Rich Reese's Posts
|I'm a KDHX programmer and host of Pop! the Beat Bubble Burst on 88.1 FM every Thursday morning. My blog will cover topics related to the British Invasion, how it exploded, evolved and influenced sixties rock 'n' roll, folk rock, garage rock, psychedelia, glam and glitter rock, pub rock, power pop, jangle pop and much more. Visit me on Myspace and on Facebook.|
If you search Google maps for “Chicken Shack Alley, Garage” (I don’t know why you would, but if you did) it’ll point you to someplace in Collinsville, Ill.; that’s not the Chicken Shack Alley Garage I have in mind.
Let me clarify: On Sunday September 9 from 6-8 p.m. Central join me and Tony C. in a garage on the Chicken Shack Alley. Tony C. will be filling in for Rich Barta on the regular Sunday night R&B show that night (Rich Barta and Bruce B. alternate every other week). Tony has asked me to help put together a show that we’ve been talking about for a couple years. We were discussing the connections many of the garage bands had to blues, R&B and soul, and we’ll be broadcasting from the studios of 88.1 KDHX in St. Louis…not Collinsville.
Many garage bands based their sound on that music, filtered through the British Invasion bands of the mid-’60s: the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, the Who, Them and others. So we will be playing garage bands — and their British equivalent “freakbeat” bands — covering the blues, R&B and soul, or doing music that was heavily influenced by those genres.
Please join Tony and me on Sunday, September 9 from 6-8 p.m. Central — you can listen online at KDHX.org on mobile device via TuneIn — as we explore these specific meandering musical paths as they crisscross the crossroads of the blues, R&B and soul. Oh, and don’t bother looking for it on Google maps.
“Kisses on the Bottom” is a collection of standards by Paul McCartney. This style of music is in McCartney’s DNA, every bit as much as the music of Little Richard or Carl Perkins.
Long before becoming a Beatle, Paul McCartney was exposed to the pop songs of the ’30s and ’40s through the strong influence of his father James, who played mostly ragtime jazz in the Jim Mac Jazz Band in the ’20s. McCartney’s father also would play the pop songs of the last 10 to 20 years at home with young Paul and the family gathered around the piano.
Those tunes never left McCartney and it was through them that he learned how to structure a pop song, how to sing harmonies and how to move the listener. His career is dotted with examples of his fondness of the standard and that style: “Till There Was You,” “Honey Pie,” “You Gave Me the Answer,” “A Room with a View” and “The Very Thought of You.” This album has been on his mind for a very long time.
Including the bonus tracks found on deluxe versions of the CD, released February 7 on the Hear Music label (jointly formed by Concord Music and Starbucks), there are 14 tracks; all are standards save for three McCartney-penned numbers (two new, one from 1979) written with the feel and style of the others. The songs hang together well — stylishly, instrumentally and lyrically.
Lyrically these songs are born out of an era when pop music was meant to lift the spirits. America had been through the Great Depression, then WWII. In Liverpool in 1942 Paul McCartney was born when the scars of the German bombing were still clearly visible throughout the urban landscape.
Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst covers many genres and sub-genres — British Invasion, Mersey beat, folk rock, garage rock, power pop, jangle pop, pub jock — but without the influence of African Americans it’s doubtful that many of those genres would exist, and if they did they would most likely not merit our attention.
It is because of this that I will be recognizing and celebrating those contributions by setting aside the four February shows (February 2, 9, 16 and 23) on P!TBBB.
This year I’ll be expanding said celebration. During the show’s first three years, the month featured three weeks of the bands that appear regularly on P!TBBB covering blues, soul R&B and other material either written by or performed by African Americans. The last show of the month has featured selections from the first three shows performed by the songs’ originators.
This year valis from Trip Inside This House will be joining me and providing the music for the February 2 show. Trip Inside This House is valis’ weekly exploration of the last 40 plus years of psychedelia; he will be bringing that expertise to P!TBBB. The show will feature two hours of music by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Muddy Waters and the Temptations, which will showcase the contributions African Americans have made to psychedelia.
