Artist: The Jon-Lee Group Track:“Pork Chops” Release: Bring It Down Front / Pork Chops (7″) Year: 1967 Duration: 2:10
I found this buried in a box of beat up and thrown out 7″ records from a former coworker of mine. Most of the records he gave me were part of a lot sold on eBay from an old diner in California coupled with some books. The coworker wanted the books, the records came with them. So, naturally, he gave the wax to his record-loving pal; yours truly.
Now for a little backstory on the band.
John Finley would seem like just another revolving member of The Checkmates by the time he met with the band in 1964. The Checkmates formed as Lee Jackson & The Checkmates in 1962, before experiencing a few lineup changes throughout the next few years. As Jon and Lee & The Checkmates, the band would snag some mild local scene success and even score a few huge opportunities to perform for national audiences (opening for the Rolling Stones and some ABC TV slots), but both chances fell apart. By 1967, now evolved into The Jon-Lee Group, the band would record 4 songs, two of which made it to wax. The instrumental B-side from the debut single, “Pork Chops” is the featured track today.
The track has a down-up-down strum pattern similar to a sped up version of Otis Redding & Carla Thomas’ “Tramp“, “Good Stuff” from The B-52s’ 1992 LP of the same name, and among many others, another Paul Rothchild connection – The Doors’ “The Changeling”. Rothchild was one of the first to offer the Jon-Lee Group a contract with his “indie” label, Elektra Records. The band declined and would shortly thereafter break up. John Finley and Paul Rothchild would continue their relationship, though, with Paul recruiting John and fellow Checkmate Michael Fonfora to form his new super-group Rhinoceros.
As far as I know, this cut and it’s A-side companion, “Bring It Down Front”, never saw a re-release, even after The Checkmates reformed in 1999. Even though it’s a bit obscure, maybe someday a repress will happen. With it being distributed by a large label like ABC Records, there could be hope. It’s not like this was just some small private pressing, someone knows where those tapes are! In the meantime, all we have are some hard-to-find 7″ records (which I luckily landed a copy of) and the glorious YouTube rips from vinyl heads across the world. Enjoy the “Pork Chops”, bon appetit!
Here’s the Spotify link to the playlist. You’re welcome to recreate it on any platform you choose. Just press play and read along, acting like the voice in your head is the DJ. The times listed are that of the song playing, not the full episode length. I play this with a 5-second cross-fade enabled. Have fun!
00:15 Hello and welcome to abp’s radio episode! Today we’re digging into the broadcast medium that blasts sound waves across the land. Radio technology has been around since the 19th century and to this day is still used in it’s most basic form – broadcasting radio waves via transmitters to receivers all across the globe. Nowadays we have this thing called the internet, which basically does away with the old AM/FM signals and streams via the online connection, but we still want those airwaves.
00:45 I wanted to do a little something fun today, so we’re going to hear our radio episode book-ended with two versions of “Video Killed The Radio Star”. First up is Joyce Manor’s sped-up and tonally flattened version. Joyce Manor’s 2012 LP Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired borrows distinct design elements from the legendary Germs’ GI release. The music itself also borrows from Germs elements, though more in the vein of new age punk rock than early 80s sloppy hardcore. We lost Germs bassist Lorna Doom in 2019 to cancer and the infamous Darby Crash took his own life in 1980 by way of intentional heroin overdose. Joyce Manor’s 2018 release Million Dollars To Kill Me was named after Travis Barker’s memoir Can I Say in which Travis recounts offering a friend a million bucks to end his suffering after a horrific 2008 plane crash that injured him and DJ AM as well as killing the rest of the entourage on board. DJ AM died from an overdose the following year.
01:35 All this talk about overdose has me fixing for music. Let’s try to lighten the mood a bit. Here is Joyce Manor doing “Video Killed The Radio Star”!
00:15 Austin, Texas’ Spoon have been locked in indie rock legacy ever since the turn of the century, but it was probably thanks to some mid-to-late-90s solid releases that helped them climb there. The band’s sophomore effort A Series Of Sneaks was at the time met with flat acceptance, but since has grown into a cult classic of an album; proof once more that some artists are ahead of their time.
