FMF Episode #13 – The Sun

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DJ: Hello Sunshine! Welcome to another glorious round of Feel Me Flow.  Being the last day of May, we thought it apropos to feature an episode about the best part of summer; sunshine.  As we all know, or I really hope we do, the sun is the star at which our solar system revolves around.  It’s undoubtedly the most important source of energy for life on Earth.  Nearly all ancient religions worshiped the Sun in various ways and forms; some considered it a god while others noted its importance in supporting life.  Ancient structures have been built to recognize its path through the sky as well as to mark when the solstices hit.  Egyptians named their sun god Ra, and Greeks named their sun god Helios.  Today we’re gonna play all kinds of songs about that big bright ball in the blue abyss.  We’ll hear songs about sunrises, sunsets, sunshine, sunny afternoons, the absence of a sun, and a little tribute to Chris Cornell featuring a song about a sun with a black hole in it.

We’re starting off with a sunrise theme as we hear Abstrakt Idea doing “Sensual Sunrise – Nujabes Tribute” in the background.  Yeasayer will begin our first Sun set with their debut single off of 2007’s All Hour Cymbals.  Originally self-describing their sound as “Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel”, the band would evolve into a more pop-driven vibe in their later efforts; all the while maintaining an electro-prog base.  Yeasayer released Amen & Goodbye in 2016.  Grab your shades, here’s “Sunrise”.

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DJ: Wrapping up our first set was a Stevie Wonder dose of songs, without Stevie Wonder.  Bobby Hebb wrote his big hit “Sunny” in the 48 hours following JFK’s murder and his brother’s murder the following night.  Completely devastated by the events, Bobby turned to the pen to get him through the nightmare.  He had decided to turn to a “sunny” disposition instead of the “lousy” attitude that he had taken on after the murders.  Stevie Wonder would go on to cover the track on his 1968 album For Once In My Life.  

In 1973, Stevie would release the first in his epic 70’s run of albums Talking Book; featuring the Grammy-winning track “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”.  We played a rare cover of the song by Jack White done for the series finale of The Muppets. The intro to the song sounds a hell of a lot like his “Freedom At 21” track, does it not? “Freedom” was released a full 4 years before “Sunshine” too!

Los Angeles band Crash Kings played us their big single “Mountain Man” from their 2009 eponymous debut.  When the band first hit the mainstream, many critics likened their sound to the piano-driven rock sound heard from The White Stripes.  Some critics even went as far as calling the song “a modern-rock makeover of “My Doorbell“.  Of course, we’re gonna like a track that’s reminiscent of The White Stripes; that’s our sound!

T. Rex played us “Mambo Sun” off of their magnum opus album Electric Warrior.  In our Cinco De Mayo episode, we alluded to The Black Keys borrowing the vibe of this song for their own hit “Everlasting Light“.  Can you spot the similarity?  If not, I don’t know what to tell you.  Yeasayer led the set with their debut single “Sunrise”.

Coming up is a track by together PANGEA from their 2017 LP Bulls And Roosters.  The band nailed it with their previous album Badillac, which we have featured songs from on other playlists, but tones things down just a slight bit with Bulls And Roosters.  Here’s “Stare At The Sun”.

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DJ: Hip. Hip.  Weezer broke through to the mainstream with their 1994 self-titled debut, although some call it The Blue Album.  Ric Ocasek of The Cars produced the debut and would return in 2000 to produce their 3rd album Weezer (The Green Album).  After the band had finished recording, it took convincing from Ric to include “Island In The Sun” on the final lineup of the LP.  It’s a great thing he did that, as the song is far and away their most successful single to date.  T

he Kinks gave us “Sunny Afternoon” from their adventurous 1966 album Face To Face.  Ray Davies had shifted his songwriting to slower, more observational style after suffering a nervous breakdown the previous year.  After the single “Sunny Afternoon” went to number one, the band and their managers realized they could find success with this new sound, and began recording what’s hailed as rock’s first concept album.

Roy Redmond released only two singles in the late 60’s; the first being A: “Ain’t That Terrible” / B: “A Change Is Gonna Come”, and A: “Good Day Sunshine” / B: “That Old Time Feeling”; both for Loma Records.  Two covers, two originals; too bad he didn’t put out more music.

Originally part of the Bay Area punk scene in the late 80’s, Michael Franti has walked all over the genre map.  Starting with The Beatnigs, an industrial Avant-punk jazz-poet-slam group, he would then move on to the industrial hip-hop group The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprosy before starting Spearhead and offering some solo works.  Last we heard, Michael hasn’t worn shoes in 17 years (other than in required places like airports and restaurants).

Our next set begins with The Tremeloes doing “Sunshine Games”.  The story goes that The Tremeloes (then Brian Poole and the Tremeloes) were one of two bands that Decca auditioned on New Years Day 1962.  They impressed Decca enough to beat out the other band and land themselves a contract, even though Decca told the other band’s manager that “guitar groups are on the way out.”  That other band?  They were signed by EMI’s Parlophone later by George Martin and were known as The Beatles.

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DJ: Cooling things down a bit with Roy Ayers Ubiquity.  We played “Everybody Loves Sunshine” from Roy’s 1976 album of the same name.  Perhaps known as his signature hit, Roy’s been active in the music scene since 1962; playing alongside jazz acts then.  After starting a solo career, Roy would move to a more soul/jazz-funk vibe in his music.

