notes for "1970s underground pop" (mix for internet radio)

[I am working on a mix for (open source) internet radio streaming. Below are notes explaining my choices. The mix is scheduled for this Thursday, Nov. 11, 8 pm Eastern on ffog's Myocyte show on tilderadio and anonradio. Please note that with the recent time change the mix is an hour earlier than it's been for the last 6 months. The official time for the mix is Nov. 12 at 0100 UTC.

Update, November 12, 2021: Thanks to all who listened and/or commented last night. The archived version of the mix in mp3 form is here.]

In the bleak mid-'70s, a time when horrible songs by Elton John and Captain & Tenniel dominated the airwaves, a mutated form of '60s pop song persisted in the college radio underground. This mix examines pop themes in the prog rock, dub, punk, and jazz rock subcultures of the '70s. Some fairly eccentric '60s songs are also sprinkled in for context. Many of these artists are now considered classic but at the time, only music nerds were listening to them.

Donovan's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" kicks off the set, mainly to show how effortlessly it segues into a quite different song, Genesis' "Trick of the Tail." "Trick," coming from a then-arty band known for its portentous, doom-laden catalog, surprises with its catchy vibe and sprightly Brian Wilson-esque vocal harmonies. The doom isn't completely absent, however, in this concise science fiction fable of a Satyr-like humanoid from a parallel universe who is imprisoned on Earth and jeered at by people who "got no horns and got no tail." "Love Street," by The Doors, continues the keyboard pop of the first two songs and also has some odd mystical elements, particularly that "store where the creatures meet," which causes Jim Morrison to wonder, suggestively, "what they do in there."


Infectious piano (by Ray Manzarek) drives "Love Street" and the same can be said for Anthony Moore's ivory-tickling in "Apes in Capes," a joint Slapp Happy/Henry Cow project. In 1975 Dagmar Krause's warbling vocals sounded downright strange, and they still do. Another chanteuse from the skewed side of pop, Dorothy Moskowitz of the short-lived '60s art-rock outfit The United States of America, sings about "Coming Down" from an acid trip. She never "belts it out" a la Grace Slick but maintains an air of beatnik cool as she sings of Reality, which, as we know, "is only temporary."

A startlingly clear "alternate mix" of The Mothers of Invention's Freak Out has recently surfaced on the web, yielding tonight's version of "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here," sung by Mr. Zappa, alternating vocal chores with the late great Ray Collins. Before Zappa could afford elaborate horn charts he played a kazoo, and this is possibly the most sarcastic use of that instrument ever heard. Next up is a '60s throwback from 1978, Tina Peel's "Knocking Down Guardrails." A friend of mine was the roadie for this band and I fondly recall sitting with him on the stage at Max's Kansas City one night after all the band's instruments had been packed up. (I also once visited Tina Peel frontman Rudi Protrudi in his Alphabet City apartment.) The same year, Tuxedomoon released "New Machine," which didn't look back to the '60s but rather forward to the '80s, with its beatbox, synths, and anguished vocals from Winston Tong. A trace of the former decade can still be heard, however, in Michael Belfer's unabashedly psychedelic guitar wails.

Next we hear an improbable (but smooth) transition to Curved Air's "Not Quite the Same," a song about masturbation sung with impeccable English reserve by Sonja Kristina Linwood, over a tight arrangement of trumpets, trombones, violin and VCS3 synth. Although keyboardist Francis Monkman didn't write the song (that was Linwood and violinist Darryl Way), a similar eclectic style can be heard in Monkman's later soundtrack for the film The Long Good Friday. Then, DC art rock band Grits takes us "Back to the Suburbs," in a Zappa-esque plea for regression to babysitters, bowling alleys, and other markers of a safe childhood in the burbs, after the singer finds it too much of "a strain to be alive and so neurotic." Infantile regression can also be heard in Zappa's own "Let Me Take You to the Beach," expressing a simple desire for a weekend weenie-roast, made to seem ironic only because everything Zappa writes is sarcastic.


