Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

Random thoughts and observations from the past few days ...

We've been watching The T.A.M.I. Show quite a bit lately ... some OUTSTANDING performances by the likes of Lesley Gore and The Beach Boys (among many others) ... yet most of the attention seems to be focused on James Brown.
If you're one of those who've always wondered what all the excitement was about, THIS is the program to watch. "Electric" doesn't even begin to describe this performance.
Over the years, we've all seen the bits where he keeps being escorted off stage, wrapped in his cape, only to charge back out there to sing just a little bit more ... and honestly, during this T.A.M.I. performance, Brown drops to his knees more often than Monica Lewinsky ... in fact, this clip is SO crystal-clear thanks to impeccable restoration that you can actually see the shiny spots on his knees from all the time he spends there during this performance.
It's an absolutely AMAZING and riveting performance. If you haven't seen this yet, check your local PBS Station for future airings ... or, better yet, go out and BUY a copy of this DVD so you can watch it whenever you want. What a line-up:
Chuck Berry, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, Jan and Dean, Lesley Gore, The Barbarians, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones ... all performing together on the same stage ... it makes for great, repeated viewing as this film captures many of these acts in their absolute prime.

I'm sure that most of you by now have heard about the recent lawsuit filed by Pink Floyd against EMI Records for releasing their catalog for digital downloading. Pink Floyd maintained that they recorded ALBUMS ... a collection of work designed to be heard at one time, at one sitting ... and that by breaking these pieces of artistic work into individual song fragments "cheapened" their musical intention and integrity. This music simply wasn't designed to be "fragmented" ... and they didn't feel that the record company should be editing their art.
All valid points ... kudos to Pink Floyd for taking a stand, arguing their case and then actually winning this case for the good of the music.
Here in Chicago, The Drive, the premier Classic Rock Station, has recorded a nice little drop-in piece commending Pink Floyd for their action ... summing the whole thing up by stating that this is one of those RARE instances where "the love of music" outweighs "the love of money." A very powerful statement by a rock station that cares and has always put the music first.
Of course then they follow up this powerful piece by playing an isolated, individual track by Pink Floyd ... which completely defeats the entire purpose of what Pink Floyd went to court to do!!!
Cheers to The Drive for acknowledging and commending Pink Floyd's position and educating their listeners in the process ... jeers for completely missing the point!
(Did you guys REALLY not get this?!?!?)
Now granted, Pink Floyd's album cuts have played independently for the past 37 years on Classic Rock Radio Stations all over the country ... and, despite the fact that they were not a "singles" band ... (ALSO a big part of their argument in court) ... they did, in fact, place two singles in The National Top Ten, including their first hit single "Money" from their landmark album "The Dark Side Of The Moon", quickly approaching 800 weeks on Billboard's Album Chart, and "Another Brick In The Wall" from their classic LP "The Wall", a single that actually went all the way to #1 on Billboard's Singles Chart ... and stayed there for four consecutive weeks!!!
A bit hypocritical of The Drive to salute the band for standing up for their principles ... and then playing EXACTLY what that same band DIDN'T want the public to have access to play ... but there's no denying the impact these two albums had on the record-buying public.
(Now I'm off to watch "The Wizard Of Oz" with my very special Pink Floyd / Dark Side Of The Moon soundtrack!!! Gonna try to squeeze this in right after I watch The T.A.M.I. Show one more time!!!)

We've received a number of complaints recently from some of our local readers regarding the poor quality and limited choices of Chicagoland Radio these days ... many feel radio quality here in Chi-Town is at an all-time low ... so we've been doing more than our usual share of button-pushing lately trying to find some listening choices that we can recommend to our hometown readers.
Working in a "no radios allowed" enviornment (that's almost like being told you're not allowed to breath in any air for the next eight-to-ten hours for a music freak like me!), we've had to limit the bulk of our critiques to morning and afternoon drive ... but we HAVE found a few programs that we enjoy listening to in the car these days.
I've always enjoyed our FH Buddy Jim Shea's morning show on Y103.9 but unfortunately he's out of listening range after the first ten minutes in the car (and the static is SO bad that even trying to listen through it has become virtually impossible), so we've heard less and less of his program lately. (We WILL be tuning in tomorrow, however, to hear his interview with Tommy Smothers ... guess I'll be getting into a work a little bit later than usual on Thursday!!! lol)
Always big on "appointment radio", I try not to miss "Smackdown With Showbiz Shelley" over at B-96 every morning between 7:15 and 7:20 ... a listener goes up against resident show-biz expert Shelley on five Pop Culture Questions of the day ... where even the losers win great prizes. (Good thing since Shelley's record is something like 74-2 as of this morning!!! lol)
The most consistently entertaining program I've found, however, is Valentine in the Morning at (of all places) The Lite, 93.9. Valentine has a very likable demeanor, plays GREAT adult contemporary music in the morning (I have a whole new appreciation for some of the current hits of the day ... once you weed out all the angry rap and hip-hop crap, there are some REALLY good pop songs on the radio again!), and he always seems to hit on a topic that interests not only me but the dozens of other listeners who call in every day to voice their own personal experiences regarding whatever buzz he's got going on that morning. Seriously, give it a listen ... I haven't popped in a CD in weeks now ... and that's really saying something.
At the OTHER end of the spectrum, however, is Dave Fogel, the new morning guy over at WLS-FM, (94.7), who is, without a doubt the WORST morning man EVER in the history of WLS Radio, AM or FM ... his program truly is unlistenable. (Other True Oldies Channel listeners nationwide and worldwide get Scott Shannon 24/7 over the Internet ... although Scott, too, has been missing from the airwaves more often lately, working on so many other projects. When I am able to listen during the daytime hours of 10 am - 2 pm, it's a pretty safe bet that Shannon's on my radio, alternating with Bob Stroud over at the aforementioned Drive (97.9) when Scott goes into his long commercial breaks or plays the same frickin' songs I've already heard eight times this week again ... remember when The True Oldies Channel first started and they boasted a playlist of something like 1800 songs? I swear they're back down to the same 200-300 that everybody else plays these days, other than some killer listener requests, an occassional novelty tune or instrumental or "The Cheezy Easy Listening Song Of The Day" which THIS week featured "Old Rivers" by ORIGINAL rapper Walter Brennan!)
Speaking of Oldies Requests, there isn't ANYONE better on the Chicagoland dial than Jeff James over at Y103.9 ... I swear Jeff is determined to play every single record in his personal collection and, as such, we are treated to ALL kinds of goodies that don't typically receive airplay. He does the "All Request Live Drive At Five" but his regular program is also filled with oldies rarities, heavy on The Forgotten Hits, as is his Saturday Night Live At The Seventies program, featuring nothing but '70's music (including some that I'VE never even heard before!!!)
Click here: Jeff James 3pm-7pm, Saturdays 7p-Midnight - Y103.9
Evenings we have a great choice of Dick Biondi on WLS-FM (again playing tracks you haven't heard on the radio for 30-40 years ... although admitedly some for very good reason!!!) or Tom Kent at Y103.9, always entertaining, quick on the banter with all the listeners who call in their requests and just a fun guy to listen to.
Chicago Radio is better than you think ... if you simply know when and where to listen. Hopefully some of our local readers will check out our choices and get back to us with some positive listening experiences. All these stations have "Listen Live" links on their websites or can be tuned in at the frequencies listed above.