The remaining three shows will revert to the format from the last three years of Februaries. Those shows have not been finalized yet, but will no doubt mine selections from the following: Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers, the Kinks, the Searchers, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Tony Jackson, Manfred Mann and many more. You can expect to hear original versions by bands and performers like: Brenda Holloway, the Supremes, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Otis Redding to name several.
So, please join me (and valis) and celebrate Black History Month as we pay tribute to and celebrate the unique, dynamic and undeniable contributions made by African Americans to the music of Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst (and beyond).
Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst airs Thursday mornings, 5-7 a.m. Central on 88.1 KDHX.
I can recall several years ago – had to be about ’87 – I had just set out on my own after finishing college. I found myself living in a big house in Iowa City, Iowa with a handful of other artsy types: writers (it was on the same street where John Irving had once lived) film-makers, musicians and me, an artist who wanted to paint for food and a roof. Well, I got pretty hungry most of the time, but man oh man, did that house reverberate with great music! One band, especially, knocked me out.
There seemed to always be a game of wiffle ball in the yard along the side of the house and the speakers were always providing the day’s soundtrack. That’s when I first heard Big Star. I knew Alex Chilton, knew he was in the Box Tops at an early age, knew he was pretty funky, loved that Slim Harpo medley he did, knew the Replacements song and knew that he was some kind of cult hero/genius, but sadly, I didn’t know Big Star. I had heard the name, but that was about it.
So when “Feel” hit me I tried to figure out who it was. Didn’t want to appear ignorant around my new friends. Aerosmith? No. Let’s wait for the next song… “Ballad of El Goodo” definitely not Aerosmith. OK, gonna have to just wait for the hit song to come up. “In The Street”…hmm, Todd Rundgren? I think I made it one or two more songs, “Thirteen” and “Don’t Lie To Me,” when I realized I had never heard any of these songs before and wasn’t going to be able to guess who it was.
“It’s Big Star,” I was told after I finally begged, “Who is this”. Now, it made sense. Now I know why Alex Chilton was so revered. I was so overwhelmed by the music coming out of that window. I quickly asked if I could put the CD onto a cassette. I was told that it was actually two albums on one disc, #1 Record and Radio City. I got the cassette and found it had Sister Lover on the flip side. I played that tape to death.
It wasn’t just the exquisitely crafted power pop gems; there was a depth in the songs that showed the full range of the human condition. It wasn’t always pretty and lilting. It could be visceral and angular with sharp, brittle edges. You had to listen with one eye always open.
Alex Chilton did the Big Star thing and then he quickly moved on, never really able to balance the sweet harmony and the jagged discord. Did he stop trying or did he figure that that Alex Chilton was somebody else?
Whatever the answer, it goes without saying that the impact his music had is significant. He may not have been known to the general public, but if you ask musicians, chances are they will go on and on about the man.
There is a group of musicians, mostly all from St. Louis, who will be doing some talking about Alex Chilton and Big Star, but mostly they will be playing his music to pay tribute to the musician who died earlier this year at the age of 59. The event is called September Gurls & Boys: A Tribute to Alex Chilton & Big Star. Thirteen (is that a coincidence) bands playing some of the greatest pop songs ever written will take place on Friday, September 24 at Off Broadway. And all proceeds benefit the only radio station in St. Louis that plays Big Star: 88.1 KDHX.
I do a show that features sixties music. Not all sixties music though, I tend to lean toward the British Invasion stuff. I’ve taken that sound and tried to follow the musical branches to the present. Not all the music I play on Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst reflects the sounds of The Fab Four, Stones, Kinks and Who…unless you’re talking about Power Pop. I play lots of Power Pop. I also have noticed that I play a lot of Power Pop from 1979. In fact 1979 music in general gets played an inordinate amount.
