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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Uncle John’s Band

This appeared previously here at Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) in October of 2018. It has been slightly adjusted to reflect how it will appear in my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1).

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

THE GRATEFUL DEAD: Uncle John’s Band

Written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter

Produced by Bob Matthews. Betty Cantor, and Grateful Dead

From the album Workingman’s Dead, Warner Brothers Records, 1970


It’s the same story the crow told me
It’s the only one he knows
Like the summer sun you come
And like the wind you go
Ain’t no time to hate
Barely time to wait
Oh, but what I want to know is
Where does the time go?

OCTOBER 21, 2018
We try to hold on. We try to cling to things we cherish. We can’t hold on. We shouldn’t. We can’t.

When I was a teenaged college student matriculatin’ my way through the late ’70s, I actively loathed the Grateful Dead. To this power-poppin’ punk rocker, the Dead’s music, image, and interminably jamming vibe were anathema. Gimme the Ramones. Gimme the Sex Pistolsthe Buzzcocksthe Flashcubes. Gimme British Invasion. Gimme the Monkees. Gimme something short ‘n’ sharp, fast ‘n’ catchy, and play it loud. Gimme some truth. The Grateful Dead? No. Thanks anyway, but no.


Nonetheless, somewhere in this time frame, I heard the Grateful Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band.” Maybe not for the first time–it was, after all, released way back in 1970, the lead-off track on the Workingman’s Dead album, and some radio station somewhere must have played it within my sovereign air space–but maybe for the first time that mattered. I still found time to hate the Grateful Dead. I made an exception for “Uncle John’s Band.”

Why? There was something…inviting about the track. I dunno. Something comforting, something pretty, something intrinsically appealing on a deeper level. Something that mattered. By the early ’80s, I quipped that “Uncle John’s Band” was a great track, and that I just wished it was by the Hollies instead of the Dead. I think I said the same thing about Van Halen‘s “Dance The Night Away” and “Lorelei” by Styx, in each case ripping off something I’d once read in Phonograph Record Magazine about “Cherry Baby” by Starz. Collectively, these were the beginnings of my eventual conviction that even a band you despise might be capable of putting out one track you adore.

I grew up. I’m sure I have that in writing somewhere. I graduated from college in 1980, got married in 1984, and became father to a newborn baby girl in 1995. Now, that baby girl is herself a college graduate, herself deep into the process of growing up. And today, she’s moving out of our house. She’ll be close by–not even ten minutes away–and she’ll still carpool to work with her mother during the week. I’m sure I’ll see her often. It’s a good thing, a great thing. A necessary thing. Our pride in our daughter far outshines the fragile nature of our emotions. It is a moment to celebrate. My eyes sting just the same. Where does the time go?

She and her boyfriend are moving into the house where I lived from 1960 until 1980, birth to graduation. My mother’s house. Mom doesn’t live there anymore. Dad passed away in 2012, and my sister (who lives in England) bought the house to keep it in the family as the inevitable marched its odious way in our direction. The inevitable happened faster than anticipated, as my mother fell at home in December of 2017. It soon became apparent that she could no longer live on her own, and she relocated permanently to a nursing home facility by the end of 2017. Ain’t no time to hate. Barely time to wait.

I see Mom every day after work. I check in, I chat, I see if there’s anything she needs, anything I can do for her. I get her audio books, even though her hearing is diminished. I make sure her TV is working, even though she’s now legally blind. I get her to the few doctor’s appointments that aren’t handled on the premises. I check her mail. I handle her accounts. I make sure she’s adequately stocked with whatever is appropriate to keep her as comfortable and content as we can. And then I go home for supper. I am Sisyphus. And like the summer sun I come, and like the wind I go.

I started to develop a little bit of appreciation for the Grateful Dead in the ’80s. Perhaps to my horror, I discovered that I loved their 1987 MTV hit “Touch Of Grey,” and I felt compelled to purchase both their then-current LP In The Dark and the greatest-hits set Skeletons In The Closet. The ’67 psychedelic rocker “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” became another fave rave, much later joined by another debut album track called “Cream Puff War,” plus “Can’t Come Down,” an earlier track dating from when the Dead were billed as the Warlocks. Cool stuff, all of this.

“Uncle John’s Band” remained the kingpin. Such a mystically comforting track, even as we feel time slipping away, the sands within its hourglass dropping at a rate too rapid to comprehend. Come hear Uncle John’s band playing to the tide/Come with me or go alone, he’s come to take his children home. Magnificent sadness, magnificent glory. In spite of the obvious fact that it really doesn’t sound anything like the Kinks, it is somehow a peer to the peerless music of my favorite Kinks album, The Village Green Preservation Society. At 18 or 19, I never envisioned myself speaking glowingly of the Grateful Dead alongside the Kinks. At 18 or 19, I never envisioned the melancholy ache of the question: Where does the time go?
Tomorrow, I’m going to help my daughter install some smoke detectors in her new abode. I’ll see my Mom tonight, like every night. I’ll eat supper with my wife in a house that will seem emptier than it did just a moment ago. I will hold her close. We first met forty years ago this weekend. My roommate at the time was into the Grateful Dead, and he vowed to make a Deadhead out of me. It never happened, except in the ways that it did. 