Kevin Ayers' evocation of a romantic Paris sidewalk cafe, "May I?," complete with accordion and street sounds, nowadays could be instantly summed up with the words "trigger warning." Nevertheless, Ayers' perambulating bass and Lol Coxhill's ethereal sax perhaps succeed in charming us more than the dated come-on in the lyrics. Meanwhile, Can's Damo Suzuki is having none of it with "Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone," a melange of gypsy-caravan ambience and rock jam, propelled by Jaki Liebezeit's always-seductive drumming. The spirit of collage continues with Lee Perry's "Doctor on the Go," a slinky reggae beat layered atop a British sitcom that blares tinnily from a TV monitor (or so it sounds). Then it's back to the '60s with Rajput & The Sepoy Mutiny's amazing, struggling sitar rendition of "Up, Up & Away." This gem languished in obscurity in the US until its inclusion in Re/Search's 1993 anthology Incredibly Strange Music, Vol I.

"That's Ramsey F---ing Lewis, right there," announced l0de AKA Zak ZYZ on his YouTube radio show, as he listened to "Cry Baby Cry," an over-the-top lounge-jazz version of John Lennon's song. "Lounge" then had its avant garde apotheosis 10 years post-Lewis with Gary Wilson's cult LP You Think You Really Know Me, from whence comes the next tune, "You Were Too Good To Be True," a winsome, slap-bassed instrumental. Quentin Tarantino already rediscovered the penultimate track, George Baker Selection's "Little Green Bag," and used it in the "cool gangsters walking" intro of Reservoir Dogs. And lastly comes The Modern Lovers' "Old World," from the period before Jonathan Richman went full-blown twee, included here for the organ work by soon-to-be-Talking-Head Jerry Harrison, as well as the involvement of '60s-turned-'70s-trailblazer, John Cale, who produced this track.


0:00 Donovan, 7 inch, Wear Your Love Like Heaven (1967)
2:20 Genesis, A Trick of the Tail, A Trick of the Tail (1976)
6:40 The Doors, Waiting for the Sun, Love Street (1968)
9:24 Slapp Happy/Henry Cow, Desperate Straights, Apes in Capes (1975)
11:32 The United States of America, The United States of America, Coming Down (1968)
14:09 The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out, You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here (1966)
17:44 Tina Peel, :30 Over D.C.~~Here Comes The New Wave!, Knocking Down Guardrails (1978)
19:15 Tuxedomoon, No Tears EP, New Machine (1978)
23:33 Curved Air, Phantasmagoria, Not Quite the Same (1972)
27:17 Grits, As the World Grits, Back to the Suburbs (mid-'70s, released 1993)
31:23 Frank Zappa, Studio Tan, Let Me Take You to the Beach (1978)
34:06 Kevin Ayers and The Whole World, Shooting at the Moon, May I? (1970)
37:56 Can, Soundtracks, Don't Turn the Light On, Leave Me Alone (1970)
41:34 Lee Perry & The Upsetters, Revolution Dub, Doctor on the Go (1975)
45:24 Rajput & The Sepoy Mutiny, Flower Power Sitar, Up, Up & Away (1968)
47:35 Ramsey Lewis, Mother Nature's Son, Cry Baby Cry (1968)
50:50 Gary Wilson, You Think You Really Know Me, You Were Too Good To Be True (1977)
52:45 George Baker Selection, 7 inch, Little Green Bag (1969)
55:58 The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers, Old World (1976)

notes for "2000 Tech House" (mix for internet radio)

[I am working on a mix for (open source) internet radio streaming. Below are notes explaining my choices. The mix is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 28, 9 pm Eastern on ffog's Myocyte show on tilderadio and anonradio.

Update, October 29, 2021: Thanks to all who listened and/or commented last night. The archived version of the mix in mp3 form is here.]

If you happened to be in New York City in the year 2000 and hung out at Chinatown's Good World Bar & Grill on a Wednesday night, you may have heard the tunes in this mix. The Bowery Boogie website remembers Good World as a happenin' place and lamented its passing a few years later:

Just like CBGB’s, Max’s Kansas City, Studio 54, Danceteria, The Mud[d] Club, Twilo’s, The Saint, The Sound Factory, Tonic, The Crobar, 8BC, Club 57, The Paradise Garage, The Peppermint Lounge, Save the Robots... The Good World Bar is now just a memory. And we loved being a part of it and will always miss it...

