Archive for the ‘BBC Radio 2’ Category

The Kinks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Ray Davies

Day's / The Kinks press-release

Listen: Days / The Kinks
Days / The Kinks

How do you pick a Kinks single to write about, yet avoid the guilt of the dozens you’re not mentioning? Not possible. But listening back to this week’s PICK OF THE POPS program, on BBC’s Radio 2, where Dale Winton counts down selected Top 20′s from years gone by, spanning the 60′s forward with much accuracy and old style chart excitement, I heard ‘Days’. It was in the 1968 chart that he was featuring.

‘Days’ has always been one of my most cherished records, and I have listened to it undoubtably thousands of times. I had a memorable life moment last November in London, walking from my hotel in Primrose Hill in the cold drizzling rain on a very grey Sunday to have late afternoon tea at my friend’s, when I heard it in the headphones, following Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’, played back to back on Radio 2. Being able to listen to the radio is a fascinating privilege not well known here in the States. This, my friends, was heaven.

As much as I loved it when released in summer ’68, and buying it at King Karol’s in NY on a summer excursion to see some bands, Jethro Tull with The Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East, I could never 100% enjoy it. I always felt so bitter that ‘Days’ got no airplay anywhere in the US and what a criminal shame it was that America was again being cheated out of such great musical culture by radio, a cancer that worsened year after year. No wonder we have what we have in our charts.

But some justice has been served, Ray Davies still performs and his great songs, like ‘Days’, get used in films etc. and covered. What would have happened if singles like this, and bands like The Small Faces or The Pretty Things had been given a chance back then. No question, things would have been very different here.

Manfred Mann

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann

Listen: If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann
If

Manfred Mann may have been the first rock band to successfully lose a lead singer, yet bounce back as popular as ever. Not once but twice. Therefore, there are several Manfred Mann lineups to write about. This was the first. Lead vocalist, Paul Jones, was from the blues blueprint prevalent at the time. His authenticity rings true to this day, as he still hosts one of the most popular and longest running BBC Radio 2 shows……about the blues.

This lineup released many greats. Despite ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ and ‘Sha La La’ being huge in ’64 – ’65, dependably wretched American radio just stopped playing their followups. It wasn’t possible to these ears that ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’ didn’t get traction in the States. Luckily, there were pockets of radio loyalty, and my hometown was one.

She Needs Company / Manfred Mann

Listen: She Needs Company / Manfred Mann
She

Wolf All American Survey 5-7-66

The very, very underplayed ‘She Needs Company’ was Top 5 on WOLF, see chart above. I foolishly passed up buying the only stock copy I’d ever seen at W.T. Grants on Salina Street for The Swinging Blue Jeans ‘Don’t Make Me Over’. Well, foolish is an unfair word given that record is life support necessary as well, it’s just a bit easier to find than a stock ‘She Needs Company’, which is plain and simple pretty impossible.

Thank God I had a few promo copies, as it took me until 2011 to find an elusive Manfred Mann stock.

Pretty Flamingo / Manfred Mann

Listen: Pretty Flamingo / Manfred Mann
Pretty

Some airplay reprieve was granted Manfred Mann as ‘Pretty Flamingo’ did well during the summer of ’66. I always thought it sounded better than just about any other record current at the time, so its BILLBOARD peak of #29 was rather unsatisfying. To Manfred Mann, on behalf of all the deaf programmers during the period, I apologize.

On a side note, check out the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. It’s a website that has attempted to gather and document charts positions from many local stations in the 60′s. It’s easy to use and unfortunately horribly addicting.

The Lovin’ Spoonful

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Listen: Do You Believe In Magic / The Lovin’ Spoonful
Do

If you don’t subscribe to Sirius radio in NYC, you might need to go to England to hear something like this in your car. It may be far but still beats driving around the US scouring for a decent radio station. Anyway, being in London last week meant I caught this on the air, and it sounded, hate to say it, magical.

The width and variety that BBC’s Radio 2 covers in a day puts shame to US programmers in general. Thankfully, you can stream their stations easily nowadays.

But once was a moment when that looked to be in jeopardy. Seems the BBC is still funded by UK residents, like a tax or some such thing. A few were quite up in arms that non-UK residents got to enjoy the benefit of their publicly funded network for free. I still worry that could mean a block for we US listeners. Yikes.