Well the first days are the hardest days. Life has never looked like Easy Street. There has always been danger at our door. Another singing group tried to tell us that all we’d need was love. We also need to be strong. We need to hold on. Our walls are built of cannonballs. And we’ve got some things to talk about, here beside the rising tide. We’re grateful. We ain’t dead yet.

POSTSCRIPT: Mom left us on December 9th, 2021. Time is the enemy. Yet it’s an enemy we’re grateful to have for as long as we have it.

“Uncle John’s Band” written by Jerome J. Garcia and Robert Hunter

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You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

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
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl.

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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: This Ain’t The Summer Of Love

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!

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT: This Ain’t The Summer Of Love

Written by Albert Bouchard, Murray Krugman, and Don Waller

Produced by Sandy Pearlman, Murray Krugman, and David Lucas

From the album Agents Of Fortune, Columbia Recoirds, 1976

I’ve written many times about my friend Tom, who killed himself in 1979. The other day, the random thought occurred to me that, if he had lived, Tom and I probably would have parted company somewhere along the line. It was an unsettling, sobering thought. As much as we had been friends, our paths were already starting to diverge when he carried out that final act. He is frozen at a point in time when we were friends. It’s been more than forty years, and the memory still aches. Losing a friend is difficult. Losing a friend to suicide leaves a wound that never quite goes away. That mental scar inevitably dominates my recollection of a former friend. 

There are specific songs that always remind me of Tom, songs I first heard when Tom played them. Both David Bowie‘s “All The Madmen” and the Runaways‘ cover of the Velvet Underground‘s “Rock And Roll” are superglued to Tom’s memory. And that is likewise true of “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love,” a track from Blue Öyster Cult‘s 1976 album Agents Of Fortune. I only knew the band from radio play of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” but Tom had the LP, and played it for me. Tom was particularly fond of “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love,” and his enthusiasm was infectious. 

BÖC’s best-known tracks are “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and (later on) “Burnin’ For You,” with maybe an honorable mention for “Godzilla.” My favorite remains “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love,” a lean and efficient LP track from Agents Of Fortune(the album that gave us “Don’t Fear The Reaper”). I learned of the song through my doomed high school pal Tom, prompting me to purchase my own battered, used copy of the album in time for college. During my freshman year, Side One of Agents Of Fortune was as much a go-to slab of vinyl as my Sex Pistols and Monkees records, and “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love” in particular fit well alongside my steady diet of RamonesTelevisionJam, and Dave Clark Five.
For me, 1979 was the summer of love. I had met Brenda the preceding fall, and we were getting increasingly serious about committing our hearts to each other. She was with me the night I saw Tom for the last time, and she was with me the next morning when a phone call delivered the news of his death. She tried to comfort as best she could. It was a summer of love, no matter what a song said. It was also a summer marked by the start of a lingering sadness that’s not ever going to go away. Friendships end. That’s the nature of all things in this physical world. 

We make our way as best we can. Some are unable to make their way. The day a good friend of mine killed himself in 1979 was one of the worst days of my life, until an even worse day took its place decades later. The emotional scar never heals. I look back, and wish I could have helped.

If you find yourself in something similar to my old friend’s shoes, help is available. If you know someone else going through whatever it was my friend went through, please try to be a guide toward that helping hand, that helping voice, the bedrock of support your friend needs. Indeed, the support we all need. Your friend is not alone. You are not alone. 

We are not alone.

So this ain’t the summer of love. Who says it can’t be? Don’t fear the reaper. And don’t be afraid to fight back.

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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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Rockaway Beach (On The Beach)

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

This entry originally appeared as part of a larger post, and is not currently intended for my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1).

GENERAL JOHNSON AND JOEY RAMONE: Rockaway Beach (On The Beach)

Written by Ramones and General Johnson

Produced by Ben Wolff and Andy Dean

Single, Forward Records, 1994

I first heard about this beach-music team-up of Joey Ramone and former Chairmen of the Board singer General Johnson when Joey Ramone called to tell me about in 1994. Yes, I am cooler than you are. (I should probably let that illusion stand in place, but Joey’s call to me was just a follow-up to a Goldmine interview we’d done within the previous week, as he wanted to make sure I was aware of a number of projects he was doing outside the Ramones‘ aegis. He never called again. My claim to being cooler than you are is, y’know, suspect at best.)

