Tuesday, April 30, 2013


APRIL 1, 2013
"April Fools" performed by Rufus Wainwright
"The Fool Sings Without Any Song" performed by The Chamber Strings
"Description Of A Fool" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Fool In The Rain" performed by Led Zeppelin
"Ship Of Fools" performed by World Party
"Fool To Cry" performed by The Rolling Stones
"Foolin'" performed by Def Leppard
"Everybody Plays The Fool" performed by The Main Ingredient
"The Fool On The Hill" performed by The Beatles

APRIL 2, 2013
"Election Day" performed by Arcadia"

"European Me"
"New Town Velocity"
"The Messenger"

APRIL 4, 2013
"BOOMSTRATUS" (rehearsal) performed by Prince & 3rd Eye Girl
"Lady (live)" performed by D'Angelo and Questlove

APRIL 5, 2013
"April 5th" performed by Talk Talk
"Go Easy" performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"The Day Before The Day" performed by Dido
"Lonely Soul" performed by UNKLE
"Dust" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Keep Me In Your Heart" performed by Warren Zevon

APRIL 10, 2013
"Cup Of Coffee" performed by Garbage
"Big Wheels" performed by Electric Light Orchestra
"The Rain" performed by Oran "Juice" Jones
"Umbrella Man" performed by Utopia

APRIL 13, 2013
"FIXURLIFEUP" performed by Prince & 3rd Eye Girl   WSPC PREMIERE

APRIL 14, 2013
"My God Is The Sun" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age  WSPC PREMIERE

APRIL 15, 2013
"Taxman" performed by The Beatles
"Wall Street Shuffle" performed by 10cc
"Wizard Of Finance" performed by Parliament
"I'm Broke" performed by Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears
"Money Won't Change You" performed by James Brown
"Ain't Nothing Goin' On But The Rent" performed by Gwen Guthrie
"Money" performed by The Flying Lizards
"Friday Night, August 14th" performed by Funkadelic
"Taxman, Mr. Thief" performed by Cheap Trick

APRIL 17, 2013
"Roscoe" performed by Midlake
"One For The Vine" performed by Genesis
"The Violet Hour" performed by The Civil Wars
"The Tale Of Dusty and Pistol Pete" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Sunday Afternoon" performed by Rachael Yamagata
"Volcano" performed by Damien Rice with Lisa Hannigan
"Love Hurts" performed by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris
"Draggin' Around" performed by Rilo Kiley

APRIL 18, 2013
"Because The Night" performed by Garbage and Screaming Females
"Ballet For A Rainy Day"/"1000 Umbrellas" performed by XTC
"Tangram Set 1" performed by Tangerine Dream
"I'll Take The Rain" performed by R.E.M.
"Because The Night" performed by Patti Smith

APRIL 19, 2013
"Sometimes It Snows In April" performed by Prince and the Revolution

APRIL 20, 2013
"Cool" performed by The Time
"Hot You're Cool" performed by General Public
"Cool" from "West Side Story"

"So It Goes"
"Little Hitler"
"No Reason"

"Pimps Don't Cry" performed by Cee-Lo Green with Eva Mendes & Jon Brion
"I'm A Bad Man" performed by Juicy Bananas
"The Collector" performed by Nine Inch Nails
"Alien Days" performed by MGMT  WSPC PREMIERE
"Get Lucky" performed by Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers  WSPC PREMIERE

APRIL 21, 2013
"The Weight" performed by Wilco, Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe

APRIL 22, 2013

"Back To The Wall"
"Pleasure and Pain"
"Boys In Town"
"Only Lonely"
"I'm On Your Side"
"Ring Me Up"
"I Touch Myself"

"Mother Nature's Son" performed by The Beatles
"Fields Of Joy" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)" performed by Marvin Gaye
"Nature Boy" performed by Nat "King" Cole
"(Nothing) But Flowers" performed by Talking Heads
"Garden Of Earthly Delights" performed by XTC
"River Of Orchids" performed by XTC 
"Gaya's Eyes" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Share The Land" performed by The Guess Who
"One World (Not Three)" performed by The Police
"Sun Is Shining" performed by Bob Marley
"Planet Earth" performed by Duran Duran
"Flower Girl" performed by The Cowsills
"Air" from the motion picture "Hair"
"Fat Old Sun" performed by David Gilmour
"Down To Earth" performed by Peter Gabriel

APRIL 25, 2013
"Too Young" performed by Phoenix
"That Is Why" performed by Jellyfish
"Haitian Divorce" performed by Steely Dan
"Siberian Breaks" performed by MGMT
"Walk Away Renee" performed by The Left Banke

"Collide-A-Scope" performed by Todd Rundgren
"I'll Take You There" performed by David Bowie
"When It's All Over" performed by Alicia Keys
"When My Train Pulls In" performed by Gary Clark Jr.

APRIL 26, 2013

"Welcome To The World Of Plastic Beach"
"Rhinestone Eyes"
"On Melancholy Hill"
"Superfast Jellyfish"

APRIL 27, 2013
"The Warmth Of The Sun" performed by The Beach Boys
"Happier Than The Morning Sun" performed by Stevie Wonder
"Sunshine" performed by World Party
"Sunny" performed by Bobby Hebb
"Sun Blows Up Today" performed by The Flaming Lips

"In A Sentimental Mood" performed by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
"Recollections" performed by Miles Davis
"Love Is Green" performed by Jeff Beck

APRIL 28, 2013
"Earl Gray" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Oscillate Wildly" performed by The Smiths
"Something To Remember You By" performed by Keith Jarrett

APRIL 29, 2013
"And You And I" performed by Yes
"The Shadow Of Your Smile" performed by The Dexter Gordon Quartet
"Hurdy Gurdy Glissando" performed by Steve Hillage with Utopia
"Athol-Brose" performed by Cocteau Twins
"Beautiful Struggle" performed by Talib Kweli

APRIL 30, 2013
"Lost Verses" performed by Sun Kil Moon
"From The Beginning" performed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
"The Trapeze Swinger" performed by Iron and Wine
"Moving On" performed by The Dream Academy
"A Lifetime" performed by PM Dawn
"The Ballad Of El Goodo" performed by Big Star

Sunday, April 28, 2013


This posting was originally written August 5, 2011. 