Every single The Lovin’ Spoonful ever recorded was equal in quality and timelessness to ‘Do You Believe In Magic’. This just happened to be the one that jarred my memory to the fact.

Womack & Womack

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Listen: Celebrate The World (Radio Edit) / Womack & Womack
Celebrate The World (Radio Edit) / Womack & Womack

I’m a huge fan of Sirius radio here in the US. Certainly compared to our totally tuckered terrestrial stations, it’s an oasis in a very dry desert. You see, Sirius, via it’s many channels, provides endless variety, with easily one hundred or so to pick from. But put the whole lot up against the UK’s BBC Radio 2, and even collectively, they can’t compete.

Not sure why or how, but every last presenter on BBC’s various stations pack more excitement and personality into their on-air style than many of those from Sirius in America. Here, there’s this persistent problem of a time warp delivery rut. Well, funny enough, not Bob Dylan. Nor most of Little Steven’s crew. And yes, Sirius does have Andrew Loog Oldham, but he kind of counts as English to me, clearly weened on UK radio.

Basically, my preference and the opinions above boil down to one thing. Variety. Not necessarily variety over that one hundred or so channel options, each with a narrow genre to offer, but as in programming variety within each show throughout the day.

Yes, Radio 2 has dedicated programs: Sounds Of The Sixties, Sounds Of The Seventies, specialty country or blues shows and such. But otherwise, each host and their producer pick a wide range of genres to mix within their respective daily time slots.

My absolute favorite being Janice Long. Having started with the BBC in ’82, it was on 6 Music that I first found a real affinity to her via The Dream Ticket, whereby she chose a deep, multi decade variety of live sessions from the station’s library, assembling them into a…dream ticket. In essence, a concert lineup one could only dream of.

Joining Radio 2 a few years back, there’s rarely a week goes by when I don’t listen to her most recent shows on demand, all archived for up to seven days. Never a dull moment and always a surprise or ten musically. Do yourself a favor.

Today, I did some Janice Long catching up, and once again, shook my head in happy disbelief. From The Honeybus, Ivor Culter, Alexis Korner and The Maytals, amongst many, to Womack & Womack, all in the span of a few programs from last week.

And not ‘Teardrops’ by Womack & Womack either. Instead ‘Celebrate The World’, closing track and fourth UK single from their flawless CONSCIENCE album. In England, this 7″ release made it to #14 in ’89, and was a perfect live performance finale, whereby the entire Womack clan would pile onstage for an extended ramp with the audience. Wow, those shows back in the day were so good.

Working for Island at the time, like most of the US staff, I found great frustration by the lack of radio and/or media support here for such a worthy album. Back in the UK, where it went platinum, this was not the case.

Well Janice Long gave ‘Celebrate The World’ a play on one of those shows I soundtracked my afternoon with today, and let me tell you, it sounded superb.

Cupid’s Inspiration

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

My World / Cupid’s Inspiration

My World / Cupid’s Inspiration

Listen: My World / Cupid’s Inspiration
My

Both a ridiculous band name and one I loved immediately. Seems there was a late 60′s music business formula: find a proper soulful voice, three or four other good looking guys, smart them up with some loud London clothes, get them some women’s haircuts and off you might go to the charts. Usually these were bands that actually had some chops but needed a break, so my guess is they sucked it in and went along. I would think The Marmalade and The Love Affair were guilty victims.

Cupid’s Inspiration had to have been just that. Vocalist Terry Rice-Milton could really sing. And they made a couple of singles (five in total were released) that were timeless in. ‘Yesterday Has Gone’ and this, it’s follow up.

Occasionally you hear them on BBC Radio 2. Dale Winton in particular played them often while he was still the presenter of PICK OF THE POPS.

Every time ‘My World’ comes on I just think it’s a perfect symphony.

The Walker Brothers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

walkerbrosshipuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipps, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

US Picture Sleeve: Front (above) / Back (below)

walkerbrosshippsb, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers
My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers

I will never forget the Friday night I walked into Two Guys Department store with my parents. As usual, I headed straight to the record department while they proceeded to do some weekly shopping. The singles were displayed all along the the tops of the album bins, each in their own metal rack holding about 25 copies. I wish I had photos.

