Sunday, January 10, 2016

Roxy Music - Stranded

I still listen to college radio.  I've always liked it, since I was a kid and stayed up late, well past my bedtime listening to my pillow speaker and looking for stations that played Rock songs I had never heard.  That's where I found out about things like Punk Rock and it's even where I first heard bands like Roxy Music.  I'd lay money on it that WCSB is the first place I ever heard Mother of Pearl from Stranded.  WMMS eventually played it, but it was one of those late night songs.  I mean, they played Love is the Drug during the day and that was about it.

The college stations would play popular albums but they'd always play some oddball song that I had never heard.  That's how I found out I really liked a band like Roxy Music.  I know I never heard the brilliant A Song for Europe on a commercial station, but I've loved this song since high school because some kids used to play it on their shows.

Then it seemed like a lot of the music I liked kind of disappeared from college radio.  Hey, I'm not a kid anymore and I'd expect that to happen. Things go away, and they really kind of should.  If Styx, Supertramp and Foreigner had moved out of the way then there would have been room for plenty of bands that deserved their shot.  Not on the college stations, but regular commercial radio.  Things should fade away and become a niche, I think.

College stations are a great place for niche music because the DJ just plays what they want to play anyway, which is really pretty cool. So I was saying that all these bands that I grew up with that were on the fringes of major label life back then had kind of faded away and I was getting around to saying the only place I ever hear these songs now is at my house or maybe my car.  I was pretty resigned to this and I really don't mind because I think it's the natural way of things.

Lately though, I've started hearing these songs crop up now and then on college radio.  There's even shows dedicated to older, guitar driven Rock and I'm pretty surprised how many of the songs I always loved are being discovered by another generation of people, and by people I mean people that aren't my kids or relatives.  I was listening the other day on some trips around town for work and I heard Brownsville Station.  I heard Johnny Winter.  I heard Artful Dodger and Blue Oyster Cult from their first album.  Now to me this stuff isn't all that obscure because I've been listening to it my whole life, but to someone in their twenties this isn't exactly the stuff packing the bins at the used record store.

It's not just one show these days.  There's a few people doing it.  Hell, I even heard Gentle Giant (hey kids, they suck - you can really stop that now!).  I was pretty damned floored when I heard Phil Manzanera's wicked guitar opening to Mother of Pearl the other day, though.  It was almost like hearing it for the first time.  It was just so unexpected and, shall we say, Out of the Blue.  I really liked hearing it and it just got me to decide I should go home and listen to Stranded because it's been too long.

I really love Manzanera's playing throughout this album.  On Amazona he sounds like he just learned something new and he just seems to play with a joy most players don't (or maybe just can't) get across.  I've always felt Street Life and Song for Europe were two of Roxy's absolutely best songs and the aforementioned Mother of Pearl is one of my favorites.  This is the first record without Brian Eno and I suppose it isn't quite as adventurous as the first two albums but it just seems a little more solid than the first two.  Like most Roxy albums, I like it a lot.

Getting back to the radio thing, I think it's cool that there's a few shows playing things that college radio actually used to play long ago.  Hell, I've heard The Yardbirds and Rose Tattoo in the same hour.  That's pretty cool.  There's hope for the future yet, but I hope these people are still listening to new stuff, too.

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