00:45 Washington D.C. native Mary Timony released her third solo LP Ex Hex way back in 2005 on the legendary Lookout! Records, but would take the album title and form a band under the moniker almost ten years later. Rather than the darker, brooding sounds of her solo work, Ex Hex channels the Pacific Northwest punk rock sounds of Sleater-Kinney. Mary was part of the Carrie Brownstein/Janet Weiss side project Wild Flag. The Ex Hex 2014 debut features the track “Radio On”.
01:10 Staying in the PNW, Bikini Kill dropped in with the title track to the 1993 New Radio single. A lyrical force of sexuality and rebellion, the song fits in perfectly with the writing style and content of Kathleen Hannah and Bikini Kill. Known as one of the forerunners of the riot grrrl movement, Kathleen has also released music with the electropop group Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin.
01:30 One of the most famous acts of rebellion in live music may have been when Elvis Costello stopped his band ten seconds into his Saturday Night Live performance of “Less Than Zero” to change tunes and sing the anti-corporate radio anthem “Radio, Radio”. Lorne Michaels was not amused and banned Elvis from Saturday Night Live until 1989 (supposedly giving Elvis the middle-finger during the whole performance).
02:00 Coming up in the next set we have The Shazam. Little Steven’s Underground Garage named this song their “Coolest Song Of The Week” back in 2006, though the song was actually released in 2000. Little Steven called it the “coolest fucking thing (he’s) heard in 20 years”. The song is legit, but to say that about the decades 1980-2000 seems a bit…irresponsible? Nevertheless, let’s get to it. Taken from The Shazam’s 2000 EP Rev9, named after the Beatles’ “Revolution 9” which the band covered on that EP, here’s “On The Airwaves”.
00:15 Radiohead, of course, took their name from the Talking Heads song we just heard. David Byrne directed and starred in the feature film True Stories, along with John Goodman and Swoosie Kurtz. Talking Heads re-recorded studio versions of the songs they played in the film and released the album True Stories to coincide with the movie. There was also a different soundtrack album released with various artists like Terry Allen & The Panhandler Mystery Band and Steve Jordan on it. Steve played the accordion on “Radio Head”.
00:50 The Ramones questioned our memories of the days of old when rock and roll ruled the radio. The imagery of “lying in bed with your covers pulled up over your head, radio playin’ so no one can see” is such a great snapshot of being a kid obsessed with music during the golden age of rock and roll. How appropriate a song, too, being that the 1979 LP End Of The Century was produced by the legendary producer and convicted murder Phil Spector. Hear that Wall of Sound?
01:20 Osaka, Japan’s Shonen Knife formed roughly 6 months after the release of The Ramones’1981 LP Pleasant Dreams. Shonen Knife’s debut release is an ultimate holy grail rare cassette-only album. Minna Tanoshiku was put out by the band in 1982 in a limited release of 50 copies. Some tape cases had the band’s lip prints on them! They did a Ramones tribute album in 2011, Osaka Ramones, to celebrate the band’s 30-year career
01:45 The Vines timed their American debut juuuust right with the release of their 2001 LP Highly Evolved. Riding the garage rock wave first rippled by The Strokes and The White Stripes and The Hives and all of The “The” bands alike, The Vines would hit it big with “Get Free”, a tune they completely demolished on the Late Show With David Letterman. When Craig Nicholls did a somersault after the first verse he knocked the guitar out of tune and oh boy did things fall apart after that! Awesome performance though. We played the first single off of their third album Vision Valley, “Don’t Listen To The Radio”.
02:15 Up next we have Brooklyn, New York band Nude Beach with the album opener off of their 2012 sophomore LP II. As the song is about to explain, sometimes there’s just not much worse than a radio playing a song you just don’t wanna hear. Here’s Brooklyn’s Nude Beach with “Radio”.
