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/
The Music of Degenerates That Became a Phenomenon
Birthed from the same circumstances that gave rise to the U.K. Punk scene, The New Wave of British Heavy Metal took the sound of what was called “degenerate trash” by the press and transformed it into a worldwide phenomenon. #heavymetal #metal #UKmetal #NWOBHM
NOTE: There are no ballads in this program. Repeat, no ballads.
Speed metal. Power metal. Dark metal. Thrash metal. Sub-genres of what was once a heavy and loud blues-based rock increased it’s speed and attack with a laser-sharp focus and intensity during the last years of the 1970’s and the early 1980’s in the U.K. during the rock evolution called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, also called NWOBHM (“new-wobb-hum”).
Paul Di’Anno and Steve harris of Iron Maiden, performing live, 1980. Photo by Virginia Turbett.
In 1977, Punk Rock had taken a stranglehold on the U.K. music scene, giving it a much needed shot in the arm. It wasn’t if Metal bands had disappeared. However, by the time of the rise of Punk, many classic metal bands, like Black Sabbath, were a shell of what they once were. Interestingly, the same forces that shaped the birth of the punk scene, such as high unemployment, a recession and unions strikes also birthed NWOBHM.
The longest-running all-female band of all time: Girlschool. (l-r) Denise Dufort, Kim McAuliffe, Enid Williams and Kelly Johnson. 1980, photographer unknown. Courtesy of Bronze Records.
NWOBHM, long brewing in the underground scene as a reaction to Punk and Disco music, also took seed simultaneously during the rise of these genres. The music press loved Punk bands, but not Metal music, and were incredibly hostile to the latter’s fan base. Hip music magazines derided the Metal genre, without realizing that the most exciting new loud music was right under their noses and would have an even bigger impact on the industry than the old guard would realize.
Motorhead (l-r), 1979: “Fast” Eddie Clarke, “Philthy” Animal Taylor and “Lemmy” Kliminster. Creator: Estate Of Keith Morris | Credit: Redferns Copyright: 2009 Getty Images
However, by 1979, Punk Rock had all but lost steam and was considered anathema by the mainstream music press, who had then moved onto New Wave and electronic acts of the period. What was just a couple of years prior a direct reaction to the social and economic ills of the country had crashed with a resounding thud. Labels that had once courted the sound now ran from it altogether, and many of the acts that had come to define it were quickly gone or had changed their sound to one more radio-friendly, especially, and this is important, when the economy started to recover.
(If you hadn’t already guessed, the mainstream U.K. music press consistently earns it incredibly fickle reputation and deem themselves the ultimate tastemakers, throwing many under the bus when the hot new thing, which they christen themselves, comes around.)
Brian Tatler of Diamond Head, 1982. Courtesy of the artist.
Metal fans of this new movement really weren’t interested in mainstream coverage, largely due to press hostility. They were a fairly insular group, telling each other about new releases like a secret among close friends. They fans were called Muthas, and judged bands by typically two things: no ballads on your releases, and a high energy live show with speaker shredding volume. If you didn’t pull it off live, you went nowhere. Their fashion was almost always denim jackets with patches sewn upon them, something adopted from late 1960’s California biker culture.
The Return of the Hip-Hop Album Statement Artist
The last decade has primarily seen Hip-Hop artists focus on singles in place of albums, much like in its early history, but Kendrick Lamar has carved out his place as the rare current artist who maintains a foot in both worlds.
NOTE: this program may contain language and subject matter some find objectionable.
Recently, on the Showtime talk show program Desus and Mero, guest Chris Rock had not heard of YouTube’s biggest star of 2020, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, because he is interested in “album artists”. I was shocked to learn that Rock was actually 3 years older than your host at age 55, but I was not surprised at his comment. The album-as-artistic-statement is a relic of a bygone era that currently has very little love in the business it seems. Digital singles, which are now at their shortest length in a decade on the Billboard charts, have overtaken the marketplace.
What really shocked me about Rock’s interview is that another person around my age is still interested in exciting and different new music.
Kendrick Lamar wins Best Rap Album At The 2018 GRAMMY Awards. (Photo: CBS)
Yes, artists are still releasing albums, and Hip-Hop artists have been releasing mixtapes for years. However, today, the physical album/cassette/CD in sheer terms of sales has been primarily the sole realm of Rock artists, a genre which has taken a back seat in the new millennium. Rock artists, particularly veterans, can still move physical product, and lucratively. But in terms of overall impact, due in no small part to streaming, they are a fraction of the overall market.
