Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Video Killed The Radio Star?

Not on your nelly! Ten top tunes dedicated to the medium of the radio. Enjoy

1) Wall of Voodoo - "Mexican Radio"
Stan Ridgeway's voice is so knowing, classic pop that merrily subverts that itself.

2) World Domination Enterprises - "Can't Live Without My Radio"
West Londoners cover LL Cool J's massive hit, swapping 'my name is Cool-K' for Cool James' own name check. Apart from the lowest of low bass registers that was the signature of the band, I love the choppy guitar noodles on this version.

Trivia - on the back of an early collection of The Fall (The Step Forward label collection I think), the back cover artwork has a handwritten note that says "I love this band in a way I can't describe" or words to that affect. It's signed 'Steve J' - who just happened to be the bass player of World Domination Enterprises.

3) Public Image Limited - "Radio 4"
The ambient closing track of the furious record "Metalbox" and perhaps the antidote to the earlier track "Poptones". It showed how radical the band were in their early incarnation by finishing an album in a totally different and unexpected way to what had gone before.

4) Joy Division - "Transmission"
As good as this paean to the radio is, I never quite understood why live it always seemed to bring out the most febrile of Ian Curtis' performances compared to the searing emotionality of his other songs. maybe that was it, maybe it was a release and a dance of well joy for him, although you wouldn't gather that from his demeanour in his moves (about 2 minutes 20 secs in).

5) The Ramones - "Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio"
R-r-rock and roll high school slowed down a tad and the word 'radio' replaces 'High school'. Sorted

6) The Clash - "Capital Radio One"
"You can't say cr*p (the word) on the radio" all seems very tame nowdays, but that's how punk got its kick start remember when the Sex Pistols swore on live tv. And The Clash were right, London's local music radio station Capital Radio was dire and slow to catch up to punk rock.

7) Eazy-E - "Radio"
Old skool hip hop. Nuff respec'

8) Elvis Costello - "Radio Radio"
You'll notice that a lot of these songs extolling the virtues of radio were by punk bands. When their early records were being championed by a few progressive radio DJs, fighting against the soporific mainstream of the Chart hits that were soon to be rudely invaded by punk bands like Costello, The Stranglers and Sex Pistols. Radio helped spread the gospel for punk when often its records were hard to get hold of due to poor distribution, hearing the songs on radio was a vital way for fans to get to hear them.

9) Ultramagnetic MCs - "Funk Radio"
And in the same way that punk had struggled for a foothold in radio airplay with its provocative lyrics, so too hip hop and rap  in the US, until MTV really got established for TV audiences.

10) Rush - Spirit of The Radio"
Ah dear old Rush. How many identity changes did they go through, from cosmologically obssesed heavy rockers, through the Ayn Rand flirtation and accusations of fascistic sympathies, through to their tilt at mainstream stadium rock and radio friendly airplay. This comes from that last incarnation, when the best thing about the album the song was taken from was a visual pun on the album's title "Moving Pictures".

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