00:15 The Shivas hail from Portland, Oregon’s mid-aught’s house show scene. What’s more punk rock than DIY? Nothing. Can’t book a venue? Make a venue. Can’t find a promoter? Make a flier and staple it on the telephone pole. The Shivas fit right into that aesthetic, though pouring out garage rock psychedelia more often than pure punk rock. That was “Playing On The Radio” from 2019’s Dark Thoughts.
00:40 Skegss are another garage rock revival outfit from down under. The band made international headlines in 2015 when rappers Reese and Lil Yachty released a single “Do It” with perhaps the most blatantly stolen album artwork I’ve ever seen. Skegss had just started as a band the previous year and released their second single ever “Rock N Roll Radio” in 2014.
01:10 Ty Segall is a garage rock revival icon. Maybe even the millennial generation’s version of Mark Sultan and King Khan. Like those two, Ty is involved in countless bands and music projects. Ty plays everything from covers to collaborations, even TV show theme songs. His 2019 release First Taste was his second with the Freedom Band and featured “Radio”.
01:40 The Spaceshits put out one album in 1999, but are most notably known for being the group that connected Mark Sultan and King Khan. Sultan became the group’s singer shortly after joining and Khan, then known as Blacksnake, would replace one of the many guitarists that they cycled through in their short tenure as a band. When they were blacklisted from their hometown of Montreal due to violent stage shows, they toured Europe. Blacksnake stayed in Europe, Germany specifically, and began his new career as King Khan. The Spaceshits dropped “Turn Off The Radio” before The Shivas.
02:10 Red Mass is the brainchild of another Montreal garage rock vet, Roy Vucino. Vucino teamed up with Mark Sultan after The Spaceshits dissolved and formed Les Sexareenos, one of many of Mark’s projects. The Red Mass project features collaborations from up to 60 people, sometimes contributing recorded material via mail. Much like the famous Postal Service duo did in the early 2000s, Red Mass takes it to another level. Here’s “Radio Radio” from Red Mass’ 2009 Red Mass EP.
00:15 The Cortinas were the Bristol, UK group that paired up nicely with The Clash in 1977, but were nowhere near as successful as them. Coincidentally, though, Cortinas guitarist Nick Sheppard would go on to play on The Clash’s Cut The Crap album after Mick Jones and Topper Headon were fired from the band. The Cortinas debut album signaled the end of them, however, with the band breaking up after its release. From that 1978 album True Romances, we heard “Radio Rape”, a song about making love to the radio.
00:45 The Kids, from Belgium, were another early punk rock band that are known for their anti-fascism anthem “Fascist Cops”. They released their debut self-titled album in 1978 on Dutch company Philips Records. Yes, that same Philips that made radios that you may well have played, or perhaps you’ve used their light bulbs? The Kids’ sophomore LP was also released in 1978, from which we played “Radio Radio”.
01:15 Ivy Green were actually from the Netherlands where Philips Records was founded. They were one of the few Dutch punk bands to land a major record deal and released their self-titled debut on Pogo Records in 1978. The cut “Sex On The Radio”, another weird ode to aural love, is almost a note-for-note mimic of Black Flag’s “Black Coffee“, but the Black Flag song didn’t come out for another 6 years. Coincidence or ripoff? You decide! Ivy Green was the name of Hellen Keller’s childhood home in Alabama.
01:45 British punk band The Carpettes‘ 1977 debut self-titled EP featured the track “Radio Wunderbar” and some issues of it list that as being the title of the EP. The Carpettes lasted all but four years before breaking up in 1981. They briefly reunited in 1996 and then again after the turn of the millennium eventually touring the USA in 2011. Nothing matches the energy of that debut EP, though!
02:15 The Clash’s debut EP took a jab at the radio industry and was released with an interview comprising most of the EP with just one song finishing it off. The only way to get this EP was to mail in a coupon printed in NME, plus the red sticker found on the band’s debut studio album The Clashwhich had been released just that week. After hearing that the EP was being sold for unbelievably high prices, they re-recorded the song and released “Capital Radio Two” on their 2nd EP The Cost Of Living. Here’s the Clash with “Capital Radio”.