“Who’s the new album artists, you know what I mean?”, Rock said. “The ups, the downs, the weird single that you know—the weird album track that you know was never gonna be a single, but you love it.” And then Rock went on to say that his favorite new artists currently making albums like this are J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.
Kendrick Lamar (l) and SZA, 2019 at thee Grammy Awards, Los Angeles. Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth is from the Los Angeles city of Compton, the son of Chicago transplants. His initial bio is rather uninteresting: he grew up poor, not involved in gangs or drugs, loved cartoons and sports, was a shy child and a straight-A student. However, his life was changed by witnessing the filming of the video “California Love” by Tupac Shakur featuring Dr. Dre in 1995. In the words of female astronaut Sally Ride, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
He did, however, get into trouble with his friends from the neighborhood as a teen, and several times were on the wrong end of a firearm from the police, experiences he channeled into his early songs. Lamar has called the L.A.P.D. “the biggest gang in California.”
“I don’t do black music, I don’t do white music. I do everyday life music.” – Kendrick Lamar
Dance Away Alzheimer's Vol. 2
Our second annual show dedicated to your health and wellness, with this year’s focus being on dance tracks featuring female and female fronted acts of the New Wave era. #alzheimers #dance #newwave #womeninmusic
Today, children of the revolution, we’re gonna talk about real science: not international espionage conspiracy theories, not some QAnon craziness and not denying it as our government has been doing, because honestly, we have had enough of it all year long already.
Grace Jones, 1981. Photo by Jean-Paul Goude.
This year, health has been one of the most discussed topics in media, due in great part to COVID-19. What is only beginning to surface now is statistical data showing how bad the pandemic has been to those with Alzheimer’s disease in nursing facilities and with in-home care.
Blondie in 1977: Gary Valentine, Clem Burke, Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Jimmy Destri. Photo by Phillip Dixon, courtesy of Private Stock Records.
Even though Baby Boomers are the most at-risk group currently, those born at the tail end of of that generation and at the beginning of the next one, Generation X, is the next group en masse that will develop the disease. The track list presented here, if you were a teenager when these songs were new, is one of the soundtracks of that demographic.
Lene Lovich, 1979. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Stiff Records.
There are only treatments currently, and no known cure. However, research has illustrated that dancing may help prevent the disease by utilizing the brain’s neuroplasticity and increased oxygen intake to that organ via aerobic exercise. Dancing is amazing because it requires no special equipment, no formal training and regardless of skill level, anyone can find a way to dance.
Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex, 1977. Photo courtesy of Anorak London.
The musical focus for this program is the New Wave movement of the late 70’s and early 80’s: Was it Punk, Post-Punk, New Romantic, Synthpop, Goth, No Wave, etc.? By the mid-1980’s the term New Wave had fallen out of favor with mainstream U.S. audiences (just as the term Punk Rock had by 1978), and it was replaced by the terms Modern Rock and College Rock before settling into what we now call Alternative.
The Go-Go’s in 1981, from left: Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin, Gina Schock, Charlotte Caffey and Belinda Carlisle. Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images.
Each of these all-female or female fronted groups were unique in their own way and all at one time or another falling under the banner of what was the very loose term of what was considered “Rock of the 80’s”, spearheaded by KROQ in Los Angeles. Some of these acts were embraced by Rock and Pop radio and now are considered Classic Rock artists.
Cover of Spring Session M by Missing Persons, 1982. Pictured: Dale Bozzio. Photo by Glen Wexler, design by Kurt Triffet, courtesy of Capitol Records.
This movement was the very first new music shift to feature women prominently on equal footing with men, with some of them actually outselling the major male acts of the day. It also featured women talking about sex with a boldness not previously seen in artists hitting the charts.
Debora Kay Iyall of Romeo Void, 1982. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Getty Images.
If it all seems a little odd, it was, even at the time, but it said one thing, and loudly: this ain’t your parents new music.
* Sex (I’m A…), 1982, Berlin, Pleasure Victim EP* Wrap It Up,
They Were On A Mission From God
A tribute to our friend and loved one, Wendy Posson, who left us at the age of 50 last month. The Blues Brothers was hands down her favorite film, and we are celebrating one of cinema’s most outrageous, most diverse and most amazing musical movies in her memory.
NOTE: This program contains language some may find objectionable.