Before Roy, we heard a double dose of Grateful Dead.  Starting with the Dead themselves, we played “Sugar Magnolia” from their masterpiece album American Beauty.  The Dead would often split the song into two parts while performing live.  The first half, known as “Sugar Magnolia” would get split by a few beats or silence from the song’s coda; “Sunshine Daydream”.  Sometimes the break would last as long as a few performances, and once lasted a whole week.  When the band’s friend Bill Graham died, they held the split in the song from their show at Oakland Coliseum Arena on October 27th. 1991 all the way until Polo Field concert in Golden Gate Park on November 3rd.  What a pause!

We played Real Estate covering the Dead after that from the 10 LP tribute extravaganza, 2016’s Day Of The Dead compilation.

Before the Dead set, we played Milwaukee’s finest trio Violent Femmes doing their signature tune “Blister In The Sun” from their 1983 self-titled debut.  The Femmes put out 3 albums before going through all kinds of lineup trouble and dramatics.  They’re still active today and put out their ninth album We Can Do Anything in 2017.

Let’s get suntimental with the Gimme Gimmes covering the Terry Jacks tune “Seasons In The Sun”.

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DJ: Jack Bruce.  Ginger Baker. Eric Clapton.  Cream proved you could wail with just three people in your band, going on to inspire numerous rock trios throughout the years, including Rush, who covered Cream on their Feedback album.

Isocracy, another Bay Area punk band, split in 1988 after drummer John Kiffmeyer joined fellow Bay Area punk band Green Day.  After the split, the other Isocracy members formed Samiam.  Samiam gave us “Sunshine” from their 6th album, 2000’s Astray.

TV On The Radio chimed in with their debut single “Staring At The Sun” from their 2004 debut Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes.  The track features Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and Celebration’s Katrina Ford on backup vocals.  TV On The Radio is a perfect blend of electronic, prog, rock, and dance music; one of the best bands around today.

Our Set 4 Score this week goes to LA band Starcrawler.  Lead singer Arrow is probably graduating high school this week, and what a time to jump into the music world! Apparently, Elton John featured their track “Ants” on his radio show back in January, and the band has been gaining steam ever since.  Rough Trade Records has released their debut 7″, and the band is reportedly working on an album.  We’re stoked to hear it!

Starting us off was a cover of the Terry Jacks hit “Seasons In The Sun” by Me First And The Gimme Gimmes.  Widely known as the greatest punk cover karaoke band to ever grace a bowling alley, the supergroup just released its greatest hits compilation  Rake It In: The Greatest Hits this year.

We’re gonna jump into Pulp Fiction for a minute, playing the mighty Chuck Berry and his track “You Never Can Tell”.  Featured in the famous “Twist Contest” scene, the Chuck Berry track was released as a single in 1964 and never featured on an LP.

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DJ: The title of that song alone is poetic, as there is something disturbingly disappointing about someone talking shit about a pretty sunset.  Just enjoy it already, eh?  Modest Mouse wraps up our 5th set with a track from their debut 1996 album This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About.  

The Polyphonic Spree, all 23 of them, played us their super successful hit “Light & Day/Reach For The Sun” from their 2003 debut The Beginning Stages Of…  After splitting Tripping Daisy up, Tim DeLaughter formed this choral indie outfit and began singing songs of positivity and hope.  The track would get extra exposure from being featured in the Jim Carrey / Kate Winslet indie film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Minda soundtrack that also features ELO and Beck singing about sunshine.

We jumped down to Muscle Shoals again for a stellar Aretha Franklin cut “Hello Sunshine” from her 1968 album Aretha Now.  The track was co-written by Jimmy Cliff, the man behind that amazing reggae soundtrack we talked about last week in our Johnny show.  Aretha worked with the Muscle Shoals over the course of 10 years, sometimes with many of them, sometimes with one or two.  That sound is irreplicable, though, and is a treasure to hear even 50 years later.

Before Aretha, we played the song everyone assumed would be on this show, “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles.  While I’m sure they were devastated at the time, getting passed on by Decca was one of the many amazing turns of events that catapulted The Beatles to their fame.  George Martin was known as the fifth Beatle, and it was him who persuaded Parlophone to sign the band.  George would produce every album until their last, Let It Be, giving the band an added bit of depth that they could only dream of. George composed orchestral tracks, string arrangements, and song structures for the band.  We lost George last year, rest in peace old chap.

On the topic of the fallen, let’s hear some Jay Reatard, who left us too early in 2010.

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DJ: The world took a deep breath last week after reading about how Chris Cornell died.  Another suicide in the grunge world?  Absolutely tragic.  Coming from the band’s hit 1994 album Superunkown, we played what possibly could be called their signature hit, “Black Hole Sun”.  Rest in peace, Chris; you will be missed.

Bill Withers played us “Ain’t No Sunshine” from his 1971 LP Just As I Am.  The album features covers of Harry Nilsson’s “Everbody’s Talkin'” as well as “Let It Be” from The Beatles.  It also features “Grandma’s Hands”, a track that would regain popularity after being sampled by Dr. Dre when he produced the Blackstreet track “No Diggity“.

Neo-psych band Temples played us “Sun Structures” from their debut album of the same name.  The album channels bands like The 13th Floor Elevators and The Electric Prunes, while maintaining a fresh 21st century sound.  It’s a fantastic mix!

Donovan played us his sunny selection “Sunshine Superman” from his 1966 album of the same name.  Many would claim Donovan as England’s answer to Bob Dylan, but we all know that wouldn’t be the case.  Sure, Donovan is a great songwriter and his successes outweigh his failures, but nobody can stack up against Bob.  Alright, everyone, that’s our sunny-side super show on Feel Me Flow.  Join us next time for a special Golden episode to celebrate my son’s Golden Birthday!

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