00:15 Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers nearly broke into the mainstream with their 1980 single “Straw Dogs” narrowly missing the Top of the Pops charts, which is fairly ironic considering the b-side to “Straw Dogs” was the anti-mainstream radio anthem “You Can’t Say Crap On The Radio”. The track also borrowed the main riff from The Clash’s “Capital Radio” as a bit of an outro. “Caaapital radio” was changed to “Craaapital radio”.
00:45 NOFX took the Stiff Little Fingers’ idea and went a step further. In “Please Play This Song On The Radio”, the band begs the radio DJ to play their new song on the radio while slowly devolving into a cuss fest, nullifying their initial request. The song comes 1992’s biographically-named LP White Trash, Two Heebs, And A Bean. NOFX also covered Rancid’s song “Radio” for their split LP release with the group in 2002.
01:15 German psychobilly band Mad Sin contributed their version of Rancid’s legendary punk anthem “Radio” to the Hellcat Records, Tim Timebomb-sequenced Hooligans United: A Tribute To Rancid compilation. That comp features some great takes on Rancid tunes, with some bands staying true to the songs and some taking them in an entirely new direction or language.
01:45 When Rancid recorded their 2000 self-titled fifth album, they did it one full take. Well, two full times run-through, with the second take being used. It brought such a personal feel to the record, and when Tim sings the final lines of the album you can hear him “signing off” and thanking everyone for listening. “Radio Havana” was the longest song on the LP clocking in at 3:42.
02:15 With the release of Scratching the Door: The First Recordings of the Flaming Lips, we finally got an official output of their first cassette demo. The only original song on the demo was “Killer On The Radio”, followed by a cover of the “Batman Theme”, The Who’s “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”, and Richie Havens’ “Handsome Johnny”. The Who covered the “Batman Theme” on their first EP, and their second ever single released was “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere”. That’s interesting. Here’s the Lips’ only original from their debut demo, “Killer On The Radio”.
00:15 “You are the radio star”! The Presidents Of The United States Of America cap the episode today with their 3rd-recorded version of “Video Killed The Radio Star”. This version comes from their post-first-breakup compilation of b-sides and covers titled Pure Frosting. “Video” also caps off the 1998 Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer as it plays while the credits roll.
00:45 The Replacements played us a shout out to indie radio or college radio as it was known in the 80s. The term “left of the dial” comes from those stations being so low on the transmitter dials, usually with frequencies like 88.1 and 90.7. The band’s 1985 LP Tim would land them a slot on Saturday Night Live and just like Elvis Costello – they’d get banned. This time not for performing the wrong song, but for absolutely destroying their dressing room and switching clothes with each other before the performance.
01:15 The Ergs! dropped in with an ode to The Replacements’ hometown college radio station Radio K. The University of Minnesota’s station KUOM was formed in 1993 and has been solidly playing the best up and coming tunes ever since. The Ergs! must have enjoyed it enough to write about it. The tune comes from their 2007 EP Jersey’s Best Prancers.
01:45 Just under an hour drive south of Radio K’s headquarters would bring you to Cannon Falls, MN’s Pachyderm Studio where Nirvana recorded their third and final studio album In Utero. “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” was originally titled “Nine Month Media Blackout” and was a collage of poetry thrown back at the success of Nirvana in ’91. Kurt is reported to have hated the success, but others contest that view. In February of 1993, the band headed to the small Minnesota town and were “locked in” by the snow to get their work done and get out of there. Steve Albini brought his powerful technique and the studio’s notoriously amazing drum sounds were also captured. The result was a masterpiece in rock and the band would dissipate only a year later following Kurt’s suicide.
02:15 We began and ended with “Video Killed The Radio Star” along with a few stories of rock stars who died young. The rock and roll lifestyle has claimed countless young ones throughout time and still continues to do so. I suppose the word of advice here is that if you choose to get into the music world, be prepared for the harsh vices that could come your way. Thank you for joining me today and listening along. See you next time!
David Cutter Music
Check out myList for all of the releases featured!