"The first alternative restaurant below Delancey" (as the owners described it in their goodbye notice) is now an ugly glass building. Bowery Boogie remembers:

It was a Scandinavian-inspired cool kids hang which got its start in 1999 when co-owners Annika Sundvik and John Lavelle converted a sketchy Chinese barbershop (i.e. brothel) into Good World. New York Magazine called it a “pioneer” in the area, championing its “long beer list, house cocktails, and rear courtyard.” All under the watchful eye of a stuffed caribou.

Annika and John invited me to spin records on Wednesdays and generously gave me a cut of the bar. I started off playing my own collection and then became obsessed with finding current music suitable for a place where people were eating and drinking (and occasionally illegally dancing -- this was the Giuliani era of crackdowns on fun). From January to November I gradually built up a collection of "deep house" vinyl scarfed at places like Satellite Records and Throb. Near the end of my tenure one of the co-owners complained "you started out great and now you're just like all the other DJs playing this damn stuff." Considering my learning curve I took it as a compliment but I wasn't around much longer after that conversation.

For this mix, I used the original wax and did a "rough cut" using two turntables and a mixer. All the sounds were eventually digitized and timestretched to compensate for my mediocre beatmatching skills. There is some mashing up, too. Most of these are "deep house" or "deep tech house" tracks released the year I was DJ'ing. It was a fun year. People were still smoking in restaurants back then and the place was always full.

00:00 Dan Electro "I Hear Music in the Air" (Better EP)
06:16 Phunky Drakes "Guilty (Classic Rework)" (12")
12:44 Noisy Beach "Stax Music" (Where's Montpellier? EP)
19:37 Harley & Muscle, "Friends and Enemies" (House Church EP)
25:41 James Flavour "Full Flavour" (If the Pimp Calls Back EP)
28:05 Forme "Instant Space" (Aqua-note EP)
32:18 B-Funk Production "Ladies and Gentlemen" (Ladies and Gentlemen EP)*
32:18 Steve Bug "Magic 120" (B_Series Vol.1 EP)*
37:52 Sascha Funke & Djoker Daan "Yachad" (Doppelpass EP)**
37:52 Leandro Fresco "Amor International" (Amor International EP)**
40:40 Scott Findlay "Untitled" (The Modern Dance EP)
44:34 Fish Go Deep "Sweeter" (Flying Funk EP)
47:40 Betamax Crew "Abrasera" (The Betamax Crew EP)
51:21 Cozy Creatures "Wanna Sing" (12")
56:54 [Reprise/filler] Steve Bug "Magic 120" (B_Series Vol.1 EP)

*B-Funk and Bug are mashed up, hence the duplicate start time
**Funke and Fresco are mashed up, hence the duplicate start time

The essay above also appears on the anonradio blog.

notes for "Acid" Tracker Collection (mix for internet radio)

[I am working on a mix for (open source) internet radio streaming. Below are notes explaining my choices.* The mix is scheduled for this Thursday, Oct. 14, 9 pm Eastern on ffog's Myocyte show on tilderadio and anonradio.

Update, October 15, 2021: Thanks to all who listened and/or commented last night. The archived version of the mix in mp3 form is here.]

I collected these tracker music tunes over several years from Mazemod, a Flash-based website where songs could be streamed (it hasn't worked in my browser for a couple of years -- this may be Adobe-related). Mazemod had three flavors of streams: Bass, Acid, and Chip. I took all mine from the Acid category, which mimics '90s house, techno, and jungle styles.
The songs can all still be found as .mod files (see, e.g., but at the time I saved these, Mazemod had no archive of the streams (that I could find). However, the player would allow you to backtrack to just-played songs, and using this feature I recorded my favorite tunes on a PC, writing down the titles as I went.
As anyone who watched the film 8 BIT knows (recently released as $2.99 stream on Vimeo), not everyone loves chiptune music, especially when made on the Gameboy. Chiptune is more of a flavor than a lifestyle, best heard in small doses. (Less is not always more.) Tracker music, however, which includes game-like music as a subset, adapts the 8-bit ethos to more fully-fleshed-out club tunes, giving an appealing lightness and speed to the music it seeks to emulate. It's essentially played on spreadsheets, with note-on commands triggering an inboard library of highly compressed, low-res samples, which fire out of the speakers like machine gun bullets. It may be an illusion but it just feels lighter, because the samples load so quickly. There is a raspy, gritty quality to the sounds because of all the shed bytes. Many of these solutions for playing rave tunes in an Excel-like piano roll are ingenious. How do they make those 303 runs, turntable scratches, and delays sound so spontaneous? There is humor, life, and sheer joy in these songs, making them infinitely listenable.
Below is a list of the tracks, with footnotes for a few recognizable vocal samples. Apologies for any errors in this hastily handmade metadata:

