If you know me, then you probably know that I go absolutely ape for pretty much anything related to the holidays. It's a shortcoming, I know, but it's one which, like my smoking, I feel no compulsion to correct. When it comes to Christmas (and Hannukah and Solstice and even Kwanzaa to a degree -- NOTE: I don't include Ramadan among the holidays NOT because I have any problem with Islam but because, as the black muslims at London Correctional taught me, Ramadan is not a "holiday" as we ordinarily think of one (though Eid ul-Fitr sort of is) and it often comes well before December (this year it ended on October 12)), I pretty much go for the whole package: decorations, wrapping paper, holiday-themed television, books, movies, music. I buy as many presents as I can afford. I stuff myself with food and candy. I take my son to see Santa Claus. For fuck's sake, I saw Surviving Christmas (with that delightful Ben Affleck) in the theater -- and liked it! (though I draw the line at Deck the Halls (Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito), which was just too inane even for me)
More than anything else, though, I dig the music. Every year, in lieu of Christmas cards, I distribute a Christmas-themed CD of indie rock and audio miscellany to everyone I know -- a disc I spend pretty much all year compiling (yes, you'll often find me listening to Christmas music in July). In addition to just being fun, I find that sampling a wide variety of Christmas music keeps me in touch with heights of beauty and solemnity, as well as the depths of absurdity, to which every strata of the media can transmogrify the holiday spirit in song. In the old days, my grandfather used to play stand up bass and violin in various bands around Chicago, and it was a favorite saying of his that any musician who can't get a job on New Years Eve is no musician at all. Being a musician and general music lover myself, I would add to my grandfather's observation that any musician who doesn't do something related to the holidays at some point in his career has no idea what he's doing. Everybody does a Christmas song -- I mean, everybody.
Of course, with that in mind, I must now admit that even among the voluminous collection of music extant from Dayton's indie rock history in the collections of Grog, Gail, and me, there is not a single Christmas song to be found. And for the life of me, I can't remember anyone from the era I ordinarily cover on this blog actually recording one. Sure, THE OXYMORONS did "Silver Bells" live once or twice, and THE OBVIOUS used to crank out a great cover of "White Christmas." I have a vivid memory of one Christmas show we did together (i.e. OXYMORONS and THE OBVIOUS) that ended with Greg Johnson taking a drunken backward tumble off the stage and into Canal Street Tavern's Christmas tree -- there was tinsel and beer everywhere. For Christmas 2003, my band THE VECTORS did a mini-holiday party at Canal Street Tavern at which we gave our CD away for free and performed a second set consisting entirely of Christmas songs (I even have a video tape of that show somewhere, but ripping and sharing of that will have to wait until next year). And I've no doubt any number of other Dayton bands recorded some kind of Christmas tuneage, but I currently have access to none of it.
Yeah, that's Dayton. For decades this town has provided nothing appropriate to this season or any other. I can think of no better metaphor for living here than being a ten year old kid ripping open a package on Christmas morning, expecting an Atari 2600, and getting a box full of dress socks or something.
And that's why, in lieu of any holiday audio specifically related to Dayton, I am today offering, for your holiday listening pleasure, a lame substitute:
Music View was a canned weekly music news program distributed to college radio stations on 12" vinyl in the late '80s and early '90s. At WWSU, we usually ran it on Friday nights at about 7:30 p.m. (and maybe once or twice more over the weekend). The show featured interviews and music with various luminaries and up-and-comers in the universe of what was then called "alternative" or "modern" rock. Or, at least, that's what it was supposed to do. You see, even at the time, I was a little suspicious of this program because although the production company (Joseph Fox Communications, Inc. -- which I believe was gobbled up by Time Warner at some point in the '90s) was technically independent, the whole thing was underwritten by that evil soul-sucking demonic cabal of the consumer recording industry: The Columbia Record and Tape Club!
Remember the Columbia Record and Tape Club? Remember how they lured you in with the irresistible promise of "12 records for a penny!"? Remember how, after you got those records, you then found yourself snared in a dizzying miasma of contractual obligations to buy so many records over a 12-month period for the rest of your natural life? Remember how often you forgot to send back the little notice attached to each monthly catalog to tell the company that you did NOT want whatever their featured piece of crap was that month? Remember how that resulted in you actually having to pay for some shitty record from the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT? Remember having to explain to your friends why you owned some shitty record from the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT? If none of this rings a bell, count yourself lucky. I was but one of many who, like any drug addict, got sucked in by the promise of a cheap score, only later to find out that nothing in life costs a penny -- and for the next seven years, me and my credit report suffered.
Yeah, that's where the money behind Music View came from, and so even back then I used to wonder exactly how the featured artists on each show were chosen. But even so, in a world lacking the magic power of the web, Music View remained one of the few places to hear information and music from artists outside the top forty mainstream. And although host John Fox spent a good amount of time covering concocted industry experiments who were supposed to be "the next big thing" (TRANSVISION VAMP anyone?), he also hit on a lot of good music from real artists in there.
The 1990 holiday show (officially, episode #98), presented for download here, is a pretty good example of the good and bad that Music View had to offer. Listen and you'll hear Christmas cuts from THE RAMONES, THE GONADS, THE REDUCERS, ED GEIN'S CAR, DAVID CASSIDY (no shit!), and BABY TAPEWORM. Interview segments feature artists like LIVING COLOUR, BLUE HEARTS, INSPIRAL CARPETS, DAVID CASSIDY (the only artist with both interview and music presented), and CIRCLE JERKS. The whole thing is hosted by the aforementioned John Fox (who must've finished in the top of the class at The Casey Kasem School of Broadcasting, 'cos he sounds just like him), with a brief segment on punk rock called "Rabid Food" hosted by Jack Rabid. "Rabid Food" was a regular feature on Music View and always my favorite part of the show.
Download It! (54 MB)
Like all Music View episodes, this one is presented in three segments (on the vinyl, each segment was separated by a locked groove allowing the DJ on whatever station was playing the show to pop in and perhaps give things a more local feel). Tracks 2-4 in the download package are those segments. Each show also came with a 7" record full of daily promo spots for what was coming up on the show that week. Those promo spots are track 1. The whole show is 28 minutes, the dailies about 7. The package also includes scans of the promo sheet and show schedule that came with the record.
Although the dailies inexplicably promise music and talk from PRIMAL SCREAM, that band appears nowhere in the show itself.
Yeah, it's not Dayton-related -- but hey, it's Christmas...
...and it only gets worse: return to this blog on CHRISTMAS EVE for another audio offering that will simply curl your ear-hairs. Until then...
feliz navi-nada, baby...