But: back to the record! It’s an ongoing testimony to the greatness of Ramones songs that they can thrive in different interpretations. The Swedish girl-pop group Shebang did a girl-pop bubblegum version of “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.” Ronnie Spector covered “Here Today Gone Tomorrow” and “She Talks To Rainbows.” KISS did “Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” with more kitchen-sink Phil Spector than the Spector-produced original. The Nutley Brass and the Ramonetures did entire albums of Ramones covers, in the respective styles of elevator music and surf instrumentals. It all worked. These Blitzkrieg bops remain more versatile and universal than anyone realized at the time.

Remaking the power-pop bubblepunk of “Rockaway Beach” as a soulful slow-groove Carolina beach shag would seem a preposterous notion…until you hear it. Whoa! Grab a blanket, grab your honey, and snuggle by the fire as the sun descends. It’s not hard, not far to reach. Hitch a ride, baby.

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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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Rescue Me

This entry is not currently part of the plan for my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1).

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

FONTELLA BASS: Rescue Me

Written by Carl Smith and Raynard Miner [possibly with Fontella Bass]

Produced by Billy Davis, Carl Smith, and Raynard Miner

Single, Chess Records, 1965

That most excellent year of 1965 rewarded singer Fontella Bass with a huge pop smash called “Rescue Me.” It’s a true classic, but believe it or not, I once read of someone shrugging it off as a mere attempt to imitate the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. That seems a little harsh, but it’s also kind of impressive. I mean, Aretha didn’t achieve any notable success until 1967, which would make Fontella’s choice to imitate Aretha remarkably prescient. Gotta jump on these things early, I guess.

Seriously, no one should dismiss Fontella Bass. She was a one-hit wonder, sure, but there were many, many great acts that created a wealth of superlative material, but only found real commercial success with one, maybe two songs. Ask the Knickerbockers, or the Bobby Fuller Four. Hell, ask Sammy Ambrose, who didn’t even get one frickin’ hit record to call his own. 

Fontella Bass also deserved at least had one more hit. 1966’s “I Surrender” is nearly the equal of “Rescue Me” without really sounding anything like it. Nor does it sound like Aretha, for that matter. 

It sounds like a hit.

But it wasn’t. Nonetheless, presaging Aretha is itself a pretty neat accomplishment. If Fontella Bass had but one incredible hit that everyone knows, we know there were more obscure worthies that would have enriched us if we’d heard them. On the pop charts, though, rescue proved fleeting for Fontella Bass.

You can support 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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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: The Batman Theme

This chapter from my book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) includes bits from a few other previous posts, all remixed into its own unique piece. It was distributed privately to this blog’s paid patrons on September 1, 2020. This is its first public appearance. You can become a supporter of Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) for just $2 a month: Fund me, baby!

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

NELSON RIDDLE: The Batman Theme

Written by Neal Hefti
From the 20th Century Fox TV series Batman, 1966
I grew up in a time when TV theme songs routinely entered the public consciousness. The catchy ditties that opened shows like Gilligan’s IslandF TroopThe Beverly HillbilliesThe Patty Duke Show, and Car 54, Where Are You? weren’t hit records in the usual sense, but within our shared pop culture they were nonetheless as big as any 45 spinning on the radio. 

Many theme songs were sufficiently hook-laden to prompt release as a single, sometimes by the original artist and sometimes in cover versions, and sometimes to chart success. The Cowsills‘ swell cover of “Love American Style” wasn’t a hit, but it should have been, and it remains a staple of their live act. The VenturesPerry ComoHenry Mancini, and Johnny Rivers all made the Top 40 with their respective renditions of themes from Hawaii Five-0Here Come The BridesPeter Gunn, and Secret Agent Man. Television tunes continued to maintain a radio presence throughout the ’70s and ’80s. In June of 1995, The Rembrandts‘ “I’ll Be There For You,” the theme from the NBC sitcom Friends, was the # 1 song on radio the week my daughter was born. I thought that was appropriate, and pretty cool.

The campy 1966 Batman TV series had a seismic effect on me when I was six. No other television program could ever equal Batman‘s lasting impact on impressionable li’l me, creating a life-long interest in comic books and superheroes in general, and in the Caped Crusader specifically. I didn’t understand that the show kinda poked fun at the character, because actor Adam West played the title role straight, and to perfection. As West said decades later in a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory: “I never had to say ‘I’M BATMAN!’ When I showed up, people knew who the hell I was.”

Batman was the most flamboyantly POP! TV show to ever grace the home screen, more so than The Monkees or Laugh-In, more even than essential jukebox shows like Shindig!  Each episode was an explosion of color and attitude, of purposely hammy acting accompanied by on-screen BIFFs, BANGs, and POWs.

But it wasn’t a rock ‘n’ roll show, at least not musically. Its musical direction was charted by bandleader Nelson Riddle, its simple theme song written by Neal Hefti, both of whom were traditional swing/jazz guys who normally eschewed rock. Paul Revere and the Raiders and Lesley Gore appeared as guests on the show, but it was always clear that Batman‘s producers considered themselves above such primitive noise.

