94 episodes

We go track by track through the underbelly of music history using research and trivia to locate the roots of our obsession with vinyl records. Proud part of Pantheon - the podcast network for music lovers.

Highway Hi-Fi Podcast Ryan & Joe

    • Music

We go track by track through the underbelly of music history using research and trivia to locate the roots of our obsession with vinyl records. Proud part of Pantheon - the podcast network for music lovers.

    The Music of Spaghetti Westerns (Episode 92)

    The Music of Spaghetti Westerns (Episode 92)

    In this episode, we track the legacy of the music of the grittiest of film styles. Scores of scores that are riddled with bullet holes, whiskey bottles, scattered cards, wanted posters, and bloodstains. Tunes that put a bounty on your mind and will ride you down in the desert. So, saddle up your pony and load your six-gun. Down that bottle and kiss your senoritas farewell, Prepare yourself for double-crosses, and double-double-crosses. Get another coffin ready. Today, we’re gunning down the history of Spaghetti Western Music. 

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 2 hrs 24 min
    Famously Bad Musicians (Episode 91)

    Famously Bad Musicians (Episode 91)

    Nobody intentionally builds cathedrals to mediocrity. Music criticism, and really society in general, is often preoccupied with defining, declaring, and debating superlatives by using any means at their disposal, subjective to scientific. Look at the vast array of books, articles, lists, blog posts, and podcasts dedicated to rock’s most important bands or the world’s greatest albums, or the first true trip-hop song, or even the musician with the most substantial mustache. We seemingly have a compulsive need to declare a winner. To pin an imaginary medal for a make-believe achievement of unquantifiable greatness. 
    What we rarely do is look to the opposite side of the bell curve. To the outliers at the bottom, that is equally rare as their counterpoints at the apex, but not nearly given as much consideration for how unique they truly are. Those who stand out because of their outstanding failure and shortcomings. The best of the worst. The dregs of the entertainment community.
    In this episode, we are going to explore the pop stars who found fans in spite of (or perhaps because of) their gross musical incompetence and who were demonstratively aesthetically just plain bad. The small handful of musicians who would be, under all circumstances, considered conventionally terrible at music yet manage to attain success. Those who through sheer will or perhaps complete ignorance managed to make a name for themselves. And those who were exploited, mocked, and enjoyed ironically but still fought to the top.
    We seek to understand first what the motive is behind their drive? Were they sincere? Delusional? We’re they okay being a novelty and laughing along with their hecklers? Did they even know it was happening? Or did they just want to cash in by any means at their disposal? And secondly, we explore the motive of their audience. Did these people truly enjoy these exhibitions of atrocity much like watching a train wreck? Or did they get off on holding this secret over an oblivious performer? And finally what sort of unhealthy dynamic is formed from the strange relationship of the two.

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 1 hr 53 min
    Bagpipers at the Gates of Dawn (Episode 90)

    Bagpipers at the Gates of Dawn (Episode 90)

    Bagpipes are a sonorous and ceaseless instrument. Almost comically so. The traditional Scottish Bagpipe is the loudest unamplified instrument known to man. Decibel levels range upwards of 110, which puts them far closer to thunderclaps and power tools than pianos and oboes. And if the deafening sound doesn’t get you, then the constancy of its noise certainly will. The chanter of a bagpipe is open, which means that once a piper has used the blow stick to fill the bag, the instrument cannot (and will not) be silenced until all the air is released. The spectacular implacable multi-dimensional soundscapes made by a stand of pipes are typically more unleashed than controlled. In fact, it requires technical playing to create an allusion of articulation and tone accents. In essence, the player bends to the will of the instrument, not the other way around...its the anti-Theremin. As James Reid, Bill Millin, and John Cale can all attest, the bagpipe is a fierce musical weapon. The power seems to be a tempting inclusion to engorge the depths of songcraft, yet, there have been so few popular musical artists who have attempted to integrate bagpipes into their songs. Even fewer used bagpipes on a regular basis.

    In today’s episode, we are going to explore the tenuous relationship between the sack and the song. To find the brave souls who marched into the mainstream with nothing but pipes, pride, provocations, and piercing pandemonium. We are going to lift the kilt on one of the world’s most maligned and misunderstood music-makers. So, take a deep breath and blow as hard as you can, squeeze your bag tightly, finger your chanter nimbly, and don’t stop until you or your audience passes out….because we are startin’ to tartan. Today, bagpipes in popular music. 

