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/
We're Gonna Party Like It's 1979!
One of the few bands to survive the Garage Rock revival of the new millennium, The Strokes have carved out their own corner of cool by looking back twenty years prior to their formation. #postpunk #altrock #garagerock #newwave
Warning: There are no ballads in this program.
Out of seemingly nowhere earlier this year, The Strokes, from New York City, released a new album, The New Abnormal. Not gonna lie, it seemed totally and completely out of place among all of the Pop, Rhythmic and Hip-Hop releases that have dominated the music scene since over the last decade when it landed in top 5 of the Billboard album charts.
The Strokes were one one of a slew of bands that arose of what was called the Garage Rock revolution of the early 2000’s. Not all of these groups fit that title exactly, but it did signal one thing, especially in hindsight: This may have been the last great scream of Rock and Roll bands in history.
The cover of the Strokes latest album, The New Abnormal, 2020. Taken from Bird on Money, a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The band has never appeared on a the cover of one of their LP’s.
Less post-punk than their contemporaries The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Hives, uninfluenced by the MC5 as The Mooney Suzuki and The Hellacopters were, not early 70’s cock rock a la The Darkness and the Kings of Leon, and definitely nowhere blues influenced like The White Stripes, The Strokes laid out their territory by looking at Pop influenced Rock and Roll, namely the New Wave scene of the later 1970’s and early 1980’s, with a decidedly American feel to the music, particularly Blondie, Television, The Cars and more than a little Lou Reed.
The Strokes (l-r: Nikolai Fraiture, Fabrizio Moretti, Nick Valensi, Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond, Jr.) arrive to celebrate the 1,000th cover of Rolling Stone magazine at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, Thursday, May 4, 2006. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
They sounded like an indie band, and were for one EP in the U.K., but signed to one of the oldest and biggest record companies in history in their native U.S.: RCA.
However, possibly most importantly, it had a good beat and you could dance to it. In essence, they are the contemporary, New Wave/New Millennium version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1950’s rock and rockabilly via San Francisco Haight-Ashbury sound: sounding vintage and contemporary simultaneously, and pulling it off convincingly well. Like all of the the great rock bands, The Strokes play it like they invented it.
“Vanity can easily overtake wisdom. It usually overtakes common sense.“Julian Casablancas of The Strokes
Forming in 1998 in New York City, the band found their initial rush of fame in the U.K., whom, at the time, were enamored of the countless rock bands coming out of the U.S. for over a decade. The band’s original story reads like that of many others: friends meet in school, form a band, gig regularly, develop a tight set list, send a demo to a independent record company and then watch their success take off.
After a media blackout and no promotion done to support their 2013 release Comedown Machine, many fans assumed the band called it a day. The cover is purposefully downplayed to resemble an old recording tape box. Design by Brett Kilroe, Fab Moretti and Tina Ibañez.
The Strokes, however, unlike many critical darlings, actually can play, and well. They have released only six albums and two EP’s of material over the last two decades, but it is live where they built their rabid fan base. Oddly, unlike many in the over-obsessed media age we have been living in f...
Santana and the Latin Rock Breakthrough
Though Hispanic/Latinx/Latino music from the United States of the last couple of decades has primarily focused on club bangers and Pop music, there was a time when practically everyone in the underground and the mainstream was grooving to a brand new and hip sound not before experienced by anyone. #hispanicheritagemonth #latino #latinrock #lantinx #santana
Santana formed in 1967 in what was considered at the time to be the center of the counter-culture universe, San Francisco, CA. They were a group of varying styles, from African and Caribbean percussion, Blues, Soul, Latin and American Jazz mixed in with American Rock and Blues. And honestly, where else could have a band as diverse as this happen in anywhere but San Francisco and only during that time period.
Cover of the debut album by the Santana band, 1969. Trompe l’œil illustration by Lee Conklin.
The literally were the first band to carry the Latin Rock title, a new sub-genre that focused on a fusion of Latin, African, psychedelia and the heavier Rock styles coming out of the late 1960’s music scene. They weren’t the first rock artists of Hispanic origin in the United States, but they made the biggest impact with their hybrid sound.
Santana in 1971. Left to right: Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Michael Shrieve, Michael Carabello, David Brown, Carlos Santana, José “Chepito” Areas. Trade ad for Santana’s album Santana III. Courtesy of Columbia Records.
