Monday, August 16, 2004


Radio Radio

Given the sorry state of radio it's amazing that I even bother listening, however, being too cheap to spring for satellite radio and getting occasionally bored with the fairly large CD collection in the car, there are moments when I'll simply surf the dial to see if anything grabs me and I can settle in for a listen. There are several classic rock stations in range during my normal travels, plus a few oldies stations, but the playlists are entirely predictable and it's only once in a while that I'll stop for longer than one song. Case in point, I was flipping between radio stations yesterday and "Little Bit Of Soul" came on; I haven't heard that one in ages, even though I have the vinyl. It was a fun listen for the less than two minutes the song ran, but then the oldies station degenerated into the twenty-four minutes of ads between songs that seems to be standard nowadays. The playlist generators (I shudder to use the term program directors, as I don't think that anyone with that title makes any such decisions nowadays) have turned thumbs down on a lot of great classic rock and soul music (think about it, when was the last time you heard an Otis Redding song other than "Dock Of The Bay", or a Yardbirds song on commercial radio?) but for some inane reason, they keep programming stuff that generates an instant station switch from most of my peers and myself.

Examples of instant channel changers for me include (in no particular order):

Elvis always pretty much left me cold. Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, now there was great music. I can tolerate some Elvis including "Hound Dog", "Jailhouse Rock" and of all things "The Wonder Of You" (the song is sappy but since I'm a huge James Burton fan I like it). But "In The Ghetto"? Pseudo-socially relevant crap from someone whose career was starting the final tailspin.

A staple of New York oldies radio, its only historical merit is that the group was a precursor of the Four Seasons. The lyrics are inane and the Fran Drescher background singers are painful.

Another New York oldies radio standard, it's an extremely annoying song by a bunch of junior high school girls about their principal. The hiccupping vocal style drives me up the wall (it ain't Buddy Holly)

Overplayed to death. Lots of other good Frankie Lymon material out there, like "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" but truth be told it all sounds the same.

The Four Seasons did some absolutely incredible records from 1964 to 1966 or '67 when they were on Philips, but their Vee-Jay stuff has aged very badly. The line about a "twist party" in Sherry is painfully dated, and frankly the arrangements of this era are last-gasp doo-wop.

Someone once mentioned that the Fireballs were supposedly a very hot band from West Texas, even better than the Crickets in their prime. This horrid little piece of wimp music sure puts the lie to it. Perhaps the lamest top ten hit ever - a line like "Espresso coffee tastes mighty good" makes my teeth hurt.

Anything by a Frankie or Bobby or other Dick Clark creation makes me retch.

I know, I know. Everyone reading this is going, he's a huge Beatles fan, yet he changes the radio station the instant "Love Me Do" comes on? Not that unusual. There are a couple of songs that consistently annoy most Beatles fans (for some reason "Mr. Moonlight" seems to top the list, but tell the truth I actually like that one), and "Love Me Do" is up there. Its simple song structure is incomprehensible especially in light of hindsight knowing that "Please Please Me" was coming next. And I do change the channel when I hear "Yesterday" only for reasons of massive overplay fatigue.

Paul Rothchild nailed when it he called this one cocktail music. I'll never understand how Ray Manzarek got such a crummy lounge tone on his keys on this one.

Overplayed in the same sense that Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is. Song has a certain cheesiness that grates.

Not my favorite Zep songs by a long shot, but somehow beloved by program directors. For what it's worth, I do listen to "Stairway To Heaven" when it comes on the radio.

Not a comprehensive list to be sure, there are others (any disco will result in an instant channel change, just for an example). This is just a list of the most egregious tracks.

It's back to work today, so tomorrow's posting might be a bit light depending on how much manure accumulated over vacation.


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