Composed and Performed by Jen Hannah

As with so many millions of television viewers, there was once a time when I became more than a little fascinated with the ratings juggernaut known as “American Idol.”

While the songs performed on that program as well as the young people who sang them largely consisted of music that I would not ever purchase, I was indeed and enormously entertained. Moreso, I was fascinated with the process of this program that put these young singers through all manner of grueling vocal trials in order to produce a “major new talent.” Try to conceptualize the amount of second guessing that has to take place on a program like that one as the producers are attempting to categorize some previously unknown singer into some artist that supposedly absolutely anyone could enjoy…and of course, buy their albums. I watched and watched, seeing these singers try to emulate what I believe they and the producers felt to be the current sound and sensibility necessary to carry them to the season finale triumph and gold records forevermore. Because of that, and despite some signers I felt to be truly talented, I found, to my ears, a tremendous lack of soul, warmth and honesty in so many of the performances. There was so much caterwauling, so many high notes, so much over-singing that it was like watching vocal dress-up or something akin to that. And one night, as yet another female singer whipped herself into a shrieking emotionless frenzy, I thought to myself, “If Karen Carpenter, Carole King, Olivia Newton-John or even Joni Mitchell arrived on the scene today, they would never make it on this show.” This is what the 12-octave range of Mariah Carey has wrought.

I realize that for an album review, this may be an unusual way for me to begin but trust me, dear readers, there was a point to that preamble. Through a friend, I recently received a copy of “Grateful,” the debut album from singer/songwriter Jen Hannah. Upon the first couple of listens, my initial impression was that the album felt to be the antithesis or even the antidote to all of the showboating contained within the overwrought singing that has run rampant over our airwaves for so long now. While I have nothing against the likes of Mary J. Blige, for instance, there is only ONE of her and I fear that aspiring singers and even some established artists haven’t realized that one could achieve more with profoundly less and that just because one can hit every note within the octave scale does not necessarily mean that they should. Jen Hannah not only achieves so much more with less, every note throughout this precious, quiet album feels meticulously arranged, exceedingly well conceived, lyrically meditative, lushly produced without becoming overly fussy with studio wizardry and then, most of all, there is the continuously expressive warmth of Hannah’s voice which serves as the album’s focal point and rock solid center.

“Grateful” opens with the track “Anything Is Possible” which begins with the sound of Hannah strumming a ukulele and asking the question, “What’s your dream that sometimes feels impossible?” From that moment, the song builds and feels like it is the album’s mission statement as “Grateful” is not only the culmination of this particular artist’s dreams but also, what I am perceiving to be her hopes for all who have chosen to listen. Hannah desires that we all follow suit with our own respective dreams and deepest, secret desires. The musicality of the track reflects this gentle call to the spirit as instrumentation of percussion, violin, additional vocals and even handclaps rise to carry us along this inner journey which is designed to inspire. When she sings “Believe!” you believe that she means it.

“Grateful” is an album of pure and purposeful gentleness. With appropriately uncluttered instrumentation, on which Hannah accompanies herself on guitar, piano and ukulele along with other musicians, “Grateful” is presented almost as a song cycle of non-denominational and non-dogmatic spirituality and intensely focused self-awareness. The album’s 10 tracks, entirely composed by Hannah, are selections whose lyrical perspective can shift and change easily yet always find a consistent and strong emotional center and gravity. And throughout the entirety of the album, all roads lead back to Hannah’s voice, which is warm, inviting, rich, clean, and clear. Yet, it is also a voice that instantly took me back to singers like Karen Carpenter and Carole King (this album sometimes reminded me of Kings classic “Tapestry” album) or more recent equivalents like Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn or even Dido. These are deceptively simple voices that sing deceptively simple songs but actually contain an ocean’s worth of complexity. The songs of “Grateful” could be addressed from Mother to child, lover to lover, one fragile human soul to another or the inner spirit to itself.

Hannah’s vocals are, by turns, soothing and maternal (the lullaby sounding “Cradle You”), sneakily seductive (the Brazilian sounding “You Showed Up”), ethereal (“Peace Be Still”), tenderly mournful (“Be Love”) and even epic (“You Have It All,” the seven minute closer). My favorite tracks were the title track, which contains such a bittersweet wistfulness that plucked at my heartstrings without ever growing maudlin, twee, trite or even corny. “Peace Be Still,” for me was the album’s standout track, an especially strong feat as the song is the albums sparsest. Musically, Hannah accomplished the tricky feat of making the silence in between the actual notes and her voice musical. That track reminded me greatly of Joni Mitchell’s more challenging and jaw dropping work during the 1970s. Or even a track that could arrive from one of Peter Gabriel’s more interior moments.