There in brilliant full color, was the above Walker Brothers picture sleeved single, ‘My Ship Is Coming In’, a solid 25 copies freshly unboxed. I could hardly breathe. They looked fantastic in bulk. The sleeve just radiated about one hundred times more intensely than anything else in sight, like a messiah. I still get tingles looking at the cover. It brings me right back. I owned it minutes later.

I could not get home fast enough, freaking out in the dark car, holding this masterpiece but only getting to glimpse at it as we passed under traffic lights and street lamps. God knows how many times I played it that night. It was not guitar based British beat, but instead sounded like music grownups listened too. Yet clearly there was something addictive in it’s air. I decided then and there, I was going to love this record. That was that. I did then and I still do.

Years later Scott Walker would reveal that while all his contemporaries in London were modeling themselves after American blues greats, his attention was focused on becoming the next Eddie Fisher. How genius was this guy?

WalkerSunUKA, The Walker Brothers

walkerbrossunuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
wlakerbrossunusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers

The world was not ready for the followup to ‘My Ship Is Coming In’. Mine certainly wasn’t. How could The Walker Brothers possibly up the perfection of that record? Then along comes ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’, a flop a few years earlier for Franki Valli. He and The Four Seasons had loads of great records, and he’s no slouch in the vocal department. But Scott Walker he is not, no one is.

I swear, this record can still stop me in my tracks when it comes up on the ipod or BBC’s Radio 2. I heard it on the 60′s Sirius radio channel aboard a JetBlue flight recently. As diverse and truly exciting that the many other songs were, this just grabbed the prize unchallenged.

I saw Matt Pinfield the other day. He had Matt & Kim on his morning WRXP radio show, so I went along. Pinfield is the most kind hearted and passionate music fan, really knows his stuff, loves records. We worked together at Columbia and got connected at the hip. Somehow the subject of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’ came up. Almost in unison, we both blurted out nearly identical sentences.

“This may be the greatest single of all time.”

Deservedly, it spent a month at #1 in the UK. See the three consecutive NME charts below, reprinted from 40 YEARS OF THE NME CHARTS. Despite not one US TV appearance or live show, it did get played here and had a decent chart run, peaking at #13 in BILLBOARD. It should have, at least, gone Top 10 but given the many singles that never ever charted, there’s some contentment in it’s placing.

nme4_66, 40 Years Of The NME Charts

Jerry Lee Lewis

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

jerryleelewissmashep, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Sirius

Listen: High School Confidential / Jerry Lee Lewis JerryLeeLewisHigh.mp3

“Sounding as good as the day it was recorded”. Bob Dylan thinks so. Me too.

Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan’s THEME TIME RADIO program on Sirius? It is the best radio I have ever heard. Honestly, right up there with a lot of the BBC’s output through the years. Mind you, he has an army of researchers helping out, and credit is due there as well. For true, THEME TIME RADIO is simply worth the price of a Sirius subscription.

So yeah, he played this one the other day – well I heard it the other day – it could’ve been a repeat. I always hoped The Cramps would cover ‘High School Confidential’. They would have shredded it.

This is from a precious, four song, promo only 7′, sent round to radio and press when Smash signed him, and licensed some of his original Sun sides for a GOLDEN HITS package. It’s a beauty, right?

But can you imagine seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime? I saw him play New York about fifteen years ago, he’d signed to Sire at the time. I always say either you’re the real deal or you’re not, therefore age doesn’t really matter. Think, Little Richard vs Candlebox. And Jerry Lee Lewis is clearly the real deal. Obviously the stage show was not as physically chaotic as in the aforementioned heyday, but still he radiated a kind of ‘higher form of life’ glare.

Next day he turned up in the office to see Seymour Stein, who was just down the hall. The glare is even more intense up close, strange odor (not bad, but strange) and his skin was a grey-ish, lavender color. It was all just fantastic.

