Children of the revolution, welcome to "What You're Not Listening To". Our focus for the programs will be to present a history of a particular artist, time period or social relevance that underscores the importance of these contributions to our shared history. Some programs will focus on health, wellness and events that celebrate diversity. Each will be about an hour, and some may contain content that is incredibly rare or not available digitally anywhere else. No outside funding or advertising is supporting this endeavor. At the end of the day, it is an educational program, but one you can at least dance to at times. Requests are always a joy to receive. Love to you all. Sincerely, your host, writer, engineer and producer, Ben Brown Jr., aka Daddy Ben Bear. SPECIAL NOTE: This description is short on purpose. You can read a more detailed version at https://aceofspadespdx.blubrry.net/about-us/
Sha-la-la-la Roll You Over
Our second program for Rocktober features a band that achieved some mainstream success in the U.S., but remain a cult favorite and one of the most influential acts that would spawn not only the New Wave of British Heavy Metal but also the American Thrash Movement, English and German heavy rock/metal act UFO. #UFOband #heavymetal #hardrock #1970s #guitarrock
One of the hardest working bands of the 1970's, UFO were a group that coulda/shoulda/woulda, especially considering they helped lay the foundation of the heavy metal explosion that would follow in the next decade. Named one of television channel VH1's 100 greatest hard rocks acts in history, their eventual start as a boogie-based, blues-influenced space rock saw them through various line-ups until they literally invented the harder, sharper twin guitar attack that borrowed from the MC5 and became even more laser-focused.
Pete Way (l) and Michael Schenker of UFO, performing live in London in 1977. Photo by Fin Costello.
Their first two albums, Titled UFO1 in 1970 and UFO2 in 1971, saw them coming out of a heavier space rock genre of their contemporaries, such as Hawkwind. The key change in this band from London, consisting of the core band of drummer Andy Parker, bassist Pete Way and vocalist Phil Mogg, was the change in guitarists from Mick Bolton to Michael Schenker, an 18 year old guitar prodigy from Germany who happened to be in a group UFO toured with, The Scorpions.
Cover of Lighds Out, UFO, 1977. Design and photography by Hipgnosis, courtesy of UMG.
The band released new material annually and toured constantly, opening for a who's-who of arena rock acts of the era, including KISS, Rush, AC/DC, Journey, Thin Lizzy among countless others. After steadily slowly building their fan base, they hit pay dirt with Lights Out in 1977, considered by critics to be their crowning achievement and remains their best-selling release, even scoring their only U.S. charting single, "Too Hot To Handle" that year.
Undated photo- circa-mid1970's, of Phil Mogg of UFO, performing live. Photographer unknown.
Sadly, infighting amongst the group, including Mogg's constant belittling of Schenker's very thick German dialect of English, caused the latter to leave as they scored their highest-charting release in the U.K. and another U.S. top 40 LP, the live Strangers In The Night in 1978. Schenker's increasing alcohol intake during this time, while he battled with depression, also was a contributing factor.
Cover of No Heavy Petting, UFO, 1976. Cover design and photography by Hipgnosis, courtesy of UMG.
Schenker would briefly go back to The Scorpions for their breaktrhough U.S. release, Lovedrive, then go on to form MSG, The Michael Schenker Group, shortly after; Pete Way would play with Waysted, Fastway and Ozzy Osbourne, and died from injuries sustained in an accident in 2020. UFO still records and tours to this day, using a variety of line-ups, with even Schenker and Way returning to the fold a few years back for a type of "reunion" album. As one of the leading lights of 70's Euro-Metal, UFO may not be household names, but much like in our last program about The Velvet Underground, made their mark in the countless acts influenced by them and spawned in their wake.