The band was ethnically and culturally diverse as well, comprising of white, black and hispanic members hailing from three different countries, something never seen before by the general public in the U.S. in a popular rock music act of any kind. Carlos Santana, their leader and lead guitarist, hails from Jalisco, Mexico. Jose Areas is from Nicaragua. The remaining members were all from the states: Puerto Rican Michael Carabello, David Brown, who is Black and two white members, Michael Shrieve and Gregg Rolie. (Neal Schon would appear later, joining the band for their third and fourth albums. Percussionists Pete and Coke Escovedo were in the group from 1971-1972.)
Some songs are just like tattoos for your brain… you hear them and they’re affixed to you.”Carlos Santana
They recorded many demos in and around the Bay Area prior to their 1969 debut on Columbia records, which for the most part, was an instrumental album in what we now would consider a jam band style.
This program focuses on their brief initial period, also referred to as their classic period, where the band (and Carlos Santana with Buddy Miles) placed no less than five albums into the Billboard top 10 album chart in just 3 1/2 years, two of those going to the pole position.
Bassist David Brown and guitarist Carlos Santana at the Woodstock festival, Saturday, 18 August, 1969. Photo by Tucker Ransom. Courtesy of Hulton Archive/Getty Images
This program also focuses on a demo from their aborted first album sessions as well as the moment where everything changed for the band, their 1969 performance at Woodstock, where the band took LSD prior to going on stage and delivering one of the three day weekend’s most critically lauded performances both of which pre-date their debut LP, some of the big hits and album tracks.
Cover of Abraxas, their second LP and first #1 on the Billboard 200, 1970. Painting by Mati Klarwein. The piece was originally titled Annunciation.
Santana’s success brought Hispanic artists to the forefront in a way not seen previously during the Rock era. After their debut, a wave of Latin Rock artists became part of the mainstream,
Before there was the marketing catchphrase “Women In Rock”, there was Janis Joplin, who set a standard so incredibly high that 50 years after her passing, no one can match her. #bluesrock #womeninmusic #blues #acoustic #rockandroll #rock #counterculture #LGBTQ #bivisibility #guitarrock #janis #janisjoplin
I have not come here to bury Janis, but to praise her. October 4th, 2020, does mark the 50th anniversary of her passing in a hotel room in Hollywood, California. She was part of a triumvirate of iconic countercultural performers of the late 1960’s, all 27 years of age, who died within a year of each other, the other two being guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in September, 1970 and singer Jim Morrison of the Doors in July, 1971.
Cover of Pearl, Janis Joplin, 1971 (photo taken 1970). Barry Feinstein and Tom Wilkes, design and photography. Courtesy of Columbia Records.
Before there were “women in rock”, there was Janis. It really is as simple as that and yet doesn’t convey just how seismic her impact and influence were on the people who lived through the time of her professional recording and touring career, a brief period from 1966 to 1970, and to future generations. But this was no ordinary time in our history, then or now. Civil rights for dispossessed peoples actually seemed like an attainable freedom for those affected, and conventions were being turned upside down everywhere. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
And, most importantly, Janis was no ordinary performer, and no ordinary person.
Janis Joplin, 1968. Photo by Norman Seef, courtesy of Vogue magazine.
Prior to Janis, women in music, especially white women, had to fit into an easy to categorize mold. Non-white singers often had to conform to acceptable white standards of appearance and performance if they were going to succeed in the cut-throat music business or risk never being able to break out and make a living as a self-sufficient artist. And along came Janis, a refugee from the tiny industrial town of Port Arthur, TX.
“I’m one of those regular weird people.”Janis Joplin
She did attend college at the University of Texas for a brief while, only to drop out after being voted the “Ugliest Man on Campus”. As I have said about so-called liberal cities like Austin and my hometown of Los Angeles, the history of marginalized populations in these places paints a very different picture.
Janis Joplin live, 1969. Photograph: Crawley/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock.
She moved to San Francisco, initially working with the band Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966 (hipsters, take note), recording their first album on an indie label, then moving to major label Columbia, and going solo in 1969. Along the way, she literally became the single biggest and most visible embodiment of the counterculture scene.
So, you may be asking yourself, how did she do it?
* She did not have movie star looks and even acne well into her twenties.* Her singing was not pitch perfect. * She was not a shrinking violet, vocally or otherwise.* She almost never wore make-up.* She wasn’t flight attendant thin.* She wrote some of her own material.* She wore clothing that set its own standards of style.* She didn’t ask that skin blemishes be removed in photographs.* On stage, she did what she wanted, sang what she wanted, didn’t stand still, danced freely and with amazing passion.
