Wed, 15 June 2016
Good day, lovely folks. Welcome to the fourth episode of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast, a show in which me and my compatriot Thomas Inskeep discuss every song to hit #1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart during the 1980s. When we last left off, we were just getting started with 1981. If you haven't yet caught up, check out the first three episodes of the series.
The five tracks featured in this episode are...
"Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" by The Gap Band
"Don't Stop The Music" by Yarbrough & Peoples
"Being With You" by Smokey Robinson
"Sukiyaki" by A Taste Of Honey
"A Woman Needs Love" by Ray Parker Jr. & Raydio
And here are some show notes/secondary topics brought up as these songs are discussed.
-The Gap Band's Charlie Wilson is easily one of the most influential and imitated singers in R&B music history.
-"Burn Rubber" was one of the biggest hits from The Gap Band's decade-long run as R&B chart kings. They were one of the most successful acts of the era, and one of the acts with the least crossover success.
-Yarbrough & Peoples' astounding level of "meh"-ness.
-The "warm bath" theme returns with Smokey's yacht rock (yacht soul?) classic.
-The conversation switches to Smokey's incredible duet with Rick James, "Ebony Eyes", which didn't hit the Top 10. Then we revisit Rick & Teena Marie's legendary "Fire & Desire", a song which didn't even receive a single release.
-The "Ebony Eyes" video, which we surmise had the second-largest cocaine budget of any video during the '80s.
-Did A Taste of Honey deserve the 1979 Best New Artist Grammy?
-Ray Parker Jr.'s past as a virtuoso funk guitarist, then move away from Raydio, his move away from R&B, and his classics "The Other Woman", "You Can't Change That", and "I Still Can't Get Over Loving You".
Enjoy the show!
Wed, 8 June 2016
1996 was a pretty big year in pop culture--it was an election year, and a watershed year for music (particularly for new artists). Here are just a few of the topics discussed during the show.
-The bombing at the Olympics in Atlanta
-The 1996 presidential election: Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole, and the Whitewater scandal.
-Cloning takes its first step forward, courtesy of Dolly The Ewe.
-Radio deregulation, which led to every single terrestrial station you listen to being owned by either Clear Channel or the IHeartRadio family.
-The "East Coast/West Coast" hip-hop rivalry, and the death of Tupac Shakur on September 13th.
-An eventful 1996 for The Artist Then Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince: the icon severs ties with Warner Brothers, releases the 3-CD set Emancipation, gets married, and suffers a family tragedy.
-KISS reunites and slaps the makeup back on! Their first public appearance is opposite the aforementioned Mr. Shakur on the Grammy Awards.
-Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" becomes the longest-running #1 single of all time.
-The Fugees break through, becoming the world's #1 cover band.
-Everyone does the God damn Macarena.
-Alternative rock is huge, and the term is vast enough to include Oasis and Metallica. During this conversation, I plug Steven Hyden's new book Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me.
-Underappreciated music of 1996: De La Soul's Stakes Is High, Chuck D.'s The Autobiography Of Mistachuck, The Heads' No Talking, Just Head and Kool Keith's Dr. Octagonecologist. Also, you should watch this video.
-The glorious one-hit wonderdom of "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand" by Primitive Radio Gods.
-New artists of 1996: a list that includes Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, Fiona Apple, No Doubt and more...with special focus on Jay-Z and Sublime's enduring self-titled album.
-Big-name flops of 1996, and the cultural re-examination of Weezer's Pinkerton; in addition to our own re-examinations of Pearl Jam's No Code and George Michael's Older.
-TV & movies of 1996: The debuts of TVLand and MTV2, as well as Robin Williams' stellar year.
-How a movie about natural disasters spawned the angriest Van Hagar song ever.
-Finally, as it should be, a few words about anal leakage.
Make sure to subscribe to Blerd Radio on iTunes, and/or you can listen to the podcast in the handy-dandy box below. Alternatively, you can stream us on Liberated Syndication, or you can just download the show directly to your computer. Enjoy!
Tue, 31 May 2016
Our listeners have spoken, and we’re listening! Here’s the chart for the next “Son of Chart Attack!”
In this episode, we travel back exactly a quarter century to chat about the top 10 songs on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart dated June 8th, 1991.
01. "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" by Crystal Waters
I will say that some of the sub-topics we touch on include the Martha Wash substitution pattern that riddled dance music for about two years, LL Cool J's legendary MTV Unplugged performance, the AIDS crisis that inspired the #8 song on the list, dance music's social consciousness, the bizarre appeal of Gregorian chant music, and the remarkable consistency of The Pet Shop Boys.
Enjoy the show!
Tue, 24 May 2016
Happy Day! The third episode of the award-winning (not really) Jheri Curl Chronicles is live for your listening pleasure! If you haven't yet, make sure you check out episodes 1 and 2.
For those unaware, the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast features me and Thomas Inskeep talking about every song to hit #1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart during the 1980s.
In this installment, we leave 1980 and jump into 1981 with these five tracks.