(To illustrate this point that Batman‘s higher-ups did not love rock ‘n’ roll, consider the two-part episode guest-starring British pop duo Chad and Jeremy. When Catwoman literally steals Chad and Jeremy’s voices, a character played by Steve Allen [himself a vocal critic of rock ‘n’ roll] quips that maybe that loss isn’t such a bad thing. And we’re talking about agreeably goofy ‘n’ grinning Chad and Jeremy, who were wonderful but hardly hide-your-daughters ruffians on the authority-threatening scale of, say, The Rolling Stones.)

All of this just makes “The Batman Theme” all the more remarkable. It is rock ‘n’ roll; it’s rock ‘n’ roll written and performed by jazz guys who don’t care if you know they’re just slumming, but it rocks anyway. It transcends its secret origin. 

The Who covered it. The Jam covered it. The Kinks included it in their live set. George Harrison appropriated it for The Beatles‘ “Taxman” (which itself inspired The Bangles‘ “I’m In Line” and The Jam’s “Start!”), and Prince incorporated it into his 1989 Batman soundtrack single “Batdance.” The Marketts had a hit with it. Hefti recorded his own version, and it also charted. 

This entry represents the only spot in this book that’s not occupied by an actual record (although the track was finally given an official release on the CD version of the soundtrack to the 1966 Batman movie). The definitive version will always be the compact rumble performed by Nelson Riddle and his orchestra during the show’s opening credits, heard every Wednesday and Thursday night at 7:30, 6:30 Central on ABC. No subsequent recording has ever matched the specific feel, the unique sway of a caped-crusading call-to-arms accompanied by deadly-earnest chick vocals, rolling percussion, and the on-screen cartoon images of Batman and Robin boppin’ the bad guys at the start of another exciting episode. Riddle recorded a full-length version for the show’s official soundtrack LP, but even that fails to duplicate the simple magic of the short little TV version. 

Years ago, when I auditioned for a game show, prospective contestants were expected to dazzle and impress a small live audience. I did some schtick, got some laughs, and then said that I wanted to close with a rendition of  “The Batman Theme,” but couldn’t remember all the words. “Can anyone help me out?,” I asked. The response was tentative at first, then more confident, and soon everyone in the audience was singing with me: Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BATMAN!
I whooped my approval. I didn’t succeed in getting on the game show, but I still felt that justice had triumphed. And right now, in your head, I bet you’re singing along with it, too. Thank you, citizen. And thank you, Caped Crusader.

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

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
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download
Carl’s writin’ a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1)will contain 165 essays about 165 tracks, 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). My weekly Greatest Record Ever Made! video rants can be seen in my GREM! YouTube playlist. And I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl.

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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: The Green Hornet Theme

This short piece was originally written as an entr’acte at the middle of my forthcoming book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). I’ve decided that it doesn’t quite fit, so it’s moved from book to blog in one superheroic leap.

An infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is The Greatest Record Ever Made!

AL HIRT: “The Green Hornet Theme”

My love of superheroes rivals my affection for pop music, and it goes back nearly as far. TV reruns of The Adventures Of SupermanFlash Gordon, and Popeye and Astro Boy cartoons instilled a deep and abiding interest in the larger-than-life adventures of stalwart crusaders who protected the good from the malevolent machinations of evil. When the campy Batman TV series hit the screen in early ’66, that interest in superheroes shifted into supersonic overdrive. I remain a fan to this day. I will not be growing out of it any time soon.

The producers of the Batman show tried to duplicate its success with an adaptation of the old radio hero The Green Hornet; in contrast to the heightened sense of absurdity that made Batman such a hit, The Green Hornet was played as a relatively straight crime drama that happened to feature masked heroes with outlandish weapons. Sounds good to me! Alas, the public did not agree. and The Green Hornet‘s war on crime ceased fire after a single failed season.

I still like it. As The Green Hornet, actor Van Williams was steadfast without seeming corny, and future pop culture legend Bruce Lee was riveting as the Hornet’s high-flying enforcer Kato. Taking a cue from the earlier success of Peter GunnThe Green Hornet‘s jazzy score was as much a star as its heroes, propelling the action and making it all seem so, so cool. Al Hirt’s over-the-top performance of the show’s title theme–a busy, bouncing workout of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight Of The Bumblebee”–rocked as hard as any TV show theme has ever rocked.

As a rabid devotee of both music and comic books, I’ve found a number of superhero-related tunes that thrill my inner six-year-old. Neal Hefti’s “Batman Theme.” John William’s main title them from the 1978 Superman film. “Nobody Loves The Hulk,” an obscure ’60s garage number by a forgotten group called The Traits. None of ’em can surpass the conviction and authority of Al Hirt’s “Green Hornet Theme.” Another challenge for The Green Hornet? Nope. Kato’s gonna kick the bad guys’ asses, like he always does. Just turn the music up. Justice will triumph yet again.


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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Walk Like A Man

This was prepared as a chapter for my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), but is not in that book’s current blueprint. That could change, but for now, here ’tis.

