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DJ: Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway! Hello everyone and welcome back to Feel Me Flow where we’re on round two of our Road Trip episode! Last week we kicked off the end-of-summer road trip with Part 1 and a Set 4 Score from Double Grave. We’ll have a lot more deep cuts for you this week, but don’t worry, you’ll get to hear some of those staples of classic rock road tripdom.
In fact, that’s how the show starts off today! Some bluesy-rock jams to move those tires as we roll on down the highway. The highway. Although for many of us it’s only a short drive away, it seems to also live on as a mythical place of adventure, sorrow, worry, freedom, and loads of other emotions. Rock songs often revolve around the “highway” because that’s where most of those touring artists live.
Deep Purple’s Machine Head album was integral in the development of heavy metal. The combination of heavy drums, heavy guitars, screeching solos, and that deep distorted-almost sounding organ that ccarried with it a chugging responsibility made for a sound bearing much more weight than the songs of previous “rock” artists like Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys. “Highway Star” leads off the album and our show today. So put the pedal to the medal and let’s go!
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DJ: If you’ve ever read up on the story of Robert Johnson, you might know about the “Crossroads”. Legend has it that Robert Johnson “sold his soul for rock and roll”, well, blues in this case. The guitarist, who died at age 27 due to a poisoning by a scorned acquaintance, recorded “Cross Road Blues” in 1936 in room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. Eric Clapton and Cream played us perhaps the most famous revamp of the classic tune.
Iggy and the Stooges stopped by with a cut from Fun House. The album was named for the new house that the band had bought when they were signed by Elektra. Iggy pointed out in an interview with Rolling Stone that he drew inspiration from Howlin’ Wolf quite a bit with this record, and boy is it obvious. Howlin’ was known for his drone like blues songs that chugged along on one note, just like “Down In The Street” does.
Greta Van Fleet, or the band that everyone showed their parents and asked if they thought it was Led Zeppelin, stopped by with their debut smash single “Highway Tune”. The song borrows licks from bands like Zeppelin or any other 1970’s rock band influenced by old blues players. It’s great to see a new generation jamming like their grandpa’s used to. The circle of rock.
The Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerback stopped by with a track from his first solo record Keep It Hid. Dan clearly draws from old blues players as well, citing artists like R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough as directly influencing them. They even recorded a Junior Kimbrough covers EP titled Chulahoma.
The next set kicks off our tribute to Rancid with Avenues and Alleyways, a song from their …And Out Come The Wolves Album. Our Avenues set starts with Jacuzzi Boys and a cut from their debut album No Seasons. Here’s the Florida “glazers” with “Island Ave”.
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DJ: If Roy Orbison’s favorite color wasn’t black I’d bet my life it was blue. It’s almost like Roy was a bruised man, obsessing over black and blue. Roy’s got songs like “California Blue” which we played on our California show, “Blue Bayou”, and of course “Blue Avenue”, from Sings Lonely And Blue.
The Boss stopped by with one of the big singles from Born To Run. Bruce is another artist who has a seemingly endless plethora of playables referencing that glorious “road” we’re so destined to travel down. We went with one of his bigger hits, if not his biggest about a street of some sort. That was “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”.
We heard a Bay Area one-two punk punch from Green Day and Rancid. Billie Joe Armstrong and Tim Armstrong, though not related, both cut their teeth at the legendary 924 Gilman St. club in Berkely while growing up. If you were to head down to a show there in 1989 you might have seen the two play, although not with Green Day or Rancid. Tim was first in Operation Ivy with fellow Rancid member Matt Freeman before breaking up to form the latter band in the ’90s. Billie Joe cited Op Ivy as a major influence on him and he started a band called Sweet Children. SC changed to Green Day not long after forming and would join Rancid in the mid-’90s punk explosion.
Green Day’s “Stuart and The Avenue” references the intersection of Stuart St. and Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California. Tim wrote “Telegraph Avenue” for his second solo effort, but upon hearing some of the songs he had recorded Brett Gurewitz urged him to get the band together and record a proper full length. I wonder if Billie Joe and Tim ever cross paths at that intersection anymore…?