"Give Me The Night" by George Benson
"Funkin' For Jamaica (N.Y.)" by Tom Browne
"Master Blaster (Jammin')" by Stevie Wonder
"Celebration" by Kool & The Gang
"Fantastic Voyage" by Lakeside
And here are some show notes/secondary topics brought up as these songs are discussed.
-The brilliance of Quincy Jones as a producer. Along with his right-hand man, songwriter Rod Temperton, Q owned the early '80s and we make the case for him as the greatest producer of all time.
-Patti Austin's sumptuous background vocals on "Give Me The Night", her surprising lack of a #1 R&B single, and the glory that is her 1981 jam "Do You Love Me".
-The mixture of jazz and R&B that gave way to the smooth jazz movement of the late '80s and early '90s, and the stellar list of players that appeared on "Funkin' For Jamaica".
-Tom Browne's bass-playing cohort Bernard Wright, who made at least one unassailable '80s jam.
-Why Hotter Than July might be the most underrated of Stevie Wonder's albums.
-The Kool & The Gang conundrum: were they better as a funk band or a pop band?
-Kool & Co.'s divorce-themed epic "Jones vs. Jones".
-We shout out radio legend Sean Ross as well as reissue giants BBR, who have kept many of the titles we discuss on this podcast in print (further shouts out to Funkytown Grooves and Legacy Recordings).
-What the hell was in the water in Ohio? The unassuming midwestern state is responsible for Lakeside, but also The Ohio Players (natch), Slave, Zapp, and a plethora of influential funk bands.
-Yes, Lakeside-we're holding you responsible for Coolio's career.
Wed, 18 May 2016
Yep, you read it right. Episode 2 of the Jheri Curl Chronicles podcast is up for your listening pleasure! In case you missed it, you can check out Episode 1 here.
In this series, me and Thomas Inskeep talk about every song to hit #1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles (later named Hot Black Singles) chart in the 1980s. We're going five at a time, and we've got a nice meaty section of 1980 to tackle in this episode.
The 5 songs we discuss this time around are:
"Don't Say Goodnight (It's Time For Love)" by The Isley Brothers
"Let's Get Serious" by Jermaine Jackson
"Take Your Time (Do It Right)" by The S.O.S. Band
"One In A Million You" by Larry Graham
"Upside Down" by Diana Ross
More specifically, we talk about:
-How The Isleys' Go All The Way album (which featured "Don't Say Goodnight") was originally supposed to be the first Isley-Jasper-Isley album, and which steamy bedroom classic from 1979 inspired the Isleys as they wrote "Goodnight".
-The absolute jammin'-ness of The S.O.S. Band's Jam & Lewis-produced output. We scratch our heads in collective wonderment at the fact that masterpieces like "Just Be Good To Me" and "The Finest" stopped (just) short of pole position. We also wax rhapsodic over "Tell Me If You Still Care", which has gone on to a long life courtesy of artists like Mariah Carey and Monica.
-One of us finds Sly & The Family Stone (the band that spawned Larry Graham) overrated. One of us (actually, both of us) also think that Larry Graham ruined Prince.
-Did you know that Diana's "Upside Down" was (allegedly) originally written for Aretha Franklin? Have you read Nile Rodgers' excellent book? We also give a shout out to Diana's camp-tastic video clips for "Muscles" and "Swept Away".
Oh, also we should give props to our intro and outro songs for this episode: Patrice Rushen's "Haven't You Heard" and Chaka Khan's "Papillon (Hot Butterfly)", two classics from 1980 that didn't make it to the top of the charts, but are always at the top of our hearts.
Mon, 16 May 2016
The Blerd Radio team (consisting of me, "Big Money" Mike Joseph + Dr. Z and Michael Parr) did a Prince-related podcast a couple of years back. There'd been conversation about expanding that show, but we never got around to it.
Then Prince died, and we knew what we had to do.
We tried to avoid regurgitating the 1st podcast we did, and I think we were pretty successful. In this episode, the team discusses how we first became aware of the Purple One's existence. We try (somewhat unsuccessfully) to succinctly describe the way he expertly balanced musicianship with pop smarts, and ponder his influence on the musical scene today. We also share where we were when we heard the news of his death, contemplate the future of his music and the celebrated "vault" of unreleased material, and obsess over tons of Prince minutiae as only a trio of Prince devotees can.
Fri, 6 May 2016
Guess what? We're spinning off a new series in the Blerd Radio family.
The Jheri Curl Chronicles finds Blerd Radio founder Mike Joseph and pop culture writer Thomas Inskeep (proprietor of the Rock Me Tonight blog) discussing every song to hit #1 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles (later Hot Black Singles) chart during the 1980s. Each episode will feature five songs, in chronological order of when they hit pole position.
This pilot episode (featuring a few audio hiccups that will not be present in future installments) starts off with a tribute to Prince, who will not be discussed in earnest for a while yet.