THE FOUR SEASONS: Walk Like A Man

Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

Produced by Bob Crewe

Single, Vee-Jay Records, 1963

I’m just old enough to remember hearing the Four Seasons on pre-Beatles radio in the early ’60s. That high voice of Frankie Valli calling dogs to dinner on “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” was distinctive, but I never had much interest in the group. In my senior year of college, one of my suitemates was a Four Seasons fan, and he couldn’t understand why I thought they were so uncool.


But that’s what I thought. Clunky. Uncool. In later years, I developed an awareness of the sheer craft of those records, but at the time of my late ’70s immersion in the righteously rockin’ noise of punk, new wave, power pop, and rock ‘n’ roll, when my heightened affection for the ’60s meant an adoration of British Invasion, garage, and the Monkees, the Four Seasons simply were not part of my preferred soundscape. They were, to me, too obviously old school, more Frank Sinatra than Rolling Stones. I didn’t hate them. 

But I didn’t like them, either.

You wanna hear a weird turning point? There was this 1993 movie called Heart And Souls, an inconsequential trifle starring Robert Downey Jr.Charles GrodinAlfre Woodard, and a cast of dozens. I barely remember seeing the movie, but I remember its use of the Four Seasons’ “Walk Like A Man,” and I remember digging the song for the first time…ever? Could be. I can’t explain what or why, but I’ve been into the song since that evening at the cinema.

I’m probably not ever going to be the world’s biggest Four Seasons fan. I don’t care about cool or uncool–I dig what I dig–but I also can’t pretend that I like something more than I do. And I have no affinity whatsoever for Valli and/or the Seasons’ work in the ’70s and beyond; I’d be perfectly okay with never hearing “Who Loves You,” “Swearin’ To God,” “My Eyes Adored You,” “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night),” or “Grease” again. 

But.

I can appreciate some of the ’60s stuff now. “Workin’ My Way Back To You.” “Let’s Hang On!” “Big Man In Town.” “Rag Doll.” A relative obscurity called “Let’s Ride Again.” Valli’s original version of “Silence Is Golden,” though I do still prefer the Tremeloes‘ hit cover. These are terrific records, a statement of the obvious that I would not have conceded when I was in my teens or twenties. “Walk Like A Man” is freakin’ superb. Hell, I might even consider seeing Jersey Boys. No rush. We’re walkin’ here.

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

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
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download

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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Making Time

This was prepared as a chapter for my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1), but is not in that book’s current blueprint. That could change, but for now, here ’tis.

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!THE CREATION: Making Time
Written by Kenny Pickett and Eddie Phillips
Produced by Shel Talmy
Single, Planet Records [U. K.], 1966

Power pop. I disagree with the widespread notion that while power pop as a genre may be (MAY be…?!) rooted in the ’60s, it doesn’t really begin until the ’70s. No matter how many knowledgeable pundits express that view, I consider it…well, nonsense may be too strong a dismissal, but…wrong. The viewpoint is incorrect. We’re talking about a sound, an approach to pop music. You can’t limit its discussion to a certain era if there are bona fide examples that predate that era. That would make it a revival. Power pop is not a revival. And we can look to the ’60s for many examples that well predate the Raspberries and Big Star.

Examples like the early Who. Examples like the early Kinks. Examples (in my opinion) like the Beatlesinventing power pop with “Please Please Me.” And examples like “Making Time” by the Creation.

The Creation were a British rock group in the ’60s, and “Making Time” was produced by expatriate Yank Shel Talmy, who knew a thing or two about the style from his work with the Who, the Kinks, and the Easybeats. When I was reading about power pop in Bomp! magazine’s landmark 1978 issue devoted to that particular clarion call, the Creation’s records were among the more elusive sounds cited therein. The Creation had no hits in America, were virtually unknown on these shores, and I had a devil of a time trying to hear any of their music in ’78. I finally found and bought an import 45 at Syracuse’s Desert Shore RecordsArty Lenin, guitarist for Syracuse’s own power pop powerhouse the Flashcubes, was working the counter at Desert Shore that day, trying to interest me in “The Staircase (Mystery)” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Instead, I purchased a reissue 7″ combining two of the Creation’s signature tunes, “Making Time” and the British hit “Painter Man.”

Both of the songs had been cited in Bomp! as essential power pop; hearing the tracks, I had to agree. Power pop. No matter what decade it was made.

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

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
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download

Categories
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THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (VOLUME 1)

An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. I like that idea so much, I’ve been writing a book about it: The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). The long-threatened book remains a work in progress, but what the hell. Work is progressing.

My first public announcement of my plan to do this book was waaaay back in September of 2018. The GREM! concept well predates that announcement, springing from a series of blog posts that commenced in 2016 with a celebration of Badfinger‘s “Baby Blue.” The first proposed Table of Contents was posted in April of 2019, back when I was only planning for the book to discuss a mere 50 songs. 