In the words of Country music legend Loretta Lynn, in speaking about the entertainment industry, “You either have to be first, best or different.” Janis Joplin was all three.
The Other Passion of RBG
Regardless of your political views, there was one unmistakable truth about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Opera was what she loved. #RBG #Opera #Classical
The world lost one of its best known and most loved members of the judiciary when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on the 18th of September this year. Among the many tributes were that of opera companies and performers. Ginsburg loved opera, and even studied music (piano and cello) in high school and college.
The late Ruth Bader Ginsberg in a cameo role in Fille du Régiment at the Washington National Opera, 2016. Photo by Scott Suchman/WNO.
Fate would cast very different direction for this woman from Brooklyn, New York. Through it all, she never stopped loving music, and often jumped at the opportunity to speak about her passion for it outside of the courtroom. This playlist, which will contain historical and performer notes in addition to the music, were selected from numerous interviews she gave about the subject.
Rest In power, Justice Ginsburg. I hope this show does you justice as well.
Puccini: Girl of the Golden West
Tracks: Un PokerLead: Franco Pomponi; Vocals (The Kentucky Opera) with piano accompaniment only, recorded live, 2014Language: Italian
This was Ginsburg’s favorite Puccini opera, stating that in his better known works, such as Madam Butterfly, the women do not fare well in them.
Image courtesy of the Kentucky Opera. Pomponi is center. 2014.
Synopsis: Possibly the first spaghetti western, this opera tells the story of a woman who owns a saloon, protects a keg of gold, preaches from the Bible and will do anything to protect her outlaw lover. It is set during the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800’s.
Composer: Considered the greatest Italian opera composer after Verdi, Puccini, from the Tuscany region of central Italy, was originally rooted in the 19th century Romantic movement but eventually became a star of the verismo movement, and it’s best known composer in that genre.
Performer: Franco Pomponi is one of the world’s leading baritones, and performs frequently at live venues large and small around the world, impressing critics with his mastery of Italian legato singing. Legato, for the uninitiated, is a term that describes amazing flow without breaks.
Verdi: Il Travatore
Track: Che più t’arresti, Tacea la notte, Di tale amorConducted by: Fausto Cleva, 1961Performer: Leontyne PriceLanuage: Italian
Though she has stated that Othello by Verdi is her favorite of his operas, Ginsburg often spoke about her favorite singer, Leontyne Price, witnessing her Metropolitan Opera House debut in 1961 as the character Lenore in Il Trovatore.
(l-r) Tenor Franco Corelli, soprano Leontyne Price and Opera General Manager Rudolf Bing backstage at Salzburg Festival, Austria, 1960. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera House.
Synopsis: Il Trovatore, which translates to “The Troubador”, is set in the environs of Zaragoza, the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon, and in the mountains of Biscay, around 1412. It is actually several different stories, and not one continuous piece.
Composer: Verdi, considered one of Italy’s greatest operatic composers, was born in Northern Italy. He worked tirelessly, and in his early days, composed 20 operas in just sixteen years. He didn’t become famous Rigoletto, in 1851. Among his other works are several based upon Shakespeare plays.
Performer: Price, originally from Laurel,
Phil May Was The Prettiest Thing
A tribute to one of the greatest “cult” bands of all time, which featured lead singer and songwriter Phil May, Rock and Roll’s first true bisexual frontman. #bivisibilityday #britishinvasion #garagerock #psychedelic #guitarrock
I found out about the amazing history of The Pretty Things in a very roundabout way, as I am certain many others do who weren’t around during their initial Swinging London period of brief commercial success. I was at the library, and reading a book about Led Zeppelin. Guitar legend Jimmy Page was quoted about how amazing The Pretty Things were, a group he had signed to his Swan Song label, and was disappointed their albums weren’t selling well.
Phil May, performing live at the BBC with The Pretty Things, 1974. Photo by Fin Costello, courtesy of Redferns.
The library didn’t have any recordings in their collection of the band. Undaunted, I went to the one place I thought would have some: the radio station I interned at. I asked one of the male DJ’s there about the band. He looked at me strangely, and then said, “Oh yeah, that band with the queer lead singer. Won’t play that shit. It’s bad enough I gotta play that f****t Bowie.”
Front cover of Get The Picture?, 1965. Courtesy of Fontana/UMG.
Mind you, this was a rock radio station that once described itself as “progressive” and “underground”. Like the British heavy rock band UFO once sang, “Oh my, how the times have changed.”