Truth be told, “Grateful” is not the type of album that I typically gravitate towards as my rock and roll heart musically leads me down different roads. Music always chooses you yet at times, you just may need a little push to discover new sounds you would miss otherwise. “Grateful” is indeed one of those albums for me and after having listened to it a few times, I have found myself willingly retrieving it for re-plays which have proven to be continuously rewarding. Jen Hannah has created a special kind of album. This is early morning music, the kind that accompanies a sunrise. This is music for the spirit. Music that is calm, flows evenly, caresses and soothes yet also demands the fullest of you attention. “Grateful” is an album meant to engage with you, it is not meant to be listened to passively and it is not polite dinner music. Jen Hannah clearly possesses an artistic vision as well as a message to share and therefore, her music is created to be defiantly heard. It is music that captivates and continuously reveals itself to carry an emotional power that was unexpected.

“Grateful,” composed and performed by Jen Hannah, is a contemplative album that demands the fullest of your attention. And that voice! That voice! Hannah’s voice caught my ear immediately and it served as the anchor to a rewarding musical experience that those “American Idol” contestants could not even begin to touch.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Music and Lyrics by David Bowie
except "Boss Of Me" Music and Lyrics by David Bowie and Gerry Leonard
and "How Does The Grass Grow?" Music and Lyrics by David Bowie and Jerry Lordan
Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti
Released March 8, 2013

It was a musical event that was not meant to happen. Or at least, that what it seemed to be for a very long time.

Mysteriously, at the stroke of midnight on January 8, 2013, and David Bowie's birthday no less, the once so-called "Thin White Duke" announced that he would be releasing an album of all new material, his first since his album "Reality" (released September 16, 2003). I, as had so many of Bowie's fans, had their jaws collectively hit the pavement with this news because I had honestly felt that perhaps, David Bowie had since retired from the music business altogether. And frankly, who could blame him as this was an artist who had scaled the musical mountaintops over and again through a series of head spinning reinventions and chameleonic characterizations that have left listeners and artists endlessly enraptured and inspired for over 40 years. he had absolutely nothing left to prove to anyone and I firmly believe that not even one soul could begrudge him if he wanted to live out the remainder of his life completely out of the spotlight, public scrutiny and the desires of his generations of fans.

But, here he is...ten years later and after two years of secretive recording sessions with longtime producer Tony Visconti, Bowie has re-emerged with a loud, aggressive album that has completely belied any rumors of his possibly failing health and impending demise. If anything, "The Next Day" finds Bowie fiercely staring down his winter years in sublime acknowledgement as well as an inability to go away quietly.

For an artist that it as internationally known as David Bowie it still amazes me as to how unknowable he actually is, especially as he means and represents different things to different people and even generations. He may mean a host of things to those who grew up with his music as it originally appeared. And then, there are the people, quite a number of younger women whom I have met in my own life, who connected with David Bowie when they were small children as they watched the film fantasy "Labyrinth" (1986), his collaboration with Director Jim Henson, Producer George Lucas and written by Monty Python's Terry Jones. To them, Bowie's landmark work of the 1970s just did not exist at all.

As for me, when I was a child in the 1970s, David Bowie was a fascinating yet terrifying figure for me to behold as he really seemed to be one of those interstellar creatures he sang about. His impenetrable visage was just unreadable to me. And when he appeared on a Christmas special with Bing Crosby, that was the moment that confused me the most as he seemed to be so friendly and approachable and yet I still feared that he would soon shed his skin and eat poor Mr. Crosby under the Christmas tree.

By the time I was 14, "Let's Dance" (released April 14, 1983) was all over the airwaves and music video programs and while a tad less alien, his sense of style and cool was also just so unreachable and unattainable to us mere mortals. By some time in the 1990s, when Bowie was experiencing a creative rebirth beginning with "Black Tie, White Noise" (released April 5, 1993) and continuing onwards with "Outside" (released September 26, 1995), the brutally dense and dark collaboration with Brian Eno,  I finally began to undertake the full breadth of his musical legacy, realizing at long last his sheer greatness.

For every single one of us who has ever listened to and embraced the artistry of David Bowie, the songs, characters, images, sounds and especially the lyrics are crucially malleable. for all we know, he could be writing in a strikingly direct tone and we might have no idea of knowing it. Conversely, his most oblique and arcane lyrics could me his most open. With "The Next Day," I think that somehow, he has found a spot to exist in the middle while also making the experience so individualized for all listeners.

On a sonic level, the musical aesthetics of "The Next Day" are all forward thinking while also finding some sort of middle-ground between "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)" (released September 12, 1980) and "Heathen" (released June 11, 2002) plus the aforementioned "Reality," and with musical signposts from Bowie's cleverly placed along the way. The songs themselves are tightly written, containing as much music as possible into pieces that typically run between three and four minutes and Bowie's voice is at a superior level throughout, despite the ten year absence.

The music and lyrics are in virtual lockstep as they compliment and even conflict with each other. The title track opens the album with a tough, chugging groove as Bowie narrates a tale of what could be deathly departure ("Look into my eyes he tells her/ I'm gonna say goodbye, he says yeah..") and impending mortality ("Here am I/Not quite dying/My body left to rot in a hollow tree..."). "Where Are We Now?" finds Bowie in a rare melancholy, somber and meditative mood as he travels back through his old Berlin haunts. The soaring "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" gives us another exploration into Bowie's, and our very own, love/hate nature with fame and celebrity ("We will never be rid of these stars/But I hope they live forever"), now even more intensified through our massively increased exposure in the 21st century.