50…?! How quaint. It’s grown a bit since then. As of the last posted update in November of 2021, the book’s Table of Contents was a collection of 165 songs. It now stands at 175–170 selections plus five bonus tracks–and that’s probably where the number will stay.

The book’s current Table of Contents appears below. But before you dive in to experience its splendor, it’s worth repeating this caveat from one of the book’s introductory chapters:

“This specific disclaimer is worth highlighting in bold and all-caps: THIS IS NOT INTENDED AS AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF THE BEST RECORDS EVER MADE! Jesus, no! The chapters in this book cover a number of popular and personal favorites, but it’s nowhere near comprehensive, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a discussion and a celebration of pop’s infinite promise–nothing more, nothing less.”

Ready? Let’s GO!

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (VOLUME 1) 

Table of Contents

FOREWORD

DISCLAIMERS AND DECLARATIONS (A User’s Guide To The Greatest Record Ever Made!)

A Fistful Of 45s

OVERTURE THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?

1. BADFINGER: Baby Blue

2. CHUCK BERRY: Promised Land

3. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: I Only Want To Be With You

4. THE SEX PISTOLS: God Save The Queen

5. ELVIS PRESLEY: Heartbreak Hotel

6. WILLIE MAE “BIG MAMA” THORNTON: Hound Dog

7. PATTI SMITH: Gloria

8. LITTLE RICHARD: The Girl Can’t Help It

9. NEIL DIAMOND: Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

10. CRAZY ELEPHANT: Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’ 

11. WILSON PICKETT: In The Midnight Hour

12. THE HOLLIES: I Can’t Let Go

13. MELANIE WITH THE EDWIN HAWKINS SINGERS: Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)

14. THE ROMANTICS: What I Like About You

15. SAM COOKE: Chain Gang

16. PETULA CLARK: Downtown

17. ARTHUR ALEXANDER: Soldier Of Love

18. TRANSLATOR: Everywhere That I’m Not

19. LESLEY GORE: You Don’t Own Me

20. THE SHANGRI-LAS: Leader Of The Pack

21. THE SHIRELLES: Will You Love Me Tomorrow

22. THE RAMONES: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

23. AMY RIGBY: Dancing With Joey Ramone

24. PINK FLOYD: Wish You Were Here

25. GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS: Midnight Train To Georgia

26.THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR: I Fought The Law

27. MERLE HAGGARD: Mama Tried

28. THE TEMPTATIONS: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone

29. BUDDY HOLLY: Peggy Sue/Everyday

30. ROBERTA FLACK: Killing Me Softly With His Song

31. JOHNNY NASH: I Can See Clearly Now

32. ELTON JOHN: Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

33. SUZI QUATRO: I May Be Too Young

34. ALICE COOPER: School’s Out

35. THE RARE BREED/THE OHIO EXPRESS: Beg, Borrow And Steal

36. ARTHUR CONLEY: Sweet Soul Music

37. OTIS REDDING: (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay

38. ARETHA FRANKLIN: Respect

39. THE MONKEES: The Girl I Knew Somewhere

40. THE MONKEES: Porpoise Song (Theme From Head)

41. PRINCE: When You Were Mine

42. THE 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS: You’re Gonna Miss Me

43. THE ROLLING STONES: Get Off Of My Cloud

44. PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS: Just Like Me

45. BOB DYLAN: Like A Rolling Stone

46. THE KINGSMEN: Louie, Louie

47. BARON DAEMON AND THE VAMPIRES: The Transylvania Twist

48. THE MARVELETTES: I’ll Keep Holding On

49. THE WHO: I Can’t Explain

50. TODD RUNDGREN: Couldn’t I Just Tell You

51. SHOES: Tomorrow Night

52. THE FLASHCUBES: No Promise

53. TELEVISION: Elevation

54. DONNA SUMMER: I Feel Love

55. SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES: The Tears Of A Clown

56. JUDAS PRIEST: Heading Out To The Highway

57. THE DIXIE CUPS: Iko Iko

58. THE NEW YORK DOLLS: Personality Crisis

59. MILLIE SMALL: My Boy Lollipop

60. THE EASYBEATS: Friday On My Mind

61. IKE AND TINA TURNER: River Deep Mountain High

62. THE RONETTES: Be My Baby

63. RONNIE SPECTOR AND THE E STREET BAND: Say Goodbye To Hollywood

64. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Girls In Their Summer Clothes