I started to wonder why so much from that year? I thought back to the days of 1979. I was a fifteen year old freshman in Peoria, Illinois. I was listening to an WWCT 106, an FM station which I would liken to KSHE. They played classic rock (“Rockin’ With The Best” was their tag line) and played songs that weren’t always the hits. They played deep album tracks and they played bands that I had never heard of before. Bands like Off Broadway, The Shoes, The Records, The Hounds, Pretenders, The Jam and Donny Iris. That’s also when I discovered Steve Forbert. But they never played them for long before moving on. They eventually succumbed to the pressure of the masses and added more and more Foreigner, Journey, Styx, REO and the like. What this did was it whetted my appetite for “that sound” that was 1979. Those songs and bands took on mythical powers as I struggled over the years to track them all down; many times not knowing song titles or correct spelling of the names. I discovered that most of those bands were Power Pop. That made sense once I analyzed it. Power Pop was the first music I liked that wasn’t handed down to me from my 6 older siblings. It distilled much of what I loved from those great British Invasion bands 15 years earlier and it wasn’t played to death. Add that to the fact that I was transitioning from a boy to a man who was dealing with so many new experiences – I can’t imagine it wouldn’t have left such an indelible stamp on my memory.
Not too long ago Sound Salvation‘s Steve Pick did a wonderful month of shows where he played nothing but songs from 1973…A month with five Fridays I recall correctly. I don’t know if Steve chose that year just because it was filled with such magnificent music or if there were other links. Maybe he was about fifteen in 1973…I’ll have to ask him.
Listening to Steve’s shows that month gave me the idea to do some 1979 shows. Maybe just one every year or so; we’ll see how the first one goes. I’ll be doing that first one this coming Thursday, September 9, 5:00AM- 7:00AM and I hope you’ll be able to listen. If you can’t listen, you have two weeks to catch the archived stream. Skinny ties and those large horn-rimmed glasses are optional!
While I was doing my show, Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst Thursday morning, and giving our listeners as many reasons as I could come up with to get them to donate their hard-earned money to KDHX during our Spring Membership Drive, I had a moment that really drove home the point to me that this radio station is really special. Here’s what happened.
My friend valis, who does a show in the same time slot as mine on Tuesday mornings called Trip Inside This House, was in the studio with me. It’s always easier to do these Membership Drive shows with a partner; helps to keep things light and fun as we chat about music and baseball while the music spins and as we implore our fine listeners between the music to pledge their support.
I fell well shy of my membership goals during my show from the previous week and, although I was doing better yesterday, I was hoping to do much better and was a little anxious. The calls were trickling in and I saved the best music for the latter part of my show. Each song better than the last as we built to a climax that would leave listeners no choice but to call that number (314-664-3688) or go online (KDHX.org) to pledge .
I thought The Beach Boys track, “Add Some Music To Your Day” from their 1970 Sunflower album was a good song that would resonate with what we do at KDHX. “The Sunday morning gospel goes good with the soul. There’s blues, folk and country and rock like a rolling stone.” I mentioned to valis that I couldn’t think of a better track to get listeners to call and we talked about how so many great Beach Boys songs don’t get the airplay they deserve on other stations, but we get it here at KDHX. “The world could come together as one if everybody under the sun…add some music to your day. Add some music, add some music. Add some music to their day.” “Those harmonies are electric on this one,” valis added. I mentioned that I heard Hendrix once described the Beach Boys as “a Barbershop Quartet on acid.” ” You’ll hear it while you’re walking by a neighbor’s home. You’ll hear it faintly in the distance when you’re on the phone.” On went valis’s headphones to better hear those electric harmonies.
“You’re sitting in a dentist’s chair and they’ve got music for you there…to add some music. Add some music, add some, add some music to your day.” I turned the volume on the studio’s speakers up a little more. “Your doctor knows it keeps you calm. Your preacher adds it to his psalms…so add some music. Add some music, add some. Add some music to your day. Music when you’re alone is like a companion for your lonely soul.” Then out with the song’s next line, “When day is over I close my tired eyes. Music in my soul.” comes a piece of paper from the ticker, which sits midway between me and valis and notifies us that we have another person to thank for pledging their support. He looks at me, raises his arm and shows me the goose-bumps there. “At the movie you can feel it touching your heart and on every day of the summertime you’ll hear children chasing ice cream carts.”