Throughout the album, Bowie continues to push backwards and forwards in time with tales of love, youth, violence, anti-war sentiments and the renewal of passion with the pounding "Love Is Lost," the harmonically grim "Valentine's Day," the appropriately spacey and almost Lennon-esque "I'd Rather Be High" and the instantly catchy "Boss Of Me." Additionally, I really love the sleazy cabaret funk of "Dirty Boys" immediately made me feel as if I was seated in some side street eastern European night club, where I hoped that I would not be seen. The propulsive rhythms and "la la la" choruses of "How Does The Grass Grow?" and "(You Will) Set The World On Fire" are energetic roof raisers. And I urge you to purchase the deluxe edition of the album (or double vinyl) which contains even more songs, including the showstopping album closer "I'll Take You There."

And take us there he does as David Bowie returns to us with an album that makes you feel as if you have really been somewhere. "The Next Day" is an album that David Bowie did not have to make and yet, it is an intensely purposeful and demanding work from an artist who has given to us more than we can possibly ever truly know and the arrival of an album with its level of excellence is a blessing for all of us, especially as we thought we would never hear from him again.

Perhaps the humorously ironic album cover art, which contains a title card strategically placed completely over the image from Bowie's classic "'Heroes'" (released October 14, 1977) album. As the songs of "The Next Day" function as sort of an existential time machine  hurling from past to present to hopes and fears of the future in a collection of moments, Bowie's journey mirrors the journey of every single listener as we travel through our own lives each and every day. The past, while being the past, is never obliterated. And with the future unknown, all we really do have is now, this very moment. Yet, how do we live onwards for today and the next day and the next?

While David Bowie does not supply us with the answers, and really how could he, he has given us the perfect soundtrack to do so.

Friday, April 19, 2013


As you read this entry, I highly suggest that you find a copy of the track "Chameleon," as performed by Herbie Hancock and can be found on the album "Head Hunters" (released October 13, 1973), and utilize it to provide you with the proper soundtrack.


Track 1: For the month of April, I celebrate the 36th birthday of "The Clash" (released April 8, 1977), the eponymously titled debut release from the "only band that matters."

Track 2: I also celebrate the 23rd birthday of Public Enemy's "Fear Of A Black Planet" (released April 10, 1990). Truth be told, I had never paid any attention to the hip hop and rap genre whatsoever through my own shortsightedness and self-centered sense of musical integrity, as I felt that songs made up of rhymes, synthetic beats and snatched pieces of music from existing sources was nothing but a cheat at best, and downright unimaginative musical theft at worst. And then, this day arrived...

I was a Junior in college, deep into my double majors of English and Communication Arts and of course, DJing at WLHA. While I had occasionally spun the track "Welcome To The Terrordome" (and had grudgingly liked it), I still was not convinced to PE's musical legitimacy. But friends of mine, who had been salivating over the then often delayed release of the album, had tried to convince me otherwise and passionately so. On the day the album was FINALLY released, I was heading back to my dorm from a class when I saw a fellow DJ racing up the gargantuan Bascom Hill with a cassette in his hand. It was the long awaited album, just purchased from one of State Street's then copious amounts of record stores, and he yelled excitedly over and again, "I GOT IT!!!! I GOT IT!!!!" I still silently scoffed, firmly unconvinced.

I returned to my dorm room and soon thereafter, there was a knock upon my door. My friend Sandor entered, also holding the just purchased album (on cassette) in hand. We talked and joked and then, he raced off for his next class, absentmindedly leaving the treasured cassette upon my desk. Coincidence or fate?

Having a large amount of time to myself before my next class, I decided to give the album a try in a "what the hell" moment. I listened to the entire thing.

Yes, I listened to the entire album, reading the enclosed lyrics along the way and with my mouth agape in astonishment. This album was nothing less than a musical firebomb with the sonic boom of Chuck D.'s voice and his extraordinary and peerless wordplay front and center combined with the sinister humor and asides from the notorious Flavor Flav jetting through the speakers. The production, arrangements and overall sound collage created and orchestrated by Terminator X and the Bomb Squad elevated the process of sampling to an unquestionable art form--it was, and remains, one of the best sounding albums I have ever experienced. Politically, it was an album that I may not have wanted, but it was one that I needed to hear as it instilled in me a newfound level of pride within myself and my race, a new sense of intellectualism and emotional resonance in what it means to be an African American in the 20th century. It taught me exactly how to see, love and understand my race in ways that I had not been taught before in quite the same way. It was the Black Nationalism and Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s made PRESENT, moving me from complacency to new consciousness. And all of that was accomplished over the span of 63 minutes and 21 seconds!

While I celebrate Public Enemy's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame this year as well as the 25th anniversary of their album "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" (released April 14, 1988), I am taking the time to honor "fear Of A Black Planet." As incendiary as it is enlightening, this album has become one of the finest I have ever heard...PERIOD! And frankly, we need them now more than ever!

Track 3: On the night of Sunday, April 7, 2013 at Madison's legendary Orpheum Theater on State Street, I was truly blessed to have been able to see a spectacular concert performed by Madison's very own musical heroes...GARBAGE!!

It turns out that the show I had seen was indeed a special one as the band was in the throes of the final week of their year long tour in support of their excellent album "Not Your Kind Of People" (released May 14, 2012), their first after a seven year hiatus. Garbage performed a thunderous (my first concert wearing ear plugs!), triumphant, victory lap of a homecoming show, and it was a blessing to have been able to behold, especially from my vantage point, standing not terribly far from the stage and able to see the band within a stretch of a stone's throw away.

It is really amazing to see a band perform at the end of a tour as opposed to the beginning. The chemistry between the band members of Duke Erikson (guitars, keyboards), Steve Marker (guitars, keyboards), Butch Vig (drums), Shirley Manson (vocals, frontwoman extraordinaire) and stellar support from former Jane's Addiction/future Nine Inch Nails bassist Eric Avery was ferociously tight as they heroically performed a stellar rock show.