The album cover of this pressing reminds me of an old-timey diner, but that might be the ketchup-red lettering and mustard-yellow background. Of course, when you reprint something just to slap one extra song on it you might end up with something as basic as this. That being said, yeah I dig it.
The instrumentation grabs me right away in a familiar way, like an old Colorado sunset. Something about this sounds so familiar, yet I just can’t figure out why. I turned the sleeve over to peruse the back credits only to find that this repress doesn’t list them. Naturally, I head to Discogs to look for liner notes and musician credits. I found the original release, which was titled Amazing. Sure enough, there it is. As I read the picture of the back of the jacket I focus my eyes on a group whose (nearly) entire wax discography sits right there on my shelf. “Co-Starring” The Amazing Little Feat.
I’ve collected all of Little Feat’s Lowell George-era LPs, including Lowell’s solo effort Thanks I’ll Eat It Here. Something about his presence made this group better. The post-George days just don’t do it for me. Conversely, though, his daughter Inara is fairly well represented on my shelf with her ventures in The Bird And The Bee. Check her electropop group out sometime; great melodies and harmonies.
Back to Kathy. The new song, the title track, is probably my least liked song on the album. It is just a such boring track. I’m sorry Kathy. The rest of the album is much better though. If this started off with “Pour Your Wine”, it’d have taken off much more smoothly. “Gypsy Dancer” encompasses the title with a wailing yelp from Kathy during the intro. It almost sounds like Diva Plavalaguna, the blue opera singer from The Fifth Element. Paging: Chris Tucker.
“Cannibal Forest” shares that same moonlight wail lying in the background of the instrumentation. The chorus spouts “Danger/We’re lost in the cannibal forest/Stranger/Caught in the cannibal forest”. Those backup singers chanting “danger” every few bars provide an eerie backdrop for a fairly standard funk-ified tune. It also gives me slight reminiscence of “Danger! High Voltage!” by Electric Six. “Danger, danger!”
All in all, a decent album if you’re a fan of Little Feat. It was released by Discreet Records, Frank Zappa’s label. You might recall that Lowell George was originally apart of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention before heading out on his own. The “family feel” of Little Feat/Frank Zappa/Robert Palmer and others slots this album into a predetermined category, but it resides there in great company.
Kathy’s career ended when Discreet closed their doors, but outside of this album she recorded with at least two other bands; The Gas Co. and Daughters of Albion. The Gas Co. were a run of the mill 60s garage pop group, though the tunes were decent. “Blow Your Mind” was produced by Jack Nitzsche and released by Mirwood Records in 1965.
Later, before going solo, Kathy would team up with Greg Dempsey to form Daughters of Albion. Daughters of Albion leaned more on the psychedelic side of things and would be as far out there as Kathy’s music would reach. This was when she was still going by Kathy Yesse. DoA released just one self titled album, led by the single “Well Wired”. The single fell flat.
Spotify has Kathy’s solo album available for streaming, check it out below.
Here’s the Spotify link to the playlist. You’re welcome to recreate it on any platform you choose. Just press play and read along, acting like the voice in your head is the DJ. The times listed are that of the song playing, not the full episode length. I play this with a 5-second cross-fade enabled. Have fun!
00:15 Hello and welcome to abp’s surfing episode! Today we’re gonna grind some gnarly waves and get sooooooo pitted, dude! International Surfing Day is typically held on the third Saturday of June, right around the summer solstice. Originally brought to mainland America by Hawaiians and Native Polynesians, the sport saw an explosion in popularity in the 1960s Southern California scene. With help from a plethora of beach movies starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean’s music, and the beat generation books about heading out West, the sport would become a staple in the area.
01:10 In honor of the sport and its venue, we’re playing all kinds of surf and beach songs. We’ll hear songs about the “locals only” mentality, surfing birds, menstruation, a few covers, and some of the most famous surf instrumentals between sets.
01:40 Behind us, we’ve got The Tornadoes doing “Bustin’ Surfboards” from 1962. The band released one album with this tune included but would never record another. Quentin Tarantino would later famously use this track in his 1994 cult classic film Pulp Fiction.