On paper, it looks so ridiculous that it is a miracle the film was made at all. Take two white television actors, one of them from Canada, both whom had performed on a comedic sketch show and moonlighted as Blues musicians. The story was written by star Dan Aykroyd, a man with no script writing experience, and many of the actors were not well-known. Adding to this, it featured Black musicians who’s careers had been sidelined by the Disco, Adult Contemporary and Hard Rock genres.
Cab Calloway singing his Jazz classic Minnie The Moocher, which was the oldest song in the film.
By the way, it is a buddy flick about ex-cons who have a religious epiphany along the way; they’re also chased by the police, a psychotic ex-girlfriend, a touring music group and Nazis. They would also wreck more cars than any other film in history and destroy many of the glass windows in an entire indoor mall. Making it even more ridiculous: the film would feature not just Blues music, but 1960’s Soul, early Rock and Roll, 1930’s Jazz, TV themes, Muzak, 1950’s Italian Romantic Pop songs, Gospel, Classical, Opera, and of course, both kinds: Country and Western.
Aretha Franklin, who not only sang and danced in the film, she also had an extended speaking part.
Filmed over much of the summer of 1979 and released in the spring of 1980, the flick had everything working against it, including cost-overruns and delays due to the drug habits of many involved. Now considered one of the greatest comedies and buddy flicks in history, it took a great deal of time to build its audience to the classic status it holds today.
It did perform well at the time, but wasn’t the blockbuster the studio, Universal, had hoped for. Not only did it carry an “R” rating due to language and violent scenes, limiting its viewership, one major west coast theatre chain, Mann, refused to show it. According to a 2013 article in Vanity Fair, the chain did not want Black people coming into white neighborhoods to see it, and they also didn’t believe white audiences would want to see a film with so many older Black performers.
(l-r) Actors Dan Aykroyd and John Belishi as Elwood and Jake respectively. They led the Blues Brothers band in actual singing parts.
So, to review: The Blues Brothers was a religious buddy comedy road flick with R rated dialogue and numerous car chases, the few named stars high on cocaine, gun violence, a script that had to be edited to a third of its length and completely reformatted, a soundtrack with older Black performers out of step with current musical trends that also features Nazis as characters and a major theatre chain that won’t show it due to systemic racism. It’s a miracle, seriously, we are even talking about this release at all.
Ray Charles was the only veteran performer in the film who at the time had a recent charted single.
According to director John Landis, it was the first U.S. film to outperform overseas than it did at home. Box office receipts bear this out, as The Blues Brothers did more than twice its domestic take in international markets. The film received a second life in heavily edited television broadcasts, home video and via midnight showings where the audience would participate, much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Fake News and Alien Heavy Metal
Orson Wells proved to the world he was a media genius without limits with a radio broadcast of War of the Worlds that literally shocked many and even drew the ire of a dictator. #orsonwelles #waroftheworlds #radio #mercurytheater
Fake news existed prior to the Trump administration. It was preceded by William Randolph Hearst, who actually got the United States into a war with Spain. Arguably, its most famous figure was that of Orson Welles.
Entire gatefold cover of War of the Worlds, in one of its earliest and best-selling formats. Courtesy of Random House.
Welles was already an established and celebrated theatre and radio producer by 1938, and decided to do something unheard of for the medium: create a live radio broadcast for the CBS network for Halloween of that year that was set up like regular news programming. Welles was already a successful risk taker, even producing an all-Black cast for a national touring Shakespeare play, a first.
Orson Welles (left) and a Chicago newspaper headline from Halloween, 1938.
The cast of the Mercury Players, which would include actors he would work with for years, were considered the best in the business. Almost all of them got their start in theatre productions. Many of the actors in the Worlds broadcast played multiple roles, including Ray Collins, Paul Stewart and William Alland.
Paul Stewart (center, front) of the Mercury Theater Players, also starred in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, 1941. Courtesy RKO Pictures.
Welles only wanted the best, and he got it, even if he had to pay it out of his own pocket, which he did regularly. For War of the Worlds, based upon the H.G. Wells science fiction classic, not only were the top notch team of the Mercury Players present, but so was Bernard Hermann and his orchestra, a man who’s name would later become synonymous with Alfred Hitchcock films, particularly Psycho.
Ray Collins, 1941, during the filing of Citizen Kane, courtesy of RKO Pictures. He is best remembered today as Lt. Tragg on the original Perry Mason television series.