In a way, their performance reminded me strongly of the Cheap Trick concert I saw at Madison's Barrymore Theater a couple of years ago. While the two bands obviously do not sound at all like each other, what they shared and showcased aside from their superior musicianship and even the towering presence of their respective lead singers, Garbage is a band that has got it where it counts the most: the songs! They played it all! One great song after another after another after another (as the set list pictured below can attest) and every selection not only celebrated the band's musical past, but also cemented the sheer validation of their present and hopes for an even more tremendous future.

I realized that night that Garbage is one of our GREAT bands. They are not simply a good one that has endured over time. But one whose superior songwriting craftsmanship, musicianship as well as the deepness of their bonds of friendship have steered them into musical glory. And being a drummer, my eyes were riveted upon the playing of Butch Vig, who is a BEAST on the skins!!

Track 4: Your favorite virtual radio station would be remiss if it did not properly take the time to honor the life, artistry and 67th birthday of living legend Al Green, which occurred on April 13, 2013. My life has been forever enriched by having heard his voice. Even when I was a small child and heard "Let's Stay Together" (single released 1971), I knew it was something special.

Track 5: One of the new releases currently spinning in the WSPC Listening Booth is the album "RKives" (released April 2, 2013), the final release from the now defunct indie band Rilo Kiley. This collection of 16 b-side singles, rare tracks and previously unreleased selections is a treasure trove of top flight songwriting from the band's chief songstress/lead vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Jenny Lewis, as well as equally strong work from guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Blake Sennett, that displays a musical diversity that often sounds like the best underground radio station you've never heard before...aside from this one, of course! Highly recommended from the DJ!


Track 6: "We're just brothers having fun!"
Those words are uttered by the masterful drummer Questlove at the opening of performance solely featuring himself and the inimitable D'Angelo, held on March 4, 2013 at the Brooklyn Bowl.

I have currently been listening to a bootleg (shhhhh!) copy of their incredible performance that felt surged with jazz coolness and felt so spontaneous yet was filled with the utmost precision as the two, sounding like a full band, played cover version of songs by Sly and the Family Stone, Prince, and Funkadelic while also delving into D'Angelo's own classics (set list pictured below). If you creep around cyberspace, you are certain to find your own copy to stream or download for yourselves (shhhh!!!!!!!shhhhh!!!!!). Regardless,  D's new album cannot come soon enough!!

Track 7-PART A: On April 10th, I was so happy to send virtual HAPPY 43rd BIRTHDAY greetings to Q-Tip, one of the most artistically forward thinking hip-hop artists we have been blessed to have. I'm very much looking forward to his upcoming release "The Last Zulu." Cheers to you!!

Track 7-PART B: In addition to Q-Tip's birthday, today I celebrate the 23rd birthday of one of hip-hop's greatest debut albums, from one of hip-hop's greatest bands-A Tribe Called Quest's "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths Of Rhythm" (released April 17, 1991) gave us Q-Tip, Phife, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi's grand entrance into the music world and we are all the better for having had them when we did. 

Track 8: On April 18th, I am deeply honored to virtually celebrate the 70th birthday of legendary drummer and Madison, WI resident Clyde Stubblefield. This is the man who had an extraordinary and ground breaking tenure as a member of James Brown's band during an especially fruitful and musically revolutionary period with songs like "Mother Popcorn," "Ain't It Funky Now," "There Was A Time," 'Sex Machine," the epic "Cold Sweat," and the roof raising "Say It Loud! I'm Black And I'm Proud!" Stubblefield created what is considered to be the most sampled drumbeat of all time, as his groove from James Brown's "Funky Drummer" (single released March 1970) has graced tracks from RUN-DMC, Ice T, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy all the way to artists like Sinead O'Connor and The Dream Academy. 

Stubblefield still performs around Madison to this day, has contributed his drums to Garbage's 1995 debut album and if you are fans of syndicated public radio host Michael Feldman's "Whad'ya Know?," you will hear Stubblefield jazz rhythms. May he continue to play behind the skins for years and years to come.

Track 9: And then, there is also some sad news to announce. Storm Thorgerson, a British graphic designer, passed away at the age of 69 on April 18th. Thorgerson created countless classic album art landscapes which can be eternally found upon works by Led Zeppelin, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Peter Gabriel, The Mars Volta, Muse, and most famously Pink Floyd, among others.

Thorgerson's surreal imagery was, and will always remain, iconic and as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour stated after the arrival of this news, "The artworks that he created for Pink Floyd from 1968 to the present day have been an inseparable part of our work." Yes. Inseparable. Beautifully, majestically, disturbingly, profoundly inseparable. May he rest in peace.

Track 10: This edition of WSPC's Liner Notes will close by returning to the very beginning of this posting as I celebrate the 73rd birthday of pianist, composer Herbie Hancock, which occurred on April 12th. Granted, this DJ is not terribly well versed in the musical language of jazz but to my Father's joy, I am learning and enjoying the latest journey in my lifelong musical education enormously. Hancock's legend cannot be overstated as his work with Miles Davis (alongside bassist Ron Carter, drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Wayne Shorter), as well as his own solo work where he pioneered forays into funk, fusion, rock, an acceptance of synthesizers and even film scoring composition can all attest so wondrously.

May his birthday signal another blessed trip around the sun, gracing us with his gifts and talents all along the way. 

And with that, this gatefold is closed...for now...


The art of the album is not solely contained within the music itself and the artists who create said music. For me, it is also housed deeply inside the physical album itself, from the lyric sheet, design and album artwork and most certainly, the liner notes.

