Razorcake Podcast #06: With Ryan Leach
“Songs to Draft Courtyards to...”
Each song on this list has at least one link to another track—some concrete (genre, era), others tenuous (their pairing might make sense only to me and a few others). I love dada and I’m pretty okay with Andre Breton’s version of dada he dubbed Surrealism. Both valued chance; consequently I have no established set list prior to starting my “show.” I hate commercial radio and I’m glad I could bring some spontaneity to my radio show not on the radio. Next to each song I’ve written a little description of why I possibly selected it. Thanks for listening/reading/breathing.
Velvet Underground: “I Heard Her Call My Name”
Stooges: “Fun House”
P.I.L.: “Four Enclosed Walls”
Wire: “The 15th”
Sparks: “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”
Oblivians: “Bad Man”
Miss Alex White: “Out of Style”
Alex Chilton: “Like Flies on Sherbet”
Gun Club: “Carry Home”
Dean Carter: “Jailhouse Rock”
Little Eva: “Locomotion”
Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson: “Two for the Price of One”
Velvet Underground: “I Heard Her Call My Name”—This is quite possibly the greatest rock ‘n’ roll song ever recorded. Taken from the Velvets’ ’68 album, White Light/White Heat, it’s a perfect synthesis of John Cale’s penchant for experimentation (aka noise) and Lou Reed’s street reportage (in the vein of Herbert Huncke and Hubert Selby Jr.). It’s about necrophilia…the album is about speed, degradation—slightly more uplifting than Lou’s Berlin album. Lou Reed only reached this height again on the Velvets’ third record, but strictly in terms of phenomenal songwriting. As his ever-expanding ego grew, his songwriting plummeted. Cale was fired after this record (against the other band members’ wishes), and wrote a fucking masterpiece: Vintage Violence.
Stooges: “Fun House”—Are you fucking kidding me? “Fun House” fucks you like a wrecking ball. Outside of the Velvets (not you, Doug Yule—the Lou Reed-fronted version), the Stooges were the hottest shit in America in the early ‘70s.
P.I.L.: “Four Enclosed Walls”—A little known fact: in the early ‘80s there was a “primitive music” fetish going on in the U.K. It’s kind of like Marcel Janco creating “primitive masks” for the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. A sort of escapism for an industrialized society bent on destroying itself with technological advances. This song starts a post-punk set for me.
Wire: “The 15th”—Taken from the greatest post-punk record in existence, 154. Wire were light years ahead of almost everyone else (P.I.L. was pretty incredible for three years). The lyrics are beautiful—abstractions with no literal interpretation; this is what Marcel Duchamp introduced to “art.” The music is sometimes noisy—odes to F.T. Marinetti and the Futurist lot.
Sparks: “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”—Only Roxy Music could kill more shit than Sparks in the early ‘70s. (Different genre than Stooges.) It’s pretty amazing—going from “Jailhouse Rock” to “This Town…” in, like, sixteen years. Incredible progression…for the better.
Oblivians: “Bad Man”—Larry Hardy released the last Sparks record; Greg Cartwright of the Oblivians now releases records through Larry Hardy. That’s how I got this link. This is an amazing song by the greatest living Americana songwriter alive.
Miss Alex White: “Out of Style”—A young pup also releasing records on Larry’s label. Lo-fi like Jonathan Richman used to make them. Her sound is getting flushed out with other musicians…not digging it as much as this beautiful Spartan effort. An incredible songwriter; wise beyond her years.
Alex Chilton: “Like Flies on Sherbet”—Larry released a Panther Burns record and Alex formed that band. This is Alex’s fuck you to music…deconstruction and “FUCK ATLANTIC FOR FUCKING ME.” With the exception of some of Big Stars’ best moments, this is my favorite Chilton track. No irony involved. By the way, check his early ‘80s live album (in London) where he’s backed up by some of the Soft Boys. INCREDIBLE!
Gun Club: “Carry Home”—Jeffrey was an Alex Chilton fan…even had his guitar player (Jim Duckworth) for a while. Incredible track from the band’s second album.
Dean Carter: “Jailhouse Rock”—Taken from a Cramps-influenced collection (Born Bad). Dean Carter was a wild man, facing the religion demon like Little Richard.
Little Eva: “Locomotion”—The Oblivians cover this song—there’s the link there. I love Little Eva more than my mother!
Larry Williams and Johnny “Guitar” Watson: “Two for the Price of One”—Unbelievable—Dolemite set to the music of Motown. Pioneers, geniuses, pimps—a recipe for success.