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Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Shuffle — Happy Birthday Jonathan Harris Edition

What’s the iPod/MP3 Shuffle? It’s just a way to get people to share music and foster some discussion. I started doing this on my Facebook page a while back and it’s been great seeing friends exchange comments on each others lists. Every Friday, I get out my 120 GB iPod (which has about 24,000 songs now), hit shuffle and write about the first 10 songs that come up. Sometimes the 10 songs are kind of conventional, sometimes there’s a lot of obscure stuff. So check mine out and please add your own shuffle or discuss other people’s shuffles!

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Hey everyone! Let’s a wish a happy birthday to the late Jonathan Harris, the actor who portrayed the diabolical, and downright creepy, Dr. Smith on the cheesy ’60s sci-fi “classic” Lost In Space. In his honor, go grab your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first ten tunes that come up.

  1. Supergrass — The Return Of… (Diamond Hoo Ha): These ’90s Britpop standard bearers still make good music, but they never seemed to hit the next level.  The first two albums were wonderful, and from there, they’ve blundered around, never making a stinker, but not really hitting a home run either.  I think that frontman Gaz Coombes has plenty of musical ideas, but can’t always imbue them with much meaning.  That being said, he had a way to make a melody simultaneously peppy and melancholy, which works well on this mid-tempo track from an album that came out last year.
  2. Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club — Goodbye to Yesterday – Reprise (English Garden): Woolley was a Bowie inspired new wave dude, who co-wrote “Video Killed the Radio Star” and had a band that included future one-hit wonder Thomas Dolby.  His music was a bit of synth-pop and a bit of angular guitar rock.  It’s too bad he never made a follow up to this album, as it is quite good.  This isn’t really a prime track, being a variation on an earlier cut on the album.  This sounds like something in the vein of early Ultravox mixed with early XTC, though the chord progression is actually standard blues-rock fare.
  3. The Smugglers — Invitation Only (In The Hall Of Fame): “Most of the time I think you’re an idiot/most of the time I think you suck.“  This Vancouver band is a personal favorite of mine.  They are a mix of punk (more on the glammy side, a la The Dickies), old fashioned rock and roll and garage rock with a smart ass streak a mile wide.  Their first full length pulled together tracks from a variety of singles and other releases, but it plays like a consistent album.  This is a mid-tempo rocker with a strong hook in the chorus.
  4. Al Green — Love and Happiness (Greatest Hits): What more can you say about this?  Not as overplayed as some of Reverend Al’s classics, but just as good.  Willie Mitchell and the Hi Records studio cats lock into that sexy groove and Green’s voice rides all over it.  The genius of Al Green is how he always held just a little back, never getting into full soul shouting mode, making his music so tantalizing.
  5. The Pretty Things — The Letter (Parachute): This is from The Pretties’ 1970 concept album, the follow up to the psych-rock classic S.F. Sorrow (arguably the first rock opera).  Rolling Stone actually named this the best album of 1970.  And I’ve owned it for years, and I still can’t get into it like I get into Sorrow.  Which isn’t to say it’s bad, but it’s so much lower key.  This track is typical of this mellow approach.  It’s an appealing acoustic ditty, but it doesn’t hang around long enough to really resonate.  Still, it’s too bad this album didn’t break, as the band’s career would have turned out a whole lot differently.
  6. Duke Ellington — The Minor Goes Muggin‘  (The Centennial Edition — Highlights From 1927-1973): I am slowly but surely trying to learn more about jazz, and one of the best places to start is with the Duke.  I don’t know what I can really say about this awesome big band swing number, other than it has what so many Ellington songs have — a great compositional structure that is accessible and appealing, but then played by musicians who are really trying to push things.  These numbers were, of course, recorded live, and the excitement just jumps out of the speakers.  Seeing any of Ellington’s bands in the ’30s or ’40s must have been one of the most incredible experiences anyone could have.
  7. Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls — Somebody’s Forgetting Somebody (Gossip): Kelly is true troubadour.  This singer-songwriter mixes rock, folk, country and blues with aplomb.  After his first few records, I lost the thread, but I’m not surprised that he’s still out there, fighting the good fight.  This country tinged lament is from his debut, which is an excellent album.
  8. Sector 27 — Total Recall (Sector 27 Complete): When the Tom Robinson Band dissolved, Tom formed Sector 27.  The band was a little less trad rock than TRB, with a slight post-punk influence, and a number of songs that integrated some reggae and ska elements.  This added a certain tense atmosphere to his songs, which became less sloganeering while remaining very socially aware.  Sadly, this didn’t take off, so the band only made one excellent album.  This isn’t one of the best cuts on the album, but it mixes some pulsing bass and moody verses with an oddly jaunty chorus. 
  9. Stevie Wonder — Love’s In Need Of Love Today (Songs In The Key Of Life): Songs In The Key Of Life was the culmination of one of the most amazing creative runs in pop music history.  That Stevie never came close to this artistic peak isn’t a knock on him.  Very few artists have come close to something this amazing.  This is the first song on the album.  The main melody of the song is typical Stevie, but the arrangement, the massed wordless backing vocals, and the passion of Stevie’s passionate performance elevate this song to the heights.  On most albums, this would be the easy highlight.  There are at least four or five songs that are markedly better than this one, two of them on the same album side.
  10. The Four Tops — Bernadette (The Singles): One of the things that sucks about oldies radio is that it often reduces great artists to two or three songs that get played and played to death.  That’s certainly true for The Four Tops.  This was a hit for them, but, for whatever reason, it hasn’t had the same staying power as songs like “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”.  This is a classic Holland-Dozier-Holland song, in the tradition of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” and “Nowhere to Run”.  It crackles with urgency, and no one could possibly convey that urgency better than the amazing Levi Stubbs. 