Liner notes are actually one of my most favorite aspects of the album's artistry--something that has truly been lost within our digital era--because throughout my life, I have been so enthralled to read through the musician credits, the amounts of "Special Thanks" from the artist to whomever, and in some cases, actual notes from the artist or band themselves concerning information and inspirations about the songs as I listen to the music itself, feeling the words and sounds coalesce magically, seamlessly and completely.

For Synesthesia, I introduce you to a specialized series that is designed to approximate those liner notes by entitling this in the most obvious fashion. So...welcome to WSPC'S LINER NOTES!

This series may arrive once or twice a month and it will be a place of sheer exhalation for music I am currently listening to, birthday announcements of artists as well as recorded works, memorials for those who have passed on within the month and so on.

I hope that the enthusiasm and love contain within will be palpable to all of you and if anything I write about with honor inspires you to grab a record, cassette, or CD, or to turn on your radio (preferably satellite, public or student radio these days) or to perhaps race to your instrument of choice, that will make me so very, very happy.

Play onwards, dear listeners. Play on....

Monday, April 15, 2013


Music by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts  
Lyrics by Jim Seals
Produced by Louie Shelton
from the album Summer Breeze
single released August 1972

Jim Seals: Lead and backing vocals, saxophone, guitar
Dash Crofts: Lead and backing vocals, electric guitar
Larry Knechtel: Piano
Jim Gordon: Drums

What is your earliest musical memory?

I was born in 1969. My parents have long expressed the story to me about how when I was a baby, whenever I cried and was difficult to settle down into calmness, they would place Side Two of The Beatles' "Abbey Road" album and throughout that side long suite of gorgeously connected songs, I would indeed settle and soon fall asleep. Certainly, this is an experience of which I possess not even one memory, but I do believe burrowed itself deeply inside my DNA, only to be fully released years later, when the time was absolutely perfect for me to understand it.

Just a couple of years ago, my Father revealed to me that also when I was an infant, he would actually dance with me to The Delfonics' eternal slow jam from 1970, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)." Of course, this is also an experience of which I posses not even one memory, but when I heard this news, it was a story that made me fall in love with my Father all over again, completely reconfirming that this is the greatest man I have ever known.

While those two anecdotes do not begin to describe what I think may be my first true musical memory, it did indeed happen soon thereafter those events. In my house, music was a part of the every day fabric of life as it was ever present and always a source of joy. The music of the Motown era was always played and I do have faint memories of my parents enjoying Marvin Gaye's 1971 "What's Going On" album (one that I would embrace many years later) and certainly the ebullient sounds of The Jackson 5 were constant. But for something that I actually connected with through something purely inexplicable...well, there were two such memories that were truly powerful that occurred before I was even five years old. One of which I will save for a future date but for now, I wish to focus on the other and that is Seals and Crofts' slice of mellow gold, "Summer Breeze."

To this very day, when I hear those opening acoustic guitar notes, followed by the classic melody and the sounds of that toy piano, I am just taken back to the point where I was possibly three or four years old, sitting upon my parents' couch, holding the album jacket and somehow forming pictures in my mind based on the words that I was hearing. I tried to imagine what exactly "jasmine" even was. When they sing about the "arms that reach out to hold me," I visualized two cartoon arms reaching forwards to embrace.

But that chorus!!! Man, that chorus!!!! It was intoxicating and just somehting that absolutely never lasted as long as I wished that it would for I never wanted it to end. I also remember feeling a hint of sadness as the song crossed its musical bridge to the final set of lyrics because I knew that the magic was about to end. Thankfully, I was able to go back to the record player and start the experience all over again. And I did, thus beginning my penchant for playing beloved music ad nauseum!

Trust me, I am not sure if I knew of any other songs on that album...perhaps aside from the album's opening track "Hummingbird," which did weave a a certain spell. But, "Summer Breeze," to the very best of my musical meory, was the very first song that travelled through the ether and chose me.

How about you? What was your first musical memory? Think hard and deeply. WSPC's lines are open!

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Written, Produced & Performed by TODD RUNDGREN
Released April 9, 2013

It is more than fitting that my first official music posting would focus on the latest release from Todd Rundgren, a musical hero beyond muscial heroes and one third of my personal musical "Holy Trinity," with the other two thirds consisting of The Beatles and Prince. I have always said that the world would be a much better place if absolutely every single person on the planet knew at least one Todd Rundgren song, and not even the same song at that. But even so, and even after a staggering sense musical adventurousness and a creative odyssey that has endured him for over 40 years, people still present to me a confused or quizzical gaze of non-recognition whenever I mention his name.

Todd Rundgren is a musical pioneer in the greatest sense of the expression. He is a world class songwriter, one of rock's finest vocalists, a studio and technological wizard, guitar superman, multi-instrumental virtuoso, production and engineering master of the soundboard, a heart on sleeve romantic, brutal political satirist, and crucially possesses a "hope springs eternal" vision for a brighter and better utopian future for humanity. Within his vast catalog, no two albums are alike and he is boldly unafraid to toss musical curve balls to challenge even his most devoted fans. Patience, an open mind and heart and a sense of humor are definitely required.

At this time we arrive with "State," Rundgren's 24th studio release (and not counting the three albums recorded with his former band Nazz, the nine albums recorded with Utopia or the myriad of guest appearances and productions he oversaw throughout the years), is an album that is presented with the same passion and vision as the majority of his massive output and requires the same amount of committed attention from his audience. While the aesthetics of "State" exist in the similar synthetic technological spaces begun with "No World Order" (1993), the album is an uncharacteristically dark and even claustrophobic experience that feels as if you are falling down a sonic rabbit hole and emerging through the other side in an unfamiliar world--even though it is indeed the very world in which we all co-exist.