00:00 The Fox II, "Groovedoos"
03:25 Group (?) "The Celsius" (Justice 96 Remix)
07:28 Raatomestari "More Life" (1)
11:19 Raina, "Smile"
12:41 Tang, "Narhim"
15:57 Revi, "Frozen 35"
19:12 Dupont and Dopegroove, "The Love Is Gone"
25:46 Jean Nine, "Jean Learns to Race" (2)
29:35 Zetor, "Trippin"
32:02 MEFIS, "Connection Busy"
37:04 Fakiiri, "Bumblebi"
41:17 The Fox II, "Naihanchida Remix" (3)
45:52 Orlingo, "Live and Uncut"
49:38 Tarmslyng, "Goodbymetal"
55:13 Pekka Pou, "Trip to Ahtaruup"
58:07 Voicer, "Lollypop"

1. Rutger Hauer saying "I want more life," from Blade Runner
2. From Reservoir Dogs: "This is a hard job." "So's working at McDonalds's but you don't feel the need to tip them, do you?" and "You kill anybody?" "A few cops." "No real people?" "Just cops."
3. Martin Luther King, "This must become true," "Let freedom ring," etc

*This essay also appears on the anonradio blog.

guest DJ set list (Sept. 30, 2021) - postpunk & disco

Thanks to ffog for inviting me to guest-DJ again on his weekly internet radio show, Myocyte.
The mix was "simulcast" on anonradio and tilderadio, and has been archived by anonradio (scroll down to "Ffog - Pleasure & Discomfort Myocyte"). An mp3 version of the mix is here: [1 hr mp3] (The show was broadcast at 1 am on October 1 UTC, which is 8 pm Central, September 30, in the US.)

To flesh out the ideas behind the mix, I've posted an essay with details and observations about the tracks and why I put them together (cross-posted to the anonradio blog).

While the tracks were playing I "announced" via text chat on the #sally and #tilderadio channels on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), as well as anonradio's chat service "com," which runs on a command line terminal. Listeners could comment or ask questions. This is an interesting way to DJ, very different from my old FM radio days and a few steps up aesthetically from having everyone's data and souls leeched out on Spotify, Mixcloud, etc.

00:00 Harvey Gold - Armadillo (1978) - Experiments 7 inch
03:00 Tin Huey - Puppet Wipes (1977) - 7 inch
05:41 Tuxedomoon - Driving to Verdun (1984) - Made to Measure Vol. 1
08:10 Stuart Argabright - Tipsy Turvy (1989) - IBM computer animation soundtrack
10:10 Hugh Hopper / Alan Gowen - Elibom (1980) - Two Rainbows Daily
15:10 Michael Giles / Jamie Muir / David Cunningham - Cascade (1983) - Ghost Dance
18:40 Aksak Maboul - Odessa (1984) - Made to Measure Vol. 1
22:30 Chrome - Nova Feeback (1977) - Alien Soundtracks
28:09 (The) Bizarros - Lady Doubonette (1976) - 7 inch
31:48 MX-80 Sound - Cry Uncle (2005) - We're An American Band
35:46 Glo (Gilli Smyth/Stephan Lewry) - Let's Glo (1995) - Even As We
42:13 Carly Simon - Why (1982) - 7 inch
45:30 Tullio De Piscopo - Stop Bajon (1984) - 12 inch
52:40 Losoul - Remember Your History (2000) - Belong

Notes for "postpunk & disco" mix

[I am working on a mix for (open source) internet radio streaming. Below are notes explaining my choices.* The mix is scheduled for this Thursday, Sept. 30, 9 pm Eastern on ffog's Myocyte show on tilderadio and anonradio. Update: The setlist, with link to an mp3 of the mix, is here.]

