THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Elevation

This chapter is in some potential drafts of my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), but is more likely to be pushed back to an even-more-theoretical This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 2.

An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!

TELEVISION: “Elevation”

Written by Tom Verlaine

Produced by Andy Johns and Tom Verlaine

From the album Marquee Moon, Elektra Records, 1977
Vertigo.

For the disaffected and dissatisfied in 1977, no track expressed the feeling of rock music in dizzying free fall with greater menace and implied ennui as “Elevation” by Television

A large part of growing up manifests in staking one’s own claim on fresh vistas. We don’t necessarily crave a complete break from the past, from the frontiers settled by older siblings or preceding generations. But we want some real estate to call our own. 

From Television’s debut album Marquee Moon, the track “Elevation” just fascinated me when I was 17. Fall of 1977, freshman in college, trying to finally hear all these punk or new wave or whaddayacallit bands I’d read so much about in the pages of Phonograph Record Magazine. I asked the campus radio station for help, and was rewarded with the sounds of the Ramones,Blondiethe Dictatorsthe Advertsthe JamWillie Alexander and the Boom Boom Bandthe Runaways, and oh yeah!, Television. I could never get enough of this jagged, loping, serpentine noise, so mesmerizing, so different, so gratifyingly dizzying in its willful application of elevation going to my head. And staying there. Marquee Moon was among my earliest LP purchases in this broad category of NEW MUSIC circa ’77 and ’78. It would not be the last. 

Oh, no. Not even close to the last.

Years later, I read something that compared Television to the Grateful Dead, keying on the group’s essential musicality in contrast with the three-chord image of much of their CBGB‘s contemporaries. That comparison would have horrified me in the ’70s, and I doubt many Deadheads would have agreed with it either. Minus the determined DIY stance of original Television bassist Richard Hell, though, the members of Television–guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, drummer Billy Ficca, and Hell’s four-string replacement Fred Smith–could be jazzier, more inclined to improvise, while still maintaining a Bowery edge. Television might not have jammed like Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia, but their sound was in some ways closer to the Dead than it was to the Ramones or Blondie, or even to Talking Heads.

Television split after their second album, 1978’s Adventure, and did an eponymous reunion album in 1992. Marquee Moon was their signature work, an acknowledged classic in rock ‘n’ roll’s storied history of fresh vistas claimed, frontiers settled. A song on that album begged (or warned), “Elevation, don’t go to my head.” The plea is for naught. The head surrenders. The body falls. 

If you like what you see here on Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon, or by visiting CC’s Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

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Uncategorized

TV: Another Updated List Of TV Series I’ve Seen From Start To Finish

Last year, I posted a list of TV series that I’ve seen in their entirety, every episode. This is an update of that list, still missing a number of shows my memory won’t surrender, but adding some recent completions. 

Since that original list and its first update, I’ve fallen under the thrall of the wonderful NBC series This Is Us. Brenda and I binged the show’s first five seasons last year, and we were fully on-board for its final season in 2022. I now regard This Is Us as one of my all-time favorite TV series. Now that it’s completed its run (and while we’re still wiping the sting out of our teary eyes–oh, the feels!), it’s time for another update to the master list. Let’s get to that list, with its original introduction intact, and its later paragraphs given a fresh coat o’ varnish.

Above image by Tyrone Biljan, courtesy of 13thdimension.com

I like TV shows. This is an attempt to list every TV series I’ve ever watched in its entirety, from Season 1 Episode 1 through the blowout finale. It includes mini-series, broadcast series, cable series, and streaming series without discrimination. And it includes some series I saw piecemeal, as long as I’m sure I saw all of the episodes in whatever sequence I got to them. Some I saw on first run, others I watched after the fact. It is a woefully incomplete list–because, y’know, memory–but it’s a start. I may come back here to add more series as I remember them.