On the surface, the album may sound and feel like Rundgren's latest stab at electronica and dance music. But underneath the beats and rhythms, "State," on which Rundgren handles every single sound (aside from one verse sung by Rachel Haden) on his own, is an album of cultural commentary presented through a series of juxtapositions that always leave you off guard and upended. The nature of dance music is to create a sense of release but this album feels introspective and intensely so throughout. Songs that may begin as the latest track to get you onto the dance floor may be interrupted by blasts of metal guitars. Other tracks may lead you to think that you are about to hear something more industrial but then phase into something more airy. Rundgren's singing, which remains superior throughout, is never really quite locked into the beats he creates. His voice snakes around the beat, slides behind them, skates beside them, all the while conveying the sound of humanity trying to find its way in a more technological world.

This is immediately apparent on the album's eight minute plus opening track "Imagination," which begins with the percolating sounds of gently ethereal keyboards but is then shattered with the arrival of heavy drums and doom laden guitar power chords. "I am what I am and that's all that I am. I tell myself," Rundgren sings. "I have no demands. I have no plans to sell myself," he continues. Initially, that statement seems to be a perfect existence for such an idiosyncratic artist as he is but then his vocals bemoan the following: "Every day's the same old song." As his guitar begins to spiral through the electronic walls of sounds, his vocals begin to rage as Rundgren questions the nature of hell and death itself which may arrive through a lack of imagination, a fear of being unable to create as he has been able to do for so long. Will his creative well run dry and if it ever did, what would become of him, despite everything he has accomplished before?

The juxtapositions continue as the frivolous and dance floor ready "Serious" belies a bitter lyric that sounds like a follow up to his track "Mad" from the "Arena" (2008) album, and is augmented by guttural bass lines, an equally guttural talkbox guitar solo and warnings to stand "CLEAR!!"  The slinky "In My Mouth" could be suggesting something that is either lascivious or philosophical. The flowing ballad "Something From Nothing" meshes the necessity of faith against its utter uselessness and the jaunty "Party Liquor," which features sports arena chants and also seems to be borrowing its synth pattern from Rundgren's novelty classic "Bang The Drum All Day" (1982), unfolds a grim tale of alcoholic excess that ends with gang rape. The album's stunning conclusion (and one, which to my ears, seems to function as this album's "A Day In The Life") arrives with "Sir Reality," a track that opens with the strains of pouring liquid (perhaps the final bubbles from the horrific debauchery of "Party Liquor"), sobering you up as you face a world filled with Orwellian untruths ("All science is a ploy. A gun is just a toy. Man is born, not made. It's good to be afraid.") that are being touted as absolutes of 21st century reality.

Then, there is the strong ballad "Ping Me," which features the voicing of a solitary man who has pushed away all contact from humanity but deeply, urgently desires someone to contact him, ensuring him of their affection through a social media electronic tone. I think that my favorite track from the album just may be what seems to be its natural centerpiece, the dizzying "Collide-A-Scope," a track which sounds to me like humanity being hurled through the interstellar vortex at the end of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968), with its skittering drums, the return of those ethereal keyboards and Rundgren's soaring voice collecting and clashing together all of life's contradictions as he sings "I sleep, I wake. I'm real, I'm fake. I walk, I ride. I seek, I hide. I'm fast, I'm slow. I'm high, I'm low." But, as with all things Rundgren, there needs to be some sense of levity and leave it to Todd to discover the true feminist subtext to a current video game phenomenon in "Angry Bird," a track which sounds like it contains leftover sound effects from a "Space Invaders" arcade game. Check out the lyrics: "She's as mad as a soakin' chicken. At alert level orange. Some pig is trying to control her eggs. Time to take her revenge." For some bizarre reason, it all begins to make sense and I wonder if Todd is onto something that has eluded the masses as he is always ahead of the curve!

Todd Rundgren's "State" continues his left of center approach of utilizing the furthest reaches of technology and synthetic sounds to discuss our collective humanity and spiritual core. He has been there before through works like "Initiation" (1975), "Healing" (1981), "The Individualist" (1995), "Liars" (2004) and here we are again. Yet, this is no retread as our philosophical state (a ha!) of being is something to always be examined and re-examined. "State" finds Todd Rundgren working at the very peak of his creative powers and with no signs of drying up. While his releases have slowed down considerably since his superhuman prolific period during the 1970s and 1980s, "State" arrives as if it was a long awaited letter from a treasured friend, detailing how life has been treating him these days and somehow, he is all the while describing how life has been treating YOU as well.

So...how are you these days? What is the state of your existence in 2013? As you ponder, I urge you to grab a copy of this album and let the discussion with Todd Rundgren carry you away.

The juxtapositions of "State" continue if you even buy the deluxe version of the album which contains a second disc of Todd Rundgren performing selections from the entirety of his career with the Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam. After all of the electronics of "State," to be given another disc filled with strings, woodwinds, and brass, as well as the key instruments of a rock band, and all held together through the power of Rundgren's voice is truly special indeed!

Friday, April 12, 2013


"I am your D.J. I am what I play."
Lyrics by David Bowie  
Music by David Bowie, Brian Eno and Carlos Alomar
("D.J." from the album "LODGER" released May 18, 1979)

Such true words.

Now that Synesthesia has been released to the world, I would like to open this site with a similar tactic I utilized when I gave birth to my initial blogsite Savage Cinema and completely inspired by the 1996 film "Jerry Maguire," Written and Directed by Cameron Crowe, the celebrated writer, rock music journalist for Rolling Stone magazine and lifelong music fan: the mission statement.

