Thursday, August 07, 2014

Anatomy of a "Monday Music Club"

I thought it would be fun to go through and analyze how I put together a typical Monday Music Club each week. Anyone who knows me well enough realizes that getting radio shows together each week is very much an all-consuming hobby of mine, and I guess I’ll keep doing it as long as it’s enjoyable and fulfilling. I’ll save you the image of me sitting on the floor of my office, with tons of vinyl albums, CDs, and 45s piled all around. That is my workshop, though.

On my Sunday show, it’s always a mix of new and old, but there aren’t that many constraints or limits to what gets played. The main idea for me is to put together a mix that flows well, that includes different genres, moods, sounds that I hope will keep the listener interested. I try to throw a few familiar songs into the mix, as I realize that radio listeners need something they recognize every now and then as something to audibly grab onto.

If I err in any way programming-wise, it may be that my playlist in general is too obscure for the average listener who’s used to hearing only the biggest hits on a limited rotation. But this continual discovery of both old and new music is what keeps ME interested from week to week, so those programming choices obviously aren’t going to change any time soon. It’s not as if I have a programming consultant advising me!

When it comes to Monday Music Club, I set the limits a little tighter for myself, to give myself a structure to conform to. This in itself is kind of fun, to find, again, a good, interesting mix that nevertheless follows the rules I’ve set for the show.

And the “rules,” as I’ve mentioned at the beginning of every show are, most shows start with late 50s/early 60s music, and as the evening goes on, the music gets “newer,” passing through mid-to-late 60s, then into the early 70s through late 70s. Even though it probably doesn’t even get noticed by the listener, I like the idea of taking four hours to gradually reveal how the music changes over time through the early rock years to the slick studio tracks laid down in the late 70s. Plus, there’s large pockets of similar-sounding stuff from a small group of years that represent what listening to the radio might have sounded like from that particular period of time (filtered through one person’s mentality), and I think that’s kind of cool, too.

Of course, explaining this kind of stuff on the air will just not do, so I never try. I hope, after I do my introduction to the show, that the music speaks for itself.

So, warning: what follows is much more detail than necessary about some of my thoughts in putting together last Monday’s show. I guess I just wanted to show that there is a mind at work behind putting the music together, and that it’s not all just a random thing.

Beat ‘Em Bucs—Benny Benack
                *I’ve known this song for quite a while; I live Western Pennsylvania, after all. Picked it up a slightly scratchy vinyl copy at Jerry’s Records in Squirrel Hill this past weekend, if only for a souvenir! It’s a fun Dixieland-style number. This was actually played after the legal ID this week, but before the MMC’s theme song (Which is “I’ve Got a Woman” by Jimmy McGriff, by the way).

She’s Neat—Dale Wright with the Rock-Its 
                *Again, I’ve heard this goofy number before, but I downloaded it this past week for my collection (!)

Do Do Do—Commonwealth Jones
Breathless—Jerry Lee Lewis
                *Just continuing the rockabilly/early rock feel with these two selections. I think I liked the transition from Jerry Lee’s cold ending stinger going into the beginning of the James Brown tune. I had intended on making a bigger mention of James Brown this week because of the release of his biopic “Get on Up,” but it didn’t happen.

I’ll Go Crazy—James Brown 
Three Cool Cats—The Beatles
                *I usually try to get the Beatles in somewhere in the evening, and I’ve been neglecting their early stuff in the last few weeks. This was something really early from them, New Years’ Day 1962, George Harrison singing lead on a Leiber/Stoller tune for a Decca Records audition (And as we know, the company passed).

You Can’t Love ‘Em All—Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers
                *I have a ‘best-of’ from songwriters Leiber & Stoller, and I was considering playing the Solomon Burke version of this, which I already have. But I decided to see if there was somebody else from that era that did this song, so I went on Spotify to look. And I found a version I like better from Cliff Bennett, and it’s even more of a piece with the Beatles right next to it (they covered “Got to Get You Into My Life,” you know?), so I downloaded it.

Honest John—Johnny MacRae
                *Speaking of songwriter/producers, here’s one from Gary Paxton, from a best-of called “Hollywood Maverick” that I picked up in Monroeville a few weeks back. I had to run quick out to my car to get this disc – forgot to bring it in. (It was supposed to play before “Three Cool Cats.” But I like where it ended up on the playlist, anyway).