* Too Hot To Handle, 1977, Lights Out* Rock Bottom, 1974, Phenomenon* Prince Kajuku, 1971, UFO2: One Hour Space Rock* Out in The Street, 1975, Force It* C'mon Everybody (live), 1973, German television program Art* Natural Thing, 1976, No Heavy Petting* Lights Out, 1977, Lights Out
* Doctor, Doctor, 1974, Phenomenon* Pack It Up And Go, 1978,
White Heat and Black Leather
For my first program for Rocktober 2021, an audio primer for the very first documentary of one of the most important bands of the latter half of the 20th century, The Velvet Underground, directed by Portlander Todd Haynes and broadcasting on October 15th on Apple TV.
The Velvet Underground are a band you have heard of, if not exactly heard. When you do hear them, it is usually in passing, or one of two tracks from the catalogue that are favorites of whomever is presenting them. Often, you hear about their their story in terms that have nothing to do with the music or their greatness: Andy Warhol, The 1960's, Avant Garde, banana peel, etc.
The Velvet Underground, 1969: (l-r) Doug Yule, Lou Reed, Maureen Tucker and Sterling Morrison. Photographer unknown, courtesy of UMG.
Originally calling themselves The Warlocks and The Falling Spikes (the latter a reference to using heroin intravenously), they adopted their now famous name after finding a book in the street by journalist Michael Leigh, which detailed the so-called deviant sexual behaviors of white suburbanites. They were a band that definitely broke the mold on many fronts, even with their line-ups: most of the members, like founder Lou Reed, were from or living in New York. Experimental musician John Cale and former model Nico were the exceptions, from Wales and Germany, respectively. Adding to this was that their "drummer" was a woman, Maureen Tucker; she played a partial kit, and did this standing up.
"I wanted to write the great American novel, but I also liked Rock and Roll."Lou Reed
The decade they formed in and released most of their material in, the 1960's, saw a seismic shift in demographics that would forever alter their musical style. Thanks to the growth of the suburbs and the Second Great Migration by Blacks, older eastern and Midwestern cities like Chicago and New York started to decay and fall apart, while places like California would flourish. If Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys invented the concept of California as being a magical paradise, then Lou Reed documented the fall of New York just as perfectly.
John Cale, 1967, in New York City. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Getty Images.
Their sometimes abrasive sound would make them truly fringe artists during their brief lifetime, which initially included just four studio albums (a fifth one called Squeeze in 1973 without Reed is discounted by all involved), and on a great many touring dates they were lucky if 20 people would show up to see them. Much of this was due to the subject matter of their songs, which, even for so-called "progressive" radio, was too much to handle: heroin, methamphetamines, drag queens, transsexuals, prostitutes, fellatio, orgies, etc. Radio refused to play them and only a handful of truly underground stations emerging on the FM dial would, and critics did not know what to make of them.
Nico, 1967, in Monterrey, California. Photo by Elaine Mayes.
All Music, founded in 1991 and the premier guide to all things music on the internet, ranks them at #5 among all artists in terms of influence. The joke, coined by Brian Eno, goes something like this: The Velvet Underground only sold 100 albums, but those 100 people went on to form bands of their own. These eleven songs were chosen as a representation of the sounds, subject matter and characters that made the Velvet Underground the premier 1960's New York bohemian icons they would indelibly become.
* Rock & Roll (full-length version), 1970, Loaded ("Fully Loaded" version)* Lady Godiva's Operation, 1968, White Light/White Heat* I'm Waiting For The Man, 1967, The Velvet Underground and Nico* Stephanie Says,
Although a month late, celebrating the wonderful milestone of the 75th birthday of Baby Boy, Ronald Smith, of Portland, OR, with a series of vintage tracks that all revolve around color. #blackmusic #birthday #blackveterans
This program was supposed to come out a month ago, on a very special and truly unique milestone: the 75th birthday of Baby Boy, aka Ron Smith, who was my co-host for my series of Black Message tracks last year.
Ron Smith with a signed, numbered copy of the Ace of Spades PDX 2021 International Jazz Day event poster. Taken 29 August by yours truly.