65. KISS: Shout It Out Loud

66. THE LEFT BANKE: Walk Away, Renee

67. THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Rock And Roll Love Letter

68. THE KNICKERBOCKERS: Lies

69. THE WONDERS: That Thing You Do!

70. THE GO-GO’S: We Got The BeatINTERLUDE The Tottenham Sound Of…The Beatles?!

71. THE DAVE CLARK FIVE: Any Way You Want It

72. JAMES BROWN: Please, Please, Please

73. GRAND FUNK: We’re An American Band

74. THE VELVELETTES: He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’

75. THE FIRST CLASS: Beach Baby

76. THE ISLEY BROTHERS: Summer Breeze

77. THE RUBINOOS: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

78. THE PANDORAS: It’s About Time

79. THE MUFFS: Saying Goodbye

80. BIG STAR: September Gurls

81. PAUL COLLINS/THE BREAKAWAYS: Walking Out On Love

82. LINDA RONSTADT: You’re No Good

83. P. P. ARNOLD: The First Cut Is The Deepest

84. THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS: All For Swinging You Around

85. THE DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET: Take FiveENTR’ACTE THE BEATLES: Yesterday

86. THE BEATLES: Revolution

87. YOKO ONO: Kiss Kiss Kiss

88. THE MC5: Kick Out The Jams

89. THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS: Time Has Come Today

90. MARVIN GAYE: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

91. SAMMY AMBROSE: This Diamond Ring

92. THE MYNAH BIRDS: I Got You (In My Soul)

93. RICK JAMES: Super Freak

94. BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY: Piece Of My Heart

95. THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: Shake Some Action

96. THE DANDY WARHOLS: We Used To Be Friends

97. THE CARPENTERS: Only Yesterday

98. MATERIAL ISSUE: Kim The Waitress

99. THE 5TH DIMENSION: Medley: Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In (The Flesh Failures)

100. THE JACKSON FIVE: I’ll Be There

101. SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: Everybody Is A Star

102. LOVE: 7 And 7 Is

103. THE BANGLES: Live

104. THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes

105. THE FLIRTATIONS: Nothing But A Heartache

106. THE SPINNERS: I’ll Be Around

107. TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: American Girl

108. THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY: I Woke Up In Love This Morning

109. EDDIE COCHRAN: Somethin’ Else

110. DAVID RUFFIN: I Want You Back

111. LED ZEPPELIN: Communication Breakdown

112. FREDDIE AND THE DREAMERS: Do The Freddie

113. THE BANDWAGON: Breakin’ Down The Walls Of Heartache

114. HEADGIRL/MÖTOR HEADGIRL SCHOOL: Please Don’t Touch

115. DON HENLEY: The Boys Of Summer

116. THE CLASH: Train In Vain (Stand By Me)

117. BEN E. KING: Stand By Me

118. GENE PITNEY: Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa

119. RUFUS: Tell Me Something Good  

120. THE SPONGETONES: (My Girl) Maryanne

121. THE TRAMMPS: Disco Inferno

122. HAROLD MELVIN AND THE BLUE NOTES: Don’t Leave Me This Way

123. GRANDMASTER AND MELLE MEL: White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)

124. THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: I’ll Be Your Mirror

125. DEL SHANNON: Runaway

126. THE EVERLY BROTHERS: Gone, Gone, Gone

127. THE COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

128. SAM AND DAVE: Soul Man

129. T. REX: 20th Century Boy

130. HEART: Kick It Out

131. THE RUNAWAYS: Cherry Bomb

132. AMERICA: Sister Golden Hair

133. THE KINKS: Waterloo Sunset

134. THE KINKS: You Really Got Me

135. HOLLY GOLIGHTLY: Time Will Tell

136. THE SMITHEREENS: Behind The Wall Of Sleep

137. THE COWSILLS: She Said To Me

138. ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE ATTRACTIONS: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding?

139. THE FOUR TOPS: Reach Out I’ll Be ThereINTERLUDE Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll

140. THE BOB SEGER SYSTEM: 2 + 2 = ?

141. THE JIVE FIVE: What Time Is It?

142. LULU: To Sir, With Love [Museum Outings Montage]

143. FREDA PAYNE: Band Of Gold

144. THE CONTOURS: Do You Love Me

145. WHAM!: Freedom

146. THE COOKIES: Wounded

147. THE SUPREMES: You Keep Me Hangin’ On

 148. THE BEACH BOYS: God Only Knows

149. JOAN ARMATRADING: Me Myself I

150. THE SELECTER: On My Radio

151. TRACEY ULLMAN: They Don’t Know

152. MANNIX: Highway Lines

153. THE DRIFTERS: On Broadway

154. FIRST AID KIT: America

155. THE FIVE STAIRSTEPS: O-o-h Child

156. SOLOMON BURKE: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

157. THE JAM: That’s Entertainment

158. THE COASTERS: Yakety Yak

159. CHEAP TRICK: Surrender

160. TEGAN AND SARA: Walking With A Ghost

161. DAVID BOWIE: Life On Mars?

162. THE O’JAYS: Put Your Hands Together

163. THE GRATEFUL DEAD: Uncle John’s Band

164. RITA MORENO, GEORGE CHAKIRIS, SHARKS & GIRLS: America

165. EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You Wanna Do

166. JOAN JETT: Bad Reputation

167. STEVIE WONDER: I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)

168. MARYKATE O’NEIL: I’m Ready For My Luck To Turn Around

169. EYTAN MIRSKY: This Year’s Gonna Be Our Year

170. THE JAYHAWKS: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me

An Infinite Number

INTERLUDE Underrating The Beatles

ENCORE! THE BEATLES: Rain

ENCORE!! THE T-BONES: No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)

Cruisin’ Music

CODA THE RAMONES: Blitzkrieg Bop

AFTERWORD


Repeating the disclaimer
: These selections are not ranked in any way, and this is most definitely NOT intended as an inclusive list of the all-time best songs. There are an infinite number of worthy prospects; these are the one I choose to write about in The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Voume 1).

