, Shaking Days
25. Georgie James - Cake Parade / Need Your Needs
26. Lower Plenty - Strange Beast / Hard Rubbish
27. Summer Flake - You Can Have It All / You Can Have It All
28. Sleep - The Clarity / 12”