Instead of a standard playlist of songs (how Spotify), I decided that this occasion needed something that would be personal. Among his many achievements, Mr. Smith is a Vietnam-era veteran, serving in the Air Force as a Staff Sgt. in Minot, North Dakota, and was a crew chief for B-52 bombers servicing the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) to prevent potential attacks from enemy forces. He also happens to be a person of color, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Undated photo of the B-52, nicknamed the "flying fortress", a plane that Mr. Smith was responsible for maintaining with his crew for U.S. defense during the late 1960's. Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.
It was the latter that drove the selections in this program, with each being performed by a person or persons of color and all revolving around different colors, particularly those in the most recent iteration of the Pride flag, meant to be more inclusive that the standard ranbow and reflecting more diversity in our community.
The Progress Pride Flag. Illustration by yours truly.
Happy belated birthday Baby Boy. I hope this show brings a smile to your face and truly celebrates your life as a gay, Black veteran and all-around wonderful person. I know my life would be much different without you, and I am grateful I had the opportunity to share your milestone.
* Charlie Brown, 1958, The Coasters, 45RPM single A-side* Mood Indigo, 1958, Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue* Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You, 1970, Wilson Pickett, Wilson Pickett in Philadelphia* Pink Champagne, 1950. Joe Liggins and His Honeydrippers, 78RPM single A-side* And Black Is Beautiful, 1968, Nickie Lee, 45RPM single A-side* The Yellow Dog Blues, 1925, Bessie Smith, 78RPM single A-side* Girl (Why You Wanna make Me Blue), 1964, The Temptations, The Temptin' Temptations* Purple Rain Drops, 1965, Little Stevie Wonder, "Uptight (Everything's Alright) single B-side* Sweet Rhode Island Red, 1974. Ike and Tina Turner, Sweet Rhode Island Red
* White Lines (Don't Don't Do It), 1983, Grandmaster & Melle Mel, 12" single A-side* Rainbow, 1963, Gene Chandler, 45RPM single A-side* Band of Gold, 1970, Freda Payne, Band of Gold* Orange Colored Sky, 1950, Nat "King Cole", 78RPM single A-side
* Silver Cycles, recorded 1968/released 1969, Eddie Harris, Silver Cycles
Love to you all.
Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer
Instagram: brownjr.benTwitter: @BenBrownJuniorLinkedIn: benbrownjuniorDesign Site: aospdx.com
A Man, A Muppet and Latin Jazz
For Hispanic Heritage Month 2021, looking at the Chapters series of albums Impulse Records last major star recorded for the label during the mid 1970's, as well as his truly iconic connection to a Jim Henson character. #latinjazz #gatobarbieri #muppets #jazzfusion
When we talk about Latin Jazz, it simply isn't just Jazz music from Latin American countries. Traditionally, it was divided into two main subgroups: Afro-Cuban Jazz, which finds its distinctive voice from Caribbean countries and is incredibly rhythmic, and Afro-Brazilian Jazz, which finds its distinct voice in mainland South America, where Bossa Nova is a prime example.
Gato Barbieri, circa mid-1970's. Photo courtesy of Michael Ochs archives, photographer unknown.
By the late 1960's, however, a new type of Latin Jazz started to emerge on the western coast of South America: one that used Jazz Fusion and Avant-Garde elements, sometimes combined with more indigenous instruments. One of the musicians leading this charge was Leandro Barbieri, known by his nickname "Gato", which is Spanish for cat. It seemed Barbieri used to scamper between clubs quite often, like a cat, in the early days of his professional career in his native Argentina in the 1950's.
Barbieri moved to Europe in the early 1960's, notably playing with trumpeter Don Cherry. After being exposed to John Coltrane's later, more Avant-Garde Jazz recordings, he retooled his sound dramatically. He rose to prominence on the wave of the Jazz Fusion movement of the late 60's and early 70's on the labels Flying Dutchman, also home to Gil Scott-Heron, and Impulse, which was the last label Coltrane recorded for. Often, in addition to recordings released by him as a leader, he would also work as a sideman on other projects.