It made me realize once again just how powerful music can be. Right at that moment it justified all the time spent putting together shows and getting up at around 3:45 am every Thursday and all the pledge pitching and all the wondering if there’s more than a handful of people listening at any given moment and I knew right then and there that was the perfect song to be playing and it was absolutely connecting with our great listeners and I never felt prouder or more privileged or pleased to be sharing it.
“They’ll play it on your wedding day. There must be about a million ways …to add some music. Add some music, add some. Add some music to your day.”
Tune into KDHX and add some music to your day…indeed.
This month Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst will be showcasing music dear to my heart to celebrate Black History Month. This will be the 2nd annual celebration of music written/performed/created by African Americans.
P!TBBB usually plays music from 1963 up to present. The music focuses on British Invasion and Power Pop, but also plays much from the sixties including folk rock, garage rock and psychedelia. From the seventies you can expect to hear pub rock, glam and glitter rock. It also weaves through the last few decades to present echoes of the sounds of the past. It’s a safe bet to say that most of the music I play wouldn’t exist without the contributions made by those bands and artists that came before them; Blues, Gospel, R&B, Soul and early Rock ‘N’ Roll.
Those influences will be showcased February 4, 11 and 18, 2010, 5-7 a.m. Central. Every song I play will be by a band or artist that I usually play covering songs by Black artists who wrote or first performed them.
The last show of the month February 25, 2010. 5-7 a.m. Central will go straight to the source as we play two hours of the original versions of many of the songs played during the first three months.
Hope you can tune in!
Before I began my show on KDHX in August of 2008, I had the honor and privilege to sit in with long-time KDHX programmer Tony C. on his shows Bucket of Blues, Down in the Alley and Biddle Street Beat. Tony no longer has a regular program on KDHX, but he can be heard as the occasional guest or fill-in DJ on a variety of shows. Now I get to repay the favor by having Tony C. during my radio program Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst next week, January 28, 2010, 5-7 a.m. Central.
“I Found My Thrill…Through Brill” is what we are calling this special episode. Tony and I will be exploring the impact of the music produced at the Brill Building. The following information is from Wikipedia:
The Brill Building’s name has been widely adopted as a shorthand term for a broad and influential stream of American mainstream popular song (strongly influenced by Latin music and rhythm and blues) which enjoyed great commercial success in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Many significant American and international publishing companies, music agencies and recording labels were based in New York, and although these ventures were naturally spread across many locations, the Brill Building was regarded as probably the most prestigious address in New York for music business professionals. The term “The Brill Building Sound” is somewhat inaccurate, however, since much of the music so categorised actually emanated from other locations – music historian Ken Emerson nominates buildings at 1650 Broadway and 1697 Broadway as other significant bases of activity in this field.
By 1962 the Brill Building contained 165 music businesses: a musician could find a publisher and printer, cut a demo, promote the record, and cut a deal with radio promoters, all within this one building. The creative culture of the independent music companies of Brill Building and the nearby 1650 Broadway came to define the influential “Brill Building Sound” and the style of popular music songwriting and recording created by its writers and producers.
Tony C. and I will be playing two hours of music composed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Neil Diamond and also other writers — Chip Taylor and Randy Newman — maybe even from the West coast, who fit into that Brill Building Sound (if we can get to all of them). I’ll be adding British Invasion and American bands — The Beatles, The Hollies, The Searchers, Manfred Mann, among others — who recorded songs written by the Brill Building writers.
I knew very little about the Brill Building Sound before I started putting this show together, and it’s given me a much deeper appreciation for it and made me realize what an impact it had on the music that is such an enormous part of the American Pop Songbook (not to mention the music that can be heard on my show). I hope you will tune in and to hear some great songs by some extraordinary songwriters and ”find your thrill…through Brill.”
Photo of 1619 Broadway in New York City courtesy of Americasroof.