Much has been said or disproven about the number of people who thought that the radio play was real or not. Set up like a news broadcast, it did play on the fears of a looming war with Nazi Germany. Even if conservative estimates are to be believed, approximately one and half million people at the time thought it was real, and mind you, the population of the U.S. in 1938 was less than half of what it is today.
“You don’t play murder in soft words.”orson Welles responding to criticism about his radio broadcast
Even Adolf Hitler, in a radio broadcast in early November, about a week after the show, denounced Welles, CBS and the program for inciting panic. Welles, who for years worked tirelessly to help the U.S. war effort, was more than amused he upset the dictator so much.
Orson Welles (left, back, arms raised) and Bernard Hermann (center, with headphones on) conducts the CBS Orchestra for The Mercury Players, 1938. Image from the Gastonia Daily Gazette (North Carolina).
Even though the program made Welles one of the most influential players in radio, not everyone received the same treatment after the broadcast. Screenwriter Howard Koch, the man responsible for setting up the influential news format of the program, did win an Oscar for his work on Casablanca. (“We’ll always have Paris” is him.) However, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Hearings and the Red Scare of the early 1950’s, and for years could only find work overseas using a pseudonym. Welles often disputed Koch’s involvement in War of the Worlds,...
The Very Short In-Town Move
How can a group survive by proudly staying local, being possibly too talented for their own good, not being pigeonholed and rising to the occasion when others drop the ball? Not for long, at least in the case of The Move. #themove #roywood #jefflynne #bevbevan #freakrock #UKrock #psychedelic #powerpop
This is a tale of what it truly means to be a talented musician, at least for the majority who do not achieve stardom.
Though known now as the band that Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was in prior to his worldwide success, the story of The Move is a the stuff of every VH1 Storytellers episode ever created: People with loads of talent whose careers were sidelined by poor management and changing musical styles as they attempted to adapt to but were considered far ahead of their time regardless.
Cover of the debut album by The Move. Artwork by Roy Wood, courtesy of UMG.
The Move, founded in 1965 by Roy Wood, Trevor Burton and Ace Kefford in Birmingham, England, attempted to be a supergroup made up of the best members of other bands from the local scene. They eventually ended up as a five piece, adding Carl Wayne and drummer Bev Bevan, and early in their career, four of the five members traded off on lead vocals.
After releasing several singles to much success, they started to run into problems. The bands manager, using any attempt to get the band noticed, made the biggest mistake of them all: doing something so controversial the group was successfully sued by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson for libel. Sadly, The Move dropped this manager, Tony Secunda, in favor of Don Arden, the notorious manager of many English artists, who not only stole from them, he pretty much ran their career into the ground. In a strange twist of fate, Arden was also dropped in favor of another manager who did even worse, with the band crawling back to Arden for help.
The Move, 1967. (l-r) Carl Wayne, Roy Wood, Ace Kefford, Bev Bevan and Trevor Burton. Photographer unknown, courtesy of Deram/London.
As if losing a major court battle and revolving bad management wasn’t enough, the band shrunk from a five piece to a quartet, then a trio, with Wood and Bevan sticking around for all line-ups. Wood, a truly eccentric pop genius, was growing tired of The Move, but needed to continue with this project in order to create a vision of a new band with new blood. Additionally, he knew a change was coming from psychedelic British Pop to something heavier, and the change in Wood’s stage persona and the band’s new sound alienated many fans.
“Yeah, it was all pretty wacky, that stuff.”Jeff Lynn on his time in the move
Joining the band a as a session player was Richard Tandy, a multi-instrumentalist, and as a full-time member, a musician named Jeff Lynn, the latter being part of a group called The Idle Race that Wood admired. The feeling was mutual, as The Idle Race’s first single was also written by Wood.
The band, now reduced to a trio with Bevan, Wood, Lynne with some guest players, decided to change their sound dramatically, with enough 9 minute songs on a single LP to make even Emerson, Lake and Palmer blush. This caused some critics to soundly gripe at the band. This was preceded by an absolutely disastrous tour (only two shows in two cities) of the U.S. in 1969, the only dates they played in the colonies, opening for The Stooges.
The Move, 1971. (l-r) Roy Wood, Bev Bevan and Jeff Lynne. Courtesy of Photofeatures.
Of course, the typical record company hassles also became the norm. They switched labels in their native U.K., and their records were difficult to find in the States,