Barbieri on the cover of the first of the Chapter albums, of which he would release four in the series. Courtesy of Impulse/UMG.
Barbieri composed and performed on the soundtrack to the highly controversial film The Last Tango In Paris, which exposed him to a much wider audience. After this, Barbieri released a series of albums on Impulse entitled Latin America in four chapters that proved highly successful. His biggest hit would be on the A&M label with the track "Europa", which was written by a former rocker turned Jazz Fusion artist who also happened to be highly influenced by John Coltrane, Carlos Santana.
Sadly, after Barbieri's wife, Michelle, died in the 1980's, he withdrew from recording and performing for about a decade and a half. He would occasionally record some solo material in his later years, preferring it seemed to once again play as a sideman. He died in 2016, at the age of 83, after a bout of pneumonia, in New York City.
The Muppet character Zoot, designed by Bonnie Erickson and built by Dave Goelz, released in 1975, and based upon Gato Barbieri. Photo courtesy Jim Henson/Disney.
And, for those wondering, the character Zoot from the Muppets, who plays in the Electric Band featured on the television program The Muppet Show and all but one of the Muppet films, was based upon Barbieri. The Beatles, by contrast, were made into wax figures at Madame Tussauds; you tell me which is cooler.
* Encuentros, 1973, Chapter One: Latin America* Juana Azurduy, 1974, Chapter Two: Hasta Siempre* Lluvia Azul, 1974, Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata
* Milonga Triste, 1975, Chapter Four: Alive in New York
Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Videographer and Writer
Instagram: a rel="noreferrer noopener" href=...
The Road To Nevermind
Nevermind, the second album by Nirvana, released 30 years ago next week, launched an alternative rock revolution with catchy, loud songs that truly cleared the air of the morass on commercial media in a way no one saw coming. #nirvana #altrock #grunge #nevermind30
Children of the Revolution, this is a personal story.
Even for myself, who was 22 when all of this happened and already a fan of the group as an opening act for L7 in 1990, never did I realize that Nirvana's Nevermind would become the cultural landmark that it has become.
Nirvana, backstage at the Reading Festival, 1991. (from top) Kris Novoselic, Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl. Photo by Steve Gullick, courtesy of the New York Times.
I remember seeing the band twice in 1991: at Off the Record, a small, independent music store in Hillcrest, a neighborhood in the downtown San Diego area, and then opening for Dinosaur Jr. at Iguana's in Tijuana, Mexico. Upon hearing this new material, it hit me: this band is truly awesome.
I also remember myself thinking that they might have a career like many of my favorite should-be-huge-but-weren't groups, such as The Stooges, Red Kross or the Velvet Underground: they would be a band I would support through thick and thin, even years down the road.
Cover of Nevermind, 1991. Art direction: Robert Fisher. Photographer: Kirk Weddle. Courtesy of Geffen/UMG.
By the time of the release Nevermind, the band, comprising of Chris Novoselic on bass and Kurt Cobain on vocals and guitar, had already cycled through several drummers, eventually landing Dave Grohl fromthe Washington D.C. hardcore band Scream, and their classic line-up was cemented.
To give you an idea of what it was like, just 12 months earlier, in 1990, not a single rock album had topped the Billboard 200, only the first time since 1963 that this had occurred. The only loud records to reach the pole position in 1991 were either Hard Rock or Metal, nowhere close to punk at all.
“I told [Kurt] I want to do a parody of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ and his first thing was: ‘Is it going to be about food?’ and I said, ‘no, it’s going to be about how no one can understand your lyrics."Weird Al Yankovic on covering Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
The success of Nevermind caught everyone, including the band and their label, by complete surprise: people heard about, bought it, raved about, played it constantly and told everyone they could about the trio from Aberdeen, Washington.
