Radio Helsinki Listener! Due to schedule, I have to work on these shows well in advance. I went online and looked up what the weather would be like in Finland for July. Hey, I’m trying! Looks like you get a fair amount of rain this time of the year. Hopefully, this grouping of tunes will work for you. I am listening to all the tracks for this show. I have absolutely no idea how any of it will register with you but I’m liking it!
I’m presently in Los Angeles, back from Spokane, Washington for a couple of days now. I don’t know if you have ever been here. It’s a city, built in a desert, hydrated by stolen water. If you ever get the chance, watch the film Chinatown. Los Angeles is entering into one of the especially hellish spells of temperature spikes. Now and then, there is a huge fire that breaks out and the skies fill with smoke. You come out to your car and find it coated in ashes. I’m not one who uses air-conditioning. I don’t mind the heat, strangely, I like it. At some point, around 1400 hrs., the heat feels like it has what could be considered a velocity, like it’s trying to smash everything flat. When it’s like this, for the last several years, I use music from Mali as my soundtrack. I have been there twice for the Desert Music Festival and when it’s hot and dry, the music from Malian greats like Terakaft, Tinariwen, Koudede and Vieux Farka Touré is not only great, but somehow makes sense. Also, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Robert Johnson music sounds especially good when it’s hot.
Being on location in Spokane almost every day didn’t allow me to listen to nearly as much music as I wanted to, so I’m going to do my best to make up for lost time. I know that music should be enjoyed but as well, I want to maintain high numbers of records played. This is one of the reasons I keep a list. It’s easy to acquire records but getting them listened to can be challenging. I’m not in competition with anyone, not even myself, I just think that the more music I listen to the better. Also, I think it’s weak to get records and just put them on a shelf and speculate on that time when all will be as it should and you’ll have time to listen. It’s why so many box sets and multiple LP sets sit unheard for years! Some nights, I pull out the 5 LP box of whatever it is and decide that tonight is the night and get into it. Totally works.
It is this effort to keep moving forward with listening, to keep breaking through to new sounds that makes it difficult to allow for time to check out music I’m more familiar with. It is too easy for me to listen to the same ten records over and over but I don’t want to deprive myself of the opportunity to listen to music that is so close to me that it’s part of my genetic code. I think I’m pretty good at keeping the ratio of unheard to previously heard in check so I’m always moving forward. I know it’s a strange topic but I think it’s important to become more and more eclectic as you go, to the point to when someone asks you what kind of music you like, the answer is either really long, going from genre to tangent to too much information to where it’s almost impossible to say. That’s kinda where I am at this point. I just say that I like music a lot and that I’m nothing but a fan. I have heard a lot of people answer this question with, “All kinds of music.” How would you possibly know? That’s right up there with the person who tells you they “know a lot about music.” That’s like saying you know the exact weight of every rain drop that falls past your window during a storm. I would rather remain a humble student. This keeps me open minded and always ready for next turn on. A lot of old bastards like me will tell you that somehow, it was all better when they were young and bands these days don’t really have much to offer. I’m so glad I have not fallen into that trap. The truth is, there are so many great new bands and albums happening every year, it’s all you can do to keep up. It’s a great problem to have.
I have said this many times and I will say it to you: music is humankind’s greatest hit. Scientific and medical breakthroughs are fantastic, all the great inventions that people have been able to come up with to make things better (like records and playback systems) are all well and good but for me, it’s music that is “our” most incredible creation. It makes sense of life. “What is the meaning of life?” is one of the more daft questions ever asked. It has a simple answer: only what you make it. That’s it. Before you die, and you will, you have to find something to do with the time or the time will find something to do with you. Music is almost revenge on this existential blah of life. Music is humans throwing themselves into a moment with everything they have. They are, if they are any good, living for these moments without consideration of anything else but making it the most complete representation of the idea they were trying to put across. This is why an appreciation of Jazz music is so important. Say you put on a record, like A Love Supreme by the Coltrane Quartet or Raw Power by the Stooges, you’re getting the absolute to-the-wall efforts of these people. It’s hyper reality. This is one of the reasons we go to see bands play and listen to records over and over, because these moments are better, more real than regular moments at the workplace or in traffic. It’s also why so many people are let down when they meet someone in a band they admire and find them to be not nearly as amazing as they were when they were playing. You want them to be as incredible as the music but that’s the thing, the music is great, the people who play it just have the ability to get it out of themselves. This is why, whenever I can, I avoid meeting musicians. I’m happy to buy the record and go to the show and leave it there. Meeting them is cool, I guess but it’s nothing I go out of my way to do. I reckon if they’re any good, the music they make is destroying them and there’s nothing I can do to help besides cheering between songs and going to the record store when they have a new release. In a way, they are condemned. This is why I listen to music more than I hang out with people. I’m not someone who dislikes members of my species, quite the opposite, but with great exception, I would rather listen to a good record, alone in a room than be in a room with another person, even if there’s music playing.