Disco and "hard rock" were once poised as arch-enemies but tonight's mix suggests a continuum where they exist side by side and even cross-pollinate. Postpunk music (new wave, synthpop, hardcore, etc) overlapped disco in '77-'85 but the genres mostly stayed within their market niches. The first part of the mix skews towards "rock" and the second "dance" but the intent is to imagine them intertwined.
Tin Huey was an Akron OH band that only put out one LP, Contents Dislodged During Shipment (1978) on Warner Brothers.** Many would categorize it as prog-rock but it's also hard-rocking in the manner of fellow Akronites DEVO and The Bizarros. With its emphasis on horns, strident vocals, and sometimes forced-sounding zaniness, it could also be called a "Midwest Oingo Boingo" -- though I prefer the Hueys' music. Guitarist Chris Butler went on to fame and fortune with The Waitresses ("I Know What Boys Like," "Christmas Wrapping") but the "auteur" of the band arguably is Harvey Gold, who has a songwriting credit on 7 out of 11 songs.
Tonight's mix begins with Gold's "Armadillo" (1978), a 7 inch single release under his own name. The song shifts gears from prog to country to folk to avant garde, reveling in its own refusal to take itself seriously.
(As a biographical note, I have heard that several Hueys were in college at the time of the Kent State massacre and were deeply affected by that event. Much late '70s "underground" music has an anger and nihilism that took the form of almost militant absurdity. Gold's and Tin Huey's singing wears its heart on its sleeve, but sarcastically: the lyrics are smart and cynical and frequently nonsensical.)
Next up is a 7 inch version of Tin Huey's "Puppet Wipes" (1977), co-written by Gold and Ralph Carney, who also went on to later success, as a sought-after session "reed man." A catchy, herky jerky DEVO-ish beginning is interrupted by a rockin' middle section where Gold barks out barely-comprehensible phrases like an enraged street person ranting to himself.
Another cult band of this era is Tuxedomoon, which launched in San Francisco and then relocated to Belgium as arty expatriates. "Driving to Verdun" is a pretty synth dirge from their Belgian phase. This track is followed by Stuart Argabright, who had some club recognition with "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight" ("women beat their men," "the men beat on the drums" etc) from 1984. Tonight's mix features Argabright's later score for a 1989 CGI animation made by IBM, "Tipsy Turvy," demonstrating Pixar-type effects, pre-Pixar. Synthy arpeggios flutter in the background as rubberized dinnerware sneezes, bounces, and crashes around on a tabletop.
Next we briefly detour into some jazzy prog from the UK that was going on at the same time as postpunk and disco and belongs in our imaginary de-genre-fied conversation. Canterbury duo Hugh Hopper and Alan Gowen perform "Elibom" (1980), on bass and keyboards, then ex-King Crimson percussionists Michael Giles and Jamie Muir join Flying Lizards leader David Cunningham for the gamelan-like "Cascade" (1983). These tracks mesh pretty well with Aksak Maboul's Odessa (1984), another pretty synth dirge with an Eastern flavor, which cycles us back to Belgian art rock.
Rounding out our postpunk exploration are tracks by Chrome (Nova Feeback, 1977), The Bizarros (Lady Doubonette, 1976) and MX-80 Sound (Cry Uncle, 2005). Each features psychedelic guitar wailing and warbling, divorced from the hippie romanticism of psychedelia and placed into a harder, more cynical context. The overall sound of MX-80 changed between 1977 and 2005 from garage rock to pseudo-hiphop, but a constant has been Rich Stim's relentlessly sardonic vocals.
"Pseudo-hiphop" might also cover the next track, "Let's Glo" (1995) by Glo, an offshoot project of UK space-rock pioneers Gong. The "Gong vibe" can still be heard in the Tim Blake-esque analog synth sweeps and Gilly Smyth's whisper poetry but otherwise this is a dance track falling somewhere between later New Order and UK triphop.
The "disco" section of the mix kicks off in earnest with a Chic produced track by Carly Simon (!) from 1982, titled "Why." Bernard Edwards' poppin' funk bass and a haunting melody almost make us forget this is Carly Simon. Next up is some vintage Italodisco, Tullio De Piscopo's "Stop Bajon" (1984), with a driving beat and catchy horns. And lastly, "disco" gets the deconstructionist treatment in Losoul's "Remember Your History" (2000), with its various elements -- four on the floor kick, bassline, rhythm guitar vamping -- broken into segments, layered, and scientifically analyzed in the laboratory of German tech-house.

* This essay also appears on the anonradio blog.
**In 1999 they released a CD, Disinformation, collecting odds and ends from various later incarnations of the band.