02:10 Kicking off our show is the infamous So-Cal band Surf Punks. While not making waves in the mainstream, the band definitely had a local following. The band’s performance of this song live at the Whiskey A-Go-Go was featured in the punk documentary Urgh! A Music War. This right here, is peak 80’s “getting pitted”. So pitted. Here are Surf Punks with “My Beach”.
00:15 That was The Trashmen, Minnesota’s most well-known surf/garage group. “Surfin’ Bird” comes from their 1963 album of the same name. The “bird” combines two other songs to form a medley of sorts; “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “The Bird’s The Word”; both by The Rivingtons. The Trashmen would stop releasing material in 1967 until 2013 when they would unite with Deke Dickerson for a four song EP.
00:40 FIDLAR begged to be heard in their ode to drummer Max Kuehn. If you hadn’t gathered from the song itself, their red-haired drummer not only lacks the balance to execute, but gets real stoned and tries to make it work. “Max Can’t Surf” comes from their debut eponymous LP.
01:10 In our first run-in with Rikk Agnew during today’s episode, we heard D.I. playing a cut from their debut album. D.I. spawned from the Adolescents, but mostly just rearranged the players. Casey Foyer, the Adolescents drummer became D.I.’s singer, with Rikk on guitar. Rikk joined Christian Death in 1982 and released an album along with kicking out his own solo effort. We’ll hear more from that later. In our “locals only” set, we heard “(I Hate) Surfin’ In H.B.” That’s Huntington Beach to all you non-locals.
01:40 Kings of the beach Wavves played us one of their theme songs from the album of the same name. Although the production value is quite different, the song structure between “King Of The Beach” and Surf Punks’ “Meet Me At The Beach” is pretty close. Close enough that I could picture Wavves covering Surf Punks, could you?
02:10 Some So-Cal alternative rock is headed your way now with Weezer doing “Surf Wax America” from their self-titled 1994 LP. Not to be confused with their self-titled 2001 LP, their self-titled 2008 LP, their self-titled 2016 LP, or either of their self-titled 2019 LPs. Of course, even though they’re all self-titled, they’re all a different color. So that helps. Here’s Rivers Cuomo singing about riding a surf board to work.
00:15 That was Joe Strummer and The Clash doing “Charlie Don’t Surf” from their 1980 triple LP Sandanista!. The Sandinistas were a political party named after Augusto César Sandino, who led the Nicaraguan resistance against the United States occupation of Nicaragua in the 1930s. The album would find mild success compared to the follow-up Combat Rock, which launched the band into international fame.
00:40 Boston band Pixies took plenty of cues from The Clash’s punk rock views. Black Francis notoriously put out a classified ad seeking a female bass player who liked both Peter, Paul And Mary and Hüsker Dü. Kim Deal was the only one to answer and showed up without a bass guitar as she had not known how to play. With the release of the single “Here Comes Your Man” in 1989, the band reworked another track from Doolittle; “Wave Of Mutilation”. They slowed the song down and gave it a bit of a surf feel, hence the title of the version we played, “Wave Of Mutilation (UK Surf)”.
01:10 Los Angeles’ psych-surfers Triptides chimed in with a cut from their debut release. Psychic Summer was one of the self-released cassette tapes the band had put out in the early days. The album saw a re-release in 2019 transferring the tape to wax and streaming services. Triptides gave us “Catch A Wave”, not to be confused with the Beach Boys classic.
01:40 Thee Oh Sees dropped a deep cut into our set with “Tidal Wave”. The track comes from the Tidal Wave / Heart Sweats 7″ single released in 2009. If you ever watched the TV series Breaking Bad, you may have recognized this tune. During the episode Salud, (spoiler alert) when Gus presents Don Eladio Vuente with a bottle of rare tequila, they all drink it, get poisoned, and the “heroes” escape. Almost. Either way, cool track for the scene.