It is, however a great thing when you can enjoy music with someone else. Some of my earliest fond memories are hanging out with Ian MacKaye, listening to music. Forty plus years later, we still do it and it’s still great. When I was younger, I used to hang out with people a lot more than I do now and listening to music was a big part of that. It was the music that brought us together. I wouldn’t have met most of these people if it wasn’t for Punk Rock. Now I listen alone but sometimes think of those people. When I listen to certain records, it’s like the songs open a door and the memories, at least versions of them, come back very clearly. The music is exactly the same, so the reference point is static but life changes you, so in a way, the song doesn’t always remain the same if you’re hearing it differently. In this way, even music from decades ago can be in the present. That’s one of the most interesting aspects of music. The music isn’t old, you are. The idea of something being eternal is a little much for me but there is something that’s almost surreal about the fact that this September, Jimi Hendrix will have been gone for forty seven years but when you put the record on, he’s right there in the room with you. That you can do that and listen to the past for hours at a time has never failed to trip me out.
You see, fantastic Radio Helsinki Radio listener, this is why I write these notes, so I don’t waste your time during the show saying all this. Imagine waiting for me to finally shut my mouth just so you can hear a song! No way!
It’s a great gathering of music we have set up for you here. Like I said last week, if you find yourself curious about anything you heard, the internet is bursting with information and free listens.
As far as someone you might not be familiar with but who is really worth checking out, I direct you to track #30. Ulaan Khol is one of the outlets of the very talented Steven R Smith. If you go to his site, you can check out his music. Just my opinion, there isn’t one record he’s done that’s not worth checking out and I believe I have heard them all. If I haven’t, it’s not for a lack of trying. Mr. Smith is an extraordinary musician. If you like what you hear on this show, you might enjoy going further.
Thank you for listening. I am grateful for the opportunity to put all of this together for you.
01. Ramones - I Don’t Wanna Go Down To The Basement (mono) / 40th Anniversary Edition
02. The Clash - Janie Jones / The Clash
03. Pseudo Existors – Pseudo Existence / Stamp Out Normality
04. Dillinger - Cokane In My Brain / Ultimate Collection
05. Electric Wizard . We Hate You / Dopethrone
06. Jaguar Love – Jaguar Warriors / Hologram Jams
07. The Germs - Lexicon Devil / Germs Complete
08. Ween – Shamemaker / La Cucaracha
09. David Lynch – Movin’ On / Crazy Clown Time
10. The Fall – Smile / Perverted by Language
11. The Panik - Modern Politics / Short Sharp Shock
12. The Stooges – Doojiman / Raw Power (Legacy Edition)
13. The Saints - This Perfect Day single version / (I’m) Stranded (box set edition)
14. The Scientists - Frantic Romantic / A Place Called Bad (compilation)
15. The Sunnyboys - Alone With You / Sunnyboys
16. Slug Guts - Old Black Sweats / Playin’ In Time With the Deadbeat
17. Cold Meat - Praying to the Gaps / Jimmy’s Lipstick
18. Jonny Telafone - The End / Jonny Telafone
19. POW! - Back On The Grid / Crack an Egg
20. The Birthday Party - The Dim Locator / Live 81-82
21. Shinki Chen - Freedom of A Mad Paper Lantern / Shinki Chen
22. Maniacs - You Don’t Break My Heart / Vortex Live
23. UK Subs - You Can’t Take It Any More / Brand New Age
24. Ex Hex - You Fell Apart / Rips
25. Dead Boys - Sonic Reducer / Young Loud and Snotty
26. Guerilla Toss - A Pig Who Feeds / 367 Equalizer
27. Hawkwind – Motorhead / Warrior On The Edge Of Time
28. Hisato Higuchi - Girl Sister / She
29. Clarinette - Time - Before And Time After / The Now Of Then
30. Ulaan Khol - In Tar / Ending / Returning
31. My Cat is an Alien - The Dance Of Oneirism / The Dance Of Oneirism