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The Best Radio You Have Never Heard

Chicago music guy Perry Bax has a definite winner with his twice-monthly podcast, The Best Radio You Have Never Heard. It's a very nice mixture of classic and punk rock rarities and remixes mingled with a heavy dose of '90s alternative rock and some sparkling samples of the newest and coolest of that genre. It lives up to its title - you indeed have never heard this kind of great music on "radio," by which I believe Bax means the commercial FM outlets in Chicago and elsewhere in this great land.

He doesn't allow much info about himself on the podcast's home Web site or on his MySpace page. But from what I was able to track down using my Googling skills, he's a one-time (perhaps current) music producer who worked with the Chicago band Odd Man Out back in the day, co-producing their 1990 album Havana on Frigid Air Records. The lead singer of Odd Man Out was John Vernon, now publisher and owner of Illinois Entertainer magazine, which gets a supporting credit on Bax's podcast. I also found a post from him somewhere in cyberspace where he says he was Stabbing Westward's tour manager for their 1993 debut album Ungod.

He also seems to be one of the world's top Genesis fans.

Sounds like Perry's got a real up-close perspective of alternative rock and its relationship with its 1960's predecessors. I think that's really borne out in his playlists. Here's the one from his June 15, 2008, Best Radio You Have Never Heard podcast, volume 88, entitled "The Late, Late Show."

1. Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Keith Droz remix). This version of the Queen classic separates Freddie Mercury's vocal tracks down into their own little worlds. Gives the familiar mini-opera an interesting perspective. From what I can tell, Droz is either an expert on "multiphase flow modeling" from the University of Houston or a drummer and singer for a band called Jerzee Boys. I kinda hope it's the former.

2. Genesis, "The Cinema Show /Aisle Of Plenty" (2008 remix). From the 1973 studio LP Selling England By the Pound, Bax tells us this version is a remix done by British producer/sound engineer Nick Davis in preparation for an upcoming boxed set of remixes of Genesis' early works. Progressive rock at its unapologetic peak.

3. Wreckless Eric, "Let's Go To The Pictures." From Eric's second Stiff Records LP, 1978's The Wonderful Word of Wreckless Eric, which showed off a bit more of Eric's range as he chafed against Stiff's pigeonholing him as a drunken lout of a bad boy.

4. Joe Jackson, "Good Bad Boy." Joe is back into the (nearly) rocking mode, kind of like his contemporary Elvis Costello. Both Elvis' and Joe's latest albums have a bit more back-to-basics punk rock attitude to them, finally. This song from Joe's latest LP, Rain, is the best thing he's done in years. It's been getting some deserved U.S. media attention, such as this version of "Good Bad Boy" he did on Jimmy Kimmel Live on June 14:

5. Shimmer, "Looking Glass" (live). In a nod to the Chicago scene, Bax has included a number by the now-defunct 1990s melodic rock band Shimmer, whose members met while students at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Recorded at Metro.

6. My Morning Jacket, "Wear Your Love Like Heaven." They used to be lumped in with the alt-country crowd. Now it's pretty obvious My Morning Jacket have really longed to be a late '60s psychedelic pop band. This song is from the 2002 album, A Gift From a Garden to a Flower: A Tribute Donovan, where the Jackets take an already acidy-sounding Donovan song and make it even spookier, with an extended slow-mo fade at the end.

7. Soul Asylum & Lulu, "To Sir, With Love." There are so many reasons why Soul Asylum was about as cool as it got in 1993. So, so many reasons. One of them is an appearance on MTV Unplugged with Lulu covering her 1967 smash.

8. Panda Riot, "Like Flowers At Night." Swirly-pop from the blissed-out trio from Philly, now living in Chicago. Another local nod from Perry B.

9. The Cure, "The Walk" (acoustic). This is from a bonus CD included in The Cure's 2001 greatest hits package, a disc that contained acoustic versions of some of their best-known songs. I found another acoustic version of "The Walk" on YouTube, in which they're sitting around backstage rehearsing for an appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1991.

10. Crowded House w/Roger McGuinn, "So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star" (live). Nice pick! This is what I mean by Bax's interesting takes on classic rock in his podcast. This song was recorded in 1989 at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles and was included on Crowded House's EP I Feel Possessed. This is by far the best cover I've ever heard of The Byrds' masterpiece, although it's really only a semi-cover since it's McGuinn playing 12-string on both. His technique here is still as strong as it ever was.

11. Van Morrison, "These Are The Days." Call me clueless, but I've never been a big Van Morrison fan. His voice, of course, is inimitable, but I've just never cared for the songs he's employed it in. This mid-tempo folk rocker from 1989's Avalon Sunset has a lot feeling delivered through his vocals, but like seemingly all of Morrison's later works, the song is structured as a kind of bar-closing, bluesy ode to sodden sentimentality.

12. Return to Forever, "Song To The Pharoah Kings." Well, even the best DJs have their annoying quirks. Bax's seems to be a love of jazz-rock fusion. It kind of makes sense, given his Genesis obsession and prog rock tendencies. Groups like Return to Forever, with Al Di Meola playing a Chick Corea composition here, are definitely a matter of taste. It's OK in small doses. Except that this seems to go on for about 12 hours.

13. Cream, "I Feel Free." One thing I didn't really know about this song until Perry Bax told me was that it was Cream's first hit. It was the lead track on the group's first album.

14. Def Leppard, "Stay WIth Me." Holy crap! This is a totally fantastic cover of Rod Stewart's Faces standard. It's enough to make me want to buy a decent copy of the original. From Lep's underrated 2006 collection of covers, Yeah!, Joe Elliott's vocals are so dead-on Rod that he got a significant amount of crap for being too faithful to the original. Yeah, except that it rocks more than the original. It's like he took what was best about "Stay With Me," Stewart's vocal style, and added Lep's still-potent pop-metal attack.

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From the Beachwood jukebox to Marfa Public Radio, we have the playlists you need to be a better citizen of the Rock and Roll Nation.



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Posted on June 20, 2008


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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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