The songs discussed are:
Peripheral topics discussed include:
"Do They Turn You On"- a classic album cut from The Whispers
Tevin Campbell's "Safer On The Ground", his first new single in a decade and a half...
...and much, much more! Stay tuned for future episodes in this series as well as a continuation of the OG Blerd Radio podcast and the Constant Conversations spin-off.
Sat, 13 February 2016
Ladies & gentlemen of the listening public! It's time for a new episode of the Blerd Radio podcast! In episode 4, the team of Big Money, Michael Parr and The Packet Man (Dr. Z is sitting this one out) discuss the upcoming Grammy Awards and offer up our picks in several key categories (Best Alternative Album, Best Rock Album, Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best R&B Album, Best Pop Album, Best Rap Album, Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year).
Here's a brief rundown of the topics discussed in this episode:
-NO MORE DEAD PEOPLE: A rush of celebrity passings have left the panel in a state of exhausting!
-BUT...we're (maybe) hiring an intern (maybe!) We list the qualifications, and wonder if anyone is willing to take the job. This leads into a discussion about overwhelming record collections, and it appears that The Packet Man might need an intervention.
-Inevitably, the chat detours into a few words about Kanye. Keep in mind that this conversation took place before February 12th came and went without a release, and back when the album was still called "Waves".
-The big nominee-and the guy we hope wins everything-is Kendrick Lamar.
-We start, however, with the Best Rock Album category-and wonder who the hell these nominees are. This confusion recurs several times over the course of the podcast. We never said we were prepared.
-There's a historical discussion of the infamous Soy Bomb Grammy incident, for the children.
-The panel contemplates the difference between R&B and Adult Contemporary, compares Lianne La Havas to Corinne Bailey Rae, and explores the sexiness of Grammy front-runner Miguel.
-Drake: like or dislike? (another ongoing topic of discussion in the Blerd Radio podcast.)
-How did James Taylor end up in the Best Pop Album category when no other nominee is even half his age?
-Taylor Swift and Kendrick are considered the front runners for AOTY, but can Alabama Shakes or Chris Stapleton sneak in from behind?
All that in more in the latest episode of Blerd Radio.
Mon, 1 February 2016
We may have said in Episode 2 that cover versions would be our next topic attacked on a Blerd Radio podcast. In between that proclamation and the night we marked to record Episode 3, a musical icon passed away. With that in mind, we (the team of Big Money, Dr. Z, Michael Parr and the returning Michael Cunningham) decided to devote a podcast to the music and the legend of David Bowie.
(For some reason, the introductions got cut off...so if you don't know who we are, look in the previous paragraph!)
The task of discussing Bowie's impact proved a bit difficult to do within the framework of a single podcast episode, but we managed to cram a lot into 90 minutes, including:
-The return of Michael Cunningham after a lengthy break, which is appropriate as he is the biggest Bowie fan on the panel (and arguably the biggest Bowie fan of anyone any of us knows.)
-How did we each discover Bowie? And where were we when we heard the news of his passing?
-Is Bowie's decade-long run of "classic" albums the longest in music history? It certainly deserves to be mentioned alongside similar runs by artists like Stevie Wonder and Prince (and the Bowie/Prince comparison pops up numerous times over the course of the episode.)
-After three years plus of doing Blerd Radio, it finally comes out that Dr. Z was in a band? Who knew?
-Bowie acknowledging his own mortality on the Blackstar album and how that's nearly unprecedented on an album by a major artist (David's buddy Freddie Mercury notwithstanding).
-Bowie's enduring legacy as one of the few artists to age in the pop culture spotlight without trading heavily on nostalgia.
-Blackstar's status as Bowie's first #1 album.
-Bowie-oke: Dr. Z and Cunningham task one another with Bowie covers for karaoke!
Tue, 19 January 2016
Five years from now, there will probably be a group of music listeners who've never bothered to purchase a live album, and probably won't understand why anyone would (like "there was a world before there was an internet."
In this latest edition of Blerd Radio, the panel discusses the following:
-The first episode of Blerd Radio actually recorded in 2016, the gang discusses their (relatively adult) New Year's evenings...well, relatively adult till the vomit shows up.
-The subtle difference between a "live album" and a "concert recording".
-Blerd Radio Gets Jazzy! The discussion starts back in the pre-rock era, when live albums were commonplace, as large parts of the music buying audience had no way to see or hear their favorite artist live.
-One topic that weaves its way throughout the podcast is the modern era's dependence on visual spectacle, and how that (combined with easily accessible live video) has contributed to the downfall of the live album.
-How many careers were started via live albums? We think of two: one of them spits fire and has a member with a ridiculously long tongue. The other is Cheap Trick.
-Have any major artists gone their entire career without releasing a live record? The answer may stick you.
-Guess what? Blerd Radio is looking for interns? Actually, they're not, but a search for a trivia answer leads the panel to consider the idea.
-What are each panelist's favorite live albums? In an eerie bit of timing, David Bowie's "David Live" is mentioned and saluted, even though the rock icon hadn't passed when the episode was recorded.