Radio Helsinki Listener! It’s 0713 hrs. on August 02, here in Hamburg, Germany. I’m here for three shows at the Wacken Festival. This will be my fourth time performing at this festival. The first show is this evening. I’m looking forward to it.
Yesterday morning, I listened to all the songs that we have set up for this show, it sounded great but there was a part of it that was slightly distracting and the culprit was our first song, Look Back In Anger from David Bowie’s Lodger album. On September 29, a box set of Bowie’s music, called A New Career In A New Town 1977-1982 will be released. It looks great from start to finish but the part of it that has me the most excited is a remix of Lodger by the great Tony Visconti, who co-produced Lodger the first time around. I can’t wait to hear what Mr. Visconti is going to do with these tracks. What was it about the album that compelled him to undertake this, especially without David Bowie being in attendance? Could it be that the first time around, there were things he wanted to try that Bowie didn’t? Tony Visconti is one of the most talented producers there has ever been. Not to push any rocks around, but I would say that without him, the Bowie albums he was involved with, including Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, wouldn’t be as sonically challenging and supreme as they are. Bowie/Visconti are one of the greatest collaborative pairings in modern music. For this show, we are listening to the original version of Look Back In Anger. It’s not as if anyone’s sending me an advance copy of the box set. I do, however, plan on being in Los Angeles on that day and will be walking into the record store minutes after it opens in an effort to secure a copy. This is easily in the top three 2017 releases I’m looking forward to the most. I don’t think I’ll have a chance to hear it until near the end of the year, schedule being what it is but it will give me something to look forward to.
At 1800 hrs. today, I will be onstage in front of however many HMP’s (Heavy Metal Punters) will show up to the tent I’ll be in. I don’t know why I have been invited to this festival so many times and asked to do multiple nights but I’m grateful. I think festivals are great on so many levels. To me, the music part of it is one of the minor aspects of the overall. I am not trying to put too long a tail on the end of this but I think that it’s a great idea that thousands of young people gather in one place a couple of days a year for a summer or two and experience not only music but each other and by doing so, become further culturalized. Perhaps my idea of the festival is quite lofty but I think they could prevent future wars, cut down on domestic violence and make things better going forward. The festival environment is temporary. I don’t think anyone could live comfortably thrown together with so many others day after day but if you think about it, in relocation camps, people are in them for so long, families are started. I think people + music is about as good an equation as I’ve ever known.
For the next few days at the Wacken Festival, well over seventy thousand people will be in attendance, no matter what the weather brings, to get down with an almost nonstop assault of loud music. I think it’s great that music has that kind of power. What if, after learning about community from being at music festivals, all those people say no to their government the next time it tries to push them into a pointless war without end? (Sorry, you’ll have to keep in mind where I come from.) A bunch of people who are so into music, they come from all over the world to rock out? This is definitely my kind of place. I’ll let you know how the first show went tomorrow. To be continued. 0750 hrs.
August 03. 0907 hrs. The first show went well and I’m looking forward to getting back out there again this evening. Last night, as I was walking through the hotel lobby, I ran into three members of the UK Subs, one of my favorite bands of all time. It is a unit that has endured for literally decades and the line up has changed, with vocalist Charlie Harper being the constant. Bass player Alvin Gibbs, who has been in and out of the band since the Diminished Responsibility album in 1981. When I was in Black Flag, we did a show together in December of that year in Leeds, UK. I hadn’t seen Alvin in a long time. He’s a great guy. One of the cool things about the festival environment, you run into a lot of people, some you might not have seen in years.