Share November 6, 2009 http://chrp.at/PAh Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod

Jenny Lizak writesLocal Community Radio Act Call In Day: Friday - Vote Next Week!

We are so pleased to report that the Local Community Radio Act is moving along quickly in the House of Representatives, and may be voted on next week! The bill has never been this far, and we feel confident that we will prevail in passing it out of the House. However, we need your help to make sure that this happens. This FRIDAY November 6, 2009, we are asking all friends and supporters of CHIRP to participate in CHIRP House of Representatives Call In Day.

The Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) asks you to tell your Representative to VOTE YES on The Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (HR 1147). There are currently over 800 LPFM stations operated by schools, churches, civic groups, and other nonprofit organizations across the country – but, because of limitations imposed by Congress in 2000, there are still many more groups like CHIRP who are waiting for LPFM service to be expanded so we can have a chance to apply for a station too. The Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (HR 1147 / S 592) would expand Low Power FM radio, potentially opening the airwaves to tens of thousands of new community radio stations across the country.

Please help CHIRP have a chance to apply for a low power FM signal by asking your Representative to VOTE YES when the Local Community Radio Act comes to the floor – maybe as soon as next week! It takes just a few minutes to make one phone call following the instructions below, and you’ll be helping ensure that this bill passes in the House of Representatives next week!

Action Steps for CHIRP House of Representatives Call In Day

  1. Look up your Congressional Representative. Go to http://www.congress.org if you don’t know who your Representative is.
  2. Find out if he or she is a co-sponsor of the Local Community Radio Act.
  3. Call your representative and follow the appropriate script below.

For your convenience, we have provided a list of Illinois-area representatives, their phone numbers, and where they stand on the Act.

Already Co-Sponsors

Hi, my name is (NAME) and I’m calling from Chicago, Illinois. I’m calling Representative (NAME) today to thank her/him for her/his support of the Local Community Radio Act, HR 1147. This bill is important to me because I am a supporter of the Chicago Independent Radio Project, a group working to bring a low power FM community radio station to Chicago. This Local Community Radio Act will expand low power FM radio service to hundreds of community organizations, churches and other groups like CHIRP across the country. I thank the Representative for taking leadership on this issue, and hope that she/he will continue to do everything possible to help this Act pass in 2009. The Act is going to come to the floor of the House for a vote next week, and I would like to ask that the Representative do everything that he/she can to help it pass. Can I count on the Representative for her/his support? Thank you.

District 2 Rep. Jackson, Jesse – (202) 225-0773
District 4 Rep. Gutierrez, Luis – (202) 225-8203
District 17 Rep. Hare, Phil – (202) 225-5905
District 14 Rep. Foster, Bill (202) 225-2976
District 15 Rep. Johnson, Timothy – 202-225-2371
District 9 Rep. Schakowsky, Janice – (202) 225-2111

Not Current Co-Sponsors

Hi, my name is (NAME) and I’m calling from Chicago, Illinois. I’m calling Representative (NAME) today to ask her/him for her/his support of the Local Community Radio Act, HR 1147. This bill is important to me because I am a supporter of the Chicago Independent Radio Project, a group working to bring a low power FM community radio station to Chicago. This Local Community Radio Act will expand low power FM radio service to hundreds of community organizations, churches and other groups like CHIRP across the country. I am asking Representative (NAME) to join with his/her colleagues in signing on as a co-sponsor of the Act, and voting YES next week when the Act comes to the floor of the House for a vote. Can I count on the Representative for her/his support and vote of YES? Thank you.