Our next set focuses on those shady back streets between buildings known as alleys. The Mamas & The Papas recorded an ode to a club in the Virgin Islands with their track “Creeque Alley”, though they never mention it. The tune does mention Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Barry McGuire of the New Christy Minstrels, John Sebation of the Lovin Spoon’ful and a few more. Here’s the happy-go-lucky 1967 song from Deliverin’, “Creeque Alley”.
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DJ: From Dead Ghosts’ LP Can’t Get No, that was “Hanging (In The Alley)”. Their garage rock throwback sound echoes that of their Burger Records labelmates and other late 2000s-early 2010s lo-fi wave surfers. The band hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, home of the infamous Nardwuar.
The horn section stopped by the middle of our set for some alley brass. Gainesville, Florida ska band Less Than Jake were at the top of skate park cool in the 90s with the release of their albums Losing Streak and Hello Rockview. The latter would be the band’s last for Capitol Records before jumping to Warner Bros. for Anthem. From Hello Rockiew, that was “Nervous In The Alley”.
Lee Dorsey dropped by with my favorite song about an alley, “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”. I’ll admit it was years before I had heard his original version. I was always familiar with the Robert Palmer/Lowell George/The Meters version. Those are all the same version by the way, just an amazing group of players.
Elephant 6 Collective band The Apples In Stereo referenced one of the more famous alleys of the world, “Tin Pan Alley”. The term eventually became synonomous with the music industry of the time, but Tin Pan Alley was originally an area in Manhattan, New York City, where a strong prescence of artists, songwriters, and musicians resided. The Apples In Stereo song comes from their second album; Tone Soul Evolution.
Set 4 this week is full of garage rock jams, perfect for the building that houses the machine used for road trips; a vehicle. Leading off the pack is The Shangri-Las outta Queens, New York. The “girl group” found huge success with their debut single “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” and “Leader Of The Pack” in the mid 1960s. 40 years later, Shangri-La member Mary Weiss would record a solo album backed by Greg Cartwright and The Reigning Sound. More on that later. Here’s The Shangri-Las with “Out In The Streets” from The Shangri-Las – ’65.
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DJ: “One Way Street”, track 2 off of the debut album from Australian punk pioneers The Saints, packs just as much punch as track one, but has more street references in it. Ha! The band took big cues from The Stooges and rock and roll acts like Little Richard and were very early to the punk scene, releasing “(I’m) Stranded” in June of 1976 just 4 months after the Ramones’ “Blitzkried Bop” single hit shelves.
When Danny Fields traveled to Detroit to see the MC5 in hopes of possibly signed them to Elektra Records, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer told him to go see The Stooges. So, he did, and by September 1968 both bands were signed to Elektra! Crazy. MC5 also has strong ties to The Boss. Fred “Sonic” Smith, who sand on “Shakin’ Street”, married Patti Smith. Yes, that Patti Smith, the one who recorded Bruce’s song “Because The Night”. Also Jon Landau, Bruce’s longtime collaborator and mentor produced the MC5’s second LP Back In The USA, as well as Bruce’s Born To Run. All these songs are connected!!
Our Set 4 Score this week goes to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Needle Points. Yes, technically they’re no longer a band, but that doesn’t make this tune any less of a banger. After a couple albums and singles, the band amicably split up in 2017 when half of the members moved to the west coast and others wanted to pursue other projects. Nonetheless, we ‘re still left sifting through the wake of their existence in garageland. The non-album track “Cripple Street” played before MC5.
As we had mentioned earlier, Greg Cartwright of Oblivians notoriety also plays in the Reigning Sound, who backed Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las on her 2007 solo album. So it would be rather fitting to play Greg after the Shangri-Las. It seems like quite the jump from 1965 to 2013, but there’s still a connection there!
Set 5 starts off with Tijuana Panthers before switching gears and tuning in a couple classic road songs. The band’s sophomore album Wayne Interest features production work from Richard Swift. Richard worked some of the best indie rock bands of our time, The Black Keys/Arcs, The Shins, Guster, and yes Tijuana Panthers. Richard even spent some time in my neck of the woods working in International Falls, Minnesota as a teen. Unfortunately, Swift died at 41 this year due to complications from hepatitis as well as liver and kidney distress. But let’s celebrate the amazing work of the man and one of the many bands he helped sound great. Here’s Tijuana Panthers with “Cherry Street”.