Percolator—Billy Joe & the Checkmates
                *I love the sound of the marimba on this…An instrument that doesn’t get featured much on hit singles!

You’re Looking Good—Dee Clark
Raindrops—Dee Clark
                *An extra one for Dee, with a familiar signpost for those hoping to hear something they know!

Move Over Darling—Doris Day
                *Which I thought was a nice segue from “Raindrops.” There aren’t too many Doris Day records that I think fold into 60s mixes that well – they’re just on the other side of too square for the most part. But this one is kind of in a Dionne Warwick, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield style. And I do like the slight campiness of it.

My Boy Lollipop—Millie Small 
Your Red Wagon—Mose Allison
El Watusi—Ray Barretto y su Charanga Moderna
                *Bluebeat, Jazz, Latin Jazz.

Tall Cool One—The Wailers
                *I had some extra time, and I pulled this one from my mega thumb drive of 50s and 60s hits. I know a few people who’ve said in the past they liked this one.

Here Comes My Baby—The Tremeloes
Gonna Get Along Without You Now—Tracey Dey
                *My favorite find of the week, a real stomper with a great vocal. I was probably trolling through my Billboard chart book to find something compatible with the Tremeloes.

Night Time—The Strangeloves
                *Continues that “Gonna Get Along…” groove.

And by this time, we’re solidly in mid-60s territory.


I’m a Nut—Leroy Pullins
Burma Shave—Roger Miller
                *Bought the Pullins 45 last weekend, and I have a kind of budget (RCA Camden) album from Roger Miller that I hadn’t played anything from in a while. These guys really do sound like each other.

Everybody Needs Somebody—James & Bobby Purify
                *The B-side of “I’m Your Puppet.”

Just a Little Bit—Roy Head
                *Picked from the Billboard chart for something different. What a great little number.

Respect—Aretha Franklin
                *As I said on the show, “Just a Little Bit” from Roy Head made me think of the famous refrain from Aretha’s big hit.

(I’m a) Roadrunner—Jr. Walker & the All-Stars
Gone, Gone, Gone—The Everly Brothers
                *Pulled last minute from the mega drive when I saw I had a little time to fill.

Go Girl Go—The Hombres
                *…which I thought segued nicely from the Everly Brothers. This is my beat-up 45 (which didn’t sound TOO bad) which is the B-side of “Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out).” I like the story of the girl who’s too good for her boyfriend, now that she’s made it as a go-go dancer on a tv show. Tongue in cheek and fun.

One Track Mind—The Knickerbockers
Somebody Find a New Love—The Dave Clark Five
Just a Little Misunderstanding—The Contours
You Misunderstand Me—The Buckinghams
Mr. Dieingly Sad—The Critters
                *The Contours track was pulled from the mega drive, Buckinghams was played off of YouTube (don’t tell). I could have gone for the hat trick by playing “Bad Misunderstanding” by the Critters instead of “Mr. Dieingly Sad,” but I liked the flow better to the latter song. And again, I know folks who like that one a lot, so that helps to tip the scales, too.

Let the Rain Be Me—The Magic Mushrooms
                *While surfing on YouTube at home for more obscure 60s stuff, I found this mellow one. Very nice.

Up on the Roof—The Cryan’ Shames
It Could Be We’re in Love—The Cryan’ Shames
                *And the mellow continues with these two tracks. They’re right next to each other on their album “A Scratch in the Sky,” and the segue is so nice there that I just played the CD on continuous mode. There are two versions of this that I know. This is the album version, where they make the curious choice of using the grand pause near the end of the song to insert a gentle tinkling of a bell, one of the group saying “That’s a nice bell you’ve got there,” and a girl giggling afterwards. (The single version doesn’t include that odd interlude). Still, I think it’s kind of charming. This is one of my favorite 60s songs, going all the way back to when as a child I was given a (used) cracked 45 of it by a relative (as well as others, but where did they all go to?)

Next Plane to London—The Rose Garden
The Letter—Joe Cocker
                *Two songs about getting on planes to see the beloved. Sometimes the connections are thematic as well as musical!