District 1 Rep. Rush, Bobby – 202-225-4372
District 3 Rep. Lipinski, Daniel – (202) 225-5701
District 5 Rep. Quigley, Mike – 202.225.4061 (CHIRP’s office is in his district)
District 6 Rep. Roskam, Peter – (202) 225-4561]
District 7 Rep. Davis, Danny 202/225-5006
District 8 Rep. Bean, Melissa 202-225-3711
District 10 Rep. Kirk, Mark 202-225-4835
District 11 Rep. Halvorson, Deborah (202) 225-3635
District 12 Rep. Costello, Jerry (202) 225-5661
District 13 Rep. Biggert, Judy 202-225-3515
District 16 Rep. Manzullo, Donald (202) 225-5676
District 18 Rep. Schock, Aaron 202.225.6201
District 19 Rep. Shimkus, John (202) 225-5271

If you’re from outside Illinois, you can find your elected officials and their contact information at congress.org.

General Tips for Calling Congress

  • Call during regular business hours (between 9am and 5pm), when Congressional offices are open.
  • You’ll most likely be speaking with an assistant to the Congressperson who will take down your name, address, and a note about what bill you are calling about, which side of the position you are on, and what you are asking the Congressperson to do. Speak clearly and slowly so they can understand you.
  • Always be polite! Your call is a reflection on all supporters, and loosing your head could hurt our cause. Remember that the staffer who answers the phone may be busy, overworked, or unfamiliar with the issue.
  • Add in your personal connection to the Act – tell your Congressperson why this issue affects you. For example, if you are a musician, you may want to talk about how your band could get more exposure on an LPFM radio station.
  • Keep your call brief, no more than five minutes.
  • If you are transferred to a voicemail, leave your name, address (including zip code) and one or two sentences about the bill and what you are asking the Congressperson to do.
  • When you’re finished, hand the phone to a friend, roommate, family member or co-worker, and ask them to call too. The more calls in one day, the more impact!

Thank you so much for your help!

Share November 5, 2009 http://chrp.at/PRd Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Topics: local community radio act

Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — War of the Worlds Edition

What’s the iPod/MP3 Shuffle? It’s just a way to get people to share music and foster some discussion. I started doing this on my Facebook page a while back and it’s been great seeing friends exchange comments on each others lists. Every Friday, I get out my 120 GB iPod (which has about 24,000 songs now), hit shuffle and write about the first 10 songs that come up. Sometimes the 10 songs are kind of conventional, sometimes there’s a lot of obscure stuff. So check mine out and please add your own shuffle or discuss other people’s shuffles!

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It was 71 years ago that Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre scared the living you-know-what out of everyone with a radio production of H.G. Wells’ War Of The Worlds that fooled some people into thinking that Martians really were invading Earth. In honor of this Grade A chicanery, grab your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up with everyone.