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DJ: More great garage rock from Sweden comes our way with Mando Diao and “Mean Street”. The 2009 traack was asctually on the Need For Speed: Shift video game soundtrack, which is a racing game for all you weirdos out there with your heads in the sand. So of course it makes sense that we play it on a road episode. Cars, streets, duh. Also it’s a nice lead in to our Main Street set coming up next.
Australian punks The Saints actually opened for AC/DC on their Aussie tours in the mid-late 1970s. AC/DC, however, soared to massive heights and landed themselves among the rock gods, especially after overcoming the death of Bon Scott. Whether or not you’re a fan, I’d be hard pressed to find another rock band out there whose lead singer dies and they somehow become even MORE successful. We played one of the staples of classic rock radio, “Highway To Hell”.
Last week, in Part 1 of our Road Trip special episode, we played the Circle Jerks’ debut recording of “Wild In The Streets”. This week, we played the original. Singer/songwriter Garland Jeffreys had some notable names help him out with this track. That bwomp,womp clavicle doing a bass line? That’s played by Mac Rebennack Dr. John. Backup vocals include David Peel, the marijuana troubador we’ve featured on our Mother’s Day and 420 episodes.
Heading back down under, we caught a “one-hit wonder” of sorts with Brisbane, Australia’s The Go-Betweens. From the thoroughfarely named 16 Lovers Lane, the big single “Streets Of Your Town” crossed the oceans and made its way onto international shores in the late 80s, fitting in well with the jangly indie pop that was leaking into the mainstream via college radio.
Our final set of the day is all about Main Street. That drive through towns or cities that hosts all the hot spots, hangouts and hubcaps. The Astronauts’ “Main Street” was not only co-produced by the legendary Leon Russell, but apparently he had a part in writing it. Being a Russell fan, I can absolutely hear his influence here. Check out some of the Asylum Choir stuff for more Leon psychedelic sounds. Here are the clean up crew cuts The Astronauts doing “Main Street”.
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DJ: Yeah, Seger. Doesn’t that song just make you want to sit on a main street bench on a hot summer night and watch the lights blur by? Faintly smelling cigarette smoke wafting its way by you from the nearest watering hole. Bob wrote the song about Ann Street in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. There was a pool hall down on there that had girls dancing in the windows and R&B bands playing on weekends. Perfect!
We’ve featured some great tracks by early Jeff Lynne groups like The Move and The Idle Race on previous episodes, but never jumped into the other side of the spectrum with Roy Wood. Roy formed ELO with Jeff after The Move dissolved, but only lasted a couple years and one album before splitting off and doing solo work. He also formed Wizzard, a similar to ELO orchestral rock band. Roy falls into the same category of weird white eclectic musicians who look like muppets at one point or another in their career, sharing the trait with Dr. John and Leon Russell. Here, see for yourself. Here’s a shot of Roy, Leon, and Dr. John.
For those of you who like to rock out and get hammered, maybe check out Guided By Voices. While many a rockstar enjoys the sauce before, during, and/or after a live set, GBV frontman Robert Pollard would hall an Igloo cooler full of ice and Budwiesers onto stage for easy access. From the most “proggy” sounding album in the lo-fi rock band’s career, 2003’s Earthquake Glue, that was “The Main Street Wizards”. So much wizardry!
The Zeros first major gig was in 1977 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. The Germs’ first show ever was opening this gig. What a time! Alejandro Escovedo’s younger brother sang for the band and they were seminal in the forefront of west coast punk in those early days. How amazing it would’ve been to be in LA in the late 70s for the start of punk’s second wave. Sure, New York had plenty of punk rock. And the UK, well they did too. But LA in those days, wow!
Alright everyone, we really hope you enjoyed this super-duper long two part Road Trip episode! Get that road trip in before summer ends and we all go back to school and work and whatever else it is that Autumn brings. Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next time on Feel Me Flow!