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 1 hr 47 min
    Non-Holiday Holiday Show! (Episode 89)

    Non-Holiday Holiday Show! (Episode 89)

    It’s that time of year again, where we get pretty sick of hearing about Christmas. For this, unbelievably, our fourth Christmas episode we are going to carry on the tradition of taking an episode to talk about some of the weirder, smaller stories that we’ve wanted to cover, but wouldn’t fit in with a full-length turntable talk. A veritable cornucopia of record oddities. So, sit back and get ready to have your stockings stuffed with some fascinating tales of rock star mishaps and vinyl vanities. Stoke your fire, spike your eggnog, and don your winter’s cap, cause you’re about to be visited by the ghost of music history’s past.
    In this episode, we have stories about Adriano Celentano, Eduard Khil, Halyx, Computer Data on Vinyl, Dr. Arthur Lintgen, and Gary S. Paxton. Join us, won't you?

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 1 hr 40 min
    Puppet Records: Records for Dummies (Episode 88)

    Puppet Records: Records for Dummies (Episode 88)

    In the early 20th century, a puppet fervor slowly crept across the America, like rust on a Chevy Nova, as travelling shows made puppeteers into full fledge celebrities, particularly the self-proclaimed “America’s Puppet Master” Tony Sarg who was instrumental in creating visually appealing versions of classic children’s tales and bringing to life puppets in live action and animated films. Concurrently, ventriloquism acts were breaking from music halls and vaudeville shows to find superstardom led by duos of Arthur Prince and Sailor Jimmy, the Great Lester and Frank Byron Jr., and, of course, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. America got wood for talking wood. 
    The rise of radio, television, and film provided even broader platforms for puppeteers and ventriloquists to spread their infectious amusements. In a world before special effects, making inanimate objects come alive felt magical and more real than still nascent animation. It was children’s television that really embraced puppets as Howdy Doody and Burr Tillstrom's Kukla and Ollie were beamed directly into the impressionable minds of the baby boomers. Lambchop lovin’ Shari Lewis, sweater-clad Fred Rogers, and googly eyed Jim Henson all followed suit shortly after making themselves and their creations into international superstars.
    At about the same nuclear age time frame, you couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a socially awkward (and probably sexually frustrated) kid unsuccessfully practicing throwing his voice with a shiny new Emmett Kelly or Mortimer Snerd dummy emulating their heroes like Jimmy Nelson, Bil Baird, and Paul Winchell. They would spend hours listening to instructional records on letter substitutions and tongue positioning. The craze permeated far and wide as even Miss America contestants chose ventriloquism for the talent portion of the show. We even got so lazy that we decided to let robots run our puppets as animatronics started popping up all over place like Disneyland, Showbiz Pizza, and Chuck E Cheese.
    In this episode, we are going to stare into the cold dead eyes of the dummies. We are going to explore why and how adults mimicking mannerisms into lifeless masses became the preeminent evangelical apparatus. And how things went so far off the rails. So, dim the lights and focus the spotlight. Put on your duck tail tuxedo. Tip your top hat jauntily askew. Straighten your bowtie. Stick your hand up the bottom of your favorite inanimate object and throw your voice as far it goes. Join as we walk through the uncanny valley of the dolls. Just don’t let us see your lips move. Today, the wacky world of puppet records, you dummies.

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 2 hrs 24 min
    Satanic Fanatics: Sounds of the Occult (Episode 87)

    Satanic Fanatics: Sounds of the Occult (Episode 87)

    Almost as long as humans have mastered the ability to record the environment around them, they have desired to record the world that is just beyond them. A perfectly logical endeavour, as all recorded music is somewhat supernatural, especially when cocaine and LSD are involved.  Recorded sound is by its very nature taken from another place, a distant place, and thrust into a moment where it doesn’t belong and couldn’t exist without human manipulation. The technology that unlocks these past dimensions surely mustn't stop there...what other realms can be explored. 

    In this episode we explore the sounds of the occult and occultists.

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 2 hrs 22 min

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