  1. D.O.A. — World War 3 (The Dawning Of A New Era):  This is old style punk from this Canadian band.  The music is pretty basic, made for raising one’s fist in the air, with the requisite angry left wing political stance.  This sound is dated, but the feelings and attitude still translate.
  2. Elvis Costello & The Attractions — Brown to Blue (Almost Blue):  This is my favorite song from Elvis’s country album from way back when.  I think this was originally by George Jones.  It’s a pretty classic honky-tonk tune — “you changed your name from Brown to Jones/and mine from Brown to Blue.”  This album was produced by Billy Sherrill, an architect of the ’60s Nashville Countrypolitan sound.  Sherrill was best known for producing Tammy Wynette.  The Attractions fit uncomfortably with standard country motifs.  And Elvis is not anyone’s idea of a classic country singer, but on this track, and a few others, he gets the emotions underlying the clever lyrics, and connects pretty well.
  3. Nouvelle Vague — Friday Night Saturday Morning (Nouvelle Vague):  Yes, this French band, who does mellow bossa nova versions of old punk and new wave songs, is a novelty.  But, for the most part, they do a good job of capturing something in each song they choose.  This Specials song was a B-side of their classic “Ghost Town” single.  Unlike some of their interpretations, this song isn’t recast too much.  Terry Hall was a hangdog loser on the original, and now it’s a cute French gal (I’ve seen them live — she’s a looker) doing the same thing.  It still works.
  4. Lush — Hey Hey Helen (Gala):  Lush worked with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, who were a big influence on the band’s sound.  They combined that airy, floaty Cocteau thing with some shoegazer guitars and the winsome harmony vocals of Emma Anderson and (major crush object) Miki Berenyi.  I think this was an Abba song.  It certainly sounds like it could have been.
  5. The Minutemen — Swing to the Right (Post-Mersh, Vol. 3): A short buzzing live track from what may be the greatest American rock band ever.  They were lumped in with punk, but incorporated funk, jazz, CCR and so many other things into their music.  But this is a quick punk riff type of tune.
  6. Buddy Holly — Peggy Sue Got Married (The Buddy Holly Collection):  I wonder if Buddy would have dropped some of his vocal affectations if he hadn’t died so young.  This sequel to one of his best known songs has some rock ‘n’ roll twang, but also has a little bit of a Latin flavor.  A good, but not great, Holly tune.
  7. Robert Gordon — Sea Cruise (Red Hot 1977-1981):  Gordon was an early rockabilly revivalist, down to the duck’s ass haircut.  He was generally reviled by mainstream rock critics.  He wasn’t authentic enough.  Perhaps.  But he had a really good voice and worked with ace guitarists like Chris Spedding and the legendary Link Wray.  This is a rocked up version of Frankie Ford’s one big hit.
  8. k-os — B-Boy Stance (Joyful Rebellion): This Toronto hip-hop artist seems to come from the school of acts like A Tribe Called Quest, as his songs are pretty introspective.  This was the first single off this album, and the rhythm track is sample heavy and constantly moving, with two big hooks in the chorus.  The production is creative, and when he breaks into the flamenco styled middle eight, you get the idea that k-os isn’t going to play by anybody’s rules.  His first three albums are all worthwhile.
  9. XTC — This is the Way (Drums & Wires):  This is a lesser track from the band’s first album with guitarist Dave Gregory replacing keyboardist Barry Andrews, who went on to form Shriekback.  This almost sounds like it was written for one of the two prior albums, as it has a bit of that herky-jerk sound.  But they slow it down just a bit, and then throw in this languid pretty instrumental break coming out of each chorus that is totally cool.  A lesser XTC track is better than about 96% of everything else out there.
  10. The Morrells — Beatnik (The Morrells Anthology “Live”):  This ’50s style instrumental is a showcase for guitarist D. Clinton Thompson.  It’s not quite surf rock, not quite Duane Eddy or Link Wray.  But it’s insinuating.  This comes from a limited edition 4 CD set with four full concert recordings of this Springfield, Missouri bar band.

Share October 30, 2009 http://chrp.at/QYF Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, lists

Jocelyn writesA Little Birdie Told Me

That CHIRP would be participating in a Tweetup on Thursday, November 12th from 6:30 -10:30 p.m. at Tweet (5020 N. Sheridan Rd.). What’s all this? CHIRPing, Tweeting? It’s all a bunch of noise to you?

To those of you who are confused or are unsure why this matters, let’s take it from the top. CHIRP is going to participate in a Tweetup. It’s a meetup of people who mostly who know each other from twitter . Twitter + meetup = Tweetup. But if you aren’t on Twitter, it’s a way to learn more about CHIRP and meet people who are interested in independent media — Windy Citizen.com is also co-sponsoring.

I use Twitter for a variety of reasons (yes, I’ve been known to lament that there’s been Christmas items at Walgreens since September!), but one of the reasons it’s so helpful and fascinating to me is its presence as a de facto news reporting source. There have been countless times I have seen reports of a news item somewhere and gone directly to Twitter for the follow-up; getting the rest of the links, websites and good ol’ populous commentary that the web is so famous for.

I’ve also found a great community of people there. Done some networking, but mostly found a group of people who are interested in the same things I am: arts, culture, music, working for change, being active citizens. Twitter is truly what you make of it — it can be a fountain of mundane information or it can be a resource for valuable content.

C’mon out to the Tweetup. Learn more about CHIRP and Windy Citizen. Have a drink and a pancake with us. Be a part of the community of people interested in independent media and take that interest to action. It’ll be a great way to meet new people. At least, that’s what a little birdie told me.

Share October 28, 2009 http://chrp.at/PMs Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — 51 Years of Smurfs Edition

What’s the iPod/MP3 Shuffle? It’s just a way to get people to share music and foster some discussion. I started doing this on my Facebook page a while back and it’s been great seeing friends exchange comments on each others lists. Every Friday, I get out my 120 GB iPod (which has about 24,000 songs now), hit shuffle and write about the first 10 songs that come up. Sometimes the 10 songs are kind of conventional, sometimes there’s a lot of obscure stuff. So check mine out and please add your own shuffle or discuss other people’s shuffles!