Mr. Sun—The Lettermen
Blessed is the Rain—Brooklyn Bridge
Mornin’ Glory—Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell
                *Sun and rain, and a “flower.” I liked how the first two have that kind of sunshiny-pop vibe, and some drama, too. I like their intensity. And then, the relaxed, easy, simple vibe of “Mornin’ Glory,” which I thought put Hour 2 to rest nicely.

And that brings us to basically early 70s time, which is kind of how the show gets naturally divided anyway in my mind. Hour 3 means, start making your way into 70s mode. (With exceptions, of course, depending on how things flow best. All about the flow, you know).


Son of a Preacher Man—Dusty Springfield
                *I had this planned, but I realized late that this would go nicely next to the Hawkins track because they have the same groove, so I put Dusty at the top of the hour. It would have worked right next to the Gentry/Campbell duet, too, if there wasn’t a break.

L.A. Memphis Tyler Texas—Dale Hawkins
Empty Pages—Traffic
                *And that easy R&B groove kind of gets a little jazzier with Traffic. Same feel, but more sophisticated.

Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love is Hot)—Donovan w/Jeff Beck Group
                *I forgot to make this change to my playlist. It was a last-minute add, but always a good choice, I think. Not even sure it went here, but it would have worked after “Empty Pages,” for sure.

Question—The Moody Blues
I’m Free—The Who
Ain’t That Cute—Doris Troy
She Took Me Higher—Jackie Lomax
                *Mainly brass R&B/rock, after the Moodies and the Who, though “I’m Free” gets us into that mood early.

Tuesday Heartbreak—Stevie Wonder
Street Parade—Earl King
                *Always nice to get Earl King to shuffle on in.

                *From their first album, which I find a little samey, and it wanders. It has “Sandman,” “A Horse with No Name,” and “I Need You,” and they’re the most interesting tracks. BUT, this is an uptempo number, yet acoustic, and that’s kind of what I wanted here as a contrast.

Worse Comes to Worst—Billy Joel
                *Last minute addition, from our small studio library of CDs, They do come in handy! As I told a friend, I always want to play “Captain Jack,” but if you have to censor the “stay at home and masturbate” line, what’s the point? (I thought maybe someday I’d make a funny edit that has some entirely unconnected phrase. If you’re going to futz with something, you might as well be creative).  “Worse” has “son of a bitch,” but I somehow feel that’s OK and doesn’t offend people these days.

M’Lady—Michel Pagliaro
                *Continuing the “Worse Comes to Worst” groove…only in French (apropos of nothing).

Come Running—Van Morrison
Jessica—The Allman Brothers Band
                *A quick one from Van, and right into the Allman Brothers. They’re in the same key, same tempo. Made for each other.


I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do—ABBA
No More Riders—The Hollies
I Wanna Get Next to You—Rose Royce
                *Probably the least continuity of the night, those first three songs, though they’re good songs, and I like them a lot. I often feel that the connective song tissue starts to break down in the 4th hour, and that I’m more reliant on hit singles and less on more interesting album tracks or non-charters. Not sure why this is, but that’s often the way it shakes out.

It’s Alright—The Trammps
Shake Your Rump to the Funk—The Bar-Kays
Boogie Nights—Heatwave
You’re the Love—Seals & Crofts
                *A nice, dancey tempo, sustained through these four songs. “Shake Your Rump” is one I’ve never played on any of my shows. Lots of fun. And the Trammps 45 was purchased last weekend just on a whim.

Swimming Song—Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Help Is On Its Way—Little River Band
                *Similar feel. I don’t have a lot of Little River Band in my collection, surprisingly, though they had a lot of hits. Another Jerry’s Records purchase.

Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)—The Jacksons
Part of the Plan—Dan Fogelberg
                *Fogelberg, last minute from the mega drive.

Breaking Away—Balance
                *A great lost hit from ’81.

Magnet and Steel—Walter Egan
Show Me the Way—Peter Frampton
Stranger in My Home Town—Foghat
Shake It—Ian Matthews
                *I try to get out of the way for the next DJ, so I almost always load stuff into iTunes to play out the end of the show. My main criterion for this is, what do I have from the late 70s/early 80s that I can copy into iTunes? Nothing too mysterious here.

*2 more weeks to go for Monday Music Club this summer!

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