The Adventures Of Superman

Angel

Arrow

Batman

Being Erica

Bionic Woman [2007 series]

Birds Of Prey

Black Lightning

The Bob Newhart Show

Bosom Buddies

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Bunheads

The Crazy Ones

Daredevil

The Defenders[Marvel Comics series]

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Ellery Queen

The Event

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier

Firefly

The Flash [1990-1991 series]

Flashforward [2009-2010 series]

Freaks And Geeks

Friends

Gilligan’s Island

Gilmore Girls

Glee

Go On

The Good Place, quite possibly my all-time favorite TV series (other than Jeopardy!)

The Good Place

Gotham

The Green Hornet

Hawkeye

Heroes

High Fidelity

Inhumans

Iron Fist

Jessica Jones

Krypton

Luke Cage

M*A*S*H

Mad Men

Marvel’s Agent Carter

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Middle Man

The Monkees

Moon Knight

Mrs. America

The Munsters

The Newsroom

No Ordinary Family

Pan Am

Police Squad!

*Powerless

Pushing Daisies

Quantum Leap

The Queen’s Gambit

Reaper

Ringer
Sherlock

Smallville

Smash

Square Pegs

St. Elsewhere

Star Trek

*The Steven Banks Show

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip

Supergirl

This Is Us

Timeless

Unorthodox

V [2009-2011 series]

Veronica Mars

The Village

WandaVision

We’ll Get By

The West Wing

The Wonder Years

Younger

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

If I forgot any series you think I must have seen from start to finish, I welcome attempts to jog my stubborn memory.

There are two series cited with an asterisk: NBC’s 2017 DC Comics sitcom Powerless and the 1994 PBS comedy series The Steven Banks Show. In both cases, I saw all of the broadcast episodes, but each had additional episodes that were completed but never aired. Haven’t seen those, so…asterisk.

This list arbitrarily excludes animated shows, only because I didn’t want to rack my brain to identify which cartoon series qualified; the cartoon list would include things like The FlintstonesBatman: The Animated Series (and the subsequent related Superman and  Justice League series that were part of that B:TAS universe), and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Among live-action shows, Arrested Development andTwin Peaks would have been listed on the basis of their original network TV runs, but both have since been revived, and I haven’t seen any of the latter-day episodes. (On the other hand, I have seen the continuations of Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, and approve of both.)

Current series that will probably make this list some day include Firefly LaneThe Flash (The CW‘s version, which is distinct from the ’90s series), LokiThe Marvelous Mrs. MaiselStargirl, and the simply swell Superman and Lois. I bailed on Batwoman before its cancellation in 2022. Having seen the first season of Dollhouse, I may go back to see its second and final season. 

I own home video copies of just a handful of complete TV series. I have The Monkees on DVD and on Blu-ray, Batman on Blu-ray, Shindig! on an unauthorized set of DVD-Rs (and I really need to go back and finish watching those), homemade VHS copies of The Green Hornet, and Police Squad!, and, if we count non-physical media, the 2011-2012 series Pan Am on iTunes. I may write about Pan Am some day; the timing of its original network run coincided with some emotional turmoil in my life, and the idea of jetting off to Europe seemed mighty appealing to me. The pilot episode of Pan Am would serve as part of the climax in the first chapter of a long-gestating memoir I call Spain, a piece which, frankly, I doubt I’ll ever getting around to writing. 

There are still a lot of older TV series that should probably be on this list. It’s likely that I’ve seen every episode of Get SmartThe Beverly HillbilliesF TroopThe Odd CoupleThe Andy Griffith ShowWKRP In CincinnatiHec RamseySwitchWhen Things Were Rotten, and a big ol’ bunch of others, but my reasonable doubt is sufficient for me to omit them from this list. There are some other older shows–The Guns Of Will Sonnett, the 1960s Tarzan, Disney’s Zorro–I’d like the opportunity to re-visit, but for now, I don’t think I’ve seen all of those episodes.

Yet.

We’re gonna miss you, Pearson clan. Thank you for six superb seasons of This Is Us.