At this writing, the book is only two chapters shy of a complete first draft. The completed chapters total just under 153,000 words, though that tally may shrink once I start revising the text. It is certainly possible that I will make further changes to the Table of Contents, but this is getting closer and closer to the final line-up.

I hope to complete those two remaining chapters in short order. Then, I’ll finally get to the revision process, tightening the prose and reducing redundancies. Somewhere in there, I’ve gotta start looking for an agent.

I have a different book due out by the end of 2022, but the principal work for that one is already done. Which means it’s finally time for The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1)
Wish me luck.

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

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
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl.

Categories
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It Was 1965

It was 1965. Anything could happen in 1965.

That’s a line from the Paul Revere & the Raiders chapter in my work-in-progress book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). I’ve written many times of my affection for 1965, of my belief that ’65 was pop music’s best year ever. There was something magic about 1965, at least in my mind, in my curated memory, edited by my brain in earnest effort to reconcile the facts and figures recorded by history with my recollections of being five years old. It was 1965. Anything could happen in 1965.

It wasn’t necessarily only good things that could happen. My Godmother, my Aunt Connie, died in 1965, and I was just devastated. My brother Rob was in a horrible car accident that he was fortunate to have survived. Great songs on the radio couldn’t fix any of that. 

But those great songs still remain a conscious inspiration to me. From The Beatles to Wilson Pickett, 1965 stands out as the year when the best stuff was popular, and the popular stuff was best. 1966 may have offered higher highs, and 1964 gave us the giddy rush of the British Invasion, but ’65 was consistent. Top of the pops. 

So 1965 looms large in my legend, and it’s well represented in my book. But…that line. “It was 1965. Anything could happen in 1965.” I wrote it as a summary of the world of possibilities opening up for Paul Revere & the Raiders in ’65, but it’s become something more to me. I can’t explain (1965!), I think it’s love. And I think it’s a line I’m going to use again in a different project.

I’ve been toying with an idea for an extended story. I can’t tell you anything about it, and it’s in a very early stage of creation. It’s a story I’ve been picking at for quite some time, but I’ve been…I dunno, reluctant to even work on it, concerned about spoiling its pristine conception by trying to make it real. Currently, it’s in that perfect fantasy state of vague, undeveloped notion; I kind of know what it’s going to be, but neither nuts nor bolts (nor even blueprint) exist yet. 

It’s fiction, and it’s set in the present day. I see it as a comic-book mini-series rather than a prose work, but we’ll see. I’ve just begun the long process of committing some of the broad strokes to the blank computer screen that is my canvas. And it opens with a dream-sequence flashback: 

It was 1965. Anything could happen in 1965.

Maybe nothing will happen with it this year. I have other projects in need of attention, especially that Greatest Record Ever Made! book that I hope will capture the fancy of some publisher. But I also want to work on this idea, this love letter to an imaginary 1965, when anything could happen.

Maybe this is the year I make it happen.

By Carl Cafarelli

1966 cover date, on the stands in ’65.

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You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 
Fans of pop music will want to check out Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, a new pop compilation benefiting SPARK! Syracuse, the home of This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & CarlTIR’N’RR Allstars–Steve StoeckelBruce GordonJoel TinnelStacy CarsonEytan MirskyTeresa CowlesDan PavelichIrene Peña, Keith Klingensmith, and Rich Firestone–offer a fantastic new version of The Kinks’ classic “Waterloo Sunset.” That’s supplemented by eleven more tracks (plus a hidden bonus track), including previously-unreleased gems from The Click BeetlesEytan MirskyPop Co-OpIrene PeñaMichael Slawter (covering The Posies), and The Anderson Council (covering XTC), a new remix of “Infinite Soul” by The Grip Weeds, and familiar TIRnRR Fave Raves by Vegas With RandolphGretchen’s WheelThe Armoires, and Pacific Soul Ltd. Oh, and that mystery bonus track? It’s exquisite. You need this. You’re buying the digital download from from Futureman, and/or the CD from Kool Kat Musik.

(And you can still get our 2017 compilation This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio, Volume 4, on CD from Kool Kat Musik and as a download from Futureman Records.)

Get MORE Carl! Check out the fourth and latest issue of the mighty Big Stir magazine at bigstirrecords.com/magazine

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).