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It was 51 years ago that the French devised an evil plan to get Americans to spend money on a cutesy cartoon. Yes, the Smurfs made their first appearance in a comic book. On another note, it was eight years ago that Apple introduced the iPod. So there are two good reasons for you to get your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up with everybody in Internetland:

  1. The Dentists — My Heart Is Like a Town You Moved Away From (Deep Six): The Dentists were an ’80s British indie pop band who almost everyone says got worse when they signed to a major. This basically translates as:* the music became a bit more slick and professional, as the songs were always catchy. I have had very little exposure to the band’s early stuff, so I only have to go on their two U.S. major label albums, and they contain lots of well crafted, jangly pop songs with clever lyrics, as indicated by the title of this song. It’s not all melancholy jangle, there’s a nice crunchy guitar instrumental break.
  2. The Virgin-Whore Complex — Succumb (Succumb): This is the type of band that would weave in excerpts of the Zodiac Killer’s letters into a song. In fact, they actually did this on a different song on this album. The basic approach is arch pop songs with decadent or macabre song writing. This song has a strummed mandolin (or is it a ukelele?) with mysterious keyboard sounds in the background, while the singer sketches out some bizarre scenarios that one should just give in to.
  3. The Ramones — Danny Says (End Of The Century): For some, this Phil Spector produced album is when the Ramones jumped the shark. While this album doesn’t rank up with the band’s first four classics, this was an album that the Ramones had to make. The band’s whole identity was based on taking classic ’60s pop-rock forms and playing them in speedy rocked up fashion. Why not try to just make real ’60s styled pop with one of the masters? The songwriting wasn’t consistent, but there were some songs that were truly Spector-worthy, and this charmer would have sounded great with Ronnie Spector or Darlene Love doing the lead vocal. Not that Joey doesn’t sound swell on this.
  4. David Garza — This Euphoria (This Euphoria): Garza is a Texas rocker who developed a big regional following. On his major label debut, he mixed big pop hooks with flights of fancy. On this song, he breaks out the falsetto on a psychedelic-pop number that shows that all of his years of making homemade recordings had made him quite the producer. The layers of guitars and keyboards and the use of various reverb and panning effects is very impressive. He was probably one big break away from becoming a star.
  5. The Undertones — Family Entertainment (The Undertones): The sugar coated spunky, punky pop of The Undertones has rarely been replicated. They fell somewhere between Ramones and Buzzcocks, probably leaning a bit more towards the latter, with so many of their songs driven by catchy lead guitar parts. And there’s also the unique and endearing lead vocals of Feargel Sharkey and, on this track, the great sing along chorus and the synchopated Gary Glitter style drum beats.
  6. Johnny Cash — Ring Of Fire (The Legend): Listening to this on headphones is a trip. The mariachi horns, backing vocals and Johnny’s plucked guitar are on the left channel, while his vocal is on both sides, and the drums, bass and the other guitar part are on the right. Oh, and there’s a piano on the right side too.
  7. The Living End — Roll On (Roll On): This Aussie punk band comes off like a cross between the early Clash and Green Day. Their gimmick is that their bass player plays a stand up bass, and sometimes they throw in a bit of rockabilly. But for the most part, this is full of big fat melodic guitar riffs, non-specific “political” lyrics, and choruses that usually involve a bit of group shouting. This is pretty rousing.
  8. Simon & Garfunkel — Kathy’s Song (Old Friends): For whatever reason, Simon & Garfunkel doesn’t seem to get bandied about as a hip ’60s influence, as opposed to let’s say The Kinks or The Zombies. But Paul Simon wrote so many great songs. He had the ’50s rock and pop background, but was also attuned to the ’60s folk scene. He was at the forefront of the blending of folk and pop (along with The Byrds, Donovan, The Beatles and others) and wrote some of the best lyrics of the era. This is pretty much a straight folk tune, with Art Garfunkel apparently taking a bathroom break.
  9. The Morells — Don’t Let Your Baby Buy a Car (The Morells): From the first come back album from this classic Springfield, Missouri roadhouse band. The Morells were on par with NRBQ, playing rock ‘n’ roll, country, R & B, power pop, and anything else that’s rootsy. This is a jaunty mid-tempo honky tonk number with Uncle Lou Whitney telling a cautionary tale (“cause there she goes/and there you are.”).
  10. Yo La Tengo — Sometimes I Don’t Get You (I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass): This 2006 YLT release is bookended by droning Velvet Underground inspired numbers and in between, the band indulges in a variety of different styles. This is a tender ballad with Ira Kaplan breaking out his falsetto. The song definitely has a bit of a soul vibe, though it’s more twee soul than deep soul.

Share October 23, 2009 http://chrp.at/QJ3 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, lists

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