If you like what you see here on Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon, or by visiting CC’s Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

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Boppin'

Didn’t Hear THAT Coming! (Unexpected Covers In Concert): THE FLASHCUBES, “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”

THE FLASHCUBES: Arty Lenin, Tommy Allen, Gary Frenay, Paul Armstrong

Didn’t Hear THAT Coming! (Unexpected Covers In Concert) discusses songs I was surprised to hear covered in a live show by an act I’d gone to see.
Cover songs can add zip and spark to a rock ‘n’ roll group’s live repertoire. In their earliest gigs, most groups start out playing covers, and integrate more of their own original material into their sets as they play more dates, develop more of an identity, and attract more fans with an interest beyond just hearing bar-band interpretations of songs associated with other acts. It’s a basic long-term strategy for groups hoping to get noticed, to get somewhere; there’s a reason The Rolling Stones cut back on Chuck Berry songs and started writing their own material.

Still, a well-placed cover tune can enhance a live set, while the wrong choice can result in irritating a fan who doesn’t want to hear a fave rave act pandering to a lower common denominator. Whether it works or falls flat, the unexpected cover prompts us to say, “Wow–didn’t hear THAT coming!”

THE FLASHCUBES: Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter [Herman’s Hermits]
I believe I’ve already mentioned that I kinda like Syracuse’s own power pop powerhouse The Flashcubes; insisting that my all-time favorite groups are The BeatlesThe Ramones, and The Flashcubes is a pretty direct statement, right? ‘Cubes shows in 1977 and ’78 included a lot of covers; as time went on, the bulk of their set lists became (rightfully) dominated by their own compositions.

The Flashcubes had terrific taste in covers, encompassing ’60s British Invasion, ’70s punk, power pop, new wave, and Eddie Cochran. The ‘Cubes introduced me to the music of The New York DollsBig StarChris Spedding, and Eddie & the Hot Rods. They covered The TroggsThe JamThe HolliesTelevisionThe RaspberriesThe Sex PistolsThe Yardbirds, and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” 

And The Flashcubes covered Herman’s Hermits. Just, y’know, usually not the song listed above.

“A Must To Avoid” was the Hermits track that eventually made its way onto Cubic set lists, a song ready-made for live power pop (though the ‘Cubes always skipped its final verse, presumably to keep it lean ‘n’ stripped). But one night in 1978, upstairs at either The Orange or The Firebarn, the ‘Cubes did a seemingly impromptu snippet of “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter.” They were introducing a Sex Pistols cover, guitarist Paul Armstrong saying they were going to do a song by a group that had just broken up. “The Beatles…?!,” bassist Gary Frenay joked. “No,” said Armstrong, “and it’s not Herman’s Hermits either.”

For dramatic purposes, the part of Mrs. Brown’s lovely daughter will be played by the lovely actress Pamela Sue Martin

At which point guitarist Arty Lenin started picking the distinctive faux ukulele intro to “Mrs. Brown.” Paul paused, conferred with Arty, who then resumed his picking as Paul joined in briefly to wail along, Missus Brown you’ve gahht a luuuuvleeee dawwwwwwwterrr…! Drummer Tommy Allen may have thrown in a rim shot, completing this Borscht Belt power pop connection. The gag completed, The Flashcubes launched into their planned cover of either “God Save The Queen” or “Pretty Vacant.” 

She’s so lovely, she’s so lovely…she’s a DAUGHTER…!

Was this whole schtick planned out in advance? Maybe. Probably? If so, The Flashcubes pulled off the illusion of spontaneity with grace and aplomb, perhaps not a phrase often applied to the clattering Wall of Noise that defined the sound of Flashcubes ’78. 

My memory insists that I witnessed Arty throw in his “Mrs. Brown” lick during at least one other Flashcubes show, that time without Paul Armstrong channeling a punk Peter Noone. If he ever did it again, it was still an isolated incident. “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” would not be listed in any document of songs The Flashcubes ever covered. But I saw it. I heard it. I just didn’t hear it coming.

WHEN DIDN’T HEAR THAT COMING! RETURNS: David Johansen sings disco!

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This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin’ pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
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Hey, Carl’s writin’ a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 100 essays (and then some) about 100 tracks, plus two bonus instrumentals, each one of ’em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).