Paul Revere & The Raiders

Friday, October 16th, 2009

paulreverehim, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Mark Lindsay, Terry Melcher

Listen: Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be? / Paul Revere & The Raiders PaulRevere.mp3

Here’s the deal. They looked ridiculous, embarrassing really, but had a load of great singles – and Mark Lindsay wrote just about every one, either solo or with someone. Terry Melcher produced (Wikipedia him for a real story). Great songs are great songs. I’d actullly forgotten how much I loved this one – until hearing it on BBC Radio 2. Pathetic, a band who only ever had hits in the US gets more airplay in other countries than here.

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

sonnyboywilliamsonhelpme, Sonny Boy Williamson, Chess, Checker, Paul Jones, BBC 2

Listen: Help Me / Sonny Boy Williamson SonnyBoyHelp.mp3

I wonder if Plyrene Atkinson misses this single – or maybe she upgraded to a cleaner copy, preferring a more recent Checker label design. Yeah right. I loved this copy when I stumbled on it in a Greenpoint junk store. The basement was FULL of records. Still is – but it’s been seriously picked. This was in 2001, just before 9/11. I spent several weekends in that basement. No one was buying the records, as the guy had loads of great chachkas, furniture, kitchen items and clothes on the ground floor level. Very few even ventured into the basement. I supplied him with boxes of promo cd’s which were selling like hotcakes, so all the 45′s came my way first.

The name sticker on the label, which I would usually remove, became a romantic attraction to another time – when blues would sell to the nooks and crannies of America, truly becoming the folk music of it’s day.

I never loved this record until Paul Jones played it on his BBC Radio 2 program. How did I not ‘hear’ this one years earlier? Before the day of streaming and/or archived BBC content, Roger Armstrong would religiously record both the Paul Jones show and SOUNDS OF THE SIXTIES onto DATs every Saturday, then drop them in the mail. Talk about a friend.

Still a BBC 2 fixture, Paul Jones is certainly the voice of authority when it comes to the blues. ‘Help Me’ was, well, an RnB hit actually, peaking at #24 in April ’63. It sure does sound good in a 1959 Seeburg 222.

Love

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

My Little Red Book / Love

Listen: My Little Red Book / Love
My

7 And 7 Is / Love

Listen: 7 And 7 Is / Love
7

Love Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Arthur Lee

Stephanie Knows Who / Love

Listen: Stephanie Knows Who / Love
Stephanie

She Comes In Colors / Love

Listen: She Comes In Colors / Love
She

Orange Skies / Love

Listen: Orange Skies / Love
Orange

Que Vida / Love

Listen: Que Vida / Love
Que

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Listen: Alone Again Or / Love
Alone

Softly To Me / Love

Listen: Softly To Me / Love
Softly

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Listen: Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love
Your

LoveEverlastingUS, Love, Arthur Lee, Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow

The Everlasting First / Love

Listen: The Everlasting First / Love
The

What do Love have in common with The High Numbers, JJ Cale, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Mose Allison and Rockpile? Well, in this case, Tom Petty. He played them all, and more, on his Sirius/XM radio show, which I heard for the first time on the red eye from Seattle to New York Saturday night.

I don’t own a satellite capable device having been so disinterested in American radio for decades, and very bitter that it’s dummied down music as being a big part of culture in the US. Therefore figured it was more of the same. A few friends have, to be fair, tried convincing me otherwise. The very first time I heard it, on one of the now partnered networks, was in Kimberly Boley’s office at Sony. I asked her what she was listening to and she said satellite radio and that she loved it. I said sure but do they play The Cramps, just to throw a real wrench into the moment. She dialed up their station that most likely would, and The Cramps were playing that very second. Swear to God. I guess I should’ve taken it as a sign.

The flight was meant to be a time to finally get some rest. I’d been on Matt & Kim’s tour for several days and it had been non stop, stay awake. But this flight I’d earmarked as a sleeper. That was not meant to be. Spent the whole time flipping round these channels, then started jotting down some of the things I’d heard and kinda liked (The Soft Pack, Titus Andronicus), and some records I needed to look up once in the house to be sure I had (Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown, Titus Turner, Bobby Womack). It was a noticeable change hearing so much variety: Lemon Jelly, Roxy Music (two stations playing two different songs simultaneously), Mott The Hoople, Eurythmics, LCD Soundsystem, Joan Armatrading, Nick Drake, The Nice. It was endless. You see, there is room for everyone. What a democratic concept.