My love for music is vast and everlasting. I could never imagine my life without it. Music has been with me since my arrival into the world and it has been an endless source of joy and inspiration, solace and release, introspection and exhalation ever since.

As my profile states, I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and throughout the entire breadth and scope of my formative years, music was always there for me. Radio stations and the mysterious disc jockeys opened up a universe to me. My life would have been profoundly emptier without the soul of WJPC and most especially, the rock and roll of AM radio that enveloped me on WLS? (All hail Tom Joyner and Larry Lujack, the two most influential DJs of my upbringing, as well as the childhood DJ fantasies that were only enhanced by religious viewings of "WKRP In Cincinatti.") By 1980, I discovered FM radio and again, I would have been lost without the rich musical tapestries found on WMET, WLUP ("The Loop"!), WCKG and to this day, WXRT 93.1 FM remains the best radio station that I have ever had the pleasure to listen to and every time I return to Chicago from Madison, my radio dial immediately goes there.

I came of age with the album and I will forever view the album as a piece of art, just as essential as the greatest paintings, sculptures, literature and films. I will forever cherish the time of my life when the act of listening was the event. Where there was just nothing else but the music. Some of my most favorite musical memories were forged during those periods when I would sit with the album jacket in hand, studying the images, lyrics and liner notes in front of me while the music itself burrowed its way into my soul.

I am a drummer and I began taking lessons as a small child. While I cannot remember the exact period when I started, by third grade I had a snare drum and not too long afterwards, a full drum kit. By the end of Middle School, I achieved some rock star dreams of being a member of a short lived school rock group originally named "The Generics" and forever more known as "Ground Zero" (complete with handmade band t-shirts, created in the school's art studio). I took to carrying my drum sticks in my jeans pocket and even now, I carry them nearly everywhere I go in my satchel, because...you just never know!

I became a full fledged DJ during my college years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's student radio station, WLHA-FM. I hosted a weekly three hour radio show on late Saturday nights (prime radio listening) for every single year barring my final semester, between 1987-1991 under the handle "Savage Scott," a high school nickname that I still utilize for purposes like this one. That time, in that musty smelling basement, surrounded by archaic equipment and powered by a booming half-watt of transmission, it was yet another childhood dream achieved. And believe me when I tell you that I miss it to this day.

Now, we arrive at Synesthesia, what I am calling the official blogsite of WSPC, a mythical radio station whose call letters bear my initials. Over the past few years, I have taken to playing virtual DJ upon my Facebook page, linking songs from You Tube and other sites to somehow create an approximation of what a radio show from me would sound like. I've had a blast doing this and it just makes my heart burst when someone responds to something that I have "played." The next logical extension of sharing my love of music led me to this point, to this new blogsite which I hope that you will visit from time to time.

I find writing about music to be very difficult, as it is something that is so ethereal to me. Writing about film is comparatively easier. Even so, with Synesthesia, I pledge to write about music with the exact same passion with which I write about film on Savage Cinema. I desire for Synesthesia to be a warm, inviting place that will hopefully engage you to think, listen and converse with me about music as excitedly as children do when they wax emphatically about sports heroes while trading baseball cards. For these musicians are heroes to me and I want this site to be a place of celebration and not criticism.

When I share my thoughts with you about an artist, album or piece of music, please do take my musings not so much as critical judgments but as your trusted friend and DJ who is just so, so excited about something he has heard that he just wants for you to hear it, experience it and hopefully love it just as much as he does.

Some postings may be lengthy. Others may not. It is still all so mysterious to me as to what this site could actually be, much like music itself.

But, I promise to write as best as I am able, hopefully inspiring you to take this musical journey with me.

Are you ready?  

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Throughout the entirety of my life, I have been blessed with a most curious condition.

Without any sense of reason, understanding or even control, I have been blissfully afflicted with the condition known as "Synesthesia," the ability to experience the visualization of colors when listening to music. I cannot really begin to explain to you how it occurs other than when I listen to music-generally-it just happens. I hear a song and colors swirl within my third eye or mind's eye of wherever it is that I am able to "see" colorful visions to accompany the music that I am listening to and experiencing. Some songs just sound like "red" to me. Others are "green," "blue," or "brown." Others are starkly blank while some are awash with every hue that you could imagine.

I assumed that when absolutely anyone listened to music, people shared this exact same experience and it was truly a surprise to learn that not everyone does. And now, I invite you to "SYNESTHESIA," a companion blogsite to "SAVAGE CINEMA." Where that site is completely devoted to writings about the art and artistry of the movies, this brand new site will be entirely devoted to the art and artistry of music, a lifelong passion that I adore even ore than the cinema. That admission may be of a big surprise to some of you considering how passionate I feel about the movies. But, truth be told, I do not watch movies every day. Or even every week. By contrasts, I listen to music every single day of my life and I cannot even begin to imagine my life without it. Furthermore, it just pains me to think that I won't even have enough life to listen to absolutely everything that my spirit wishes to hear and believe me, I want to hear it all.

While my full conception for SYNESTHESIA is presently hazy, I do wish to inform you that my commitment is to try and make it every bit as fulfilling, fun and as inclusive a virtual homebase as SAVAGE CINEMA has been. I will write about the albums I am currently listening to as well as the artists I love and cherish. Try not to think of these postings as "reviews," but more as the wide eyed and open hearted ravings and musings of a music fanatic who just wants to you to experience the same colors that he feels when he listens.

This is a journey of sound through words and I hope that you will enjoy travelling with me.

Plug in or grab your sticks. Place the needle into the groove or just press play. But do sing and play along...