August 04. 0750 hrs. In the breakfast room, amidst a lot of bands and crew members. Every time I’m at this festival, I stay at this hotel. It’s become a bit of a ritual, even down to trying to get the same table here. I remember sitting here a year ago, watching Mike Monroe of Hanoi Rocks walking around the lobby, looking around for the rest of the band. Earlier that morning, Sami Yaffa was two tables to my left. Yesterday’s show was a good time. Last one is tonight and then I’m on two flights back to Los Angeles
If you’re wondering about track 05, which features the vocal stylings of Spadefoot toads, it’s from Mr. Bogert’s rippin’ 1957 release Sounds of North American Frogs. You have to put this album in context to understand what a going-against-the-grain release this was. Remember, this was the same year that Chuck Berry’s Rock and Roll Music and Elvis Presley’s All Shook Up. Imagine the pressure these two Titans felt when Smithsonian Folkways dropped this frog / toad sonic assault! A chartbuster for sure. Believe it or not, the album went into multiple pressings! No way, you say? Way! It gets even better. A few years ago, I was at Smithsonian Folkways headquarters in Washington, DC. As I was walking down a hallway, I spotted a promo poster for this album on the wall. I damn near passed out. The person who was showing me around was slightly amazed I was aware of the album and maybe a little freaked out at my great enthusiasm at seeing the promo poster. I have searched online for one but have thus far come up empty. I told the man that I had been using tracks from it in my radio shows for years. This is when he told me there were outtakes from the album. Unreleased frogs! No way! To this day, still knocks me out. You might not believe this but it’s true—he sent them to me. Score! My research has led me to conclude there are three different pressings of this album on LP and a recent re-issue on CD. Perhaps for an upcoming Record Store Day, the box set will come out with the outtakes. How amazing would that be?
Cool that we have both Ty Segal and Iggy Pop on this show. Remember last week, when I told you that I was hoping to catch both of them at the FYF festival? I did it. I see Ty play any chance I get, he’s never anything less than great but this time around, he was amazing. Not to be missed. For this show, we have a relatively obscure Ty track from the Our Boy Roy tribute to the great Roy Orbison where Ty rocks Pretty Woman, but not before we hear Roy Orbison doing what in my opinion, is one of his most memorable vocals, on the song Life Fades Away. This was part of the Less Than Zero soundtrack. Who wrote the song? Glenn Danzig. How cool is that?! This album also has Slayer performing a version of Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida, which totally smokes.
As you hopefully conclude, two things: I can write way too much about music, and that we have a great show lined up for you. There is no other way to go. If you like the last track, where Ginger Baker sits in with Fela, the rest of the record is that good. Until next week!
01. David Bowie - Look Back In Anger / Lodger
02. The Damned – Rabid / Chiswick Singles
03. The Pink Fairies - Do It (single edit) / Never Never Land
04. Sex Pistols - Just Me (I Wanna Be Me) / Spunk
05. Frogs (+ Charles M. Bogert) - Chorus of Spadefoot Toads / Sounds of North American Frogs
06. Roxy Music - Both Ends Burning / Siren
07. Buzzcocks - Are Everything / Singles Going Steady
08. Paiboon - Yom Pha Barn Norn Pahwaa (Satan’s Nightmare) / Thai Beat A-Go-Go Vol. 01
09. Free Time - Blue Pillow / In Search of Free Time
10. Dick Diver - Percentage Points / Melbourne Florida
11. Ris Paul Ric – Colonialism / Purple Blaze
12. Le Butcherettes - Your Weakness Gives Me Life / Cry is for the Flies
13. HTRK – Ha / Marry Me Tonight
14. Prince Jammy - Jammy’s Not a Fool / Fat Man Presents : Dub Contest
15. Cloudland Canyon - Where’s The Edge / An Arabesque
16. The Adverts - Television’s Over / Singles Collection
17. The Ausmuteants - New Planet / Band of the Future
18. De La Soul - Plug Tunin / 3 Feet High and Rising
19. Tom Waits - Sea Of Love / Sea of Love Soundtrack
20. The Ramones - The Return of Jackie and Judy / End of the Century
21. Roy Orbison - Life Fades Away / Less than Zero Soundtrack
22. Ty Segall - Pretty Woman / Our Boy Roy
23. The Minutemen – Afternoons / Bean Spill EP
24. Wire - Three Girl Rhumba / Pink Flag
25. Iggy Pop - I’m Bored / New Values
26. Trouble Funk - Say What / Singles collection
27. Scorpions - Hell-Cat / Virgin Killer
28. Fela Kuti - Let’s Start / Fela with Ginger Baker