Episode 100–Christmas (Baby Please Come Home

Holy Moley! Episode 100! What a milestone!

This is the first of TWO episodes I’ll be publishing this week. You’re getting this one now, and another one sometime tomorrow, because I felt badly about taking my time with Episode 99.

As I mentioned during the show, the Phil Spector-produced Christmas album went through several re-issues and name changes between its release in 1963 and the early 1980s, including an unfortunate period when the album was remastered into manufactured stereo. In those days, that often meant that the higher-end sounds went to one channel and the lower-end stuff went to the other. It was a mess and really added nothing to the product overall.

At any rate, it was around the same time in the 1980s that a bunch of different events came together and allowed the song to finally break out. One was the reissue of the album on Rhino Records, in its original mono mixes. The second was Darlene Love’s appearance in a Broadway show, which led directly to her string of performances on David Letterman’s show on both NBC and CBS, and finally we have the cover version by U2 the following year. All of these things made for a resurgence in both the popularity of the song, and in Darlene Love’s career.

Stay tuned! Very soon we’ll take a look at a Nirvana song, by listener request!

Click here for a transcript of this show.

Episode 94–Touch of Grey

The Grateful Dead were definitely a rock band, and at the same time they managed to defy most definitions with regard to their specific genre. Sometimes they were funky, sometimes they were bluesy, sometimes they were jazzy, sometimes even gospel. Usually they were jamming, and rather than discouraging fans from recording their concerts, they encouraged it, often even giving them opportunities to plug recorders into their own equipment. Going to a Dead concert was a weird, beautiful, communal experience, and I think the closest equivalent in the absence of Jerry Garcia and Company would be…I don’t know, maybe Phish? The one time I went to a Phish show was in 1999 at what was then the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (Now the PNC Bank P.A.C.), and it was a very similar vibe, right down to the joint being passed down the row from god knows where.

They started out as The Warlocks in 1965 but changed their name after they discovered that The Velvet Underground had already released an album with that title. Stories vary with regard to how they came up with the new name: Phil Lesh says that he found it in a Britannica World Language Dictionary; Garcia’s story is that he found it in an old dictionary of folklore. At any rate, the name stuck and the concerts became known as special events to be experienced.

But while they were enormously popular, their records didn’t exactly burn up the charts. While it took them a few years to crack the Hot 100, it was over 22 years before they saw their one and only Top Ten record. And coincidentally, that’s the one we’re talking about in this episode.

Click here for a transcript of this episode.