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed though: the tired, lazy, hokey US DJ presenter. Does a building need to fall on these people? Unlike the BBC, and Radio 1 in particular, that presentation is lightning fast sonically and annoucer-wise. So with the luxury of access to BBC stations (Radio 1, 2, 6, Radio London) via internet streaming and my new discovery of satellite, I think things are pretty tolerable out there. I’d get subscribed up if I ever drove anywhere.

Back to Tom Petty’s program. He played Love’s ’7 And 7 Is’ on this particular episode. Interestingly named, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Love. Many times, I crave hearing the music and thoroughly enjoy it. Other times, it sounds so lame, and twee, and overrated.

Some strong opposing opinions out there about Arthur Lee too. Met him the one time, and he was cool about doing the jukebox tab, but I was with Gary Umbo, a Love hardcore who I’m pretty sure Arthur knew and was friendly with. Undeniably some great singles though, and if you’re like me, it’s hard to forget the first time hearing ‘My Little Red Book’. It was a pretty big hit everywhere rightfully. Then ’7 and 7 Is’ came out, and that was the loudest cut record I’d ever heard. You can’t turn it down. Just try.

When I worked at Elektra in ’85, our mailroom guy Mark Cohen came down to my office telling me there was a closet that was about to be part of the renovation underway to create more office space. It was full of old chairs, cabinets, typewriters AND some boxes of old 45′s. Was I interested, they’ll be tossed otherwise.

It was a treasure trove. About 200 singles in all, and a virtual history of Elektra’s early 7′s. So many amazing things, I never separated the lot, kept them as they were. Loads of Tom Rush, The Voices Of East Harlem, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Beefeaters, Tim Buckley, plus a mixture of US and UK presses.

Every Love single was there, promos and stock, and some UK copies as well. Many are pictured here. Note the withdrawn copy of ‘Stephanie Knows Who’ / ‘Orange Skies’ (EK 45608). The catalog number was re-assigned as EK 45608 (REV). I’m guessing to indicate ‘revised’, replacing the A side with ‘She Comes In Colors’. I knew of the switch but wasn’t aware original copies had been pressed until that day.

Also, for some reason unknown as it wasn’t an Elektra master, the pile included a UK pressing of ‘The Everlasting First’. It was originally released in the US on Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow’s label. Although he was our chairman and boss at Elektra, he had no idea why the record was included there either. “Maybe I gave Holtzman a copy then, and yeah that is Jimi playing the lead”. Thankfully he didn’t reclaim it.

Not long after, the front desk somehow decided to forward through an irate Arthur Lee to my line. I pick up and he launched into a rage about unpaid royalties and how Elektra, and even I myself, were stealing from him, so much so that he had to move in with his aunt in Nashville or some such place. I was very unequipped to handle this one, so politely sent him through to Gary Casson in business affairs, where I’m sure the rampage ended abruptly.

SPARKS

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Listen:  Good Morning / Sparks

Listen: Good Morning / Sparks SparksGoodMorning.mp3

There’s so much I could say about Sparks. It would take volumes.

To put it all in a nutshell, they are basically a higher form of life. Been a fan since the beginning, followed them around the east coast when KIMONO MY HOUSE was current. Corinne loved them before me – so I got hooked. Been loyal ever since, and why not, they have never disappointed. In May of this year, they played all 20 of their albums, in full, over a 20 night run in London. I was unlucky enough to miss eighteen of them, but very lucky to see two, KIMONO MY HOUSE and PROPAGANDA. This all led up to playing the newest release, EXOTIC CREATURES OF THE DEEP in it’s entirety on the 21st night. By shear coincidence, I was in London with Matt & Kim at the time, and stayed a few days extra to catch those two shows. The current single ‘Good Morning’ was being played all over the English stations. How very civilized. I even awoke in the middle of the night and heard it on the clock radio I’d fallen asleep to bedside. As always, the lyrics are tremendous.

It’s absolutely my favorite single of the year. This version is a rule breaker for me, given it’s not on vinyl like every other record on the blog. For Sparks, I’m making an exception.

The above audio originates from the first UK radio spin ‘Good Morning’ received, via the Jonathan Ross Show, broadcast 5/10/08. It’s worth hearing for the intro and outro banter. Great stuff.