The album eventually landed at the top of the chart in January 1992, displacing Michael Jackson in the process.
Cover of Bleach, 1989. Even though Jason Everman, pictured upper left, is shown, he never played on the LP. Photo by Tracy Marander, courtesy of Sub Pop.
Even alternative music stations, which shied away from extremely heavy rock, and traditional rock stations, which shied away from anything unusual, could not help but be swept up in the tidal wave of Nirvana's impact that became the Alternative Rock revolution.
* Smells Like Teen Spirit (single edit), 1991, Nevermind* Love Buzz (live in Portland, OR), 1990, Bleach Deluxe Edition* Do You Love Me, 1990, Hard to Believe** Pay To Play ("Stay Away" demo), 1991, DGC Rarities Vol. 1* Polly (home demo), 1991, With the Lights Out* Paper Cuts, 1989, Bleach** Immodium ("Breed" demo), 1991, With the Lights Out* School (live in Seattle, WA), 1991, “Come As You Are” CD single B-side
* Come As You Are (live), 1991,
The Clear Channel 9-11 Memo
File under: strange but true, a partial list of songs that a major radio network didn't want you to hear in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. #strangebuttrue #september11 #clearchannel
Warning: One or more of these tracks contains lyrics some may find objectionable.
It is often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Then sometimes, you often wonder what exactly those intentions were to begin with.
Alanis Morissette, 1995. Photo by Ari Michelson.
In the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, Clear Channel Communications, a media corporation that is now know as I-Heart Media, a group of unnamed executives distributed a list of songs with the vague phrase of "lyrically questionable". The list primarily focused on tracks with lyrics that related to heaven, hell, planes, death, fire, violence, the month of September, the day of Tuesday and New York City, even if these lyrics had absolutely nothing to do with terrorist violence.
The Gap Band, 1982: (l-r) Brothers Ronnie, Charlie and Robert Wilson. Courtesy of UMG.
It seemed a haphazard list at best, and eventually came across as heavy handed and ham fisted. Adding to the strange nature of the list was that Clear Channel initially denied it even existed, which made news organizations to want to further expose their lying about it, since the list was never an outright ban.
Arthur Brown on the cover of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, 1968. Courtesy of Track Records.
There were a total of 165 entries on the list, with three in particular garnering the most attention: "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra and any song by Rage Against the Machine. The list even featured a song with German lyrics, further adding to the confusion.
Rage Against The Machine, 2000. (l-r) Brad Wilk, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello and Tim Commerford. Photo by Brian Rasic, courtesy of SPIN magazine/Getty Images.
The list skewed heavily toward white, male classic rock acts, and there was even a suggestion that stations might not to play songs that were uplifting in nature. One obvious omission was "Juicy" by The Notorious B.I.G., with a lyrical reference to the original World Trade Center bombing of 1993. A great many songs with political overtones were also seemingly left off list, especially those from the late 1960's and early 1970's, such as music by The MC5, though I'll be honest: the thought of never again hearing "Eve of Destruction" by Barry McGuire is more than alright in my book.
Elton John, 1973. Photo by Terry O'Neill.
Again, speaking personally, I get it, to a point; but ultimately, a corporation never makes these types of considerations without some kind of material motive (read: affecting the bottom line). It seemed less an attempt to be sensitive to listeners and more of an attempt not to upset them so they wouldn't move onto something else and not come back.
Skeeter Davis, 1962. Courtesy of RCA Nashville.
These are 18 of the tracks on the list, and if you listen to them not knowing about anything what Clear Channel attempted twenty years ago, you might not understand it all other than a random playlist. Oddly, twenty years ago, I didn't understand what any of their intentions really were either, nor may we ever fully know what the hell they were thinking.
* Guerilla Radio, 1999, Rage Against The Machine, The Battle of Los Angeles* Johnny Angel, 1962, Shelley Fabares, Shelly!* You Dropped A Bomb On Me, 1982, The Gap Band,