Pretty Things in 1965 Netherlands from left to right: Brian Pendleton, John Stax, Dick Taylor, Phil May, and Viv Prince. Photographer: Joop van Bilsen (ANEFO) – GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL).
That singer was Phil May. He fronted The Pretty Things, a band whom, at the time, were reported to have the longest hair of any male act in England in the early 1960’s. Dick Taylor, the original guitarist, was a founding member of The Rolling Stones.
They weren’t Beatles pin-ups, were raunchier and dirtier sounding than The Stones, no ultra-flash guitar playing like the Yardbirds, not as loud as The Who, no English stylistic musings like The Kinks and no Pop sensibility like The Dave Clark Five. What they did have was an amazing group bond, ultra-freak energy and a sound that would come to define what is now labeled garage rock; what they lacked in virtuosity, they more than made up for in heart and soul.
The cover of S.F. Sorrow, the very first Rock opera. Cover Illustration by Phil May, courtesy of EMI.
The Pretty Things would go on to have a 55 year career as a recording and touring outfit. Unlike their initial contemporaries, their legend, and fan base, grew as the years went by, even crashing the servers of a reunion gig live-streamed on the internet several years ago due to overwhelming demand.
Phil May, singer of English rock band “The Pretty Things” photographed in London, United Kingdom circa 1965. Photo by Wolfgang Kuhn/United Archives via Getty Images.
They would break-up and reform often, with May being the sole member in all line-ups. May conceived of the very first Rock opera, S.F. Sorrow, released six months before Tommy by The Who in the U.K. In hindsight, it sounds more Pink Floyd than even The Wall did. An American pressing, released by Motown (yes, THAT Motown), was riddled with a strange cutout cover and truly poor mixing.
During the late-1960’s, just to make some extra money, the group would record under the name Electric Banana, providing the music to several low budget films, which ran the gamut from horror flicks to soft-...
Ladies of Latin Freestyle
Kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 is a program featuring remixes and album tracks from the mainland United States’ third major homegrown Hispanic music movement of the 20th Century. #lantinx #hispanicheritagemonth #dance #oldschool
NOTE: There are no ballads in this program. Get your dancing shoes on and wear them out.
Latin Freestyle, sometimes just called Freestyle, is a music genre that originated in New York City in the early 1980’s. It eventually found pockets of talent in major U.S. cities with large Latino/Hispanic communities outside of New York, including Los Angeles and most notably, Miami.
It was the third major Hispanic music movement to originate from the mainland United States, after Tejano music of the 1920’s and Chicano Rock of the 1970’s.
Deborah Kowalski (nee Lopez), from 2016. She is known professionally as Debbie Deb, and is a cornerstone Latin Freestyle artist. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Freestyle was a blending of Hip-Hop, electronic dance music and pop. The sound was eventually embraced by many Black and White artists as well, but all of the original and biggest stars in the scene were all of Hispanic origin. Oddly, as the sound’s popularity started to wane on the charts by the end of the decade, many Freestyle artists switched gears and released ballads, resulting in the biggest hits of their careers.
There will be no lip synching with me — everything is fully live.Lisa Lisa
Freestyle was a producer-driven format, not uncommon for dance records in any genre or in any decade. Most of the genre’s biggest stars are not just still alive, but still performing, and Freestyle package shows have proven to be incredibly well-attended, particularly in the states that spawned the initial scene.
The Cover Girls, 1987. Photo courtesy of Fever Records.
Though there were a number of male acts associated with the Freestyle craze, the majority of these performers were women, either as solo acts or revitalizing the “Girl Group” sound for a new generation of music fans. With rare exception, all of the songs revolved around love and heartbreak, with many of the women promoting cautionary tales of shady men and asking them to step up their game beyond one night stands.
* Let Me Be The One, 1988, Sa-Fire* They’re Playing Our Song, 1987, Trinere* Show Me, 1987, The Cover Girls* Temptation, 1991, Corina* Saying Sorry Don’t Make It Right, 1988, Denise Lopez
* Come Go With Me, 1987, Expose* Together Forever, 1991, Lisette Melendez* Never Let You Go, recorded 1987/single release 1988, Sweet Sensation* I Wonder If I Take You Home, 1985, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force
* When I Hear Music, 1984, Debbie Deb
Amor para todos ustedes. (Love to you all.)
Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr. Host, Show Producer, Webmaster, Audio Engineer, Researcher, Video Promo Producer and Writer
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