02:10 Alright, let’s get into some plagiarism! The Beach Boys ripped off Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” so blatantly that Chuck Berry now shares songwriting credits with them. Granted, the melodies are basic and easily identifiable, it is still quite similar. This happened so much in the early days of rock and roll, that I’m truly surprised there aren’t more cases. I’m happy there aren’t, just surprised. Anyway, from 1958’s One Dozen Berrys, here’s “Sweet Little Sixteen”.
00:15 The Drums‘ first single “Let’s Go Surfing” was first released on their debut EP Summertime. The song would get a slot on their debut album a year later and would make it onto a Volkswagen commercial. That whistling, it’ll get you every time. Frontman Jonny Pierce cites the Beach Boys as one of his many influences, along with reverb.
00:40 Prior to The Drums’ surf jam, we heard an ode to menstruation from Seattle’s Tacocat. The song’s music video would put them into the national spotlight after Katy Perry stole their image and shark costumes for her infamous Super Bowl performance. The band wasn’t too happy about getting ripped off but also wasn’t interested in a giant legal battle over a dancing shark. To their credit, to me, it totally looks like she lifted that vibe.
01:10 From a “Crimson Wave” to the blue waves of Malibu, we heard Jan and Dean and “Surf City”. Jan and Dean are credited with pioneering the vocal harmony sound that The Beach Boys would make famous. Nearly every other song they wrote was about surfing, all the way to Jan Berry’s car wreck. After spending two months in a coma, Berry would work his way up to walking again and eventually make it to the studio a year later. They recorded an incredibly psychedelic album in 1967 (Carnival Of Sound) that wouldn’t see the light of day until 2010 when Rhino would release it.
01:40 The Beach Boys’ Chuck Berry ripoff, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, preceded Jan and Dean. Of course it was a blatant ripoff, it was on purpose. Brian Wilson had the idea of listing all the cool surf spots much like Chuck would list what was happening from city to city in “Sweet Little Sixteen”. So Brian asked his then girlfriend’s brother (who was a surfer) to give him all the hot surfing spots. They put the the list to lyric and the rest is history.
02:10 Next up, we’re all about the beach. Starting things off is New Zealand’s Scared Of Girls. The Auckland band released a debut EP in 2017 called SUCK and followed it with the “Waihi Beach” single in December of that year. One of the songs from that EP, “Beach Teens”, channels surfing’s most famous guitar riff a la “Miserlou”. See if you can spot it. Here’s Scared Of Girls with “Beach Teens”.
00:15 The Frights didn’t have intentions to become a full-time band when they played a one-off Christmas show in 2012, but after an audience member approached them in hopes to sign them, they decided to go with it. Hailing from So-Cal, The Frights incorporate all kinds of genres into their garage rock sound. After the release of the Dead Beach EP in 2013, the band would head to the studio to record their second LP, which was produced by Zac Carper, the frontman of FIDLAR.
00:40 It only has 6 songs, but the 2013 release from Surf Curse, Sad Boys, is apparently a debut album. Devil’s in the details I suppose. Nevertheless, the duo from Reno slipped into the 20-teens garage revival scene in hip fashion.
01:10 Howler wedged our “beach block” with “Beach Sluts”, the lead track from their debut America Give Up. After breaking up in 2017, lead singer Jordan Gatesmith formed Wellness. Wellness doesn’t have quite the same garage feel, but puts out great indie “slacker” rock, if you will.
01:40 SoCal beach goths The Growlers hold the annual Beach Goth festival in Oak Park, CA every year around October. The band has seen a shift in sound from their early days of surf/psych/garage rock to a more pop-based sound. The Growlers saw some lineup changes in 2020 after allegations came out of sexual misconduct involving them and women within their circle. Whatever happened, I hope they can learn and grow and more importantly, let’s hope the victims or affected parties are listened to and respected.
02:10 The next set blasts off with a rocket…to Russia. The Ramones’ 3rd LP Rocket To Russia was released just 18 months after their debut hit the shelves. “Rockaway Beach”, from that LP, would become the band’s highest performing single ever; proof once again that Billboard charts are not an indicator for great music, just popular music. “Rockaway Beach” is a fantastic track, but The Ramones’ best? Up to you. Rocket To Russia also featured The Ramones covering The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird”. Alright, take it away Dee Dee…1! 2! 3! 4!
00:15 The Crowd hail from Hunting Beach, or “H.B.” as D.I. stated. When Posh Boy Records put out the famous Beach Blvd compilation in 1979, they included five tracks from The Crowd, five from Simpletones, and five from Rik L Rik. The rare cassette version, though, would include the debut Redd Kross EP featuring Greg Hetson. “Suzy Is A Surf Rocker” comes from that comp.
00:40 Before The Crowd we heard a Ramone from New York City singing about surfing. No, it wasn’t those Ramones. Cassie Ramone formed Vivian Girls in 2007 with Kickball Katy and Frankie Rose. After releasing their self-titled debut LP in 2008, the band pushed out a few singles not included on the album. One of those singles, “Surfin’ Away” would get a 1000 copy press and not be included on future albums.
01:10 Allie Hanlon started Peach Kelli Pop in 2009 as a solo project. The band’s name comes from a song title on Redd Kross’s 2nd official album, 1987’s Neurotica. That album is said to have been inspired by Saturday morning cartoons and breakfast cereal, e.g. “Frosted Flakes”. Allie’s inspirations include the anime cartoon Sailor Moon. I think I’m seeing a connection now. That was “Nude Beach” from PKP’s 3rd self-titled album.
01:40 London garage/surf revival band The Barracudas dropped in with a b-side from their 1980 His Last Summer 7″ single. “Surfers Are Back” originally showed up as the b-side, but was actually put on the US version of The Barracudas debut LP Drop Out With The Barracudas in lieu of “Campus Tramp”.
02:10 Popping off our final set is the 1960s Australian group The Delltones. Originally forming as a doo-wop group, the band shifted to surf rock after the US rock n’ roll sub-genre fad spread across the Pacific Ocean. Their cult classic “Hangin’ Five” from 1963 would launch them to national stardom and would also make waves in America. Oh, by the way, it was also featured in Aussie actor Mel Gibson’s first movie Summer City. Here’s The Delltones with half the wave power of hanging ten.
00:15 “Surfin’ is the only life/The only way for me/Now surf”. Simple as that. That was the Philadelphia R&B group The Orlons doing a Beach Boys cover from the 1962 surf rock compilation Everybody’s Goin’ Surfin’. The Orlons are perhaps best known for launching the Watusi dance craze with their single “The Wah Watusi” in 1962. Ahh the 60s dance fad craze. Mashed Potatoes, Watusis, Twists, what a time to be alive and be a dancer!
00:40 Keeping things in Philly, we turn to The Dead Milkmen next. They were part of the obscure bands that got lumped in with hardcore punk during the early 80s scene. The Milkmen didn’t have loud, fast songs filled with aggression, but rather with filled their sound with sarcasm and clean guitars. “Surfin’ Cow” from their 1987 LP Bucky Fellini graced the final set.
01:10 I’ve seen surfers on Lake Michigan in thermal suits and ice cold water. I’m still not sure what the draw is though. Chicago 80s punk path-pavers Naked Raygun were perhaps the most prominent early punk band of that scene. With “Surf Combat” off of Throb Throb, the band takes shots at the glitz and glamour of the 80s. “Muscle Beach is now Pork Chop Hill” is such a fantastic, metaphoric line.
01:40 In our final Rikk Agnew run-in for the day we heard a track from his 1982 solo debut All By Myself. Rikk and Casy Royer spent some time in Social Distortion in the band’s early days before splitting off and forming the Adolescents. It’s amazing how connected that So-Cal punk rock scene was. Everyone was in everyone else’s band at some point. Rikk’s tune “Surfside” accompanied The Orlon’s R&B jam.
02:10 And that, surfers, is the end of the swells. The tide is low. The crests are flat. It’s time to go home and wipe the sand off your feet. Thank you very much for stopping by and riding some waves with me today. I look forward to seeing you here again next time!